Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 226: On Living in Limbo.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: Outdoor Dining Furniture.

I shared these details earlier this week, but we bought outdoor dining furniture for our new home this past weekend: this expandable teak table and a few sets of these chairs with the yellow and white stripe sunbrella cushions added. The table won’t arrive until the end of August, so we’ll be using this supremely well-made folding table in the interim, which we’ve toted around with us since Chicago days. (Trust me, it’s good — the Wirecutter’s rec.) We have a covered porch, so I cannot wait to eat every possible breakfast, lunch, and dinner al fresco, as weather won’t really be an issue. Hooray! I think there is still space on the porch (which spans the width of the house) for additional seating beyond the wicker couch set we have, or possibly for an outdoor bar cart or side board or something like that, but I’ll be waiting until we’ve lived in the space to figure out what we’d prefer. (I.e., are we always dragging extra chairs out from the dining room? Would we want a convenient spot to set up a little bar area, or hold plates that are going down to the grill? Etc. We could also always get some less-expensive but fun stackable chairs to keep on hand…)

So exciting!

You’re Soooo Popular: The Blockprint Dress.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+This blockprint dress has been very popular all summer but it just went on sale and a lot of you snapped it up!

+Cutest smocked and striped dress.

+My new favorite facial sunscreen.

+Wicker serving tray.

+This floral cutie keeps selling out! Snag if you can!

+My favorite towels to gift.

+Chic and distressed alternative to dresses all the time.

+Denim shorts that aren’t too short.

+It truly is nap dress summer. I’ll be wearing this on move day!

+Cute paper from my favorite Etsy stationery boutique.

+My new desk chair! I think we’ll all be chic workerbees in this.

+Fun super soakers for a backyard hang. We brought these with us to the Hamptons and even the littlest kids got the hang of it quickly!

Weekend Musings: Living in Limbo.

This past week has loomed liminal. Everything in our apartment, and in our life, is partway-packed, partway-done. We don’t want to throw away the nearly-depleted tubs of condiments in the fridge, as we “might need them in the next few days.” I can’t quite pack for the 48 hours we’ll have all of our belongings in boxes because I will need my makeup, and my hair blow dryer, and the children need their sippy cups and sound machines, before packing day. Instead, I have a few piles of bags and boxes haphazardly filled with items we do not want packed — items of sentimental value, important documents, the Hermes scarf Mr. Magpie gave me on the eve of my son’s birth. Even those feel inadequately organized, and I am certain there are other items I have forgotten about that I would be devastated to lose. (Just writing that sentence, I sprang up in search of the rosary my grandmother gave me on the occasion of my First Communion.). Most of our belongings are still where they always are, as we have hired a company to do a full pack of absolutely everything in the apartment, but this hasn’t stopped us from trying to organize/simplify/regroup items so that they are boxed in a logical way. (I.e., I don’t want to find pens, or toys, in every single box!). So even things that are “out” have been re-clustered and re-organized in foreign and inconvenient ways. (“Jen? Where are the napkins?!”)

I was showering last weekend and I wondered: “Should I just toss the loofah when I’m done?” Then: “No, you’ll take a few showers before move day.” Then: “Well, I can make do without. Better just chuck now, one less thing unfinished.” Then: “That is ridiculous! Why are you depriving yourself of a tool for the next week just to have something done?”


But this has been me, desperate to cross things off and cinch with tape and push to the corner of a room.

It is hard for me to live halfway. We’ve talked on this blog about how difficult it is to accommodate the constant interruptions children introduce into everyday life. We’ve also talked about how parenthood tampers with the deeply-engrained “completion desire” that accompanies so much of what we do on a daily basis (and, in fact, governs a lot of the theory in game design/gamification). So imagine my current dismay at living in a nightmarish in-between space that constantly thwarts my hunger for the checked box, and that occasionally leads me to wildly irrational internal drama over whether or not to discard a loofah before its run its course.


These are the grumblings of a woman ill-at-ease in transition. Are there truly people out there who can swing between the branches with grace and accommodation? I envy them. I am instead doing the best I can dialing in on the small moments of magic that have materialized in the midst of this week:

My daughter and I, lying in the tent in her bedroom, the sun illuminating its interior, her gorgeous hazel eyes studying my face:

“You know, some nice people from the moving company are going to come and put all of our things in boxes and then they will bring them down to our new house and we will set everything up again.”

“Even my stuffed animals?”

“Even your stuffed animals.”

“Even my underwear?”

“Even your underwear.”

This went on for a stretch, with her asking after increasingly minuscule items in her possession (Barbie doll shoes! Tub stickies! Crayons!), before she paused, scrunched up her face, and said: “Eeee! I’m so excited!”

Thank God for my four-year-old hype girl.

Post-Scripts: Baskets + Things.

+A girlfriend of mine presented a mother-to-be with baby gifts in a wicker decorative basket. She filled the bottom with new mom essentials, like Infant Tylenol, the Nose Frida, diaper rash cream (this is the best the best the best), etc. It was so thoughtful! Like, you never think you’ll need the Nose Frida until you do, and then you spend $30 on it at Duane Reade in a blind panic. (Speaking from experience.).

