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

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Americano w/almond milk. Green smoothie.
Lunch:
Quinoa tabbouleh
Dinner:
Sushi at SugarFish. A few squares of dark chocolate.


Morning ➛
I’m naturally a morning person, so I wake up at 6am. I pick up my phone and see a million Skype messages. Oh lordy! I’m designing a watch with a company in Hong Kong, so while I’ve been snoozing, they’ve been going over food collage designs I sent them the night before. I respond to them and scroll through emails, Instagram, etc. a bit before starting my morning routine. I make espressos for an Americano for me and fresh orange, carrot, and ginger juice for my boyfriend, Brock. He makes green smoothies for us, packed full of good stuff: vegan protein powder, Vitamineral Greens, kale/spinach, bananas, blueberries, chia seeds, goji berries, and almond milk. I relish our mornings together. With him running a start-up and me doing my thing, our schedules can get hairy. It’s 7:30 am. I feed juice scraps to the worm bin and water the garden. It’s a teeny, raised bed built out of cinder blocks, next to the driveway. Lots of vertical growers, like haricot verts, scarlet runner beans, and cucumbers, make it a productive little garden though. Then I drive seven minutes to the office where there’s endless amounts of email answering, meetings, researching, writing, and editing to be done.
Noon ➛
I check in with my mom. She’s fretting because my dad has to renew his driver’s license and he doesn’t know the usage regulations for parking lights Oy! I eat leftovers and work on editing a research report about 3D printing. I head home around 4 pm. I select new food collage images for print. I’m testing out different papers and sizing to see what works. I wait for a phone call from a potential client; he recently opened a restaurant and needs photography work. We chat a bit. I promise the client estimates and bike over to a meeting in Venice to go over menus for an upcoming catering event.
Night ➛
I usually go to yoga or spin, but tonight I collaborate with my boyfriend on an apple crisp with bourbon whipped cream, and caramel sauce for a pot luck. I make the filling and he makes the crisp. High five for teamwork—and for using every single dish in the kitchen. Whoops! It’s an endless cycle of dish washing around these parts. Since we were recently out of town, it’s 8:30pm and we realize have no groceries. A quick sushi dinner in the neighborhood is in order. Once we get home, I shower and start getting ready for bed. I ‘m trying to break the habit of having my iPad/iPhone in bed and limit my screen time, but I have a routine of browsing Flipboard before my eyelids get heavy. 11pm and it’s off to la-la land…zzz.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with those nails?
Sorry guys… It’s about to get real girly on SHWYD. Please skip to question #2 if you care at all about your testosterone levels! I work with my hands so much that regular nail polishes always chip within a day or two. Nail stickers are a godsend. They keep my nails blinging without constant salon trips and they last forever (at least two weeks). Long nails are highly impractical, I admit. It sounds like a tap dance performance when I send a text message, but still, I like to be girly sometimes.
2. A photographer, food artist AND copy editor? How did you manage to become good at all three things?
Oh that’s tough question! Work—really, really hard—for the love (not the money), stay humble, and challenge yourself. These are words I live by. Coming from blue collar, immigrant parents, it took me a while to realize that money does not equal success or happiness. Even though I studied English in college (hence, my natural inclination to edit copy), I worked in finance for a while, but I never felt fulfilled. I liked my job, but I didn’t LOVE it. I craved a creative outlet. Since I was passionate about food (for as long as I can remember), I interned in restaurants for free at night, catered for peanuts on the weekends, and threw elaborate dinner parties as often as possible. Working with food made me happiest and left me feeling inspired, excited, and curious. Around that time, I started a food blog to document things happening in my kitchen—with a point-and-shoot camera. Mon Dieu! Those pictures were seriously cringe-worthy. Luckily, my boyfriend—the apple crisp expert mentioned above—taught me everything about DSLR photography and I’ve been snapping away ever since.
3. Your food collages are pretty much the coolest food photos out there. What are your top three tips to shooting great food photos?
Thank you! I love to make them. (1) Cue the broken record… Lighting, lighting, lighting! This is absolutely the most important thing—whether you’re shooting with your phone or DSLR. Whenever humanly possible, natural light is the way to go. (2) Be imperfect It’s okay. Don’t worry about making everything look just right. I love shots of food that have character and are just a bit messy. It’s that drip of the sauce or the smattering of herbs that gives the photo movement and life. Nobody wants to see robot food! (3) Use the best ingredients you can find. It’s all about quality. From the vibrant color to the natural sheen/plumpness, fresh food is naturally more photogenic. Also, most importantly, it’ll be more delicious for the clean-up crew (you) once the shoot is done. *Bonus tip: Besides the basics of composition and color, I say learn to use Photoshop (or any photo editing tool) well. When you don’t have the ideal lighting situation, a little manipulation can make all the difference.


Julie lives in Venice with her beau, Brock. She is a food artist, photographer, and copy editor. Her food collages have gained quite a following, and an online print store will be coming soon.  julieskitchen.me instagram.com/julieskitchen

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Americano w/almond milk. Green smoothie.


