Our first Noble Babe to kick off our Wellness Wednesday series is Interior Stylist and new mom, Liz Bachman. Liz has a less is more approach to life and parenting that she shares on her blog Grey & Scout. Not only does Liz have an impeccable eye for fantastic design, but she also lives her life with our planet in mind. She is genuine and witty and totally open to spilling how she makes living a healthy life with baby in tow look effortlessly chic.
NC: Tell us a little bit about what you do and about raising Isla…
I began writing the blog, Grey + Scout, in 2010, one year later I started an interior styling business, and four years after that, I had Isla! I worked hard at creating a path for myself that would allow me a creative outlet while being a “stay-at-home” mom. Even before I was pregnant I knew I wanted more flexibility while she was younger. Now I schedule projects around family life. For me, it works perfectly.
Life after Isla is different, but the same. Does that even make sense? It takes a few more minutes to get out the door, things are worked around nap time, but for the most part, I do what I do but with more thought about schedules. All the things that were important to me before she was born are still important. Going out for a good dry martini’s is still very much at the top of my list. Now that Isla’s here, I’ve just added to that list – I love reading with her, listening to her babble, and watching her interact with her little buddies. I never knew that watching someone learn could be so invigorating, just like I never knew how much I would want a child to choose a certain book because reading Little Critter again might push me over the edge! Every day is far from “perfect”, but my days weren’t perfect before. Now the imperfect days are sealed with a very wet kiss from the most perfect little person in the world.
NC: What does healthy living mean to you? How does that influence how you raise Isla?
To me, healthy living isn’t just about food, it’s also about how we live all the moments in our day. Now that Isla is here, that means waking up and playing, turning up the music and dancing, making breakfast together, getting outside for a walk, and eating meals as a family. And now that she’s on the move, I’m extra conscientious about cleaning products. With babies, you can count on an industrial strength situation from time to time, but the products we use frequently, from muti-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent, are plant based. Kids are going to get dirty, and in my experience eat dirt (the true definition of choosing organic, yes). So I do the best I can to control variables like the cleaning products we use. When it comes to food, I pay attention to things like if eggs or milk come from grass fed animals, and try to buy as much locally grown, organic produce as possible. And now I actually wash the fruit instead of telling my husband “of course I did!” but not really.
NC: What are some of your healthy eating habits? Can you give any advice on how to help a baby develop healthy eating habits?
Even in the early stages, babies are sponges. From the very beginning we sat Isla at the table while we ate meals (the Stokke Steps Chair is awesome, it allows you to bring the bouncy seat to table height). By the time she was 4 months, she was showing signs of wanting to eat what we had on our plates. When it came time to introduce solids, I made all her food. It’s cheap, easy, and I like controlling what’s in her food. I didn’t use a fancy baby recipe cookbook, I just steamed fruits and vegetables and mixed them with spices that sounded good to me. I threw it in the food processor, poured it into ice cube trays, stuck ‘em in the freezer and we had meals for the week. Easy peasy. My best piece of advice for introducing food - if they don’t want it, don’t force it. Move on and try again in a week or two. Now we have a 12 month old that loves fish, chicken sausages, sauerkraut, burrito bowls, sautéed onion, cilantro, rosemary, turkey chili, and banana splits (if you live in Denver, Carmine’s has a killer banana split). I think feeding her healthy, whole foods helps curb over-snacking. She eats at the table, she eats when she’s hungry. I don’t use food as a diversion, or let her graze all day. I try to teach her to be mindful while she’s eating, or doing anything for that matter.
NC: What was your approach to designing Isla’s nursery? What things were most important to you and why?
The thing that’s most important when designing a nursery is function. A beautiful room is great, but if it doesn’t serve you well during those wee hours of the night diaper changes and feedings, it’s of no use to anyone. Having a changing table with ample storage was most important to me. I didn’t want to be fumbling around looking for thermometers, booger suckers, and diaper cream, especially in the middle of the night.
When it came to styling Isla’s nursery, I wanted to create a space that was calm, but playful, and a room that would grow with her beyond the infant stage.
NC: You believe that less is more. How did this belief guide what items you put on your baby registry or what items you would recommend new mamas actually need?
We didn’t register, and I didn’t have a traditional shower. I went to brunch with some close girlfriends, we spent the afternoon at the spa and called it good. I had zero interest in spending time looking at the overwhelming amount of baby stuff out there. Before she was born, we bought the essentials (crib, stroller, car seat, highchair). My stance is - your baby may need certain products, but mine may not, and vice versa. So instead of buying it all, we just take it one day at a time, and buy what we find she needs (these are my favorites here). From kitchen gadgets to sleep aids, there’s a lot of baby “must have’s” I haven’t found the need for. My experience over the last year has taught me patience usually works better than any miracle product, pediatricians are far superior to google for medical advice, sleep cures just about anything, and you know your baby best, give yourself credit and trust your gut.
