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

My Latest Snags.

A big shopping week for us all! My favorite buys were this Julia Amory caftan (I’d been eyeing all last summer, and it’s now on sale plus an extra 35% off when added to cart — can’t wait to wear it on a warm weather getaway we have planned for January) and the holiday outfits I bought for my children from Little English (this was my order — use code BLACKFRIDAY for 40% off) and La Coqueta (this, this, and this — all 25% off).

P.S. All my top Black Friday / Cyber Monday finds here.

This Week’s Bestsellers.

Nearly everything below is on sale right now!

01. J. CREW FAIR ISLE SWEATER (50% OFF) // 02. SEVEN FOR ALL MANKIND COATED JEANS (20% OFF) // 03. J. CREW METALLIC TURTLENECK (50% OFF) // 04. TUCKERNUCK TARTAN TOP (20% OFF) // 05. ALC NORA DRESS (25% OFF) // 06. MERIT THE MINIMALIST PERFECTION STICK (20% OFF) // 07. PETITE PLUME HOLIDAY JOURNEY PAJAMAS (20% OFF) // 08. NUTCRACKER STORY ORCHESTRA BOOK // 09. JENNI KAYNE EVERYDAY SWEATER (25% OFF) // 10. LESET POINTELLE TEE (25% OFF)* // 11. FARM RIO SKIRT // 12. TRAVEL MIRROR (EXTRA 30% OFF) // 13. LAKE PAJAMAS RELAX SET (25% OFF) // 14. VINTAGE YALE PENNANT (MORE SCHOOLS / FLAGS AVAILABLE) // 15. BLOCKPRINT WASTE BASKET

*I also learned that Leset has discounted its entire site — 30% off everything, including the LS version of this tee.

Weekend Musing: Holding Hands.

“We would nap and sweat through the deep heat, our limbs loose as rags, and walk once more down the elm-tented street for a dip, holding hands which had held our bodies together better than our bones.” – William Gass

In my notebooks, I collect sticky passages and words as tactile as talismans. They sit like dream traps on the page: my eyes will skitter across them and I fall into another world. The Gass sentence says more about intimacy and that reviere-like, peak-summer heat than ten pages could. I have been thinking of the phrase “hands which had held our bodies together better than our bones” a lot. The way the people we love might “not be doing a thing that [we can] see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” (J.D. Salinger.) How sometimes the touch of someone’s hand can be a lifeline. (Have you ever been on the verge of tears, and someone touches your shoulder, and the shocking gentleness and goodness of it sends you over the edge? Again, I say, it’s never the cream…!)

What does the passage feel like to you? Do you have any other excerpts that you return to over and over again, even if you’re not quite sure why?

P.S. I occasionally revisit the comments on my posts on footholds and the literary fragments we carry with us for inspiration.

Post-Scripts.

+Obsessing over this satin mini in the merlot color. SO GOOD with some velvet heels!

+Also obsessing over these satin trousers from La Ligne. The color! The silhouette! Oo la la! (You can get $25 off your order with code MAGPIE25.)

+Great pair of “inspired by” mesh ballet flats. Under $50 but nail the Loeffler look (<<20% off the real deal though!).

+These Target knit pants and matching top are so chic! They look like Spanx or something? Someone told me that they are even better IRL.

+GapKids has some really cute holiday pajama prints at great prices! Love this one for your mini.

+This silk Lunya face mask would make for a luxe gift or upgrade. Do you sleep with a sleep mask regularly? Am I missing out on something?! By the time you read this, I will have been in possession of my new weighted NodPod eye mask for a few days. Cannot wait to report back. Unclear on whether I’ll be able to sleep with it on since I’m more of a side sleeper…!

+Lots of great holiday fashion finds here.

+Adorable storage solution for your little one’s nursery.

+Can’t stop thinking about this spendy makeup balm after a Magpie raved about it…I am dying to try!

+CHIC structured top!

+Still a major splurge, but this Altuzarra dress is almost half off. WOW.

+M.Z. Wallace’s holiday collection is SO cute. Why am I so drawn to the sequined things?

+Handsome quilted pullover for your man.

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

ABOVE: TUCKERNUCK TARTAN TOP (20% OFF) // MADEWELL PERFECT VINTAGE FIT JEANS (GO DOWN ONE SIZE; 40% OFF) // DORSEY MARGAUX EARRINGS

ALEX MILL CARDIGAN // MADEWELL PERFECT VINTAGE FIT JEANS (GO DOWN ONE SIZE; 40% OFF) // LESET TEE (25% OFF) // APC BAG (25% OFF)

GAP HIGH STRIDE JEANS (TTS, 40% OFF) // ALEMAIS X AVENUE BLOUSE (OLD, SIMILAR HERE) // VERONICA BEARD LEAL PUFFER COAT (ON SALE IN LIMITED SIZES HERE) // BRINKER AND ELIZA EARRINGS (25% OFF)

SEZANE KNIT DRESS (TTS AND NOT ITCHY — NEARLY SOLD OUT) // VERONICA BEARD COAT // ISABEL MARANT DUERTO BOOTS (40% OFF)

SLEEPER FEATHER PAJAMAS (25% OFF) // DEE OCLEPPO HEELS (ALSO LOVE THE POINTED TOE VERSION)

NO 6 CLOG BOOTS (STILL MY FAVORITE, ALL THE YEARS LATER, FOR COLD/INCLEMENT WEATHER…GO A SIZE UP; ON SUPER SALE IN LIMITED SIZES HERE) // MADEWELL PERFECT VINTAGE FIT JEANS (GO DOWN ONE SIZE; 40% OFF) // TALBOTS QUILTED JACKET (OLD, SIMILAR HERE)

P.S. My most reason fiction installment.

P.P.S. Into the bleak midwinter. I’ve been listening to this song on repeat. So beautiful.

P.P.P.S. On moving beyond the baby/toddler years.

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

Last Friday, we had two couples over for a Martini Night. A few of our guests had never had a martini before, and it felt like the perfect opportunity to enter the holiday season with bells on. We served a martini flight:

+Classic gin martini, served Mr. Magpie’s way;

+Manhattan;

+Espresso martini.

I’ll share our recipes for each martini below. Our guests skipped or asked for “mini martinis”/half-pours for certain “courses” depending on their taste preferences. I had suggested guests arrive after a full dinner, but we did serve substantive snacks:

+Trader Joe’s Pastry Pups (I brushed the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with Everything Bagel seasoning) served with a few of our favorite mustards (love to the Magpie who introduced me to Lusty Monk’s variety!);

+Cheese board with a few types of cheese and crackers, including the piece de resistance: a triple cream cheese I found at The Organic Butcher in Bethesda (they have an excellent cheese selection focusing on local creameries!) served with the seasonal “Stollen” crackers from Trader Joes, seen below. I also had rosemary marcona almonds and hot honey on the plate.

+Truffle potato chips (found at TJ’s, but I also like the Torres brand);

+Some toffee (also bought at TJ’s — perfect with the espresso martini).

I normally avoid TJs like the plague, as I hate the shopping experience and the parking lots are invariably a disaster (yap yap yap, champagne problems), but it is a great spot for novelty/seasonal snacks for an occasion such as this, especially as I was short on time and was not able to make more involved appetizers from scratch. I joked with my friends that I “Sandra-Lee’d” the snacks.

trader joes stollen crisps

For a festive and fun ambiance, I had our Ginger Biscuit candle from Jo Malone going (I normally don’t like candles that smell like baked goods, but this has a rich spiciness to it that I love) and put on this upbeat mix, which catered to my guests’s tastes (more contemporary music party vibes, less Frank Sinatra vibes — though I feel like you could go either way with martinis). It needs a good shuffle. After it played out, we put on the Olivia Rodrigo album from start to finish. One of my guy friends was belting out all of her teen girl angst songs (we both loved “I Want Him Back”) and it was amazing. A reminder to “read the room” when hosting, especially when it comes to music — I’d had a sense that my Tony Bennett playlist would be too sleepy for the occasion, and I was right.

