Musings + Essays

Getting to Know You Even Better.

By: Jen Shoop

Thought I’d send you off into the holiday week with a fun little getting-to-know-you-better post. (Your responses to my “Getting to Know You” post were a delight to read, and every now and then, a new-to-the-blog reader will chime in on the post and it’s just the dearest, most amusing way to get to know you.) Imagine it’s me and you sharing a coffee…spill all, my friend!

If it’s on the menu, I always order…caesar salad as a starter.

Most overrated virtue. Assertiveness. Much prefer humility and a light touch.

I wish I were more…like my mother.

Least favorite word. The first thing that came to mind was “relax,” as in someone telling me: “just relax.” This hasn’t happened in a long while but the thought of it makes my skin crawl. More to the point: I did an extensive roundup of words I hate here. Particularly egregious: “synergy,” “hack,” and “studentry.” I forgot to add the word “utilize” to that list. “Use” works just fine 100% of the time.

What word do you most overuse? Extraordinary. I know this because Mr. Magpie claims I mispronounce it and laughs every time I use it — which, as it turns out, is too often.

Favorite street. I’ve always loved the feel of Georgetown between R and Volta — it’s partway nostalgia from my youth (I attended high school there and then lived there for many years post-college), partway the intrinsic charm of the gorgeous row houses and red brick pavers. Nowadays, there are certain blocks of the Upper West Side that positively fill my soul with joy whenever I walk down them with Tilly — especially right now, with Christmas trees in windows and wreaths on doors. But I think I will forever love East Cooper Street in Aspen, Colorado. The majesty of the Rockies, the quaintness of small-town bakeries and cafes, the glamor of high-end designer stores. Everything in one place. Perfect.

Favorite book as a child. Too many to count, but the ones that immediately spring to mind: Nancy Drew, the Boxcar Children series, The Secret Garden, Harriet the Spy, the Bobbsey Twins series, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Baby Sitter’s Club series. There was also a series about a girl who went away to horse-riding camp that I absolutely adored.

Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Toasted english muffin with Plugra butter.

Least favorite trend. Athleisure.

Last time you laughed really hard. A week ago, at a gathering with some girlfriends and my sister, where we drank too much wine and talked about “Olive, Again.” The best part is that I can’t even remember what specific things were so funny — but when Mr. Magpie asked me how the night went, the first thing I said was: “We laughed a lot.”

Last thing you ate. A limited edition peppermint Oreo.

Last time you cried. Probably five minutes ago. I can’t keep track; I’m a crier.

Celebrity crush. Young Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Penelope Cruz.

Favorite music to work to. Chopin’s Etudes.

Least favorite scent. Too much axe body spray. Blech.

Dream birthday cake. Yellow with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Basically, funfetti.

Best gift you’ve ever received. Gifts in the abstract sense? Too many to count. My life is an embarrassment of riches. But in the material sense — probably my Kindle, which Mr. Magpie gave me a few years ago. It transformed me into a much better (more frequent) reader and helped me through breastfeeding mini.

Most people probably don’t know that I am actually…kind of silly. My sisters and I are loony tunes together.

Best purchase of 2019. Rug for our master bedroom. I feel like an idiot but why did I not realize how much better and cozier a bedroom is with a plush rug underfoot?

Favorite moment from 2019. Micro’s bird kisses just after he was born on May 31st.

Biggest challenge of 2019. Adjusting to life as a mother to two (specifically, accepting changes in my relationship with my eldest — changes I am still grappling with and occasionally crying over), getting through the sleepless exhaustion and mania of caring for a newborn, and moving in Manhattan while all of that was going on. (Glad I can put this behind me.) All good things in the long run, but emotionally and physically trying.

And…go! Answer all or pick and choose whatever you like.

Post Scripts.

+Investments that are worth it.

+Nail polish for little ones! I have been dreaming of the day I take mini with me for a manicure. She still feels a little young to enjoy it…but maybe we could do an at-home one with this set.

+This toile top is fun.

+How gorgeous are these ramekins?! $30 for 4 — and I always find a million uses for my ramekins and little dip bowls!

+Adore so many of the new prints by 1212.

+Some REALLY amazing deals on Emilia Wickstead pieces like this dress and this blouse.

+Now is the time to start collecting ornaments for next year — so many have already been discounted! This is one of my favorite ones — I gave it to Mr. Magpie a few years ago — and it is already discounted. I know I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I pick a new ornament for each family member every year. Maybe I’ll buy next year’s now! (This year’s? An oyster for Mr. Magpie, a koala for micro because he clings to me like a koala bear — I have to pry his fingers off my sweater or hair multiple times a day! — and so that’s become his informal nickname around here, and a ladybug for mini, because that’s always been our nickname for her.)

