Helloooo there! Long time no blog! But I’ve missed you all, and I’ve missed coming to this space. And I’ve been wanting to write a post, to say hi, to reconnect, and to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about you. Not at all!
What I Ate Wednesday posts have always been some of my most popular, so I thought it would be fun to pop in and do one of those. A sort of “day in the life” thing, to serve as both mealtime inspiration, as WIAW always seems to do, as well as to give you guys a little look into what I’m currently up to. Which is: A LOT.
These days are busy, some of the busiest I’ve ever had, I think. And I find that the key to sustained intensity like this (no end in sight) is consistent and directed self care. Now more than ever, I’m making sure to put nutritious and delicious foods into my body, and I’m using media that makes me feel happy and stimulated, and I’m surrounding myself with the people who nourish and inspire me, and I’m trying to pause and notice the beauty around me, and of course, as often as possible, I’m finding some time to rest.
It’s 8 am. Did I tell you we got kittens?
It’s 8 am and I am grateful I got to sleep so long. Damian has Waits on Thursday nights, so Friday morning I get some extra zzz’s. But now, it is 8 am and the kittens — a brother and sister that we adopted a few weeks ago, and I will tell you all about that another time — are ready for their breakfast.
Okay, okay. I’m up!
I’ve got a big day today, but nothing scheduled until 10:15, so my morning is all about feeding kittens, packing lunches, showering, and readying myself for the day. French roast with oat milk gets me going. Podcasts keep me happy:
I pack a lunch for me and for Jeremy, and I also pack up some special treats for Waits. Today is “Stone Soup Day” at his school, which means that all the kiddos in his class are bringing vegetables to make into a big soup for a feast to feed the parents. But there’s also cornbread and pumpkin pie that they’ve made, neither of which are vegan. So I’m bringing him his own special version of each. Vegan moms work overtime!
I’m out the door by 10, headed to help out in Waits’s classroom from 10:15 until the Stone Soup Feast at 11:15. I love being in Waits’s class, and I volunteer to spend a little time there every week. I’ve gotten to know most of the kiddos and it’s just such a joy to be immersed in kindergarten-world. I don’t care how busy my life may get — being an active parent in his classroom will always be a priority for me. ♥
I spend about an hour in the classroom, helping the children with art and writing, and then joining in circle time for show-and-tell and appreciations. Then, it’s time to feast!
It’s a beautiful winter day, with that special kind of slicing sunlight that always comes this time of year. Unfortunately I have a meeting scheduled right at noon, so I can’t stay long, but I’m grateful to be able to be part of such a lovely little feast. At 11:30 I’m kissing the kiddo goodbye and hopping into the car to head out to UCSB.
So. I realized a few months ago that despite graduate school being the primary driving force in my life, it’s something I’ve written about very little, and photographed even less. Funny, that.
This is Thomas — my mentor / graduate advisor / bossman. He doesn’t want his picture taken today because he’s sick and says he looks like shit, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
Thomas and I are currently working on writing up some field research — predator-prey dynamics in freshwater river systems — which we’re getting ready to submit for publication. It’s pretty cool stuff, and we hope to have it in peer-review by early next year.
While we work, I eat:
Today’s meal-sized salad is local mesclun mix and carrots from my CSA farm box, red onion, garbanzo beans, and a whole half of a large avocado, covered in my favorite tahini sauce.
We work on our manuscript for 2 solid hours and make some great headway. But soon, it’s time for me to take off, to pick the kiddo up from school!
Waits has kindergarten during normal school hours, and then he goes to an after school program which is a nature-based outdoor day care. It’s the best.
I am so lucky that every single day, I get to pick him up from school and take him to his after-school care. To reconnect. Even on Damian’s nights, I get that little midday reconnection. Every single day. And I am so thankful for that.
But now, I have an appointment downtown. I park at our barware shop Still and pop in to give Jeremy a kiss. Then I’m off walking, just a few short blocks, to a beautiful place called The Temple.
This is Terence, and he co-founded The Temple (a center for holistic health coaching) with a friend of mine. Terence is a really interesting guy, and also . . . *cue dramatic music* . . . he’s an ex-vegan!!
So Terence is an ex-vegan. He’s someone who got sick on a vegan diet, and felt like he was unable to get better while remaining vegan. It’s an all-too-common story. And he spent many years carrying around a deep anger and resentment towards veganism. But a few years ago, we met each other, and I shared my story with him. And we began talking about it. And since then, he has begun to let go of a lot of those feelings.
So much so, that now he’s asking me to consult with him for his vegan and vegetarian clients. He feels like he wants to be able to support them in their desire to be veg, but he needs an expert on vegan and vegetarian nutrition. And he thinks that expert could be me!
