Coffee with Liz

Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for this week’s Coffee with Liz…

My mom and I are thinking of doing a girls trip to Charleston- any recommendations on where to stay and things to do?

I have a huge post dedicated to all of my favorite things to do, where to stay, where to eat, favorite shops, etc. in Charleston! You can also click through my Charleston tab under the Travel section to see all of my Charleston posts!

What are your favorite home decor stores and where do you find inspiration for your home? 

Home decor is not my forte. I know what I like but I have a hard time visualizing the bigger picture. My favorite home decor stores are usually West Elm (our coffee table and tv console), CB2 (just ordered this mirror for our living room), Williams Sonoma Home (I want all of the light fixtures), Serena & Lily (bedding for our guest room), Joss & Main (shop our headboard here), One Kings Lane, Anthropologie (the best details), Interior Define (we have 3 couches from ID because we love them so much!), Rugs USA (our favorite rug that you all always compliment!) and Target (just bought this lamp). I am trying to tell myself to not rush it with our new home and really invest in things that we love, are great quality and we can see ourselves evolving with. Good bones are important so this time around we are kind of splurging on our bigger pieces (couches, chairs, bed, dining room) because I know we can change the details in the future, should we decide to. If you live in Chicago, Jayson Home is a dream and I also love walking around the showrooms at the Merchandise Mart.

I find a ton of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. I love to follow interior designs and I’m always saving images that I love. You can follow my home board here and my interiors board here!

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years? What is your take on blogging in general? Is blogging sustainable? Do you have plans beyond your blog?

Talk about thought starters! Where do you see your blog going in the next few years? I think you’ll see more of a transformation on the blog. Showcasing more personal style and lifestyle together rather than outfits. When I started my blog I was 24 years old, working in Chicago, getting dressed every day and obsessed with fashion. Fast forward 6 years, 2 pregnancies and a move to the suburbs – my pace of life has slowed down and my days aren’t nearly as polished. My style and mindset is way more relaxed. I am also realizing now that the connection I have with my readers is much stronger than I could have ever imagined. You all are so interested in my life and the reality of my days – what I’m cooking, my workouts, our new home, what Charlie and I are up to, how Dave and I manage our relationship, etc. These are the things that I want to share and where that leads, I don’t know! 

Is blogging sustainable? I definitely think yes but sometimes I don’t think it is utilized for the right reasons. I honestly don’t call myself a blogger anymore. The term they use now is social influencer which kind of seems too fancy. I don’t aim to influence, I just aim to be honest about what I like and use. Personally, my opinion of blogging has changed a lot since I started. Not only am I a blogger (or influencer) but I also read blogs and follow bloggers on social media. I’m very aware that it can be a dark corner of the internet. After having Charlie, social media was a really terrible outlet for me. A reminder of a life that isn’t so familiar anymore. It took time for me to get over this idea of perfection and realize that I am 1000% happier with an imperfect life. Yes, being an influencer means sharing the pretty stuff that everyone wants or enjoys, but it also means being true to yourself, gaining the trust of people around you and being honest. Do I enjoy a pretty photo on Instagram? Yes. Do I think that a gorgeous girl posing in front of a wall in a ballgown is realistic? No. For me, I think the idea of a blog being an editorial platform for pretty photos is definitely appealing but in the long run I connect to the women who I can relate to. That is what I will always aim to provide across my platforms. 

Do I have plans beyond my blog? Yes! A wife to Dave and a mama to two boys (for now) and a lazy chocolate lab. Being able to share this journey with you all feels like enough for now. Taking you along for the ride is what really makes me happy. 

My husband and I are in the process of “trying” but we have a huge pup and live in a townhouse with no backyard in DC. How did you manage taking Webster out when you lived in the city and Charlie? I.e. what was your process? Did you take Webster out during nap time? Did you strap them both up?

Oy, my number one reason for not missing the city is sweet Webster. Dave and I always tell Webster that we bought this house for him. He also lived in the city for the first 7 years of his life so he knew that bathroom breaks were short and quick. 

