I thought I’d do an update to the Q+A post I did awhile back to include some more recently-asked questions.
Q: What sweater are you wearing in your most recent Instastory [screenshot above — I was annoyed from the 1349398th day of packing!]?
A: This one from Zara, which is sadly sold out — but put your name on the waiting list, because I’ve done that for other items, and they’ve re-stocked! If you can’t wait, check out this or this. I also almost bought this. Can’t stop with pearls!!! (Ahem.)
Q: You have so many great minimagpie posts, but I just need a recommendation for a good baby shower gift and I don’t know where to look. Thoughts?
A: You can browse my registry for bigger ticket items, but below are a few items not featured on that list that I’ve loved as a new mom that didn’t make my registry but wound up being total MVPs and that would make darling baby gifts:
+Zutano fleece booties. Come in so many colors and actually stay on a newborn’s foot! So cozy. I’d pair them/coordinate them with any of the clothes/jammies from Monica + Andy, but especially their blankets (more prints here). I would normally caution against a baby blanket because I received maybe a dozen of them and over half had never been used and were recently donated in the move! — but these are exceptional. They are really well-made (they wash well) and they are a unique breathable muslin fabric that makes them ideal for summertime. Sort of like an oversized swaddle. Plus, the prints are darling — you’ll be the cutest mom on the block at your next music class when everyone else is spreading out their little blankets!
+Boppy Lounger. Probably my most-used baby product up until around 7 months! So convenient to pop her in here while feeding her a bottle or snoozing at my side. This might be good along with a book (any of the books here would make a great accoutrement!) or toy (every baby needs one of these. Mini has loved hers since she was born, basically!) or Wubbanub.
+I mean REALLY. A baby in an animal towel? It’s just too cute for words, and I appreciate that these towels in particular are extra plush and cozy. The one we got from Aden + Anais was paper thin. I would maybe wrap this up along with some bath accessories, like a classic rubber duck and some baby shampoo (I love this stuff). Whenever we have friends over and they give mini a goodnight kiss before bed, just after she’s out of the bath, they flip over how good she smells. I think it’s this shampoo, but I also use Mustela baby lotion and it smells divine, too. Or, and I’ve not used it but have friends who do, the entire baby line from Beauty Counter looks beautiful and would be an elegant gift all wrapped up, too!
Q: I’m currently on the hunt for a large pom beanie hat. Tell me, do you remember the slightly pricier version that was so popular last winter?
A: Love an oversized pom! I did a post recently that included some of my favorite cold weather accessories, pom hats included, but I know exactly what you’re referring to — the ultra-covetable, pricy, chic hats by Eugenia Kim. Gilt has a few on sale — I love this one!
Q: I’m looking for a gift with a price tag of under $50 that I can give to people in my life like my brother-in-law, my cousin, etc. Basically, a nice gesture but nothing too, too expensive or personal. What would you give?
I rounded up my favorite go-to gifts for any occasion here, but a few other ideas:
+The personalizable mini pillows from here. So chic and cheeky!
+Really good olive oil. Don’t you hate spending money on olive oil? It feels like we go through a bottle a week. I’d love to be treated to something like this, especially something that looks attractive on the counter top — although we often funnel ours into one of these.
+I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the greatest gifts my mother-in-law ever gave me was a set of 12 of these appetizer plates. The perfect size for a little snack, or dessert, or — duh — appetizers.
Q: I have a daughter that’s around minimagpie’s age and I’m running out of creative meals for her…any ideas?
I hear ya. I didn’t follow the baby led weaning approach that seems to be very popular among my mama friends, so I’m still feeding her lots of purees and simply mashed items — which can get boring. I just bought this cookbook and have started cooking her slightly more interesting dishes from it, but below are a few of my favorite things to feed minimagpie:
+Yogurt or cottage cheese.
