April Coffee Date - 2019 - Skillful Cook
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April Coffee Date - 2019

An indoor plant growing to the ceiling.

This post contains referral links for products we love. Skillful Cook earns a small commission on these links at no cost to you, and the links will always be marked with an asterisk. We ♡ honesty!


Not just inside, either. Because it's April! The grass is finally visible and the garden has some lil flowers poppin up and my shoulders are finally relaxing after a long, isolating winter.

By the way, please be impressed by the fact that this **thriving** monstera plant was sent to me two years ago by our friends Alex and Sonja. Not only was it a miracle in and of itself that I was able to revive it after an extended sit in a USPS package in the hot sun on the front steps while we were on vacation (doh), but I have now successfully pruned, repotted, and kept it growing new leaves for exactly 728 days. That is not an exaggeration. Literally 728 days. Thank you for your applause.

Okay, coffee date. Here's what we're chatting about today:

Today I'm drinking a decaf vanilla almond latte (standard) and eating those sugary-salty dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe's because I have a real problem.

What's in your glass today?

Cheers. Here's to April!

Can We Please Talk About Breastfeeding

A smiling baby lying in pillows on a bed.

Okay, one person did, in fact, ask me to talk about this.

Breastfeeding Recap:

  • 0-2 months: Breastfeeding is lovely, natural, awesome. I am proud of us, I am proud of myself, I feel like we got so lucky to have so few issues. We've been given the thumbs up from lactation consultants and Solvi's doctor - she's gaining weight, her latch is great, milk supply is awesome. We got this. Breastfeeding in public? Easy and convenient, no cover needed. I don't even think twice about it.
  • 3-4 months: UM WHAT HAPPENED. Breastfeeding has fallen apart. Every three hours we sit down to try again and it is extremely stressful. There is (baby) screaming, there is (mom) fighting back tears, there are bottles given in desperation. The mere thought of breastfeeding in public now gives me hives. I consider quitting altogether. “Whatever you do, don't be stressed,” they say. Because the best way to help someone not be stressed is sound the alarm that they might be too stressed? I start to get snarky. I feel so guilty - am I doing something wrong? shouldn't I be good at this? - and I am so deeply, deeply sad that my baby loves a bottle more than she loves me. (False reasoning, but you get the idea.) We try lots and lots of things, but none of them seem to help. At one point a very well-meaning lactation consultant suggests that maybe Solvi is struggling because I've gone back to work. Cue deep shame spiral.
  • 5-7 months: Slowly things get better, but not for any clear reason. And now breastfeeding is... just breastfeeding. It's not perfect. There are frustrating moments - Solvi is squirmy and distracted, she latches on and off, she doesn't always like how I'm holding her. But she's gaining weight (like, a lot of it) and she's generally happy. And I'm generally happy. I am still not comfortable enough to breastfeed out in the open for dislike of nursing covers and fear that she will not stay put long enough to keep me from exposing too much. But I have moments where she's in my tucked up in my lap at home and all is right in the world and I think, yes. Okay. This.

So there you have it. I am grateful that we've made it this far - I could have never made it if not for a very supportive husband, several excellent lactation consultants, and friends and family with years of experience answering SOS text messages in the middle of the night.

Note: We give Solvi a bottle every night before bed. It's something we started during the 3-4 month Desperation Phase - not intentional, just survival - but it has just become a standard part of our routine. I get a break, she gets time with Dad, and then when we have a babysitter, she's still able to “keep her routine.”

Another note: I know it's kind of the diagnosis of the day, but we (me, and our pediatrician) suspect that Solvi has/had some silent reflux that contributed to the 3-4 month Desperation Phase. In case you were wondering.

What has YOUR breastfeeding (or bottle feeding, or formula feeding) journey been like? Any fellow silent refluxers? I would love to hear your experiences.

How Much Do I Love This Squishy Feeder

Solvi in a high chair smiling at the camera.

Okay, on a much easier note, this squishy feeder* is my favorite thing ever.

