Women in Conversation.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image above via Gigi and Olive — purveyor of darling bridal gifts and accessories, including the bows seen above. On a related note, I just bought mini one of these personalized hair bows for her upcoming fourth birthday. How sweet are this one or this one for Easter? More embroidered flower finds along these lines here.

**Today is the final day to participate in the Good+ Foundation Amazon Drive, which aims to provide urgently-needed baby gear to families in need. Thank you so much to those of you who have participated!

I love interacting with you all over email, in the comments section, and via direct message on Instagram. As an amalgam, you are a hilarious, bright, observant, discerning bunch. You know how celebrities will say “I have THE BEST fans?” I’m not a celebrity and you are not fans, but I regularly express a parallel sentiment when friends and family members ask after what I do on this blog — “It’s amazing women in conversation. I have the BEST readership. Literally, women you wish you knew.”

At any rate, big love for my magpies this morning.

On a related note, I wanted to share a few messages from my flock asking for specific things that perhaps some of you have also wondered about…

Q: Would you share updates on sleep rituals for your son? He looks so happy in this picture! Would love your advice on adding pillow, blanket, snuggle pal – my daughter is roughly the same age and she’d probably love these things!

A: Cheers to our little May babies! Mr. Magpie and I divide and conquer at bedtime, so we alternate which of us puts which little one to bed. When it’s my turn to put Hill (20 months) down, we brush teeth (he climbs up on a personalized stepstool similar to this) and gestures for me to sit next to him — ha. Then jammies, sound machine, dimmed lights, and I let him pick out two books to read. Then I zip him into his sleepsack (my two favorite brands are Woolino and Kyte), tuck him into his crib with his favorite blanket and stuffed animal (he likes a teddy that used to belong to Mr. Magpie, this small Elmo, and one of these adorable bears from De Buci baby, which I had customized with his name), and he loves his head on a pillow. I currently use two boudoir-sized personalized pillows next to one another (love the ones from Southern Linen — the pillow cover is as soft as a sheet, and Biscuit always does such cute prints), but will likely buy him a full-sized pillow soon. Mini slept with a full-sized pillow under her head from around his age — maybe even younger! (I love the toddler/little kid bedding from Pehr and Lewis.) Once settled in, we say prayers and affirmations, and then read him one final book before I turn off the light.

The last book is a mild concession of mine — he is usually not thrilled when I zip him into his sleepsack and deposit him in his crib, but somehow when I hold the book up and reassure him that we’ll read it as I’m tucking him in, he settles down. Sometimes he starts whimpering again while we’re running through prayers/affirmations, but I wave the book and he settles back in! And then once the final book is over, he’s quiet and calm. (I take care to pick one of his favorite books for this final reading — he and mini have both LOVED the Peek a Who book and its sequel. They never fail to get a laugh out of him! The darnedest thing.)

Q: Do you have a recommendation for a tote for a little boy to take to preschool?

A: My first thought was LL Bean! A classic for a reason, and convenient to have his name embroidered clearly on the front.

Little English also has some sweet ones, and you could always personalize one of the Stoney Clovers in navy/white with the athletic letters.

Paravel also has a cool foldable style that can be personalized — I like the athletic-looking straps and the zipper top could be handy.

Related for inquiring minds: my favorite brands for backpacks for little ones are Oh Mint (monogrammable — note that they come in small and medium sizes; we use their lunchbox, and how cute is their new tiny hearts print?), Livly, State Bags.

Q: How does the Target sweatsuit run in sizing?

A: I would say the sweatshirt runs just a tiny bit on the slim/cropped side, and the sweats just a tiny bit on the roomy side. I took an XS in both — my true size — and find they complement one another nicely in that the top is semi-slim-fit but the bottoms are not snug at all. To be clear: the sweatshirt is not in any way snug or fitted, but it’s not way boxy. I LOVE this set, and I am not a sweats gal. The eyelet detail on the shoulder and pockets is SO cute!

Q: I’m looking for cute tennis shoes for my toddler girls. We have Cientas and Natives, but I’m looking for something they for more active wear, long walks (unless being in NYC you find the Cientas to be durable and long lasting for lots of walking?), etc.

