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My Latest Snags.

I stocked up on all holiday gift wrap this past week — Rifle is still (I believe?) running its sale, with 30% off their holiday wrap, and I supplemented with some great Target Wondershop patterns, including this pink Santa pattern, these skiiers, and this silver Santa one. The quality of the Wondershop rolls is inferior to that of Sugar Paper x Target, but good for bulky kids’ gifts.

I also stocked up on some weekend wear for my girl, buying her this seasonal Hanna Andersson dress and a few items from Boden: a patterned sweatshirt dress, pointelle tees, and their soft jersey pattern dresses.

This Week’s Bestsellers.


Weekend Musing: The Women Who Hold the Universe Together.

One of my good friends is a phenomenally empathetic listener. Her baseline is warm, reassuring acceptance, and, in her company, the contents of my heart tumble right out with neither prompt nor pause. Last summer, as I was singing her praises to her husband, he replied: “She’s amazing. But sometimes she’s so empathetic that she forgets to put herself first. She takes on everyone else’s baggage. I want her to take care of herself, too.”

I’ve been thinking about my friend from this discerning vantage ever since. I am trying to be more aware of what I throw out between us — not to censor myself, exactly, but just to pause and ask myself whether xyz is something she needs to worry about. Or at least take quick stock of what else has she been carrying around (that I know of) before adding anything to the wagon. It is easy to throw out platitudes for her to adopt —

Put your own life jacket on first. It’s OK to say no! Channel main character energy. Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.

But what might those of us who surround these women of substance be able to do to help? I’m coming around to the view that if we are lucky enough to be close to those women who hold up the sky, we have a responsibility to lighten the load a bit. To knock things off the pile. To block freight before it arrives. To remind them, gently, that they don’t need to carry that thing around. And if that’s not possible, at the bare minimum, to ask, pointedly, how they are doing, and to listen.

Are you the type of woman who puts others first? I’m thinking of you today. I see you holding the universe together.

Do you have a friend who holds up the sky? Here is a little nudge to check in on her.

For M.


+Obsessed with this cranberry-colored Naghedi. You might recall I own this in the most fun shade of buttercup yellow for summer but want this one for the cool months now!

+Love the look of these pants in that fetching green.

+Blockprint tree skirts for under $60!

+Cute colored leggings set for your little lady.

+This Gap satin top and pants get-up is SO good. I can’t decide which color I like better?!

+While there, the velvet baby boot cut pants we all need (great price) and the cutest little sherpa teddy bear bag for your mini me.

+This little porcelain holiday “village” is well-priced and so charming for a mantel!

+This feather vest is SOOOOOoooooOOOO chic.

+Fun space-dyed knit gloves and matching hat.

+If you are spending the holidays somewhere warm, you need this. I own it in a different pattern and it gets so many compliments. Love this pattern!

+Also for snowbirds: these chic suits, and of course a fresh Hunza G!

+The color of this dress is spectacular!

+Bought my son this retro-cool Nike jogger set.

+I generally think slime should be banned, but this monster slime set would bring so much joy to my children. Possibly a good rainy day activity…

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!

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P.S.  “Sometimes we hear our names, and the only thing we can do is call out with joy.”

P.P.S. Pouring from the center, not the rim.

P.P.P.S. 26 letters and 14 marks.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds.

One evening a few years ago, I was crouched beside my bed in NYC, frantically wrapping a stack of gifts before a few family members arrived for a Christmas cocktail hour. I’d gotten into the habit of “on-demand wrapping,” meaning I’d dig beneath my bed for my bin of gift wrap materials a few hours prior to crossing paths with the recipient, and then wait until the next convening to wrap the next gift for the next recipient. I sat back on my heels, annoyed, wondering whether slapping a bow on the top would suffice. The experience had become unpleasant, harried, and entirely devoid of meaning. I thought of my mother-in-law, who would never have permitted this to happen. My MIL is the type of person who makes everything magic by virtue of careful, artful presentation. An appetizer is never without the perfect plate and festive cocktail napkin. An activity for the children will materialize with a big bow or cello wrap on top. A small hand-made ornament will be equally as beautiful as the display case she’s designed for it. On birthdays, she festoons her dining room with garlands and pinwheels and beautifully arranged vases of flowers, transforming the space into a gift itself. The effect? Magic. A feeling of being held and loved. Head-on celebratoriness. Attention is a form of love.

I will never be able to replicate or even approach her talents in this category, but I sat there and thought: “I’m missing something here.” When did gift-giving and gift-wrapping become such a chore, so distant from its original intent, which is (I think) to say: “I see you and I love you and I wanted to give you something to show you how carefully I listen to you.”