+Loving this new pink variation on a dress I’ve been seeing allll over the place on the chicest of chic peas.

+I added and removed this adorable toy car from my shopping cart fifteen times while shopping for micro’s Christmas haul. He’s way too young for it but I love its styling and the fact that it’s an homage to Aspen!

+Can’t believe this happened just about a year ago from now. I’m so used to Mr. Magpie’s new look!

+Living loudly vs. living quietly.

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27 thoughts on “Getting to Know You Even Better.

  1. Oh this is fun!

    If it’s on the menu, I always order…toss-up between brussels sprouts (the roasted, slightly charred, with crispy outer leaves kind) and sweet potato fries.

    Most overrated virtue: Extroversion. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends and family members who are extroverts and I love them dearly and admire them, but introverts have much to offer too! And also, being a morning person. There are probably countless articles about successful people and their “early morning habits.” Night owls can be successful too! It takes all sorts to make the world go round.

    I wish I were more….decisive. Although I can be quite decisive on some fundamental things, on other things I’m a stereotypical Gemini.

    Least favorite word: I’d say “like”. I try very hard not to use it especially in professional settings. In a previous job as a coordinator of a graduate program, I’ve interviewed candidates as potential scholars who looked really good on their resumes with excellent grades, balanced extracurriculars, strong references, etc… and while I tried very hard to look past their use of “like”, the overuse somehow made them appear less… intelligent and articulate. I had to make sure I wasn’t biased against them because of it.

    Favorite street: I can’t even name the street, because it was when my husband and I got lost driving somewhere around Asheville, NC several years ago (pre-smartphone days). We ended up on this deserted tree-lined street that was just so verdant and serene. That memory is etched in my mind.

    Favorite book as a child. As a younger child: The Little Mermaid (when asked in preschool/kindergarten what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered a dolphin or a mermaid!) As an older child: Little Women.

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack: This may change with my mood or season, but Dolcezza roasted strawberry gelato first comes to mind.

    Least favorite trend: Crop tops. And this was from several years ago, but sandals in the exaggerated gladiator style in which the leather would come up pretty high on the calf. There’s probably a word for this style, but it escapes me.

    Last time you laughed really hard: At the grocery store, with my 2 year old daughter — whenever we’d go, she would out of the blue give me hugs and kisses while sitting in the shopping cart because it puts us at close to eye level (I’m really short). On that trip, she put her arms around me and said “I love you” then in almost the same breath she said “I love you, shopping cart” with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

    Last thing you ate: Bread dipped in my favorite extra virgin olive oil from Sonoma, CA with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated with a Microplane.

    Last time you cried: When my daughter turned 2 last November. Why are birthdays so bittersweet? I cried on her first birthday, too — will this be a lifelong pattern?!

    Celebrity crush. This was a while back, but Wentworth Miller in the series Prison Break. Ethan Hawke — Dead Poets Society! And in the “Before Sunrise” trilogy. Tom Hanks in anything – so endearing. Sean Connery & Denzel Washington for their dignified manner in many movies.

    Favorite music to work to: Elgar’s cello concerto in E minor. Love Alisa Weilerstein’s rendition — most likely because I saw her perform this live some years back at the Cleveland Orchestra in Ohio (which to me is one of the most beautiful buildings inside — plus the acoustics are so crisp no matter where you sit) and was moved to tears.

    Least favorite scent: Too much of anything. Subtlety, please.

    Dream birthday cake: Dark chocolate. Or tiramisu.

    Best gift you’ve ever received: I suppose this is a combination of a gift (in terms of having a support system in place) and something I worked on/continue to work on — being in a better place in terms of postpartum mental health. In a material sense, I’d say the AirPods my husband gifted me a while back. Game changer.

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually….adventurous. Or more accurately, I used to be, in my younger years. Scuba diving, wakeboarding, skydiving… loved it all.

    Best purchase of 2019: Golden Goose sneakers — with glitter! I am a late adopter to this, and then I debated whether to buy a pair for more than a year. I surprised even myself because I generally tend to go for muted neutrals, whereas this pair is so… extra! But they make me illogically and ridiculously happy when I wear them. They just put a pep in my step even when wearing jeans and a sweater (toddler mom uniform, ha!).

    Favorite moment from 2019: Lake Tahoe, last fall, with my little family. This was our second trip, but it takes my breath away every time.

    Biggest challenge of 2019: Working through depression.

    1. Totally agree with you on the extroversion comment and I think several other people have made that point over the course of many years of writing this blog. Why do we all consider it a virtue?!

      Also, LOVE your GG sneaks from afar 🙂


  2. Finally doing this!

    If it’s on the menu, I always order… Ugh too many to count. I can rarely resist steak tartare, Cacio y Pepe, a good Bolognese. Also love a Caesar salad

    I wish I were more…patient!

