So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Rice cakes with cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts.
Lunch:
Leftover Trader Joe’s pot pie.
Dinner:
Happy Hour at La Poubelle. Oysters. Gin martinis.


Morning ➛
My first alarm goes off around 8am and after five or six snooze cycles, I’m wide awake. And, oh yes, I do have the Reddit app, so its 30 minutes of that, followed by a scroll through my Instagram feed. A quick look at my texts reveals, yet again, that the girl I’m currently talking to has not responded during the night as I’d hoped. By about 8:45am I sufficiently hate myself and it’s time for a shower. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Ok, I’ve had coffee. Remember to eat a light breakfast and now it’s out to my humble garden shed-cum painting studio. I assess the work I did the night before and make a plan for the day. Oh but, the hammock just looks so comfy and the sun is shining just right. I’ll just.. sit for 5 minutes..it will be fine. The morning is now over and I’ve accomplished nothing.
Noon ➛
Time to paint. At this point, my time is limited by the sun. By 2:00pm my studio becomes an oven, so there’s a short window of time I have to prepare my paints and throw down some quick layers of whatever I happen to be working on. Recently it’s been nudes, which are always challenging. It’s not uncommon to work for 2 hours only to wipe everything off in disgust. I tell myself it’s the heat and that I’ll do better tonight when I put in a few hours before bed. Now I’m off to find a good happy hour. It’s usually in Los Feliz or Silverlake. Oysters and a extra dirty gin martini are always good for promoting creative thought. Or at least, that’s how I justify it.
Night ➛
Afternoon turns to evening as I swallow down my last oyster, but alas, the ecstasy is short lived. Any creative revelation I’ve had over the past two hours is expunged from my brain by soul crushing traffic headed up the 101 north. Many great albums have been played into the ground on the 45 minute ride from Hollywood to the Woodman Avenue exit. Recently, its been Ira Glass and Glen Washington keeping me company on the way home. Podcasts have been a lifesaver to say the least. Once home, it’s back to the studio to put in two to three hours of real work. This is the time I’m at my most productive. The work just tends to flow easier and more successfully after I’ve experienced the day. By 10pm I start to settle in for the evening. I watch a little Colbert Report and catch up on some Game of Thrones action before I crawl into bed. One last look at Reddit, another scroll through Instagram. And hey, look, she finally texted me. Better not respond until morning. Don’t want to seem desperate. Sleep comes around midnight. The end to a somewhat productive, but not entirely satisfying day. I’ll give it another shot tomorrow.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with this girl not getting back to you? You’re a smoke stack!
Ha! thanks! Um…dating in LA is a strange thing. I do a lot of casual dating, but really connecting with someone on more than a surface level is kind of rare for me. I’m a passionate person, so when I do develop genuine feelings, I like to make it known. Which can be a little intimidating in a city where people are so focused on their careers. Or maybe I just need to stop dating actresses.
2. How do you decide to be a painter? Was there any resistance from friends or family on this career choice?
I came to painting really late actually. I had been in LA for a few years without much direction and one day my mom just randomly sent me some oil paints. She had done a bit of painting as a hobby when I was a kid and my younger sister is a really talented illustrator. I figured, why not mess around with it a bit. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I really fell in love with painting and started to take it seriously. It’s maybe not the most secure thing to be pursuing as a career, but my family and friends are all really supportive of what I do, which makes it easier.
3. You’re into Games of Thrones and painting nudes…which GOT character would you most like to paint nude?
I’d love to go full art kid on you and say Tyrion, but as a person with eyes (that I use to see things with) it’s gotta be Daenerys Targaryen. I don’t even care that she’s the most obvious answer.


Scott Laufer is a painter living is Los Angeles. He is currently building his first cohesive body of work to be released in late 2014. @thisisnotscott
So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Rice cakes with cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts.


Lunch:

Leftover Trader Joe’s pot pie.


Dinner:

Happy Hour at La Poubelle. Oysters. Gin martinis.

Morning ➛

My first alarm goes off around 8am and after five or six snooze cycles, I’m wide awake. And, oh yes, I do have the Reddit app, so its 30 minutes of that, followed by a scroll through my Instagram feed. A quick look at my texts reveals, yet again, that the girl I’m currently talking to has not responded during the night as I’d hoped. By about 8:45am I sufficiently hate myself and it’s time for a shower. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Ok, I’ve had coffee. Remember to eat a light breakfast and now it’s out to my humble garden shed-cum painting studio. I assess the work I did the night before and make a plan for the day. Oh but, the hammock just looks so comfy and the sun is shining just right. I’ll just.. sit for 5 minutes..it will be fine. The morning is now over and I’ve accomplished nothing.



Noon ➛

Time to paint. At this point, my time is limited by the sun. By 2:00pm my studio becomes an oven, so there’s a short window of time I have to prepare my paints and throw down some quick layers of whatever I happen to be working on. Recently it’s been nudes, which are always challenging. It’s not uncommon to work for 2 hours only to wipe everything off in disgust. I tell myself it’s the heat and that I’ll do better tonight when I put in a few hours before bed. Now I’m off to find a good happy hour. It’s usually in Los Feliz or Silverlake. Oysters and a extra dirty gin martini are always good for promoting creative thought. Or at least, that’s how I justify it.



Night ➛

Afternoon turns to evening as I swallow down my last oyster, but alas, the ecstasy is short lived. Any creative revelation I’ve had over the past two hours is expunged from my brain by soul crushing traffic headed up the 101 north. Many great albums have been played into the ground on the 45 minute ride from Hollywood to the Woodman Avenue exit. Recently, its been Ira Glass and Glen Washington keeping me company on the way home. Podcasts have been a lifesaver to say the least. Once home, it’s back to the studio to put in two to three hours of real work. This is the time I’m at my most productive. The work just tends to flow easier and more successfully after I’ve experienced the day. By 10pm I start to settle in for the evening. I watch a little Colbert Report and catch up on some Game of Thrones action before I crawl into bed. One last look at Reddit, another scroll through Instagram. And hey, look, she finally texted me. Better not respond until morning. Don’t want to seem desperate. Sleep comes around midnight. The end to a somewhat productive, but not entirely satisfying day. I’ll give it another shot tomorrow.

Three Last Things… 1. What’s up with this girl not getting back to you? You’re a smoke stack!

Ha! thanks! Um…dating in LA is a strange thing. I do a lot of casual dating, but really connecting with someone on more than a surface level is kind of rare for me. I’m a passionate person, so when I do develop genuine feelings, I like to make it known. Which can be a little intimidating in a city where people are so focused on their careers. Or maybe I just need to stop dating actresses.

