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.


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

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Joanna Goddard

Joanna Goddard is America’s sweetheart of the blog world – a hefty title, no doubt, but one that she lives up to in every way. Her beloved site, A Cup of Jo, started as a post-breakup distraction on nights and weekends, but over time, the honest, well-written, and thoughtful posts have earned the former magazine editor a devoted audience (take a look-see at all of those comments!) and a wildly successful business.

On any given week, women from around the world flock to her posts on everything from a cute clothing line you’ve never heard of to bikini waxes (she’s anti!) to idyllic vacations to battling postpartum depression (she did, twice – more on that below). It’s that mix of girl talk, inspiration, and real life struggle that keeps us checking in every day.

After years of devoted reading, we got the chance to chat with the delightful mom of two (Toby is 4, Anton is 1.5) about her writing, her life, and what she’ll never cover on the blog. Without further ado, the ultra-charming (and yet, very real) Joanna Goddard.

Master of Authenticity

When I’m writing a post about a personal experience, I pretend like I’m writing an email to my mom or sister – that’s the language I use. And afterwards, I send it to my husband to make sure I’ve described it truthfully just as it happened.


The Good & The Bad

I think it’s important for women to share both ups and downs because that’s just reality. I want people to be able to relate to my blog. And when I do mention something I’m struggling with, I’m always blown away by the empathy and intimate comments people leave – it makes me feel like I have this meaningful relationship with people I have never met.

Fan Girls

People have come up to us in the most unexpected places: on vacation in Amsterdam, at a wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia. I love it! For years, it was just me, alone with my computer on my bed, so it was really nice to have people approach me. Some of my good friends are people I met through the site.

Kids on the Interweb

When the boys were babies, I was totally fine with sharing their photos and stories because everyone goes through the same things (lack of sleep, hiring childcare, etc). Now that Toby is older, he is starting to become his own person and he goes through things in life that are specific to him, and I’m becoming much more careful about what I share about him. I feel really connected to my readers, so our family life will always be a narrative thread on the blog, but long-term, I want to put more focus on the women’s lifestyle stories, like house tours, recipes, style, motherhood, and essays from other women.

Her Blogroll

I love Dinner A Love Story: Jenny Rosenstrach is so smart and wise. I’ve gotten really into The Atlantic in the past year – love that it’s more lifestyle driven. And South African-based Miss Moss has great taste and finds such cool stuff online.

She’ll Never Ever Ever…

I’ve never covered dieting. I’m so not interested in it. People have enough pressure on them. Plus, I want the blog to feel like an escape.

Major Perk

Having a personal blog forces you to take lots of photos and have a journal of your family life – I’m really grateful for that!

The Old Debate

We recently made the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I thought I would miss the West Village, but I love our new hood Carroll Gardens – it’s like the West Village but without the annoying stuff like tourists, massive crowds, loud ambulances, and delivery trucks. We think about moving to California (my twin sister lives in San Francisco) all the time, and Instagram is not helpful in the depths of winter! A backyard sounds amazing, but we love New York.

The Perks of Raising Kids in NYC

1. I love playground culture here so much. After I had Toby, I felt isolated in the beginning, so I would take him as a newborn to the playground, sit on the bench, and talk to nannies and moms. I never had to plan it, and there were always people there, which I found so reassuring (still do).
2. You can breastfeed in public without any fanfare. There’s so much going on at all times that no one is phased by it.
3. The diversity. Toby’s exposed to so many different cultures at school, and we love taking the boys to try different kinds of ethnic food. I asked where they wanted to go for dinner the other night, and one said “falafel” while the other said “sushi” – I loved that!

The Downside

The school system can be stressful to navigate. And it’s so expensive! That’s the real bummer. I would love for my kids to be able to run free a little more. I try to never say, “be careful” because I don’t want to nag them all the time, but it would be nice to live next to more woods or parks so they could wander freely.

Remember When…

I get so nostalgic when ages and stages pass by, and I didn’t anticipate that. When your 1-year-old becomes a 2-year-old, there is some loss there. You love each phase so exquisitely that it almost hurts when it’s gone. I want them to grow up but I don’t: it’s so bittersweet.

Drawing The Line

I would never write about anything that would embarrass my family. I don’t cover something if it isn’t my story to tell, and I am very cognizant of privacy. I usually don’t share something that’s really hard until it’s over because if you’re writing about something while you’re in it, the reader can feel the weight and heaviness of it all. It feels more balanced when you have come out the other side and have perspective to share.

Dealing With Postpartum Depression

I had postpartum depression and anxiety with both boys. I remember having all these awful thoughts and feelings – I’m a bad mom, my husband doesn’t love me – that’s the illness telling you that, it’s not actually happening. It sounds hokey, but my mom told me to come up with a mantra, and when your mind starts spinning, repeat the mantra. Mine was something to the effect of: I’m trying my best every day and aiming for just good enough during this time. Going on walks and feeling fresh air on my face was helpful. And watching mindless TV like Friends helped relax me. For women going through this, I recommend talking to a doctor. This is a great website where you can find a specialist and support groups near you, which is such a relief. Also, just know you’re not alone or going crazy – this happens to so many people. You’ll be so proud of yourself when you look back and see how you got through something so hard.