+Lots of great baskets here.

+A great everyday summer dress in an unexpected mid blue color.

+Just added to my cart: al fresco dining ware, including bamboo cutlery. I am torn on melamine outdoor dining plates. Experience tells me to go with white (shows food so well, and never gets boring), so I am contemplating something like this bamboo-trim set, this wavy set, this scalloped set, or this beaded set and then adding in a couple of fun festive salad plates/cereal bowls to mix in. The Avenue has great patterns, including these blue botanicals and these green florals.

+For outdoor cocktails, still loving these striped acrylic tumblers from Frontgate!

+More al fresco dining finds here.

+This textured swimsuit is SO chic and only $65.

+Still getting a lot of wear out of this fun gingham maxi skirt.

+This deeply discounted rattan lamp is SO chic.

+Another fun jelly-style sandal for summer, this one only $65.

+OMG – adore this Ann Taylor find! Such a great print and the silhouette is so easy to wear!

+Fantastic lookalike for the Tove dress so many of you loved.

+Shopbop now carries Mille! This looks like a dream. Would work with bump, too!

+Loads of new Juliet Dunn at Matches! Super love this dress, and this bright pink is so punchy!

+These watermelon jammies for a little one are too cute.

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12 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 226: On Living in Limbo.

  1. I hope your move went well, Jen! I remember, after several moves, that it does take some time to feel settled in — but I hang on to the idea that my loved ones are with me (as cliche as that sounds), so if we only have the bare essentials unpacked for a while, it’s all really ok.

    I remember, too, living in a hotel for a couple of weeks after a cross-country move, while waiting for our movers to deliver our belongings to our new address — and living with a “capsule wardrobe” of sorts while in transition. It made me intrigued by the idea (though I’m far from a minimalist, such that my husband has nicknamed me Our Lady of Perpetual Baggage). 🙂

    Totally hear you on living in limbo. I have felt that way for many years, honestly — perhaps it’s just part and parcel of the immigrant’s story? For the most part I’ve come to accept it for what it is. Now that our daughter is a few years shy of kindergarten we’re really going back and forth on whether to stay in the Bay Area or move back to the Midwest (where we can potentially reside in one of the best school districts in that state and actually buy a reasonably-priced home). So much to consider for the long-term!

    1. Thank you, Mia! You definitely get alll the things I’m talking about here — I can’t imagine living in a hotel for a few weeks! I had to resort to that when we moved from Chicago to NYC and barely lasted a few days before driving down to stay with my parents while things got ironed out. It is so hard living out of a suitcase! Thanks for the reminder that it’s OK not to be settled for awhile 🙂


  2. Hope all is going smoothly for you all!! I am gearing up to spend a week in a rental cottage on our family’s favorite island, and starting to have those inner dialogues about packing and lists and how will we ever fit it all in the car, etc. My parents left today, and as they were preparing this week, my mom was stressing about packing and the unknowns of staying in a cottage we’ve never been in before. I told her to use something my almost 4yo said as a mantra to psych herself up: “it sounds like a nice fun trip, and everyone will be so excited to see me!” Ahh, to experience the pure excitement without the responsibility! I thought of this as soon as I read your tidbit about mini above. Thank goodness for them, indeed!

    1. I love your daughter’s mantra! So sweet, so unencumbered, such a reflection of the love/attention she is given by her family! 🙂

      I hear you — travel with little children is unexpectedly stressful! I had to remind myself about 23 separate times that if something fell through the cracks (no sippy cups! no milk! etc!), we could always figure out a solution, whether stopping at a store or ordering via Amazon. Still, my mind felt like cheesecloth, so much slipping through…so many details!


  3. Sending you extra prayers during this difficult, transient time. Moving is high (maybe even number one) on the stressful list! Hang on! We are all so excited for you and the family to be putting down roots that will sprout into beautiful flowers of memories, year after year.
    PS- I love, love, love the beaded set of melamine outdoor dining plates. Can’t go wrong with such a classic look!

    1. Thank you! Writing to you from the other side, at my desk in my OWN office. We did it! Or, we moved! Now just to settle in…


  4. Ah, yes, the “in-between”… I actually can do pretty well for a span of time there before I lose my mind. 🙂 Wishing you peace in the hallway before you cross the next threshold! xo H

    1. Thank you! Feeling really good now that we’ve been here for a few days and the boxes are winnowing down…


  5. Best of luck with the move! We are still living amidst a bunch of boxes on the other end, as I’ve been too slammed at work and we’ve had plans almost every weekend. Eventually. I keep reminding myself that we’re here for the long haul.

    But I love the bamboo flatware! It reminds me that I have a set (somewhere…) that I should unearth for our Florida room. I also bought a set of melamine dishes and serving ware for outside use (great minds..), but I actually went with fun patterns I normally wouldn’t use just to jazz things up a bit.

    1. Thank you! Yes, there are just going to be some areas that will be housing boxes for awhile, especially while we wait to decide on furniture for certain parts of the room. Just going to accept it…I can’t do everything at once!

      Isn’t that flatware so good?!


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