    Least favorite word – Moist is just a terrible word

    What word do you most overuse? Literally. And according to my husband, I am rather dramatic in my pronunciation 😉

    Favorite streets – Calle Francos in Sevilla, Grafton Street in Chevy Chase, P Street in Georgetown and pretty much any street in Paris!

    Favorite book as a child – The Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Bridge to Terabithia

    Least favorite trend. Cold shoulder tops

    Last time you laughed really hard. Yesterday at something my husband said that I can no longer remember

    Last thing you ate. A salad and fries

    Last time you cried. Probably also yesterday

    Celebrity crush George Clooney, Josh Duhamel and more recently, Henry Goulding

    Favorite music to work to. Odd, but I love having the Food Network on as a background noise…

    Least favorite scent. Patchouli

    Dream birthday cake. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (no nuts)

    Best gift you’ve ever received If I can’t count people (husband and children are the tippy top) or my wedding rings, the Alhambra necklace for my 40th was amazing

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually someone who loves my alone time (despite being super social and chatty)

    Best purchase of 2019. New hardwood floors in our kitchen. Makes me so much happier every time I am in there.

    Favorite moment from 2019. The birth of our second son in May

    Biggest challenge of 2019. Same as yours – life as a mother of two! A million times busier, but a million times more amazing

    1. Ooo jealous of your Alhambra necklace AND the hardwood floors! Both of them are incredible. And YAY for our May babies! Good to be on the other side of the tough newborn weeks/months but man do I miss some of those tender early moments already…xxx

  3. If it’s on the menu, I always order…a wedge salad (if I’m at a steakhouse/somewhere else upscale. Looooove a wedge on a nice chilled plate!)

    Most overrated virtue. I agree with extroversion! I feel like there are always articles giving introverts tips on how to be more extroverted; why do we need to be? We introverts have something to bring to the table, and trust that we have contemplated it in solitude for hours 🙂

    I wish I were more…go-with-the-flow.

    Least favorite word. Not a specific word, but I don’t like pet names (babe, sweetie, honey, etc). I think it’s because my first boyfriend in high school used pet names ALL the time and scarred me for life! I don’t have anything against nicknames, but I just don’t like the feeling that hearing pet names gives me.

    What word do you most overuse? LIKE. It’s super common with my generation (I just turned 23 in December), but I watched a video of myself talking the other day and was astounded by how many times I said it. Need to work on that.

    Favorite street. Not necessarily a street, but I love the quaint downtown square in my college town of Oxford, Mississippi.

    Favorite book as a child. So many. Junie B. Jones, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the entire Little House on the Prairie series, and all of the American Girl books are what stand out in my memory.

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Whatever I can find in the fridge/pantry – probably looking for something sweet, though!

    Least favorite trend. The huge FILA tennis shoes that are everywhere right now.

    Last time you laughed really hard. Playing with my baby cousins on New Years Eve.

    Last thing you ate. Leftover Pad Thai

    Last time you cried. A week-ish ago? Raising a Golden Retriever puppy is hard and often overwhelming. But I am beginning to see some of the rewards.

    Celebrity crush. James Franco!

    Favorite music to work to. I listen to the playlist “Coffee Table Jazz” on Spotify while studying or writing – so much so that half of the songs were on my top songs of 2019 playlist!

    Least favorite scent. Can’t think of one in particular, but I don’t like when a room is too fragrant with an overpowering candle or other perfume.

    Dream birthday cake. This cake from a bakery in my hometown ( Light, fluffy, sweet but not overly sweet, packed with fresh strawberries…just delicious in every way.

    Best gift you’ve ever received. In the material sense, my Apple Watch has changed my productivity/activity habits immensely. I never forget assignments because my next due date from my calendar shows on my watch screen, and now that most of my family has an Apple Watch, we all compete to see who is closing their rings the most!

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually…really emotional and introspective. I rarely voice my processes of thought aloud.

    Best purchase of 2019: my sweet puppy, Maisy 🙂

    Favorite moment from 2019. Seeing Heather McMahan live!

    Biggest challenge of 2019. Working 20+ hours a week waiting tables while being a full-time student. The money is great, but I was constantly falling behind in school. I really had to learn how to manage my time and am still figuring that out. Also, raising a puppy in between all that…probably bit off more than I could chew, but I survived the semester!

    1. Girl! Balancing work and school is no joke. Good for you. And I agree on the delight of a wedge salad every now and then. YUM.

  4. FUN! Coming at this weeks late, but I never turn down a survey like this … 🙂

    + If it’s on the menu, I always order… risotto!

    + Most overrated virtue: echoing you — assertiveness is a great one. Too many people take it to the extreme!