The following year, I changed tack. I designated one evening in early December to enjoy the gift-wrapping process. I pulled out all the gift wrap accoutrements, put on a Christmas movie, mixed up a holiday cocktail, and enlisted Mr. Magpie’s company. I felt better tethered to the true meaning of gifting, as I found Mr. Magpie and I discussing each item, why it had been selected, and what the recipient would make of it. We also took our time, pausing to watch the movie, enjoy the cocktail, relax. I felt as though we’d reclaimed the gifting process. It had become something to savor and celebrate rather than “that thing we need to get done because it’s expected of us.” I should mention that this change in perspective (and process) arrived on the heels of a broader insight that I had been rushing through the parts of my daily life that felt like “interruptions to” rather than “the fabric of” my life. I’d realized, with some shock, that the chores, the errands, the meal prep, the gift wrapping were not “getting in the way of living” — they were part of living, its very architecture. It’s not that we always enjoy them, but we can at least attend to them with focus. Gift giving happens to be one of those areas that can, in fact, be pleasant and even profound if I make the space for it.

My suggestion is this: at some point in the next month, set aside a night to enjoy the gifting process. Put on a holiday playlist, mix up a cocktail (egg nog gets my vote — recipe following), spread out the gift wrap all over the living room floor, and make it a holiday ritual rather than crammed-in-where-it-can-be chore.

My email subscribers received a special edition this morning that includes my favorite holiday cookie and cocktail recipes, holiday playlists, gift wrapping inspo, gift tag prompts (printable, or you can just crib the prompt onto your own tag!), and more that are helping me get into the spirit this year round. I’m sharing Mr. Magpie’s Egg Nog recipe below (carefully refined over the years!), but if you want the full email, you can sign up here and I’ll send it over!

Mr. Magpie’s Egg Nog.


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+For the nog, we use these glasses, and order our nutmeg from here.

+I shared a detailed post on making excellent cocktails at home here. Most of our favorite cocktail-making gear can be found here.

+All of my gift wrap closet must-haves here. I also have a section of my favorite Amazon gift wrap finds here.

+Meaningful gifts for men, women, and children.

+Fun holiday finds from Amazon.

+It’s been really cold in DC this week (in the 20s! — in Chicago, this was “warm” for this time of year), and I’ve been wearing my Dudley Stephens fleece over tissue turtlenecks and beneath my heavy-duty winter parka. Perfect layering recipe.

+A cute and virtually unbreakable set of holiday trees for a little one’s room.

+I’m going to be “guest reader” in my son’s classroom today (he is going to FLIP), and I had fun picking out a book from our bookshelves to bring in. Curious: what would you bring in to read to your child’s class? (I feel like this is a good litmus for selecting an engaging, fun, beautiful book!). I’m currently debating between The Digger and the Flower and Grumpy Monkey, two of my favorite books to read to Hill. Both have beautiful messages, but are engaging to read with great illustrations.

+These shearling-lined trainers are so chic! Love!

+Yesterday, I mentioned a feathered, cropped jacket as a great topper for evening wear. I found the look for less here!


+J. McLaughlin is sending me this coat in the pale pink!!! Eek! So cute!

+MEEP — tiny NB 550s!

+Speaking of sneakers, love these rainbow APLs for me…

+Chanel earmuffs. So extra, so amazing.

+Pulled-together lounge outfit.

+Did you order your holiday cards already? These are SO cute!

+I added some holiday round-ups to my LTK feed here.

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Some really fab new arrivals at Zara lately —

01. A metallic sweater like this or this.

02. A red velvet slip dress. This is just so sexy! I saw this and thought, “This is what you’d wear to a holiday party if you had a crush on another attendee.” More narrowly, I was thinking of the character in “Love Actually” who wants to date that handsome guy in her office. (P.S. Finish with a fab party shoe.)

03. These leopard-print Mary Janes add just the right amount of off-kilter to your classic look.

04. Bottle green velvet skirt. I like the idea of going monochromatic and pairing with a deep green blouse, just in a different fabric for a little texture contrast — she’s perfect.

05. Reminiscent of Jenni Kayne’s now-sold-out Cooper cardigan, but under $100.

06. Classic red turtleneck (somehow on sale for $22) — love this paired with metallic jeans (<<my pair, and I recommend sizing up, but Zara and Gap have looks for less).

07. This bold coatigan is delightfully weird and funky — it has an Isabel Marant / Fortela vibe. I’d pair with my Isabel Marant Duerto boots (<<50% off!) for an urban cowgirl moment.

08. Pour les enfants: you cannot miss this intarsia ski sweater, this textured coat, or this corduroy dress.

Made a little look board for a few of the pieces showing how I’d style…



P.S. Sensory play ideas for littles.

P.P.S. Random thoughts on music snobbery and Taylor Swift.

P.P.P.S. Updated my Shopbop Hearts this week!

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds.

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In today’s Ask Magpie installment, sharing some questions I’ve answered for Magpies one-on-one over the past week or two…

Q: How does the J. Crew metallic turtleneck run?

A: Maybe just shy of TTS. It doesn’t have as much stretch in it as their typical tissue turtlenecks because of the metallic threading, but I still took an XS and it fits great, and so would advise taking your true size. You can see me in it here and here. A great holiday wardrobe addition. Upgrade pick: Majestic Filatures.

