October-November Coffee Date - Skillful Cook
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October-November Coffee Date

Heyo! Basic fall-loving internet girl, reporting for duty! Here's the latest on what's going on for me this October/November.

A sidewalk that passes through trees with leaves that have changed colors.

Heyo! Basic fall-loving internet girl, reporting for duty!

How many pictures can a person take of orange and red trees? How many pumpkin spice lattes is too many? How many chicken pot pies is crossing the line? How many chunky sweaters does a person need to own before being considered certifiably obsessed?

These are questions I don't want to know the answers to.

Stats from this month (and last? I'm losing track):

DRINKS: Pumpkin spice lattes, half sweet, decaf, from Starbucks I'm sorry Caribou you just cannot win this one.

FOOD: Biscuit pot pies, pasta galore, my friend Angela's tortellini soup which I will be dreaming about until I get her to send me the recipe and grant me permission to share on the blog because it will 100% change your life.

CLOTHING: Skinny jeans, ankle boots, the same three sweaters because I spent too much money on them and need to make them count (plus, they're very cozy).

Please tell me your stats are similar. And if you live in a warm weather climate with fall things such as warm drinks and boots, I would like to send my condolences.

Okay! Here we go. Big updates this month including this one....

We're Moving To The Suburbs!

A hand holding a card with the word Anthropologie written on top of it.

WHAT?! Yes. And just like that, we're moving to the suburbs.

By “just like that,” I mean after a very long and trying search process which we discussed here, and hypothetically, like, all the time if we'd be getting together in person, but anyway. YAY! A house.

We're closing tomorrow (WHOA) but not moving in for another few weeks since we'll do some painting, carpeting, and possibly wallpapering?! before we move in.

Things I'm most excited about with the new house:

  • An attached garage. I repeat: an attached garage. ♡
  • SPACE. More space. Like, we can have my brothers come stay for the weekend and no one will need to sleep on the couch in the living room kind of space. Like, we can watch TV after Solvi goes to bed and actually turn the volume up kind of space. Like, I can host dinner club again kind of space.
  • A bigger yard.
  • A more open floor plan that will allow me to be in the kitchen and still see what's happening in the family room. This was a huge wishlist item for us / me.

Things I'm most sad about:

  • A new identity. I love our (current) small house and I think Bjork and I really identify with our small-old-charming-house-in-the-city vibe. Neither of us have ever really felt pulled to have a bigger house, and have definitely not felt pulled to the suburbs. And yet... here we are, buying a bigger house in the suburbs. I am confident that we'll use the space and love it, and there are so many things we're excited about with it, but I also think there's somewhat of an identity shift that we might have to process through with that. (Okay, fine, I say “we,” but Bjork goes with any flow. If it involves processing, it is me.)
  • Restaurants. Or lack thereof. Goodbye, amazing authentic taco spot five blocks from our house. Goodbye, hip vegan restaurant just a few miles down the road. Goodbye, charming Selby and all your delicious restaurants. We'll be back to visit.
  • The lake. We live by a city lake, with a path, and it's always low-key bustling with of a wide variety of people and Disney-type woodland animals, and it's one of my happiest places. I'm definitely going to cry when I go for my last walk.

We Hosted a Team Retreat

People wearing beanies hiking in the woods.

Last week we got to have our entire (remote) team in Minneapolis for a team retreat and it was THE BEST of the best. In addition to our several Minnesotan team members, we had two PNWers (hey Portland), one Pittsburgher, an Ohioan, a Milwaukeean, and a Canadian who brought international snacks and treats which was a highlight if I'm being honest.

These people are so fun to work with, and while there are a lot of advantages of being a remote team, I was reminded of how nice it is to actually get together and spend time in person. Face to face is just a whole different thing. In a really good way.

We are eager to start planning our next team retreat, and I think it might be time to branch out to a new city. What cities are your favorite? Must have: good food and a fun vibe.

Things Are Actually Happening At The Office

A man sitting on a chair and playing with his child on his lap.