I know people are really excited about baby led weaning right now (aka giving young babies grabbable chunks of food rather than purees) but I am not one of those moms and I just know that about myself. I actually really enjoy the whole process: making the purees, interacting while feeding, etc. and I would happily spoon-feed her until the time when she's ready for solid food at, say, 15 years old.

Okay, okay. Obviously a girl's gotta learn to feed herself.

This little squishy feeder - can we just call it that? - is a happy middle ground for me. She can happily feed herself avocado, banana, peaches, etc. by mushing on the little top part and I don't worry about her choking. ♡ Because believe it or not, I am a professional worried person! Shocking.

Heck Yes To Mozzarella Stuffed Arancini

Meatballs in a tray.

And on the adult food front.

I made arancini with roasted red pepper sauce for dinner club last month and IT WAS LIT! The word “lit” has never actually come out of my mouth but when speaking about golden, crispy, panko-crusted deep fried mozzarella-stuffed fried risotto balls dipped in an olive-oily roasted red pepper sauce, what other word could there even be?

This is the arancini recipe I used.

(Full dinner club menu: pesto wings, arancini, Italian soda and wine, roasted Parmesan and lemon broccoli, sausage and fennel rigatoni which has previously inspired date night pasta, and lemony cheesecake.)

I need to plan our next menu, like, today, actually. Got any ideas?

Overalls Are Baaaaack

A lady with overalls smiling and taking a selfie.

My eighth grade self is FEELING THIS right now. And honestly, so is my 32 year old self. Welcome back, overalls. Welcome back.

I just bought a pair of fresh ones last week (These are the ones I bought*) and I feel very happy about it.

I haven't decided on shoes yet, and the model is wearing clogs but I'm not sure I'm a clogs kinda girl. So... I've got some work to do.

Overalls - yes / never again?

This Honest Mascara Is Something Magical

A person holding a white tube in their left hand.

I have very little in the way of REAL eyelashes, and I have super sensitive eyes. So I have been on the hunt for quite some time for a mascara that is:

A) Natural

B) Very, very effective

And after all that I've tried (Beautycounter, 100 Percent Pure, Pacifica, to name a few), I gotta say - this Honest mascara + primer (affiliate link) is probably my favorite mascara I've ever used. Plus it's clean. And $15. And can be picked up on a Target run.

I also snagged some Honest foundation primer, “blurring powder”, and face lotion (hello, sale) and I'm super impressed with all of it.

Clean beauty: Honest / Beautycounter / something else? Tell me what you like. (Also, I did a little demo on my Instagram stories over here if you wanna see this mascara in action.)

A Word From Sage

Sage has had a busy month doing... not a lot!

A baby playing in a room with a dog on the couch.

But she's got a buddy now, and she wants to remind you that almost everything in life (including doing nothing) is better with a buddy.

That's it! I hope it's been an energized, springy month for you. And I hope you can find hope and love and courage in whatever challenges you're facing right now. And I hope you have been putting a lot of extra cheezy garlic croutons on your kale and brussels salad.

These are the days!

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh mama, I feel you on the breastfeeding struggles!! My daughter had colic until she was 3/4 months old and then immediately started having jaw pain from teething – both factors made breastfeeding (and parenting, and life…) a real challenge. I think she was exclusively breastfed for maybe 2 months and then we started supplementing with formula, as I just couldn’t pump out enough milk. I nursed her probably once or twice a day until she was six months old, and then she decided one day she was done. I had such grand plans for exclusively breastfeeding, especially after having done natural birthing classes, but now I fall firmly in the camp that a fed baby is a happy baby – however the cards fall for that to happen is different for every mama and baby.