    + I wish I were more… worry-free (i.e. less anxious)

    + Least favorite word: irregardless (haha)

    + What word do you most overuse? Amazing

    + Favorite street: rue Vieille du Temple in Paris comes to mind, as does East End Avenue in Manhattan (for the nostalgia factor)

    + Favorite book as a child. So many come to mind (I read CONSTANTLY, and everywhere) but the two that come to mind first are A Wrinkle in Time and The Hot Zone (lol)

    + Go-to middle-of-the-night snack: n/a; I’m not a big night snacker. A glass of water?

    + Least favorite trend: rehashing the ’90s, though I’m sure I’m guilty of it here & there.

    + Last time you laughed really hard: one night in Mexico with my siblings and siblings-in-law. We were playing games and having the best time!

    + Last thing you ate: I’m drinking coffee with milk now, but if you mean solid food, then a handful of Haribo gummy bears yesterday evening.

    + Last time you cried: within the past couple of days…the last time I remember specifically crying was on New Year’s Eve as the fireworks started, heralding 2020. I’m a big crier, too.

    + Celebrity crush: young Robert Redford

    + Favorite music to work to: Debussy, particularly the Clair de Lune movement of Suite Bergamasque

    + Least favorite scent: cheap perfume

    + Dream birthday cake: my mom’s chocolate mousse cake (this never happens, as my birthday is in June. Would feel pretty out of place, as she typically only makes it on Christmas. Ha!)

    + Best gift you’ve ever received: agreed with you, Jen, I am beyond blessed with gifts in the abstract sense. In the literal sense, I would have to say the Gucci watch my parents gave me for undergrad graduation, as it basically has not left my wrist in years and it’s become a sentimental, treasured, yet highly functional object.

    + Most people probably don’t know that I am actually…fine with not having children of my own.

    + Best purchase of 2019: other than plane tickets to visit my loved ones? My Mansur Gavriel lady bag!

    + Favorite moment from 2019: meeting my second-born niece, and (later) dancing with her to Lizzo.

    + Biggest challenge of 2019: making a few fiscal changes that, while difficult in the short term, will set me up for greater security in the long term. Boring, but important 🙂

  5. If it’s on the menu: Spumoni. Rarely order dessert, but can’t resist.

    Most overrated virtue: Patience, let’s be honest.

    I wish I were: More focused on myself, tend to put myself last and prioritize insignificant tasks first.

    Least favorite word(s): ‘Of course’, the individuals who seem to use it in a predictable, phony way typically do so in a duplicate, saccharin version. ‘Of course, of course’.

    Overuse of word: Would probably be ‘but’, I promise to try harder not to use it.

    Favorite street: Armistice Boulevard, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was a grand house. The stairs had a landing (similar to that of the Carringtons on the popular show at the time, Dynasty), built in glass china closets in dining room, and a marble foyer. Best of all, we enjoyed it. Pool parties in summer, nights spent on screened in porch listening to baseball games on radio and big Sunday dinners with extended relatives in winter with dessert by the fireplace. It was such a beautiful house and I was fortunate to have my grandparents living with us.

    Favorite books: Judy Blume! Also had an affection for all and anything Amelia Bedilia.

    Go to middle of night snack: One vice I don’t have. Skip snacks and read instead.

    Least favorite trend: cold shoulder tops. Period.

    Last time laughed hard: Christmas Eve playing Left, Center, Right dice game with my children.

    Last thing ate: Homemade Shrimp, arugula and fresh lemon pizza on multi grain dough.

    Last time cried: Think this morning from a pharmaceutical commercial.

    Celebrity crush: Ray Donovan!

    Best music to work to: I’m also I’m minority, prefer silence.

    Least favorite scent: Air fresheners, especially autumn/apple scented ones.

    Dream cake: Cranberry Walnut bundt cake with almond drizzled glaze. My godmother baked my twin sister and me each our own birthday cake every year. My sister opted for a chocolate chip cake and this choice was mine.

    Best gifts: My children. My daughter born on Christmas, my son on my birthday, and my youngest daughter born on 4th of July. This year my son wrote me a beautiful note on the inside of a Christmas card thanking me for loving him and his sisters so much and creating holiday traditions for them. Melted my heart.

    Most people probably don’t realize: I’m not as confident as I appear. So much guilt and self doubt; something else I’m working on in new year.

    Best purchase: A tie. Between my Moccamaster coffee maker( nothing like fresh brewed coffee) and Rastal Teku stemmed beer glasses.

    Favorite moment: Closing on my condo. It wasn’t making me happy, and was so happy to sell it.

    Biggest challenge: Work. Probably always will be. Sometimes I care too much, but will never apologize for it. Proud of my work ethic. Learned from my grandparents.

