February Coffee Date - 2020 - Skillful Cook
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February Coffee Date - 2020

Okay, really, this is a coffee date spanning November, December, January, and the very beginning of February. I can't believe it's been that long!

Land and trees covered with snow and a man wearing black walking in the middle with his dog.

Okay, really, this is a coffee date spanning November, December, January, and the very beginning of February.

I kind of can't believe it's been that long - I love writing these posts and look forward to sharing them every month. But as usual, life has been very lifey, and Sugar Free January has been very delicious, and all the things have just been kind of intense, and the other day Eman on our team was like, “hey, we got an email about the coffee dates - are you still doing them?” and then I kind of had to do a double take when realized it had been a few months since I just sat down for no other reason than to say hi and connect.

So anyways. I'm here, with my decaf Americano with heavy whipping cream because I had some leftover from this beauty and it's very simple but also feels like luxury. Very luscious and warming and rich.

What are you drinking? What have you been up to? Any SFJ-finishers or recipe favorites as of lately? Let's catch up.

The Big Thing: We Moved!

A person sitting on the far end of an empty room.

In our last coffee date, I mentioned that we had bought a house. Now in this coffee date, I'm here to tell you that it's official. WE MOVED. We live in a new house now.

I'm also here to tell you that we are closing on our old house next week, and in the most charmed turn of events, our very very good friends are the buyers! ❤️We feel so lucky to know that these amazing humans will now make this house and this neighborhood their own.

The moving process has been - well, honestly, I think the fact that I haven't done a coffee date in almost three months is a good indicator of how it's been. It's been amazing, emotional, difficult, and all-consuming.

My mantra as we get settled has been: “Good Enough.”

Like, the boxes in the basement are overflowing with unorganized contents of Solvi's babyhood and Bjork's random assortment of rarely-used tools and my high school swim team memorabilia, and you know what? For now, for, like, the next year maybe? er, five years? that's okay. Can't do it all right now. It's good enough.

If you've found the secret sauce to moving and settling in to a new home without your life also feeling like a small tornado... speak up.

A Reusable Coffee Cup

A hand holding a mug in front of shelves.

This is the gift my Work Party Secret Santa got me (thanks, Emily!) and it has gotten so much use. I love it and would highly recommend it.

Here's a link. (affiliate)

It's cute, compact enough to go in my backpack, and more pleasant to hold onto than a paper cup because it's nice and toasty-warm.

Also, it's not an overnight earth saver, but it has kept 7 disposable cups out of the garbage in the month of January and yes I did keep track of the exact number because LITTLE THINGS MATTER. I don't remember to bring it with me every time, but I remember it a lot of times, and I feel like this is how it has to be done. Baby steps to better.

Do you have any baby steps to better? For your health, work, environment, etc? Baby steps are easier than big steps. Maybe I can borrow some.

And Now I Am a Creative Director

Lindsay plating a dish for a photoshoot.

Up until now I've done, like, 98% of the photography that you see here on POY. I love photography. It feels very personal and would be hard to share that with someone who is not... well, me. But it's a new year and I am ready to give some things a little friendly shake-up.

So this month we hired photographers (our friends!) to do a photo shoot with us for some POY recipes. As in, I didn't take the pictures!

I got to prep and cook food, styling it, and help with edits, but I was not actually standing behind the camera. Instead of being all the things, I got to limit my role to just “Creative Director.”


A) It was SO FUN.

B) It was less stressful.

C) Can we keep doing this please?

Cheesy-sounding but actually very important challenge for you based on my own personal experience with this - is there something in your life that you can release and let someone else take care of for you? Something that you can hire for? Or maybe just something that you're holding tightly to that you can let go of?

This was my thing this month and I had a lot of fears with it because change is hard and all that, but dang, one round in and it feels really good.

Traveling with Toddlers

A child sitting on a man's shoulders in an airport.

... is a marathon!

We went to Florida last week for a few days with Bjork's parents, and I cannot even begin to describe to you the amount of sheer anxiety I had walking my very fiesty and independent 17-month-old down the jetbridge and onto a small, crowded, enclosed airplane for the first time. And getting delayed FOUR HOURS at the gate did not help the cause.