NC: You and Isla have glowing, flawless skin. Can you list off some of your favorite natural beauty products for you and also for Isla?
Water, water, water. I started drinking about 100 ounces of water a day when I was pregnant, and have noticed a big change in my skin. I love the Tata Harper Skincare line – the Regenerating Cleanser + Resurfacing Mask are faves, and Dr. Hauschka's lip balm is the only one that seems to work for me in this dry air. For Isla, holy moly it’s a feat to keep that baby moisturized in the dry Colorado air. I bathe Isla with Weleda Baby Bath Wash. It leaves her skin so soft, it’s made without synthetic compounds and toxic chemicals, and I love the light calendula scent. I’m a big fan of that whole line (I buy it at Whole Foods).
NC: By no surprise, Domino magazine just named your blog one of “The Best Design Blogs of 2016”(congrats!), so you know a thing or two about style. Can you tell us a little more about your style and how you make purchasing decisions for both you and Isla?
Thank you! I about died and went to heaven when I saw that. It always shocks me when anyone outside my house reads the blog! First and foremost our home is decorated with function in mind. I love the console under our tv because of its design, but if it didn’t have the drawers and storage inside, I would have passed on it. Our sofa has the perfect look for the living room, but if it wasn’t upholstered with easy to spot clean fabric, it wouldn’t have made the cut. I absolutely believe you can have children and a beautiful home, you just have to be a little more thoughtful about purchases – insert form and function. Would our sofa look awesome with a hundred beautifully styled pillows? Totally. But they would be all over the floor, and there wouldn’t be any place for Isla to roll around with pure glee after she found the remote. Instead I chose a few, larger pillows so they would still make a statement.
I’ve had a positive experience letting Isla touch whatever she wants (outside of burners and outlets of course), I think it comes with the territory of being a child (I’m still a touch & feel person). Instead of making things like plants off limits, I supervise and let her explore. 9 out of 10 times, after a few touch and lick sessions, she moves on quickly to something else never to care about that particular thing again. In my opinion, there’s no better time than the present to encourage curiosity (‘cause that train ain’t stoppin’) and teach her to be respectful of the things in her home.
NC: Your daily uniform? Isla’s? What are some of your favorite pieces from Noble Carriage right now and why?
Me, jeans and a t-shirt. All day e’ry day. If Isla saw me in anything else, she wouldn’t recognize me. When it comes to dressing Isla, comfort is key, and how it feels on her skin is important. What she puts on her body is just as important as what she puts in her body, so clothing made from organic cotton fills her closet. She lives in Goat Milk onesies, Hansel from Basel leggings, and Billie Blooms. I love the softness of the onesies, the leggings have fun patterns and aren’t restricting, and the bloomers make it super easy to pull together a cute, comfy outfit. The designs are simple, so it’s easy to mix ‘n match. And in my experience, the more well-made a piece of clothing, the better it holds up during massive amounts of laundry cycles. And every baby is different, but I’ve had good luck with 6-12M actually fitting from 6-12M with these brands. We definitely extend the less is more approach to clothing. I’m not one to get her all “done up”. We live by a less frill, more comfort motto. We don’t dress to impress. When it comes to playing, that’s when things get serious. Isla (and mom) are obsessed with Hazel Village bunnies from Noble Carriage. We legit have a bunny farm. It’s no wonder “bunny” was her first word. Once Isla’s pediatrician gave us the go ahead, we put a couple bunnies in her crib. Especially when she was much smaller, I liked that the bunnies weren’t thick, and didn’t pose a suffocation concern. With our bunnies, cute ‘n thin is in. And now that everything these days must be taste tested, it does my mind good that the bunnies are made from organic cotton, and they’re washable. Other than diaper duty, there’s not much more you can ask of a bunny.
NC: How, if at all, has Denver had an influence on raising Isla? What are some of your favorite activities to do together? What baby essentials always come with you?
We moved to Denver about 9 years ago, and one of the best things about living here is being able to get outside year around. All the sunshine allows us to get out and get fresh air nearly every day. We play outside, and go to the park for walks and picnics. I’m super excited for her to start swim lessons this spring. Our little fish needs a bigger pond than the tub! To be honest, we don’t take much with us when we leave the house. We keep a bag in the trunk with a change of clothes, diapers, and wipes. The dog is usually barking or seemingly trying to hang herself out of the window, so that keeps Isla busy during car rides, and if we’re at the grocery store, I engage her in choosing the foods we use for meals. Instead of bringing things to distract her, I include her in the errand. The less I need to bring when we leave the house, the more sanity I retain!