February Coffee Date - 2019 - Skillful Cook
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February Coffee Date - 2019

Trees outside in the snow, bare of any leaves.

Well, well, well.

It's a new month, and we meet again!

This started as the January Coffee Date, but then got pushed back and pushed back because of all the amazing Sugar Free January recipes, and then it became February, and so this turned into the February coffee date, but what the heck! The month doesn't even matter when it involves a cozy moment to get your warm drink on, pull that sweater a little tighter around yourself, maybe find some snacks (not to be a broken record but MAY I SUGGEST THESE), and settle in for a good talk.

Today we are talking about:

Yep, should be good. Here we go!

Sugar Free January Recap

Roasted veggie bowls in a bowl with a fork.

Sugar Free January! It's done! We did it!


Some thoughts I had this year:

  • I was flexible, but maybe a little too flexible. I made a refined sugar free cookie recipe at one point, but then I just ended up eating a bunch of the cookie dough and a bunch of the cookies. It really didn't feel like it was doing me any favors even though it was “refined sugar free.” (This is one example of several.) I think I'll try to be more strict about just saying no to desserts across the board next year - including refined sugar free desserts.
  • I need to be better prepared with snacks. Especially now that we have Solvi! The days would get busy and all of a sudden I'd find myself super hungry and in need of a snack IMMEDIATELY, and it was always really nice when I had a bag of energy bites in the fridge prepped and ready to go.
  • I wish I would have spent 2-3 hours prepping a bunch of stuff (snacks, IP freezer meals, etc.) at the end of December. To be honest, the end of December was Stress Level 100 for us this year. Bjork was sick, then I was sick, Solvi was teething, nursing was a wreck, and it was the anniversary of Afton's death. So this year it just didn't happen. But next year I'd like to try to make that prep time a priority so I don't feel so scrambley when January starts.
  • My favorite Sugar Free January recipes this year: Lemon Chicken Soup, Lentil Greek Salad, Instant Pot Sweet Potato Tortilla Soup, and Roasted Vegetable Bowls with Green Tahini (pictured above)!

Any SFJ-ers out there this year? What were your favorite recipes? What was the hardest part for you?

Also: I'd love for you to take our survey if you have feedback for next year!

Daily Harvest

A person holding a white mug.

Have you guys seen / heard of / tried Daily Harvest?

The ads worked on me (as did a recommendation from a friend), so I decided to give it a go this month. We ordered a bunch of smoothies - like, 24, I think? We did the one month deal.

Here are my thoughts.

The Good:

  • Super healthy.
  • Super convenient.
  • Ingredient variety that I don't normally get at home (dragon fruit, lychee, acai, pea protein, green coffee, that kind of stuff).
  • Beautifully designed packaging.
  • Not overly sweet - I often even add a bit of honey but I like that I can control the sweetness.

The Bad:

  • Shipping and individual packaging. Not great for the earth.
  • 2 serving per cup, but I don't really want to keep the smoothies in the fridge for later, so I rarely end up eating the whole thing.
  • Only a few flavors have really gotten me super excited. Chocolate avocado being one of them. Otherwise they kind of just feel like... smoothies? And maybe I'm doing it wrong but I can't quite get them to blend up like I want. They're always a little icy.

I'm curious your opinions if you've tried it (or really, if you've tried similar meal or snack delivery services).

Solvi's Schedule

Lindsay holding Solvi.


I started talking about Solvi's sleep schedule on my personal Instagram a few weeks after she was born, and I've had a lot of people asking me to share sleep updates! I am right there with you - personally I find it so fascinating to hear about what other families are doing when it comes to baby sleep and schedules. What's working, what's not, all that jazz.

So here's a quick look at our scheduling approach for the Queen Vi.

  • Wake Windows - Her whole schedule is structured around three things: a wake up time (~7am), a bed time (~7pm), and wake windows. A wake window is basically an ideal amount of time BETWEEN naps, and we use it as our benchmark for when to put her down again. One of my favorite quotes from Taking Cara Babies is: “Remember, she's a human, not a clock.” Even though I'd really prefer to have her nap times be super strict every day (nap at 10am, nap at 1pm, etc.), we have had to leave some room for flexibility aka those pesky short naps. So instead of a rigid schedule, we build her day around wake windows. Right now (4.5 months, 3.5 months adjusted) she can handle about 1 hour and 45 minutes of awake time between naps.
  • EASY: Eat, Awake, Sleep, You Time - We try to follow this order in her day. First thing after a nap: Eat. Then play. Then back to sleep. And then mom and/or dad get a little time to reset. It doesn't always work out because sometimes her naps are short, or she needs to eat earlier or later in the day. But we have found this to be the ideal structure and try to prioritize this order during the day.
  • Taking Cara Babies - This is hands-down my favorite resource for baby scheduling and sleep. I took the newborn class and read the 3 and 4 month ebook. I like structure, and I like routine, but at first glance, I found some of the more popular structure-and-routine resources (Babywise, Moms on Call, 12 Hours by 12 Weeks) to be lacking in the softness and flexibility that knew I want to have as a mom. Cara's approach is both structured AND gentle, scheduled AND flexible. The strategies she teaches are nurturing and responsive, and her tone is so encouraging for new moms. The Taking Cara Babies Instagram account is excellent if you're just looking for tips and tricks on naps, night sleep, etc.

