This week, we strummed the first strains of summer. Mr. Magpie’s strawberries are ripening by the fistful, and we are spending a lot of time sitting outside. Even two years into living in Bethesda, the backyard suburban experience remains a marvel. I hope to never lose my wonderment over the magic of owning a little piece of land in which my children can run barefoot, and my husband can cultivate his garden, and I can reset when I need to find a center. One morning this week, I sat on the top step of the stairwell that leads down to the garage and again used the Cornell Bird identifying app. I sat with it long enough to learn how to differentiate between the calls of the American Robin and the Northern Cardinal, two birds of abundance in our yard, and I thought for a moment how strange it was that I’d never taken the time to do this before. Now I go into the yard and hear them clearly and can’t imagine that I lived for so long without discerning anything but background noise.
Specific summer milestones I am looking forward to:
+Salty french fries at the pool, when fingers are pruney and cholorinated
+The fireflies — they have emerged in incredible numbers the past two years; some nights in late June and early July, it is almost like the trees are strung up with lights
+Stepping out of the swampy humidity of D.C. into the rush of cool air in our home
+Swimming in Deep Creek Lake
+Bushels of Old-Bay-dredged blue crab picked outside
+Late and loose bedtimes, mornings with more give
+Daily deliveries from Mr. Magpie’s garden — a few raspberries, a cucumber, a fistful of mint
+Strawberry-pink glasses of rose
+The clusters of neighborhood children that congregate in our cul de sac and can often be found playing elaborate games of hide and seek across multiple neighbors’ backyards
+Striped beach towels drying on the balcony railing
+Grilled vegetables, grilled fish, grilled everything
+The Garrett County Fair
+My children’s pink cheeks, flushed from heat and activity, glimpsed in my rear view mirror as we drive quietly home from a busy day at summer camp or a friend’ house
+The way D.C. looks overgrown and overlush in its medians and parks this time of year
+Beach reads speckled with sunscreen and water
What about you?
Now, onto a photo journal of this week — everything that caught my eye.
Mr. Magpie’s meal planning stack (The Splendid Table, recommended by Missy Robbins, and Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking) for the week against our newly delivered slipper chair, which our interior designer, Kelley, had upholstered in Thibaut’s Windsor pattern. This chair shape is very similar.
Common weekend morning sight: my son lingering in his Lila + Hayes pajamas (his absolute favorite – he wears these year-round and owns them in a fleet of patterns…I just ordered him this baseball themed set while 20% off). I’m wearing this Marea dress, which is one of my favorite everyday dresses — really light and airy and flattering. Also eyeing their “house dresses” and this strappy style.
On Mother’s Day, mini wore the sweetest floral dress from Bisby. I’ve been in a process of accommodating her fashion/style preferences and this is one we can both agree on. She is anti smocking and anti sash at this point, and Bisby delivered! I love that I captured this photo of her, because she is majorly into throwing up peace signs and making smirks at the camera — my little teen! — but here she is with her unbridled sweetness.
My Mother’s Day outfit was this Farm Rio dress, which I paired with a J. McLaughlin belt (a spring/summertime MVP — love that the belt has no pre-bored holes so you can really cinch it exactly where you want to), my Pam Munson Isla Bahia, and my favorite Larroude mules. I felt so deeply spoiled this past weekend. I had two pockets of daytime during which I read (!), which rarely happens on the weekends, since I’m normally with the children or doing chores or whirling through plans. Mr. Magpie also made me pancakes (he used the Stella Parks recipe, which was bananas — SO GOOD) and one of my favorite meals: pasta al limone and broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic on the side. My mouth is watering just thinking of this meal.
Boll and Branch sponsored a few Instagram stories I shared with my Instagram Magpies on Friday, which was truly an honor because I have been a fan of their bedding for a long while now and have purchased many of their products over the years. I love this new eyelet duvet and sheet set. I am not being sponsored to share this information here, but I am deeply enthusiastic about their bedding. I find it to be well-priced, great quality (launders well), and sophisticated in design. Mr. Magpie came into the room while I was zhushing the bedding, not expecting the fresh set to be arranged, and said, “Oh wow! It looks great!” Mr. Magpie is a pretty observant guy but, I mean, it takes a lot for a man to notice and make exclamations about bedding. Anyhow, they are offering Magpies 20% off with code MAGPIE20. Let me again say that if you buy nothing else, you should try the waffle bed blanket. It is truly the best weight, and I love the texture. You know how Oprah does her “favorite things” series? The waffle bed blanket would absolutely be in mine.
As an aside, I am wearing a past-season Caroline nap dress from Hill House in the top photo, but they just released this nightgown style in a fun botanical print. This is a great “padding around the house / lazy summer morning” situation. I put this on and feel like I am in the 1890s in a pleasant kind of way.
This week, I powered through Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. I mentioned it earlier this week as a good “before-bed, wind-down” kind of book, but that was when I was only 20% in. Now that I’m 70% through, I have to say it rates highly on the smut scale, and runs…threadbare in the plot and character development categories. Look, I know some books aren’t meant to be groundbreaking feats of technical or character-related virtuosity, and in fact often seek out the lighter fare, but this one…hm. Does anyone have any recommendations for beach read type books that offer a little something extra? Like, more in the Sittenfeld category? (Also, the frosted plastic cup above is a staple for outdoor living. They are inexpensive but dishwasher safe. You won’t be frustrated if you lose one, or a neighbor accidentally carries one home, etc.)
My neighbor and I have been taking Wednesday walks together and they are quickly becoming a high-point of my week. It is wonderful to break out of my studio and enjoy an hour of conversation smack dab in the middle of the work day and work week. I am reminded on these walks of the value of braiding myself into my community. The connection to the people, to the place just feels good. My neighbor is a speculative fiction writer, and a tenured one — she has a proper writing group and speaks about plot mechanics and design in the most interesting, studied ways. I have been writing for decades but my preferred medium (personal essay) is so different, and it is fascinating to learn about the craft side of long-form fiction writing.
Above, I’m breaking in my new On shoes. I’ve seen these ALL over the place and I have to say that I now understand why. They are really cushiony and the design of the sole almost propels you forward? It like rocks your foot as you walk?
I finally broke out of a two- or three-week-long stint during which my son only wanted to read a firetruck book that was so boring that eventually I had to tell him we were going to take a break from it. I try to bite my tongue during story time and let him choose what he wants because my goal is simply to instill a love of books and reading at this age — not make it feel forced or homework-like — but I had to intervene on day 21. He elected for this simple board book on shapes and colors featuring the work of Bauhaus artist Josef Albers. I winced at first because it is a bit babyish for him, but I realized on revisiting it a few times this week that it offers its own kind of useful instruction in “close looking” at art. I found my son twisting the book around to look at the paintings from different angles, and also shaking the book because it sometimes led colors to almost vibrate on the page. It was clever and exciting.
We’ll end here: I was very tempted by these gorgeous J’adior slingbacks at Saks this week. Oo la la!