September Coffee Date - 2019 - Skillful Cook
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September Coffee Date - 2019

It's September, and do you love it or do you love it? I love it. Here's what September has been like for us over here in charming, fall-ish St. Paul, Minnesota.

Orange fall leaf.

It's September, and do you love it or do you love it?


Here's the thing - I adore summer. I am team Summer Everyday Forever.

Buuut... I am wearing a chunky burnt orange sweater with cropped jeans today! As in long pants JEANS! I also made veggie enchiladas and vegetarian shepherd's pie this afternoon, and apple crisp earlier this week, and chicken wild rice soup last weekend. And wow. Maybe I am kind of also team Fall? Because I feel like I have a new bounce in my step.

The important question this month: how many pumpkin drinks have you had so far this year? because I've had at least 73.

Here's what September has been like for us over here in charming, fall-ish St. Paul, Minnesota.

The House Hunting Never Ends

Bjork in front of house.

We've been at this for well over a year now. We have looked at honestly probably 1,000 houses or more on all the real estate websites (plus many in person). We have liked a handful of them. We have made offers on three. We have gotten zero.

My main takeaway with the whole process:


Takeaway number two is that what we are looking for maybe, probably, almost certainly does not exist.

Here's what we want (City Edition):

  • Access to fun restaurants
  • Access to good grocery stores!
  • Access to nice trails and water? like, possibly a lake?
  • Diverse community
  • Charm, charm, charm

And here's what we want (Suburb Edition):

  • Open floor plan
  • Bedrooms on same level
  • Big yard
  • Quiet
  • Good schools

So... I don't know. Where is the place where you can get all of that rolled up into one house with a cherry on top? We can't find it.

Tell me your good stories about house hunting. Did you wait it out and find the house of your dreams? Did you buy a house that was like, meh, and then found yourself falling in love with it over time? Did you build a house? Are you team city or suburbs? Please discuss all.

Well, September Dinner Club Was Sure Delicious

Pasta, salad, and bread for dinner club.

I had planned to make us a nice fallish mushroom fettuccine, but then dinner club day arrived, and it was roughly 900 degrees outside, so I bailed and went for something less hot and heavy and a little more puckery, salty, and fresh.

Here was our simple, fresh, perfect early-fall-late-summer menu:

Baby Solvi Turned One

Bjork and Solvi.

Precious, adorable, sensitive, chill but opinionated Solvi turned one year old this month.

This little love bug is just sunshine. A little run-down of One Year Old Solvi:

  • She isn't walking yet, but she's a speedcrawler.
  • She is a big, big baby. Like, wearing at least 18M and sometimes 24M clothes.
  • Her favorite activity is eating. (Okay yes, these are all related.)
  • Favorite foods are raspberries and more raspberries, spaghetti, taco-spiced chicken, avocados, sweet potatoes, black beans, and cheese. And a few more raspberries.
  • She loves to “dance” - signature move is going into crazy flailing-arms-and-legs mode.
  • She loves walks.
  • She loves Sage. Sometimes a little too much.
  • Riding in the car is not her favorite.
  • Her favorite word is “guk.” Our little genius.

How Have We Not Talked About The Enneagram

Sage on the couch.

Have you taken it? What does it mean to you? What number / type are you?

I have taken it several times and listened to several podcasts but this week I just started a real, official Enneagram book (The Road Back To You / affiliate link) and I am already very excited about it.

I test as a Type 6 which feels pretty true for me (like struggling with decision making OH YEAH remember the house thing?), but I also feel some connection to a Type 4 (being a little too emotionally intense for my own good sometimes). I am hoping the book helps clarify this for me a little bit.

I'd love to hear your Enneagram thoughts and experiences!

Who You Should Follow On Instagram

Apple crisp in bowls.

I take my follows very seriously, because what you see and read and look at all the time is what you're basically feeding to your brain.

Here's what my brain is thriving on:

Who are your favorite follows on Instagram or social media?

Hello From Sage

Important words this month:

Sage on the couch.

Sage wants you to find rest, even right now, even in your season of... stuff everywhere. Hardship. Busyness. Chaos. Heartbreak.

Take an emotional rest, a physical rest, a mental rest. You probably (definitely) need it. Let your shoulders relax a little bit. Leave the junk on the floor. Find a pillow and - literally or figuratively - rest your head for a minute.

Sage knows: this is just good for the soul.