Q: Favorite everyday mascara?

A: Just ordered this one that has been getting rave reviews (and I generally love everything Westman Atelier does), but for the past few weeks, I’ve been using Merit’s Clean Lash for everyday. It is so, so good at separating lashes! I’ve never seen anything like it — your lashes multiply! I normally avoid tubing mascaras (such a pain to remove!), but this one is not as agonizing to remove. I usually am able to get most of it off just while washing my face like usual with warm water. I also really love Ilia’s Limitless Lash for daytime (natural, non-clumpy, but lengthening) and Giorgio Armani’s Eyes to Kill is my forever favorite, but it’s inkier and more dramatic. Thank you for asking this question because mascara is my absolute favorite beauty product on the planet! If I could only take three cosmetics with me to a desert island, they would be mascara, concealer, and blush. Probably in that order. I feel like a defined lash makes me look awake, alert, feminine! Love to accent the eyes.

Q: What was the neutral nubby cardigan you mentioned recently? Had pockets.

A: This Alex Mill!

Q: What were the snow boots you recommended for kids?

A: We love these ones from Kuling. Easy to pull on/off but have a toggle at the shin so you can cinch. Have an impressively heavy bottom that really keeps feet dry and warm.

Q: What about the snow bibs? How does the sizing run?

A: We love the ones from Northern Classics. Very well-made with a minimalist design. My kids have been wearing them for skating lessons as the temps dip, too. I’d say they run generally TTS but my typical strategy is to buy a size up for the first year so they can stretch for two seasons. A little bit oversized is no big deal! I bought the 4 for Hill when he was 3, and the 6 for Emory when she was 5, and they’ve been fine both last year and this one. My advice (if you have multiple kids) is to buy a gender neutral color like navy or white so they can be handed down and can be easily mixed/matched with outerwear.

Q: How is the pant length on the Kilte cashmere set?

A: I am 5’0 and they skim but do not drag on the floor. See below! I will typically wear this around the house, so just plan to pair with my slippers and it won’t be an issue.

Q: Gloves for kids?

A: We have the snow mittens from Northern Classics, too, but my kids generally avoid mittens in favor of gloves so they can play / climb / etc more easily. I like to buy these cheapie 3-packs from H&M — colors are good/neutral and you won’t be annoyed when a pair or two go missing!

Q: Where are your two heart necklaces from?

A: The smaller one is Dorsey and I had it engraved with E+H for my two babies, and the longer one is Jane Win, and I had it engraved with my husband’s initials!

Q: Rec for a puffer vest to layer?

A: Lululemon (really good color options right now), Alpha Industries, or Moncler ($$$$).

Q: What coat do you wear with a formal dress?

A: For full-length/floor-length/tea-length, I would advise something that intentionally hits at waist or hip, and specifically love a feathered jacket for this situation, or something like this shearling. If you wear a standard-length wool coat that hits right at knee or calf, it will look sloppy. If the dress is shorter, a long wool coat (also love this simple black one) or tweed coat.

Q: What size do you take in the Gap kick fits?

A: I take my true size but in the petite inseam. Fits like a guh-love.

Q: Edgy cocktail dress for a holiday party in NYC. Downtown vibe.

A: This ALC (more sizes here) or this Doen.

Q: Rehearsal dinner dress for wedding in Aspen in spring. “Upscale Western.”


Q: Puffer in a fun color?

A: Does gold count? Love this one — it’s at the top of my wishlist. This J. McLaughlin is fun in the pale pink, and Gap always does great colors.

Q: Dress coat for my five year old daughter.

A: I love these ones from La Coqueta (bought for mini in the green this year) but Gap has an adorable pea coat option with precious gold buttons. The website doesn’t do it justice — snapped this one in the store this week. It’s currently (at time of writing!) on sale for around $70.

P.S. More outerwear favorites for us and our littles.

P.P.S. “You can change who you are at any time, and with nobody’s permission.”

P.P.P.S. What is it about John Mayer?

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes later this week.

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I spent a good portion of last night curled up in bed with an extra-large, ice-cold glass of water, scrolling through Net-A-Porter’s absolutely epic sale section. There are so many fantastic finds! My trick for finding the best things quickly? I have “favorited” my top designers to my Net-A-Porter account, so when a sale goes live, I can filter all sale finds to just show those labels. (Then I filter by my size, and usually low-to-high price.) Even with these shortcuts, there was a lot of good stuff to go through, including some unexpected treasures, like Lululemon Aligns, 50% off, and lots of Doen for 40-50% off. Below, just the creme de la creme.


I tried to focus the above on current-season finds, but if you are thinking ahead to warm weather travel, the resort sale options are beyond. I am salivating over their Loretta Caponi pieces — would love to pack this and this for Mexico! — and this Doen is absolutely charming. I’ve also long loved these feather-trim La Double J blouses for a festive mid-spring moment.