    You’re doing such a great job and Solvi is so blessed to have you for a mama! :o)

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Breastfeeding! With my 4-month-old, I have so loved it, and I feel like we have not faced a lot of the common challenges that many people do. Unfortunately, we have our own challenges, and ours is that my little one is allergic to a lot of foods – via my milk. It causes her lots of GI pain, reflux, and blood in her stool. Trial and error got us down to a diet where I was only eating a handful of vegetables, and she was still reacting. We are still working through it in the hopes that we won’t have to give up breastfeeding entirely, but it is so so hard. Hugs and solidarity from me as you continue forward!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing your BF’ing journey. It’s so different from person to person and it’s kind of an under-discussed topic, IMO. Our son was born last March and I really really really wanted to BF him but it just didn’t work for us. He latched ok with a nipple shield but was a very tired eater and wasn’t transferring milk well/gaining weight. So after what felt like a million LC appointment and weight checks, I decided to exclusively pump. It sucked. So so much. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent hooked up to the gd pump. But I fed our little guy until just past one (I was able to stop pumping at 10 months as I had enough frozen at that point). I am really proud of myself for doing that but I can honestly say I will never do it again. There is nothing precious or special about pumping to feed your baby. It basically made me feel like ‘ol Bessy the cow. In the moment I couldn’t see how hard it was on me but with time and perspective, I can see that I’m a much happier, healthy mama now that I’m done with the gd pump. So if/when we have another baby and if that baby doesn’t latch/transfer, I’ll likely pump during my maternity leave and then be done and switch to formula. Anyways, this is probably WAY more info that you wanted in response to your question about breastfeeding, but I’m a wordy gal I guess!

    We also did not do BLW. I really wanted to but our little guy would not swallow anything solidish until 10 months. So we were team puree and he loved them. He still loves purees at 14 months. We don’t feed him purees often but it’s nice to have it as an option if we are traveling and aren’t sure if he’ll eat what is being served at people’s houses/restaurants.

    Congrats on keeping that plant alive! All the jazz hands for that!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I hated pumping too! I went back to work full time when my son was 11 weeks old. We nursed in the morning and evening (and on demand during the weekend) and I pumped 3x/day at work and in the middle of the night. I pumped in the car. I pumped backstage at a recital. I pumped just about everywhere. I was so happy to stop pumping when he hit the 1-year mark. I never had much of a freezer stash, so I was stressed about producing enough for the next day at daycare (which didn’t do my supply any favors). My son self-weaned at 15 months (he’s 18 months now), and while I occasionally miss breastfeeding, I don’t miss pumping one bit.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I think some people can pull off overalls and you’re one of them. They look so cute 🙂 Also, an organic mascara that I’ve tried and love is Naturally Rooted – purchased it off Amazon. Lastly, I breast fed my 2 kids for about 15 months. The first experience was a dream – SO easy! But my second son was no fun to breastfeed. I got mastitis multiple times, he would only eat laying down in bed (so convenient, right) and he couldn’t tolerate dairy…so I couldn’t consume any. Every experience is so different!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Katie,

      What is “Mastitis?” I never heard of that before. Why do I feel so stuck on stupid not knowing what it is? L 🙂 L

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Breastfeeding is no joke. My twins (17 months old now) were born at 35 weeks and while they didn’t need NICU, they were still tiny and not the greatest at latching. So we had to alternate boob time with pumping and bottles to make sure they got enough calories. My daughter preferred the bottle, my son preferred the boob. Then I went back to work when they were 11 weeks old and had to pump (obvs) and my supply at first was an oversupply, then after a couple months dropped to undersupply. When we ran out of freezer stash when they were 6 months old, they got formula of they needed more milk than I pumped that day. I felt so guilty but looking back, why? They were mostly getting my milk. I still breastfed on weekends and evenings (and pumped pumped pumped) but my daughter weaned off the boob at 8 months and only took pumped milk from that point. My son breastfed until a year, then we stopped. It was messy and chaotic but it was our journey and I’m proud my kids got boob juice until they were a year old ❤️

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes! You’re rocking those overalls!
    Thanks for the mascara recommendation! I also have short eyelashes that can use all the help they can get and super sensitive eyes. I’ll definitely be picking this up next time I’m at target!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    BF suckeeeeedddddd. I was so so so stressed about it, which definitely made it worse lol. I wasn’t making enough milk even though I tried all the tricks, he wasn’t gaining weight, and I could only pump 1-2 oz each time. Argh! So we super-slow faded into formula over the course of 2 months. FORMULA IS AMAZING. Literally my life did a 180 after we switched to formula. So thankful for it! I’m so curious what BF will look like if we have another kid and if I will fight as hard as I did to make it work or just allow myself to skip the mental anguish and do formula.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Brace for the long comment, as I am one stage ahead of you in the baby-department! =)