Garbage boxes are laying all around the office and there are still tape spots on the wall where shelves should be. BUT. Desks are in place, plumbing for the kitchen is done, cabinet delivery is scheduled (next week)! Things are hap-pen-ing.

I don't want to give away too much yet, but stay tuned here and on The Faux Martha as both of us will do some reveal-y type stuff when the finishing touches have been wrapped up.

Can We Talk About Family Photos

Coffee in a cup with creamer made into a design on it.

Question for you.

How do you keep your memories and photos organized?

I have about 100 ideas for how to do this, for our family, for us, for Solvi, and what has actually come into existence is zero of my good ideas and tens of thousands of photos on my camera roll.

Things people do:

  • Yearly photo books?
  • Seasonal family photo shoots?
  • Journals with handwritten letters to kids?
  • Baby books?
  • Videos of trip and special events?

My mom made a scrapbook for me of all the photos of my growing up years and it is so sweet and special. I want to do something like that for Solvi - something that feels personal and memorable and yes, I love photos, so picture-heavy would be great.

But I feel like there are too many good ideas and not enough time. Do I keep it digital? Should everything be printed? Where does handwritten come into play? I need to make a (streamlined, manageable) plan now that she's turned one. What do you recommend?

Homemade Potpourri

A grey metal pot on a stove has food cooking in it.

My friend Ang taught me this trick years ago and maybe you all already know it, but it's so good that I think it is worth shouting from the internet rooftops again and again, weekly, until spring.

To make your house smell like fall / holiday / Christmas magic, just simmer some dried spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, mulling spices) with some fresh or dried fruit (orange peel, apples, etc.) and maybe some fresh herbs if you're feeling it - like rosemary, bay leaves, that kind of thing. Keep it on the stove for a few days and just warm it up every so often (we're not eating this - it's just for smells). YOUR LIFE WILL BE CHANGED. You may never light a holiday-scented candle again. It's natural, it's cheap, it smells so good.

  1. Have you done this?
  2. What ingredients do I need to throw into my next batch?

Sage Says...

This season, do not forget the pure joy of a cozy fall sweater (or, in this case, neck sweater).

Sage sitting under a tree outside.

And she is correct.

It doesn't matter whether you treat yourself to new fuzzy one (like me) or dig a tried-and-true favorite out of your closet (like her). Chunky, warm sweaters are one of the best things that a person can wear when the weather gets un-handle-ably cold outside. If it makes you look just slightly like an arctic marshmallow, then you're doing it right.

I love the coffee date posts because I love hearing from YOU! And fall is giving us lots to talk about. Hope your October-November has been full of sweaters, warm drinks, and doggie snugs - you know, the life-giving little joys.

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am also a part of the photo predicament. And although so many people love the photo books, I don’t love the quality (the super grainy or super glossy) and I have decided I’m going to be old fashioned. I am putting them in photo albums – the kind with places to write! I used to be very on top of printing photos when I had a digital camera back in the day and now I’m trying to print 7 years worth of photos. Oops. BEST OF LUCK!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Love this idea Simone. Kind of the best of both worlds – handwritten note, physical printed photos, generally organized in a book. ♡

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Advice- make a yearly/quarterly whatever photobook and save your camera cards. I was adamant on doing actual photo albums and the guilt of being 5 years and thousands of photos behind is not worth it.
    I’m always so jealous of our parents who didn’t dare to take 2 pictures because of how much film it would take up and now we are taking a bazillion pics per pose and stressing over how many to print
    Yippy for attached garage! I’m a WI neighbor who has to park her van in the driveway and shovel feet of snow off her van many mornings, so I can see how your attached garage is on the pro side!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I upload all of my photos to Shutterfly and make albums as we go. There’s a 1000 photo limit per book so I order them when we get to that point. I write a paragraph for each month in the book talking about what’s been going on with the kids. I also keep a journal for each of my boys where I write them handwritten notes probably twice a month. It’s a lot but it makes me happy and I hope they appreciate it someday!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I second this! I love Chatbooks. They are so easy and turn out great. And they look cute all lined up.

