Children's Finds

The Magpie Edit: Edition 51.

By: Jen Shoop

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In Motherhood…

Soaking up my son’s sweetness this week. He still reaches for my hand when we go on “nature hikes” (his term, not mine!), and doesn’t he look like a little cherub here? With the fine baby hair and round cheeks? The John Lennon glasses don’t hurt. I continue to struggle with expecting too little of him and too much of my daughter, and am constantly pulling up and recalibrating. This week, I tried to find ways to give them both more autonomy — not just Emory! We ordered small pitchers to hold milk (started with one, but then it caused too many early morning fights) and placed them on the first shelf of the fridge, and then decanted cereal in these containers and put those on a low shelf of the pantry so they could go downstairs in the mornings and prepare themselves breakfast. I also cut/wash fruit and place in little containers for them in the fridge. It’s interesting what a change this small adaptation has made in our mornings. Our children no longer hum around our bedroom door asking for breakfast, and we find that they are much more likely to trot off and play independently. I also scheduled a mommy-daughter date for the end of this week — going to take her to the mall to pick out some fall clothes! I’ve found that if I don’t involve her in the clothing selection process, beautiful articles of clothes languish in her closet, never-to-be-worn. Sigh. I figure taking her to a handful of stores whose clothes I like (going to try Gap, Zara, and J. Crew) will be a good way to engage her with guardrails up.

A couple of my favorite recent buys for the children — mostly related to school! —

01. MAYFLY AND JUNEBUG PERSONALIZED PLATES — Going to surprise my children with these on their first day of school!

02. PIP POP POST EARRINGS — My daughter’s been asking for her ears to be pierced for a year now. We’re planning to take her as a surprise before the first day of school. I am going to let her pick a pair from this cute brand, Pip Pop Post, after she has them done!

03. YETI RAMBLERS — My children’s favorite water bottles. Decided to buy them a second one apiece for the school year. They are virtually indestructible, do not leak, and keep water very cold. I loved their limited edition colors!

04. WEEKLY NOTEPAD — Going to use this solely for my children’s planning / activities / play dates / meal plan / etc

05. VINYL LETTER STICKERS — Another tool in my arsenal for marking/tagging my children’s belongings.

06. BAG TAG — Had to replace her old one, which was all bent, scratched, and beat up! Love the colors of this.

07. J. CREW STRIPED SWEATER — Couldn’t resist!

08. SOCKS — Just bought a ton of new sets. Like to have them looking fresh for the school year.

09. B. BOX SNACK BOXES — Ordered a few of these for snacktime. We’ve used Yumbox’s snack size in the past but I find them annoying to wash/dry, and they are pricey! These are almost half the price. They’re a really petite size — great for snacks for young kids — and I really like having these kinds of tupperware on hand because they dramatically reduce the amount of single-use plastic/wrappers we throw out. SO easy to decant a bigger bag of goldfish / cut fruit into these. Great colors, too.

10. NEW BALANCE 574 VELCRO SNEAKS — I mentioned these a few weeks ago but these will be my son’s everyday preschool kicks! He’s supposed to wear sneakers with his uniform as a pre-K-er!

In My Fashion Life…

I have to brag about this incredible $59 purse find. It is such a cool greige color and looks much more expensive than $59. It is not leather but has a pebbled/textured exterior that makes it look like it could be, and the hardware is a good quality (I often find the hardware is a dead giveaway for price). I have grown to love this size/shape of bag for things like coffee runs, school drop-off, quick solo errands, etc — times when I only need my phone, card case, and key. Anyhow, I love this little bag and think you will, too. I’m also smitten with this unbelievable fall buy from Talbots — a $119 textured cardi. As of time of publishing this, it is 25% off.

