I have gained a lot of new readers in the last few weeks (thanks, Inslee and Mackenzie!) and, though the new search function in the upper right hand corner of the blog may be useful in getting to know me and my varied and meandering musings, I thought I’d curtsy into our newfound relationship (welcome!) with a kind of “greatest hits” post:
+On self-confidence and the dreaded imposter syndrome: Nobody and Somebody.
+On grief and the loss of a high school friend: Ladybird, Loss, and the Visitation.
+On accountability and the power of language: The Weight of Words.
+On motherhood (a very candid look): The Elegant but Lopsided Dance of Motherhood.
+On space, identity, and memory — all through the lens of my beloved hometown: D.C. and the Parochial Wild.
+On the transformative power of reading: Reading, Elasticity, and the Greater Than / Less Than Equation.
+On growing comfortable with the uncertainties of life in my 30s: Turning 34: I Don’t Know, and That’s OK.
+On coming to terms with the reality of death: The Sense of an Ending.
+On balancing intellectual curiosity with the tug of the real world: Between Two Extremes: Lessons from Brooks Hall and Beyond.
+On the tremendous gift of being the daughter to my parents: Lucky to Be Children.
+On the prodigious gift of being the sister to my siblings: Siblinghood Does That to You.
+On becoming a mother and its impact on my identity and my relationship with my husband: Remaining Interesting.
These are my favorite posts I’ve ever written and I have read through each and every email and comment on them dozens of times. (At one point, I even shared my favorite Magpie comments of all time. Thank you for your graciousness, your gentleness, your intelligence in setting me straight or building me up or cautioning me or seconding me. And also — for just listening. The most underrated of all talents.)
And if you want to know my absolute favorite things ever, check out my best of everything series.
+The most popular items I’ve featured on my blog this month: this fabulous cocktail dress and these dreamy joggers. Could I love you any more, my readers?! Gals who get dolled up but are eager to get home early and crawl into bed with soft cotton joggers and a good book (<<I should have mentioned this yesterday, but I’m currently reading this on the good word of my dear friend A.)
+Last night’s book club was electric, mind-broadening. There was something so deeply satisfying about sitting among a quorum of brilliant women discussing this female-centric text in the cradle of creativity (aka, Inslee’s art studio). Magic. We voted (loosely) and have decided to read The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock. We also moved the in-person convening up to November 19th to accommodate travel schedules in case you are reading along in real time with us. The streak of strong female writers continues!
+When I got to the floor of Inslee’s art studio, I smelled Diptyque Baies wafting down the hallway. Only I came to find it wasn’t Diptyque’s Baies — it was this scent by Hawkins New York! Inslee let us in on a little secret: “Life hack: how to get Diptyque without spending $70 on a candle.” I’m curious whether their Hudson scent will be a sufficient dupe for my favorite fall/winter Diptyque scent: Feu de Bois.
+At the wedding I attended last weekend, the father of the groom extolled his son’s many virtues at the rehearsal dinner and said something I have been carrying around with me since: “Steve, every day, you do all the right things at all the right times.” It was a perfect portrait of this dutiful, deeply good man — and put so simply and elegantly, too. I have been thinking about his characterization daily as I march through my routines: am I living a life of comparable conscientiousness?
+I am writing a bit of fiction and in one scene, I imagine the main character wearing this. I can’t see her in anything else but this. The minute I saw that dress, it coalesced with the image of a Gatsby-esque party at a mansion in the Hamptons, the light tinkling of china and glass, the polite hum of conversation, the greenswards and the live nine-piece band with their brassy instruments and white gloves and the crunch of gravel as cars come and go in the cul de sac. She must wear this dress. I wonder if I should buy it now that it’s marked down so heavily, just in case I ever do anything with this bit of fiction, and just in case I should need to wear it to some future event where I can smugly tell myself: “This dress brought me here.”
+Also: Shopbop just added a ton of great finds to their sale section. I love this Saloni (what a surprise), this striped tee dress (which I might buy and put away for next summer — the perfect dress for traipsing around Central Park with mini and my trusty GG sneakers), this floral blouse (for under joveralls!), these silver mules. I’m not usually into a chunky heel like this, but I am dying over that print, and the overall look is geeky chic in a way I find compelling. Would look so stylish paired with a classic trench coat!
+I get this question a lot: what’s a good gift for a new mom? My neighbor just gave birth and I knew instantly what I would get her, which is what a dear friend of mine gave to me a few days after mini was born: a big bag full of fancy sandwich fixings. Think: Sir Kensington’s mayo, high-end pastrami and lacey swiss and rosemary ham and havarti, dijon mustard, fancy pickles, and bread from a really good local bakery. I wrapped each item in cellophane and tied it with a big bow, and then also bagged up some kettle chips, chocolate covered raisins, and dried fruit. Let me tell you: those first two or three weeks are a hazy blur and it somehow feels like you don’t have even a few minutes to make yourself something to eat. Having the material to make a midnight sandwich — and a fancy one to boot — is like magic. Strongly recommend. I always keep a roll of cellophane, a stack of treat bags, and a huge spool of thick white satin ribbon on hand for these kinds of occasions.
+Of course, I couldn’t gift the parents something without also spoiling the baby. I often give the Boppy as a gift because it was a true lifesaver for me (one big surprise of new motherhood: you need multiple places to put the baby throughout the day), but the tiny confines in which we New Yorkers live made me hesitate. What if she already had a few places to stow the baby? Instead, I went with a tried and true Kissy Kissy footie (<<I love this print because it’s not super frou-frou and girly, and this mama does not seem like she’d be that way; this brand makes THE softest jammies and you can never have enough on hand!) and a wubbanub.
+Random, but have I told you how much I love my brown sugar keepers? I have one for light sugar and one for dark sugar. For years I would grumble to myself as I’d reach into my brown sugar bag and find a stiff block. Not so anymore.