+Two-ingredient pancakes. (This is an incredible breakfast hack and it creates simple, healthy pancakes that are soft enough for mini to chew and swallow and surprisingly non-disgusting. Mash up a banana and one egg. I add a little bit of cinnamon as I read somewhere that exposing babies to as many flavors as possible during their first year will prevent them from becoming picky eaters — and spices are easy to mix into things! Heat a pan with a little butter and cook ’em like usual pancakes! Mini loves them!)
+Mashed banana or avocado
+Acai bowl — Mr. Magpie and I love these for breakfast and they’re easy to feed mini, too. We blend a packet of frozen acai with fresh or frozen berries, half a banana, and some pomegranate juice. We top ours with slices of banana and granola. Mini just eats hers from a spoon!
+Mango or pear (or both!) blended in the blender.
+Kiwi, blueberries, or apple fed through a fruit pulp feeder.
+I recently made her a pear dish she loved using the cookbook above — I peeled and cored a few pears, roasted them with some olive oil in the oven, blended them up, and added a little bit of rosemary and almond butter at the end. Actually pretty tasty; the cookbook says you could even use it as a spread with cheese as an adult! I made a big batch and then froze some of the extra using one of these trays.
A few things I tried that she was not as crazy about (though I will try again!): hummus, soft-scrambled eggs, oatmeal.
Let’s be real, though — I’ve leaned on a lot of pouches from Ella’s Kitchen and Plum Organics over the past month’s transition to New York.
Also, my favorite feeding gear is here.
Q: I’m a recent college grad decorating my first apartment on a budget. Where do I start?
I always start by thumbing through my interior design books. I especially love this Nate Berkus book, this Domino book, and this one by interior designer and blogger Erin Gates. They always give me new ideas, even if I can’t afford the top-of-the-line custom furniture pieces or high-end original art they feature — I might get inspired by a specific color or theme or be able to replicate the look for less by searching on Etsy, LetGo, or HomeGoods. So start there to get a sense for what you want/like.
In my opinion, the best place to invest is a bed you love and a really good mattress. I say this for a few reasons: a good headboard can serve as decor — it means you need to do less to “finish” your bedroom. Also, while you will almost certainly move to a different apartment with different specifications and dimensions, your bed will always fit into a bedroom (unless you get a California King or something), whereas you might not be able to repurpose that ginormous L-shaped couch you got, or that oversized dining table. One of the first things I bought myself when moving into my first post-college apartment was a white wood bed from Crate and Barrel that looks somewhat like this, though mine had wainscoting detail for a beachy/Cape Cod look. (We just sold that bed frame when we moved to NYC and I’ll admit I shed a tear — it was such a big milestone, buying that first frame myself!) I think Crate and Barrel makes some really great furniture — classic, well-built, timeless. My bed held up for over a decade and countless moves! We used it in our guest bedroom eventually, because we bought this bed for our master. In short, you always need a bed, and you spend like half of your life in one, so you might as well spend that time in style! For this reason, I also urge you to buy a really good mattress. Think about how precious good sleep is! (Mr. Magpie stopped snoring when we upgraded our mattress!)
I think you can be thriftier when it comes to a couch, dining set, and coffee table. Prowl LetGo, Craigslist, and — if you’re in NY — AptDeco for steals, especially on things like coffee tables and dining sets. (You might want to buy anything upholstered brand-new unless you happen upon one in great condition.) For those pieces you do want to buy new, check out One King’s Lane and scour the sale sections of West Elm and Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel regularly. I’ve gotten lucky with that approach.
Finally, think outside the box when it comes to wall decor, which can get pricey. In my opinion, nothing looks sadder than a too-small piece of art on a huge wall. I’d rather have bare walls! But think about things like this:
+Find a bunch of coordinating vintage prints for cheap on Etsy, frame them, and arrange them in a grid on a wall. I did this with some Audubon bird prints and it turned out gorgeous.
+Hang a bunch of plates, either all-matching in color (white?) or mismatched with different colors, artfully on a wall using these — see below!
Feel free to email me any additional questions at firstname.lastname@example.org! I love mail and have gotten some great blog post ideas from you, like this one!