More Magpie Mail: Transparent Sunglasses, Favorite Interior Designers, and Infant Tubs.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image above from Architectural Digest showcasing an interior designed by Mark D. Sikes. Swoon.

Q: Favorite sunglasses right now? I’m seeing a lot of transparent frames and am intrigued.

A: I still reach for my black Le Specs nine times out of ten, and I also like these $15 chunky tortoise shell ones (which gets the Celine look for less). Honestly? I ruined way too many pairs of designer shades by dropping them or leaving them behind (including not one but two pairs by Chanel). I am normally very careful with my belongings, but I find sunglasses very hard to take care of and have scaled back in this department.

I do love the transparent frames trend and Mr. Magpie looks so cool in his Garrett Leight shades (<<unisex, so consider these!). Or get the look for less with these cateyes or these (similar shape and style to the GLs). I feel like transparent shades would look especially stylish with an SZ Blockprint caftan (or this similar blockprint style).

Q: What services do you plan to resume post-COVID and what will you continue to DIY (e.g., nails)?

A: Interesting question! I will likely resume all my pre-COVID services when things fully reopen, with the possible exception of how frequently I used to get manicures. Interestingly, I have not done my nails once since quarantine started — just use cuticle oil and trimmers regularly, buff them, and keep them very, very short — and I kind of like never having to worry about chipping my nails. It also saves me time — I used to go once a week — and the irritation of looking at badly peeling/chipping nails. Would you believe it if I said that prior to COVID19 I can only recall two weeks of my entire adult life when I went with non-manicured hands, and once was while we were moving cross-country and the other was after micro was born? Anyway, I might consider going for stretches without polish on my fingers given how much I use them with all the cooking and caring for small children, but pedicures, hair cuts, highlights, and brow waxes YES MAM.

P.S. Some of my quarantine favorites.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for work out and running clothes?

A: Lululemon for staples like leggings and shorts; Nike (love these); Target for sports bras (though they don’t seem to carry the Champion C9 styles I used to wear all the time…?), and Tory Sport for fashion-conscious styles.

More exercise picks here and my favorite new running shoes here.

A: What bath seat do you use after infant tub?

A: I used this infant tub from when Hill was six weeks until just a week ago, when he started to climb out of it regularly. (Emory used it until she was close to 18 months, though!). You can reposition the insert to accommodate the baby’s growth and it has a drain (!) — many baby bath tubs do not for some reason, which is really irritating. Now I bathe Hill in the entire bath tub, which is mildly nerve-wracking since he is a monkey and climbs all over the place, making this tub mat absolutely essential to prevent slips.

A few friends have strongly recommended this seat, and I’m contemplating ordering it given how dangerous Hill makes bath time! I believe baby bath seats are a controversial topic as they are potentially dangerous if baby is left unattended, but — there you go.

P.S. More great baby bathtime gear here.

Q: What have you discovered/emphasized during quarantine that you will hold onto long-term?

A: I love this question — thank you for it.

One surprise is that I have become more waste-conscious in the kitchen and I don’t think that will change — ever. Pre-quarantine, if I felt like a bagel sandwich on a random Tuesday morning, I’d go out and get it despite a fully-stocked kitchen. During quarantine, the ordeal of coordinating groceries, occasional scarcity of supplies, and expense of having everything delivered has made me a lot more determined to plan meals ahead, eat what we have, and repurpose leftovers in future meals. I can barely remember what it was like to “run out to the grocery store for lemons.” We’ve eaten way more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than we have since our childhoods because sometimes lunch hour creeps up on you and you just have to make do. Generally, though, we have become ultra regimented in our meal planning in our attempts to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the number of times we have to go into a physical store. We plan everything out — lunches and dinners — about four or five days in advance. Accordingly, I keep meticulous stock of everything in our house so that we never run out of anything. I can’t imagine I’ll ever go back to, for example, using the toothpaste down to the end before running out to CVS.

Other changes: we are now longterm devotees of FaceTime with grandparents, cousins, and siblings and I will probably forever be sanitizing my hands, cringing at the sound of a cough, and avoiding touching anything while outside. (More on these thoughts here.)

In general, though, and more to the heart of it, like everyone else, I think this experience has taught me to take nothing for granted — my health, the proximity of loved ones, childcare, date nights, fresh produce, a glass of wine at the corner bar. When I finally saw my sister after nearly four months of separation, I clung to her for a good two minutes and cried. I will never forget what it has felt like to be separated from my family.