But the lil baby Solvs did beautifully. She fussed, but she didn't scream. She resisted, but she didn't melt down. She was busy, but she stayed generally contained. She got compliments from seat neighbors after both flights which felt like the equivalent of receiving an Olympic gold medal even though I had absolutely no control over any of it.

I watched so many YouTube and Instagram videos and read so many blog posts on traveling with toddlers - are other people like this? I think I might just be kind of extra in this way.

Some things we did:

  • Stuffed a pill box with approximately 200 small snacks
  • Packed lots of brand new toys that she had never seen (or that we just pulled out of her toy bins several weeks in advance so they *felt* new)
  • Packed lots of random items from around our house - ribbons, paint sample cards, tissue paper, keys, punch cards, etc.
  • Bookmarked tons of videos of her and Sage

Worth mentioning: we did have to straight-up leave a restaurant one night. Like, pack up our just-delivered food, down the drinks, and file out the door in a very loud walk of shame due to an irreversible meltdown, so it's not like we came out of the trip unscathed, okay? Don't be getting the wrong idea here.

Traveling with toddlers or kids? Horror stories? Victories? Yay or nay?

Speaking Of Sun

A person's knees point towards a sunny yard.

This winter has been rough. The feel-bads have been really running rampant for me this month thanks to the longest stretch of cloudy days in what, 70 years or something?

Being in the Florida sun for four days was like... it was like becoming a new person a little bit. It felt like a reminder that there is life out there, things are thriving, the sun is shining, faces are warm, plants are green and growing, birds are singing.

This morning as I looked out the window and surveyed the flat, grey-brown-white suburban landscape all around me, I texted Bjork that it's amazing how quickly I start to feel blah again when I'm back in this.

We would probably never move away from Minnesota because this is where all our family and friends live, and we have a healthy attachment to the good parts of winter, and I think what we'd gain in warm weather, we'd lose in close connections and emotional satisfaction. But it's just a LITTLE BIT TEMPTING RIGHT NOW, MINNESOTA.

I know a lot of you understand this hardcore. Maybe some of you have even actually made the move? Talk to me.

Sage Says

A girl and a dog peer out of the window.

Sage just wants you to remember that your people are the main thing. She sits here with Solvi almost every day and waits for me, and then Bjork, to come home from work, and then she gets the zoomies and greets us like we are the best thing in the whole wide world.

I think there's a life lesson in there somewhere.

Okay, February (+ Jan + Dec) coffee date. There it is! I'm sorry it took me three months to make this one happen.

I love reading your comments on these posts. They are my favorite.

Thank you for joining, reading, connecting, and just being you, exactly as you are! xo