amazon hermes dupe

Below are the makings of a great fall fashion uniform — the kinds of pieces I throw together when I have nothing major on the calendar, just the usual drop-off, errand or two, time at my desk, etc. Comfortable but pulled together. The exact nubby white cardigan I’m wearing below is from Talbots (!) and a great price — $119. I gasped when I saw it! It comes in a few other colors, too. It’s a great way to get the BA&SH look for less, and the length is maybe even better? The jeans I’m wearing below are Agolde’s Riley Crops. They’ve become my absolute favorite everyday jeans. Contemporary shape but not too trendy. I was skeptical at first because of the button fly (I hate a button fly) but these feel great on and are worth the extra few seconds when using the facilities. I went a size up from my true size and they’re a touch big but I don’t hate the slight bagginess? They feel lived-in. (They’re also zero-stretch so would rather err on the side of comfort.) The last note I want to offer: I cannot WAIT For these SLVRLAKE jeans to arrive. I’ve been eyeing this brand for several seasons and specifically was drawn to the brown stitching on these white jeans as a great way to transition white jeans into fall. (I also like that they have a raw hem as I will almost assuredly need to cut them myself — I’m short! 5’0.) The other pair of SLVRLAKEs I’ve been wanting to buy for a long time are their London jeans. I LOVE the way they fit on the model but find the sizing baffling — have read in some places they run TTS but the model is wearing two sizes up from her reported waist size? So I figure I’ll give the Grace ones a try and see what I think. Any intel?



In My Intellectual Life…

Absolutely loving Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake. I’m actually toggling between listening (it’s narrated perfectly by Meryl Streep) on Audible and reading on my Kindle. I’d never done this before but it’s kind of incredible how well it works — Kindle/Audible will jump to where you left off on the other device, and it’s seamless and so easy. Will write a full review but am savoring every moment.

On film, we watched part of a kitschy Japanese movie from the 80s called “Tampopo” (currently halfway through), which is ostensibly about a widowed woman who is trying to figure out how to successfully run a ramen restaurant with the help of two truck drivers she happens to encounter. It’s an interesting blend of genres, and there’s a strong element of classic American Western cinema involved, with scenes that recreate classic saloon moments, hijinks set to ragtime piano, etc. It seems to be interested thematically in cultural overlap, “crossing,” adaptations, etc., as there are many scenes in which Japanese are learning to adopt American customs — usually to comedic effect. It’s strange and smart, and I have a sense I’ll be unpacking it for weeks.

In My Food Life…

Lots of fabulous eats this week, and we’ve especially been enjoying the fruits of Landon’s garden (and his related labors). Nearly all the grilled veg seen below came from his garden, herbs included! He dressed them in a garlic vinaigrette — divine.

In Extracurriculars…

We hosted a neighborhood happy hour last Friday and kept everything very simple. Light snacks, aperol spritz station, and beer/wine. For snacks, I have to say that one of my favorite lowkey elegant things to serve: mini toasts with a hunk of Manchego and membrillo (quince paste) on top. You can buy all the ingredients at Whole Foods. It’s the perfect salty-sweet one-bite app. Two other random tips: 1) buy these plastic reusable cups for events like this. We then run through the dishwasher and reuse next time. So much less waste! Plus, they’re plastic (unbreakable) so appropriate for outdoors / lots of kids and they’re not so precious that you’ll mind if one goes missing. 2) I had several guests ask where I’d bought the olives I served, and they were just from Whole Foods BUT I’d drizzled with really fancy olive oil and left out at room temp for awhile. It makes a world of difference!

How was your week?

P.S. I also served this addictive snack at the happy hour! If I’d had more time, I would have made this great party dish, but we were really short on free time last week since we’d traveled the week before.

P.P.S. Notes on hosting friends at home.

P.P.P.S. More fall fashion finds.

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20 thoughts on “The Magpie Edit: Edition 51.

  1. Manchego + membrillo paste — one of my favorite combinations! SO good. I’m glad membrillo is much more readily available nowadays. I used to sub with fig jam when I couldn’t find membrillo. AND!! Remember that spicy peach honey you raved about before? It is so delicious with Trader Joe’s Toscano black pepper cheese. Have you tried? It has an edible black pepper rind and specks of black pepper throughout. I served it to guests and everyone loved it with the spicy peach honey.

    +1 for room temperature olives, and if you can, I highly recommend warming them up. It really lets the flavors bloom! I used to frequent this restaurant that served warm marinated olives, and I started making it myself. I also use Castelvetrano as well as some saltier ones for variety. I marinate in a mason jar with olive oil, herbs, a few strips of lemon peel, and then put the whole jar in a small pot of simmering water for 5-10 minutes.

    +1 for California Olive Ranch EVOO, particularly the arbequina variety! Also highly recommend The Olive Press (from Sonoma, CA) and McEvoy Ranch (also from CA). I must say I’m partial to California olive oils, but I also have been seeing this brand Graza pop up online quite a bit. A few months back Michael Symon was using it quite a bit in his cooking videos. I bought one to try!

