A Day in the Life

I am always curious about other people’s routine, and my favorite section in the French magazine ELLE is the page near the end where a personality shares a typical day in their life. I recently had the opportunity to do just that for an Instagram takeover of One Woman Shop, a community of female solopreneurs, and I thought I would share that little photo essay with you here.

Ready to go behind the scenes and experience a day in the life of a Parisian food writer? Here’s what it looks like.

Breakfast Bowl

Once my two sons (Mika is 1 and Milan is 4) are off to daycare and pre-school respectively, I take a few minutes to straighten out the apartment (I can’t concentrate otherwise), and I sit down to meditate for a little bit using my Muse headband. It is then time for me to make myself breakfast while listening to my favorite podcasts about food, business, life, or parenting.

I go through breakfast phases, but these days I’m all about my paleo granola with some cut-up banana and apple, chia seeds, and coconut milk. This I eat while I read a magazine, or catch up on my email and social media accounts.

What’s your breakfast of choice to give you energy as you kick off your day?

At the coffee shop

Most of the time I work from home, but I also like to mix things up and take my laptop to a nearby coffee shop. I usually achieve laser-sharp focus then, and if I need to hammer something out — say, a freelance assignment for a magazine — the background hum of conversations helps me concentrate.

Is that true for you also? And do you know there’s actually a coffee shop noise simulator you can use if you prefer to stay home?

Lunch bowl

I love lunch dates with friends or professional contacts, but I find it eats up (pun intended) a good portion of my day, so I alternate weeks with dates and weeks without to make sure I preserve vast expanses of time to work, which is my preference.

If it’s a home lunch day, I’ll put together a simple vegan lunch bowl with bits and bobs I have in the fridge: here, it’s roasted broccoli, roasted yellow carrots, massaged purple kale, and half an avocado. Over this I drizzle some sesame oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle some cilantro and vegan parmesan (nutritional yeast + cashews + garlic, blended finely). I am an omnivore, but when I’m on my own I am usually drawn to vegan eats.

What do you typically make for lunch if/when you get to work from home?

Photoshoot setup

When I am developing a recipe, I take advantage of the nice early afternoon light in my living room to style and shoot it. In this picture, I was photographing my sweet potato flatbreads with an “everything” topping — a recipe I l.o.v.e. Attentive observers will notice my eldest son’s play rug on the floor and a tiny corner of his toy garage. Keepin’ it real, here. (To find out more about the photo equipment I use, check my resources page.)

Apple and nut butter

When I’m in the mood for an afternoon snack, I cut up a crisp apple (pictured here is a Reine des reinettes I’d brought back from a vacation in the Perche), add a dollop of almond or peanut butter, and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly grated cinnamon. My treat of choice, refreshing and satisfying! The cinnamon is from Cinnamon Hill and the wooden spreader is from Earlywood Designs.

What’s your favorite healthy snack to have when you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon?

Mastermind group

Second coffee shop stop of the day for a session with my mastermind sisters! A mastermind group is a small group of like-minded professionals who get together on a regular basis to share their successes and struggles, provide accountability, and offer feedback, advice, and resources.

I belong to two such groups — one where we meet over Skype, the other in real life — and it has had an immeasurable impact on my work life. I recommend it to anyone who’ll listen; if you want to know more about the concept, read this and this.

–> And get my FREE mastermind swipe file to get started!

Do you belong to a group like this? If not, do you think you would find it helpful?

Pile of books

As part of my work, I receive review copies of food-related books, both in French and in English, which is definitely a perk for me! As I unwind from my day, I take a little time to leaf through a few to see if they would appeal to C&Z readers. If so, I may use a recipe from the book as inspiration for a post, crediting the author’s work, and/or organize a giveaway in partnership with the publisher.

Pictured here are (top to bottom): Paris Cocktails, Le Miso, Venez dîner dans 20 minutes, The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning, Sweeter Off The Vine, Whole Food Energy, Superfoods 24/7, Crumb Cakes, Hungry Healthy Happy, Café, and Ferment Your Vegetables.

And this wraps up the photo essay of my work day!

This is when I get back to my sons, put the finishing touches to dinner, and sit down to eat with the whole family. Then it’s bedtime for the kids, and us-time for the adults. I sometimes work again at that point if I’m working on a particularly pressing or exciting project, but I try to avoid it as healthy sleep is a huge priority for me, and working late gets in the way of that.

I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to share bits of your routine that may be similar or completely different: like I said, I am very curious about the minutiae of other people’s days!

  • 1st off, I love your blog! 2nd, I love apples and peanut butter for a snack too! Usually for breakfast I make a quick bowl of oats as I’m still at University (at least for another 2 weeks!) 3rd, definitely concentrate better in a coffee shop like you! :) Loved your post!
    x Kenzie// Kenzieblogslife.blogspot.com

  • Oh my word I wish I could work in a coffee shop, I need to be around people, but I am too distractible! I would need to know what EVERYONE is doing ;) Loved getting to see what your days look like.

    • Ha ha! I’m a total eavesdropper myself, but somehow if I’m in work mode it doesn’t distract me as much.

  • What a day, Clotilde ! I think it’s so interesting to get a peek into other people’s routines :) and yours looks so tasty. When I used to work from home, I definitely needed those coffee shop breaks to refocus. The noise simulator is going to serve me so well in future months!

