By Michelle Tauber Kate Coyne
January 19, 2015 12:00 PM

HAPPY New You! 2015

PLUS

Blake and other experts share their best advice about food, style, fitness and more!

She became a mom just last month, but Blake Lively has been primed for the job for years. “I’m always teasing my sister’s kids that they are my own, and I’m always taking care of other people’s kids,” says the star, who welcomed her first child with husband Ryan Reynolds in December. (At press time the new parents had not yet revealed the baby’s gender or name.) “Maybe because I didn’t grow up with little siblings, I’ve been making up for lost time. I’ve always felt like a mama.” Now that she actually is one, “I don’t feel like it’s a massive change. I’ve always wanted a big family, and I understand that feeling when you have your first kid of ‘Let’s really be present in this.’ I do want to just enjoy this moment.” But? “But I also feel like my first child is going to be the oldest sibling to the next kid, and that may change with each and every year. You don’t just raise your kids, your kids also raise each other—oh my Lord, the things I learned from my brother Eric. He’s influenced my life so much. So I’m looking forward to how one baby influences the other, and to my family as a whole, to every single chapter.”

If that sounds ambitious at a time when most new moms are focused on getting through the next day—not planning for the next two, three or more kids—well, Lively, 27, likes a full plate. Especially if the plate is hand-painted and includes a slice of rosette apple pie, one of the recipes featured on Preserve (preserve.us), the lifestyle site she launched in July and has been nurturing ever since. While motherhood “is a part of everything I do,” she says, Preserve “is the closest thing I’ve had to a child that’s not a human being.”

Devoted to a mix of fashion, food, beauty and philanthropy, the site drew immediate and inevitable comparisons to Gwyneth Paltrow‘s Goop, but Lively says it hews more closely to the tradition of Martha Stewart, her neighbor in Bedford, N.Y., and the woman she calls “my idol.” Although some of the featured items, such as a $1,350 “trench cloak,” require a Hollywood budget, many of them are marked with a small-batch, homespun charm that Lively, for all her glamorous red carpet turns—including a backless (non-maternity!) dress in her third trimester—feels is her signature. “So much of the inspiration came from my mom and my dad and my siblings,” says the former Gossip Girl star, the youngest of five kids in a blended family. “All the things I feel like I’m good at are thanks to my family, and they’re things we’re now embracing at Preserve: cooking, decorating, artistry. Family is at the heart of everything I do.”

And while she’s now a blossoming entrepreneur, she’s also very much a free spirit who scarfs down popcorn between answers—”Hang on, I’m chewing,” she apologizes at one point—and loves to share her family’s quirky side. Take, for instance, her mom’s latest home remedy: “I cut myself on some glass and my mom told me to tape a piece of meat to the cut,” she says dubiously. “Somehow the meat is supposed to help draw out the glass? I didn’t do it. Knowing my mom, it probably worked.”

Lively has long sought to showcase her domestic side. Married to Reynolds, 38, since 2012—the pair tied the knot in a South Carolina ceremony that featured floating paper lanterns and after-dinner s’mores—the star shares a close bond with her siblings and half siblings. With Preserve, she is pursuing the “stability and security” that can be elusive in Hollywood. “As an actress, your career is in the hands of other people,” she says. Named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list this year, “as an entrepreneur, I started Preserve in part for my own family,” she says, “so I can have that permanence and control.”

Still, she’s not abandoning acting for chamomile-infused ice cubes (yes, the recipe is on her site) just yet. She recently completed The Age of Adaline, an upcoming drama costarring Harrison Ford in which she plays an ageless woman born at the turn of the 20th century. “It’s a movie about a woman who’s very empowered in her own skin,” says Lively, who appreciated that message—as well as other perks. “Going back to the fluffier side of myself, the hair and makeup were awesome from those times!”

It’s a duality she embraces. She is an outspoken activist who appears in the upcoming PBS docuseries on gender-based oppression, A Path Appears, and can readily rattle off statistics about crimes against women. Moments later the L’Oréal and Gucci spokeswoman will extol the virtues of “free nail polish and lipstick…. I love that!” while explaining her high-glam maternity style (see sidebar). Lively says she has remained true to doing whatever makes her feel good; pregnancy hardly changed that. “Trust me, when you see that scale starting to go up—not the little number slide thing on the top but the big slide on the bottom—you go buy yourself some red-soled shoes!” she says. “When I put on Louboutins super-pregnant, it’s because it makes me feel more empowered in that moment.” Alternately, “sometimes I’ll feel empowered in my sweatpants, because I made the decision: Nope, not getting dressed up today.”

That balance is something she pursued throughout her pregnancy. “Even with her eating and staying active, everything is in moderation,” says Don Saladino, the fitness trainer who works with both Lively and Reynolds. “She still enjoys the tasty treats in life.”

Now in the early weeks of motherhood, Lively says she’s in a “really thrilling time … though it’s also the time in which people are giving me unsolicited advice.” The guidance she’s taking most to heart? “I asked Ben Affleck [her director on 2010’s The Town], and as a director he told me, ‘Your movie will speak to you. Listen to it.’ I understand how impactful that piece of knowledge is, that whether it’s a performance or a company or a child, you have to be present and listen.” Looking at the year ahead, Lively says, “This is the happiest time in my life, and I could say that every day. I often feel like, ‘I can’t believe I’m experiencing this.’ And that can be a big moment like my wedding day or a simple afternoon in front of the fire. I know how fortunate I am. And I’m excited to see the entire journey that my family is going to go on.”

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