gail

As a trained chef, Special Projects Director of Food & Wine Magazine, a judge on Top Chef (and Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels), host of the new show The Feed, overseer of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, board member of City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen, published author (if you haven’t read Talking With My Mouth Full you should) – Gail Simmons has a lot on her plate.

Add to the roster: mom to five month-old Dahlia Rae. But don’t tell her that “it’s going to get better” because she already loves every minute of it: “It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.”

The new mom leaves her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, neighborhood – where they moved a week before she gave birth – for Boston soon to shoot season 12 of Top Chef with Dahlia Rae in tow.

We caught up with her (in between pumping and meetings) about the challenges of nursing and one of her most embarrassing moments (yes, it involves breastmilk).

What’s In A Name?

Dahlia is my favorite flower – it symbolizes sunshine and comes in so many amazing colors. It was our wedding flower and it was on our invitation. Rae is to honor my husband’s Aunt Rena, who passed away two years ago. She was so encouraging and supportive in our lives, and we love and miss her so much.

 Lifesaving Products

We opened the Fisher-Price bouncy chair when she was a month old, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t opened it sooner. It allowed us to eat dinner, for me to pump and go to the bathroom when I was home alone with her. Once she hit three months, she graduated to the Mamaroo, which we call the hovercraft. She’s really into it now.

 Part Of The Club

On Top Chef, I was the only one who didn’t have kids, so they’ve been a wealth of knowledge and help. Michelle Bernstein made me realize it’s okay to be back at work and to lose the guilt associated with it because it’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity.

 Deep Thoughts From Gail

How will she sleep comfortably unswaddled? How can I leave the house without 14 bags? How do I pump when I’m running around all day? These are questions I don’t know the answers to.

 #Momfail

I was taping in front of a live studio audience and forgot to put nipple pads in my bra. They leaked right there. It was horrifying. You think you’re at least keeping it together on the outside. Of course I was wearing a beautiful silk dress. And in case you didn’t know, yes, milk stains. It was a low point.

Get In My Belly

After giving birth, you feel like you don’t know anything, including how to keep yourself fed. I have mastered the efficient grocery shop. Fresh Direct is tough for me because I like to physically walk the aisles and see my options. I went to Union Market and created a basic order with them. Sometimes I go and pick everything out and have them deliver it, others I just call and ask for my basics. I embrace anyone who delivers these days.

Flower Child

I love Honest diapers. Dahlia wears dahlias on her bottom – how cute is that?! Angela and Ethan Stowell [chef] gave me this amazing RoSK blanket that’s waterproof on one side, soft and fluffy on the other and it ties onto the stroller. It’s great for the park because you can put the waterproof side on the ground.

Neighborhood Nosh

We moved to Cobble Hill a week before I gave birth, so we’ve been getting to know the restaurants with baby in tow. We love Buttermilk Channel, Court Street Grocers, Nightingale 9, Red Gravy, Iris Cafe – they’re all so accommodating and kid-friendly. I spent a month in LA shooting and we frequented Cafe Gratitude, Alfred Coffee & Kitchen and lunch at Fred Segal.

Just Stop, Already

Everyone keeps saying, oh it’s going to get better, but we are actually loving the early days. She’s only four and a half months, and we are already reminiscing about things she “used to do”. It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.

Give Yourself A Break

I think new moms feel out of control so they obsess about routine and schedules, but the truth is they are babies, and you have to give yourself a break. They are going to be fine if you can’t feed them every three hours to the minute. Babies are adaptable and every child is different – you can’t prescribe one schedule for all. It’s all going to be okay as long as they are fed, dry and loved.

First Foods

I hope to make Dahlia Rae’s food myself in the beginning. I can’t wait for her to try avocado, banana, mango, sweet potato, peaches, corn. There would be great irony if I spawned a very picky eater.

Three Hours Alone On A Saturday

Will that ever happen again? I’m getting a mani, pedi and a massage anywhere that will take me at a moment’s notice.

Mom Brain

Now I know why my mom sometimes can’t remember my name. Because she had three children. I barely know my own name some days, and I only have one. Sleep deprivation is rough.