Here's what our daily schedule looks like (and right now we are dealing with short afternoon naps which is very less than ideal)!

  • 5am - Eat (then back to sleep!)
  • 7:30 - Wake Up, Eat, Awake Time
  • 9:00 - Nap 1
  • 11:00 - Eat, Awake Time
  • 12:30 - Nap 2
  • 2:00 - Eat, Awake Time
  • 3:45 - Nap 3
  • 5 - Eat, Awake
  • 6:30 - Bedtime Routine (hopefully asleep by 7)

A few clarifiers:

A) She very rarely follows this exactly! Lots of 40 minute naps lately have majorly thrown us off any sort of predictable schedule.

B) She sleeps through the night most nights, minus that 5am feeding.

C) She sleeps in our room, in a crib, for naps and nights.

D) She is breastfed, but we give her a bottle (breastmilk) before bed, which started out of sheer desperation because she was very fussy when nursing at night, and now has become a nice little routine that allows me flexibility in the evening.

I would LOVE your thoughts on this! What's worked for you? What hasn't? Anyone else fighting the good fight against short naps? 😅#please

My Fave Nontoxic Perfume

A hand holding a bottle of perfume name "Good chemistry wild child".

You guys, I haven't worn perfume for literally years because of the whole “fragrance is the new secondhand smoke” thing.

But. I found this fragrance line at Target and I LOVE IT.

It's affordable, yummy, and appears to be relatively clean! It's vegan, paraben-free, and fragrance-d with essential oils. Here's more on that.

I have two scents - the Queen Bee (in a roller ball thingy), and Wild Child (in a spray). Highly recommend.

When The Hard Times Come


On a more serious note, it has been a devastating week for one of my closest friends. If we were on a real coffee date, I'd probably get tears in my eyes telling you about everything that has happened.

Some things that have helped me as I sit with my own sadness and also try to support my friend:

  • This video on what it means to have empathy. Profound.
  • This video on what it means to live with grief. The idea that our lives grow and heal around our grief is so important.
  • This post that I wrote after we lost Afton about what to do when your friend loses a baby. Because I'm learning that even when you've been through it, it's still really hard to know what to do.
  • This website that has all kinds of resources specifically for baby loss. The most useful things at the moment are the free guides for planning a memorial service.
  • This illustration that beautifully outlines ways to support a grieving friend.

Oh, and by the way. This month Sage says...

A dog sitting on a couch looking out the window.

Sage. SAGE. Over here please?

I don't know, she's too busy watching birds and leaves and snow blow around the backyard. Which is maybe her lesson in and of itself? Let's get lost in the little things like leaves and snow and birds this month.

And if you were wondering if she'll be your Valentine, the answer is heck to the yes.

That's it! (Says the person who just wrote 90 million words.)

Talk to me! How's your winter going?

And if no one has told you lately, you're doing a great job. ♡

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Baby things are so interesting aren’t they! We have a 5 month old and are learning just how much help babies need to learn to sleep… I so feel you on the short nap thing! We’ve struggled with naps since the beginning, and it was just a week or so ago we decided we’ve got to teach this sweet baby to nap longer. We were getting half hour naps (that’s it, EVER) 4 or 5 times a day. Little Selah was also napping on the couch in the living room which didn’t help (but I’m obsessed with her and wanted to be able to see her every minuteeee). So last week we decided she will have to start napping in her crib, and we have to get her through this half hour wake up mark. So when she woke up, she’d fuss for a little, and the moment the fussing escalated I would go in and give her a binky or lay my hand on her back and sing, and wouldn’t you know it, she fell back asleep! Shes getting much better at self soothing now, a few days in. It’s not perfect but she’s learning. She’s been napping for 2 hours now twice a day and it’s been awesome! So hard at first to make the change, but babies really are fast learners!