2. How do you decide to be a painter? Was there any resistance from friends or family on this career choice?

I came to painting really late actually. I had been in LA for a few years without much direction and one day my mom just randomly sent me some oil paints. She had done a bit of painting as a hobby when I was a kid and my younger sister is a really talented illustrator. I figured, why not mess around with it a bit. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I really fell in love with painting and started to take it seriously. It’s maybe not the most secure thing to be pursuing as a career, but my family and friends are all really supportive of what I do, which makes it easier.

3. You’re into Games of Thrones and painting nudes…which GOT character would you most like to paint nude?

I’d love to go full art kid on you and say Tyrion, but as a person with eyes (that I use to see things with) it’s gotta be Daenerys Targaryen. I don’t even care that she’s the most obvious answer.

Scott Laufer is a painter living is Los Angeles. He is currently building his first cohesive body of work to be released in late 2014. @thisisnotscott

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Banana and yoghurt. Cappuccino.
Lunch:
Made-just-now slaw with cabbage, Brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, red onion, walnuts, mayo, mustard, red wine vinegar.
Dinner:
Gnocchi with butternut squash and gorgonzola sauce. Glass of Montepulciano.


Morning ➛
I woke at 6AM for my 7AM morning yoga class. When the alarm goes off I remind myself: “you will feel better later”. Today, after 10 years of practice, I finally balance in crow pose! I bike pretty much everywhere, even in winter. So after class, I huff it up two hills and glide down one to get to my office in Park Slope. I convince myself that a cappuccino wouldn’t be an altogether bad thing, so I run to my favorite spot around the corner and then sit myself down to read through emails. I get paid to interview people and document their stories. At 10 o’clock I head to a meeting with the director of the Harpswell Foundation, a non-profit that works to increase education for young women in Cambodia. They hired us to produce a short film to share their incredible work with potential donors. The director, Alan Lightman, hands me some “field footage” from their last trip to the women’s dorm they built in Phnom Penh. I say I’ll be in touch when we have the second draft ready for review.
Noon ➛
I’m crazy obsessed with good food. Lunch could be my religion. I usually just bring raw ingredients – one handful of walnuts, an entire bunch of kale, whole tomatoes, a hunk of cheese. It’s never really planned in advance, although people swear it must be. The pantry with olive oil, salt, lemons and vinegar makes most things possible. Today, Fitz joins me for lunch. We talk about the difference between Southern men and men from the North East (Fitz is from Savannah and his gentlemanly ways always astound me).
Night ➛
On my way uptown, I stop briefly at Sur la Table to pick up 5 cake boxes. I’ve got a few orders for my sweet/savory speciality, “My French-Italian Boyfriend.” At 8 o’clock, I take a seat in the lecture hall at the Jewish Cultural Center in Manhattan. A fair number of families have asked us to record their grandparents’ stories of surviving the Holocaust. I try to attend events, listen to talks, and watch films that help me better understand Jewish culture and history. Great Q & A with the speaker. I’m starving by 9PM, so head across the street for a quick dinner of gnocchi with butternut squash and gorgonzola sauce. Check FB. Check the NYTimes on my phone. Check personal emails. C train to the F. Home by 11. Sneak in with my honey.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with those beautiful guns? Any tips on getting sleek arms like yours?
You’re so sweet. I think it might be a combination of a regular yoga practice and muscle memory. I rowed in high school and college and swam for six years (year-round) between fourth and ninth grades. Butterfly was my stroke! Today, I commute to work by bike and practice yoga 1-2 times a week. I wish it was more, to be honest. I think chaturanga might be the real secret.
2. A cake and film maker? You have to share the evolution of your careers.
Well, my first love was folklore. “What the hell is that?” you say. Folklore is basically anthropology combined with oral history. So human expression on a micro, narrative level. I also studied Scandinavian Studies and Women Studies in college. While being totally fascinated by others, I guess I wanted to deeply get to know myself. I’m Scandinavian decent and, well…a woman! In college, I worked as an assistant folklorist at the Wisconsin Arts Board for three years. That job was designed for a graduate student, but I had moxie and at age 18, I was determined that I was exactly who they needed. I got the job. I conducted fieldwork with esteemed Wisconsin folk artists for three years, including a Buddhist monk who made mandalas, a Jewish needleworker and tapestry designer, a Norwegian woodcarving couple. After college, I traveled around the world for a year and volunteered in Ghana and India. I saved $10,000 for that trip, and I used every last penny. Seriously, I came home with 15 cents in my pocket! I quickly got a job in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as the Director of a YWCA program for at-risk gay youth. I loved those boa-wearing, tatted-up teenagers to pieces, but I also knew that small town life wasn’t for me. While figuring that out, I landed a taxing job as a political field organizer for Fair Wisconsin, a marriage equality campaign (we lost the campaign for marriage equality then, but look who’s winning now?!) In 2006, I came to New York City for Thanksgiving. With no strings attached, I decided to stay. I was lost but hopeful, so I went back to my folkloric roots. I got in touch with the urban folklorist who heads City Lore, Steve Zeitlin. Boy, was I lucky to meet him! Steve was avuncular and inspiring. Under his wing, I began editing radio and video documentaries for City Lore’s City of Memory project. In 2008, I made a BIG decision to study documentary radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Salt, I weaseled my way into an internship at WNYC and after that, they hired me as an assistant producer. In 2011, I founded StoryKeep, a production company for families. Lisa Madison joined me shortly thereafter and we’ve been going since. Alongside StoryKeep, my latest endeavor is co-hosting a Brooklyn daily (live!) TV show called BK Live. Oh, and yes, I make gourmet cakes for order. Cakes were really so random. I made 10 cakes for my birthday one year and people went NUTS. They wanted to order them, so about twice a month, I get creative and make the best damn cakes money could buy.
What have I learned? I’ve learned that everyone makes it up as they go. Nobody knows what they’re doing until they are actually doing it. I had two StoryKeep clients before I even knew what the final delivery presentation would be! The first year of StoryKeep business was super challenging. My advice: have good friends or a life partner to be there to listen when you need to vent or brainstorm or cry.
The other thing I’ve learned is this: you can’t fake the core. Those are Cheryl Strayed’s words. By which she means, you aren’t gonna get away from yourself. If you are listening to your heart even a tiny bit, you know what you need to do. The heart is soft-spoken, but it is patient and diligent. If you think you know what you need to do, remember what Goethe said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
3. Since lunch is your religion and all, can you give another quickie lunch recipe?
Toast. Ricotta. Beets you roasted and thinly sliced last night. Open-face sandwich that and drizzle some olive oil, sea salt and honey on it. Maybe some walnut pieces, too? Go to town!