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        I third this! We make one for each year and they’re compact/cute don’t take up too much space but have great quality and impact when you open them :).

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ok, so the Project Life app has changed my life when it comes to organizing the mess that is the camera roll on my phone into organized, customized pages that I will be printing into a tangible book at the end of the year. The app is free (yay!) and comes with lots of templates for arranging your photos. There are even places for you to type so that you can record memories/thoughts about different events and days. My daughter was born in February, and this is how I am keeping track of everything that has happened with her and our family. At the end of the year, I plan on printing all of the pages that I’ve made in the Project Life app into one of their nicer, hardback books. I am going to print a second copy in the soft back version of the book and put it back for my daughter to have one day when she has a home of her own. All of the pages that I’ve made this year as stored in the app and I work on them when I have an extra 10 or 15 minutes. It’s been so easy, the pages looks great (thanks to the app!), and I love that I will have tangible photo memories for both myself and for my daughter. I highly recommend it!!!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on finding a home! That is a huge task and it inevitably requires some compromise. For us, we had to compromise on buying a house with a garage that is just barely going to fit our 2 (small) cars and we have to walk down a set of steps to the garage. And the house is on a hill and on a corner so my husband will have to snowblow/shovel an inclined sidewalk on the north side of the house. But, the house itself is beautiful so it offsets the not-so-great garage. We ended up staying in the city because we both work in downtown Minneapolis and need to minimize our commute for our sanity/to maximize time with our son. Good luck getting settled in! We are putting our house on the market this week so are hoping/praying it sells this weekend because dealing with showings with a destructive toddler sounds like hell on earth (we are going to my parents this weekend when it goes on the market – send alll the good thoughts that it sells this weekend!).

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am eagerly following along with the photo book recommendations because that is something I keep putting off and now I am literally thousands of pictures in the hole. I love fall. I am soaking up sunny walks though the park with the colorful leaves. I am trying to do a no buy for clothes for myself though the end of the year but am window shopping for all the cozy sweaters! Good luck with the move. We bought a small suburban home and vowed we would never want more space because of our priorities (paying off student loans, saving, getting to travel) but now we have 2 kids and a larger extended family I am feeling the strain. Can’t wait to see new house pictures!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on the house!!
    Please come to Detroit for your next team meet up. Bonus: we’re pretty centrally located to you, Ohio and Canada so we’re perfectly situated for your team. Also, our food scene is seeing an insurgence of diverse restaurants throughout the Detroit Metro area. Also, we’re Midwesternly nice but also Motor City fun & cool. Come see us! 🙂

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I also have been wearing my skinny jeans and cozy sweaters all the time, but I would love to hear your recommendations for ankle boots you like and wear!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Literally all of mine are from Target! I have a camel-colored lace up wedge that I wear a lot, and then a sneaker-bootie, and then a more hiking-looking bootie with fur around the top. ♡ Thank you Targ!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Lindsey, I love your descriptions as photos of all the beautiful fall things in MSP. I am a native Minnesotan and have been following you for years. I have just returned to the US after 6 years in the tropics and I am loving all things fall!!! But your blog got me through all the humid hot autumns and winters as I tried to drink a PSL in AC! My oldest just headed off to the U and I too am struggling with how to manage photos. Your readers have great ideas!! Finally, you might feel like you are losing “cool points” moving to the burbs but I’m sure you and your husband will love it!!! And when your kids head off to college, you can look to move back to the city. I hoping for that in the next few years with MSP or St Paul at the top of my list!!!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and so far, I’ve done a couple different things for my girls. I do a Snap Fish photo book every year. The first year was just monthly updates and random pictures. The second year book i did more journaling in too. So trips we took, what we did, what she’s obsessed with that year, etc.

    I also hand write them a letter every year on their birthday with random things in it.. funny things they’ve said, what they eat, who they hang out with. I’m accumulating these in a folder and I’ll give them to them at some point, not sure when yet!