Anyhow, below, sharing recipes for our martini flight. I feel I should add that my best friend is a big fan of the martini, and we call them “Martoonskis.” We were sharing a hotel room for the girls’ weekend in Atlanta and she turned to me while we were getting ready and said: “Martoonskis?” We then had espresso martinis brought up to the room (the ultimate indulgence), and it was SO FUN. Feel free to appropriate our phrasing 🙂

Mr. Magpie’s Martini.

2.5 oz Tanqueray London Dry Gin*, placed in the freezer the day before

3/4 oz dry vermouth (preferably Nouilly Prat — put in freezer maybe 45m before serving, but not longer, as this will freeze)

dash orange bitters

Garnish: 1 lemon twist.

Place martini glasses (these are the exact ones we have) and stirring glass in freezer early in the day.

Stir all ingredients in stirring glass over ice, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*If you are a gin lover, you probably have your favorite brand. I personally love Hendrick’s Gin. However, most traditional martini recipes call for Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Plymouth gins for the most traditional flavor, so that’s what we served our guests.

**There are many variations on the classic martini: different spirits, olives/olive juice, etc, etc. Mr. Magpie’s version is crisp and bracing, with a kiss of citrus brightness. It is absolutely necessary that all ingredients, including glasses, are very cold, and that ingredients are not approximated. You can double batch these to make two martinis at once.

***I’ve mentioned this so many times, but this angled jigger is the best way to measure cocktail ingredients. You can see how much you’re pouring from a bird’s eye view — helpful when measuring lots of small portions. I have a long post on how to make great cocktails at home, with lots of gear included, here. I also saved most of the gear in this section of my Amazon shop.

Manhattan.

2.5 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

3/4 oz sweet vermouth (we use Dolin)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: 1 brandied cherry

Place coupes or martini glasses in freezer ahead of time. If serving in coupes, we use these (currently on sale! these are among my most prized possessions).

Stir all ingredients in stirring glass over ice, then strain into a coupe. Garnish with a cherry.

Espresso Martini.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

1.5 oz aged rum (we love Flor de Cana)

1 oz brewed espresso, chilled (we bought this in advance from Grace Street Coffee since we don’t have an espresso maker)

3/4 oz Benedictine

1/2 oz coffee liqueur*

Garnish: 3 espresso beans (we use coffee beans since we don’t ever buy espresso beans for home)

Place coupes or martini glasses in freezer ahead of time.

Add rum, espresso, Benedtictine, and liqueuer to your smaller shaking tin, then fill with ice. Place larger shaking tin on top, then flip. Shake mixture vigorously for 13 seconds. Double-strain cocktail (e.g., use this and also strain through this when pouring into glass) into your coupe or martini glass. Garnish with three espresso beans. They will float and look so pretty on top!

*We make ATK’s coffee liqueur from scratch but you can also buy this from the store. ATK’s recipe:  Place 1/2 cup coffee beans, 1.5 tsp cacao nibs, 1/4 vanilla bean (halved length-wise), 8 oz vodka, and 4 oz brandy in pint-size glass jar. Cover tightly and shake to combine. Store jar in cool, dark place for 1 week, shaking mixture once every other day. Set fine-mesh strainer in medium bowl and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Strain vodka mixture through prepared strainer; discard solids. Return infused vodka mixture to clean jar and add 4 oz simple syrup. Cover and gently shake to combine. (Can be stored in cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Shake gently before using.)

Shopping Break.

+I am not kidding when I say this Urban Decay eye palette is my absolute favorite. I should show you a picture of what it looks like — I am basically scraping at the very bottom of each eye palette because I use it so frequently. The best everyday matte basics, and they last longer than you’d expected powder to last. I just re-ordered this palette while it’s 50% off (an Amazon Black Friday deal — my entire list here).

+Quince let me know they’d be launching some Black Friday deals here today. I’m not sure what will be included ahead of time, but I have a calendar reminder to check! Believe that this cotton fisherman sweater will be included, and it’s one of my favorites! I own in navy and the quality is amazing. Size up!

+If you have been angling to try the Augustinus Bader rich cream (which I am currently using and loving — but the price tag will make it an unlikely re-purchase), I found it for 25% off here.

+This satin mini from J. Crew is SUCH a great buy. Pair with flocked/patterned tights and velvet platforms. Also obsessed with this lurex turtleneck, which just arrived.

+Chanel vibes!! Like the idea of pairing these with black jeans and a fun little top.

+My top picks from Shopbop here (25% off tons of these hearted items) and Amazon here, and all my favorite deals/buys so far this week here. Trying to keep my best finds in those places.

+Still obsessing over all things metallic. This turtleneck from Sezane is a 10.

P.S. 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.

P.P.S. More of my favorite recipes (for cocktails and more) here.

P.P.P.S. What is your current hyper-fixation meal?

Image above via.

Earlier this week, I shared my account of a sour experience with a fellow grocery shopper, and I was deeply touched by the outpouring of solidarity and grace that came my way via email, direct message, and comment. Clearly, the incident of casual stranger rudeness was neither isolated nor unusual, and so many of you had profound and encouraging perspectives to share on navigating these unpleasantries. One of my favorite responses came from Deborah:

“The woman in the parking lot no doubt has her own (crazy) story. And the mashed potatoes will be wonderful—with heavy cream or half and half or milk or even a vegan substitute. Just breathe.

I am probably your mother’s age and awaiting the arrival of my own (lovely) daughter and her family and just realized I am missing key ingredients for the tamales. (Side dish/long story/I’m in California). After a brief collapse into bed and tears I thought of Instacart (not used since the height of Covid). And as my husband said—it doesn’t matter. Anything is going to be fine. And in fact anything will be perfect. It’s not about the cream. It’s about love.”

What I loved about this reply was its trade-up of my phrase “it’s not about the cream.” In my musing, I’d written that phrase to suggest that it’s often the superficial, stupid thing that leads me to burst into tears, not the root issue. Many years ago, I suffered a miscarriage (I still cannot write directly about this — one day, maybe), and on our way out of the hospital, Mr. Magpie accidentally stepped on my foot. I absolutely lost it. I remember Mr. Magpie had to more or less prop me up in the parking lot. It wasn’t the stepping on the toe. It was the enormous iceberg of grief beneath. Anyhow, the same goes for the Whole Foods incident, and my accidental grabbing of the half-and-half instead of the cream. When Mr. Magpie pointed out that I’d gotten the wrong thing, tears streamed down my face — but it wasn’t the cream. It was the casual cruelty of a stranger. This Magpie, though, took that phrase and bent it in the other direction. It’s not the cream, or the stranger in the parking lot, or the Thanksgiving dish we messed up. It’s none of that. Or, let’s not let it be any of that. Let’s think about the bigger picture, and all we have to be happy for, and let the rest fall by the wayside.

This ties in perfectly with my observation, in the “It’s never the cream” post, that: “we publish the good news.” It’s up to us find and advertise the good stuff. To write the headlines that connect us to one another.

And that’s exactly what we did, together, this past week. We turned an unpleasant interaction into a beautiful cascade of exchanges in which women offered one another grace and support. And that’s what we do constantly here. This is the Magpie ethos, the well from which you enable me to draw. When I respond to your lovely notes, I often add: “I am so grateful for your readership. I do not take it lightly, and I am deeply flattered that you invite me into your days.” Let me add to those sentiments of gratitude by saying:

Thank you for publishing the good news with me.

Grateful for you, Magpies. Now, off to ruin a Thanksgiving dish and publish the good news while I’m doing it!

Post-Scripts.

+If you’re reading this Thanksgiving morning, just a reminder that I put together jazzy Thanksgiving playlists on Spotify and Apple, and have my favorite Thanksgiving prayer here. I also have a special holiday email going out to email subscribers next Friday, and in it, I include a holiday playlist. Sharing today (Apple, Spotify) in case you, like me, start listening to holiday music on Thanksgiving! Why does it spark such joy imagining us listening to the same songs?

+Speaking of music — do you have “emergency music“? What about “house music“?

