What Weird Thing Do You Always Have With You?

By: Jen Shoop

My grandmother cut an elegant figure. She wore Chanel suits and Quelques Fleurs perfume and ladylike kisslock handbags and Ferragamo shoes and had her hair “done” at the salon. She was exquisitely formal. She did not tolerate uncouthness of any kind. When she entered a room, you felt her presence immediately, and you straightened your back and listened.

One summer afternoon when I was maybe twelve or thirteen, she took my mother and I out to play golf. Even her swing looked ladylike, as though somehow side-saddle. (I would later marvel over this particular accomplishment, as I eventually inherited her clubs and they were heavy, the old-fashioned kind that pre-dated all the lightweight technology we now have. I swear using her nine iron was like swinging a sledgehammer.) Despite the swampy heat of a D.C. summer, she was beautifully arranged, not a hair out of place, and as we drove the cart towards the ninth hole, she pulled a full-sized Snickers bar out of her purse. It was the most delightful surprise. “I always carry one with me,” she said, “In case I get hungry.”

Ha! A woman contains multitudes indeed.

I’m curious — do you have anything idiosyncratic you carry with you at all times?

I carry a gold cross that my great, great-aunt and namesake received on her Confirmation day. It is engraved with her name on the front and the date — June 10th, 1887 (!) — on the back. A talisman of sorts. Something to grab onto when needed, as was the case when I went into pre-term labor with my son and found myself speeding over to the East Side alone in a taxi, calling my mom in sobs. Sometimes I am groping for a lollipop or toy car to distract one of my children and my fingers brush against its shape and I am, to borrow from an earlier essay on prayer, “jarred, in a good way.” It is an article of faith and a relic of family. It always affords perspective, whether of the prayerful or historical kind. The fact that my great, great-aunt wore this same cross on a day of personal significance to her puts me in my place in some way, and also fills me with the warmth of belonging.

What about you? Do you have anything interesting you insist on carrying with you?


+Also always in my bag? A lot of pouches.

+Writing this post reminded me of my dad’s treasure chest.

+Do you collect anything?

+On children as troubles and treasures. I wrote this during the final weeks of my pregnancy with my son and — meep! All the feelings.

+Do you have hobbies?

+Writing, fishing, and the Roaring Fork.

+A talisman of another kind.

Shopping Break.

I’ll be sharing a handful of Black Friday sale finds later today, but in the meantime…

+This top is SO good in the rose gold color. It’s a variation on the style of this dress, which, as I mentioned recently, I keep coming back to. If I were attending a winter wedding, this would be the direction I’d head in, layered beneath a feathered bolero.

+I did pull the trigger on this sequinned beauty, the other dress I mentioned I kept coming back to. Of course it’s the one dress on the Internet not to be on sale this week, but I just couldn’t not and sizes were selling quickly. Every now and then a dress calls, loudly, to me, and I know I’ll wear this for holidays to come. I think I’ll wear it Christmas Eve but it would also work for NYE.

+Another top pick for a winter wedding or Christmas Eve look. J’adore j’adore.

+So excited I ordered myself this cookie book. I set it aside to to flip through it today with my morning coffee by the fire to pick out some new recipes to try this holiday season.

+Speaking of holiday baking: some of my favorite recipes here, and do I need this tartan apron for the season?!

+I have to say — I ordered a couple of additional J. Crew tissue turtlenecks this season (I feel like I add 1-2 new ones each season…they always have such great colors and these are far and away my most-worn base layers) and, against all odds, I feel as thought the quality of this specific product has IMPROVED this year vs. last. Doesn’t it always feel like things are going the other way, i.e., quality is degrading? Last year’s tissue tees were a tiny bit stiff, with less stretch. This year’s have been ultra-soft and more stretchy and I’m in love. I am specifically in love with this year’s heather platinum color — so, so chic and different from black/white/navy.

+I used Tuckernuck’s Black Friday promo code to buy Mr. Magpie more of these boxers. I always put a pair in his stocking — good underpinnings are underrated!

+PSA: the play kitchen I bought mini for Christmas is now on sale for 30% off, as is this craft library, which my children still love. Just this morning, I woke up and mini had spread all her gear at her table in her room and was making caterpillars using the popsicle sticks and pom poms!

+I ordered mini this $20 sherpa vest in the beige color and might go back for the blue. Mini loves that color and it’s such a fun add-on to any outfit — somehow makes it all look intentional!

+OK, WOW WOW. This Emilia Wickstead is beyond stunning — elegant a la my grandmother! — and is on sale, plus an extra 40%. It is expensive but I’m imagining it for a mother-of-the-bride or maybe a vow renewal or a Baptism or some other major ceremony or occasion. It could even work as a city hall bride option if you’re not wedded to white. The tailoring!

+Poppy Bows on Etsy is one of my favorite small businesses — I have bought bows from her for years. (If I don’t buy from her, I almost always buy Wee Ones off Amazon.) She does such great colors.

+Tartine et Chocolat is a gorgeous, traditional, and highly-expensive children’s brand that I’ve never purchased from but always admired. A few of their pieces totally took my breath away this season, including this gingham bubble and this tiny faux fur coat (the poms!).

+This 2-cardigan set is $24 for the pair and SO sweet/classic.

+If you are going somewhere warm this winter, one of my fool-proof formulas for a chic seasonal wardrobe is to invest in some statement shoes like these Pucci sandals and then pick up inexpensive little white dresses — even something like this $30 white tee dress! Instantly elevated and polished.

+Some great children’s finds on sale this week here.

+Holiday outfits for children.

+Gifts for men, women, older children, younger children, and babies. And also: gifts for women who have it all and gifts under $30.

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4 thoughts on “What Weird Thing Do You Always Have With You?

  1. Among my friends, I am known as the one who ALWAYS has chargers. My favorite is via TIBAL since it can charge just about any device and means you don’t need any cords. Often, when I travel, this is the only charger I bring. It makes for the ultimate Secret Santa gift (works for men & women, universal to Apple/Android and is often in a reasonable budget category- $35-40 depending on any current promotions).

    I also carry my grandmother’s silver pill case with benadryl, aleve and a few other personal medications.

    I love your talisman and sentimental item! Maybe one day I will have something like that but for now am content with my practical items.

    1. These are so great! I love that though the pills are functional, you carry them in something sentimental!


  2. All of the things I carry are practical but I do always have my great-grandmother’s or great-grandfather’s wedding ring on my right hand. They had identical bands made in Germany and my mom has one, while I have the other. It’s a beautiful family heirloom that I wear daily.

    I also have a ring that my dad used to wear in the 70’s and early 80’s. He passed away 3 yrs ago and my plan is to also wear it daily, once I take it to a jeweler to make sure the stone is secure.

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