    1. Ew, those air fresheners! Totally agree. Or any of those tree air fresheners that are in taxi cabs. Disgusting! They give me a headache just thinking about them.

      Landon also LOVES his new Moccamaster coffee machine!


  6. If it’s on the menu, I always order… escargots

    Most overrated virtue. Being able to stay really calm – I feel it’s okay and human to be anxious some times

    I wish I were more… focused on one thing at a time

    Least favorite word. “Chill” both in “chill out” and “he/she/that’s so chill”

    What word do you most overuse? Per my husband and sister “chic”; which I picked up when I was trying to say “cute” less

    Favorite street. Charles Street in Beacon Hill

    Favorite book as a child. Harry Potter

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Popcorn

    Least favorite trend. Long manicures – impractical!

    Last time you laughed really hard. So many times this week with my family for Christmas!

    Last thing you ate. Rice crackers from Trader Joe’s

    Last time you cried. Probably a couple weeks ago due to stress

    Celebrity crush. John Krasinski

    Favorite music to work to. I’m probably in the minority, but I can only work in silence!!

    Least favorite scent. The trash room in my apartment building

    Dream birthday cake. Carrot

    Best gift you’ve ever received. My parents gave me a necklace in high school I still wear every day!!

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually… Really weird deep down – I love reading about/learning about the most obscure topics!

    Best purchase of 2019. An extremely comfy pull-out couch for our office/guest bedroom

    Favorite moment from 2019. Any moment from my husband and my trip to Portugal!

    Biggest challenge of 2019. Medical school exams (same as 2018 and probably for 2020 too!!)

    1. Escargots! I want to be you. SO elegant of you! Also, a really good/important point on the notion that being “chill” or “calm” is an inherent virtue. I agree with you that you need to let yourself just FEEL THE FEELS.


  7. If it’s on the menu, I always order… Panang curry. It is on the menu at almost every Thai restaurant. Beyond being delicious it reminds me of my dad. Definitely a comfort food in my house!

    Most overrated virtue. Fitting in. I think we place a premium on being part of the in-crowd enough that it seems like a virtue. I would rather be unique and friendly to everyone.

    I wish I were more… patient. Impatience has caused some mishaps in the kitchen, like accidentally cutting myself, that I know I could have avoided but chose to rush through things

    Least favorite word. “Sorry” in a work setting. To give a bit of background, I apologize unnecessarily especially at work. I have been doing my best to eradicate it from my vocabulary unless it is absolutely necessary (in which case of course it should be used!).

    What word do you most overuse? Literally. My fiancee teases me about this all the time. 🙂

    Favorite street. Avenida Caminho do Sol (translates to Ave Path of the Sun). It is the street on the way into the small town on Aquiraz, Brazil where you can first see my dad’s home to the right and the ocean to the left. Its magical and feels like coming home.

    Favorite book as a child. So many! Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, the American Girl sets

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Cheetos or cold leftover pasta

    Least favorite trend. Bike shorts and the “tattoo” chokers from the 90s that came back.

    Last time you laughed really hard. Throughout the day my fiancee and I send memes to each other and he sent a really good one while I was on my way home last night!

    Last thing you ate. String cheese and black coffee.

    Last time you cried. Earlier this week on the way home from work.

    Celebrity crush. Idris Elba, Jason Statham, Brie Larson.

    Favorite music to work to. Currently, Christmas music. Usually, a playlist built for me by a dear friend.

    Least favorite scent. Axe body spray/abercrombie colognes.

    Dream birthday cake. A cheesecake with fresh raspberries on top! Not a big fan of traditional cake.

    Best gift you’ve ever received. Tickets to see Trevor Noah for my birthday, and the simple medallion necklace that I wear every day. Both from my fiancee who says he is bad at buying presents but always comes up with the perfect thing 🙂

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually… obsessed with singing. I sing along to everything and add in some amazing dance moves when I’m in my kitchen.

    Best purchase of 2019. A new live-edge coffee table. It is a beautiful statement piece that sets the tone for our living room. I am obsessed.

    Favorite moment from 2019. Riding on a moped in Tulum to the beach and cenotes.

    Biggest challenge of 2019. Being laid off and dealing with anxiety over financial circumstances while finding a new job. So very grateful we navigated that and I have a job I love now.

    1. A middle-of-the-night Cheetoh session? I love you.

      Agree with you on the word “sorry” — need to rid that from my vocabulary as well. I apologize for everything to everyone and it is completely unnecessary.


  8. If it’s on the menu, I always order: I have a hard time resisting risotto if it’s on the menu.

    I wish I were more: patient! Especially as relates to parenting a toddler.

    Least favorite word: Hustle. Especially side hustle. I think there is way too much pressure these days for us all to be productive 100% of the time.

