Q: We were supposed to get married in NYC in June but with everything going on we have had to reschedule. Now, it seems that we will be having our reception in 2021 instead so we are planning on getting married at City Hall in New York whenever it reopens. So now I need to figure out what to wear! Do you have any recommendations for a fabulous white dress? I assume that it will be spring/summertime when we can finally go to City Hall, but I guess you never really know! I don’t want anything that is too trendy but am open to any suggestions you may have!
A: Oh! — I am so sorry for the change in plans. There is something terribly romantic about a City Hall wedding, though. A few thoughts…
+My top pick is this elegant Saloni. The covered buttons are perfectly bridal and the cut and fit of the dress are stunning.
+This is a chic little dress that feels celebratory and carefree.
+This Staud is beautifully romantic.
+I know you said you aren’t into trends, but I had to share a few picks for others who might be in the same boat but want a contemporary look, because they are SO good: this Aje, this Rebecca De Ravenel (pretty much my dream “getaway” wedding dress if you do an outfit change at the end), and — wow — this pantsuit situation.
Finally, and if I may be so bold — just go for it. Wear the long veil, or buy the ridiculous shoes, or sew that dress patch into your city hall wedding dress, or wear your new “mrs.” name out of the ceremony. You will never regret celebrating what is sure to be the most important day of your life with a small, splurge-y or fanciful detail.
Q: I keep wanting to jump on the sensory bin bandwagon for my toddler, but it seems so daunting. And I’ve already had one traumatic experience with water beads. Have you done any successful sensory bins? And do you worry about your 10 month old putting any of the pieces in his mouth?
A: I totally hear you. As I mentioned in my roundup of indoor toddler activities, I am also new to the sensory bin world. The waterbeads can be a particular kind of hell — we only use those in the bath tub because otherwise they go EVERYWHERE and, to your point, my 10-month-old son would 100% put them in his mouth. So far, our favorite sensory bin has been dyed rice (we use these trays for all of our sensory activities, though these deeper ones look even better for projects like this!). Place 1 cup of rice with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and a few drops of food coloring in a couple of different baggies and have your toddler shake, shake, shake. Then spread out and dry on wax paper-lined baking sheets for six hours. (Note: mini loved helping me dye the rice — it was the perfect “cooking” project because proportions don’t totally matter, there are only a few ingredients, and it was fun for her to shake the baggies.) Ever since, we have used the rice to “bake” (I give her a whisk, some measuring cups and spoons, cupcake tins, etc) and to find letters of the alphabet or little toy animals. Yes, the rice does spill but we usually play with it on the floor of the kitchen/bathroom and sweep immediately after, and it’s not as big a deal anyway: if micro eats it, no biggie.
It is hard to get over the hump of worrying about the chaos/mess. I find that if I put out a big beach towel and encourage her to “stay on the towel,” it’s easier to let her make a mess and then just pick up the towel and shake it out after.
Q: What are you doing to stay positive during all this virus craziness?
A: I hear you. This is hard.
My chief strategy has been focusing on today only. If I let myself think about how long this might go on, what could happen, etc, etc — it’s just too much.
Instead: What small things can make today better? What can I enjoy at this moment — a fresh cup of tea, a dance party, a glass of rose, an extra cookie, a hot shower? Who can I check on or connect with virtually to make today a little brighter?
Q: Newborn outfit photo outfits — we’ll need to do them outside because of COVID19. Recs for mom, dad, and baby?
A: Welcome, baby! Hope you are hanging in there, mama. This has got to be the most unusual and anxiety-inducing time to have had a baby. I like the idea of sticking to a palette of white and blue — timeless, crisp, and fairly easy to find.
For mom: this ditsy floral print, this ethereal white dress, this scallop gingham dress, this on-trend blue linen, or this embroidered white chiffon midi (on sale — so, so elegant; reminds me of something a Fitzgerald heroine would wear).
Q: Do you have any more recipes like your shrimp boil — easy and delicious?
A: Zuni Roast Chicken! This recipe requires advanced planning (you pre-season the bird two days prior to cooking it, but it’s a cinch to season!) but yields the most perfect roast chicken with the crispiest, most delicious skin. We usually pair this with orzo dressed in lemon, butter, and chili flakes and a simply boiled vegetable (green beans, peas, etc.) Outrageously good.
One of our other favorite meals is Daniel Boulud’s hangar steak with shallots. Requires very few ingredients and is relatively simple to prepare — but a knock-out.
Q: If you had $100 to spend on women’s clothing at Target or Old Navy, what would you buy?
A: A couple of my favorite finds from these retailers:
THIS TIERED RUFFLE DRESS IN PINK OR WHITE (LOOKS LIKE THE BRAND SEA!)
