Coffee with Liz

I’m expecting my first child next month and your blog has been SO helpful in considering different baby products.  I noticed that you have tested a few different strollers and am curious to learn more about your experience with each and how you eventually settled on a favorite.  What were the biggest factors for you?

Before I had Charlie my opinion on strollers was which one is the cutest. Ha! In the beginning I would say go with whatever stroller works with your carseat. I always thought that was the easiest. We have the Nuna Pipa infant car seat and also the MIXX stroller. When Charlie was big enough we started using the City Mini GT because it was the easiest for me to unlatch with one hand (while holding baby in the other arm). It’s also the one we still use the most because it can stand to be a little beat up and is easy to clean. We love it so much that we got it in the double version too! We also have the Bugaboo Donkey which is definitely my favorite stroller for looks but it is kind of unrealistic unless we are at home and going for a walk. It’s so heavy. I guess it depends what you need more! Also, maybe it is just me but I prefer to have Jack in the infant car seat, in a stroller, versus a bassinet. I feel like he bounces all over the place in those things!

You mentioned you worked with a trainer after Charlie was born. I remember you visiting a gym to do so – how did you find your trainer in Chicago and do you think they would make house calls? I am expecting in March and want to start looking! 

I worked with a trainer when I belonged to Equinox in the city and now I’ll be working with a trainer at Lifetime Fitness in the suburbs. I think belonging to a gym is a good place to start! I have no idea if they make house calls.

I have normal skin and am just wondering what you would recommend for 1 or 2 things to get? Your skin is always glowing, even without makeup.

Oh my gosh, thank you! I would recommend a Vitamin C serum and a great moisturizer. My favorites are linked!

I’m getting married this spring and looking for an outfit for my bridal shower in March. I live in Boston so it will still be pretty chilly here – any ideas for a cute dress or jumpsuit, preferably white, that would work with the colder temps?

This jumpsuit is so chic and also love this one! I also love this lace dress and this lace dressThis dress is a pretty option with sleeves! All of these would be pretty with a blush blazer.

I am wondering if you “celebrate” and what you do with Dave for Valentine’s Day? I am not huge on celebrating V-Day, but don’t completely want the day to go by without acknowledging my valentine! 🙂 Any ideas for gifts/ways to celebrate (that don’t include going out for a ridiculously expensive dinner)?

Since finding a sitter on Valentine’s Day is usually impossible, Dave and I life to have a “date night” at home. I’ll put together a huge cheese tray and we will splurge on a really expensive bottle of wine. Once the babies are in bed we leave the TV off and just sip wine and enjoy conversation! It’s actually one of my favorite “dates” every year. Aside from that Dave will usually get me flowers and we will exchange some sappy cards. 

How do you manage to stay social while breastfeeding? Any suggestions on how to get out and stop being a hermit? 

It’s tough! To be honest, I am not social and a lot of the times our friends come to us (especially since moving to the suburbs). If we do go out with the boys, we are home by 8pm at the latest for Charlie’s bedtime. Jack still isn’t on a strict schedule so he can kind of roll with it. If we go out without the boys then I usually pump at some point and either dump it or store it in the car. I have the Medela Freestyle pump which does make it easy to pump on the go. Sadly, we were way more social when we lived downtown and usually hosted most of the time so we could enjoy ourselves after bedtime. In the suburbs our social lives are much quieter. Thank god Dave is my best friend! I think you’re kind of at a tough point in motherhood because you’re trying to get your babe on a good schedule and you’re not totally comfortable with a babysitter yet (at least that was me). I think you unfortunately have to sacrifice some areas until you get into a groove. I would say bring your friends to you to avoid not feeling like a hermit! Dave and I loved hosting brunches for our friends or dinner nights! It was fun for our friends to see Charlie but then we could relax once he was asleep. 

We got a Le Creuset dutch oven for our wedding a couple years ago and I have only used it once. I want to use it more, but I’m not really sure for what! What are your favorite things to cook in yours?

I cook everything in our dutch oven! Honestly, if something calls for a crockpot I’ll usually just cook it in our dutch oven and cook the meat through instead (rather than letting it slow cook). This Grecian chicken is a favorite!