+If you are alone or working on Thanksgiving, I see you! One way to feel less alone: introduce yourself by answering some of these fun icebreakers (more here) and enjoy getting to know the cast of characters that is the Magpie community by reading through the fabulous responses.

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

Shopping Break.

The following content may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+Shared lots of great early Black Friday shopping here, here, and here.

+Yesterday, Julia Amory released a 35% off sitewide promotion (no code required, discount applied in cart). New arrivals are excluded, but the sale IS included, so I finally got my hands on one of her coatue caftans! I’d been eyeing all last summer. I got this one in the fun chartreuse color for our trip to Mexico in January — its $155 with the extra 35% off! Some patterns of her classic shirtdresses (so comfortable and chic!) are only $104 with extra discount. And her Majorelle caftan was one of my most-worn dresses in the hottest months last summer — so lightweight and body-skimming.

+Leset just launched a 30% off sitewide promotion — this means you can get all the tees I keep raving about at a discount, including the LS version of the pointelle tee in either black or white, the Kelly tee, and more. This is my favorite brand for elevated tees. I do think they run a tad small. If in question, size up. I take an XS in everything but it does run fitted (especially the Kelly).

+One Black Friday promotion I did not yet cover is Veronica Beard’s — an extra 25% off sale prices with code THANKS25. This means the denim blazer I’ve been wearing all season long is now about 50% off. Outerwear and blazers are VB’s bread and butter — they excel at them, and they are beautifully made and tailored — and this tweed blazer (on sale plus extra 25% off) will be a forever piece. Finally, this black gown will be your go-to black tie dress for the rest of your life. SO FLATTERING and elegant. You can see me in my gold version of the dress here. With the extra 25% off, it’s $315, which feels like a great price for a forever dress.

+Not on sale, but I cannot stop thinking about this spectacular top.

+I’ve been updating my Amazon Black Friday deals section. I noticed that a bunch of HP printers are discounted. Unfortunately, this does not include the HP Tango X printer that several of you raved about a few weeks ago — I agree with your (collective) assessment that it is the most attractive printer I’ve ever laid eyes on and I wouldn’t mind having it out? But ome of the HP printers that are included in the BF deals are also pretty attractive — like this one. Also, this scented dish soap is divine. I haven’t tried Caldrea’s other scents, but they have a bunch of counter sprays included in the promotion that sound lovely.

+The 12 days of Christmas clutch! SWOON! This is the kind of piece you wear every year and your kids and grandkids associate you with it forever.

+Do not ask me why or how, but Westman Atelier foundation drops / sticks are on sale for 30% off here. Never seen them discounted like this.

+A lot of the items in my gift guides for men, women, and children are discounted this week. I’ve not yet really started holiday gift shopping. Hoping to sit down tomorrow and knock some of it out. I have ideas on what I want to get everyone (sorry for those friends/family members who read my blog and therefore have guesses as to what I’ll be buying…)

+Have been wanting a set of these candles for my tree for years now. Think I might buy this weekend.

+My children love having seasonal, special jammies, and they have quite the lineup this year: these Petite Plumes (20% off), these Lakes (25% off — for mini), these Gaps (for micro — currently $10?!), and these Little English nutcrackers (40% off with BLACKFRIDAY).

The following content may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

The two sales I was most excited to shop this week were Little English (40% off with code BLACKFRIDAY — you may need to be an email subscriber to access) and La Coqueta (25% off select items). I’d stowed a bundle of holiday clothing for my children from both stores in my carts and waited for the sales to materialize. I was so determined to get everything on my list at Little English, I actually set my alarm and check out promptly at 10! It looks like there’s still good stock of most stuff, though. I was focused on this sale because my children had selected their own Nutcracker outfits (we go in two weeks) from L.E. and are very excited to wear them. I am ecstatic about this because my daughter has grown increasingly picky about clothing, and I was thrilled to see her excitement over an outfit she chose and that I absolutely adore: this sweater with this skirt. My son was excited about this sweater. And, of course, we needed the Nutcracker pajamas (for mini and micro) for the full effect. My exact order here, and thoughts on why The Nutcracker tradition means so much to me here.

At La Coqueta, I bought my daughter’s Christmas dress (I again solicited her opinion, and she chose this one of her own volition — I would have preferred this tartan or velvet but I’m just happy she was drawn to one of the gorgeous designs) and my son’s tartan Christmas shirt. I think I’ll buy him some green cords to go with it, but have time to score that element. I also bought my daughter one of their iconic Arrieta dress coats. Mini chose the green color.

Thrilled that I’ve crossed several holiday occasion outfits off the shopping list!

My other top buys / promotions of the week:

+UBeauty is offering 20% off sitewide, plus free shipping, with code JENSHOOP. Ladies! Please try the lip plasma! My favorite color is Rose — gorgeous, natural, my-lips-but-better color. I can’t stop yapping about it. Love it so much, I’ve gifted to two girlfriends! Even their lip plasma gift set is included, and this was one of my top recs for a holiday gift for a woman you love. It has a $120 value, is regularly priced at $78, and you can get it for under $60 with free shipping! Also a good time to treat yourself to their Super Hydrator, which I am LOVING. I wear the lightest shade.

+The Petite Plume sale is still going on (20% off with code BLACKFRIDAY and I know many of you already bought the exact “holiday journey” print (seen above) that the brand sent my children. I will be coordinating with them on Christmas morning with these white/red trim jammies. I also love their traditional tartan nightgowns / jammies — this little romper is the cutest gift for a new baby.

+Alice Walk is 20% off sitewide with code BF2023. I am writing this while wearing this cotton weekender sweater. I can’t stop myself from reaching for it — it is so warm and soft and I love the neckline. I can wear over my de rigueur turtlenecks (under $20 right now) and pointelle tees (25% off)! I also absolutely love this half-zip. So soft and has a nice long length to cover the rear. My Dad bought my mom some of their sweatshirts for Christmas a year or two ago (directed by yours truly) because she goes for walks every morning but rarely splurges on athletic wear / athleisure. It was such a thoughtful upgrade!

+My Amazon Black Friday buys: this weighted eye mask (several Magpies have written in since I shared this yesterday to say they could not live without it — would be a good White Elephant gift while discounted) and this Schleich set for my son. Sharing all my top Black Friday finds here. If you are a parent with a young child, I cannot urge you to buy the Tonies Box more while it’s 30% off. This is staple/core enjoyment in our home, and I love to surprise them with new Tonies figures on holidays, as stocking stuffers, on random rainy days.

+THE pointelle tee from Leset deserves its own bullet point (25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY). I wear these constantly…! I’ve received a bunch of questions about sizing. I do think this brand runs a tad snug/slim. I would size up if you’re in question. I took my true size (XS) and it does fit but if you’re at all concerned, go a size up! All my top picks from Shopbop’s Black Friday promo here, and my favorite finds for men from the Shopbop promotion here.

+The Doen sale (discount automatically applied)! I can’t believe my beloved Amina blouse is included. You’ve seen me wear it countless “What I Loved Wearing” posts over this season! It appears to have sold out in my burgundy but the black patterned one is fab and easy to pair as well — plus, even less expensive than the red (under $100). I just noticed that this pointelle turtleneck (what is it with me and pointelle?) is on sale for $83…tempted…

P.S. Dorsey is not running any sales/promotions this year, but all my top picks for holiday jewelry and gifts here.

P.P.S. Some of my favorite “mini” holiday traditions from years past.

P.P.P.S. Just a reminder that my Thanksgiving prayer is here in case you want to print it (you can also find it on Instagram here). It always brings a tear to my eye.

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

*Image via The Studio Melrose.