THIS COTTON DRESS, WHICH I WOULD PAIR WITH MY GOLDEN GOOSE SNEAKERS
THIS WHITE EYELET TOP, WHICH I WOULD PAIR WITH WHITE JEANS
THIS MDS STRIPES-ESQUE STRIPED MIDI SKIRT* TO WEAR OVER A WHITE BATHING SUIT OR BODYSUIT
THIS FUN PUFF-SLEEVED EYELET TEE* IN WHITE
*If I am following the rules to the letter, the items asterisked is exactly what I would buy with the $100 budget!
P.S. More amazing, fashion-forward, affordable finds here.
P.P.S. Expecting moms: LOVE THIS.
Q: How are you addressing or preventing sibling rivalry?
A: Our approach is to try our best to spend a lot of one-on-one time with each child. Before the pandemic, we got into a great groove where, every weekend, Mr. Magpie or I would take mini out for an excursion all by herself. Sometimes it was as simple as getting a cookie from the bakery down the street, or picking out a flower at the local florist. Other times, it involved a special trip to see a performance or attend a book reading. Now, we try to use micro’s morning nap as an opportunity to spend focused time with her, working on a project/activity.
In a more abstract sense, we are really careful with our language in front of them. A friend of mine once told me that “little rabbits have big ears,” and I’ve never forgotten that. To that end, we never compare the children in front of one another (we also try to avoid this in our own conversations — both are different and perfect!), say “I love you” a lot a lot a lot a lot, and verbally recognize their strengths all the time, especially during nightly affirmations. My hope is that by celebrating them and their differences, reassuring them, and reminding them how much they are loved, this will help.
Q: How do you keep up on baby photos/baby books/baby milestones? Any systems?
A: I could be better about this — I know I will kick myself one day. I did just order (now — ten months in — yikes!!!) a baby book for micro, as I had one for mini, too. Fortunately, I have been fairly consistent about noting milestones in a digital note on my iPhone for both children, as it’s easy to quickly log something in there during the day, so I trust I’ll have enough in there to jog my memory. For photos, we have a shared Apple photos album called “The Adventures of Emory and Hill” and we upload our best pictures there — honestly, we probably have a picture for nearly every day! Can you imagine?! I take a lot of pictures. We love this because we have shared the album with my siblings and our parents, and they can keep tabs on the children and leave comments, too. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected. Every now and then, I order prints online to update our frames. I would love to do a proper album at some point, printed and shipped to myself and our mothers…one day!
Q: How do you organize your clothes?
A: I shared all my favorite organization gear for closets/wardrobes/dressers here, but I will say that folding shirts and pants for dresser drawers the Marie Kondo way has completely changed my life and has made it much easier to keep my drawers tidy (and to stay on top of it). More generally, I stow out-of-season clothes in fabric cubes (wish they’d had this pretty print back when I bought my set!) and line the top of our closet with them. (When we were shorter on space, I used Ziploc space bags) and then organize my hanging clothes by type (skirt/top/dresses) and then by color within each category, and my folded clothes by type (tops/jeans/pajamas/exercise) and then by color.
Q: I’m the officiant for my brother’s boho-chic SoCal wedding in July — dress help please!
A: Wow! So special. Luckily, boho is very in right now, and options abound. Below, a few of my favorites:
Q: Any ideas on great housewarming gifts for a recipient who is excellent at gift giving?
A: I hear you — I have a few friends like this, too. How about…
+Some gorgeous custom monogram hand towels. I bought these for my son’s bathroom and was so wildly impressed with the customer service and quality.
+Gorgeously-scented hand wash — don’t know why it’s $3 cheaper here than anywhere else?! This stuff is absolute heaven though, and even the most discerning of recipients will appreciate this.
+A fun set of cards — with a note mentioning how much fun you’ll have playing together around her gorgeous new living room at some point in the future…
+Farmgirl Flowers. Flowers never disappoint, and this is my absolute favorite delivery service. I have been wowed so many times by orders through them.
Q: How do you handle Sunday worship during quarantine?
A: Thank you for this question, as it caused me to re-evaluate whether I could be doing something different — something better — on this front. Currently, I look up the readings for the Catholic Mass online on Sundays and read them to myself in the morning, usually before I get out of bed. We did observe the Pope’s televised Sunday Mass on Easter, and I was surprised at how well-behaved mini was throughout its entirety, but I have frankly not tried any other weekend. (My parents do, though.) My thinking has been that I will get more out of “Mass” by observing the readings in quiet than I would corralling my children, but — frankly — your question has led me to wonder whether it might not be the right thing to do for my children to have them observe me tuning in. What are other prayerful folks doing?
P.P.S. Currently reading.
P.P.P.S. How to read.