Six Things on My Mind.

By: Jen Shoop

I have been in New York this week, and a smattering of six random things on my mind the past few days —

01. Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow — I can’t even begin to express how much I am treasuring this book. I have not been so excited or moved by a book since, maybe, I discovered Ann Patchett? (Was late to the game there, and similarly behind the times here, too.) I will write a full review once I’ve finished it but let me say this: Zevin is brilliant. You can tell by the deft artistry of the narrative structure, the shocking inventiveness of the gaming themes, the restraint of her prose. The book is a portrait of friendship between gamers Sam and Sadie. There is a point in the book in which Sam describes another girl as (paraphrasing): “She was smart, but not Sadie smart.” Zevin is obviously Sadie smart. Her intelligence shines through winningly in every movement of the pen, every plot twist, every word choice. I sat in La Pecora Bianca reading it over lunch by myself just after pulling into Penn Station and it was an otherworldly experience. I barely knew I was in NoMad let alone that I was on planet earth, and then I looked up and it was snowing outside! I felt as though cocooned in a snow globe. The writing is engrossing, transportative…! Read this book so we can discuss soon. (Below: the interior of La Pecora Bianca. Speaking candidly, my meal was just OK, but it was a cute spot and a great place for a solo date. A long bar to sit at and read on your own.)

la pecora bianca

02. Pulling my tangled mass of computer and phone chargers out of my bag on the train was…quite the scene. I almost knocked over my coffee and elbowed my seat mate. I think it’s time I bought this tech organizer for travel days / days I’m working outside the home. It will solve a small but real irritation while working on the go. (And you know how I feel about tackling the small frustrations in life — it creates space to care about the things that do matter and should absorb my energy, creative and otherwise.)

03. For Christmas, I upgraded Mr. Magpie’s travel gear, as we routinely travel together and lethargically fight over who gets the Tumi rollaboard. I always end up with it owing to Mr. Magpie’s genteel manners, which means Mr. Magpie carries the Louis Vuitton duffel, which is absurdly heavy on its own, without anything inside of it. The LV stuff is best for car travel/weekend trips. You don’t want to be lugging it around Penn Station and up and down the 1. Anyway, it was time for him to get his own suitcase. We really love Tumi and it was a great investment back in the day when I was traveling multiple times a month for work — it holds up and it shows no wear — but it’s not the most aesthetically interesting of the lot for more occasional travelers like us. I ended up buying him this Away suitcase, which was consistently well-ranked in various external sources. It is smaller than the Tumi but perfect for short 2-3 day trips, and I couldn’t resist the fun seasonal green color and hand lettering options! (Truthfully, this was a purchase as much for me as it was for him.) I paired it with a set of personalized packing cubes from Paravel. I’m currently jealous of his travel situation and may need to mirror the purchases for myself.

away suitcase review

04. Everyone is wearing socks with jeans and sneakers. For a long time, I was uncertain about this look (no show socks only!) but this most recent trip to the city may have made a convert of me? The key is proportions. The jean hem must show just the right amount of sock or it looks dowdy. Inspo below —

I walked for three blocks up Broadway behind the chicest family: the Dad was wearing Chuck Taylor high tops and carrying a little boy wearing an olive green puffer and a ribbed taupe beanie, and the mom was wearing black kick flares (similar to OUR kick flares — maybe they WERE ours?) over navy (!!) ribbed trouser socks with New Balance sneakers. There was probably 2″ of sock showing and it just worked. IIt has to look intentional or it will look like a mess. Will be experimenting myself. I didn’t pack sneakers for this trip but I was wearing my Nike crew socks (which I love) beneath my trusty chelsea boots and felt confident in rocking a tiny strip of sock based on the foregoing.


P.S. If you’re looking to update your sneaker game, I shared all my favorite neutral everyday sneakers here.