P.S. “Life rearranges itself to accommodate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.” Musings on this gorgeous sentiment by Hanya Yanagihara here.

P.P.S. On finding a “baggy” life — a life loose enough to live in.

P.P.P.S. A mnemonic I try to use when I find myself being quick to judge.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

Every year, we watch “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” the week of Thanksgiving with our best friends. We even pulled it off during the depths of the pandemic, when we set up a Zoom call so that we could watch and talk at the same time, cheersing from our separate Manhattan apartments, seventy blocks away from one another. (They huddled in Chelsea; we were homesteading on 86th Street.) The ritual is less about the movie at this point (we often talk over it, or compete to anticipate its lines ahead of time) and more about making time before a very busy season to catch up and laugh at ourselves in only the way old friends can. It is always one of my favorite nights of the year. As the years go by, I find we are all becoming increasingly affectionate about the gathering, as though it is already trapped in amber, a cherished, decades-old holiday tradition that we will one day bore our children talking about (“when you were little, we always gathered the week of Thanksgiving…”). This go around, we sat at the kitchen counter for a few hours before the movie to drink egg nog, finish a puzzle we’d had out since before Thanksgiving, and compare notes on Tom Lake, bad movies and television shows we’d recently sat through (we all hated “Bottoms”), and the imminent television content crisis (what will we all do next year when the writer’s strike catches up with us and there are no new shows?), among other wide-ranging topics. As we settled in front of the TV for the viewing portion of the evening, I anticipated the cozy, lived-in nostalgia of a movie I’d seen dozens of times, but this time, one exchange leapt out at me, piercing my somnolence:

Del: You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I’m an easy target. Yeah, you’re right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing. I like…I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.

I’ve heard — and been moved by — this poignant speech year after year. (If you’ve not seen the movie, John Candy’s friendly Midwestern sales guy character is responding to a slew of criticisms from Steve Martin’s uptight businessman character after they’ve unexpectedly found themselves travel companions as they attempt to make their way from NYC to Chicago for Thanksgiving.) It’s always touching, but this go around, I found myself focused on: “I’m not changing. I like…I like me.”

The phrasing wrapped itself around me, hug-like. If we like ourselves, if we truly consider ourselves good and worthy people, if we treat ourselves as friends, affording ourselves the same grace and assuming the best intentions as we would our loved ones, then life’s turbulences (an insult from a hurting person, a strangely sour interaction in a grocery store) become easier to bear. I called to mind a quote from the Pema Chodron book I’ve been making my way through:

“When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too.”

This is the arrangement to which I am consciously aspiring: I am working on becoming better friends with myself. I like her; I need her to know that.

How do we operationalize this?

I think the most helpful, practical first step is to focus on becoming an expert in myself. Get to know her! So far, this has mainly been achieved by monitoring my own moods, peaks, pits and looking for patterns.

What do I need to recharge? When do I feel most like myself? What are my core strengths, and how do I play to those? What are my weaknesses, and how do I improve or understand how to navigate situations in which they will called upon? What do I hate doing and why? What do I love doing? Why am I always anxious in this particular situation? When am I at my most comfortable? Why do I feel lethargic/frustrated/stressed at this time of day, or this day of the week? What does a good day look like? Am I most productive in the morning or evening? Why am I running from this situation? What do I really want out of this arrangement?

Then, with a sound sense for our own shapes, we can learn to wrap our arms around ourselves. “I know you snapped because you are always stressed at this time of day,” and “You need to take a break and spend some time alone.”

What strategies do you have for befriending yourself?


If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

+The internal mother.

+What does your internal voice sound like?

+Grandma Hadley’s lettuce.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+LOVE the Gucci-esque colors of these Adidas Gazelles.

+Inexpensive holiday look: this silver skirt is under $30! Pair with a chunky knit or black turtleneck.

+This sherpa jacket is reversible and gives major Toteme vibes. Under $250.

+A girlfriend of mine asked for ski clothes recs. I am not a skiier (!) but I still take note of what’s trending in this category because I daydream about being a woman who skis. Goldbergh is splurgey James Bond heroine gear. Zara has a fun new ski collection with lots of chic finds in this vein for less. And Sweaty Betty always has stylish, well-designed pieces. How great is this base layer?

+Veronica Beard’s new arrivals…drool! My favorite blazer (I own in denim) is now available in a navy and black lace situation; this chocolate brown sweater is divine; and I love the cuffed jeans!

+This is one of the best storage solutions I’ve ever come across. I got in the biggest size and stow most of my out-of-season footwear in it. Surprisingly sturdy.

+If you like my Gucci logo tights but not the price tag, these are a good option. Pair with any LBD for a dramatic twist.

+Cute sub-$60 sherpa-puffer jacket.

+Grinch jammies! My kids are obsessed with all of the Grinch movies, and we’ve also been listening to its soundtrack a lot in the mornings.