A: I would recommend Superga.  I love the classic, simple styling, and the velcro style is amazing for toddlers. Mini has owned several pairs and they hold up really well — the quality is impressive.

Q: Where are your children’s art smocks from?

A: Bumkins! Love this brand (also have tons of their bibs) because you can throw them in the wash! (Also, since they are fabric, their bibs are great in a diaper bag — fold up to nothing!)

I also just found this adorable heart-print smock, which probably wouldn’t work for my children and the messy art/sensory play we do (we need more coverage…), but maybe an older child?

For baking: how cute is this Liberty London initial style?!

Q: What brand are your daughter’s snowboots? Love Sorels but they are too chunky for my kid.

A: I’m so glad you asked this and have given me occasion to share this on the blog because mini outgrew her Sperry snowboots after one wear this season (barf — see ya, $70), but we’ve had loads of snow since. I ended up ordering this inexpensive Sorel-esque pair for $33 and am impressed with the quality and styling, and I do feel they run more narrow and less chunky than Sorels. (Sperry mentioned above also has a more refined shape to them, but are a pricey gamble given that at least my daughter keeps switching sizes midway through each season!)

On a related note, mini is still obsessed with these thick knit winter socks. I’ve purchased a few packs — they are perfect snow boot socks, but she also wears them almost daily with her Uggs during the winter season on our walk to school.

And if you are looking for an inexpensive snow mitten, these are a solid pick. I’m normally all about Polarn O. Pyret for snow gear (cannot endorse their bib snowsuits enough — they run really big, FYI, but it’s been nice because mini has worn the same pair two seasons and because I bought in navy, can pass down to micro — the quality of POP* is unparalleled), but these came in handy because they could be delivered next day on the eve of a snowstorm.

*If you dig, you can find absurd, close-out prices on POP on Amazon — this rain jacket is under $20 and this adorable hooded, lined puffer is under $40;

Q: You need those Hill House pajamas, described as “the soft, sparkly pajama for the Magpie in your life.”

A: Yes. Yes I do! You know me well.

Q: I’m wondering if you can share any sources for picture frames and/or how you assemble vignettes of frames and objets…I have many surfaces in our new home and many unprinted photos desiring framing! I know you’ve talked about wall art and framing, so perhaps you’ve already touched on this, too. 

A: Ooh, I love a good vignette. My personal favorite look is to arrange a bunch of similar though not-matching frames.  On our bedside tables and dresser in our bedroom, I have a range of assorted frames in silver in various shapes and patterns, which affords a coordinated but eclectic feel.  I have bought many of the ones in our bedroom from Pottery Barn over the years, and specifically have a few sizes of this and this style mixed in with some sterling frames I inherited and a few Kate Spade frames that coordinate with our wedding china that we received as wedding gifts. (My specific china pattern, June Lane, appears to have been discontinued, but you can occasionally find the frames and pieces of the china on eBay. In general, though Kate Spade is another great source for elegant frames — I love this style.)

I love the idea of showcasing a fantastic vintage 3×5 photo with wide matting around it, like this. One way to visually amplify the meaning of a small photo or letter.

If you’re not into silver, I love the styles from Aerin in either wicker or gold.

Finally, one of my favorite little decorating hacks is to frame things like hand-written notes or photographs or cards or prayers or recipes in these inexpensive acrylic stand-up frames.

So fun to mix these in with other assorted objets and lamps and decor.

And related: coffee table styling ideas.

P.S. I received a lot of messages about this post. I think many of us needed that re-framing/pep talk!

P.P.S. Proof of how awesome you are. LOVE reading your icebreaker responses.

P.P.P.S. A moment of major personal growth for me.

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6 thoughts on “Women in Conversation.

  1. I love the comments section here! In fact, I intend to chime in more often than I do, but the day runs away with me (like it did today). Thanks for providing this space, Jen, and of course for the content that inspires all the comments in the first place!

  2. Let me be the first to say…
    You have great readers because of YOU! You write so personally to each one of us and we all love that you speak to our hearts. Our wants, needs, hopes, fears are all written so eloquently by you that we keep wanting more. Oh, let’s not forget your fashion style too. It’s impeccable!
    We all thank YOU!

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