I hope your September was every bit as fallish as ours! Happy weekend! xo

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    As for the Enneagram, I’ve heard it’s best if you read and study each number and then select one rather than testing. Lots of people test as 6 because “anxious” seems to be a key word, but other numbers can struggle with anxiety — it’s more about the motivations and reasons behind it rather than the presenting behaviors, though!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Help! I’ve lost an energy bite recipe that doesn’t come up when I do a search. All I remember is that it contains coconut flakes (Red Bird was recommended), chia seds, peanut butter, and I think honey.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I don’t know if this will be depressing or helpful, but after searching for a house for 2 years, we are finally under contract for a house. We searched in a very limited area (Lynnhurst in SW Minneapolis). We wanted things like a 2-car garage, a/c, main floor powder room, openish floor plan with no wasted space we wouldn’t use (like a formal living room + family room on the same level – hard pass on that set up as we don’t need 2 spaces with couches on one level…). We also really wanted 2 above-grade showers (which felt impossible with early 20th century homes. And curb appeal would be nice. We ended up finding a place, thank GOD as I was so tired of working and starting to think we were searching for a unicorn. The place we are buying isn’t *perfect* as we have to walk a set of stairs to our (pretty small) garage, which isn’t ideal with a child but oh well. The house is on a hill so we have a sloping sidewalk on the north side of the house (it’s a corner lot) that we’ll have to shovel which my husband is dreading. But there is no perfect house! It was really really really important for us to stay in the city so we never considered the ‘burbs but I can understand why people do since finding a house with all the items on our list was SO FREAKING HARD!! So best wishes to you guys!

    Our son didn’t walk until 16.5 months so if Solvi walks super late, don’t worry about it. I was kind of nervous but then one day he just decided to take off and took 6 steps. And then he was done with crawling! So the later the walk, the faster the transition and the fewer falls along the way!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      YES TO ALL! This is exactly how I feel about layout – no need for a formal dining room or two rooms with couches on the same floor. I am so glad you found a place you love!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    We just bought a house in Shoreview near a lake! It meets the physical space and the good school requirements we had. BUT it hurts my hear to leave St. Paul so I totally feel you. I’m trying to convince myself that driving 8 extra mins to pick up Brasa for dinner won’t be too annoying?!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Also suggest Little Canada. Convenience, lake, trails, diverse Roseville school district

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    First off, I’m a 2 wing 3!:)
    I grew up in a small town and a suburb. I now live in city and feel at home! It’s a small town feel and we have access to great restaurants, the river and the theatre just down the street. And we have found the schools to be great, too. Good luck!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I did Enneagram ages ago and cannot remember what my numbers were (I was split between two), but I do know my Myers-Briggs type is INTJ (rare in general, even more rare for a woman). And I agree with Lindsay Stadter – for both MBTI and Enneagram, reading and understanding the types before you take the test, or without taking the test, helps with figuring out where you really fall; this is especially true if you are already an introspective person.

    I actually did the house-hunting thing in Dec18-Jan19 and adore the house I finally found. And like you, I was convinced that what I wanted didn’t exist on this mortal plane. I was looking for small acreage (3-10) on the border between suburban and rural, with a cute, non-manufactured house (the older the better – I love houses with history). And I absolutely, positively, did NOT want to buy in an HOA area, as I had terrible experiences with the HOA where I last lived. There were other things I wanted (garage, at least 2 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, nice kitchen in a separate room, no open floorplan, etc.), but I knew that those three things (location, acreage, and no HOA) would be set in stone after I bought the place, while everything else could be changed in time. I ended up stumbling across a prior foreclosure house that had been standing empty for over 2 years, that was sitting on 4.5 acres in the town that was just north of where I grew up, so I already knew the area well. When I first went to visit the place, it was so filthy and abandoned-looking, but as soon as I drove up, it just felt right. I loved the drive to get to the place, I loved the atmosphere of the neighborhood, and when I walked into the house and saw all of its quirky old charm (it’s a 1950s A-frame that was doubled in size in the early 2000s), I just KNEW I had to bring it back to life.

