December Coffee Date - Skillful Cook
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December Coffee Date

A mug of coffee alongside a pan of cinnamon rolls.

It's December! Here I am, coffee in hand, eating my favorite homemade cinnamon rolls with lumpy frosting that I'm suddenly feeling a little self conscious about (how did it get so lumpy?!), so I guess this means I'm back!

Like, oh my goodness, HOW ARE YOU GUYS?!?!

The last time I was HERE here, I was telling you about the arrival of our baby girl Solvi Afton, and then I left - goodbye, gone, see ya - and have been soaking up the offline time with our favorite little squish for the last three months.

Having that Time with a capital T with our tiny Solvi, watching as she grew from a six pound wrinkly baby into a 14 pound full-on chubster with thigh rolls, and being completely uninterrupted by work, was just... enough to make me tear up right now. It was so incredibly special. At some point during my leave, some random Tuesday morning, I sat and looked out the window with a tiny Solvi snuggled up asleep on my chest, and I remember thinking: “There's nowhere else I need to be right now.” And it was just the most freeing realization.

Obviously a HUGE shout out goes to our team for keeping things buzzing along during the last few months without me. Jenna, Abby, and Emily, you guys are the very definition of awesome.

So here we are again, and while I'm sad to leave the last few months behind, I'm happy to see your smiling faces again. You ARE smiling, right?

Grab your drink of choice, which is obviously peppermint mocha and if it's not, what are you even doing? Today I am drinking a less-sugar decaf Ho Ho Mint Mocha, and yes, I do feel like a parody of myself when I run through my little checklist: “Decaf, no whip, one pump of mint, one scoop of chocolate, extra fairy dust on top...”

Whatever is in your mug, wrap those hands around it nice and cozy and find a snuggly seat by the lights, the candles, the tree. Let's make up for some lost time.

The Queen Vi

Solvi at three months old.

The Queen! The Solster! The Love Bug! We've learned so much about her in just three short months.

  • She's adorable. Full stop. Cannot even.
  • She's got a little head of fluffy dark hair, but it appears to maybe getting lighter? And the question everyone asks: will it be curly like Bjork's? The great hair mystery!
  • She looks like Bjork sometimes (the furrowed brow, the smiles), and she looks like me sometimes (the dark hair, the aggressively wide open eyes). But mostly she just looks like herself.
  • She's tall! 95th percentile for height!
  • ^ Things moms think other people are interested in.
  • Bedtime is a struggle and usually leaves us feeling like we both just ran a marathon with bricks tied to our feet. But once she goes down, she often sleeps through the night for a solid 8+ hours like a champ. And she naps beautifully. Will it last? You never know. But we'll take it!
  • She does not give away her smiles for free, so the few super-smiley times we get from her each day are worth exactly one million dollars.
  • Her current interests are Christmas tree lights, warm baths, and milk.
  • Her favorite activity is being held and walked around. She is the Queen, after all.

Maternity Leave

A mother carrying a sleeping baby.

Honestly, when I was preparing for maternity leave, I had visions of myself feeling like a hot mess all day and all night, but in reality, it's only, like, twenty percent of the time! Winning!

I set some intentions for myself before Solvi was born - things that I knew would help me feel more like myself during such a chaotic time - and those “rules” were so so so helpful for keeping me grounded during what was otherwise a twisty-turny adventure rollercoaster. Guidelines that I gave myself that have been most helpful:

  • Shower. Every day. Sounds dumb, but I credit this as the single most important thing I did for myself during maternity leave. (Granted, hair washing is optional as seen in the photo above.)
  • Get dressed. Every day. Leggings count.
  • Makeup most days. Even just two swipes of mascara. Done.
  • Three regular-ish meals every day. I broke this rule this week when I skipped lunch to head to a meeting, and by the time I was leaving the meeting, let's just say I was NOT IN A GOOD PLACE, okay? In my experience, life just seem more manageable after a warm, filling meal.
  • Drinking a lot of water.
  • Getting as much sleep as I can, even if it means forcing myself to put my phone down and squeeze in an awkward 15-20 minute nap.
  • Walks.
  • TV time with Bjork at night.

I also credit loosely scheduling her days (eat / awake / sleep) as being really helpful for me. Even if the times are different every day, we generally know what is “coming up next” in her day which makes life a little more predictable.

What maternity leave (or just general life) self-care things were / are awesome for you?

All Things Sage

A dog and a baby laying on a bed.

Everyone asks us: how is Sage with a new baby in the house?

Answer: she is Sage.

As long as we have known her, Sage has been a dog who cannot be bothered with anyone or anything. She is altogether loyal, anxious, and totally indifferent. She gives zero you-know-whats. You leave people food out? You want to play fetch? You buy her an electronic treat dispenser? Meh, says Sage. I'll just sit over here and ignore you until you want to give me a full body massage.

This doesn't-care attitude has kind of carried over into her interactions with Solvi which include side eyes, diaper sniffs, and the occasional little kiss.

No doubt Sagers is a tiny bit jealous for affection, but she is also very protective of our new little. Yesterday when I laid Solvi down for a nap, not once but TWICE she slinked up the stairs when I wasn't looking, snuck through the bedroom door, and laid on the bed next to Solvi's bassinet. Which would have been 100 times sweeter had it not woken up the Queen both times. Saaaaage!

Do your dogs love your babies? And vice versa?

New Studio! Er, Office?

Hallway of an office.

Newsflash: we're moving into a new space!

Remember how two years ago we got a really beautiful, industrial, creative studio for working and hosting workshops? As of October 31st, we packed up all our stuff and we are done, out, so long and see ya goodbye outta that space!

