Musings + Essays

Suburban Weekends + Tuesday Morning Missives.

By: Jen Shoop

We enjoyed a beautiful suburban weekend, both sprawled out and busy. A blue crab feast with friends, ballet and soccer classes, a dinner party at home with family (we served Publican Chicken — le best, les best — served just how they serve it at the restaurant in Chicago, over crispy potatoes nestled alongside grilled, smoked sausage), car-washing, a picnic in the park, and a long Sunday morning that just dripped by, honey-like, as we stood barefoot in the cul de sac chatting with neighbors and watching our children play tag and huddle around Playmobil sets and pause to watch the planes jet overhead. The ease and unencumberedness of it all still startles and delights me. It sometimes feels like I’m still unwinding from New York City, from the intensity of living there during the pandemic, from the move, from all the decision-making. My sister mentioned the other day that she has never seen me more at peace. It is true; I can feel the change in my bones. I know life cannot always be this way, and so instead, I will just echo Ginzburg: “God has given us this moment of peace,” and I am deeply grateful for it.

Anyhow, a couple of random missives this morning…

+We’ve had a sprinkling of cooler evenings and mornings and I have been unabashedly indulging in fall clothing. Today, I wore these boyfriend jeans, a pair of Gucci flats (a few seasons old, you can find some pairs on eBay/PoshMark), a padded burgundy headband, and an army green half-zip. The colors are doing me right. I also really love the look of this smocked-neck blouse under skinny overalls — I wore this outfit apple picking with some Chanel espadrilles. The footwear was a poor choice (swap for sneakers!), but I’ve never been known for practicality, so…

+And yet — when we hosted dinner on Saturday night, it was like 95 degrees and 100% humidity out. I wore this sundress, which is under $40 and reminds me of one of my favorite Schumacher fabric prints.

+I’m so glad headbands are still on-trend. They always make me feel just a little more pulled-together for some reason, especially when I’m tired of what’s in my closet. Currently setting my sights on this velvet “salmon-colored” one, which would be seriously fetching with all things burgundy.

+New fun fall patchwork dress. So perfect for clogs.

+Also loving this ease-into-fall dress from The Great! The embroidery!!!

+Just treated myself to this spicy margarita salt. Mr. Magpie is highly adventurous and inventive with cocktails but if I’m in the driver’s seat, I invariably make one of three things: a margarita, a Tom Collins, or a Gin and Tonic (with Fever Tree tonic). I love a spicy margarita but often lack the foresight to prepare jalapeno-infused simple syrup, or to even buy jalapenos to begin with. I’m thinking the spicy margarita salt will stand in as a fun substitute for such planning — I’ll just rim the glass of a traditionally prepared marg with it. Yeehaw! It just dawned on me that I might give away the second jar as a hostess gift to a friend…

+Speaking of hostess gifts, I am totally obsessed with Michele’s Granola (which is a local Maryland business!) and have been giving it away as hostess gifts! I can find it at my local Whole Foods, too, but convenient that they sell the three packs on Amazon in case you can’t find it, or just want to stock up so you have a clever hostess gift on hand. It is SO good! I love the almond butter flavor best but have been making my way through all the flavors.

+Another note on hostess gifts: we also have had occasion to bring friends bottles of wine for dinner, etc, and instead of using those wine gift bags, I bought a pack of these cello wine bags and tie off with a seasonally-appropriate ribbon and tuck a TrueTap wine key in there.

+Our teak dining table for the back patio arrived! I am ecstatic and in love with it. We paired it with these dining chairs (we went for the ones with arms since I find it so much more comfortable for outdoor dining to have arms — especially if you are sitting out there for a few hours, enjoying crabs, or watching the sun go down, etc), and we got the yellow and white sunbrella stripe cushions, which add so much fun and color to the area. The table currently looks great with yellow mums in a chinoiserie planter on top! One thing I realized when hosting dinner on it for the first time last weekend was how enormous it is — which is fantastic as we can host a ton of people around it, and there is a lot of surface area for holding platters, etc., — but I need new, larger table linens! In the immediate term, I ordered these inexpensive hyacinth chargers.

+The above photo makes me want a cup of coffee so badly. All our favorite coffee and tea service gear here.

+MissiGirl Designs just sent me the cutest pair of velvet cameo earrings for fall. Such a fun accessory.

+WOW this Johanna Ortiz dress.

+This plaid flannel dress for a tiny one is 40% off ATM, as is this sherpa vest, which was just restocked after being sold out in many sizes.

+This loose-cut navy maxi shirtdress is under $30 and perfect for everyday fall wear with some smart flats/mules.

+We are hosting a little Halloween parade the day before Halloween this year with some little ones, and I’m beginning to plan out some tiny surprises. I think I might do some sort of station where the children can assemble/decorate a cupcake using gummy worms, sprinkles, candy eyeballs, and cupcake toppers.

+This tiny fair isle cardigan is absolutely precious.

+The best under-$10 eyeliner. I just love this stuff. It rivals much higher-end/prestige cosmetics brands and you can achieve the finest line with it.

+These new repositionable sticker books from Melissa & Doug preoccupied my children for hours over the last week.

+Looking for a new candle, and think I might try either this one (which promises to transport you to “the quiet stillness of a traditional library” — YES) or this one. I know many of you swear by the latter small label!

+Keep coming back to this top, currently marked way down. It is so me in every way. This navy feels even more on-trend and seasonally-versatile, though…swoon.

+These tiny velvet pumpkins are darling to decorate a little one’s bookcase…

+These lavender gingham napkins are darling.

+This fall blouse is amazing — Doen vibes.

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