    What word do you most overuse? Probably “like”

    Favorite street. I’ve literally never thought about this until now! I think I’ll always have a soft spot for 3rd Ave and Grandview Ave in Columbus, OH, after living near this intersection for several years.

    Favorite book as a child. I was partial to the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables series, The Moffatt series…apparently nothing published after 1950! 🙂

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Handful of granola

    Least favorite trend. Mom jeans

    Last thing you ate. The Christmas version of Cadbury mini eggs

    Last time you cried. Monday

    Celebrity crush. Once upon a time, after seeing Tombstone, it was Val Kilmer (eep). But it turns out he’s a little crazy and weird so that took the shine off.

    Favorite music to work to. I don’t work formally anymore, but this time of year always reminds me of listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack while studying for finals, lo, those many years ago!

    Least favorite scent. Ugh so many right now! (Thanks, pregnancy). Top of the list is stale cigarette smoke.

    Dream birthday cake. My birthday is coming (and it’s a BIG one) and I’m thinking lemon filled with lemon curd this year.

    Best gift you’ve ever received. This is a challenging one, but put on the spot, I’d have to be cheesy and say my daughter. In my family we make very detailed wish lists, so naming my favorite gift is kind of like naming my favorite thing I picked out myself that someone else bought 😉

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually a runner. At least people that met me in the last 10 years since I’ve been sidelined by plantar fasciitis.

    Best purchase of 2019. Maybe the boots I bought last winter. They are a great combo of warm and water resistant but not heavy and clunky, and they can pass as a casual boot and not just a snow boot.

    Favorite moment from 2019. That time I was able to get away by myself and sit on a patio with a book eating cake. Also, finding out I was pregnant again. Coming home from the hospital after Claire’s surgery. And listening to her sing jingle bells to herself in the back seat of the car the other day. Mostly, the little things in a year like this.

    Biggest challenge of 2019. Pretty much all of it! Ready for a much better year in 2020!!

    1. Oof – hoping for a better 2020, friend! Sounds like 2019 was a year that asked instead of answered for you.

      Also, this really resonated with me and I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot since I first read this when you posted (I am so behind in responding to comments, but I read EVERY SINGLE ONE and often think about them for weeks and weeks): “I think there is way too much pressure these days for us all to be productive 100% of the time.”

      Thank you for this. On the rare occasion I find myself with both babies occupied/asleep, I often frenetically dive into the next task on my list but thanks to you, I have sometimes let myself just sit and be for a spell. It’s life-changing.


  9. Ooh, I love these posts! Excited to read through all the comments.
    I wish I were more…inclined to do things when I think of them. My graveyard of ideas and list of shoulds are ever-mounting!

    Least favorite word. Impactful.

    What word do you most overuse? In TFIDF terms, probably spans, stipple, or dapple. At least they are pretty?

    Favorite street. Brattle Street in Cambridge, especially as it passes the Hooper Lee Nichols house and the serpentine brick fence!

    Favorite book as a child. Anne of Green Gables; Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter. Series, all. (Stanched the pain of an ending.)

    Least favorite trend. Fast fashion, generally. (Not for how it looks but for its environmental (and mental) impact.)

    Last time you laughed really hard. At our ornament party last Saturday, a friend’s husband was sitting on the baby’s foam mat (one of those little native things), and asked, in all sincerity, how much it would cost to do the whole floor in these tiles.

    Last thing you ate. Egg & cheese on a wheat wrap.

    Last time you cried. Yesterday, going through the NTY’s Neediest Cases stories.

    Celebrity crush. Javier Bardem in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

    Favorite music to work to. Any of the Atticus Ross + Trent Reznor soundtracks, especially Social Network.
    Least favorite scent. I can’t smell! But when I could, bubblegum.
    Dream birthday cake. Icebox cake!

    Best gift you’ve ever received. Probably the trip to Newfoundland that my husband gave me a few years back.

    Best purchase of 2019. It’s a rental, but I’d say our new apartment. SO nice to have more space and a washer-dryer. And I always thought I was team kitchen, but now I’ve realized I’m team island.

    Favorite moment from 2019. Definitely Irving’s birth!
    Biggest challenge of 2019. Copying you again — adjusting to life with two, particularly on the handful of days during mat leave when I’ve been home with both.

    1. HA – “impactful.” Agree. It is so overused — especially in the non-profit world. Yucky.

      AND YES TO JAVIER BARDEM IN VCB. ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES AND CHARACTERS AND ACTORS. I equally like Penelope Cruz in that movie. Just perfect.


  10. This is fun!!
    If it’s on the menu, I always order…same as you- Caesar salad!

    Most overrated virtue: extroversion- introverts have something to offer as well! I don’t think either should be preferred.