A Magpie reader wrote me a lovely note earlier this week letting me know that she and her best friend often talk about my musing on “the years that ask and the years that answer.” (Which one is 2023 shaping up to be for you?) I paused for a minute and realized that ever since we moved from New York City to Bethesda, MD, I’ve been living amidst a string of years that answer, and answer, and answer. Life feels solid and comfortable in a way it never did in New York and Chicago before it. I think this is partly the ages of our children, partly the sensation of buying a home vs renting (honestly, more precisely, the sensation of not having to move in the imminent future), partly the fact that we are through our baby years and no longer have that “will we have another?” question asterisking our “dream talks,” partly our stability in our respective careers, and partly the fact that we are back in our hometown after a wild adventure flying the coop. We had to ask a lot of questions, and then handle a lot of fallout from their answers, to land here. My 20s and 30s felt like one long call; I am finally listening to the response. Anyhow, today, I want to say that if you feel you are wandering, and you are coming up on a decade of years that have relentlessly asked, there will be an answering year. You will look back and see the once-immaterial breadcrumb trail that brought you to a place of rest, and you will also see that the experience was not only worth it but wakening.

Below, I’m republishing some thoughts on the long trail for my fellow wool gatherers from an essay I wrote a year and a half ago for a gal who once interned for me.

*****

It is OK to take the long road,

to earn the title “wool-gatherer,”

to be the handwritten cursive subscript under the 12-point Times New Roman font,

to move beneath, rather than with or against, the grain,

with meanderings so under-the-radar that they are dismissed as insignificant.

It is OK to take the squiggly path,

that draws you from arranging name tags on the reception table at the Phillips Collection

to stammering through academic papers in ancient towns in Italy

to gliding through rehearsed presentations to large audiences

to starting and shuttering a business

to writing for a living —

just an example.

It is OK to feel that you have been searching for something you can’t quite put your arms around,

each phase a phantom hug —

but know that the footprints that brought you here

suggest otherwise:

There is meaning-making in the tracks.

For Susie

Post-Scripts.

+You are enough.

+More on that ill-fated academic paper in an ancient town in Italy.

+The moment I realized how little my peers thought of my choice to pursue English.

+Do you see a difference between the way those of us who studied the humanities and those of us who studied STEM approach the world?

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

Shopping Break.

The following content may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+Mesh and tulle have been such a trend this season (mesh shoes, mesh-detailed dresses, mesh tops — Doen’s holiday collection had so much tulle, too!), and I just ordered this inexpensive mesh turtleneck ($22!) to pair with holiday looks. Thinking of wearing it with this tartan skirt and some great heels to a festive holiday tea.

+If you are looking for a dressy top for a formal skirt and don’t love the mesh vibe, this one is it. Could even be styled for black tie wear.

+A good look for less for the LR velvet platform heels.

+An adorable way to deliver treats to neighbors/friends this holiday season. I bought something similar to hand out pecan bars last year. Note the dimensions/size — these are petite!

+Just placed a big order at Gap with some random buys, taking advantage of some seriously good Black Friday discounts there — my daughter loves “fuzzy socks” so I got her these as an Advent calendar surprise (and these for my boy, who will obviously want to follow (sock) suit! he wants everything she has!), some holiday shoes for my girl (she wanted this pair from La Coqueta, which felt spendy even with discount, so glad I found these!), skating gloves and hat for my girl, and these $10 Santa jammies for my son.

+This under-$100 tartan lady jacket is SO good. With jeans and little velvet furlanes?

+These Nikes are 25% off. Love the styling.

+Love these vintage inspired holiday bells for a garland/mantel!

+I’ve been looking for a few more items for my son’s bedroom refresh (see items I already have here), and I thought this little book caddy was adorable.

+My son already has too many blankets, but this one with the truck motif turned my head…

+Our favorite shampoo is 20% off with code GIVING20. A reader just wrote last week: “I purchased the Roz hair care set when you first posted that someone recommended it to you. Has been life changing for me! Can’t recommend enough.” I totally agree with her! My fav shampoo — super similar to Oribe, but less expensive (especially with the promo) and with a better lather.

+More fun holiday shoes!

+Chic shearling coat for a little love.

The following content may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

Today, sharing a roundup of great gifts for children as we head into the holiday season. This is targeted towards children between the ages of 3-10. We always try to give our children gifts across a few categories: something artistic/musical, something STEM, something sporty, and then something that is purely for fun. (Plus a bundle of books!). On the STEM side, this Botley robot was a huge hit with my daughter over the course of this past year. It’s a clever way to teach children the basics of programming — they must correctly sequence a set of commands for the robot to do certain things. She is always so proud of herself! On the sports side, my children have been loving these pop-up hockey/soccer nets. They’re great because they collapse flat — convenient if you are short on space, or hoping to bring with you to a park/play area. We will also be taking our children skiing for the first time this winter, and though we’ll be renting gear, if your little one is a snowbunny, a set of skis would be a great gift. On the artsy side, my children would love this monster making kit, this comic book set, or this paint box. And in the “just for fun” category, how beyond fabulous is this AG doll trunk?! My daughter currently has all of her AG clothes and accessories in little overflowing bins beneath her bed. I can’t tell if it’s my inner nine year old talking, but I’m obsessed with the trunk. I would have died over this! (I always really wanted Samantha’s brass bed…) I also freaked out over this limited edition Barbie remote control car! She has been playing with her Barbies a lot more all of the sudden, and we already have the house squared away…

I must put a spotlight on the Tonies Box, which is a Black Friday deal (30% off) right now! I cannot tell you how much my children love these. My daughter listens to hers every single night while falling asleep, and my son loves to play Legos and Magna-tiles in his room while listening to his. They are incredible, screen-free entertainment. My children especially love the sing-a-long ones.

One item we will 100% be buying is a digital camera for my son. He’s been consistently asking for one all year long so he can “take pictures of nature.” This one is so adorable! He also loves his Schleich sets and I think I am going to add this little winter set to his collection.

Finally, one of my favorite online children’s boutiques, Danrie, has an incredibly well-curated gift assortment this year. I love the Banwood skateboard and Dinkum Dogs set! They have a tiered Black Friday promo running — 15% off $100; 20% off $250; 25% off $400.

01. HEAD SKIS // 02. RETROSPEC SKI/SNOWBOARD HELMET // 03. AMERICAN GIRL DOLL TRUNK CLOSET // 04. OMY PAINT BOX SET // 05. NUGGET PLAY COUCH // 06. DIGITAL CAMERA // 07. MAKE YOUR OWN MONSTER KIT // 08. BOTLEY ROBOT // 09. KARAOKE SET // 11. KID MADE MODERN COMIC BOOK SET // 12. TONIES BOX // 13. TONIES HEADPHONES // 14. BARBIE RC CAR

15. DINKUM DOGS VET SET BUNDLE // 16. KLEE NATURALS MAKEUP SET // 17. BRUDER DEFENDER // 18. KONGES SLOJD STROLLER // 19. BANWOOD SKATEBOARD // 20. MOON PICNIC DOLLHOUSE BOOK (CLEVER ACTIVITY FOR TRAVEL / SMALL SPACES) // 21. BUTTER NOODLES HAIR CLIPS // 22. PUGG POP UP HOCKEY / SOCCER NETS // 23. STREET HOCKEY SET // 24. SQUISHMALLOW // 25. SCHLEICH WILDLIFE PLAY SET // 26. PLUS PLUS FLAGS SET // 27. KONGES SLOJD UKELELE //

P.S. More gift guides for children from years past here, here, here.

P.P.S. On seeing our children as whole.

P.P.P.S. I organized many of these children’s gifts into this section of my Amazon shop. Amazon is running a few early Black Friday deals and I saw that iPad minis are 20% off. iPads are of course incredible for travel/sick days…!

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

This week, I underwent the harrowing annual experience of a Thanksgiving week Whole Foods visit. Even when we plan our Thanksgiving meal prep with militaristic precision, there are still things we forget, or (in this case) weekend logistics that get in the way of the best laid plans.