 

Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

SHOP: Gail’s Registry Must-Haves

Uppababy Vista

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Sleep Sheep

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Born Free Bottles

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saturdays Cleo Murnane
Lives: Silver Lake, CA
Family:
husband McShane, daughter Emerson (8), son Lake (6), dog Rilke
You might know her:
Project M Plus, the design and architecture firm she co-owns with her husband. Clients include The Hive, Lucy Wild, Wal & Pai, and Lombardi House.
Obsession:
I’m a graphic designer at heart, but I also love interiors. My mom is an interior designer, so I grew up with it.

cleo

6:30am:

Emerson rises with the sun and crawls into our bed, always with something on her mind. So Saturday mornings, I indulge my little lady with some girl time pillow talk.

8am:

My husband makes breakfast all week, so I try to log some time in the kitchen on the weekends. Our breakfast pantry staple Solstice Canyon Almond Butter is typically on the menu – it’s so delicious in banana smoothies!

10am:

The Silver Lake Farmers’ Market is a 10-minute walk, so we grab our 10 year old pup and a couple of scooters and go shopping.

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11am:

After groceries, I pop into one of the new shops on Sunset: Mollusk, Aesop, or APC. Mollusk has an amazing collection of architecture books and art, and the kids are geek out on their Electric Surf Campervan. Typically we have at least one birthday party to go to on the weekends, which is a good excuse to visit Sweet William.
If the kids are still in good form, I’ll peek into the gorgeous Clare V boutique next door.

12pm:

At home we feast on our goodies from the farmer’s market for lunch.

2pm:

We’re off to beach or hike, one the many perks of living in in LA. We love Annenberg in the afternoon when the crowds go home or, if we’re feeling ambitious, we’ll drive to Malibu for El Matador or Leo Carrillo (if we decide to take the pup).

6pm:

Early dinner with the kids… so much for my kitchen time! Our local favorites are Ostrich Farm and Speranza. The owners of both restaurants have young children, and if you go early, the servers could not be more gracious to families. Plus both wine lists are exceptional.

8pm:

Bath and books with the kids. Right now we’re reading a charming little series of chapter books called The Penderwicks. I try to squeeze in some reading, too. My friend Lynsey Addario wrote this amazing memoir It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War – I love hearing her voice in my head because she’s funny, so real, and totally fearless.

On Our Radar: July 30, 2015

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primarymilkbookies

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Aden + Anais Layette
WHO: Every parent of a baby who can fit into 0-12mos clothing.
WHAT: Everyone’s favorite purveyor of precious cotton muslin baby goods has finally launched layette – and it’s to-die-for cute and very reasonably priced.
WHEN: Do not wait.
WHERE: adenandanais.com

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Milk & Bookies
WHO: Parents who want to teach their kids to give back and foster literacy to those in need.
WHAT: Host a “book-raiser” – choose an organization from a list, have kids donate a gently-used book, and have fun with provided stickers and bookplates.
WHEN: You have a free afternoon.
WHERE: milkandbookies.org

DockATot
WHO: Parents of newborns.
WHAT: We go nuts for multi-use products – this one is for tummy time, a safe place to put baby so you can pee, a portable napping spot, a changing pad, and it emulates the womb to promote sleep.
WHEN: You want this one from day one.
WHERE: dockatot.com

Follain
WHO: Anyone who wants to get educated and shop truly safe beauty products.
WHAT: This online shop stocks solely safe products and puts a huge emphasis on educating both themselves and their customers.
WHEN: Shop worry free anytime – there are no toxic options.
WHERE: shopfollain.com

chriselle_lim

There are a million-and-one clever, cute ways to announce a pregnancy, but Chriselle Lim went the opposite route: Her video announcement was deeply honest and profound (truly, you’ll get chills).

After relaying the happy news, the LA-based stylist/blogger behind The Chriselle Factor opened up about her subsequent miscarriage and the secret shame she felt around it. As a result, she created a highly visible yet safe space for her readers to talk openly about a very tough subject.

It’s hardly what you would have expected from Chriselle, who’s made a business out of things looking perfect – or at least close to it. Her blog, YouTube channel (going strong with over 35 million views), and Instagram showcase her hyper-dewy skin and highly-coveted outfits.

