I’ve been a long time fan of Liz and her blog, Say Yes, even before I met her in person. So when I finally did get the chance to meet her several years ago, I did what I normally do when I meet someone I’ve loved following for years. I tried really hard not to act like a total creeper by prattling off everything I loved about her work.
Luckily this awkward indulgence didn’t scare her off too much, and after chatting and getting to know Liz a bit more I was so happy to learn that she was just as lovely in person as she comes across on her blog. A mom of 3, Liz and her team always fill Say Yes with the most beautiful kid-centric DIY’s, traveling tips, Mom Style posts and more. Which is why I was thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions about blogging, motherhood and her family's summer plans. Read on below and don’t forget to check out Liz’s specially curated Favorites Collection here.
I’ve been a fan of Say Yes (formally Say Yes to Hoboken) for years, even before I met you in person. How did you get started blogging, what was the initial inspiration?
I was in grad school for counseling and had a few extra credits at the end, so I ended up enrolling in a film photography class and really fell in love with it. Jared and I were engaged at the time and when I became a TA we spent a lot of time making out-I mean-working in there. By the time I started working as a school counselor I realized how much I missed that creative outlet and started my blog as a kind of creative release after a pretty emotionally intense job.
I believe you started your blog before having kids, but now I feel like it’s such a treasure trove of great tips, DIY’s, style posts and more, geared towards moms and families. Did you consciously evolve into more of a family/lifestyle blog once you had kids of your own?
Yes, for sure the blog is a reflection of where I'm at in my life. Right now I'm smack dab in the middle of diaperland. Just wait though, I have a feeling the series on retirement travel we'll do in 25 years is going to be lit!
What is your favorite type of content to create for Say Yes?
Anything new and fresh. I've been doing this long enough to get bored with the same old stuff. Although it seems like brands always want the ol' reliable toddler snacks posts or family outing posts! I've been loving video and stop motion lately because it's something new and exciting, and it’s really rewarding to see the result.
Some of your most touching posts, in which you discussed infertility and the struggles you encountered when growing your family, were very real and honest. Was it hard to share those experiences so publicly? And what sort of response did you receive when you did share your story?
It was actually much harder to not share something that was so big and important to us at the time. So, finally sharing it ended up feeling like a big relief and was a good lesson in the power of authenticity because the response was incredible. That was over 3 years ago and I still get the sweetest emails from readers who were or are going through the same struggle in growing their families. It's such a lonely, painful place and I appreciate so many people trusting me with their stories.
As a blogger and a mother, how do you decide when to share those more intimate moments publically on your blog and when to keep them private?
Oh man, this is the hardest. I just go with my gut for this. I don't share a lot of very private things, unless I think it could really be helpful for others. When our team is brainstorming ideas, our litmus test is always, is this something you'd be excited to share with your girlfriends? And if it's something personal but also really share worthy and solves a problem, I might take that risk.
Any tips or rules that you follow, on work/life balance? I know so many moms out there struggle with that in this day and age.
I really try to separate work from personal life. It does mean that my site isn't as personal perhaps, but I do get my sanity back and that makes it sustainable for me. This is my job, and shouldn't consume my life! Sometimes you have to think outside of the box for this. Create boundaries. Maybe it means not working on the weekends. Maybe it even means deleting your IG app on the weekends and during family trips so you won't be tempted to take a photo just for the sake of sharing. Maybe it means realizing that there are lot of really interesting people you can feature on your site, it doesn't have to be all about your family and your thoughts. Hiring contributors and featuring friends is really refreshing and gives your content a lot of depth. I can't make my 3 yr old dress up everyday for a photoshoot and I'm lucky if I can get my 9 yr old to dress up once a year for a photoshoot unless there's some serious bribery involved. It's just not fair to them! But yes, this industry is exhausting in this way and not very sustainable unless you have a way to deflect the attention off yourself sometimes.
You also just bought a new house and are in the process of doing some remodeling/sprucing up of the place. From what we’ve seen so far it looks beautiful. What’s your philosophy when designing a home for kids? What is the look you are going for in the new house?
Right now I'm just in the process of 'fixing things that have really bugged us in the year we've been renting this home'. The kitchen was really dark when we moved in: wallpaper, dark cabinets and dark floors with dark open shelving. Because we spend so much time there, I was just dying to brighten it up. So eager that we started full construction in the kitchen 4 days after closing on the home. White washed walls, white cabinets, white window bench, white white white. We've totally gone the other extreme but it makes me so happy! For kids, our downstairs family room is such a great space. I loaded it up with hanging swings (baby and kid), a trapeze and big floor mats so they can really get crazy. Even though it's the basement we're on a hill, so it still has this huge window overlooking the backyard while they swing. It's such a great space for kids! Renting in the home for a year before buying it was a great way to get a real sense for what worked and what didn't and now it's just a matter of saving our pennies to do what we know we want to do.
Has your home or personal style changed much since having kids?
I don't think so. I'm just as into fashion and thrifting. I just don't have as much time to do it!
What are some of your kids’ favorite items to play with?
What are some of your favorite items of theirs? Do you plan on keeping and saving any special toys or clothes as heirlooms?
I'm all about the old classics like Strawberry Shortcakes dolls, Fischer Price Little People (and all the houses and cards!), and old Victorian doll houses. My mom still has a lot of the toys we played with so when my kids visit their grandparents they get to play with the same things I had (although somehow the truck loads of barbies have disappeared- good move, mom!). I haven't even thought about saving any of their toys though-shoot, are we supposed to be thinking about doing that???
Any fun summer plans coming up for your family?
Yes! We are going to Hawaii at the end of June! It'll be our first family trip in a couple years that isn't an extended family trip and just our family. Super excited!
And lastly any apps, products, blogs etc. that are helping to keep you sane as a parent currently?
What's better than any app or blog right now for my sanity: morning runs while listening to non-political podcasts (I can't stress the non-political part enough, we need a break sometimes from it!), having a girls trip planned to look forward to (headed to Alaska for a backpacking trip in July!), a glass of rose + listening to old French music while making dinner, and then reggae music while bathing the kids. Really good tv at night. And of course, nutella.
Thank you Liz! And don't forget to check out her Bitte Favorite's Collection.