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I remember checking and asking your team if you’ve stopped posting coffee dates. These posts are the best!!! Tried your walnut cauliflower taco meat recipe yesterday and everyone in my family loved it. Anyway, thanks for writing this beautiful post. My favourite part is always what sage says :D. So kind! Hope you settle well in your new home.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I LOVE that mug! I am pretty addicted to my yeti and I have one for coffee and one for tea. Loving my afternoon diy coconut milk latte right now (sometimes chai tea sometimes coffee). Living in Texas, winter is my favorite (and I have issues with the extreme heat of summer). But I have lived in cold climates and understand about the never-ending grey. Hang in there!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these, and it’s so good to read one again! I completely second your whole experience of traveling with toddlers. Completely exhausting and anxiety-inducing, but completely worth it to go places and see things with tiny people you adore. I’m planning a 5-6 hour plane trip with a nearly two year old within the next couple of months (extra deets: my hubs will be staying home and I’ll be 5 months pregnant), and I’m already emotionally preparing. Your tips are gold!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this post Lindsay… well done on the move! Can relate to the emotional exhaustion on this!! I’m making the sheet pan chicken pittas tonight and cant wait to see how they go 😊 travelling next month with a 2.5 year old so will use some of the tips. Thank You!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have lived away from the midwest (where I was born) for 10 or so years. I live in the Caribbean now. It is gorgeous and I love my life so much, but my whole family is in the midwest and I am constantly full of guilt gut for the things I miss out on, even though I have the luxury of visiting often. I trade incredible quality of life for getting to do life with my family and all the important little moments, and it is HARD. (Further complicated by being married to a husband who is not a midwesterner and doesn’t want to live there, a great job that requires us live where we live, and parents who are getting older). Sigh…there is just no right answer. But it sort of helps that you sometimes dream about the reverse of what I dream about, if that makes sense, so that’s why I am commenting. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but light therapy lamp/box is helpful for beating some of that gloom in the winter months. You can do a quick Amazon search and can look into it to help during the winter.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Yes! This helped me a lot when I lived in northern England. Winters are very gray with almost no sun. I sat by my “happy light” every morning at breakfast and it helped so much.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I woke this morning to total darkness and thought it must be the middle of the night but sadly, it was just a terribly gloomy morning. My whole body felt the gloom of the day ahead. It’s been a long, warmer than usual, gray winter in Ohio too so I can totally relate to your winter blahs. Heading to Florida was a good plan. Spending time in the sunshine is so rejuvenating. We’ve thought about moving south but we don’t want to leave our family and friends and I dislike super hot days as much as I dislike gloomy days. To cope, I have three daylight lights in my house and turn them on during the gloomy days. It helps! I also still have my Christmas tree up. HaHa! I just love the glow of the lights on the tree and it helps to make the room feel cozy. I take the tree down at the end of February when the days start to get longer and the sun comes out more frequently. I also am sure to get outside when the sun comes out. I bundle up and take my dog for a walk to soak up the sun. It always makes me feel better. I hope you get some sunshine soon!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Our spirited daughter had plenty of travel adventures, including screaming in the car from Washington DC to York, PA and from Milwaukee to Madison. Probably the worst was when we were flying home for Christmas when she was having night terrors. We had an early flight, so we drove the almost two hours to the airport the night before, and stayed in a hotel. She had an episode, and I took her to the lobby to try to get away from the rooms. On the shuttle to the airport the next morning, a couple of people were talking about a screaming baby. We just sat with our perfectly behaved (at the moment) child and acted like we hadn’t heard anything.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    We are from Iowa, and traveling to Alabama in a few weeks with out 4 year old. I cannot wait to get out of this cold yuck and see the sun for a week! It will be our sons first time flying so hopefully it goes as well for us as it did for you!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your blog came up in my feed this morning and when you mentioned the lengthy time with gray skies, I knew you were in MN.

    Nice to meet you, I look forward to checking out your recipes when I have more time.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m way older than you, I have great grandchildren. With that said–we have spent part or all of every winter out of Montana and in Arizona for many, many years. I couldn’t do it any other way. I don’t like to be cold and snow just isn’t my thing!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi! I loved the new coffee date post! They are my favorites and I hope I waited patiently, but it was hard lol. Things are grey and rainy and cold in the south this week too. We even got a little snow on Saturday. It’s definitely stay in and snuggle up for the weekend season, however it’s Monday and I’m starting the week slowly studying love in the Bible and doing laundry. Maybe some chicken and dumplings for dinner? I’m excited to check out the carrot cake coffee cake recipe suggestion at the top of the page too. Tomorrow I have appointments to keep. Hope you have a fabulous February! I’ll try to have more exciting details next time. 😄

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m a fellow Minnesotan that feels the same way about this time of year/feels pulled to another part of the country at times. I tell people that living through Minnesota winters teaches you that love is truly a verb. It doesn’t just happen – you have to do the work, especially on the longest stretch of sunless days ever. Our family is here and this is home so we are here until we retire. But then? I don’t see us staying here year round…

    We are going to Fl next week with our almost-2yo. I think we will be playing lots of ‘peekabo barn’ (great ap for toddlers). And watching lots of videos of himself because toddlers are narcissists.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I LOVE your perspective that Love is a verb. So true in so many ways. Sometimes it is graceful and easy. Sometimes it is peaceful and quiet. Other times, it is messy and loud. All require effort. Thanks for that!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        For God sakes where’s the recipe? There’s so much clutter and ads, my phone froze. Revisiting with adblock from now on.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes to all of this! And toddlers watching videos of themselves: SO SPOT ON. It was our go-to trick for keeping her occupied on the plane. 😛

  13. Skillful Cook Logo


    These posts always seem to come at just the right time. We’re traveling to Florida next week with our toddler (just older than Solvi), and my anxiety is through the roof. I’m thankful my husband is much more rational. I plan on packing lots of snacks, toys, and praying we have kind seat mates!