But pregnancy – and now motherhood to adorable Chloe (6 months) – has brought a heavy dose of #realtalk to Chriselle’s site, and we couldn’t be more impressed with how she’s using her reach to get so honest and open. “I don’t want people to see me as this perfect person with no flaws,” she told us. “I want them to see I’m just like them, dealing with the same issues.”

We chatted with Chriselle about the perception of perfection, fighting the urge to overcommit, and her body image journey (complete with her stealable postpartum dressing advice). Meet the completely lovely, brave, and can’t-be-pegged Chriselle.

On Getting Real On Her Blog

The response has been really amazing. In the beginning, people were a bit shocked because I was one of those women who kind of portrayed a perfect glamorous life on social media. Now I think I’ve been able to open the door on their perspective of me – who I am and what I stand for. It’s really important that women, especially new moms, understand that Instagram is just a platform to go to for inspiration – things are highly curated and edited and not necessarily “real”.

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On Postpartum Dressing

A week after Chloe was born, I was going to her first doctor’s appointment: I tried to fit into my skinny jeans, and I was so disappointed. Obviously I had an unrealistic idea of what my body was going to do after giving birth. And I still dread wearing skinny jeans! I’m finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight on the scale, but my body is totally different. So now I’m wearing a lot of high-waisted skirts, pants – anything that covers my midsection and elongates my body. I also like shift dresses, pieces that skim over the body and aren’t tight anywhere so your body can move and breathe comfortably.

On Moving Past The Hard Stuff

When I filmed our pregnancy announcement, I wasn’t going to talk about my miscarriage at all… but as soon as the camera turned on, I got the sudden urge to bring it up. I felt like I needed to tell my story. I started opening up, and we literally got the whole video in one take because I was speaking from my heart. I was really nervous to post it, but when I did the number of women who came out with similar stories was absolutely insane. Women who had never talked about it were finally opening up about their experience. Women who hadn’t thought about it in 10 years, women who just went through a similar situation and had no one to talk to… thousands of women. It was such a shock to me. There is a secret society of women who go through this and never acknowledge it. I made this short film dedicated to those women who haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone about it, to know they are not alone and that so many of us go through it.

Work It Out

Even though I know working out should be a priority and I try to make it a priority, after you have a baby… they have their own schedule. It’s definitely a luxury now! I love spin, I did it once since Chloe was born, and it was amazing, but I haven’t found the time to go back. In the first 3 or 4 months, I was really horrible on myself – it’s like I want to go back to the gym! I’m on camera, so I want to look a certain way. But at the end of month 4, I got realistic with myself… and that’s actually when my body started losing the weight on its own.

Saying Yes To Less

When you become a mom, you have to figure out a number of things… one of them is coming up with a schedule that works for you and the baby. Before Chloe, I was the type of person who overcommitted myself and would say yes to everything. I can’t do that anymore – I have to be realistic and do less. I’m also more efficient with my time and better at asking friends and family for favors. Right now, my amazing aunt is my nanny – she comes three times a week, and I schedule all my meetings around those times. I give 100% on those days, and when I’m home with Chloe, I give 100% there as well.

Inspired By Teen Spirit

I started my YouTube channel about 5 years ago and there was really a lack of women in their mid-20’s/early-30’s – it was all teenagers! So I saw an opportunity. Obviously glossy magazines are very aspirational, but I wanted to do something more personal and relatable – our channel is a good hybrid of aspirational and attainable. There’s something really important about showing outfits women can actually wear – things that aren’t just beautiful, but also work in everyday life.

The Name Game

I have a niece named Chloe, and I kind of helped raise her, so I’ve always loved the name. Victoria is after Allen’s father, Victor, whom I’ve never met – he passed away from stomach cancer 15 years ago.

Bonding Through Babies

One of the many joys of motherhood is the instant bond you develop with other mothers. Eva Chen and I definitely weren’t best friends before, but through motherhood we have become a lot closer. I traveled to New York with Chloe for the first time a few weeks ago, and she offered to send me a stroller so I didnt have to travel with one. It was one of the most thoughtful things. She was also there for me during my pregnancy because she had Ren maybe a month and a half earlier, and she pretty much reported everything she was going through and sent me all these lists to help prepare. Plus so many other women I don’t even know would send me articles, encouragement, and tops on raising Chloe on social.. it’s so thoughtful and amazing.