City: San Francisco
Day: I've been a professional chef and have run my own businesses for 15 years. I most recently launched a brand new (just this week!) web-platform called Ends+Stems. It’s a meal planning service aimed at reducing household food waste and helping busy people choose what to buy and cook. Depending on the day of the week, I'm either working on creating or testing new recipes, digging deeper into food waste solutions, or cooking for my personal chef clients. I occasionally cater and once per week I actually cook meals and deliver them to families.
Night: I have 2 kids - aged 4 and 1.5 - so they are my nighttime side hustle and hobby! I love reading novels and do manage to squeeze a few pages in every night.
I am not a naturally early riser - it’s a struggle. My kids and husband are up at 6 and he sits them for breakfast (cereal all around). I'm up by 6:30, once I hear them happily eating, and get washed up. I make my daughter's snack bag for pre-school and fill her water bottle. Then I make all the beds and get dressed. Since I'm either cooking or working alone from home, I wear jeans. Every single day! I have 35 pairs and am in the market for more at all time. A fancy outfit means adding nice shoes and top to my "fancy" jeans pile. My husband's out the door by 7, so I take over and get both kids dressed, washed, and brushed. Depending on what the day holds, we're out the door between 7:25 and 7:55.
We drop my 1.5 year old son off first. He goes to an in-home daycare that we lovingly refer to as "Amy's." Since I can park in the driveway and Amy meets me at the door, my daughter can stay in the car. It's very helpful. Her preschool is one rendition of "Let It Go" away, so we both sing at the top of our lungs. We love the part that says "my soul is spiraling like frozen fractals all around." We park and go in here since she needs to be signed in and set up for the day. I'm back in the car headed home within about 10 minutes. My drive home is about 15 minutes, and I listen to NPR or my local radio morning show.
Back home again, the first thing I do is make a huge pot of coffee. Is it too much? I drink probably 6-7 cups. That sounds bad in writing, but I don't feel guilty and I swear, I am not affected by the caffeine. I've never felt a withdrawal or a headache if I skip the coffee and I could fall asleep anytime! I just love the smell and the comfort of a hot mug (after mug, after mug, after mug). I check my emails first and make sure there are no fires to put out. Then I scan my to-do list and make sure I agree with what I wrote the day before or make edits. I usually write my list at the end of the prior work day so I know right where to pick up. Breakfast and I are not pals, so I sometimes eat a banana or a slice of cold pizza, but honestly I mostly eat no breakfast. If it is a day where I'm cooking, there are plenty of delicious vegetable scraps to enjoy while I cook. On cooking days, I listen to podcasts all day. On computer days, I usually keep it silent.
Because I'm always cooking or testing recipes, my fridge is well stocked. Most often I eat a plate of random leftovers that I microwave. I eat at my computer, while scrolling Facebook. As a solo entrepreneur, joining Facebook groups has really been useful for finding opportunities! I've been on the radio in New Orleans, various podcasts, part of networking or support groups, and even once featured in Rachael Ray Magazine just by making friends in Facebook groups! After lunch, back to work; time seems to fly after lunch.
My husband picks up the kids except for once per week when he works late as a math tutor. So usually, they arrive home around 5 and the kids are wild! They're happy to see us, each other, their toys, their stuffed animals. It seems like they're the ones who drank 8 cups of coffee when they get home. Usually, it ends with one pulling the other's hair or someone pushing and the other crying. It's a very happy, stressful, dramatic, chaotic 20 minutes. Once we've all gotten over the reunion, my daughter likes to help with dinner and it's her job to set the table (aka, put the forks and napkins out). Even though I'm passionate about blowing up gender roles and domestic stereotypes, I cook dinner. That's my domain and it extends to our family meals as well. I rarely cook from scratch though because I've either cooked all day, or prepared for later in the week on the days that I did cook for clients. If I do cook from scratch, its scrambled egg tacos or pasta carbonara with vegetables - my go to 10 minute "hangry" meals. We all eat together at 6pm.
My youngest goes to bed at 6:45-7pm. My husband and I trade off bedtime duties. The other one cleans or plays with our 4 year old. After dinner, she usually does a puzzle or colors, we try to enjoy some quality time with her at this time. I pretend like the dishes and mess on the floor doesn't exist and would much rather play or put my son to bed than clean. Daughter gets 1 TV show before starting her bedtime routine at 7:30. We also trade off doing her bedtime wash-up, pjs, brushing, reading (2 books), and singing songs (2 songs). It seems like putting the kids to bed is the bulk of our QT together in the evenings, but it can also be infuriatingly slow and filled with excuses, tears, and drama. So, we trade. Once they're both asleep, I usually get back on my computer to finalize recipes or projects that I didn't quite get to during the day. Its my goal to not have to do this, but somehow it seems like there's ALWAYS something else I have to finish. If we're lucky, my husband and I can have a grown up conversation or watch a recorded Jeopardy, John Oliver, or Samantha Bee. We used to watch movies and TV dramas but it feels like it's been a year since we've had enough time. We both try to get in bed by 10 and I always read (always a novel) for at least 20 minutes but if the current book is good enough, I'll stay up later or get in bed earlier to read for an hour.
We try to have something fun planned at least once per weekend, ideally outside. We also do laundry and pick up the house, and try to screw our heads on straight after what surely felt like a whirlwind week. We try to see friends and my sister who is our only family nearby. Often, we'll make it to the playground. We definitely either head out to dinner or order in on Friday or Saturday night when I'm tired of thinking about and preparing food. On Sundays, my husband plays hockey before the sun comes up, so it’s the only day of the week that I get the kids up and do the breakfast routine. He has them trained to prefer 3 types of cereal in one bowl, which I think is ludicrous! But, since he's in charge so often, I follow through on Sundays. Also on Sundays, I shop for my Monday personal chef clients. I have some items delivered via GoodEggs and shop by hand for other things. I have to spend at least an hour or two dedicated to that and often, I also have something that needs to be addressed before Monday.
High Brow Ritual
I think I'm pretty low brow overall...but food quality and wine are my fanciest norms. How things are grown, where they come from, what's in it, and how is it affecting the planet are things for which I'm willing to pay top dollar.
Low Brow Ritual
Middle of the day showers. Sometimes at lunch or when I hit an afternoon slump, plus ALL the time after cooking for 6 hours on Monday, I take a hot quiet shower. I don't have time in the morning, and we only have one bathroom, near the kids' room so it's challenging to fit in a relaxing moment otherwise. I've taken to a midday pick-me-up and it's awesome.
Putting away the laundry. WHY OH WHY is there so much? We wash and fold it, but it just sits in baskets or stacks on the dressers for days on end. In work, it is being meticulous about tracking my finances. I do have a bookkeeper and QuickBooks set up, but weekly I seem to use the wrong checkbook or neglect to draw up an invoice so my poor (wonderful) bookkeeper is always having to disentangle my mess.
If you're interested in learning more or supporting the cause to reduce household food waste (it's the EASIEST thing you can do right now to take action for the climate) join my Facebook group - it’s free. If you're interested in meal plans or know someone who is, check out my new Web-App! Use code "EATSTEMS" for a one month free trial.