Musings + Essays

The Magpie Edit: Edition 50.

By: Jen Shoop

TRAVEL: We spent last weekend at Deep Creek Lake. Landon grew up spending large parts of his summers there, with his two cousins, and we’ve made many, many trips there since we’ve since we’ve been together — ski trips to Wisp with college friends in the winters, jet-skiing and boating in the summers, and now trips to the Garrett County Fair and lake swimming with our children. It’s a rustic, low-fuss, true Lake life destination just 2.5 hours outside of D.C. — the kind you might have idealized in your childhood if you watched “The Great Outdoors” growing up. I find the lack of a “scene” there refreshing. It’s lowkey, no lines, no buzz. I don’t know who patronizes that area but it doesn’t feel like D.C. people. We pack all the food we are going to make in a big cooler ahead of time and spend our time outside, hiking, visiting the fair, sitting on the dock, reading on the deck. I had a couple of questions from Magpies about DCL over Instagram and my top recommendations for visiting: do the mountain coaster!; play mini-golf; buy the pizza rolls at Arrowhead Market; have cocktails at the Honi Honi bar (a locals haunt whose primary virtue is its enormous lakefront greensward; order a G&T and take in the lakeside views while your kids delight in the playground there); pick up pizza from Brenda’s; hike Swallow Falls and especially The Rock Maze Trail (my son loved this!); visit the Garrett County Fair (runs in late July / early August — my children love to take in the livestock, go on the rides, and slurp up the milk shakes); rent jet-skis and/or a pontoon boat. I noticed on this most recent trip a place called Circle R Ranch that offers horseback riding. Think I’m going to take the kids there next visit!

FILM/TV: The only thing we watched this week was — in continuation of our tour of the erotic thrillers of the 80s and 90s — “Indecent Proposal,” which neither of us had seen despite its splashy popularity when it was released in 1993, and which we both thought was terrible. The beginning is atrociously cheesy, and there are Major Problems (capital M and P) with the moral stakes as presented in the movie. Without giving too much away, the film tries to apologize for? soften the edges of? the billionaire (played by Robert Redford) who offers to pay a couple one million dollars for one night with the wife. It presents so many conflicting messages about the nature of these characters and the nature of the offer and its aftermath that the narrative’s ethics flop around like a dying fish, gasping for air. In the companion podcast I’ve been listening to as a guide through this now-extinct sub-genre of films, “You Must Remember This,” film critic Katrina Longworth says: “Are men OK? Several films from 1993 answered that question with a resounding no. One of the highest grossing movies of its year, Adrian Lyne’s “Indecent Proposal” was misunderstood as a gimmick, and its insight into toxic masculinity and male sexual insecurity got lost in a media frenzy.” She goes on to explain that Robert Redford actually had the screenplay rewritten to make his character more desirable/likeable or perhaps just less damnable, which in part explains the film’s moral effeteness.

THE MIDDLE OF THINGS: Pursuant to my essay on Friday about accepting, even celebrating, the unglamorous middle of things, we celebrated our 13-year wedding anniversary with…a broken water heater, which flooded a room of our basement, and two very whiny children who refused to eat the parchment-cooked fish Mr. Magpie had prepared for dinner. Oy! I looked at Landon and thought, “And this is what it is to be married 13 years. Truly in the middle of things, sitting squarely in adulthood. But everything is fine and doable as long as you’re in the middle with me.”

FOOD/DRINK: We made up for our womp-womp 13-year-wedding anniversary later in the week by attending a Billecarte-Salmon champagne tasting. Billecarte-Salmon is the oldest family-run champagne producer in France, and makes some of the most delicious champagne I’ve ever had. I especially loved their Brut Rose (tastes like berries on the tongue), but they are best-known for their Brut Reserve — a classic, easy-to-drink sparkler that tastes like the quintessential champagne. All of their champagnes are on the dry side (which I prefer). They had an interesting Blanc de Blanc that I’ve made a mental note of — it was ultra-light and mineral-like, with the finest mousse (pinpoint bubbles), and it would be spectacular as an aperitif before dinner, with or without a light bite. Can’t recommend any of those three bottles (probably any of their champagnes) enough for a special occasion!