Q: Favorite interior design books/resources?

A: Ooh! These are my all-time favorites, and I turn to them for inspiration:





What I like about all of these books is that they are approachable and generally oriented around comfortable, livable homes that reflect your lifestyle and personality–not the glossy, unattainable, upholstered-to-high-hell castles of our dreams.

I follow the blogs/Instagram accounts of interior designers I love and constantly find inspiration from their projects and selections. I especially love Erin Gates and Amy Berry.

P.S. My most recent run-down of our apartment’s furnishings and decor here and inexpensive ways to personalize a home.

Q: I need advice on wallpaper! My husband and I just bought our first house (!!) and now need to decorate. We are looking to wallpaper our office (I’m eyeing the Katie Kime NYC toile print in yellow for a statement wall), our nursery for our baby girl, and a child’s playroom. Suggestions?

A: First — wow! Big congratulations on the new home! Second — love that toile! So fun for New Yorkers 🙂 Let me first say that I am desperate to one day wallpaper a room in Osborne and Little’s Farfalle wallpaper. Probably better suited to a small space, but it is #goalz. More generally, my biggest suggestion is to take some time to look over the work of interior designers you admire — I shared a few of mine in the question above. They often list their sources, or, if their selections are too pricey, can at least help you steer into a similar direction (i.e., this). That’s how we settled on the wallpaper in mini’s old bedroom — I pinned a ton of pictures of nurseries I loved and found I was specifically drawn to large-scale gingham and then had this designer on Spoonflower come up with a larger scale gingham than she had listed on the site just for me.

I love Erin Gates’ taste and she has a roundup of her favorite wallpapers here — can’t go wrong with any of them. And, I shared a fantastic resource for nursery wallpaper in this post on some of my favorite Etsy shops! Love that hot air balloon print!

Q: I’m looking for two armchairs to go in our sitting room to accompany our West Elm leather couch. Any ideas?

A: I like the way these interiors incorporate leather into casual but elegant living spaces:

Not knowing what else you have going on in there, let me suggest an arm chair with a print, possibly in blue? A few that I think are ultra-chic:




Two of my favorite rugs would look excellent alongside a leather couch and blue armchairs:



Q: Suggestions on a gift for a new baby boy? Would love to give something monogrammed.

A: Aw, welcome little buddy! I shared a couple of ideas on gifts for babies and their moms here, but a few quick links:






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4 thoughts on “More Magpie Mail: Transparent Sunglasses, Favorite Interior Designers, and Infant Tubs.

  1. I think Target has pivoted to their in-house Joy Lab brand for activewear, at least judging on what I can find at my store! I have a couple of bras and while I don’t love them as much as I do my old Outdoor Voices ones, I appreciate the modern designs.

    I SO feel you on the post-COVID awareness of food waste — from meal planning to occasional PB&Js. We have grown much more intentional and I can count on the number of takeout meals we’ve eaten since March 7 on one hand (!) — this is definitely something of which I am proud. I also feel you on never forgetting the feeling of being separated from family … it’s been so tough. I hope you had a wonderful time away with your family this past week!


    1. Hi MK – So interesting to revisit this comment on food waste. While away, I observed that everyone in the family was hyper intent on eating everything we’d brought, repurposing leftovers, etc. I think this must be a change many of us are feeling, along with a more general sense of self-reliance? I’ve seen friends start sewing things, altering their own clothes, giving themselves haircuts, dying their own hair, etc. Definitely a DIY movement, by necessity.


  2. ? I am a woman of substance, and I am a teacher. What are some main staples for my wardrobe that is trendy but classic. My heart is of an artist but my
    pockets are not deep (because I spend money on my students especially during distance learning. ) I am 64 if that matters :). Thank you

    1. Hi Carol! I love that you described yourself as “A woman of substance, and a teacher.” Yes!! You are, and wow – what a kindness to spend your money on your students. I personally think that shirtdresses are a timeless, classic, ageless way to look chic. I’ve been wearing these since my 20s and I still reach for them constantly. Some of the Lisa Marie Fernandez for Target styles are perfect since the slightly puffed sleeves and fun/feminine fabrics feel contemporary but the shape is classic:

      I have also had good luck with this shape at Banana Republic:

      The great thing about this style is that you can always “update it” next season with trendy accessories, like maybe a new pair of bright sandals or some great earrings.

      I also think pairing white jeans with a white airy blouse or even plain white tee is perennially fresh:

      I like this look with brown leather sandals…


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