    Buying it was a frustrating process because any house that is not a “standard” sale comes with additional complications for funding, surveys, etc. But I’ve been living in the house since March and gradually renovating it. I LOVE having a continual stream of projects, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea. But I definitely feel like this house and I were meant for each other. =)

    Sorry for the long response. I love your coffee date talks!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    We’ve bought 10 houses in 10 cities. My husband got transferred a lot. We usually bought a house in the week we had on our company paid for, pre-moving trip. What I’ve learned. The house we spent the most time shopping for was the house I liked the least. No house is perfect, even if you build it yourself. You get used to most things after you’ve lived in a house awhile. And finally location, location location, really is the most important thing. Good Luck

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    We lived in St. Paul for 8 years (in midway) and reaaaaallly wanted to stay, but could not find a house we could afford in the neighborhoods we wanted, unless it was tiny. We had 2 kids at the time and needed a bit more space than our 900 sq ft 1.5 story with 1 bath and no dishwasher! Ended up in Falcon heights and our house was not great at first but now I love it (after a few renovations/lots of paint). Location, lot and layout mattered most to us. It’s obviously not a hip fun neighborhood but it’s SO convenient to everything and we can easily bus or bike lots of places if we don’t want to drive. Schools have been great, love our neighborhood and we have plenty of space.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Very very into @eholmes instagram for royal fashion commentary if you’re looking for some over the top, smart, funny new content 🙂

    Long-time pinch of yum fan/lurker over here, glad your fall is off to a good start!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ugh that picture of Sage… she just looks so huggable! I want to squish her (in a good way)!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on Solvi’s first birthday!

    We live in the suburbs and really like it, but I know it’s not for everyone. I would say though that we have the things on your suburban list. We built our house (but through a big national builder so didn’t get all the choices I would have liked) but an unexpected very awesome surprise has been having so many new friends in the neighborhood! Since everyone came into the neighborhood around the same time, a lot of people were looking and open to connections and making friends, so it’s been great! My kids have so many other kids to play with and there’s a lot of people in similar life stages. Having friends right down the street is so convenient (especially in MN winters!) as we can still get together to drink wine, chat & watch the bachelor even in a snow storm 😀 best of luck in your search!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      TOTALLY agree about the neighborhood friends in the ‘burbs, they make everything so much more fun. And bonus: we call each other when we’re running errands in the city (15 – 30 minutes, depends on where we’re going), just to see if anyone needs anything while we’re there. Heck, we even call each other if we’re going to the grocery store here in our small town that’s only 3 minutes away. Years ago we’d also watch each other’s kids if needed, bring each other meals after babies, etc. — it feels like family and still does as our kids are growing up and out. 🙁

    2. Skillful Cook Logo


      Also in a neighborhood where we are all new. I wrote a letter to our neighbors and gave them my phone number and I received lots in return. Now what?? How do you actually coordinate with everyone?

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    We just moved into our house we’ve hunted for since like February of 2018. Worth the wait! Offered on two houses had offers prepared for at least one other and bailed. The day we saw this house or indecisiveness and different tastes found a fit. We knew it was right But still did our due diligence and I prayed that it would fall through despite how badly I wanted it if it was the wrong place for our family. I’m 19 weeks pregnant with number 2 so it wasn’t any too early but was also perfect that I wasn’t still morning sick and exhausted!!
    Of our massive demands list we only compromised on one and it was balanced well.
    Be willing to compromise on some things, but wait for the right fit or something you can change to be the right fit!
    Congratulations on a first birthday, so fun!!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m a real estate agent and believe you should listen to the little voice in your head when you are looking for a new house. If you are working too hard to love a house, then you should keep looking. I’ve worked with clients who looked for years before they found “their” house. You’ll know when you find it because you will stand in the house and feel balanced and at peace. There is no perfect house and you may have to give up one of your “must haves” but there is a house out there for you. Keep looking-you’ll find it.!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    10 years ago we spent 8 months looking for something that wasn’t out there. So we reframed what we really wanted and found a great home in a few weeks! But then we grew out of it, and now we are building our dream home- it took 2 years to find the property, but it is perfect! We are so excited 😆

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    We lived in a not safe neighborhood and when we moved to the state we live in now, that was our priority. But the house is small, and needed repairs, and appliances replaced because they have all taken turns breaking. I hope where ever you land, Solvi, has a little girl gang to call her own to make some fun memories with as she grows. Our neighbors have kids similar ages as mine, and it is so awesome.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Team quiet city center neighborhood with great schools (let me know when you find that)