    So far, it’s been manageable because Snapfish is so easy, and writing a letter takes a whole 10 minutes.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I do nothing for photos! I have a 3.5 year old and I think I’ve printed maybe 10 pictures of her total. I’m not into photo books or printed pics because I hate clutter and I love minimizing papers around the house – and if I print pics, where am I going to store the photo book/album and how often am I actually going to look at it? For me scrolling through pics on my phone/computer works just fine! Also didn’t do baby books or anything like that. It would stress me out too much and I don’t enjoy stuff like that so I just don’t! I don’t have anything like that from my
      Childhood and I’ve never thought twice about missing out or feeling sad about it.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Andrea that sounds like a perfect plan for you, and I love that you’re like “it don’t enjoy it so I just don’t do it.” Well done. Bjork is similar to you and would prefer most everything to stay digital. ♡

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Alyssa – the handwritten letters on the birthday is such a sweet idea. I may borrow that. Thank you for sharing! ♡

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I signed my kiddo up for an email account and I periodically send her notes if she’s done something monumental, or if I’m just feeling “Mom sentimental”. I’ll give her the password when she’s old enough to appreciate it (She’s 6 now so there is a long way to go).

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    SUPER excited to hear more about the new house. We’re in a similar predicament now discussing where we want to move. Currently we’re renting in Prospect Park, and loving so many things about being in the city, but the space that comes with the suburbs…it’s tempting. (I also LOVED living in the Como neighborhood for a few years!)

    On the photo front, I really liked Kim’s post on Yellow Brick Home this summer. https://www.yellowbrickhome.com/how-i-organize-print-display-digital-photos/

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on the new house! That wallpaper in the photo above is AH-MAZING! I hope the transition is smooth.
    (Also, this Minnesota-girl turned CA-transplant is living vicariously through your fall photos 🙂 )

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I had to LOL about your clothing because I am doing the exact same thing right now but I have four sweaters that are in heavy rotation right now.

    Re: pictures. I can think of a couple different options. First: Shutterfly. They often have free (or heavily discounted) photo books. Second: check out Ali Edwards site (aliedwards.com). She’s an amazing resource for memory-keeping (and she keeps it simple, IMO). She does a project called “Month in the Life” that I’ve done that keeps it manageable and is easy to do. I also advocate for doing some of your own handwriting in your scrapbooks too. It’s a nice personal touch.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on the new house! As a renter, an attached garage sounds awesome. I dream of owning my own house with a pantry and kitchen island!
    I read this cool idea somewhere about creating a new email address for your child. You can email pictures, videos and other little stories there. And give them the email and password on their 18th birthday. I always thought that was a cool idea

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    “Hi” from a neighbor to the south. (But my husband is from MN and I got my grad degree from the U so I do have some connections.) We made the same house decision 12 years ago. At that time, we were both working from home and when my parents visited, it took me 4 hours to clean my filing cabinet, aka their bed. I miss my old house with character but I gained a house on an extensive trail system and in a school district that has been wonderful for my kids. Not sure what the next step is once my kids are gone…

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Fall has brought all the same wonderful things here in Northeast OH. It sure is beautiful outside, and I love the chill in the air.
    But my husband and I are finishing the adoption of our first child, and just had a failed match with a birth mother. We are heartbroken. And I fear we are heading into the fall/winter season a little worse for wear. The only things I’m grateful for these days are fall lattes, my leggings, sweaters, and the delicious casseroles, and crock pot dinners you post here. Reading your posts give me something to look forward to, and I love hearing about what’s happening in your life. Say a prayer for us would you?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m not a “commenter” by nature, but I was scrolling through for photo ideas and couldn’t get your comment out of my head. I’m also from NE Ohio and am thinking of you and the pain you must be experiencing with this enormous disappointment in a failed match.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just wrote out a whole comment praising ChatBooks as a great option for your photo memory needs and then read someone had already suggested it! So here’s another vote for checking out ChatBooks =)