Jamie lives in Brooklyn, NY and is the owner of StoryKeep, a production company that specializes in creating personal documentaries, oral histories and heirloom books. Her passion is interviewing and getting great stories out into the world. She hosts a daily, live TV show twice a week, but when she’s not in conversation, she’s an avid cook and occasionally bakes gourmet cakes for order. jamieyuenger.com
So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Banana and yoghurt. Cappuccino.


Lunch:

Made-just-now slaw with cabbage, Brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, red onion, walnuts, mayo, mustard, red wine vinegar.


Dinner:

Gnocchi with butternut squash and gorgonzola sauce. Glass of Montepulciano.

Morning ➛

I woke at 6AM for my 7AM morning yoga class. When the alarm goes off I remind myself: “you will feel better later”. Today, after 10 years of practice, I finally balance in crow pose! I bike pretty much everywhere, even in winter. So after class, I huff it up two hills and glide down one to get to my office in Park Slope. I convince myself that a cappuccino wouldn’t be an altogether bad thing, so I run to my favorite spot around the corner and then sit myself down to read through emails. I get paid to interview people and document their stories. At 10 o’clock I head to a meeting with the director of the Harpswell Foundation, a non-profit that works to increase education for young women in Cambodia. They hired us to produce a short film to share their incredible work with potential donors. The director, Alan Lightman, hands me some “field footage” from their last trip to the women’s dorm they built in Phnom Penh. I say I’ll be in touch when we have the second draft ready for review.



Noon ➛

I’m crazy obsessed with good food. Lunch could be my religion. I usually just bring raw ingredients – one handful of walnuts, an entire bunch of kale, whole tomatoes, a hunk of cheese. It’s never really planned in advance, although people swear it must be. The pantry with olive oil, salt, lemons and vinegar makes most things possible. Today, Fitz joins me for lunch. We talk about the difference between Southern men and men from the North East (Fitz is from Savannah and his gentlemanly ways always astound me).



Night ➛

On my way uptown, I stop briefly at Sur la Table to pick up 5 cake boxes. I’ve got a few orders for my sweet/savory speciality, “My French-Italian Boyfriend.” At 8 o’clock, I take a seat in the lecture hall at the Jewish Cultural Center in Manhattan. A fair number of families have asked us to record their grandparents’ stories of surviving the Holocaust. I try to attend events, listen to talks, and watch films that help me better understand Jewish culture and history. Great Q & A with the speaker. I’m starving by 9PM, so head across the street for a quick dinner of gnocchi with butternut squash and gorgonzola sauce. Check FB. Check the NYTimes on my phone. Check personal emails. C train to the F. Home by 11. Sneak in with my honey.

Three Last Things… 1. What’s up with those beautiful guns? Any tips on getting sleek arms like yours?

You’re so sweet. I think it might be a combination of a regular yoga practice and muscle memory. I rowed in high school and college and swam for six years (year-round) between fourth and ninth grades. Butterfly was my stroke! Today, I commute to work by bike and practice yoga 1-2 times a week. I wish it was more, to be honest. I think chaturanga might be the real secret.

2. A cake and film maker? You have to share the evolution of your careers.

Well, my first love was folklore. “What the hell is that?” you say. Folklore is basically anthropology combined with oral history. So human expression on a micro, narrative level. I also studied Scandinavian Studies and Women Studies in college. While being totally fascinated by others, I guess I wanted to deeply get to know myself. I’m Scandinavian decent and, well…a woman! In college, I worked as an assistant folklorist at the Wisconsin Arts Board for three years. That job was designed for a graduate student, but I had moxie and at age 18, I was determined that I was exactly who they needed. I got the job. I conducted fieldwork with esteemed Wisconsin folk artists for three years, including a Buddhist monk who made mandalas, a Jewish needleworker and tapestry designer, a Norwegian woodcarving couple. After college, I traveled around the world for a year and volunteered in Ghana and India. I saved $10,000 for that trip, and I used every last penny. Seriously, I came home with 15 cents in my pocket! I quickly got a job in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as the Director of a YWCA program for at-risk gay youth. I loved those boa-wearing, tatted-up teenagers to pieces, but I also knew that small town life wasn’t for me. While figuring that out, I landed a taxing job as a political field organizer for Fair Wisconsin, a marriage equality campaign (we lost the campaign for marriage equality then, but look who’s winning now?!) In 2006, I came to New York City for Thanksgiving. With no strings attached, I decided to stay. I was lost but hopeful, so I went back to my folkloric roots. I got in touch with the urban folklorist who heads City Lore, Steve Zeitlin. Boy, was I lucky to meet him! Steve was avuncular and inspiring. Under his wing, I began editing radio and video documentaries for City Lore’s City of Memory project. In 2008, I made a BIG decision to study documentary radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Salt, I weaseled my way into an internship at WNYC and after that, they hired me as an assistant producer. In 2011, I founded StoryKeep, a production company for families. Lisa Madison joined me shortly thereafter and we’ve been going since. Alongside StoryKeep, my latest endeavor is co-hosting a Brooklyn daily (live!) TV show called BK Live. Oh, and yes, I make gourmet cakes for order. Cakes were really so random. I made 10 cakes for my birthday one year and people went NUTS. They wanted to order them, so about twice a month, I get creative and make the best damn cakes money could buy.

What have I learned? I’ve learned that everyone makes it up as they go. Nobody knows what they’re doing until they are actually doing it. I had two StoryKeep clients before I even knew what the final delivery presentation would be! The first year of StoryKeep business was super challenging. My advice: have good friends or a life partner to be there to listen when you need to vent or brainstorm or cry.

The other thing I’ve learned is this: you can’t fake the core. Those are Cheryl Strayed’s words. By which she means, you aren’t gonna get away from yourself. If you are listening to your heart even a tiny bit, you know what you need to do. The heart is soft-spoken, but it is patient and diligent. If you think you know what you need to do, remember what Goethe said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

3. Since lunch is your religion and all, can you give another quickie lunch recipe?

Toast. Ricotta. Beets you roasted and thinly sliced last night. Open-face sandwich that and drizzle some olive oil, sea salt and honey on it. Maybe some walnut pieces, too? Go to town!

Jamie lives in Brooklyn, NY and is the owner of StoryKeep, a production company that specializes in creating personal documentaries, oral histories and heirloom books. Her passion is interviewing and getting great stories out into the world. She hosts a daily, live TV show twice a week, but when she’s not in conversation, she’s an avid cook and occasionally bakes gourmet cakes for order. jamieyuenger.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Leftover spaghetti sandwich with mayonnaise on white machine bread. Coffee.
Lunch:
Ceebu jen (rice and fish).
Dinner:
Fish tacos.


