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

Comments   Comments   Comments

saturdays Brittany Cobb
Lives: Dallas, TX (Highland Park)
Family:
Husband Michael, Daughter Landry (2), Son Barrett (9 months)
You might know: Cobb Interiors residential design firm or The Dallas Flea, a quarterly curated indoor marketplace featuring vintage and one-of-a-kind things from Texas creatives.
Secret obsession: Flea markets (duh), hot dogs, and weekends at our lakehouse with no WiFi

brittany

7am:

Barrett wakes up chomping at the bit for a bottle. Landry catches wind in no time and soon we have a party of four in bed with Caillou streaming in the background.

8am:

The Nespresso machine is humming while I whip together Mickey Mouse shaped blueberry pancakes (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is king in our house). Meanwhile, Barrett is zipping around the kitchen in his walker like a mad man.

More

9am:

Off for a walk in the Graco Ready2Grow double stroller to feed the ducks at Lakeside Park. Landry loves to stuff bread in her sparkly purple crossbody bag from Baby Bliss. Barrett passes out for a solid hour snooze.

10:30am:

Michael feeds Barrett the pureed version of last night’s dinner (spaghetti squash with ground turkey and tomatoes is a standby). Landry loves a messy art project so we head to the playroom for some finger paint and glitter fun.

11:30am:

Bathtime. The kids love to bathe together, especially when water toys and bubbles are involved.

12:30pm:

We’re nearing the witching hour so we opt for a quick kid-friendly lunch. Snuffers (best turkey burger and cheese fries) and La Duni (Latin joint with killer desserts) are faves. If there’s a flea market or festival in town, we go there for some fair food and market research for my business.

1:30pm:

The kids hit the hay at home. Michael watches football (go Longhorns!) while I catch up on client emails, the latest Elle Décor or stack of home catalogs. If it’s nice out, we’re in the cabana playing Gin Rummy with a cocktail.

3pm:

Michael and Barrett catch the second half of a football game while I take Landry to a play date or the park. We love Fairfax Park for its big shady trees and multiple swings. Landry is obsessed with swings so it’s nice that there’s almost always one free.

4pm:

Time for a Yumilicious frozen yogurt. Landry loves to top her vanilla-chocolate swirl with strawberries, rainbow sprinkles, and a pink animal cracker. I run by the grocery store in the same center for a few things to whip together dinner.

5pm:

We entertain at home several times a month. Landry helps me make queso, guacamole, and taco soup while Michael preps the bar (Barrett is usually in his turquoise Bumbo happily observing the chaos). Landry loves to help me set the table and cut palm fronds from the backyard for a simple centerpiece.

6pm:

Our friends arrive with their brood. The kids enjoy the Little Tikes Shady Jump ‘n Slide bounce house outside while the parents sip on jalapeno margaritas.

9pm:

We bid adieu to our buds, dress Landry and Barrett in their Old Navy zipper onesies, and put the kiddos to bed. It’s a good hour later than usual, but hey, it’s the weekend.

9:30pm:

We slip into our pajamas, pour a nightcap, and turn on a movie since we rarely get to the theater these days. Within the hour, one of us is usually asleep on the sofa.

Comments   Comments   Comments

Less

On Our Radar: October 23, 2014

radd

WHO: Parents of newborns that could use some zzzz’s.
WHAT: Meet Love To Dream’s Swaddle Up, the latest craze in baby straight jackets that keeps them in the ideal position to sleep and self soothe without being able to startle themselves awake. No LO is breaking out of this one.
WHEN: What are you waiting for – parents say it works.
WHERE: diapers.com

More

WHO: Parents with a soft spot for cool kids threads.
WHAT: New line Izzy & Ferd bases each collection on exploring an environment, the first being 20,000 Leagues (under the sea).
WHEN: Warning – if you click, you will likely buy. It’s that cute.
WHERE: izzyandferd.com

WHO: Expecting moms who want to exercise in the privacy of their own home.
WHAT: Mary Helen Bowers of Ballet Beautiful – the workout Lily Aldridge swears by – has just launched a prenatal series of streaming routines to keep pregnant women in shape.
WHEN: Now. (You’ll thank yourself later.)
WHERE: balletbeautiful.com

WHO: Pregnant women who need a cravings fix.
WHAT: Hatch and Mouth have joined forces to create Hatch Cravings, artisanal treats that will satisfy penchants for sweet, salty, and sour.
WHEN: Before it hits you at 3am and there’s nothing in the house that will suffice!
WHERE: mouth.com

Comments   Comments   Comments

Less
stroller resurrection

Your stroller is a means of transportation (just like a bike or car) and it can get all gunked up and slow you down if you don’t take care of it. A random squeak, a sticky brake, or a folding issue is likely from build-up of dirt, sand, salt, hair, raisins, and Cheddar Bunnies.