    Seriously though, we are in the same boat of what we want isnt out there right now. We are currently in the suburbs in an incredible older neighborhood. I would pick up my hood and move it to the city if I could, as I hate the burb mentality and the fact that I have to drive for ALL errands. Good luck!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    house hunting is the worst. Personally I like a good first ring suburb, reasonable travel time to the good restaurants, but easier access to the good grocery stores.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I look forward to these posts every month! Thanks for sharing this Lindsay. Good luck with house hunting and thank you for the kind words by Sage – those 5 lines were exactly what I needed to read! Going through so much mental exhaustion and really need to relax and let go of a few things and just let them be.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I LOVE the Enneagram. I actually give workshops on it at my work. Type 7 right here!!! It does take some time to figure out your type and Suzanne Stabile has really excellent podcasts answering questions and talking to different types too. Can’t wait to hear more about it! It’s been a super helpful tool for my own personal growth!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Good luck with the house hunting! It took us over a year as well and we were also between buying in Chicago or the burbs. Ultimately we picked the suburbs which worked out well as we just had surprise twins and my son will be 2 in October. It was nice to have the space. Also, I wanted all rooms on the same level but settled for a master on the main. I actually like it a lot and although it will be a little more stair climbing now it will be nice when the kids are older. It’s a stressful decision but just wait for the right home to come!

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    House huntings is SO much fun!
    But also a PAIN IN THE REAR.
    My husband and I bought our first house almost two years ago. We knew which city we wanted to live in…just finding the right house was HARD. I get you.
    I had fallen IN LOVE with another house. Almost bought it. But we discovered why is had been on the market for so long…foundation issues! Hard NO.
    The house we bought was in a quiet neighborhood….BEAUTIFUL yard. But the kitchen almost was a deal breaker. So I felt meh at first…but now? I LOVE MY HOUSE. We have done renovations and are now fixing this kitchen to be my dream kitchen!!!
    You’ll find yours! But it may be meh…just see what it COULD be. Even if it doesn’t check all the boxes.

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    It’s 98 degrees here on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle. I loved reading about your cozy times and chunky sweater, but I’m a Florida girl and I love the warm weather. I adore your blog and your precious family and I’ve been reading for years. Your recipes are always SPOT ON and I appreciate that kind of quality!

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Good luck on the house hunt! You’ll find a house you love. I looked at houses online only for over a year to figure out which neighborhoods we could afford and understand the market in or area. My husband and I fell in love with a house and the neighborhood. This was the first house we walked through, but we knew we wanted it. It had been on the market less than a week, but someone else had already made an offer that was accepted. We put in a back up offer and got dragged along for a little while, but ultimately we didn’t get the house. The second house we looked at in person was bigger, cheaper, close to the first house, but I thought it needed too much work. We walked through that couple a couple times house and started talking about how we’d fix it up and I saw it in a new light. We bought it two and half years ago and I’m really happy with it. We’re still fixing it up, but it’s been fun making it our own and we have great neighbors and a big yard.

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    House hunting is so emotional! You’ll get there. We wanted 4 beds 2 baths (ended up with 4 beds and 1.5 bath). We focused on a really specific location and I don’t regret that at all. The space is a huge jump up from what we had and we’re so thankful. We could afford it because it needed some major (though not urgent) work like new roof, air, heating, and hot water heater. It’s intimidating but we feel able to slowly save for those things as the need arises vs paying for an all updated home. Whatever you find will be wonderful and you will make it even more wonderful by living there and giving life to it!

  24. Skillful Cook Logo

    For affordable city living with charm for under a million dollars, you will probably have to move to a smaller city. For a one story with all that, you’ll need a an acre lot or larger in the country, but your kids won’t have a dozen friends within walking distance.. And you’ll stop worrying about stairs when your kids are about five. LOL

    Sages worth following? Bernadette Jiwa.
    Always outstanding and digestible wisdom using few words.

  25. Skillful Cook Logo

    It took us 9 months to find a house and that was EVERY weekend both Sat and Sun. It was awful! We had to compromise quite a bit to finally pick one, because rates were going up and so were the home prices. Our house is nice, but I’m not in love. The one I did love, got away and I still think about it! (and sometimes longingly look at the old pics of it on Zillow). I have problems, haha. I guess my advice would be to not settle. Yes, you may have to compromise on some things. But make sure the “in love” feeling is there and don’t pick something because you’re tired of looking.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I really appreciate this perspective and can definitely relate to looking at the house pictures of the “one that got away.” 😉