Morning ➛
I usually sleep through the first call to prayer, but today, it woke me up. It blasts from the mosque at sunrise, which these days, is a bit before 7:00 a.m. All I can think about is coffee when I wake up so I brew a cup in my travel french press and sip it outside. Once I’m energized, I hop on my bike and head to the high school to meet with my co-teacher about an entrepreneurship class we’re leading next week. On my way, I stop at my favorite breakfast stand and devour a spaghetti sandwich for about 20 cents. By now I’m technically late for my 9:00 a.m. appointment, but time is very relative in Senegal. Anyway, when I get to the high school, a few students shout to me that no one is there. I go inside to investigate and it turns out the administration had canceled school to have a big meeting about the recent teacher strikes.
Noon ➛
I bike home to work on a few lessons plans and write up an information sheet to present to all of the community leaders. First I chug some powdered lemonade drink—it’s getting HOT. Then it’s back to town to visit my “printer-guy” who prints my work-related stuff at a discounted rate in exchange for mini English lessons. Today, at his request, he learns, “there is a lot of sand” and “thank you” in exchange for a couple copies. While I wait, I fall into a discussion with another client comparing American and Senegalese holiday traditions. It’s around 1:00 p.m. now and my stomach is grumbling. I walk to my host-family’s house for lunch, greeting my friends and laughing off a few marriage proposals along the way. When I reach their compound, I plop down on a mat and chitchat with my host-mother about traditional medicine. Lunch is served and then I take an accidental nap outside. One of my host-brothers wakes me up and I head back home where I sweep my room, wash a few articles of clothing by hand and go to a meeting with another work partner about computer classes.
Night ➛
After the meeting, I call the other Peace Corps Volunteer in my town, who after 20 months of living in a little town in West Africa together, is also my best friend. She brings over all of the ingredients to make fish tacos for an end-of-the-week meal. The corn tortillas take a while to cook on my single gas stove, but by the end we have everything you need for a hearty feast. She heads home around 8:00 p.m. before it gets too late. I try a new yoga podcast, take a bucket bath, read a bit and then get ready for bed. A quick sweep with my headlamp confirms there are no critters within my mosquito net so I peacefully fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with that little stuffed guy on your bed? Is he your traveling buddy?
That’s Zwibble Dibble and he has the fullest passport of any stuffed dinosaur. He’s been tucked into my carry-on since I was a baby!
2. How did you land in Senegal? How did you decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps?
I’ve wanted to work with Peace Corps since I was a little kid, mostly for the adventure. I studied economics in college and then went on to work at an international organization. I found myself doing a lot of talking and writing about international issues without a strong grasp of what it all means. It became clear that I wasn’t going to understand the work (and the world!) until I branched out from the office building to work in the field. Peace Corps embraces a slow, demand-driven approach to development, which really appeals to me, so I applied! And here I am in Senegal, 20 months in with seven more to go. I had no control over the country assignment, though it’s probable I was placed in West Africa because I speak French.
3. Spaghetti sandwich?! This is incredible. Any other cool food finds you’ve discovered in your travels that we can steal and make at home?
Yeah, I never thought I would crave the carb-on-carb deliciousness that is a spaghetti sandwich. The Senegalese national dish, ceebu jen (sometimes spelled thiebu djen), is definitely worth trying to make at home. I eat it every day and I still crave it when lunchtime comes around. It is a spicy, rice-based dish with fish (or beans) and whatever garden vegetables you have on hand. Everything is cooked together so there is a blend of flavors in every bite. In a big pot, cook the veggies and a few hot peppers in a broth, then add in a few whole fish. Once all of that is done and ready, drain the pot and use that same broth to cook the rice. Spread out the rice on a platter, arrange the veggies in the middle and voila! Something else to learn from Senegalese dining—it’s not just what you eat but how you eat it. Lose the spoon and eat with your hands in a shared bowl. Rice, spaghetti, meat—dig in with mother nature’s utensils alongside your friends and family. It takes communing over food to another level and is certainly kid friendly.


Lily Grabill is a Peace Corps Volunteer in the center of Senegal where she leads youth development trainings. When she returns to the U.S. she wants to pursue a career in elementary education. lilygrabill.wordpress.com
So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Leftover spaghetti sandwich with mayonnaise on white machine bread. Coffee.


Lunch:

Ceebu jen (rice and fish).


Dinner:

Fish tacos.

Morning ➛

I usually sleep through the first call to prayer, but today, it woke me up. It blasts from the mosque at sunrise, which these days, is a bit before 7:00 a.m. All I can think about is coffee when I wake up so I brew a cup in my travel french press and sip it outside. Once I’m energized, I hop on my bike and head to the high school to meet with my co-teacher about an entrepreneurship class we’re leading next week. On my way, I stop at my favorite breakfast stand and devour a spaghetti sandwich for about 20 cents. By now I’m technically late for my 9:00 a.m. appointment, but time is very relative in Senegal. Anyway, when I get to the high school, a few students shout to me that no one is there. I go inside to investigate and it turns out the administration had canceled school to have a big meeting about the recent teacher strikes.



Noon ➛

I bike home to work on a few lessons plans and write up an information sheet to present to all of the community leaders. First I chug some powdered lemonade drink—it’s getting HOT. Then it’s back to town to visit my “printer-guy” who prints my work-related stuff at a discounted rate in exchange for mini English lessons. Today, at his request, he learns, “there is a lot of sand” and “thank you” in exchange for a couple copies. While I wait, I fall into a discussion with another client comparing American and Senegalese holiday traditions. It’s around 1:00 p.m. now and my stomach is grumbling. I walk to my host-family’s house for lunch, greeting my friends and laughing off a few marriage proposals along the way. When I reach their compound, I plop down on a mat and chitchat with my host-mother about traditional medicine. Lunch is served and then I take an accidental nap outside. One of my host-brothers wakes me up and I head back home where I sweep my room, wash a few articles of clothing by hand and go to a meeting with another work partner about computer classes.



Night ➛

After the meeting, I call the other Peace Corps Volunteer in my town, who after 20 months of living in a little town in West Africa together, is also my best friend. She brings over all of the ingredients to make fish tacos for an end-of-the-week meal. The corn tortillas take a while to cook on my single gas stove, but by the end we have everything you need for a hearty feast. She heads home around 8:00 p.m. before it gets too late. I try a new yoga podcast, take a bucket bath, read a bit and then get ready for bed. A quick sweep with my headlamp confirms there are no critters within my mosquito net so I peacefully fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.

Three Last Things… 1. What’s up with that little stuffed guy on your bed? Is he your traveling buddy?

That’s Zwibble Dibble and he has the fullest passport of any stuffed dinosaur. He’s been tucked into my carry-on since I was a baby!