+We use these cheapie kitchen towels instead of paper towels most of the time. I toss the soiled ones in a wire bin under the sink and launder every few days.

+This fleece pullover in the cardinal red color!

Images above via Stylecaster and The Impression. This post may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

I am suddenly drawn to glacial blue, which seems to be popping up all over the place. Love the way this icy hue compliments trending metallics! I am specifically eyeing this patterned Cara Cara turtleneck — such GREAT prints from this brand, and the patterned turtleneck is such an easy way to feel polished and interesting with minimal effort. Mix up the look by layering beneath different cardigans/blazers, pairing with corduroys/skirts/jeans.

I’m also seriously considering this pastel blue fair isle cardigan from Alex Mill after spotting it on the ever chic Nicole Cassidy. Look for less with this or this.

$435 // $245 // $49

I also think this gorgeous blue coat from LSF would be a spectacular winter statement!

Below, my favorite finds in this palette.


*Included in Saks’ Cyber Week promotion ($50 off every $200 you spend with code CYBER23SF). You can see a few of my favorite picks, and me styling a gorgeous Alice + Olivia dress included in the promo, here.

P.S. Long-sleeved tops for winter.

P.P.S. On the go children’s activities.

P.P.P.S. My favorite home organization gear.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

On a long and cold morning run the day after Thanksgiving, I conducted a post-mortem of the holiday’s festivities:

Food — excellent, thanks to Mr. Magpie.

Logistics — could be enhanced by designating trusted guests to help with two specific just-before-mealtime tasks: a) a drink-filling (to circulate the room and make sure everyone is set with beverages just before we sit), and b) a plate-filling (to help with transferring items to their serving dishes).

Other — My son refused to wear the $80 sweater I’d purchased him; the magnolia leaf garland I’d ordered in lieu of a centerpiece did not arrive in time; we were not able to get a family photo for our Christmas card; and my children ate forty-five Ritz crackers, a begrudging bite or two of turkey, and absolutely none of the side dishes we’d lovingly prepared, and then went to bed hungry. I also generally forgot the kids would need to be served (I’d set up the children’s table in a different room because our dining room was packed with 12 adults), and this created a bottleneck of sorts. By the time all of the adults had been served, family-style, around the table, my sister and I were scurrying around trying to fill the children’s plates in the other room, and then there was the requisite “I need more milk / I don’t like turkey / can I have pasta?” conversation that waylaid me on my way back to my seat. After dinner, Mr. Magpie pointedly asked, “Did you enjoy your long, leisurely dinner?” as I think I’d sat in my chair for a grand total of ten minutes between errands.

As soon as I found myself lingering in the “other” category, these words materialized:

“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”

-Leonard Cohen

Forget your perfect offering. In my haste to assess the imperfect presentation of the event, I’d neglected to think about all the light we let in:

My daughter, without any direction or suggestion on our end, lovingly drawing Happy Thanksgiving cards for each attendee, including my brother-in-law’s parents, whom she’d never met before. (You can see a small corner of one in the photo at the top of this post.) Each card included the message: “I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving with me.” The fact that she anticipated her central involvement (“with me!”) in the Thanksgiving experience of twelve adults moves me deeply.

My father reading the same simple and moving prayer he has read every Thanksgiving for decades now. I love his oration: firmly, with intent, as though (maybe, Dad?) he needs to muscle his way through its poignancy to get it out.

The silhouette of my husband and my father-in-law crowding around the turkey fryer in the backyard, tampering with the temperature, assessing doneness. Father and son around fire: bonds primordial.

My children running amok with their cousins, blind with glee — a blur of corduroy and fair isle and little swoopy bangs and shrieking laughter. Core memories in formation.

My mother presenting me with a gift at the doorway: a silver chafing dish from her own collection. Its bestowal felt like an anointing, or a passing-of-the-entertaining-the-family torch. Mother and daughter, warming ourselves around the role of keeping the family together, maintaining its traditions and togethernesses.

So yes, Jen —

Forget your perfect offering.

Let the light in wherever it may this season.

(Including in our sans-family-portrait Christmas cards.)


If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

+The above thoughts also reminded me: are expectations the enemy?

+An essay on the wonderful, empathetic mother my mom is.

+Things I have learned from my mother.

+Focus and the fibers of motherhood.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+The gal sitting next to me at the nail salon the other day was wearing this J. Crew sweater/jacket situation. She looked SO chic and polished — she’d clearly come straight from work. The woman on the other side of her clearly agreed with my assessment, because she asked where she’d bought it! So cute layered over jeans, too.

+A cute holiday dress for a little who doesn’t like the smocking/ruching/sashes/etc. Pima cotton but still traditional and polished. Obviously perfect for The Nutcracker!

+Really good velvet trousers. The color is amazing. Also obsessing over this feather-trim velvet blazer!

+These personalized gift bags for kids are great for oversized gifts from Santa.