What is your daily hair care routine?  Any favorite shampoo/conditioner?  Do you wash everyday?  If not, any products you use in between washes?  I’m stuck in a rut of washing my hair everyday because by day 2 it looks greasy on top and super flat everywhere else.  I get annoyed and end up washing it!  Help!

Ugh I wish I had hair that could stand to not be washed for 5 days (I would look so much more put together!) but unfortunately I have to wash my hair every day. SOMETIMES I push it to every other day but that is usually only once a week. My hair is super thick and get easily greasy. I also find that putting too much dry shampoo in my hair creates build up. I think I have a sensitive scalp or something. That being said, I do try to wash it every day (it personally makes me feel more clean) but I definitely don’t put heat on it every day (dry and curl). I have to use pretty basic shampoo because my hair in sensitive to build up so I typically use TRESemmé and have recently loved this shampoo and this conditioner. I usually put a little bit of this hair oil on the ends just to keep them hydrated!

Do you do any meal prep on a weekly basis? I try to always make healthy meals during the week, but sometimes time is an issue so curious if you do anything to ensure that you always have a few things ready to pull together a quick meal?

So I don’t really meal prep, frankly because every day is different and I enjoy cooking 🙂 BUT, I usually stock up for the week and eat the same thing for the majority of my meals. For example, I always have rice cakes, almond butter and bananas on hand for a quick breakfast or snack. For lunch I’ll do some turkey wraps with mustard and swiss cheese or I always have mixed greens on hand to make a quick salad. For dinner I usually try to stock up on protein (salmon, rotisserie chicken, ground turkey) and veggies and then I’ll cook one more elaborate recipe a week – usually on Wednesday for “cooking with Liz!” For snacks I’ll usually eat dried mango, apples and almond butter, cottage cheese or half an avocado with soy sauce. 

Help! These dark circles under my eyes just won’t go away. What creams, serums, and makeup do you recommended for looking like I got more sleep than I actually did?

Ok I actually just started using this eye cream and it is amazing! I’ve also been dying to try this after lots of positive blogger reviews!

How much would you regret NOT living near your family with your kiddos?

If you asked me when I lived in the city I probably would have told you that I could manage without living near my parents. BUT, now that we live a mile away I literally can’t imagine living away from them! I’m embarrassed to say that I probably see my mom every day. Even if it just her stopping by so I can run to the gym or the grocery store solo. When I was growing up I didn’t live near any of my extended family – grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. Now that I have kids, I love having my family nearby and knowing that they will have them in their lives consistently. It is something that feels very important to me now!

I’m heading back into an office after working from home for the past 3.5 years. Nothing too fancy or dressy. Do you have suggestions on pieces to help rebuild my work wardrobe? Is it smarter to splurge on a few key items? Do you have ideas to maximize pieces that can be worn at work or out with girlfriends on a Saturday night? I’m a single 30-year-old, so I love the best of both worlds and a good pair of high-waisted jeans!

I would probably invest in a nice silk shirt, a little more feminine than the classic oxford and looks great alone or layered under a chic blazer or sweater. If it were me I’d also probably invest in a stylish pair of pants and a cute midi skirt

I’m getting married in a few months and overwhelmed with what is important to have and all of the little details (linens, favors, menu, etc). Looking back on your wedding – what are the little things you are so glad you spent the money on and was there anything you would not do again? 

Hm, good question! We decided to skip on favors and had matchbooks made for every table setting. We also skipped on gift boxes for out of town guests (the ones waiting in the hotel room when they arrive) because I personally always feel like those are a waist of money. I love looking at our stationary from the night – menus, programs, etc. – those details feel special to me.

I am a bridesmaid in a destination wedding (Charleston!) about 4 weeks after my first baby is due. I have no idea how to decide to bring our baby or leave the baby home with my parents, or kindly decline and not go at all. How did you decide to travel with Jack so soon after he was born? What were your concerns and how did you get past them?