    Oh, breastfeeding. The HARDEST but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done! I breastfed my son until he was about 13.5 months old. We introduced a bedtime bottle fairly early at about 3 weeks, because I knew I was going back to work. Plus, it allowed daddy to be involved at bedtime when I desperately needed a break! It definitely got harder/more logistically challenging as I pumped when I came back to work at 4 months postpartum. My supply couldn’t quite keep up when I got pregnant again at 8 months post-partum (yikes – baby boy #2 coming in June!) and we supplemented my breastmilk with frozen breastmilk and a few oz of whole milk when necessary! Every experience and baby is different.

    The best advice I got from my lactation consultant: When you want to quit, give it 2 more weeks. I really took that advice to heart and it helped so much – because all breastfeeding moms have those days/struggles where they just want.to.be.done.right.now.okay?!

    And at the end of the day? While my son never had formula – in hindsight – it would have been okay! We put so much pressure on ourselves to be “perfect,” and a little formula never hurt anyone! I am expecting our second baby in June and am already trying to have grace with myself on the nursing/pumping front – its not going to be perfect, time management will be more difficult (i.e. I can’t spend hours hooked to a pump because TODDLER), and as long as everyone is happy and healthy (INCLUDING MOM!) that’s what truly matters.

    Yay Solvi starting solids! We did a combination of homemade puree and BLW and it worked great. I used my crock pot to make all kinds of purees for my son, because it makes everything into a great mushy flavorful mess. Plus, its easy! We always offered things on his tray (like the fruit feeder you use! best thing ever!) such as avocado, cheerios, shredded cheese, anything really! For me, I never offered large chunks of anything or expected my son to take “bites” a la hardcore baby led weaners. Honestly, my approach to BLW was to mostly offer my son what we were eating, oftentimes giving it a whirl through the food processor first. His favorite was stuffed peppers! Do what you’re comfortable with, and just remember that some gagging is normal. Don’t freak out and let food be fun! You’ll have a great little eater in no time.

    Finally, I am team overalls ALWAYS. And going to try the Honest mascara! I’m a beautycounter girl through-and-through but I must admit I’m not loving the mascara!

    And in case no one told you today – YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Overalls – yes yes always yes! I have those same ones and I wear them with Birkenstocks or some gray Keds. Overalls are the best solution when you don’t wear a bra but you also don’t want your ladies to wiggle about too much..

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    my son is almost 3, and he breastfed until just after age 2. at first it was really really hard – had to use a shield for 4 months, then i went back to work and did the pumping thing (not so bad tbh bc i could relax at work, but i was fortunate). then it just got… easy. but my son was a comfort nurser and would just want to cuddle, so we kept nursing at night until he was a little past two. we had some strikes in there, but overall it was lovely after 4 months. i know others who had such a tough time though, and if things hadn’t gotten better for us after 4 months i have no doubt i would have stopped a lot sooner. i never thought i’d be on a team extended nursing but i guess i was? it’s weird that was less than a year ago! but regardless of your journey/timeline, you are doing a great job!! 🙂

    and those overalls are fantastic! i’m not sure i could pull them off, but they are so cute.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    YES WE CAN TALK ABOUT BREASTFEEDING. (My girl is 11.5 months and I cannot stop talking about baby-related stuff.) Breastfeeding for us was super hard the first couple weeks – she ate well, but it hurt like ****! I had bleeding and everything. She has a severe tongue tie and a less severe lip tie, but as her mouth and mind grew, she apparently figured out how to work around them. (We do plan to get the ties revised to head off any potential eating/speech problems.) Unfortunately, we no longer nurse in public because she’s got severe FOMO; she’ll nurse long enough to get a let down and then totally stop paying attention.