+My mom bought all the men in my family these Faherty quilted pullovers (more colors here) a few years ago and they are heavily worn by most of them. Mr. Magpie has this exact color and it’s so handsome! He wears casually but also as a top layer for golf.

+Another great gift from my mom to all the men in our family from another year: Smathers & Branson belts.

+Love this silk dress — so 90s chic.

+I just added these faux-bois coasters to my collection. They are so handy (wipe clean!) and chic!

+Cute toy storage option – you can personalize with things like “cars,” “books,” “Barbies,” or the child’s name. This truck book storage situation is also adorable (and heavily discounted).

+This is so random, but this enormous Stoney Clover pouch is one of my favorite possessions. It is BIG and I find it helpful when traveling with the kids (toss all their haircare, dental care, medicines, etc) in it. Also like for stowing beauty products I’m in the process of testing.

+And these gingham personalized pouch is SO cute. Imagine buying for a new mama for diaper bag organization!

+Adorable faux fur vest for a little love.

+Cute idea: buy a holiday ornament to commemorate a special trip you’ve taken each year. Like this one for a trip to Paris!

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I just went through my entire social calendar for December and tried on a bunch of outfits for each. I’ve never been so organized or strategic about my outfits in the past, but there is a lot happening this season…! The only big gaps I have are a Christmas tea, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, but I will probably re-wear a tartan dress I bought from Nina Blanc last year for Christmas Day, and maybe my trusty tartan trousers (almost identical to these; usually pair with a black feather top like this) for Christmas Eve? I may cave and buy this gorgeous Damaris Bailey for Christmas Eve. I can’t stop thinking about it and I love my other dress from her. For the tea…I heard that Doen is launching one final winter collection and am wondering if the perfect dress will materialize. (P.S. Doen is offering an extra 20% off their Giving Thanks sale today only — discount appears in cart. This top is now around $80!)

For a holiday cocktails and caroling event: this fab La Ligne skirt (true to size — $25 off with code MAGPIE25) and this J. Crew lurex trutleneck with Aquazzura pom heels (old, similar here). Proof that Christmas doesn’t need to be red/white/green! The pink feels so unexpectedly festive. Throughout all photos, I’m wearing horribly chipped nails (proof of Thanksgiving cooking/cleaning!) and these old Rebecca de Ravenel earrings, but will probably mix up the jewelry/accessories quite a bit and rotate in a bunch of my Dorsey pieces.

For a holiday cocktail party at a friend’s home (attire: festive cocktail), this ALC dress. I styled them here with plain black suede pumps but I think it’s more likely I’ll wear my Dee Ocleppo heels (on sale!) This dress runs TTS. I went a size down from my usual size (I’m typically an 0, but can usually wear an 00 in dresses for some reason) and it’s very snug. I’m debating whether to return for 0.

For a Kacey Musgraves Christmas viewing party (I’ve done this the past few years in different permutations — I LOVE that weird, campy show), contemplating wearing this FUN Alice + Olivia confection. Mesh/voile/tulle have been so in this season and the sleeves are SO fun. Love the rich floral pattern, too. This is a very Kacey look.

For the Nutcracker, I’m planning to wear this tartan taffeta skirt (I took a petite 0) with this mesh turtleneck ($22!) and this Tuckernuck jacket (on sale!). I styled here with lace trim Louboutins (old!), but will probably wear a more practical heel as there will be walking and children involved.

For another Christmas cocktail party on the docket, this velvet mini skirt, this J. Crew lurex turtleneck, and the Marais jacket. I paired with my favorite holiday/festive clutch from Michelle Wilhite (on sale today!)

For Christmas cookie making with family, this HHH nap dress (exact style sold out, but same tartan pattern here in a different style) and this sweater.

P.S. More festive holiday finds here. And, not seen in this post but absolutely being worn, are my metallic VB jeans. I actually have them at the tailor right now to hem them a bit shorter. Want them to be able to be worn with ballet flats.

P.P.S. What are the holiday traditions that matter?

P.P.P.S. Still clinging to the sentiments from this surprise pre-Advent interaction with a classic Christmas carol.

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When I was younger, I carried my missteps like little rocks in my pocket — small, occasionally jolting when mispositioned, worse on the occasions I felt them in aggregate, but overall easy to forget, or accommodate, or simply push aside.

It’s a strange thing: nowadays, I find myself better conditioned to extend myself grace for the minor errors and oversights, to let the rocks drop out of my palm instead of lodging them at my waist,

but the bigger things —

I carry those like the sky depends on me. At 20, I had the sense that there were inexhaustible forgivenesses and greenswards and Septembers. At 40, the stakes feel higher; the tracks behind me trudge-like, inexpungeable. I am walking through the formal living room with muddy feet.

I don’t know how to make sense of this rearrangement in dynamics. Perhaps this is the way of age: we know better, so we must do better, and when we don’t, it is Atlas faltering. We have decades and decades worth of tools to help us choose the right thing, and so when we do the wrong thing, the failure ripples upstream and down, as far as the eye can see, rather than plunging, stone-like, straight to the bottom.

