Magpie Mail: What to Wear on Vacation in Italy, Chic Hand Sanitizer, and Mini’s Third Birthday Decor.

If I didn’t get to your question, don’t worry! I have them all captured and will answer more in the next post!

Q: My husband and I are going to Italy (Florence, Tuscany, and Rome) at the end of May – thoughts on a good capsule wardrobe or pieces I should pack / wear together?? 

A: Oo la la! Here is what I would pack for a seven-day trip:

WHITE JEANS

CHAMBRAY SHIRT

WHITE T-SHIRTS

SCALLOPED SHORTS

TODS LOAFERS OR CHANEL ESPADRILLES, DEPENDING ON YOUR TASTE (OR BOTH)

RELAXED FIT OLIVE GREEN TROUSERS ROLLED UP AT THE ANKLE

HERMES SCARF

KULE TEE

WHITE TUNIC (OR THIS)

ANCIENT GREEK SANDALS

OVERSIZED SHADES

PAIR OF FUN EARRINGS

A LIGHTWEIGHT COAT THAT CAN WORK AS A RAIN COAT, LIKE THIS IN THE KHAKI OR THIS IN THE GREEN

A FUN BLOUSE LIKE THIS OR THIS (LOOK FOR LESS)

A SIMPLE DRESS THAT CAN BE DRESSED UP OR DOWN IN A SOLID COLOR AND “MADE NEW” THROUGH THE ADDITION OF ACCESSORIES — LOVE THIS WHITE DRESS, THIS DENIM PLEATED DRESS, THIS EMBROIDERED MINI, AND THIS SALONI (LOOK FOR LESS WITH THIS)

A STATEMENT DRESS YOU LOVE FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION (OR TWO), LIKE THIS OR THIS OR THIS ALONG WITH HEELS/WEDGES THAT MATCH

The idea is that you can mix and match the bottoms with different tops — like scalloped shorts and a white tee with sandals one day, but then scalloped shorts with a fun statement blouse for drinks a few days later. White jeans with a white tunic for sightseeing. The dress with espadrilles for wine tasting, then the dress with heels for dinner out. ETC. Just a lot of room to dress up and dress down — all in basic colors that can be accented with a fun scarf or statement earrings or a red lip. I find you can’t go wrong with a basic palette of white and denim!

Very jealous. May I also suggest buying a set of these clear packing cubes? They are so helpful for keeping things organized — a smaller one for underwear, a larger one for tops, the biggest ones for shorts and pants. The clear casing means you can always find what you’re looking for. Next level: buy a set for yourself in one color trim and a set for your husband in another color trim!

Q: Do you have favorite “in-between“ books (compelling/engaging, not so dense than I’ll fall asleep or get bored and find myself scrolling through Facebook, but also clever and well-written)? My patience and attention span seem to dwindle with age and children, and lately it seems I discard my choices for being either too tedious or too vapid. Any suggestions?

A: Do you like thrillers?  I absolutely love this genre — they are suspense-filled enough to keep my attention but I find there is a lot more to think about in them than there is in your run-of-the-mill “chick lit” book.  My recent favorite was Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key. I’ve said it before, but it reads like a true Gothic novel and I loved it. The ending was irritating but overall, a fun read. 

Beyond that, have you read either of Sally Rooney’s books?  They are beautifully written but all about modern love — I just could not put them down.  They were so, so good.  I’m just counting the days until they turn them into movies.  (Full review of one of them here.)

And finally, Madeline Miller’s Circe is a MUST READ.  It might sound dry/boring given that it’s a retelling of the story of a Greek god but it is all-consuming.  Everyone I have ever recommended it to (including many only-non-fiction-reading men!) has fallen in love.  

Possibly too light for what you’re looking for, but here are my favorite beach reads.

Q: Favorite Instagram accounts to follow?

A: Caitlin Fisher of Daily Cup of Couture! She is so elegant and “in her own lane.” I am always drawn to people who know who they are and march to the beat of their own drums.

Q: What hand sanitizer do you use? I saw yours in an instastory and it looked so chic!

A: Ha! I have been using Touchland, which comes in a fun little dispenser. I also love EO’s lavender-scented gel and Aesop’s rinse-free hand soap.

Q: Recommendations for resortwear for men? We have a beach vacation coming up and I want to shop for my husband!