The lot was gridlocked. I found myself waiting, with my signal on, for an elderly woman to get into her car so I could take her spot. The driver behind me laid on the horn, likely not seeing that I was waiting for this woman to turn on her lights and reverse out of the spot. I sat there for what felt like an eternity (but was in actuality under 30 seconds) waiting for the car to back out while this woman honked and gesticulated with increasing wildness behind me. I pointed to the spot, and tried to yell back: “She’s coming out!” and the woman screamed back: “There are other spots, lady!” I did not see any in my immediate vicinity, and at this point, the car was reversing. I finally pulled in and the driver behind me careened around, yelling obscenities out the window in my general direction. Nervously, I walked into the Whole Foods and immediately saw the angry driver enter the store behind me. I found myself waiting for punishment as I skittishly selected my carrots and brussels sprouts. When I stole a look at the woman, I could tell she was pretending not to see me. It is so much easier to unleash frustration on someone when you are not face to face. For a split second, I contemplated approaching her with some kind of message, but what was there to say? The likelihood a confrontation in the supermarket would yield anything good was next to nil. (I thought, too, of Mr. Magpie’s frequent adage when encountering a situation where it appears that one party has bats in the belfry: “D.N.E.” or “Do not engage.”) Moreover, I was, frankly, relieved that she chose not to engage with me. After, I found myself walking around the shop as though on tenterhooks. When I returned home, I was unloading the groceries and Mr. Magpie held up the $8 bottle of fancy cream I’d bought for the mashed potatoes. “Why’d you get half and half?” he asked. “We need cream.” I burst into tears on the spot.

He knew, of course, it wasn’t the cream. It’s never the cream.

I stood there, wilted. A swarm of thoughts surrounded me, and I took some time to filter through them while putting pen to journal paper. Below, some insights that I am burnishing as I head into the holiday season, when stress levels can run high and interactions with others can run amok.

My first rivulet of thought was: how could I let a total stranger upset me in this way? I do not think I did anything wrong, but — at worst — I introduced a thirty second delay into her life, and her response was disproportionate. I rationally see that I should be able to let her aggression bounce right off me, as it was unmerited and seemingly blindly directed. This reminds me of one of themes I have returned to month after month in my mid-to-late 30s, as I try to unstrap myself from the habit of self-blame: You cannot control the behavior of others. Her flare-up said little about me and a lot about her.

My second, and more generous, thought: the holidays can be stressful, and people act in weird ways during them. I should give her a grace note and move on with my life. Maybe she was about to hit the road for a ten hour drive and I was inching her closer to rush hour. Maybe it’s the first Thanksgiving she’s spending on her own. Trust me, I can invent a thousand sob stories that will sufficiently fill in the blank. It is hard, though, to extend that kind of understanding when you are offered something entirely different. Still, it’s a north star, and something I hope to keep in the front of my mind during this season in particular. This is a time that calls for a gentle headspace.

Third, the fact that I burst into tears over this altogether minor scenario suggests I need to prioritize rest. This feels next to impossible to accomplish this week, with plans chock-a-block, but I came across a quote a few weeks ago that said: “Rest is more than napping on the sofa. Rest is anything that makes our nervous systems feel safe enough for our stress responses to switch off so our minds and bodies can recover and restore.” I am sitting here, drawing up a mental list of what those things might be — an early bedtime, a light-hearted book, taking a break from my desk to drop off a little gift I picked up from Whole Foods for a neighbor.

Which brings me to my final thought: we publish the good news. Yesterday, I took my children to see a staged performance of “A Year with Frog and the Toad” (an adaptation of the series by Arnold Lobel) at Imagination Stage. It was adorable, with clever sets and silly lyrics and actors who give it their all. The performance tracks frog and toad around a calendar year, cycling through all the seasons, and ends with a darling Christmas cheer song that felt like the perfect way for us to ease into the holidays. My children were transfixed! The only reason I knew about this performance was because one of my neighbors generously offered us four tickets. I do not know this particular neighbor very well and was deeply touched that she’d thought of us. I sat in the theater and thought how special it was to watch my son double over in laughter, and climb onto my lap during “the scary part,” and kick off the holiday season in this festive way, all because of my neighbor’s generosity.

I have a point: I could either headline the Whole Foods visit as “The Time a Stranger Yelled at Me” or “The Time I Went to Buy My Neighbor a Thank You Gift for Treating My Family to a Special Holiday Performance.” I think we all know the one that sticks. We publish the good news.

I’m wishing you all the happiest, coziest holiday season, but if you anticipate or find turbulence, I’m giving you a little squeeze and hoping some of my takeaways above might help smooth things out.

Onward!

Post-Scripts.

+A podcast on apologies that blew my mind.

+Give yourself a soft landing when you need it!

+Pertinent this week: how to fill your cup when you’re short on time.

+Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with 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.

Shopping Break.

The following content may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+I did update the shopping section of yesterday’s post to include a few sales I came across post-publication, including Doen (don’t miss my favorite top!) and Lake. You know how I feel about their Relax Set — treat yourself! Incidentally, when I am upset about something, as I was after the WF incident, the most delightful self-indulgence for me is to take a hot shower, put on the Relax Set, slather my face with a hydrating overnight cream (currently loving this overnight skin recovery mask from EltaMD, and it’s 27% off with code JEN27), and get into bed with my hair wet (so relaxing for me even though I look like hell in the morning) to watch a cozy movie.

+These slingbacks from J. Crew are beyond chic.

+I just ordered myself this NodPod weighted eye mask. I shared it a few weeks ago and one of my friends wrote to say: “This gives me instant deep sleep.” Um, yes pls.

+A perfect navy wedding guest dress, currently 50% off from La Ligne.

+AHHH. I’m so tempted to order the Dyson Air Wrap while it’s $119 off (tick the box for discount to apply). I’ve been on the fence about this purchase forever! I have been collecting all the best Amazon Black Friday finds I’ve come across here. My top rec is this incredible bluetooth speaker! It’s virtually indestructible. We use it all summer long when we’re hanging out in the backyard / grilling / traveling. I can’t believe the price right now. This soft-sided Yeti travel cooler would be handy for summer / travel…and a couple of great toy deals there, too, including on Magna-tiles and Lego.

+Ordering a set of these melamine tartan plates. These are ideal for sending off with a plate of cookies to a neighbor / hostess and not requesting the plate back.

+The entire internet is on sale, but leave it to me to find the one thing “excluded from promo” — still, I am contemplating order this chic pointelle turtleneck from Gap! While there, check out these adorable tartan-lined jeans for your son. My boy owns a pair! They’re currently 50% off.

+There are some great men’s buys included in Shopbop’s 25% off sale. I love these NBs, these vintage socks, and this puffer vest. Also – these are Mr. Magpie’s favorite golf shorts. My top men’s picks that are a part of the sale here.

+Margaux demi ballet flats are on sale!

+This textured lace dress from H&M looks much more expensive than it is. Also LOVE this dramatic navy top (also H&M).

+This top coat in the hot pink or banana yellow!!! SO good and currently on serious sale.

+Bring the tinsel with these $50 sequin pants.

+Love these quilted velvet stockings!

+This tartan fleece is fun.

This post is sponsored by Shopbop.

25% off my favorite online retailer with code HOLIDAY! My obvious first recommendation is one of these Leset pointelle tees (seen above), which have gradually replaced all other tees in my wardrobe. I now have four — two short-sleeved and two long-sleeved — but do I need the of-the-season chocolate brown color, too? Truly perfect for layering beneath cardigans this season. So comfortable and soft, and I love the feminine details. A great and unexpected gift for a sister or girlfriend, too. I also love the idea of gifting these washable silk jammies to a woman you love. For some reason it’s what I imagine Cameron Diaz wearing to bed.

On the holiday dressing side, I just wore this pair of feathered pajamas with platformed heels last Friday for a martini party at my home. (One of my girlfriends dubbed it “holiday’s soft launch” — it was perfect!) They are easier than you think to wear and straight-up fabulous. Just make sure the rest of your outfit/accessories are dressy.

I ordered this red dress for an upcoming cocktail party (it just seems to sing: “Have yourself a merry little cocktail!”) and I’m now eyeing this darling velvet SEA. The neckline is so fun.