    1. Oo love these tips!! Def going to try the warm olives. I have a girlfriend coming by for wine and cheese tomorrow and going to serve there! Also might trek out to TJ’s for the pepper cheese!!! Thank you so much.


  2. Mom of an older kiddo here. I think the mall can be overwhelming sometimes (including myself here!) and then it becomes a race against the clock instead of a fun activity. It is vastly easier for me to buy a bunch online and return what doesn’t work (especially when trying to figure out sizing). Just a thought!

    1. PS: whoops, forgot to continue my own comment! Frustratingly, with denim I always order multiple sizes. I went through this recently with Citizens—I have a size I usually wear and in different washes, the fit was totally different! So annoying, I wish women’s sizing had something resembling consistency.

      1. Ugh – that drives me insane. It must have something to do with inconsistencies/differences in the denim fabrics used but it’s SO hard as a consumer.


    2. Hi! Totally agree and prefer ordering online in general…but (!) this trip to the mall worked out SO well. I’ve grown up going to this particular mall and so I knew exactly where to park and which two stores I wanted to hit up. It ended up perfect! I don’t think she would have had the interest/stamina to try a third or fourth store and we ended up with SUCH cute stuff. An hour flat! Anyway, I think having a targeted approach is the way to go because I can totally imagine a meltdown otherwise.


  3. Just a thought for clothes shopping with your sweet daughter. My daughter was also very opinionated about what she would wear at that age. I remember buying her these beautiful embroidered overalls, and one morning I was putting them on her to go to school, and she burst into tears. “Please don’t make me wear those. I hate them so much.” I was shocked that she had such strong feelings about such a gorgeous item of clothing, but of course I didn’t make her wear m. I’m a grandmother now and buy clothes for my granddaughters. I have found wonderful things in the kids section of H&M. If you have one with a kids section, it’s worth checking out.

    1. Thank you!!! I relate to your experience with your daughter — mine had a major meltdown seemingly out of nowhere this past spring and I’ve completely changed my approach in the months intervening. I now don’t force her to wear anything and give her a lot more autonomy. I give her options from her closet or totally let her choose (depending on the occasion / what we’re doing). For everyday, I let her where what she wants, which is usually a t-shirt and shorts! I keep telling myself: “This is NOT the field I want to die on” and see how happy it makes her to express herself.

      Thanks for the tip on H&M. We had a great excursion at Gap and J Crew – such cute finds!


  4. Love the rec for the little bag – mine just arrived from Amazon and it smells really bad (like plastic). Did yours? Did it go away quickly? I want to keep it because it is just a touch larger than the Lily & Bean one that I have in red, so I think it will be more useful!

    1. Hi Julie! So odd – mine had NO scent? That’s disconcerting that there is a variation. I’m sorry!


  5. That looks like a perfect late summer happy hour! Can you share what kind of olives you used and the brand of olive oil? I never thought to leave them out to room temp and drizzle with oil. I normally shy away from serving olives with guests because of the pit situation, but this sounds delicious.

    1. Hi! I usually opt for the pitted castelvetrano olives from Whole Foods. Castelvetranos are so fruity and mild — less briny than others, and therefore more crowd-pleasing — and it’s SO convenient (per your note) when there are no pits. But if you can’t find ones that are pitted, you can pre-pit using a cherry pitter ( if you want to be VERY generous to guests, or (as we usually do) just be sure to place a small pit dish out and pre-sample a few so folks know that’s the place to leave a pit!

      For olive oil, we buy the best we can find, usually from Bread Furst here in DC, or (when in NYC and Chicago) Eataly. You can also order from Eataly online ( We specifically look for the ones from Liguria, as we heard/read somewhere that it’s considered some of the best in the country. However (!) there is a brand widely carried by Whole Food called California Olive Ranch that we recently read people RAVE about in a dark corner of Reddit (you know it’s good when food nerds are geeking out over it!), and it’s reasonably priced and easy for us to access. We just started to buy that in bulk for cooking and it’s delicious — good enough to drizzle on olives, etc.


  6. Ann Patchett owns Parnassus Books here in Nashville. Order her books on the website – and look for ‘signed books’ – and get all her books SIGNED! I buy the books, read them also on my iPhone and listen, too!

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