2. How did you land in Senegal? How did you decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps?

I’ve wanted to work with Peace Corps since I was a little kid, mostly for the adventure. I studied economics in college and then went on to work at an international organization. I found myself doing a lot of talking and writing about international issues without a strong grasp of what it all means. It became clear that I wasn’t going to understand the work (and the world!) until I branched out from the office building to work in the field. Peace Corps embraces a slow, demand-driven approach to development, which really appeals to me, so I applied! And here I am in Senegal, 20 months in with seven more to go. I had no control over the country assignment, though it’s probable I was placed in West Africa because I speak French.

3. Spaghetti sandwich?! This is incredible. Any other cool food finds you’ve discovered in your travels that we can steal and make at home?

Yeah, I never thought I would crave the carb-on-carb deliciousness that is a spaghetti sandwich. The Senegalese national dish, ceebu jen (sometimes spelled thiebu djen), is definitely worth trying to make at home. I eat it every day and I still crave it when lunchtime comes around. It is a spicy, rice-based dish with fish (or beans) and whatever garden vegetables you have on hand. Everything is cooked together so there is a blend of flavors in every bite. In a big pot, cook the veggies and a few hot peppers in a broth, then add in a few whole fish. Once all of that is done and ready, drain the pot and use that same broth to cook the rice. Spread out the rice on a platter, arrange the veggies in the middle and voila! Something else to learn from Senegalese dining—it’s not just what you eat but how you eat it. Lose the spoon and eat with your hands in a shared bowl. Rice, spaghetti, meat—dig in with mother nature’s utensils alongside your friends and family. It takes communing over food to another level and is certainly kid friendly.

Lily Grabill is a Peace Corps Volunteer in the center of Senegal where she leads youth development trainings. When she returns to the U.S. she wants to pursue a career in elementary education. lilygrabill.wordpress.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Couple of eggs in a wrap with whatever happens to be in the fridge.
Lunch:
Grocery store salad bar.
Dinner:
Puttanesca/Hobo red sauce.


Morning ➛
I usually wake up for the 2nd or 3rd time around 6:30am, since Ike likes to keep his sleeping habits unpredictable. I change him, hand him off to Emma for his breakfast, then make a pot of coffee for us. Coffee, these days, has become a necessity. After I hit the showers, I take Ike downstairs for our exercises. I’ll stretch and show him how to do push ups. Then we work together on rolling over…but mostly he just laughs and chews his fingers. Currently, Hoofcase headquarters is a 13 minute drive through rural Ohio, from Apple Creek to Wooster. The only traffic concerns are Amish buggies and the 20mph school zone, patrolled by our one and only village cop, Woody. Woody and I attended high school together and we always exchange a friendly nod and steering wheel wave when I pass. Our office is a spacious loft that spans the entire second floor of an old brick building in downtown Wooster. It has high ceilings and tall windows, and is situated atop a butcher shop and deli market. It’s the kind of space that would be $50,000 a month in Brooklyn, but we get it in trade for graphic design. One of the many perks of a small town. At any given time, I’m usually working with about 5-8 clients. I bounce around from project to project all morning, while answering emails and listening to podcasts (Marc Maron, Adam Carolla etc.). Podcasts are reserved for my design work, while music or silence are choices for composing emails or writing copy. Hoofcase clients are very diverse-both as companies and geographic locale. Our current roster includes a burger restaurant (Ohio), a boutique hotel (Astoria, Oregon), a make-your-own chocolate shop (New York City) and a wine aerator company (San Diego).
Noon ➛
A quick 4 minute drive and I am at our local YMCA. I typically run on the treadmill to try keep belly in check and then conclude with some gratuitous flexing and posing in the mirror. Afterward, I hit the only salad bar in town and back to the office. My friend Adam, the butcher from downstairs, pops up to the office and shoots the shit. Since I’m the only one in the office these days, it’s nice to have a friendly neighbor to fill the gaps of staring at computer screens. Plus, Adam always has a sample of some new smoked meat for me to taste. It seems you can’t talk about a butcher without it sounding like a sexual innuendo. The wife and I usually chat around lunchtime and I get any marching orders: packing supply requests/kid needs/dinner requests etc. to bring from “town”. Since the kid showed up, Emma has put the event production arm of Hoofcase on hold and has been tending to him and simultaneously preparing for our move to Los Angeles the first week of April. No small task after filling a house over 5 years.
Night ➛
Another 13 minute commute back to the farm at about 6pm, and its time to start making dinner and drinking wine. My 94-year-old grandmother lives about a half mile away on the west side of our farm and we often visit her in the evenings before dinner. She loves holding Ike, even though she hates “his good-for-nothing name” and she’s super pissed we’re moving to California - and isn’t one bit shy about telling us so. Once the vegetables are chopped and sautéed, I add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer. Right about then Ike will start getting cranky so we take him upstairs for a bath, nursing and off to bed. Emma and I eat the puttanesca and finish off the wine while watching The Daily Show - and try not to fall asleep. We still have a shitload of work to do before leaving. But, we’re very excited to be heading West. Winter can suck it. We’ll miss our good friends, having family so close, and living on this farm surrounded by fields and Amish. But we’re looking forward to all the new opportunities awaiting us in Los Angeles. Oh, and Thai food delivery. Mainly Thai food delivery.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the suit? Pretty formal for a designer.
I think that being a dad has given me license to be corny and silly. The truth is, a suit goes a long way in setting the tone in the beginning of a relationship with a client. I have a lot of conversations with company founders and CEO’s, and they need to know that I take their business as seriously as they do. I don’t want them to see me as some guy who can make their logo pretty. I’m the guy who can help them build a brand strategy that will improve their company’s revenue.
2. Moving from NYC to a small town to live a quiet life is a dream for a lot of people. How did you manage to get clients and have a successful business being in a little town in Ohio?
I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Back in 2000, if you knew what a computer was and could spell HTML, you could get a design job. I happened to reply to a post on Monster.com for the Everlast gig and because I didn’t attach my portfolio to the email, it downloaded faster than the other 634 applicants and I got an interview. I showed up in New York from Ohio a week later and after two interviews they asked if I could start the next week. Which was the week before Thanksgiving. I said yes, if you can pay the $457.84 for my moving truck rental. I was the entire creative department for the first 4 years of my career, and I made a shit load of mistakes. But anytime they asked if I could do something, I said yes. Can you take photos? I lied and said yes. Next thing I know I’m flying to Vegas with a 2.5 megapixel camera and a duffel bag full of extension cords and shop lights and I’m shooting the then pound-for-pound champion of the world Sugar Shane Moseley in a boxing gym. From then on, I was the photographer. Can we get this 100 page catalog to print by next Tuesday? Yep. So I spent 4 days and nights at the office, taking product shots and cat naps in the small boxing ring we had in the lobby. Climbing out the window and smoking cigarettes on breaks. Usually the first person in the office would wake me up and I’d get back at it. I always said yes, and it always got done. And my salary was $34,000 a year. In New York. Often we would get stock options, rather than a cash raise, which at the time was frustrating since our stock price was $1.75. But I loved working there, and have lifelong friends from that time, because we all worked so hard for each other. My last year at Everlast we worked together with a consulting firm and rebuilt the brand from the ground up. Research, brand strategy, vision statements, logo refinement, product redesign, packaging redesign, web site rebuild, etc. I had a front row seat to the entire process and soaked it all in. The company was purchased soon after, and those $1.75 stock options I was pissed off about before, were all of the sudden worth $32.50. I had enough to take a year off, but not if I lived in New York. So I went home to our family farm in Ohio where the living is cheap. I was completely burnt out and done with design. I spent a few months fantasizing about making furniture or surfboards or anything that didn’t involve a computer. Eventually a friend asked for some help with a company he was building, and I begrudgingly said yes. Once we got started, I had a revelation. I’m really fucking good at this! I had gained so much knowledge by keeping my head down, saying ‘yes’ and plowing through work that I didn’t have time to realize how much I had learned
3. So, what’s your first thai food delivery order once you’re in LA? You can choose three dishes.
Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and something spicy with peanut sauce.