We lived on the third floor of a walk up brown stone in Lincoln Park and letting Webster out was a task. When Charlie was first born (in the fall/winter) I would run Charlie downstairs in a blanket and Webster would go to the bathroom quickly and we would run back up stairs. When Webster was little Dave taught him that “get busy” meant go to the bathroom NOW so as soon as you say it, he goes! At least once a day I would bundle up Charlie and we would walk to the park for Webster to get a little time to run. I would usually wear Charlie because he loved it and the body heat kept him warm. This was pretty much our routine everyday until we moved. With more park time as Charlie got older! We would take Webster on 1-2 hour walks or go to the park for an extended period of time around 3pm. Dave always walked him in the morning and at night before bed. 

I graduated from college last summer and recently moved to Old Town with two of my best friends from high school. I was wondering, what were some of your favorite things to do when you were young and living in the city? 

I have Adele’s “When We Were Young” playing in my head. This feels like yesterday! My favorite things to do then and now are pretty similar, maybe with a few more late nights. You can read my city guides here and here. We loved going to roof top bars in the summer and spent many days at the beach. We went to Kingston Mines to listen to blues. Lots of karaoke nights at Blue Frog and Louie’s. Trips to the Green City Market on Saturday mornings, lots of boozy brunches. See all of my Chicago posts here!

Is it confirmed you are having a boy? And either way boy or girl do you have any potential names yet?

Yes we are having another boy! We didn’t mean to find out but the penis surprised us in the ultrasound and you couldn’t miss it (I was 90% sure it was a girl)! Haha. We are struggling with names. Dave and I both really like classic names – Jack, Henry, Teddy. We are also considering incorporating our grandparents/great grandparents names into the mix. We honestly have no idea. Any suggestions??

What did you do before you were a full-time blogger and why did you decide to leave? How did you know you could “make it”?

I majored in textiles in college, worked as a clothing buyer for 3 years, left my job for something more corporate and worked in an administrative roll for a construction firm for 2 years. During my last position I started S&S because I missed working in the fashion industry. Around the time I started my blog, affiliate advertising/marketing was just being introduced to the online world. There weren’t very many bloggers at the time (and S&S is actually my third blog! My first one I started in college) so it led to a lot of opportunity. After about 8 months of blogging and working I realized that if I dedicated more time to my blog that I could potentially make some sort of a living. I asked for my parents approval (always have to!) and they told me to give myself 3 months and if it doesn’t work I’d go back to my 9-5 job. For 3 months I don’t think I did anything but work from a tiny desk in my little apartment. It was lonely and uncomfortable but I did it! 

To this day I still can’t believe that Sequins & Stripes is considered my business. Working for yourself is tough. Expectations are constantly high, never met and the work doesn’t end. There is no maternity leave, no vacation days and you have to run the day or the day runs you. I’m still floundering most days but it brings me joy and provides for my family so I’m forever grateful. 

I’ve been following your blog & instagram for a while and your weddings rings always catch my eye! I’m wondering about the darker stones in the ring in the middle. What are those? I love the look of it! 

I get so many questions about my rings. On our wedding day, Dave surprised me with a sapphire and diamond ring as my “something blue.” It is a replica of my wedding band but with alternating sapphires. 

How do you balance posting/engaging on Instagram and being present with Charlie? Do you use any tools to write your posts in advance? Do you have a strategy for what you post? For example, outfit posts mixed with Charlie and family. 

Do I balance? I don’t really think so. I have mixed feelings about Instagram. There was a time where I felt really competitive about it and focused on building my audience. The new algorithm has turned the entire platform into a game. Basically the more you engage, the more your content will show up on your follower’s feeds. That means you have to dedicate the time to engage and I think that competitive drive to constantly be liking, commenting, etc. has made accounts much more inauthentic in my eyes. I know women who I genuinely admire and who I appreciate feedback from who have their husbands comment and react for them. I guess that Instagram has kind of forced this to be the case if you want growth but to me it’s just not that worth it. I always want it to be my voice and on my time. I personally don’t have the time to dedicate my days to commenting on Instagram or posting at the correct time. I want my photos to be discoverable because people enjoy following me but it’s frustrating that days can go by and people never see my content. It’s kind of soured me on the whole thing but I should probably get over it and start focusing on it a little more. The positive side is that I know I have an authentic following and that is what I care about the most. I’ve heard from friends who work in PR and attend Instagram conferences that the algorithm is going to change again so we will see!

I currently don’t use any tools to write my posts in advance. I use VSCO to add a slight filter on my photos for a cohesive feed and visualize how my photos will look together. Otherwise, I post them when I can! My strategy is that yes, I like to share a little bit of everything. Family, outfits, random things that make me happy, etc. I love insta-stories, too!

