*Above, wearing my beloved Mille dress and Gucci sandals.
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!
P.S. ICYMI, J. Crew is offering an extra 50% off sale with code SHOPEARLY. I just bought my daughter a few pairs of $12 jammies in this style and this one. This adorable suit is only $15!
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48 thoughts on “The Magpie Edit: Edition 39.”
I loved The Guncle by Steven Rowley and now I want to read all his books. His humor is subtle and dry. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo is about a family with four adult children, all sisters, and all their complicated relationships with each other. I can’t go without mentioning Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look big? By Annabel Monaghan. It’s not meaty but it’s fabulous and it’s the book I’ve gifted all my children’s teachers this year. A series of her newspaper columns compiled together. Can’t recommend enough.
Thank you so much for sharing these ideas, Lauren!! These are great!! xx
I always buy a ‘summer reading book’ for my kids teachers as part of our end of year gift. Now that my kids are a bit older (10 and 8) and enjoying reading themselves it’s really fun that they help pick books they want to share with their teachers.
For your consideration- we all really really loved a young reader book series by Richard Peck:
A Long Way from Chicago, then A Year Down Yonder, finally A Season of Gifts.
They are short, so maybe all three would equal one novel. But they are funny and full of characters we refer to on the regular- they have become part of our family lexicon. Probably not for everyone’s tastes, but when I need to feel like sitting with an old friend, these always leave me in a good mood and nostalgic for simple things.
I forgot to mention- this the book/books we have chosen to gift our teachers this summer.
I love this! Such a great idea!! Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely Remarkably Bright Creatures!! Also loved House on the Cerulean Sea and The Maid.
Wow! So many upvotes for these two! Thanks!
I adore Mhairi McFarlane’s books – try “Don’t You Forget About Me”.
I really liked Ghosts by Dolly Alderton – I was LOL’ing even though it’s sometimes a little serious. These are thriller-lite: The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen (she lives in DC and is SO nice!). The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton & James Patterson. The Club by Ellery Lloyd. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Thank you, Kristin!! Love these, especially the local DC writer shoutout!
My favorite recent light-ish reads are Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (a family drama set in Chicago that at its heart is about the special love between sisters) and Remarkably Bright Creatures (look past the premise, it doesn’t do the book justice). I also REALLY enjoyed the new Curtis Sittenfield book, Romantic Comedy, for something truly light and fun.
Not light but loved Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (and I’m not a big Kingsolver person)and enjoyed all the Amor Towles books, especially Rules of Civility. A little meatier though.
Ooo thanks! Christina was just telling me about Hello Beautiful. xx
Lighter, but also thoughtful, reads ARE. MY. JAM. I could talk about this for days!
Some authors to check out:
-Elin Hildebrand (“The Rumor” remains my favorite!)
-Taylor Jenkins Reid
-I enjoy reading lighter books with protagonists very different than myself, to see how other people approach the world. I liked “Yinka where is your huzband” recently, and Uzma Jalaluddin’s two books were wonderful. If you enjoy listening to books, I found these all better on audio- the voices and accents add so much to the stories.
-Becky Chambers writes space operas in her “Wayfarers” series, something I never thought I’d enjoy. But they are fun and light, and make you think about your life. The first one is my favorite, so start there.
Life is too short for books that aren’t great! Go with what works for you!
Thank you so much!! These are great. LOVE your self-awareness in seeking out “protagonists very different from myself.” So interesting to try on different lives/perspectives – I think reading can be such a powerful tool for empathy building and also self-reflection on why/how we live our lives according to certain values. Thank you, Molly!
High quality beach read rec: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead!! Also, Maine by J.Courtney Sullivan, or any of the three Thursday Murder Club books by Richard Osman! Xo
Chiming in to upvote the Thursday Murder Club series! You are missing out if you don’t try the first two on audio – worth a re-read(listen) if you’ve read them on paper. Leslie Manville’s narration is perfect.
Thank you! Love a well-narrated audiobook. Thanks for the tip!
Ooo so excited to try some of these!
Can’t rec Seating Arrangements enough!! Xo
Yay!!! I am currently putting together a list of all of the books I want to read this summer, and this one is towards the top! xx
I enjoyed the photo recap/diary! Popping in to second the recommendation of Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson as an easy and enjoyable read with a bit “more” to it.
Thank you for the encouragement! Agree that Pineapple Street was a solid pick in this category. I also enjoyed it!
I am patiently awaiting more responses to your ask for more books in the Sittenfeld universe — I’ve been googling variations on “smart romance” and barely come up with anything better than a shirtless man in glasses on the cover.