Brandon lives in Los Angeles (as of last week) with his wife and son. He owns Hoofcase, a company that leverages business strategy and well-honed creative instincts to build strong emotional bonds betweens brands and consumers. hoofcase.com
So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Couple of eggs in a wrap with whatever happens to be in the fridge.


Lunch:

Grocery store salad bar.


Dinner:

Puttanesca/Hobo red sauce.

Morning ➛

I usually wake up for the 2nd or 3rd time around 6:30am, since Ike likes to keep his sleeping habits unpredictable. I change him, hand him off to Emma for his breakfast, then make a pot of coffee for us. Coffee, these days, has become a necessity. After I hit the showers, I take Ike downstairs for our exercises. I’ll stretch and show him how to do push ups. Then we work together on rolling over…but mostly he just laughs and chews his fingers. Currently, Hoofcase headquarters is a 13 minute drive through rural Ohio, from Apple Creek to Wooster. The only traffic concerns are Amish buggies and the 20mph school zone, patrolled by our one and only village cop, Woody. Woody and I attended high school together and we always exchange a friendly nod and steering wheel wave when I pass. Our office is a spacious loft that spans the entire second floor of an old brick building in downtown Wooster. It has high ceilings and tall windows, and is situated atop a butcher shop and deli market. It’s the kind of space that would be $50,000 a month in Brooklyn, but we get it in trade for graphic design. One of the many perks of a small town. At any given time, I’m usually working with about 5-8 clients. I bounce around from project to project all morning, while answering emails and listening to podcasts (Marc Maron, Adam Carolla etc.). Podcasts are reserved for my design work, while music or silence are choices for composing emails or writing copy. Hoofcase clients are very diverse-both as companies and geographic locale. Our current roster includes a burger restaurant (Ohio), a boutique hotel (Astoria, Oregon), a make-your-own chocolate shop (New York City) and a wine aerator company (San Diego).



Noon ➛

A quick 4 minute drive and I am at our local YMCA. I typically run on the treadmill to try keep belly in check and then conclude with some gratuitous flexing and posing in the mirror. Afterward, I hit the only salad bar in town and back to the office. My friend Adam, the butcher from downstairs, pops up to the office and shoots the shit. Since I’m the only one in the office these days, it’s nice to have a friendly neighbor to fill the gaps of staring at computer screens. Plus, Adam always has a sample of some new smoked meat for me to taste. It seems you can’t talk about a butcher without it sounding like a sexual innuendo. The wife and I usually chat around lunchtime and I get any marching orders: packing supply requests/kid needs/dinner requests etc. to bring from “town”. Since the kid showed up, Emma has put the event production arm of Hoofcase on hold and has been tending to him and simultaneously preparing for our move to Los Angeles the first week of April. No small task after filling a house over 5 years.



Night ➛

Another 13 minute commute back to the farm at about 6pm, and its time to start making dinner and drinking wine. My 94-year-old grandmother lives about a half mile away on the west side of our farm and we often visit her in the evenings before dinner. She loves holding Ike, even though she hates “his good-for-nothing name” and she’s super pissed we’re moving to California - and isn’t one bit shy about telling us so. Once the vegetables are chopped and sautéed, I add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer. Right about then Ike will start getting cranky so we take him upstairs for a bath, nursing and off to bed. Emma and I eat the puttanesca and finish off the wine while watching The Daily Show - and try not to fall asleep. We still have a shitload of work to do before leaving. But, we’re very excited to be heading West. Winter can suck it. We’ll miss our good friends, having family so close, and living on this farm surrounded by fields and Amish. But we’re looking forward to all the new opportunities awaiting us in Los Angeles. Oh, and Thai food delivery. Mainly Thai food delivery.

Three Last Things… 1. What’s up with the suit? Pretty formal for a designer.

I think that being a dad has given me license to be corny and silly. The truth is, a suit goes a long way in setting the tone in the beginning of a relationship with a client. I have a lot of conversations with company founders and CEO’s, and they need to know that I take their business as seriously as they do. I don’t want them to see me as some guy who can make their logo pretty. I’m the guy who can help them build a brand strategy that will improve their company’s revenue.

2. Moving from NYC to a small town to live a quiet life is a dream for a lot of people. How did you manage to get clients and have a successful business being in a little town in Ohio?