Thankfully, Sam Osborne from Uppababy happens to be a stroller mechanic of sorts (on top of her day job as a marketing exec), and in most cases, she says stroller woes can be fixed with a good DIY tune-up.

Here are her instructions for solving the most common ailments.

line

More

The Problem:

Baby vommed all over
the stroller.

What You Need:

To start, a strong stomach and plenty of patience. BuggyLove Stroller and Carseat Cleaner or laundry detergent.

What To Do:

Remove fabric from stroller seat (check that manual and pre-treat with BuggyLove or laundry detergent, soak completely. Wash in machine on delicate (as long as you have a front loader machine – if not, handwash) and hang dry immediately.

Pro Tip:

Make sure the fabric dries thoroughly before putting back on stroller, otherwise you run the risk of mold developing.

line

The Problem:

A squeaky wheel is driving
you batshit!

What You Need:

BuggyLove Stroller Lubricant, Vaseline, or White Lithium Grease (any hardware store will have)

What To Do:

Remove wheels and wipe clean of any dirt, grit, or salt (the worst culprit). Place a dose of Buggylove Wheel Love, Vaseline, or White Lithium Grease on the wheel shaft and reinsert into stroller.

Pro Tip:

Fixes it almost every time.

line

The Problem:

Urine has seeped into the seat and it smells
like you’re pushing a fire hydrant.

What You Need:

BuggyLove Stroller and Carseat cleaner or laundry detergent and Nature’s Miracle Laundry Boost

What To Do:

Wash thoroughly either by hand or on delicate in a front loader machine. Nature’s Miracle works, well, miracles on urine smells and stains.

Pro Tip:

The smells hang around only when fabric is not completely dried, so be sure it dries thoroughly.

line

The Problem:

All of a sudden, it feels like you’re pushing uphill even
on flat surfaces.

What You Need:

Elbow grease.

What To Do:

1. Remove all the wheels and make sure there’s no obstruction (refer to your manual on how to remove the wheels). Balloon strings are often the culprit here. 2. Brake mechanisms get filled with gunk. It’s usually a pin that comes out of a tiny hole to stop the wheel. When that hole is filled, you’ve got trouble, so clean it out. 3. Does your stroller have air filled tires? You may just need a quick inflate using a bike pump or the air pump at a gas station to get the job done.

Pro Tip:

One of these 3 things fixes the problem 95% of the time. If you do all 3 and are still having issues, call the manufacturer.

line

The Problem:

The brakes are not so trusty. Safety is at risk!

What You Need:

wd-40 or forced air at the gas station (for chemical-free cleaning)

What To Do:

Most brake issues are due to build-up of dirt, sand, and other elements. Remove the back wheels (refer to your manual). Spray the brake housing (in tune-up speak, that’s the metal shaft where the wheel slides into the base) liberally with wd-40 (or forced air) and let it clean out the area. Hit the brake several times while the wheels are off. Place your back wheels back on, and brake should be good as new.

Pro Tip:

It’s a good idea to do this twice a year as a preventative measure.

line

The Problem:

There are sunscreen stains all over the canopy.

What You Need:

BuggyLove Stroller and Carseat Cleaner or Dawn Liquid soap

What To Do:

If you opt for BuggyLove, shake the bottle well and squirt right on the stain, for Dawn pre-treat the spot then soak the whole canopy.

Pro Tip:

Mold is the enemy, so make sure it dries completely.

line

The Problem:

The locking clip that holds the collapsed stroller together is broken!

What You Need:

bungee cord, carabiner, or zip tie

What To Do:

In a pinch hold it all together with any of the above until you can get a replacement locking clip from the manufacturer.

Pro Tip:

Ideally this is a short-term solution.

If DIY is not your thing, stroller tune-up businesses are launching left and right. Here are some of our favorites.

Stroller Spa

Clean Bee Baby

Baby Bubbles

Clean My Buggy Boo

Sudsy Buggy

Comments   Comments   Comments

Less