05. It was cold and snowy/rainy one of the days I was up in NYC and I, for once, packed practically. I wore this exact pair of boots (hurry, only one left there and a few pairs left in a different color here — this season’s variation with a slightly taller shaft available here, and I love this similar style from Freda Salvador) with everything, from jeans to this adorable dress. I even remembered to pack my travel umbrella, which remains one of the best investments my husband has ever made. It is tiny but mighty and has a lifetime warranty — I’ve had it repaired once! It never inverts and fits into nearly any bag (and even Mr. Magpie’s coat pocket sometimes).

06. The highlights of my quick trip to New York: the Pecora Bianco snowglobe reading moment mentioned above; drinks at Dante (had never been somehow and was obsessed — great cocktail menu, cozy vibe, exquisite service!); and a long food-for-the-soul lunch catch-up with my girlfriend Mackenzie. I’m sure you all know her but if you don’t follow her, you must. She is wise, deeply empathetic, and has a wicked sense of humor. I treasure her — a gem. I’ve known her now for a long, long time because we both started our blogs years ago (a decade?) and she has always been a cheerleader and support for me.

P.S. One of my last trips to New York, documented here.

P.P.S. My NYC bucket list.

P.P.P.S. On leaving New York…and finding imprints of a new (suburban) life in Bethesda.

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14 thoughts on “Six Things on My Mind.

  1. Coming back v. late to say thanks for the tip about Pecora Bianca! I walked by today and remembered you’d written about it. I absolutely love dining solo while seated at a bar, so I’m glad to know this one has a nice atmosphere for that (if not the most exciting food?) Going to keep it in my back pocket for lunches this week.


  2. I feel the same way about Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow! I am torn between trying to read it every time I have a free moment and not wanting to finish it too quickly. It really is such a transportive book. Marx’s devotion to Sam is so moving – especially the early parts of the book when he is helping Sam without drawing any attention. I was excited to see your reading it and am looking forward to reading your review!

    1. I completely agree — his unflashy, genuine concern for his friend is so moving to me. He seems like such a gentleman.

      I am savoring every page like you! More to discuss soon…


  3. Dante really is the best- the service is impeccable and the drinks are 100% worth the price tag. I have “the bigger carry on” size of the Away, which I often take on plane trips. At first I hesitated because it was so ubiquitous, but the benefit of that is that all flight attendants recognize it and can immediately tell you if it’ll fit in the overhead of whatever small regional jet you may unexpectedly find yourself on.

    1. Totally agree on the service at Dante. The older we get, the more we appreciate (and are astounded by!) good service. We had the best time, with the most attentive and funny bartender, and a really thoughtful maitre d’ to boot. Can’t day enough good things about that spot! We will be back.

      Good note on the Away suitcase!


  4. Love this post so much! Hope this is a series to come 🙂 I just purchased the tech organizer here, I am such a fan of small, luxurious (designer or not) upgrades to the little things. For example, love my YSL card case. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to a purse but makes me feel instantly chic and put together in my purse. On that note, I would love to know – what do you use for a kindle case? Or does it free float in your bag? I’m always worried about mine getting scratched up!

    All that being said, the readers need a what’s in my bag post! One of my all time favs from each of my favorite writers haha!

    1. Hi Rayna! Yay, so glad you enjoyed this format! Totally agree on little luxuries and especially a designer card case. I have a hot pink one from Prada and it sparks serious joy every time I see it in my bag — I often use it in lieu of a bigger wallet!


  5. Love Dante! The best Negronis. And I’ve been reading Mackenzie’s blog since she started it – when we were classmates at Bucknell! She introduced me to your work 🙂

  6. Fingers crossed that socks showing will be “acceptable” soon. I have never found a no show sock that doesn’t slip down (yes-I have tried them all) so have resigned myself to a strip of white showing. I vote for “no show socks” to go the way of super low rise jeans!

    1. Haha!! I agree that no shows are never great. And no thanks to super low rise jeans! Hope they never come back…


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