    Your Solvi sleeps through the night, as in 7 to 7?? If so….. how!!!?! And I’m incredibly jealous!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I so enjoy your blog. I did not do the refined sugar free January, because at almost 63, I have a different perspective on life is too short…and because I bake a lot, I enjoy what I bake. My babies are long grown, but 31 years ago when I had my first baby girl, and later when I had my son, I nursed or bottle fed breast milk exclusively to my babies and ended up nursing them to about 4, more as comfort when reuniting after a work day, and bedtime. Because I worked outside the home starting when they were 6-8 weeks of age, I admit I never got my kids on a schedule….things have changed so much about that. I have experienced baby losses with too many of my friends and each one was different as grief is so unique, but the pain is the same. Thank you for your generous heart and spirit, and openness in your grief and life. There is a town near where I live and I see the road sign for it every time I drive south…it is Afton, NY. I always say a prayer for you when I see it. I absolutely love Sage, what a beautiful dog. What a lovely family you have. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Babies and sleep! My son didn’t nap until he was 13 months, I mean one 25 min nap per day even at day care. I tried EVERYTHING, blackout curtains, pacifier, swaddling, white noise, modified cry it out etc. finally I just accepted this is who he is. He now takes a good 2 hour nap per day but we are again working on him falling asleep by himself after he got super sick in January. Each stage is so hard (and so wonderful!), you’re doing a great job! I’ve had several friends and family members grieving since the new year, I’ve dropped off several bathes of your creamy chicken wild rice soup, feeding a broken heart lives on! ❤️

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    You just reminded me of Starbucks caramel flavored espresso which I have had in over a year. Happy Monday Lindsay 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Nap time struggle bus companion, reporting for duty! Our babe is 10 months now and slept through the night early on but naps have sometimes been challenging – teething, nursing challenges, colds, growth spurts, etc. have all impacted naps for us. I think the biggest thing was to just keep doing what felt right. We have always stuck to the nighttime routine RELIGIOUSLY because it is our touchstone of consistency. Naptime seems to be always evolving and we go with a combo of schedule but letting our little one tell us when she’s tired. Trust yourself and your momma instincts!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay,

    The Lemon chicken soup was a HUGE family favorite for us. I have made it 5 times since you posted the recipe. My kids constantly ask for it in their thermoses for lunch!


    PS. The kids also beg for the Fluffiest Blueberry Pancakes as well

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really enjoy your coffee date posts. I am past the baby stage part of motherhood but the memories are clear and it is such a hard stage.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend’s little one I saw the picture of her tiny feet.

    I have learned so much from your grief posts. My takeaway is, just bring the food. No matter what hard times someone is dealing with, I’m bringing them soup or a casserole.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    My kids are much older, 16, 14, 12, 10. But I remember the baby days. We too found that early bedtime, 7pm was crucial. We didn’t go out much because of that but it did make life with little ones so much better. Good for you that you found something that works for you. It seems as though that is so important. Every baby is different and so is every mom. Somehow you find your way together. It sounds like you are figuring out out. Little ones cause you to be physically exhausted so make sure you are getting as much sleep as you can!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s loss. As a loss momma myself, I know how real and raw those first few weeks are. It gets better, as you and I both know, but I feel like telling someone that who just lost their little one is… insulting, almost? The grief and the pain are so intense. I never thought I’d be in the place I am now a year ago. But alas. Your friend’s baby was so SO loved <3 Sugar free Jan was good. I learned that I indeed CAN turn down office sweets (whereas before I was sure there was no way). And husband even lost 15 lbs! Sage is a doll and Solvi is precious. Sending love and warmth (literally, warmth) from tx.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Completely agree. I think it’s too early to say “it gets better” because it feels minimizing. So glad you enjoyed SFJ!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    “And if no one has told you lately, you’re doing a great job. ♡”

    Oh goodness.

    I just teared up. Thank you. So small, but fit so perfectly in my heart. Lindsay, you’re a gem. <3

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I rarely have time to sit at my computer these days as I work full-time as a chef and am a mom to two boys – but I try to open every one of your emails and especially enjoy the coffee dates! I have a rare day off today and really enjoyed reading February’s content while enjoying a big old salad! Felt like such a treat!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    First I’m so sorry about your friend’s loss – and as a person who had two friends lose teenage sons in 2017, I want to tell you how incredibly helpful your insights and resources have been as I’ve tried my best to help support them through their continuing grief. Really, I can’t thank you enough for sharing so much of your own heartbreaking experience. And on a MUCH lighter note – I’m with you on Daily Harvest. I loved the idea, tried a huge variety of them over a month, but only loved a few of them – I ended up tinkering with ingredients – tossing in extra ginger or cinnamon or whatever extra fruit was on hand in my freezer. And the amount of environmental waste made me sad (particularly the delivery box). I stopped the subscription and have been creating my own smoothies… and even occasionally prepping them in advance using mason jars.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes and yes. ❤️ I’m so glad to have been helpful in the grief/support process, and so sorry for those losses. Just completely devastating.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I want to be just like you when I grow up. Problem is, I’m 56. Oh, Lindsay. You make me laugh, cry, feel humbled and amazed. You give me hope, inspire me and just make me want to be a better person. Not sure how you do all of that and are so many thing to so many people who have you in their up close and personal lives, but you do. Thank you for being you. I am going to try and be a better me. ❤️

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Our 9 month old has decided he’d like to be a newborn again and wake up every 2-3 hours to feed. Super fun! He also goes to daycare and will take (at best) a 40 minute nap or choose not to sleep at all! He gets home and conks out in his carseat until we have to wake him when it gets too close to bedtime. Maybe I should look into Taking Cara Babies……..