FASHION: The high point of this week was wearing this spectacular Alice + Olivia to the champagne tasting and out to dinner after. I hadn’t thought about this brand in a long time, but I loved the pattern play, the shape, the colors! So sweet. I wore with my Larroude flower slides — basically the only heeled sandal I’ve worn all summer! I didn’t manage to grab a pic, but I also wanted to put in a plug for Summersalt’s Sidestroke swimsuit, which I own in the Baywatch-red lava color, and which is currently on sale. This swimsuit is GREAT if you’re doing anything active in water (jet-ski, jump off dock, have kids hanging on neck) because the asymmetrical strap really holds everything in place and the swimsuit stays put. I also love the back — interesting detail. Really enjoyed this swimsuit.

BEAUTY: I had an abrasion on my face earlier this week, and I applied this Dr. Rogers Healing Balm (clean) I’d received in a PR package and was astounded by how quickly it resolved itself! I applied every night for three days and it was gone. I’ve also been using the Biossance eye cream so many of you raved about for the past two weeks and am hooked. It has a great, light, non-greasy-but-hydrating texture (almost whipped?) that makes it easy to apply and blend in, and I do think it brightens the undereye area more capably than any other product I’ve used. Is it…life-changing? Not for me, so far. But it’s definitely one of the best eye creams I’ve ever used, and it’s $40 less than my other top pick in this category.

WORKING ON: This week, there were a few separate instances in which I thought to do something/check in on someone and then hesitated. For example, a friend had to take her child to the E.R. for croup, and I worried that a check-in call (“how is everyone feeling?”) might be cumbersome or unwelcome. Then, I noticed a neighbor who was out of town had had a package delivered, and thought about texting/emailing but wondered if that was too meddlesome. I also found myself thinking several times of a friend who’d just moved her young family out of the D.C. area, and wanted to ask how things were going, but also knew that moving is a maelstrom, and didn’t want to be another message/to-do to get back to. This general pattern cropped up a few times this week, and each time, I corrected myself: “Just do the thing. They can choose how to receive my message — but I’d rather put the good intent out there.”

Later this week, I read a beautiful musing in In Kind’s email newsletter that asked: “How do you show up in the ways that actually matter?” My week’s examples aren’t on the same order of magnitude as the sort that Hannah and Leah were discussing in their newsletter, but they had this to say:

“How do we get past our own insecurities to be there, really be there in the ways that serve our friends, not ourselves. What’s helpful, truly helpful for the people who need it? It was a question that led me back to good friends, like my college roommate, Courtney Camps, who lost her mom to breast cancer five years ago. I wondered what had been the best ways people cared for her while she was taking care of her mom. “People just checking in was always really helpful—proactively checking in—because I had so much going on being a caretaker for my mom that I didn’t have the capacity to think sometimes or to check in with someone else,” she told me. In that way, it’s not overly complicated. It’s about the initiative to show we care when someone else is so inundated, when someone is so completely consumed—and rightfully so—with the weight of their own experience.”

Thought I’d leave these insights here for you in case you need the nudge to make the call, send the text, drop off the meal, etc.

THINKING AHEAD: I’ve been wanting to invest in a new pair of everyday boots for the past two seasons. I finally ordered these Isabel Marant Duertos and they are literal perfection. I love the shaft height (since I’m petite — 5’0 — knee-high/tall boots can hit my knee at a really weird spot, so I prefer something mid-calf). Will look great with fall dresses, denim maxi/midi skirts, and jeans. I tried them on right out of the box with my striped Doen dress and liked that look, too!

SHOPPING: SO many great finds this week. A shortlist:

+Marea’s end of summer sale! I’ve lived in these airy, breathable dresses (seen below) all summer long. Cannot recommend enough. One of my favorite new brands!

+Loving a head-to-toe white moment (you can see the one I wore this week here), and keep daydreaming about this or this for a travel day. We’re going to Napa in October, and I am daydreaming about wearing an upscale loungewear set like one of those…!

+These 90s fit jeans are on their way to me as we speak, and I think I’m also going to order these Paige pants, which one of my girlfriends messaged me to say: “I bought three pairs of these over the last month. They are so flattering. Size down!”

+SO many of you snapped up this $150 cocktail dress. Cecilie Bahnsen vibes!

+Two fab fall shoes under $100: these Isabel-Marant esque boots and these LR-esque mary janes.

+I ordered some personalized plates for my children’s first day of school! I love to do something special to mark the occasion, and I know they’ll get excited about these and some new school jammies. More back to school ideas here.

+A $40 denim skirt that looks a lot like SLVRLAKE’s iconic style.

+Next in my reading queue.

P.S. All my favorite Shopbop finds.

P.P.S. My Amazon finds.

P.P.P.S. “There are some things we learn best in calm, and others in storm.”

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