I personally didn’t have concerns because we were visiting my grandmother and I knew both boys needed to be there. BUT, I think it is completely understandable to feel uncomfortable traveling with a 4 week old baby. That is still new! I think you should be selfish and just do whatever you feel comfortable with. What if you brought your parents along to stay with baby while you go to the wedding? If I were a bridesmaid that is honestly probably what I would do. 

I’m expecting my first in a few months and as I start to prepare the house for her I was wondering what cleaning supplies I should switch to, to make sure that my house is kid safe and as natural as possible. Any suggestions? What do you use at home to clean kitchen counters, do laundry, clean the bathroom, etc.

For the most part I use all natural products (Method, Thieves, Seventh Generation) although every other week my cleaning lady does use bleach around the house – especially after this brutal winter.

I was wondering what your favorite skin care products were while you were pregnant? 

I used all of these products while I was pregnant! For the most part, the brands I use are all safe for pregnancy however I do cut out products with salicylic acid. 

I’m heading to Mardi Gras in New Orleans next month and am looking for a few new things to wear that fit with the theme. I’m in my late twenties and am looking for fun yet practical pieces, but sticking to a purple/yellow/green color scheme is turning out to be more difficult than I thought. I need an outfit to wear to the parades and a dress to wear to a classier dinner party. Any suggestions?

I would probably stick to one color and then accessorize with another! I love this yellow dress or this yellow dress paired with these earrings in green or purple. I love this cute purple ruffle top for daytime. This green dress would be adorable with these yellow sandals, too!

My sister is pregnant with her first and I am hoping to give her a really special gift. I was wondering what is the best gift you’ve received for Charlie/Jack that wasn’t on your registry? I don’t really have a price in mind, just want it to be something she’ll have forever! 

So sweet! If you know the name you could get her a Maya Brenner necklace with the initial. We received three Animal Print Shop prints for Charlie and they are now in Jack’s nursery. 

I know you used a rock and play with Charlie at first as a bassinet. We do too for our son, but he is going to outgrow it very soon. Any tips on making the transition to the crib easier?

With Charlie, we put him in his crib at 3 months old in Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. This is how we transitioned him to the crib! It was the perfect way to make him feel snug but in his own crib. We used it from 3-6 months and then transitioned out of it. I highly recommend!

This question is actually for Carolyn, is that ok?! My husband and I are planning our first baby-free week long trip to Portland OR and the areas surrounding (Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge). Given that she grew up in the area, does Carolyn have any suggestions on can’t-miss sights, restaurants, things to do?

So exciting! Of course I have lots of recommendations. Since you are going to the Willamette Valley, you should definitely do some wine-tasting. Domaine Drouhin is gorgeous and Sokol Blosser is really fun. And in the Columbia River Gorge, you have to go hiking! Check out Multnomah Falls for one of Portland’s most famous vistas, Wahkeena Falls for a short (3-mile) but stunning hike, and Dog Mountain if you’re feeling really ambitious. Downtown Hood River is cute, too, and you should definitely drive to Timberline Lodge for some skiing or even just a drink by the fire.

As far as Portland itself, you can’t miss the rose gardens at Washington Park. The Japanese Garden just re-opened there, too, and it is so zen. My favorite trail/run in the city is in Forest Park—park at Lower McLeay and walk up the Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion, one of the oldest homes in Portland, with beautiful views of Mt. Hood. You also have to go to Powell’s City of Books! NW 23rd and the Pearl District are my favorite neighborhoods.

Try City State, Broder Nord, Saint Honore Bakery, or Lucca (my mom’s favorite) for brunch. For dinner, check out Paley’s Place (very Northwest), Clyde Common, Pok Pok (so good), Ken’s Artisan Pizza (right by my high school and the best pizza in the country, shhh), Kachka, Tusk, Laurelhurst Market, or Andina (you need reservations). And of course you have to try Salt & Straw.

If you have an extra day, drive about 45 minutes to Cannon Beach. This isn’t a swimming beach by any means, but we’ve had 60 degree days in January. It’s a super cute town to walk around, and you can’t beat the views of the Pacific Ocean.

Basically, get ready for lots of nature and good food. Have FUN!

Thanks so much for all of your questions, friends! Don’t forget to submit your questions via email with the subject “Coffee with Liz.” xoxo

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