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh man oh man oh man that is rough. Check out her Instagram posts or blog posts! So much good free content as well as paid stuff.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just want to say that my babies (now 9.5 and 6.5 years old–those “halves” matter to them!) weren’t great nappers. I used to pray for more than 45 minutes of rest for them. Both got better when they passed the six-month mark, and both got better again when they became toddlers and went down to a single afternoon nap. (GLORIOUS two hours or more!) Just wanted to send a little fist bump from a mama with minimally napping babies…who are now interesting, smart, hilarious, kind kids with ideas and jokes and preferences and questions. Goodness then, goodness now!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I did Babywise with our first, and read Moms on Call for our second. I seriously made it a few weeks in on MOC and decided it was making me feel like I was floundering. Taking Cara Babies seriously saved my sanity this time.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      So interesting! I have so many friends who swear by Babywise and I wish I could follow the Moms on Call schedule the way they lay it out… but TCB and a more flexible approach was the sweet spot for me.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I thoroughly enjoy our posts, your coffee date emails and I follow both pinch of yum and you personally. I find you both entertaining and serious, very sweet and thoughtful with your words. I love 99.9% of your recipes and make them often. If I can be honest, I did not love the lemon chicken soup (went into the garburetor-sans chicken) I am 58 and my kids are 34 and 30, so long past baby stages. I did not lose a child thankfully, so I cannot begin to imagine how desperate and hard that must have been and continues to be for you and many others like you. I do love to read about Solvi, Sage and Bjork and the struggles of new moms. I remember it well even though it was 30 years ago. Keep up the great work as a Mom, wife, a recipe creator, blogger, emailer. You brighten my day often! Be well and thanks for all you do!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I recommend Taking Cara Babies to anyone who will listen!! Her blog posts and instastories alone are fantastic, but we used her 3-4 month program and just got her ABCs of sleep as well. Our little one is sick and up allllll night and it feels like we’ll never sleep again!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Good Chemistry’s Magnolia Violet has become my go-to perfume. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves peonies. Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana White was my wedding perfume, but I find the price to be just too high to justify buying it on a regular basis. Magnolia Violet is a worthy replacement. 🙂

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for taking the time to write and share these coffee date posts. I always set aside time to really take them in. You’re a very special person and we readers out here in internet-land are blessed to have you in our virtual lives. All the best to you and your beautiful family. xoxo

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sweet Lady Wife and I watched the Christopher Robin movie. Lesson learned: Make time to spend time in your own 100 Acre Wood. even if it is a metaphorical one.

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the way you are living and grieving and sharing your own experience of loss and what kind of support you needed as you comfort and support your friend. I do not believe in the theology that lends itself to you losing someone and that leading to a purpose. I don’t believe the almighty toys with humans that way. I do believe that we all go through hard and terrible things and can choose how to move forward through them and choose to stand in the gap for others.

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for posting about the Daily Harvest smoothies, I have a lot of the same feelings about them. But they are really convenient 😉

    We have a 7 month old that isn’t the best sleeper and love Taking Cara Babies, great to read what you guys are doing with Solvi! Thanks for posting the link in this post for the cookie dough energy bites, they are my favorite and I needed a reminder to make another batch! 🙂

  24. Skillful Cook Logo

    The photo of you and your daughter is so precious
    My son’s schedule was pretty much the same at that age. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on stuff for putting him to bed so early and for basically doing dinner twice since I typically don’t eat that early but it’s absolutely amazing to have the evenings to ourselves since he’s still not old enough to entertain himself (he’s 20 months now). The short naps will eventually get longer. You’re doing great mama!!

  25. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a sweet post this is! So nostalgic for me to read and remember the days of wanting to have a schedule for my babies…who are now 14 (almost 15) and 12. I followed Babywise (the others you mentioned I didn’t know about yet) and found the structure appealing but in retrospect, I wish I had snuggled with them more….there is nothing like that squishy baby in your arms! It sounds cliche but the time really does go by fast, so continue to enjoy that sweet baby and snuggle with her! She looks so happy and content, you can tell when a baby feels secure and Solvi surely does. So keep up the good work, both you & Bjork!

    Very soon she should be going to one long nap a day, which will help a lot 😊