I did dip a toe into Emily Henry this spring, though, and have really enjoyed her writing. Book Lovers had just the right amount of kitsch, and Happy Place (as many have said – also a great description of female friendship) is also delivering.
I find myself blaming pregnancy hormones for all this interest in lighter reading, but why must we have an excuse? I think of these characters just as much as any of the brow-furrowing stuff.
I agree! No need to make excuses, though I am guilty of it myself. I haven’t tried Emily Henry yet but she’s all over the place – will try soon!
I agree with fellow Magpies here that “Pineapple Place” was a good pick for “just north of beach read” type content. It wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was an easy read with some interesting social commentary.
+1 for Emily Henry! I really enjoy how she writes such smart, witty banter between characters. Fun reads!
Cannot wait to read!
Are you a Kate Morton fan? She has a new book out that I just started.
I’m looking forward to lingering over my weekday breakfast without dashing off to school drop off. Unhurried time at the library. Running to get donuts in our pjs and having a “donut picnic” in the back of the car with the lift gate up. Swim lessons at the outdoor pool. Family walks after dinner. Yay summer!
Ooh good to know re: the new Kate Morton, thanks for the tip. I read The Lake House ages ago and enjoyed – totally forgot about her name until now!
Currently plodding through Haven by Emma Donoghue … Matrix by Lauren Groff vibes, but monks instead of nuns. Slow and (arguably overly) descriptive, but it’s a nice calming intermission read for me … especially for a middle of the night/bout of insomnia, like I experienced from 3am-5:30am this past night (insert crazy eyes emoji). Interested in anyone’s thoughts, if they’ve read it!
Fellow member of the 3 a.m. wake-up-and-worry club! Thanks for weighing in here! (And, you’re not alone!)
Haven’t read the Donoghue book. Let me know what you think when you finish. I’m not great at super slow/overly descriptive books. I actually stopped reading “The Marriage Portrait” for that reason. I found it unbearably slow and over-descriptive. Sometimes I toggle to skim mode but for a book like this, I felt like I was also missing the artistry in so doing, and then I was like, “What am I even doing here?”
Glad to know I’m not alone in those wee hours. Hear you on “The Marriage Portrait” – I ended up finishing it (I wish very last few pages/ending were spun out into more of the book; there was SO much there, not to spoil it in case you return to it…).
I don’t mind a slower book, especially after a thriller or heavier book (sometimes a palate cleanser is nice!), but Haven is really testing my patience, although I respect the incredible amount of research that must have gone into the author’s process. I’m such a stubborn finisher though – I can count on one hand the times I’ve abandoned a book midway through, which says more about my personality than the writing, ha!
I appreciate the determination! I still shiver when I put a book down. It feels like such a waste!
You’re welcome, always happy to share the book love!
Love all of these details – such evocative ones, reflective of the extra time and give we all enjoy during the summer. Love.
Never read Kate Morton — tell me more! Any favorites?
I’ve read and enjoyed all of her books! Most a read quite a few years ago, but if I remember correctly, they are all set in UK or AUS, have a dual timeline (modern day and early/mid 1900s), and a mystery element occasionally boarding on suspense. Maybe start with The Secret Keeper or The Forgotten Garden?
Oo sounds great. Thanks! My summer reading list overfloweth now.
I will second Pineapple Street and The House by the Cerulean Sea. Recently read Women are the Fiercest Creatures, Remarkably BrightCreatures, Mad Honey, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Nora Goes off Script. Sophie Kinsella is always a light funny read.
Thank you for these! Any Kinsella favorites? What did you think of “Nora Goes Off Script”?
I really enjoyed Nora Goes Off Script, great characters and an easy read. Sophie Kinsella, is great for a laugh Christmas Shopaholic, Remember Me and I Owe You One, just silly. Forgot to suggest, The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post, excellent and partially set in D.C.
I really enjoyed Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. And did you read The House in the Cerulean Sea? Not new and also not so much a beach read…but so good. I am going to check out Oprah’s favorite new book, The Covenant of Water.
Thank you! I did read Pineapple Street – that’s the exact lane I’m looking for. Something that’s fun but a little more than your standard beach read. Thanks for these other recs, too!
Check out the Peachtree Bluff Series books by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I think there are 3 or 4. It’s a perfect beach read book. She has some others that aren’t part of the series as well.
Thanks for the summer list- def looking forward to a sticky DC summer!
Thank you! Added to list!
Cat Shook’s novel If We’re Being Honest is a perfect substantial beach read!!! Will make you laugh and cry. Cute family story!!
Thank you — added to my list immediately!
do you have a kindle case? how come that it is white? love the look better than black borders.
Hi! I do not have a kindle case! Mine is just the Paperweight in the white color instead of black.