What do you do with all the stuff you’re sent? I always wonder when I see bloggers unbox 15 different shades of lipstick. 

I am always grateful to receive gifted product but it definitely becomes overwhelming! I don’t have enough storage for everything which means items end up staying in boxes and sometimes get forgotten. I try to give away as much as possible – whether it is to family members, friends or my readers! I also frequently tell brands that I am so appreciative but I just can’t accept gifted product unless it is something I know we will use and love. 

Are you still using essential oils while pregnant? If so, are you avoiding any specific ones? 

Yes I am but in much smaller amounts! I diffuse lavender oil or Young Living’s Peace & Calming at night to help with sleep. Citrus Fresh, Lime and Joy are my favorites throughout the day!

What are your favorite places to find new healthy recipes?

I love pinning to my healthy recipes board. I also love browsing my favorite healthy food blogs: Oh She Glows, Skinny Taste, Deliciously Ella and Sprouted Kitchen.

How do you work screen time with Charlie and do you often take him to restaurants and find the need to use an iPad? Do you have any strict rules or just use as needed?

Screen time for Charlie is pretty much a last resort for us. He doesn’t watch much TV, unless I need to respond to some emails then I’ll turn on Sesame Street or Thomas. At a restaurant, Dave and I bring plenty of toys and books and if food doesn’t come quickly enough we will turn on this video (that Charlie has loved since 4 months old) and it works every time. It keeps him entranced for 20-30 minutes and gives us enough time to eat. 

How you and Dave divide/share parenting responsibilities. My husband (much like yours!) seems to constantly have a bachelor party, golf outing, fishing trip etc leaving me single-mommin’ my 14 month old. I also work from home 2-3 days a week when I’m ALSO watching our son so it can feel like I’m constantly on mom duty.

This is a touchy subject for me because I struggle with handling this well. One of my biggest struggles as a mom and wife is feeling resentful of Dave that he gets to go do fun things and I’m always at home with Charlie. Dave is constantly reminding me that I can always book trips with friends but it always feels like I need to be home. I guess I don’t have that desire to book weekends away because the reality is I’d rather be home with my family or traveling for a weekend with them. This summer has been an exception because we have had an abnormally packed schedule. Dave is in four weddings which means four full weekends, four bachelor parties, trips, etc. It’s been a rough summer which is another reason it was time to put Charlie in day care. Not only did Charlie need it but Dave and I needed it. 

Regardless, Dave is an amazing father. We are lucky that his work schedule allows for him to be home until 9am in the mornings and he is usually home from work around 5pm. He takes on full duties during those times so I can check things off the to-do list before the day starts. It’s all about balance and trying not to keep score. This is a big thing for me! I’ve also tried to focus on taking a break and do something for yourself. I’ve realized that even the smallest breaks make a big difference in my mama abilities. 

Ask for help, voice your concerns and just be open with your husband. That’s what works best for us (even though sometimes I get so frustrated and give the silent treatment. I’m a child.)!

What is Charlie’s night time routine – when does he eat dinner, take a bath, go to sleep? Do you do activities after dinner and before bed? (I thought I saw you go to park with Charlie before bed the other day) I work full time (we have a nanny that watches our son and I get home around 4:45pm) and always feel so rushed from the time I get home to the time my son (19 months old) goes to bed around 7:15pm. I’m so regimented in my schedule, I think I just need to breath and tell myself everything will be ok if I don’t stick to a strict schedule!

Charlie’s night time routine is very similar but we have been way more relaxed this summer! We eat dinner around 6pm (Charlie is usually done around 6:30), play until 7/7:30pm and then take a bath, get in jammies, warm up a sippy cup of milk, read 3 books in his chair and then he is in his crib around 8/8:15. I used to be really regimented that he was in his crib at 7:30pm but now that Charlie is more active I sort of let him lead the way. We live 2 blocks from a park so we will either play in the backyard or walk to the park to burn off some energy before bed time. For someone who used to be really regimented with sleep – I know that if Charlie goes to bed a little later because we want to enjoy dinner he will eventually make it up. Whether he sleeps in the next day or takes a longer nap, it all evens out! He knows what he needs now! Just listen to your child and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. 

Don’t forget to submit your questions for next week! Email me: liz @sequinsandstripes.com with ‘Coffee With Liz’ in the subject.

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