    Small environmental things you can do:
    – I second the reusable coffee cup!
    – Use bamboo rounds instead of disposable cotton pads to remove makeup/nail polish/etc. I bought a pack for like $10 off Amazon and throw them in the laundry to clean. I can’t believe I didn’t switch sooner!
    – Use cloth napkins at the dinner table. Easy swap, we got cute ones on Etsy, and we just toss them in the wash once a week.

    On the house front, I’m right there with you. We moved last year, and I’m one of those people who want to be settled RIGHT NOW, so it was hard to hold off on getting everything situated. We got all the day to day stuff set up, and everything else just happens when we have time.

    I’d love to hear your decor plan with a toddler. We want new couches and a new rug, but is there a point with a toddler around?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Decor plan is currently form over function. 😂We are trying to be more resourceful than just “buy new stuff for every room” even though that’s completely what I want to do… but both for environmental reasons and also for toddler life reasons, we are using older, kind of random-looking stuff in a few key pieces (kitchen table, for example) and trying to just use the life out of as much furniture as we can that we already had between home and office.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on your move! I think it’s great that your friends bought your previous house. You will be able to experience all of the changes they make and how they make your former home their home all while you are making your new home home.

    Hooray for decaf coffee. I am also a decaf drinker. One day decaf will be mainstream and people won’t look at you funny when you ask for decaf (well, actually most baristas are pretty cool with it now!).

    Also, I am so happy you were able to experience Florida during the winter. Some much needed warm weather for you. We have family in Northern Minnesota (Iron Range represent) and we visited during Christmas time a few years ago. Beautiful white Christmas for this Florida girl but I was craving warmer weather! I know our family does as well! But I am totally jealous of your summertime. So beautiful. 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your posts! I ate the Detox Lentil Soup for lunch all last week. It is so delicious. I hear you with the winter blahs, and my winters in VA are much milder. I wanted to mention – I talked to my doctor about it a few months ago, and she recommended checking my Vitamin D levels. Mine were super low, and that can contribute to that “blah” feeling. Also sleep disruption and a host of other issues. I am taking a round of prescription strength Vitamin D and I have noticed a big difference.

    Thank you so much for the update. I love your blog.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes! I actually had to go on prescription-level vitamin D supplements a few years ago because I had a pretty severe deficiency. Currently taking the over the counter supplements for all the reasons you mentioned!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Life in MN HAS been tough with all the ‘blah’ days of late. However, this morning’s hoarfrost was positively stunning. I try really hard to hold onto that and be grateful for the cold temps and damp nights that create it. That is the stuff that gets you through until the next rays of sunshine pierce the clouds overhead!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Also – Re: Moving. We have been in our house almost a year now, and there are still boxes in our garage that we haven’t touched yet. You’ll get there someday and until then, don’t worry about it!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am trying to go plant based 1-2 times a week rather than making the whole switch. Good for the environment but also good for me to not pretend like I will never eat cheese again!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I had been missing your coffee dates so I am glad they have not ended!

    I am from the sometimes gloomy sometimes beautiful southwest England and I actually spent two years living in Miami. Whilst the sunshine was lovely it was tough to be so far from family and friends for so long. As much as I sometimes miss the sunshine and heat when the winter storms roll through (like this weekend with Storm Ciara) I will always know I can travel to sunny places and its better for my heart to be where it feels and shares the love most!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    While I normally love POY, it’s seems that it’s gone from a nice food blog to a huge business where the sugar free January posts were mostly re-shared from previous years and now, Lindsay doesn’t even take her own photos anymore. It’s kinda a bummer. Sorry, just be honest.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Honesty is good, and I get that repeated recipes may be a bummer.
      However, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to shame a busy mom for delegating something she admits in her post was hard for her perfectionist self to delegate.
      The idea of the ‘do it all mom’ who is a perfect wife, mother, and business owner/blogger is just unrealistic. I grew up in the era where they sold perfume with the ad where the woman, ” brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan, and never, never, never lets you forget you’re a man.”
      Growing up with those expectations, it was a hard lesson to be kinder to myself, learn to delegate and figure out what needed to be done by me ( hugging my family /reading bedtime stories) and what could be delegated without GUILT.
      My guess is ( if she hadn’t been vulnerable & told us ) no one would have realized that the latest round of photos were not taken by Lindsey.
      Let’s support our fellow women & moms. Let’s vote with our feet if we find recipes too repetitive for us. However, women get enough guilt from *ourselves* for delegating (something every successful man does, by the way )… we don’t need the ‘tsk, tsk’ of others in addition.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      😅Wow! Those are some high expectations, Barb! The good news is that I’ve learned so much about honoring my limits over the last ten years of doing this. I am healthier because of it. The bad news is that I can confidently say that I won’t be able to live up to your expectations! Luckily there are lots of other blogs out there that might be able to keep you happy. Best of luck!