I also have the sense that life is all about the conduction of energy: the energy I conserve from worrying less about the small things can then power the bigger ones that matter. It is a worthy tradeoff, seen from this lens, but goodness —

It can make for a knee-buckling passage.


+On reading and the greater than / less than equation.

+How do you make a big life decision?

+On giving yourself a soft landing when you need it.

+Six reframes I find helpful in my daily life.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

Shopping Break.

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+I’ve been shopping for a new, bold-colored hat/glove set to pair with my ivory wool topcoat. I think I might go with this cashmere beanie and matching gloves but can’t decide if I like it in the hot pink or unusual chartreuse better. (J. Crew also has a good ribbed cashmere hat and glove set 50% off right now — I like the cardinal red or heather pink options.)

+Ordered my children thermals to layer under their snow bibs (<<exact pants we have) for skiing and skating (and other snow adventures) this winter.

+Would also love to style my topcoat with this Gucci wool scarf…I think this would be so chic worn over your shoulders with a simple knit sweater.

+Sitting here compiling a big order at Boden for soft, patterned dresses (also this and this and a few of these pointelle tees — all 40% off with code E3N) for my girl. She was in desperate need of more weekend clothes. (While there, don’t miss their cozy fair isle options for you!)

+Chloe Namas, on sale!

+Gucci’s velvet Marmont collection is SO delicious.

+I always order a few rolls of Santa-themed gift wrap JUST to wrap the gifts from Santa in, and this was a great Cyber Monday deal at Amazon.

+These “bonjour” bowls are so charming! I like the idea of using to stow jewelry / keys / paper clips / etc.

+Dorsey just did its final re-stock of the year. Shared all my favorites for holidays here, but didn’t mention these beautiful earrings, an emerald-studded twist on the Margauxs I’ve been wearing all season long. Gorgeous pop of holiday green.

+Can’t stop thinking about this beautiful Zimmermann dress.

+A must-have for holiday wrapping.

+These shoes!!!!

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I am sitting here, alone, for the first time in what feels like two weeks? I am reminded of this note from Greta Garbo, dated October 28, 1964:

Ha! Can you imagine texting that to someone? And yet, as an introvert, I can feel that way from time to time. I operate like an electric vehicle: just park me on a side street for a few minutes, out of the way, cloistered from traffic, and I will re-emerge full charged and ready to hit the road.

If you are a fellow introvert,* how do you navigate particularly dense social seasons?

A few obvious tactics I’ve been leaning into:

+Solo, AirPod-less dog walks. I have been finding it helpful to walk Tilly without music, without my phone, without anything but my own thoughts. Even ten minutes in the brisk air, with no one’s company but my dog’s, helps me re-set the table.

+Reaching for the Kindle instead of my phone. The past week, I resisting the siren call of my cell phone first thing in the morning and instead reach for my Kindle. I have been reading short stretches of 5-15 minutes before getting out of bed and before falling asleep at night. It’s amazing how much more peaceful and quiet I feel when I start and close my day with a book versus crowded in by the (digitized) voices of others.

+Asking to run quick errands by myself. This is a kindness on Mr. Magpie’s end, but when I really need a break, I’ll volunteer to run to drop the dog at the groomer’s, grab what we need from the grocery, pop out for coffee, etc. Sometimes 20 minutes alone in my car is enough.

+Carving out time for exercise. A Magpie reader wrote earlier this week “if you don’t have five minutes for meditation, you need an hour to meditate.” The sentiment was enough to jostle me back into a sluggish running routine. Running is a kind of therapy.

How else do you find time and space to recharge your batteries?

*Do we believe in the distinction between introverts and extroverts anymore anyway? I have a hunch this delineation will fall out of favor in the near future. I consider Mr. Magpie a classic “extrovert” — seems energized by other people, very conversational, and thrives in the limelight — and yet he is also capable of long stretches of solo time. He’s always chalked this up to being an only child, but we also have a sense that maybe we’re all extroverted and introverted, just in different ratios and contexts. I prefer a lot of alone time, but I think that’s partly conditioned by my childhood and the family values with which I was raised. My parents like alone time, and they modeled and demanded this of us, too. We spent significant time on our own, in our own spaces. Sometimes this felt necessary because there were five of us and we could drive one another wild. It could be hard to get a word in edge-wise. But it also felt like something my parents structured into our home lives. An hour of quiet time each weekend afternoon; encouraged solo reading in various nooks around the house; prompted outdoor play, where we would often proactively wander around the backyard on our own reconnoiters. I spent a lot of time in a boxwood hedge spying on neighbors, taking down notes in my marbled notebook, pretending I was Harriet the Spy. What do we think about extroversion/introversion? And also – do you feel fully yourself when in the company of others or when by yourself?