Lunch:

Quinoa tabbouleh


Dinner:

Sushi at SugarFish. A few squares of dark chocolate.

Morning ➛

I’m naturally a morning person, so I wake up at 6am. I pick up my phone and see a million Skype messages. Oh lordy! I’m designing a watch with a company in Hong Kong, so while I’ve been snoozing, they’ve been going over food collage designs I sent them the night before. I respond to them and scroll through emails, Instagram, etc. a bit before starting my morning routine. I make espressos for an Americano for me and fresh orange, carrot, and ginger juice for my boyfriend, Brock. He makes green smoothies for us, packed full of good stuff: vegan protein powder, Vitamineral Greens, kale/spinach, bananas, blueberries, chia seeds, goji berries, and almond milk. I relish our mornings together. With him running a start-up and me doing my thing, our schedules can get hairy. It’s 7:30 am. I feed juice scraps to the worm bin and water the garden. It’s a teeny, raised bed built out of cinder blocks, next to the driveway. Lots of vertical growers, like haricot verts, scarlet runner beans, and cucumbers, make it a productive little garden though. Then I drive seven minutes to the office where there’s endless amounts of email answering, meetings, researching, writing, and editing to be done.



Noon ➛

I check in with my mom. She’s fretting because my dad has to renew his driver’s license and he doesn’t know the usage regulations for parking lights Oy! I eat leftovers and work on editing a research report about 3D printing. I head home around 4 pm. I select new food collage images for print. I’m testing out different papers and sizing to see what works. I wait for a phone call from a potential client; he recently opened a restaurant and needs photography work. We chat a bit. I promise the client estimates and bike over to a meeting in Venice to go over menus for an upcoming catering event.



Night ➛

I usually go to yoga or spin, but tonight I collaborate with my boyfriend on an apple crisp with bourbon whipped cream, and caramel sauce for a pot luck. I make the filling and he makes the crisp. High five for teamwork—and for using every single dish in the kitchen. Whoops! It’s an endless cycle of dish washing around these parts. Since we were recently out of town, it’s 8:30pm and we realize have no groceries. A quick sushi dinner in the neighborhood is in order. Once we get home, I shower and start getting ready for bed. I ‘m trying to break the habit of having my iPad/iPhone in bed and limit my screen time, but I have a routine of browsing Flipboard before my eyelids get heavy. 11pm and it’s off to la-la land…zzz.

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with those nails?

Sorry guys… It’s about to get real girly on SHWYD. Please skip to question #2 if you care at all about your testosterone levels! I work with my hands so much that regular nail polishes always chip within a day or two. Nail stickers are a godsend. They keep my nails blinging without constant salon trips and they last forever (at least two weeks). Long nails are highly impractical, I admit. It sounds like a tap dance performance when I send a text message, but still, I like to be girly sometimes.

2. A photographer, food artist AND copy editor? How did you manage to become good at all three things?

Oh that’s tough question! Work—really, really hard—for the love (not the money), stay humble, and challenge yourself. These are words I live by. Coming from blue collar, immigrant parents, it took me a while to realize that money does not equal success or happiness. Even though I studied English in college (hence, my natural inclination to edit copy), I worked in finance for a while, but I never felt fulfilled. I liked my job, but I didn’t LOVE it. I craved a creative outlet. Since I was passionate about food (for as long as I can remember), I interned in restaurants for free at night, catered for peanuts on the weekends, and threw elaborate dinner parties as often as possible. Working with food made me happiest and left me feeling inspired, excited, and curious. Around that time, I started a food blog to document things happening in my kitchen—with a point-and-shoot camera. Mon Dieu! Those pictures were seriously cringe-worthy. Luckily, my boyfriend—the apple crisp expert mentioned above—taught me everything about DSLR photography and I’ve been snapping away ever since.

3. Your food collages are pretty much the coolest food photos out there. What are your top three tips to shooting great food photos?

Thank you! I love to make them. (1) Cue the broken record… Lighting, lighting, lighting! This is absolutely the most important thing—whether you’re shooting with your phone or DSLR. Whenever humanly possible, natural light is the way to go. (2) Be imperfect It’s okay. Don’t worry about making everything look just right. I love shots of food that have character and are just a bit messy. It’s that drip of the sauce or the smattering of herbs that gives the photo movement and life. Nobody wants to see robot food! (3) Use the best ingredients you can find. It’s all about quality. From the vibrant color to the natural sheen/plumpness, fresh food is naturally more photogenic. Also, most importantly, it’ll be more delicious for the clean-up crew (you) once the shoot is done. *Bonus tip: Besides the basics of composition and color, I say learn to use Photoshop (or any photo editing tool) well. When you don’t have the ideal lighting situation, a little manipulation can make all the difference.

Julie lives in Venice with her beau, Brock. She is a food artist, photographer, and copy editor. Her food collages have gained quite a following, and an online print store will be coming soon.  julieskitchen.me instagram.com/julieskitchen