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I use a MacBook Pro. In Photos, I set up albums with smart files. I have an album for each year and in each album is a smart file for each month. The smart file parameters “file” all pictures I load into Photos into the correct month; ie, when I uploaded six months of pictures to my MacBook Pro last week, all the pictures from October automatically went into the October 2019 file, all of September’s pictures automatically went into the September 2019 file, etc

    This method takes about 30 minutes of hands on time per year to set up that year’s album with the 12 smart files for that year. What’s cool about this method – it can be retroactive. So this year when I forgot to set up my albums until April, it didn’t matter that I’d already uploaded a bunch of photos; they still get sorted into the correct smart files, even if the files are created after the files are uploaded. In fact, when I first set this up (after literally more than a DECADE of mom guilt for never being able to maintain ANY photo system), I set up about five years of annual albums in one afternoon. And then boom, instantly, five years of photos all sorted into smart files by the month taken.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on the new house! We made the jump from St. Paul to the suburbs two weeks ago. It is super weird and I’m not exactly sure I love it. BUT we’ve got multiple bathrooms, a pantry, attached garage and huge yard which counts for something!?!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Regarding keeping memories:
    This doesn’t really connect the pictures part, but my dad bought both my sister and I a very nice journal engraved with our first and middle name. He writes in it throughout the year about different memories or thoughts he has about us. On our birthdays, he gives it to us for a few days to be able to read. Then we return it until the next year. I am 20 and my sister is 18. He plans on doing it as long as he is alive. It is a treasure now and will continue to be so even more as the years go by!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      That is amazing. My grandmother left me so many little notes of memories that I worked into a journal along with recipes of hers and photos of the two of us. It’s one of my absolute treasures. I wish I had the same from my parents. What a truly amazing gift he is giving you!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m not quite that organized, but I do have a journal for my daughter. For her first year, I wrote monthly updates, things like favorite foods, toys, new skills. Now I’m writing in it every few weeks with little updates like a fun day we had, Halloween, etc. For her birthdays we are writing letters to her with advice, thoughts on the year, etc.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Young house love has a helpful post about photo yearbooks that you might find helpful

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on the new house! You’ll make it cozy and your own and you’ll feel at home in no time. 😍 would you mind sharing some of the sweaters you’ve found and loved lately? I’m chunky sweater obsessed too. I love wearing one with skinny jeans or lululemon align leggings for those cozy work from home days. xo, Sam

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulation on finding a house! I know you said you have looked at so many, Do people still use wallpaper? I just had this discussion with my husband last night, my MIL has it and it seems outdated to me. I have yet to put on the sweater but the below freezing temps are coming this week to New England, so they will be on standby. Love the homemade potpourri. I have done it with lemons and cinnamon but never thought to use fresh apple. Hoping for you to get your hands on that tortellini soup. Sounds perfect right now.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Wallpaper does seem to be coming back in style.

      That being said, I spent a horrible weekend stripping it off of my childhood bedroom walls when I was in high school, and I swore I’d never put it in my own home and I’ve stuck to my guns. 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Good for you 🙂 There was a border around one of the bedrooms in my house when I moved in and it felt like it took forever to get it off. Even with all the tips I read online.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Wall Paper is everywhere right now and it’s beautiful!!! But, I agree- I had to take it down once, so I feel like I will never use it now because it’s traumatic!

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    For photos, I sync my iphone photos to my shutterfly and decide good enough is good enough. I make the occasional $8 minibook on the app with silly photos (free once a month – just pay shipping). Once a year, I make a family photobook. I decided I’m going to do a Year 1 book for each kid, and besides that I’m going to set aside a few photos of each kid each year into a photo album so they can have a photo album with 1-2 pages of each year. Whenever I make a photobook, I print out the pictures and put them in a shoebox so we have some physical pictures.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I use the groovebook app to print pictures each month and then i put them in an old fashioned photo album. I keep a google doc on my phone with updates about my baby and anecdotes etc and plan to print it out and put it in her baby book ( I find I never have the book when I have a moment to write something)