A: Lucky you! A few of my favorite finds:

ORLEBAR BROWN SWIM TRUNKS

WHITE RALPH LAUREN POLOS

WHITE JEANS OR WHITE SHORTS (PAIR WITH STRIPED TEES OR DENIM BUTTON DOWNS)

WHITE LINEN BUTTON DOWN

PATAGONIA BAGGIES (CAN DOUBLE AS SWIM TRUNKS — GREAT FOR LOUNGING AT BEACH/POOL/ETC…LANDON LIVED IN THESE WHILE ON VACATION LAST YEAR! BUY IN A FUN COLOR LIKE SEAFOAM GREEN OR TANGERINE AND PAIR WITH WHITE POLO)

RELAXED FIT CHAMBRAY PANTS — ANOTHER ONE OF MR. MAGPIE’S FAVORITE VACATION ITEMS

SPERRY BOAT SHOES

GARRETT LEIGHT SUNGLASSES (DYING TO BUY MR. MAGPIE A PAIR)

And for you…Rhode Resort dress (on super sale), Doen dupe, Mi Golondrina dress, Naghedi tote, SZ Blockprints caftan, Madewell fiji pants, and India Amory pareo.

Q: Would love to see your Peter Rabbit party picks. We’re doing the same for my daughter’s first birthday.

A: So sweet! I originally ordered these darling custom invitations from Kate Chambers but they took too long to arrive so I ordered and hand-lettered these instead. Beyond that, I have ordered pretty much every item from the Meri Meri Peter Rabbit collection. I’m especially excited about these as gift bags and these napkins. I’m planning on ordering some of these large balloons in shades of teal/blue and will use this tablecloth in the teal gingham to set up snacks/cake, with a few of these plush dolls to finish the tablescape and some little bunches of tulips. Planning to serve little munchies for the children in these, which I’ll figure out how to artfully present — ha — and goody bags will include these board books, these pouches, and these stickers!

Someone messaged me on Instagram to say they’d picked the same theme and had a tablescape that looked like a garden! They used faux vegetables (these would be perfect, and would be a sweet gift for your one year old too!) sprinkled around some fake grass! Super cute idea.

Q: Do you have any baby-friendly recommendations for the Hamptons this summer?

A: Our approach has been to rent a slightly larger, more gracious house with a pool and a big backyard. We prioritize the home itself over the location, as we anticipate (correctly) we’ll spend a lot of time just hanging out at home, accommodating naps and grilling out for dinner (since we’ve never brought childcare with us). But during the day — stop by Jack’s Stir Brew in Amagansett in the morning and then let the babies play in the pretty little grassy knoll behind it. There are always loads of parents with little ones doing the same thing. If you wait long enough, Cavaniola’s will open and you can pick up delicious sandwiches or construct a cheeseboard to take home and enjoy while the baby naps. In Sag, we loved getting a pastry/donut/smoothie at SagTown Coffee and then walking along that main strip. The Golden Pear Cafe is also always bumping for breakfast, but we’ve never been. The main drag in Sag Harbor is fetchingly quaint and there are always lots of families there. It ends in a picturesque little marina. The beaches are always a good way to pass a day, too. And in East Hampton, we liked Mary’s Marvelous for breakfast and then we’d walk down to the Herrick Park playground a short walk away to let mini run out her energy. We desperately wanted to take Emory berry picking but we were there at a weird time — they’d just shut down strawberry picking for the season and didn’t yet have anything else to pick! So we’re hoping we can swing it this year…a few other items I’ve been hoping to do but that have not worked out / Emory has not yet been old enough to appreciate: the whaling museum in Sag Harbor, mini golf, and taking in the live music at Wolffer Vineyard. (Wouldn’t it be dreamy to enjoy a glass of wine while your children run around and you take in live music? I’m dying to do it!)

Q: Do you have any ideas for a fifth wedding anniversary present?

A: If you’re going for tradition, buy something wood — a piece of furniture you desperately need? (Several of my favorite finds here.) One of my favorite gifts from Mr. Magpie was a custom console he had made by a carpenter down in North Carolina. It’s beautiful and one-of-a-kind. So special. If you don’t care much for the traditional gift, what about an experience? An overnight trip to a special resort close by or a music concert or a sporting event? In New York, I’ve treated Mr. Magpie to opera tickets, a magic show (sounds dorky but was so cool — its at the NoMad Hotel), memorable meals at difficult-to-get-into restaurants like Le CouCou (insane insane insane — one of the best meals of my life).

If you want a gift to wrap, some of my favorite big ticket, special occasion gifts for Mr. Magpie have been a vintage alligator strap watch I found on aTheRealReal very similar to this (my dream would be to one day buy him a Patek Philippe), a pair of tuxedo slippers, and a crocodile belt from Paul Stuart.

More gift ideas for gentlemen here.

Q: Do you have any strategies or routines for keeping up with household chores — dishes, laundry, etc?