Also this week…

+Landon made my favorite comfort food of all time: “Bucatini a l’Amatriciana.” We watched our first “holiday movie”: “Die Hard.” I deeply enjoy that movie. I didn’t understand the hyper around Bruce Willis until I watched it, and thought: “Oh, I get it now.” I love a reluctant, grumbling hero!

+I made three cookies for Thanksgiving dessert. Normally I make bourbon-sorghum pie (recipe here) but one of our guests generously offered to take on that dessert. Instead, I used Jesse Szewczyk’s Cookies cookbook to make cardamom palmiers, millionaire shortbread (basically a homemade snickers bar!), and apple cider cookies (that tasted like apple cider donuts! I will be making those again). I can’t recommend that cookie book enough — I’ve had great luck with it. I will say the palmiers recipe could use some clearer instruction; palmiers are quite easy in the sense that they require virtually no ingredients (and no mixing, blending, etc — you use storebought puff pastry!), but it’s all about technique, and I don’t think Szewczyk goes into adequate detail on this. I ended up watching a bunch of YouTube videos to learn how to fold the puff pastry properly, and I still had trouble (see below). I also found it was essential to freeze the pastry once folded for about 20 minutes so that it was easier to slice without squishing the delicate cookies, but Szewczyk doesn’t mention this. Anyhow, it is such a dramatic presentation! I will be making those again. You can make savory ones, too — fun appetizer idea. (P.S. My favorite baking gear here.)

+My sister (down from Brooklyn for Thanksgiving at our house!) asked me what I was using on my skin, and said she has been looking for products that boost glow. My top recs to her were Vitamin C (I love Goop’s formula, but it’s currently waitlist only, and also love Biossance’s vitamin c + rose oil*) followed by a ton of hydration. I’ve recently been using this deeply hydrating serum followed by Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream (currently 25% off and I can’t believe not yet sold out). I actually had a back stock bottle of the serum and gave it to her to try. I really love gifting my girlfriends, sisters, mom beauty products that they might not splurge on otherwise. It feels like such an indulgence!

*Biossance is 30% off sitewide at the moment! Code automatically added to cart. This jumbo sized hydrating cream is a particularly good deal — already discounted to $60 (orig $78) and only $42 once added to cart.

+Speaking of Black Friday deals, currently shopping online while wearing this cashmere Kilte set (currently 30% off). My children are ensconced in their room for one hour of quiet time (copy-catting my parents) after a busy 24 hours with family. As I typed this, though, my daughter came into my room and asked “wow, I like your outfit. Is it pjs?” Ha! PJs approved for company.

+Which brings us to the other major activity this week: a lot of sale shopping. What did you get? Any great Black Friday deals? I’ve shared most of my best buys and finds here, but a couple of other late-announcement promotions:

Tracksmith is running an uber-rare sale, with an extra 20% off using code HARVEST20. I never see this brand on sale! I used the promotion to buy my sister one of these merino cold weather running tops I love. They really insulate but are delightfully breathable. These are the only running leggings I wear when it’s under 40 degrees outside. Note that I find the bottoms from here run really slim/skinny — I size up. The tops run more TTS for me. If you have a loved one who is a runner, trust me — they will be obsessed with anything you buy from here.

Hanni is 25% off sitewide. I’ve been RAVING about these “lazy girl” skincare/shower products. This hydration set is my top rec and currently on sale for $50 (add to cart to see promo). And this little hair clip + splash salve set is only $36 in cart!

Rifle Paper is offering 35% off sitewide (discounts shown), which is (I believe) better than it’s been in year’s past? I feel like it’s usally 30% off. Items are selling quickly! I always use this promotion to stock up on gift wrap — they have my favorite patterns. I ordered a few rolls of gift wrap: this, this, this, and this — and how cute are these Nutcracker ornaments? (P.S. All my favorite gift wrap finds here.)

I ordered my kids these “ski” sweatshirts for their first time on the slopes! I also really wanted to buy my girl one of these Dudley Stephens fleeces while 40% off but have gotten into the (safer) habit of checking with her to see if it’s something she’ll actually wear first, and she declined. Sad! Great deal – 40% off! I’ve seen so many of her little girlfriends wearing them to school.

All of these fantastic Goop products are 20% off with code cyber20. (If you spend over $500, it’s 30% off with code cyber30.). The collection includes my fav microderm scrub, which is one of my top gift recs for women we love. Each will ring in at around $100 with promo. Alternately, treat yourself to this excellent hair scrub. I use this a few times a month — more in the summer.

Julia Amory’s website is 35% off sitewide (excluding new arrivals, discount applied in cart). These shirtdresses were one of the most popular Black Friday steals I shared this week. They’re around $100 when added to cart!

Up to 40% off at Kule. I love this striped turtleneck in the chocolate brown, and this one in navy/poppy.

These fun heels are 20% off with code CHEERS. A perfect holiday shoe!

P.S. On seeking rest.

P.P.S. On getting out of a book rut.

P.P.P.S. The best thing I read all year.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.