I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Back in 2000, if you knew what a computer was and could spell HTML, you could get a design job. I happened to reply to a post on Monster.com for the Everlast gig and because I didn’t attach my portfolio to the email, it downloaded faster than the other 634 applicants and I got an interview. I showed up in New York from Ohio a week later and after two interviews they asked if I could start the next week. Which was the week before Thanksgiving. I said yes, if you can pay the $457.84 for my moving truck rental. I was the entire creative department for the first 4 years of my career, and I made a shit load of mistakes. But anytime they asked if I could do something, I said yes. Can you take photos? I lied and said yes. Next thing I know I’m flying to Vegas with a 2.5 megapixel camera and a duffel bag full of extension cords and shop lights and I’m shooting the then pound-for-pound champion of the world Sugar Shane Moseley in a boxing gym. From then on, I was the photographer. Can we get this 100 page catalog to print by next Tuesday? Yep. So I spent 4 days and nights at the office, taking product shots and cat naps in the small boxing ring we had in the lobby. Climbing out the window and smoking cigarettes on breaks. Usually the first person in the office would wake me up and I’d get back at it. I always said yes, and it always got done. And my salary was $34,000 a year. In New York. Often we would get stock options, rather than a cash raise, which at the time was frustrating since our stock price was $1.75. But I loved working there, and have lifelong friends from that time, because we all worked so hard for each other. My last year at Everlast we worked together with a consulting firm and rebuilt the brand from the ground up. Research, brand strategy, vision statements, logo refinement, product redesign, packaging redesign, web site rebuild, etc. I had a front row seat to the entire process and soaked it all in. The company was purchased soon after, and those $1.75 stock options I was pissed off about before, were all of the sudden worth $32.50. I had enough to take a year off, but not if I lived in New York. So I went home to our family farm in Ohio where the living is cheap. I was completely burnt out and done with design. I spent a few months fantasizing about making furniture or surfboards or anything that didn’t involve a computer. Eventually a friend asked for some help with a company he was building, and I begrudgingly said yes. Once we got started, I had a revelation. I’m really fucking good at this! I had gained so much knowledge by keeping my head down, saying ‘yes’ and plowing through work that I didn’t have time to realize how much I had learned

3. So, what’s your first thai food delivery order once you’re in LA? You can choose three dishes.

Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and something spicy with peanut sauce.

Brandon lives in Los Angeles (as of last week) with his wife and son. He owns Hoofcase, a company that leverages business strategy and well-honed creative instincts to build strong emotional bonds betweens brands and consumers. hoofcase.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Smoked salmon and avocado on sprouted rye.
Lunch:
Kale, chicken and white bean soup.
Dinner:
Black bean, squash and chickpea curry.


Morning ➛
Up at 6:45, just to make sure I can squeeze in a beach walk. We’re fortunate to live in Venice, only a few blocks from the beach, so I try and get out there as much as I can. Hearing the sound of the waves tumbling out and pulling back into the sea helps me feel grounded and open to the day. Shortly after breakfast, I have a quick online lactation consult with a client in New York. Then it’s off to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite weekly stops. I’m usually picking up produce for my postpartum clients, but make sure to stock up on a few things for myself and my fiance, Jordy, if I’m not in a rush. Today, it’s a client run. This afternoon, I’m preparing a kale, chicken and white bean soup and my soaked super-grain porridge, so I take my time picking out baby kale from Maggie’s Farm, colorful fingerling potatoes from Weiser Farms and ruby red strawberries from Pudwill Farms. I rarely leave the market in a bad mood.
Noon ➛
I spend the afternoon cooking and caring for my clients, a new mother, her husband and their 5 day old baby girl. Having a child is an incredible period of deep joy and change. Lots of new information, very little sleep and tons of questions and fleeting thoughts on everything from breast-feeding to how one can promote swift healing after birth. As a new parent, having support and good information makes the world of difference. It’s a such a special and intimate period. Honestly, half the time, I just feel lucky to be a part of their transition process. While I make lunch, we chat about her birth story, swaddling and potential names — they’re still trying to decide — and I tell them to take their time, no point in rushing it. When it’s right, it’ll feel right. Once lunch is ready, we sit and eat together, I recommend a few herbal remedies for sleep and pain relief and then show her how to ‘babywear’, which basically means, wrapping a baby on your chest with a stretchy piece of fabric. It’s wonderful for bonding and helping a mom get hands-free quickly. She gets it right on the first try and then jokingly says “I should try this with you”, pointing at their puppy. I laugh, and suggest that she try it out a few more times at home, before a big outing so that she feels comfortable. I quickly soak the grains for the porridge and head home.
Night ➛
It’s one of those rare evenings than I have don’t have something scheduled, so I catch up on a few emails, check in with another client about her midwife appointment earlier that day and take a long bath, scented with an old favorite, Moroccan rose oil. After that, I start making dinner. I like to watch television while I’m prepping and cooking (I’m a multi-tasker!), so I put on “New Girl” and get cracking. Just before 8:30, Jordy walks in the door, and we eat dinner on the kitchen counter and unpack the day. Then I slide into bed, spend a little time on Instagram. Jordy gets in next to me and asks me to listen to some old Sun Ra song he’s really into at the moment. I turn my head, smile and nod drowsily, listen for a few seconds and fall asleep before the song has finished playing.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with your cool room? Do you live in an attic or something?
We live in a darling 1925 craftsman bungalow with a lot of quirky touches, like the redwood-paneled loft where that photo was taken. Our bedroom is actually downstairs, but when we need a little break or some thinking space, one of us will sneak up there. Sometimes we sneak up there together and just hang out.
2. You gotta share how you got into the baby/chef game? It’s a super unique career.
I used to work in fashion pr. As much I loved the vivacity and aesthetic trappings of that world, I was not fulfilled by it. I found myself craving more personal/human interaction. I wanted work to feel less like “work” and more like a vocation. My quiet desire, was to work with women and the body and somehow thread it back through my culinary skills. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen. So I just sat on it. Eventually, doubt wasn’t enough to keep me tethered. I quit my job and started volunteering at a women’s community clinic. It was the best decision I ever made. I gained a broad knowledge of the women’s health world, which prompted my interest in midwifery. En route to learning more about midwives, I discovered the role of the doula. It was as if a switch was turned “ON” — I knew it was for me. Being able to educate and support women and their families throughout such a transitional period, felt so right. I completed my doula training under an incredible midwife in San Francisco and I’ve never looked back. Over the years, I’ve found a way to blend all of my passions into a cohesive offering, which is The Mama Circle.
3. So, let’s say you’re a new mom…your baby is crying like a maniac, you feel fat, and you can’t seem to get caught up on work because of it all. What’s your top three tips for getting your new mama groove back?
Good Support + Good Information: You don’t have to do it alone. There are so many trained professional available, ready to support you. So reach out, weather its for breastfeeding issues, questions about parenting, stress management, or help revving intimacy with your partner. If you’re not sure where to turn, try asking a friend, express your concerns and they may have resources. Otherwise, your current care provider will probably have a referral network, that they connect you too. My biggest piece of advice would be to take everything you read on the notorious online “mom forums” with a pitch of salt, most of it tends to anecdotal, not fact. Trust your instincts.
Eat Well & Regularly: Getting the reigns on your diet after having a baby can be challenging, but do your best to eat mindfully. Try and make sure that whatever your putting in is serving your body. I advise my clients to graze their way through the day. Small high-protien and high-fiber “mini meals” can seem more manageable, especially when you’re super busy. You’ll stay energized and feel more capable. Food apps like The Whole Pantry are great, they can help you come up with ideas when creativity is in short supply.
A Little Bodywork Goes A Long Way: Most women don’t realize how important bodywork is after having a baby. Labor, no matter how it happens, take a toll on the body — it’s very physical. Deep tissue massage, chiropractics and acupuncture blended together or used individually can make a big difference for a new mom. Find time for it. Have your partner watch your baby and get to it. Make it a monthly or even weekly appointment if you can afford to. Time for you is time well spent.