It was a really bittersweet decision, but we had our reasons (and yes, I'm throwing another bulleted list at you):

  • Too big. The space was SO incredible for workshops, but when Bjork and I found out we were pregnant, I knew that I needed to press pause on workshops for a minute. It didn't make sense to keep this 3,000-square-foot creative workshop space when we were only using it once or twice a week with a small team.
  • Too many remote team members. Last summer, we hired a video specialist (hi, Emily!) who works out of her home... which is out of state! So we no longer had need for the studio as a video shoot location.
  • Too far. 30 minutes... not ideal.
  • Too old. There were so many cool things about being located in an old building, buuuut there were also some not great things, including leaking roofs, mice, and drafty windows.

So our new space? It's INCREDIBLY cool. And by incredibly cool, I mean it's currently an outdated Dunder-Mifflin-esque little office suite in a strip mall type building in the suburbs! Wheee!

But it's closer to home, smaller in size, and will allow us to kind of start from scratch as we build out an ideal work environment for our team. We are currently in the planning and design stage of the process. Stay tuned! I'm super excited for the transformation.

Foods To Save My Life

Chicken tinga tacos on a plate.

I'd like to give a quick shout out to the foods that have saved my life this fall/winter season, especially now that I am a person who has approximately 10-15 minutes to make dinner and is likely wearing a baby while doing it.

What foods are you guys loving this fall / winter / pre-holiday time? It's been so long since we talked about these things.

Sugar Free January

Salads and sweet potato fries for Sugar Free January.

Buckle up - Sugar Free January, comin' on through!

I would love, love, love for you to join us in our friendly, flexible, and balanced approach to removing refined sugar from your life for 30-ish days starting in January - just a few days away! *scream*

It's an awesome way to set the tone for a year of extremely delicious real food cooking and eating.

This is a low to no pressure situation - you can make one recipe (and honestly, they're just normal recipes - you probably wouldn't even know they're sugar free), or you can commit to scaling back on the sugar for the entire month with us!

There is a post coming this week with all the Sugar Free January info you could ever want or need, including some printable resources and recipes to get you eager beavers started.

Sage Says

A dog laying under a blank on the couch with its pillow.

This month, Sage says that you need to make time for a cozy blanket.

And on a related note, during this fun but often stressful and sometimes emotional season, don't forget to breathe. Like, right now. Take a breath.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

This week, light a candle, pour a drink, and snuggle up with someone you love, and by someone I mean your dog, obviously. Take a few pictures, but then put your phone away so you can look your people right in the eyes and experience your own life that is happening right in front of your face.

We only get to do this moment once.

Christmas card for Ostroms.

Sending all our love to you guys across the big wide internet during this holiday season! See you back here in January!

Filed Under: Life Motherhood

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Welcome back! Your team did a great job while you were on leave but you were missed!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    So excited you’re back! I forgot how much I love your coffee date posts! Can’t wait to try some of the new sugar free recipes in January. And I love the side-eye from Sage in the Christmas card!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the necessities you are focusing on – showering every day is still a good accomplishment for me at 8.5 months post partum! And the chubby thighs still remain here too, I hope they never leave 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post! Life is so real sometimes right? Maternity leave was my favorite time with both of my kids. So happy you enjoyed yours. Congrats on the new little one.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    So happy that you are doing well and that you’re back! And Baby Vi is so darling! Congratulations!!!!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow…just wow. I am so happy for all of you and oh my is she beautiful. I also love Sage! I teared up reading your post. Just so happy for all of you. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to what you do. I love your list and wish I would have had that when my kids were babies…but….it’s all good, I survived, but I remember days when I was like…how am I going to be able to go back to work…I can’t even get dressed….haha…you figure it out when the time comes. Have a joyous holiday season and a wonderful new year.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Welcome back, Lindsay! You’ve been missed. Queen Vi is adorable and Sage is adorable, too, in spite of her lackadaisical attitude (I have a cat with that attitude, but you can’t help but love them anyway!). Can’t wait to see a tour of the new space…

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    So admire your taking time to be with your little one. The cool thing is that since you design your life, you can do that whenever is needed and wanted 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I try to remind myself of that all the time! I am so lucky to “design my life” with working on our own sites, so no excuses for not making it awesome. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Everything, and I mean *everything* is just so perfectly sweet. Like, maybe just a 1/2 pinch less fairy dust……otherwise, love! ♥

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Dear Lindsay,
    Awhile back I was overwhelmed with too much social media and withdrew and unsubscribed from many sources…including Skillful Cook, dear girl.

    Sunday I was at a holiday gathering given by a chef-y type friend, newly retired and about to begin his next version of himself. He talked about starting a blog and I suggested he check out Skillful Cook for all your great advise, etc.

    So, this morning I figured I should check back in as well; really, just to see how you are doing. And there, first thing I see is the beautiful photo of your family of three!!! My timing was so perfect!! How’s that for “b’shert” (Hebrew for meant to be)??!!! Glad I tuned in and subscribed again.

    Best wishes for a most joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy new year ahead. I look forward to your posts.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your card is wonderful and baby Solvi is absolutely precious. Sage is probably an Aquarius. Happy holidays!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Welcome back, Lindsay!<3 We missed you and we're all happy you took the time for yourself and your beautiful little girl. As you say this moment never comes again. Welcome to the club. It gets less hectic in twenty years or so.😉

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great Coffee Date! I’m so happy for your beautiful little family! Everyone looks wonderful! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See ya in January! 🎄💕

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Welcome back, Lindsay! Your team did a great job filling in while you were away, but I can honestly say YOU are Skillful Cook! I’ve missed your writing! Happy Holidays!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes, smiling. Glad you’re back and love the bullet points. And, yes, you only get to do this moment once.