    I wish I were more: careful. No matter how hard I try, I am still clumsy, always falling and spilling.

    Least favorite word: the words “tease” and “feisty” as applied to women. the word “haul” for the mountains of unboxing that influencers do on instagram.

    What word do you most overuse? I wish I would stop saying “like.”

    Favorite street: I love Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, FL. All the beautiful stores and palm trees, ending at the beach.

    Favorite book as a child. Harry Potter, Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Valley High, these Christian story books about a character named Mr. Psalty (for Psalms).

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack: a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup.

    Least favorite trend: crop tops, platform sneakers

    Last time you laughed really hard: anything sneaky that my dog does- primarily she hoards things under the ottoman, and the things that she treasures and I find are hilarious.

    Last thing you ate: half of a red velvet donut from Astro in DC and a yogurt- YUM.

    Last time you cried: Ugh. Crying is my default for when I am overwhelmed.

    Celebrity crush: out of left field- Goran Visnjic from old-school ER. Antoni from Queer Eye.

    Favorite music to work to: currently, the Lindsey Stirling Christmas album. Mostly instrumental, but still festive.

    Least favorite scent: rubber tires.

    Dream birthday cake: a cookie cake! So nostalgic.

    Best gift you’ve ever received: My dog. She was also one of the last things my dad got me.

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually: pretty creative, even though I work in a technical field.

    Best purchase of 2019: Oh man. Random, but probably my gold silverware. Every time I open my drawer to take out a knife or fork, it makes me so happy.

    Favorite moment from 2019: sitting outside of the Cathedral in Seville, Spain and just thinking. No phone, no one else with me, just me and my thoughts.

    Biggest challenge of 2019: Figuring out how to be in the present and not always planning my next move. Still working on it.

    1. Love all of this, but especially love that you describe yourself as “pretty creative, even though I work in a technical field.” LOVE. You are right AND left-brained! So impressive. Flaunt that!


  11. Love reading these and can’t resist….

    If it’s on the menu, I always order…fries. Also, at the right kind of place, Italian Beef.

    I wish I were more…patient

    What word do you most overuse? In work, “therefore,” I always find myself scrambling for other transition words. In speech, probably “like.” I really need to work on that.

    Favorite street… There’s this adorable street, Alta Vista Terrace, in my old neighborhood in Chicago. It’s only one block long and the street is designed to look like a street in London, with historic single-family row homes. The houses mirror each other diagonally across the block, so that the two houses across from each other in the middle of the block are the same. The street is extra special at Christmas time!

    Favorite book as a child… Everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and… all the Harry Potters.

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack… Deli turkey.

    Least favorite trend… bike shorts and chunky sneakers. Those shoes look like bad dad sneakers to me. Don’t get it.

    Last time you laughed really hard… We gave my 6mo old a maraca, and he went wild. Kid can really flick his wrist. I got a video of it and laugh every time i watch.

    Last thing you ate… everything bagel.

    Last time you cried… honestly can’t think of a time, not a crier. Maybe when my husband back to work after his (too short, 2 week) paternity leave.

    Favorite music to work to… 90’s/early 2000’s pop

    Least favorite scent… fish

    Dream birthday cake…we had this cake made by Sweet Mandy B’s in Chicago with raspberry filling that was the stuff of dreams.

    Best gift you’ve ever received… cheesy but my baby is the #1 thing that comes to mind.

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually…messy.

    Best purchase of 2019… Our first home!

    Favorite moment from 2019…bringing home our little guy after his NICU stay.

    Biggest challenge of 2019… breastfeeding. The beginning was a CHALLENGE. Tears, sore nips, sore back, ugh. Also, when he learned to bite…but still going strong and glad we toughed it out. Now just need to figure out weaning…

    1. YES, those chunky sneakers need to leave. The Balenciaga ones…ahhhh. Yikes.

      I love all of these, and especially admire your persistence (and success) in breastfeeding. Way to go mom! No rush on weaning…I wish Hill were still nursing (sob).


  12. If it’s on the menu, I always order…anything with pimento cheese! Or fancy french fries.

    Most overrated virtue. Honesty. To clarify- lately I feel that the art of the white lie has fallen to the wayside…

    I wish I were more…disciplined about buying chocolate covered anything at Trader Joe’s!

    Least favorite word. GUBERNATORIAL. Honestly, who made that word up!?

    What word do you most overuse? Well, phrase: low-stakes.

    Favorite street. My parents live on a dirt road in the woods. Turning off the paved road onto that dirt, my heart always feels a little bit lighter and more free.

    Favorite book as a child. The Phantom Tollbooth. Despite being for children, there is a undercurrent of adult ennui that appealed to me for some reason.