Finally, two forever pieces: 1) do not sleep on the softest ballet flats on the planet while discounted. These are butter-soft, right out of the box. 2) I’m obsessed with this chic little cropped blazer from BA&SH. Elegant, pulled together, but not too dressy. Throw on over a dress, pair with jeans. So easy!

shopbop sale finds

ROW ONE: SEA VELVET DRESS // LESET POINTELLE TEE // AG BOOT CUT COATED JEANS // ALC NORA DRESS

ROW TWO: LOEFFLER RANDALL FLATS // BA&SH MEREDITH JACKET // SLEEPER PAJAMAS // DAGNE DOVER LONDON CARRYALL (EYEING THIS FOR UPCOMING TRAVEL)

ROW THREE: LUNYA WASHABLE SILK PAJAMAS // AGOLDE PINCH WAIST JEANS // FREDA SALVADOR WATERPROOF BOOTS // BLACK HALO DIVINA GOWN

P.S. I’m constantly updating my favorite Shopbop finds here.

P.P.S. My most recent Shopbop order here.

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

Ed. note: I updated the cover photo of this post after initial publication because the first was too blurry. I also updated the Black Friday sale section with fab finds!

Question for you — do you date your spouse? What does this look like?

I have friends all over the map on this front. A few tid-bits I’ve gathered over the years in discussing this with girlfriends:

“We take off work an hour early on Fridays so we can grab a happy hour drink together while our nanny is still with the children. This helps us head into the weekend feeling connected.”

“We arrive at the restaurant in different vehicles so it feels like a true “date”.”

“We go on dates to Costco — we have to squeeze “dates” in wherever we can.”

“We book a neighborhood sitter to come by so we can enjoy a cocktail at home, cloistered somewhere the children are not, but without any of the pomp/circumstance of finding a restaurant.”

“We calendar a monthly date so we have lots of time to find a restaurant/movie/activity and sitter. We always know exactly which date it’ll be, and we move mountains to maintain the commitment.”

“Once a year, my parents take the children for a full week. We catch up on dates during that time.”

Mr. Magpie and I prioritize time alone together and will go out once or twice a month in the evenings, just the two of us — usually for dinner, but sometimes for a musical or cultural performance. These are not pre-programmed (e.g., we don’t calendar them in ahead of time); I am instead opportunistic about keeping my ears open for cool happenings or interesting promotions at local restaurants and then pouncing when they materialize. We also take a lot of daytime dates, especially for lunch (and sometimes coffee). We both work from home so we’ll coordinate on a lunch date once or twice a month. I always feel like saying “it’s not a good day for this” when the lunch date day arrives, but invariably wind up feeling fulfilled and relaxed at the end of the hour. There’s a scene in “Wet Hot American Summer” where campers go on a wild bender in town that clearly seems to unfold over the course of many days, but one of the characters gets back to camp at the end of the scene and says: “It’s always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour.” That’s sort of how these midday dates feel — just an hour, but they contain several days’ worth of release. The topography of my daily stress changes.

We’ve also begun to conceive of “car dates.” Sometimes, Mr. Magpie will drive to pick up lunch and ask me to come along, just for a little square of twenty minutes to chat. More frequently, we are driving into D.C. for dinner with friends — a trek nearly always takes 30-45 minutes from Bethesda. For awhile, we begrudged these journeys, but now, we think of them “ante-dates.” Time to sit with each other and catch up. We put on good music and take turns holding hands and removing hands.

Last but not least, there have been a few nights this past year where we’ve mapped our romantic date nights at home. One recent one involved martinis, delivery burgers from Et Voila, and a scary movie. Pretty much perfect.

Looking across these “dates,” it seems to me that one through-line is simply announcing the occasion. Instead of: “do you want to run out and grab lunch?” it’s “want to have a lunch date with me tomorrow?”; instead of “should we watch a scary movie?” it’s “let’s have a date night at home and watch a scary movie.” There is something about marking off the time together as “dating” that puts me in the right head-space (and heart-space). It always makes me think about my husband from the outside in. Not the partner who fixes door handle and kills the spiders and pours the cereal for the children in the morning, but the handsome man who I am in love with!

Curious to hear your perspectives and advice on this front. How do you handle it?

Post-Scripts.

+Our love story.

+”I think, then, how a life led by love requires so little, and gives so much.”

+A little bit of romantic fiction for you.

+An interesting conversation on John Mayer (see comments). Such a polarizing figure, but generally beloved by us Magpies. John Mayer, the Gap kick fit jeans, and mobile ordering Starbucks at the airport: a Magpie starter kit.

Shopping Break.

The following content may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

Everyone has started their BF/CM promotions early this year! Sharing my favorite promotions for the shopping super bowl this week below. I’m hoping you are sitting in your tartan nap dress with your Ugg slippers tucked beneath you, sipping a delicious oat milk latte, ready for some fun shopping.

First, I wanted to share a couple of one-off items that are great deals this week (most from “the big retailers” like Boden, J. Crew, etc whose promos seem to be changing every hour — but will generally be a good time to buy any day this week):

+this sparkle rib Boden top;

+this tartan blazer (!!!);

+this silver lurex turtleneck (will pair with this sequin skirt — look for less with this);

+this fair isle sweater (imagining with this hot pink mini or metallic jeans);

+and this face wash I’ve been yapping about (20% off with code BF23 and my favorite face wash, as described here).

Onto a few sites running particularly good promos this week…

+Tuckernuck. 20% off sitewide, 25% off orders over $500, 30% off orders over $1000 with code CHEERS. I’d use this promotion to round out the holiday attire wardrobe. Love this black watch tartan top (ordered) for more casual holiday gatherings; these coated jeans; these mesh LR flats; this tweed jacket; this velvet Ulla J.

I’m traveling to Tulum this winter, and have begun somewhat passively looking for resort wear picks. If you’re in the same boat, you might consider snagging this Hunza G (the stripes!), this Fanm Mon, or this Hannah Artwear.

+Lake Pajamas. 25% off sitewide. You know how I feel about their Relax Set — one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Now’s the time! I also love this holiday patternmini and I both have a set!

+Doen has discounted a ton of their beautiful pieces (no code needed). You know I’m a major Doen fan girl! I have worn this top (you can size down, runs big — I took an XXS and it’s still roomy; I’m typically an XS) and this dress A TON this season. I’ll be wearing this dress on Thanksgiving! And this plaid top is in my cart.

+Minnow. 25% off sitewide with code MERRY25. One of their two sales per year, and Minnow is my favorite brand for swimwear and boy’s casual wear in the summer months. I always buy my children a few swimsuits using this promo. Love this rash guard, these swim trunks, their twill shorts, and of course their knitwear! (You can see Hill in his here.)

+Jenni Kayne. 25% off sitewide. No code needed. Treat yourself (or your sister) to a luxe sweater! My sister lives in their knitwear and always nails that “quiet luxury” vibe. These are sweaters made for living — she likes to layer hers over leggings to chase her toddler around at the park. Perfect weekend wear. The Cooper is my top pick but nearly sold out. I own and adore their everyday sweater — great midweight layering piece –and love these striped crewnecks, too.

+Petite Plume. 20% off site-wide with code BLACKFRIDAY. My children will be wearing these come Thanksgiving night (the pattern also available in a soft pima cotton if your children prefer that style, but the standard style ones are NOT itchy — very soft! My children have owned tons of pairs!). I also love these tartan nightgowns for little loves. If you’re at a loss for what to get a cute newborn in your life, go with one of these itty bitty tartan rompers. ICONIC!

+Mirth. 30% off sitewide, no code needed. My Mirth caftan ended up being one of my most-worn dresses last summer. The dresses are all thoughtfully designed with unexpected details and lightweight, comfortable fabrics. This looks equally dreamy. And I love the loose fit of this for throwing on over a swimsuit in Mexico.

+Merit. 20% off with code PRIVATE20. One of my absolute favorite beauty brands. I waxed poetic about several of their pieces a few days ago. Now is the time to outfit your makeup bag for the new year. I especially love their minimalist stick, angled brush, and flush balms, and I’m a new admirer of their mascara, which separates lashes like none other.

+Kilte. Use the promotion to snag one of their washable cashmere sets. One of my girlfriends owns this set in two colors and looks beyond fab in it. (She pairs with ballet flats and silk scarves.)

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

Above: view from top floor of Swan House in Atlanta. Spectacular in its fall regalia!