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Being the mother of four, now adult, giant sons, I get everything you’re saying. And this time of year? I’m up in Duluth and it has definitely been rough. My son reminded me to take Vitamin D, remember to use my SAD light, both of which are supremely helpful. I’ve been reading your site for a few years now and you’ve been through a lot, both happy and sad; be kind and take care of yourself. Spring will soon be back again (okay, maybe not soon) but those two little things help alot. Best to you and your family !

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your coffee dates! Congrats on the move. But I know getting settled in really is time consuming.

    I totally get where you are coming from about winter up north. My husband and I moved to south Florida almost 38 years ago when our son was 9. For us the decision was a no brainer. I always started to get depressed around Labor Day just knowing the cold and snow was on its way. Plus our parents were snowbirds and spent 8 months in Florida. So we actually got to see them more by moving.

    But now our son has been married to a wonderful girl for almost 14 years and they live in NC. And we are really over the perpetual heat and sun. (I know. Poor us. Right?) We are in the process of renovating the RV that we bought to make it our home. And in May we plan on traveling full time. We will sell our house in Florida and home will be wherever we are parked!!!

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    So happy for the return of the coffee dates! I really recommend visiting Florida in July/August, to see if the heat and humidity is just too much/bearable for you guys. We lived there for 14 years and moved away to Colorado almost 2 years ago, and I don’t think I could ever go back. (To note: location is important, because many places in Florida are not family friendly like the west/mid-west. I didn’t know people could be this nice!) You may find you’re happier buying a condo that you can use in the winter, and rent out as a vacation rental the rest of the year.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Or you could make like us and move to Colorado! We have all 4 seasons without any of the extremes of the north OR south! Seriously, it snows, and 2 days later it is usually all melted, as in kids can play in the grass. In February. Sunny skies during winter are such a game-changer! (I grew up in New England, so I remember well the 5 months of gray skies and dirty snow. Here, it doesn’t stay on the ground long enough to get very dirty at all!)

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post. I made the move from snowy Minneapolis to beautiful, but challenging, New York. Much I miss about Minneapolis (Lunds, Surdyks….) but enjoying it here. The cauliflower walnut tacos are a weekly thing. Frankly I could eat them every day. Thanks for your wonderful posts and recipes.

  24. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great coffee date! Can’t wait to see pics of the new house. Congratulations!
    Hang in there, spring is just around the corner! 💕

  25. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay. I have to start by saying I made the cauliflower walnut taco meat a few weeks ago. Then I made it again. And again. I think it tastes better than real taco meat! Anyways, thank you.

    I like your mantra “good enough.” 2019 was a remarkably stressful year for me and I remember using the mantra “don’t resist” throughout it all, including a move. It helped me.

    This year, I’ve been trying to appreciate what winter signifies rather than resist it. I live in Chicago, so it gets really tough in Feb/March. But I see winter as a purposeful time to retreat and look inward. I’ve been nursing a new creative habit for the past month, and I feel like winter has allowed me to really focus on it. I try to see that dormancy is a natural cycle for living things. There is value in having the resting time. And because we have this resting time in winter, we have that wonderful extra energy for spring and summer. The seasonal changes offer so much life wisdom to me that I think I’d miss it if I lived in a different environment. But it’s really important to have awareness of how the seasons affect your emotions. If a February sunny trip is what you know you need to invigorate yourself, then do it. After the stretch of 11 consecutive cloudy days, I spent an entire morning at the botanic garden basking in the sun because I knew it was just what I needed.