A: The key for me is building them — permanently — into the structure of my day, so there’s not even a question of “hmm I don’t feel like doing that now.” I mentally allocate 30 minutes after our nanny arrives at nine a.m. to unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, put away toys and debris from breakfast, and make the beds. It’s non-negotiable. Heading into the day knowing that my actual “work day” won’t start until 9:30 makes it routine and expected rather than something that is “eating into” my day. The same goes for cleaning the kitchen/tidying before bed. I always mentally allocate 30 minutes to get everything done before I climb into bed. Making these blocks of time permanent fixtures in my day has helped a lot. I also schedule things like cleaning and ironing the sheets — they are recurring invites on my calendar!

For other chores, I keep a running task list of things I’d like to do but that are not as urgent as the daily things, and then I sprinkle them across my calendar at the beginning of each week. For example, this week I have on my list to polish my jewelry, Mr. Magpie’s cufflinks, and some of our silver which appears suddenly badly tarnished after our last dinner party. I also have notes to re-organize my desk drawer and sort through a bag of the children’s too-small clothing to donate/sell/give/keep. Any time I see something that I’d like to do but don’t have the bandwidth to take on at the moment, I add it to the list on my phone and then assign a date to it each Monday morning.

Finally, I have found that stowing cleaning supplies where they are easily accessible makes quick little clean-ups more likely to happen. For example, we have mirrored side tables in our bedroom that I am constantly needing to Windex. I found I would defer that for days! Then I bought a few packs of Windex wipes that I now keep in the side table so whenever it crosses my mind, I take the 30 seconds to grab one of those and wipe them down. The same goes for things like taking out the trash in the bathrooms. I started stowing rolls of the little trash bags for bathroom bins in each bathroom and it became much easier somehow to just take out the trash and replace the liner whenever it crossed my mind. I find having those tools easy to access right when you need them encourages me to take care of things just as I see them.

Q: What is the best practical baby gift?

A: For mom? A home-cooked meal or bag of groceries/sandwich fixings. (I detail how I do this in this post.) If you aren’t close enough to hand deliver something like that, a gift card to a food delivery service!

For baby — double check what’s on her registry to make sure she doesn’t already have it, but some of my most-used items during the newborn stage:

BOPPY LOUNGER

SLEEP TO DREAM SWADDLES

WUBBANUB PACIFIERS

WHITE NOISE MACHINE

KISSY KISSY PAJAMAS (YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH PAJAMAS — MORE THOUGHTS ON BUILDING A LAYETTE HERE)

SPARE CHANGING PAD COVERS OR LINERS

Q: What are some mom shoes for every day wear?

A: Cool sneakers! I still love my Golden Goose sneakers, two years in. They make me feel relevant even when I’m wearing jeans and a striped tee for the fifth day in a row…and I also wear them with casual dresses in the summer. You might also consider Vejas, which have a LOT of street cred right now. I see them everywhere. Very French girl chic.

For something a bit more timeless but still very comfortable and stylish: Supergas! I wear mine a lot in the summer especially and love how they look with everything from shorts to dresses. I have a white eyelet shirtdress similar to this that I love to wear with them.

I also love Tod’s loafers for a different vibe. Comfortable but pulled together. I like how they look with white jeans and a white sweater, or blue skinnies and an oxford.

Finally — Chanel flats! Look great even with just jeans and a white tee.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the anniversary gift ideas! Love the idea of custom furniture, but given we’re likely moving soon it’s probably not a good time. I had a custom watch box made several years ago – wished I had saved that idea for now! Wanting to stick to traditional wood presents for now (usually do the experiences for birthdays), so will poke around some more.

  2. Just in case anyone orders that Zara mini dress…it runs very small. I am usually an XS in Zara and ordered a small for a looser look and couldn’t even get it buttoned over the bust! I’m also 5’4” and it was short on me! Good quality though.

  3. Hi Jen!
    I look forward to reading your blog every morning!

    My intention after reading you this am was to ask your advice for what to wear on a 7 day river cruise in April.
    Voilla! I think you nailed it!!

    If you have a mo, would you please recommend some options for excursions which would include hiking and biking?

    xxSusan

    1. Hi! I’m not sure how well this would be received in Europe BUT I would pack my favorite Lululemon Align pants and a Swiftly Tech LS shirt or racerback tank depending on weather in the same color (http://bit.ly/3bwmcvA or http://bit.ly/2uKwaJj and http://bit.ly/2SNk8qm), sneakers (or proper hiking boots if it’s going to be more aggressive hiking / not on a well-worn path), and the anorak/windbreaker/raincoat in case it gets chilly or you encounter inclement weather. (Or, if you have space and inclination, this is the absolute best for hiking/running/biking outdoors: http://bit.ly/31YOb2D — it is breathable but insulating and keeps you very dry and protected from wind.) If the hike is not as aggressive (i.e., more of a walk through vineyard country), you might swap out the hard core athletic gear top for an ultra-chic sweatshirt like this: http://bit.ly/37u0Ziy

      Thank you so much for reading along, Susan!! Glad to meet you.

      xxx

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