Last weekend, I spent two nights in Atlanta visiting with my best girlfriends from college (minus one, who couldn’t attend — we missed you, T.) I do not think I’ve laughed so hard in years. There were multiple instances in which we were literally crying with laughter as we re-lived college stories, compared notes on “what ever happened to…?”, swapped lore about the boys we dated and the dramas we created. It felt delicious to relax into a weekend whose predominant mode was laughter. More profoundly, though — there is something specifically unwinding about being with the girlfriends who knew you when. I’ve written in fits and starts about the unique intimacy of girlhood friendships — the way you style one another’s hair, swap clothing, curl up in twin beds in crappy rentals, find yourself in trouble for being unable to be together without dissolving into giggles — and how the dearness and intensity of those relationships seem to fade as you age, for reasons practical and self-protective (at least, in my experience). This past weekend made me realize that while we may no longer be preening one another while listening to Mariah Carey at full volume, there is a unique, un-recreatable understanding between us born of decades of shared history. We might be talking about career ambitions, marriages, children, but those conversations are anchored in a firm and long-tailed grasp of one another, as though we are seeing not just the ice cap but the entire berg beneath.

Sometimes I have an impractical thought: would my life would be fuller and happier if all of my closest friends and siblings would somehow decide to move within a few minute radius of me? Are people who live close to their best friends enjoying some kind of elevated, rarified life experience? Distance is an unintentional abrasive to close friendships. It is hard to stay in touch when someone is not woven into the fabric of your daily routine. It still gives me deep pause that I seem to have more frequent interaction with neighbors and members of my children’s school community than I do with my closest friends. Nothing against the neighbors/school — it’s just, how do they get the bigger share of my life?

And yet. This past weekend made me realize that we might be entering a new era of our lives that I had not anticipated. Most of us are nestled in long-term jobs and homes and have children that are firmly out of the toddler years and heading into (or already in) grade school. Much of the volatility of our 20s and 30s has dissipated. We were not only able to get 7 out of 8 of us together for a girl’s trip (! small miracle!) but were already talking about a girls’ weekend next year, and we launched new shared albums and Whats App threads (one of us lives internationally). We also have a slew of 40th birthdays just around the corner that may lead to imminent reunion. Are the 40s the time to reclaim female friendships? Does life in one’s 40s open up new opportunities to reconnect?

Also this week…

+My unofficial kick-off to Thanksgiving week: Thomas’s limited edition cranberry English muffins. I’ve loved these the past few Thanksgivings. You can find them (at least in DC) at Safeway. We’ve also had a puzzle out on the counter, are burning a holiday candle, and have friends coming over for martinis tonight to kick off the season. More great seasonal hygge finds here.

+I’m working on my zhushing my son’s room. We’ve been living in this house for two years and his room is in desperate need of some love. I’ve recently ordered this chair in the dusty odalisque blue (25% off with code BFSALE23), this throw pillow, this table lamp with the red shade, and this $30 waste basket (seen above). Such a random thing to be enthusiastic about, but the $30 waste bin is SO CUTE. Comes in lots of great patterns/fabrics. The pillow seen in the background is a Pendleton blanket pillow (similar here and here) that we’ve had for years, and the rug is Erin Gates. I’m now hunting for a better book/toy storage solution for his room. We did buy him this grow-with-me activity table awhile ago, and it’s been a major source of joy, creativity, action for him. We got it in the brushed fog color, which is really interesting and different. I love that it comes with taller legs you can attach as they get older, so it can eventually become a craft or homework table. The lip around the edge is brilliant because my son principally uses the table for Legos, and they don’t end up scattered across the floor. Strongly rec. I did not buy the matching drawer/bins that go beneath because I found the price absurd (as expensive as the table? — then again, they probably require just as much wood/materials), but now I’m contemplating for a more finished look. It would be nice to stow all his Legos and magnatiles in them when not in use.

+Beginning to outfit my holiday gift wrap supply. I obviously had to have this champagne-themed gift wrap from Dear Annabelle, and the gorgeous Merry Christmas tags are perfectly retro-chic. Both (and the entire site) are 20% off this weekend (discount applied automatically). I also love these gift tag stickers from Joy Creative Shop. I was just telling a friend that I’m not sure how I missed the memo of stickers for gift tags for so long — they are so much easier! No using tape or ribbon to affix to the package! These will be such a big help for all of the smaller gifts this year. Finally, I just ordered a bunch of the fill-in-the-blank thank you cards for kids from Joy Creative, including (not seen above) the holiday-themed ones. Going to make thank you note writing much easier this year. For more gift wrap inspo, see here.

+In the photo with my gift wrap goodies, you can see a glimpse of one of my most beloved home accessories, Half Past Seven’s rattan tray. It has a wonderful, gracious size that makes it ideal for a coffee table or bar area. This charming home decor brand recently sent me one of the pieces from their new colored glass collection, and I am now keeping this beautiful carafe in our guest bedroom. I believe they are running a deal where you can get 20% off with code THANKFUL. You might need to be an email subscriber to access. (BTW, if you’ve not read the comments on my “What Do You Keep in Your Guest Bedroom?” post, you must! Such thoughtful, gracious answers.) I have a list of items I still need to buy based on your recs — specifically looking for a laundry hamper (love the look of this, this, or this), not-too-expensive robes (any recs?), and a luggage rack (eyeing these because I like the lighter colors — will go better in our room than the dark wood I tend to see elsewhere). I also want to add chargers up there, per many of your notes.)

+Speaking of gifts, I brought two of my girlfriends in ATL gifts last weekend (two of them live there and hosted us for much of the weekend, so wanted to send a little thank you). I was legitimately excited to hand these over. One went to a girlfriend who texts with me frequently about clothes/beauty, and I couldn’t wait to introduce her to my fav UBeauty Lip Plasma. (I continue to think the UBeauty lip plasma set would be a great gift for any beauty lover. It’s included in my meaningful gift guide for women we love post.) I also tucked one of these Jillian Dempsey eye masks in there — I wrote about these recently but they are SO incredible for tired eyes. I now tuck a pack in my suitcase any time I travel, but they also come in handy for small gifting opportunities like this. I gave my other girlfriend one of these Camilla Moss Advent card sets. She has a strong faith and we’d talked at some point about the fact that neither of us do Elf on the Shelf in our homes. Nothing against Elfers (and we may give in at some point — who knows), but since we are already doing daily Advent calendar surprises, it’s just too much! Anyhow, I thought these Advent cards were a great way to re-anchor the season in its spiritual meaning, and knew she’d relate to that effort.

A few other miscellaneous notes…

+I had about fifteen tabs open with different sneaker possibilities for my son, and he chose this pair! He has the exact same pair currently, but in blue, and loves them. (They’ve been totally destroyed by wear and tear, though — little boy stuff! — and he needed a fresh set for the new year.) This exact style has been difficult to track down in my son’s toddler foot size, at least in colors that are interesting to him, but I did find them at this European site. I’d never ordered from them before and they do take about a week to ship, FYI. However, they’re currently offering 15% off with code 15BF, which more or less covered the international shipping, so I called it a wash. You can find this style for even less here ($30!!), and in most toddler sizes!, but of course Hill didn’t want the red. This specific pair of NBs are AMAZING for toddler boys. The velcro top makes them easy to put on, they stay put, and they offer a lot of foot support. I’d also suggested to him these Vans (such good colors/patterns — was shocked he didn’t want the space ones) and these Sauconys, but he was not taking the bait.

+Also this week: panic ordered him a pair of dressier shoes for Thanksgiving. Their constantly changing foot sizes and footwear needs are hard to stay on top of. I don’t know how you moms with more than two kids do it. I feel like I’m always crunching numbers and flipping to my “note” that has a list of their current sizes in different things! Anyway, Sperrys are classic and I was drawn to the velcro top. I also changed my mind on my children’s Thanksgiving outfits at the last minute and ordered my son this beautiful knit from La Coqueta. I love the leather button detail, and I thought the green / snowflake fair isle would mean he could wear it from Thanksgiving through Christmas. My daughter will be wearing this set from Sunhouse Children. We’re going a touch less formal than last year!