Secret Talents & Obsessions

My guilty pleasure is The Bachelor. I’m addicted to the show. I’ve also recently gotten into reading psychological thrillers like Gone Girl and The Girl on The Train. And for secret talents, I can fake a bunch of accents, including random regional U.S. accents, like Chicago or Southern California. (Have you ever seen Amy Walker? She’s my hero!)

Perfect Family Moment

I really love family bike rides. My husband is a wuss and won’t take the babies on his bike, so I have Anton in front and Toby in back. Toby is singing behind me, and Anton is playing with the bike bell. We are headed to a park or a playground. Of course, Alex’s bike is a cool vintage Schwinn with a special gold bell, and my bike is so lame with a hamburger bell.

Dinner With Kids

I’ve actually found if we take the boys to kid-friendly restaurants, they get more rambunctious than if we take them to a quiet grown-up spot. I think the calm makes them more calm. We love the Odeon, and when we take them to our local sushi spot Koto, they are on their best behavior. For more family-friendly places, we love to ride bikes to Brooklyn Crab for seafood and mini golf, and the Brooklyn Beer Hall feels very European, so you feel cool and the kids still have fun.

SHOP: Joanna’s Must-Have Registry Picks

Ergobaby Carrier


Shop It!

My Brest Friend


Shop Now!

Miracle Blanket


Shop It!

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There are a few sacred occasions where snail mail is still the only appropriate way to go: thank you notes, wedding invitations, and birth announcements. That last one can be tricky – no new mom has time to go down the Etsy rabbit hole to find a keepsake that lives up to her baby’s cuteness.

So we did it for you! Check out our short list of the best options out there, across a range of prices and styles. Make your top picks ahead of time and lose the risk of this task falling into the hands of a well-meaning family member with questionable taste (been there).

Because no baby deserves to be introduced to the world in Comic Sans.


Mooseberry Paper Co

$112 for 50


Sugar Paper

$604 for 50


Egg Press

$75 for 50



Color Quarry

Price upon request


Paperless Post

$55 for 50


Paper Heart Prints

$78 for 50


Alli Arnold

$60 for 50



$117 for 50


Austin Press

$400 for 50

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saturdays Ellen Schmidt
Lives: Washington Heights, otherwise known as “Upstate Manhattan”
Husband Jason and our daughters Amelia (“Millie”, 5) and Vivian (3)
Spends her days: I work from home as a freelance writer, social media consultant, and blogger at Baby Meets City
Secret obsession: Reviewing every NYC-based children’s book ever written (the famous and the undiscovered!)



My little gals are wide awake and ready to start the day (we got lucky, they’re pretty good at sleeping in on the weekends)! That being said, I’m still tired and have been since 2009. I turn on Doc McStuffins and steal 15 more minutes of sleep.


Go in search of coffee. Luckily we have beans from my new favorite java roaster, Driftaway Coffee in Brooklyn. I like to make a big breakfast on one weekend morning, and it’s usually on Saturday. Pancakes (raspberr-wee pancakes from Weelicious are always a hit), eggs, bacon, and fruit… yummy!


Breakfast. Second cup of coffee.



Ignore breakfast dishes and volunteer my husband to help the girls get dressed. Hilarity ensues, and we end up changing a second time. Fortunately (or not), I have two girly-girls on my hands, so they’re more than happy to change into another outfit.


We are big fans of the American Museum of Natural History, and it’s an easy subway ride from our neighborhood. We head down on the A train for a date with the big blue whale and a few dinosaurs.


We exit just in time for lunch and head around the corner to one of our favorite places for a cheeseburger, Shake Shack. The girls like their chicken dog and french fries, of course. And while it’s not the healthiest meal out there, sometimes a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do. Or something like that.


Central Park is one of our favorite locations in the city, and we especially like the Diana Ross Playground at 81st and Central Park West. Mommy is not a huge fan of the extremely high 1970s sliding board but tries to remain calm as the girls zip down happily.


After telling Millie and Vivian it’s time to go at least three times, we finally leave the playground and head home.


Home feels nice after being gone several hours. The girls play (and only argue a little bit) in the new teepee they received for Christmas, and I sit down at the computer to check email.


My husband has a great idea: movie night! The four of us pile into our bed and watch a favorite film, The Wizard of Oz (for some strange reason, my children are not afraid of the Wicked Witch). Everyone is content and all is right with the world.


Dinner is something light and easy, like pesto pasta from Farmigo (I’m a community organizer for my neighborhood).


Mommy pours a glass of wine and the three “Bs” routine begins… bath, books, and bedtime!

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