Erica Chidi Lives in Los Angeles, California. She’s the founder and owner of The Mama Circle a resource for expectant and new mothers, centered around helping them gently navigate their journey towards and through motherhood. When she’s not helping to bring babes into the world, she’s usually working out a new recipe or in her vegetable garden. themamacircle.com
So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Smoked salmon and avocado on sprouted rye.


Lunch:

Kale, chicken and white bean soup.


Dinner:

Black bean, squash and chickpea curry.

Morning ➛

Up at 6:45, just to make sure I can squeeze in a beach walk. We’re fortunate to live in Venice, only a few blocks from the beach, so I try and get out there as much as I can. Hearing the sound of the waves tumbling out and pulling back into the sea helps me feel grounded and open to the day. Shortly after breakfast, I have a quick online lactation consult with a client in New York. Then it’s off to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite weekly stops. I’m usually picking up produce for my postpartum clients, but make sure to stock up on a few things for myself and my fiance, Jordy, if I’m not in a rush. Today, it’s a client run. This afternoon, I’m preparing a kale, chicken and white bean soup and my soaked super-grain porridge, so I take my time picking out baby kale from Maggie’s Farm, colorful fingerling potatoes from Weiser Farms and ruby red strawberries from Pudwill Farms. I rarely leave the market in a bad mood.



Noon ➛

I spend the afternoon cooking and caring for my clients, a new mother, her husband and their 5 day old baby girl. Having a child is an incredible period of deep joy and change. Lots of new information, very little sleep and tons of questions and fleeting thoughts on everything from breast-feeding to how one can promote swift healing after birth. As a new parent, having support and good information makes the world of difference. It’s a such a special and intimate period. Honestly, half the time, I just feel lucky to be a part of their transition process. While I make lunch, we chat about her birth story, swaddling and potential names — they’re still trying to decide — and I tell them to take their time, no point in rushing it. When it’s right, it’ll feel right. Once lunch is ready, we sit and eat together, I recommend a few herbal remedies for sleep and pain relief and then show her how to ‘babywear’, which basically means, wrapping a baby on your chest with a stretchy piece of fabric. It’s wonderful for bonding and helping a mom get hands-free quickly. She gets it right on the first try and then jokingly says “I should try this with you”, pointing at their puppy. I laugh, and suggest that she try it out a few more times at home, before a big outing so that she feels comfortable. I quickly soak the grains for the porridge and head home.



Night ➛

It’s one of those rare evenings than I have don’t have something scheduled, so I catch up on a few emails, check in with another client about her midwife appointment earlier that day and take a long bath, scented with an old favorite, Moroccan rose oil. After that, I start making dinner. I like to watch television while I’m prepping and cooking (I’m a multi-tasker!), so I put on “New Girl” and get cracking. Just before 8:30, Jordy walks in the door, and we eat dinner on the kitchen counter and unpack the day. Then I slide into bed, spend a little time on Instagram. Jordy gets in next to me and asks me to listen to some old Sun Ra song he’s really into at the moment. I turn my head, smile and nod drowsily, listen for a few seconds and fall asleep before the song has finished playing.

Three Last Things… 1. What’s up with your cool room? Do you live in an attic or something?

We live in a darling 1925 craftsman bungalow with a lot of quirky touches, like the redwood-paneled loft where that photo was taken. Our bedroom is actually downstairs, but when we need a little break or some thinking space, one of us will sneak up there. Sometimes we sneak up there together and just hang out.

2. You gotta share how you got into the baby/chef game? It’s a super unique career.

I used to work in fashion pr. As much I loved the vivacity and aesthetic trappings of that world, I was not fulfilled by it. I found myself craving more personal/human interaction. I wanted work to feel less like “work” and more like a vocation. My quiet desire, was to work with women and the body and somehow thread it back through my culinary skills. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen. So I just sat on it. Eventually, doubt wasn’t enough to keep me tethered. I quit my job and started volunteering at a women’s community clinic. It was the best decision I ever made. I gained a broad knowledge of the women’s health world, which prompted my interest in midwifery. En route to learning more about midwives, I discovered the role of the doula. It was as if a switch was turned “ON” — I knew it was for me. Being able to educate and support women and their families throughout such a transitional period, felt so right. I completed my doula training under an incredible midwife in San Francisco and I’ve never looked back. Over the years, I’ve found a way to blend all of my passions into a cohesive offering, which is The Mama Circle.

3. So, let’s say you’re a new mom…your baby is crying like a maniac, you feel fat, and you can’t seem to get caught up on work because of it all. What’s your top three tips for getting your new mama groove back?

Good Support + Good Information: You don’t have to do it alone. There are so many trained professional available, ready to support you. So reach out, weather its for breastfeeding issues, questions about parenting, stress management, or help revving intimacy with your partner. If you’re not sure where to turn, try asking a friend, express your concerns and they may have resources. Otherwise, your current care provider will probably have a referral network, that they connect you too. My biggest piece of advice would be to take everything you read on the notorious online “mom forums” with a pitch of salt, most of it tends to anecdotal, not fact. Trust your instincts.

Eat Well & Regularly: Getting the reigns on your diet after having a baby can be challenging, but do your best to eat mindfully. Try and make sure that whatever your putting in is serving your body. I advise my clients to graze their way through the day. Small high-protien and high-fiber “mini meals” can seem more manageable, especially when you’re super busy. You’ll stay energized and feel more capable. Food apps like The Whole Pantry are great, they can help you come up with ideas when creativity is in short supply.

A Little Bodywork Goes A Long Way: Most women don’t realize how important bodywork is after having a baby. Labor, no matter how it happens, take a toll on the body — it’s very physical. Deep tissue massage, chiropractics and acupuncture blended together or used individually can make a big difference for a new mom. Find time for it. Have your partner watch your baby and get to it. Make it a monthly or even weekly appointment if you can afford to. Time for you is time well spent.

Erica Chidi Lives in Los Angeles, California. She’s the founder and owner of The Mama Circle a resource for expectant and new mothers, centered around helping them gently navigate their journey towards and through motherhood. When she’s not helping to bring babes into the world, she’s usually working out a new recipe or in her vegetable garden. themamacircle.com