+Ordered a bunch of things to try from Shopbop, including this cocktail dress, this fair isle cardigan, this hot pink mini (thinking of pairing with something like this or this on top), this Alice + Olivia, and this SEA knit. I will probably not keep all of them but am weighing outfit options for a few upcoming events / activities. We have holiday cocktail parties, Christmas teas, a fairly formal Christmas Eve, a children’s Christmas party, caroling, etc! I’m also hoping to reprise my Kacey Christmas party from last year but time seems to be slipping right through my fingers. Need to get organized if it’s going to happen.

+On the holiday front: one of my girlfriends texted to say she is swapping out her children’s sheeting for holiday-themed patterns! How cute?! I love this set from Petite Plume (20% off). Also have long loved Juliska’s holiday-patterned Berry and Thread dishes, but especially this adorable little serving plate. Other holiday finds: this smocked Rachel Riley dress for littles and these FUN sequin heels (under $100), which remind me of a pair I keep ogling from Giambattista Valli. DROOL.

+Writing this several days in advance of the sale details going live, but Kilte will be offering up to 50% off starting today (11/19), and I am finally going to test one of their washable cashmere sets. Will be a dream for future long travel days. And this sweater is still one of my favorite ways to introduce color to my cold weather wardrobe! (You can see me in it here.)

P.S. Fun to go down memory lane and remember the college days.

P.P.S. A meaningful educational experience from UVA.

P.P.P.S. How do you fill your cup in under an hour?

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

*I took photo above last weekend, while visiting the Swan House in Atlanta. Can you even!?

My Latest Snags.

I’m now looking squarely forward to holiday gatherings. This week, I snagged this $118 tartan top, this cherry red ALC, this tartan skirt, and this silver lurex turtleneck.

More festive finds here.

This Week’s Bestsellers.

I’m proud of us this week, team. This roundup of bestsellers is absolutely incredible and I want it all. It also all somehow goes together perfectly?! CHIC! Y’all led me to order this Alex Mill cardigan. I had thought it would be a perfect casual Thanksgiving day outfit and now I see it will also work perfectly with tartans / Christmas, too.

01. ZARA FOIL CARDIGAN // 02. SEA CARDIGAN // 03. BROOKS BROTHERS TAFFETA SKIRT // 04. DOEN MULE (VELVET! COMES IN OTHER COLORS!) // 05. J. CREW TAFFETA TARTAN DRESS // 06. ALEX MILL CARDIGAN // 07. J. CREW TURTLENECK* // 08. STORY ORCHESTRA NUTCRACKER BOOK // 09. ALPHABET TRACING PAD // 10. KIDKITS SENSORY KIT** 11. J. CREW FAUX LEATHER JACKET // 12. BLONDO WATERPROOF BOOTS // 13. TRUE & CO BRALETTE*** // 14. HANNI HYDRATION DUO // 15. VINYL MONOGRAM DECAL (FOR LUGGAGE, ETC) // 16. PORTABLE CHARGER // 17. JENNI KAYNE EVERYDAY SWEATER (25% OFF!!!)

*Sheer – you need a tank beneath.

**This is a Thanksgiving theme one but there are lots of Christmas/holiday themed options to consider as surprises for your children or gifts! 10% off all purchases with code MAGPIE10.

***This is my most-worn bra. I honestly never wear anything else. Smoothing, comfortable, flattering, works with lots of necklines/styles. Target has a diffusion line version that many Magpies have reported to be identical to “the real thing” and it’s about half the price.

Weekend Musing: Navigating Storms as a Mother.

“Never let your storm get your children wet.” Saw this on Instagram and had one of those drop-everything-and-stand-stock-still-while-I-digest-this moments, rapidly rattling through an audit of my recent moments of frustration and impatience as a mother. This morning, my children embroiled themselves in a standard weekday-morning spat (“stop LOOKING at me, Hill” and “Mama, Emory said I have a stink face”). I try my hardest not to involve myself in these run-of-the-mill sibling stand-offs, instead offering high-level suggestions: “Why don’t you leave the room / change seats / find something else to do / tune him out / tell her how you feel / etc.” This scenario pressurizes itself when I know the clock is ticking and we need to be out the door by 7:40, and yet there they are, splayed around the dining room table, fighting and not touching their oatmeal. I intercepted today, taking my son out of the room to talk him down and reassure him, and when I returned, my daughter was livid. “Why does he get all the attention?” she demanded. A fat tear rolled down her cheek.

What I wanted to say was: You are older, and these arguments are absurd, and why can you not simply ignore him!? What I hoped was that she would quickly eat her oatmeal and get into her uniform. What I desired was to state, baldly, that I am tired of refereeing these pointless, recursive contretemps, and that my involvement that day had nothing to do with giving one or the other more attention and everything to do with just getting on with it. But what I remembered was: “Never let your storm get your children wet.” It’s not that I was stepping into the day with an axe to grind, but that I was more focused in that moment on what would be comfortable and convenient for me. I was elbowing her raincloud out in pursuit of my own sunlight. We had a productive conversation afterward. We talked about what would make the mornings easier for her, and what attention she wanted. I was a little startled when she maturely asked whether she could sit downstairs and have her hair tied back now, and go up to brush her teeth after Hill was done, so that she could have more time to cool off without him around. (Typically, we do everything in sync: children eat, then children go upstairs to brush, then children come down for hair to be done, etc).

I am leery of parenting slogans that insinuate that mothers must assume sainthood status by putting aside our very natural swings of emotions in order to properly fulfill the role. I also rarely take kindly to a phrase that begins with “never do this…” (I am a rule-follower by nature, but something makes my skin crawl when I’m on the receiving end of that kind of blanket instruction.) So perhaps the phrase needs some massaging. But I have to say, I’ve been finding it a handy rubric. Am I doing this because I’m lost in my own storm? Are my private stresses/frustrations spilling over into my role as a parent? I know I’ll never be able to totally unthread my own concerns and anxieties from the way I lead my life as a wife, parent, sister, friend, writer, but I can at least see when I’m permitting them to over-color my actions.

What do you think?

Post-Scripts.

+Another great Alex Mill cardigan. Endlessly versatile.

+Obsessed with the silhouette of these coated jeans. Imagined with a metallic mule like these (40% off with code BFCM23).

+If I’ve not mentioned it recently…this dry shampoo is one of my top three favorite beauty discoveries this year. Enables me to get an extra day between washes.

+This is our exact tree topper. We bought ours at the ABC Home store in Manhattan a few years ago! It’s paper mache so easy to set atop the tree without it tilting.

+Love this pearl hair claw.

+Petite Plume sent my family some holiday pajamas, and I was beyond thrilled — I have bought so many pairs of their jammies over the years for my littles. I selected these for myself and these for my children. I was so torn, though — I almost got them these skiiers instead because we are taking them skiing for the first time this holiday season and I figured a ski motif would have a longer “season” than the more explicit holiday ones. Such great patterns! All are 20% off right now with code BLACKFRIDAY.

+Merit is running a 20% off sitewide sale with code PRIVATE20. I love so many of their items, but especially their complexion stick and angled brush, which I use daily.

+So tempted by these green velvet Guccis.

+Oo la la, a perfect ribbed, cherry red turtleneck for under $30.

+Love these under-$50 bow earrings.

+Your mother / sisters need these terrycloth headbands. I use when washing face / applying mask. Slightly ridiculous but functional.

+If you waited to the last minute to order a Thanksgiving dress…expedite the shipment of this Zimmermann to yourself. (More Thanksgiving ideas here.)

+Proper Table is offering 20% off sitewide with code FF20. If you’ve been a Magpie for awhile, you know we use their acrylic placemats daily. Great for kids — can be wiped clean — but have more upscale designs than you’d anticipate.

+Just ordered these fill-in-the-blank thank you notes for holiday gifts for my children. Will be so nice to have less oversight over this process!

+Sporty and Rich just launched a limited edition line of Sambas with Adidas. Really good colors!

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