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack. Not much of a night eater, but I regularly wake up in the middle of the night and down the entire glass of water I left on my bedside table and it’s always so satisfying.

    Least favorite trend. You might be one of the only people who can pull off those puffy headbands. 90% of the women I see wearing them look like “the brattiest girl in your 3rd grade class.”

    Last time you laughed really hard. Oooo good question. One doesn’t come to mind, but I know and love those moments- where you’re laugh-crying so hard that all your makeup is gone.

    Last thing you ate. Broccoli, feta, olive oil, and maldon salt on toast is what I’m eating right now!

    Last time you cried. My grandmother’s memorial service last month.

    Celebrity crush. Harry Styles.

    Favorite music to work to. Right now, an album of soft Christmas piano music by Bugge Wesseltoft called It’s Snowing on My Piano (corny title, beautiful music).

    Least favorite scent. Raw seafood, despite loving seafood.

    Dream birthday cake. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

    Best gift you’ve ever received. A kayak for my 21st birthday.

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually…soft and hard at the same time.

    Best purchase of 2019. Knee-length merino wool long underwear shorts to wear under my insulated running tights on days like today. Extra warmth without feeling like a total sausage casing.

    Favorite moment from 2019. Every walk I took with my big rambling extended family in the woods around my parents house. I love the ease with which we all fall together and somehow end up with about six conversations going at the same time.

    Biggest challenge of 2019: Getting rejected from a job I really, really, really wanted.

    1. Ahh I love all of these responses so much, but especially love the image of you roaming around the woods in conversation(s) with your family. Beautiful. Sounds like a golden moment…

      Sorry to hear about missing the job you really wanted. If there’s enough distance between then and now, this post might speak to you:


  13. If it’s on the menu, I always order…spinach and artichoke dip. And if I’m at Hillstone, it’s not a matter of if but how many we order.

    Most overrated virtue: I’m with you on aggression when perceived as strength.

    I wish I were more: contemplative. I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants, and I’ve been more aware of it this year.

    Least favorite word: it’s not a word, but the phrase “this isn’t a fit” when presented with no other feedback. Having been on the receiving end of this far too many times as a founder, I make an effort to offer specific feedback as an investor if I pass on an opportunity.

    What word do you most overuse? Product-market fit ‍♀️ (but only in a work setting!). In regular conversations, it’s probably “necessary” when things aren’t exactly necessary.

    Favorite street: in NYC, the stretch of Columbus that neighbors the AMNH (without the current scaffolding). In Philadelphia, 2nd between Chestnut and Walnut – you feel like you’re back in time a bit.

    Favorite book as a child. Im with you on a lot of the childhood classics – Boxcar Children, Babysitters Club, A Wrinkle In Time. I remember reading Little Women when I was 9 and how that book made me a reader. And thanks to you, my love for the American Girl books came rushing back during my continuous listen of the podcast.

    Go-to middle-of-the-night snack: Microwave nachos.

    Least favorite trend: crop tops.

    Last time you laughed really hard: while at Glenmere, I was carrying my very full cocktail and a bottle of water to the table and my husband just burst out laughing for some reason, which got me laughing uncontrollably as well and trying very hard not to spill my Sparkletini (terrible name, but absolutely delicious) before I had a chance to sip it. One of those “you had to be there” moments, but one that still makes me laugh.

    Last thing you ate: spinach daal and rice last night.

    Last time you cried: last night over said spinach daal and rice.

    Celebrity crush: Oscar Isaac, Richie Madden, Varun Tej

    Favorite music to work to: film scores – currently Little Women (1994)

    Least favorite scent: amla oil

    Dream birthday cake: lemon cake with chantilly cream frosting

    Best gift you’ve ever received: my home, which was a gift given how much my parents helped us in purchasing it. On a smaller scale – my Kindle as well.

    Most people probably don’t know that I am actually: more introverted than I appear

    Best purchase of 2019: a bamboo stool for our shower. Game. Changer.

    Favorite moment from 2019: when Rhaki and Rho met for the first time.

    Biggest challenge of 2019: remembering to give myself grace during this precarious moment of motherhood of two kids and an equally demanding job – and actually giving myself said grace. It was the most challenging and fulfilling year of my life, and rather than wish for more calm or for things to slow down, I’m working on building strength – mentally, physically, and emotionally – to better manage my load. And to carve out regular downtime to actually rest.

    1. Yuck, I hate “it’s not a fit” with no explanation. I heard that SO much when we were fundraising and selling back when we owned a business. A quick no is always better than a slow maybe BUT the feedback helps everyone. It ensured I was barking up fewer of the wrong trees! It helped me learn! Ugh. I’m so with you. I try really hard to provide feedback even when I’m getting a blind sales inquiry nowadays.

      Love all of these comments, per usual…


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