It’s pretty cool stuff, and an exciting potential opportunity. I think we have tons to learn from each other, and I’m really, really looking forward to this budding relationship. ♥
Our meeting lasts from 3 until 4, and then I have to hit the road (again) to get home and get ready for work at the wine bar. We open at 5:15 and I still have to pick Waits up from outdoor school.
But first a quick pit stop into the raw/vegan cafe in front of The Temple, where I pick up a pair of superfood cold-brew coffee smoothies. Because we have a loooong night ahead of us, and we need coffee.
I walk back down to where my car is parked at Still, drop the smoothie off with Jeremy around the corner at the wine bar, and then head home to get changed.
I really try to “look the part” when I’m at our vegan wine bar, Five & 1/4, so it can take me a little time to get ready. But today I’m feeling rushed and I keep things pretty minimal: change into all black clothing, refresh my makeup, and put my hair up. Done.
I head back out to pick up Waits, which is a bit of a drive up into the foothills. By the time I retrieve him and get us back home, it’s after dark, and after 5 o’clock.
This is Erica. She’s our housemate, and aside from being an awesome vegan, kitten auntie, and Grey’s Anatomy marathon co-conspirator, she also just so happens to be a professional nanny.
So Erica and Waits get along great, and she watches the kiddo on the nights when I have him but I need to work the wine bar (so, every other weekend). It’s such a great arrangement and I feel so dang lucky.
So we’re about three months into this whole opening a vegan wine bar thing, and it’s actually going pretty swimmingly. Other than the long, late hours and the grind of restaurant work, and you know, both of us having other full-time gigs . . . but I can’t complain. We opened a wine bar three months ago and people really dig it and we get rave reviews and it’s already profitable which is AMAZING. So yeah, I can’t complain.
Tonight is a little weird because it’s the annual Christmas parade down our main street, which is just one block away from the wine bar. So walking to work (it’s only a few blocks from home), the streets are packed and there’s festivity everywhere, but I’m not sure what to expect when I get there. Tonight will either be really slow, or totally slammed.
Upon arrival, it’s preeeeetty slow. But that’s okay — I need a moment to transition, and to get some food in me.
This is Jerome, our first hire at Five & 1/4! I met Jerome through a mutual friend this past summer, right as he was moving out to Santa Barbara from California’s central valley, where he’d spent the past few years helping to build community gardens. Jerome is actually a photographer and documentarian by trade, but he was forced to flee his home country of Sri Lanka for doing that very work. He is now a refugee, here on political asylum.
Jerome is an awesome guy with an incredible story, and we’re so happy to have him at Five & 1/4. He also just so happens to make a killer mango curry.
We serve pudlas in the bar, and we usually ask Jerome to fire a couple of them as soon as we get going. We leave them in the back and that way Jeremy and I can snatch bites throughout the night. That’s dinner on work nights — a pudla, plus our house made rosemary cayenne cashews at the end of the night, and probably a few of the leftover dolmas, too. But first, pudla. Always have the pudla on hand. We learned the hard way that busy busy nights can quickly lead to hungry –> hANGRY us. Whoops.
And this is Yvan, the owner of the restaurant that hosts our wine bar, with his beautiful family. They had been at the Christmas parade and popped in to say hi. Yvan is from France and his wife Yamilcen is from Columbia, and their son Mark Yvan speaks English, French, AND Spanish, often all mixed up together. He is adorable and I am jealous of his multi-linguistics. He adores our popcorn.
As it turns out, it’s a really great night, super busy and full of happy, celebratory folks. It’s everything I love about this project – good food, great wine, and an accessible, easy-going atmosphere. The kind of place that’s always up for a trombone solo.
Jerome takes off to catch his bus around 9, and the night winds down around 10 pm when we close the doors. But there’s still so much work to do. We dream of the day when we can hire staff to break down the bar and clean up at the end of the night. But for now, it’s all on the two of us.
It’s 11:02 pm, and we’re finally making our way home. Quiet streets reflection selfie! This is actually one of my very favorite parts of the entire day. That walk home, late night, body aching, head spinning, but feeling so good. That physical feeling of good, hard work. And cold night air. I just love it.
We get home and check in with Erica. I check on Waits. We snuggle the kitties. It’s been a long day and we’re soooo tired, but neither of us can go straight to sleep when we get home. We always need wind-down time.
When we open a new bottle at the wine bar, we always take a taste to make sure it’s good. So over the course of this particular night, I’ve sip-sampled a Croation white, a French Vouvray, and reds from Italy, Lebanon, and Greece. I also tried a German Kuemmerling digestivo.
But when I get home, I want a real glass of wine. I want to put my yoga pants on, throw my hair up in a messy top knot, and pour myself a real glass of wine.
♥ ♥ ♥
Oh yeah! And also, this blog post comes with a bonus track. Seems appropriate.