    Love the squishy feeder! We started with baby led weaning, then I let daycare give her purees, and I think if we do this again, we’ll do a combo. Because before the purees, she wouldn’t let us feed her, which was kind of an issue when she needed antibiotics, and also it’s super cute when she opens her mouth like a baby bird and I get to stick a Cheerio inside. <3

    Also the stress and the shame spiral? I'm ridiculously worried about everything. I'm worried, for instance, that if I start subbing an ounce or two of (organic!) cow's milk into her bottles instead of breastmilk (because my pumping output at work has slowed down) before she's one, she'll end up malnourished. Which. What even. I'm working on tracking these thoughts and telling someone, which makes me sound crazy but also helps me realize…they're crazy thoughts. Let them go. She's fine.

    I was going to apologize for writing an essay in your comments, but then I saw the first 10. Mamas need to talk to other mamas. Thanks for starting the conversation <3

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the Honest Beauty line of products!
    You’re the third person I’ve seen touting the return of overalls. I may have to try them now. Those Madewell ones do look cute.
    P.S. Where is What I Ate Wednesday?? I thought you were bringing it back. It’s my favorite post.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Mascara…I am like you & do not have lots of lashes. I have always used Tarte Amazonian Clay & it has always done a great job but I will try the Honest. Also, do you know what kind of monstera plant that is? It is beautiful!!!!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your monstera is beautiful! I have one too, but mine is starting to be in serious need of support. I couldn’t tell from the photo in this post, but do you use a moss pole/string/anything (?!) to help it hold itself up? P.S. I love these coffee date posts!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Side note on the BF – no one talks about how your boobs have to relearn breastfeeding for baby #2! The “toughening up” bleeding terribleness happens all over again and I was NOT prepared. I feel like there should be a PSA for that. In other news, I found they honest mascara today and I’m excited to use it. We’re big fans of the diapers, formula and cleaning products!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    YES to months 3-4 being terrible for nursing. We finally figured out that our kiddo was too overwhelmed/fascinated by the world around him and nursing was BORING – he just wanted to keep playing and learning. None of this breastfeeding distraction that Mama thought was important. We didn’t ever really come up with a solution except dark, quiet rooms. Without fans.

    Now here we are at almost 14 months and trying to wean, as I’m pregnant with our second! Last night was the first time since 4ish moths that he skipped his middle-of-the-night nursing. Progress!

    And YES to the squishy feeder thing!! We sort of did a hybrid of purees and finger foods, but he LOVED to chew on food in that thing, especially while I cooked.

    And thanks for the mascara recommendation! Excited to try!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love your coffee date posts! I look forward to them all month. And after seeing your Honest mascara video, immediately ordered some. Can’t wait to try it.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Baby led weaning was totally not our thing either and you’re one of the first people I’ve heard agree with me. Whew! My daughter is almost 2 now and eats all kinds of things great even though I ignored all of the blw advice 🙂 Also- YES OVERALLS!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the Boon squishy feeder! I also like to fill it with crushed ice and our little guy GOES. TO. TOWN. I think it makes his gums feel good while teething 🙂

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just ordered the mascara from Target, I watched the video and it was amazing! So excited!

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    I LOVED those little feeders…mine were mesh so not that exact model…but when my daughter was teething I’d pop a couple frozen strawberries in there and she went to town!

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing about breastfeeding! I’m expecting a baby at the end of June and have no idea what to expect so I like hearing real-world experiences from others. So much to learn!

    Overalls are the best! I’m glad to see these making a comeback! I bought some maternity overalls and they are my absolute favorite. I wear them all the time. I’ll definitely be buying some regular overalls postpartum.

    I’m going to try to the Honest mascara! Haven’t found a good natural mascara I like so this sounds super promising. I haven’t tried a lot of different natural makeup brands but two months ago splurged on some RMS products and love them! (Except the mascara, sadly). They’re definitely pricey but they make my skin feel incredible. I feel pretty lost when it comes to applying makeup correctly but their products make it feel easy to me and I can just use my fingers, no brushes needed. They also have tutorials on their website so that was helpful for me.