  • All of your meals sound delicious! I’ve heard of Mastermind groups like that but I’ve never been in one! (Although we do have a blog network here in Virginia and we get together for meet ups and brainstorms and stuff!)

    • It’s great that you have that! What I like about the mastermind group is the small number of participants — you develop deeper relationships that way I think, and there’s also more room to be open and vulnerable.

  • Taste of France

    I love the idea of a mastermind group. To me, the hardest thing about working from home is the lack of interaction–social and intellectual–with colleagues.
    I love those Elle interviews, too!

    • I agree, you have to find a way to feed the social animal in you! I do not miss office politics or boring chit-chat, but I do like some human interactions. If you can incorporate that into your work life, I find it becomes the best of both worlds for sure.

  • Dylanthomasp

    I am curious about something that I heard on American public radio. They did a little piece about Parisian butchers using meat dispensers outside their shops–is this true and have you ever used one of the dispensers?? How do they work? Do you have a pic? I think its a great idea because I always get the urge to cook something when nothing is available, it seems. What a great idea this would be here in the US too.

    • I hadn’t heard of that before you mentioned it! Apparently it’s just one for now. I’ve never used it myself, but you can search online for pictures if you’re curious! It just looks like a vending machine.

  • Oh this is fascinating! I, like you, love to read about the process and daily routines of other people. Your post is great – I like that you address what you eat, where you go, and show us a bit of “real life” in the process. Thank you for sharing!

  • rachelsloan79

    I really enjoyed this glimpse into your working life! I’m another devotee of working in cafes – though in my case, I have to admit it isn’t just because the background noise helps me concentrate, the lack of access to the internet forces me to just put my head down and write. (I have a handful of cafes where I’ve scrupulously never logged into their wifi so my laptop doesn’t automatically pick it up when I work there.)

    I love apples and almond butter but never thought to add salt – I’ll be trying that!

    • Ha ha! I only go to coffee shops with wifi access because I can’t function without it. There’s too much stuff I need to look up all the time, plus social media to handle, plus my WordPress platform, etc. etc.

  • Shivangni

    Lovely blog, though I usually don’t read magazines all that much, but I have often wondered about how you are able to balance everything with 2 little children and a man in your life! So you in a way have listened to my heart given us a peak into your efficient (as can be with kids) work days. Thanks for taking the trouble

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I certainly couldn’t do it without childcare, though I did find ways to work a few hours here and there when I was at home with my second son for the first 6 months of his life. But he slept a lot more back then! :D

  • Ashley Tinker

    I must admit that I’m quite jealous of your routine. I’m trying to blog myself and as I’m not working at the moment, I’m working just on the blog. The problem is that I NEED to establish a routine; otherwise, I feel like I need to work incessantly on the blog or social media. I think a lot of people that work from home have this problem. It seems like I’m stuck to the computer when I have 2 new cookbooks I received for my birthday that I feel too guilty reading. I think it’s a problem! haha. I’m trying to start a photography business here in Les Alpilles, Provence. If you know anyone that needs a photographer down here- think of me! Here is my blog about Provence: http://www.CuriousProvence.com

    • Thanks Ashley! I agree it’s really important to find your groove one way or another, but it’s a struggle at first as you get to know yourself in that context. I’ve been working from home and for myself for 11 years now (!) so I know what works for me, but the first couple of years were *not easy* and in truth I am constantly trying things out and readjusting as needed. Hang in there, and best of luck with your business and blogging venture!

      • Ashley Tinker

        Thank you! You inspired me to start taking more food photos!

  • christiana

    This was such a great read Clotilde, thanks for sharing your day with us! Your post reminded me that I really must make those sweet potato flat breads!! I read the original post and even raved about how delicious they sounded to a mate but am yet still to make them, but I will…salivating even now writing about them. Also, can I ask for your vegan parmesan recipe? Is it equal parts everything? any other editions? Thank you very much…enjoy your day xx

    • Thank you Christiana! For the vegan “parmesan”, I use something similar to Minimalist Baker’s recipe.

      • christiana

        Thanks Clotilde for the link!

  • I love this post! I would definitely love to see more like it. My typical week day looks something like this: Breakfast at home (cereal or eggs or grits with an egg if I’m feeling ravenous); I work from 8:30am to 4pm, usually take leftovers from a previous dinner for lunch, and pack in as much reading into my day as I can; when I get home I feed the cats their dinner, cook dinner for my husband and I, we usually watch a t.v show or movie, then I read or listen to an audio book until bed time. Now that the weather is nice I’m making sure that I go up on our roof top deck to get in some sunshine. Bonjour from Seattle.

    • Thanks so much Jessica, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and liked reading about your own daily routine! Would love to have a roof top deck to call my own. ^^

  • Niv

    interesting day in the life. good post

  • I won’t miss my fresh fruit juice and breakfast porridge (oats, chia, hazelnut, coconut or oat milk, dried fruit, seed or nut butter). I have discovered hemp seed butter lately, which I highly recommend. I usually spend the morning taking care of house stuff if I don’t have appointments or Chi Kung classes to give.
    My favourite quick and healthy lunch is chick pea flour scrambled with some season veggies. Later in the afternoon there’s always my favorite moment of the day. Meditation and Chi Kung/Tai Chi practice.
    And please don’t give any noises while I am concentrated on something, if there must be noise, let it be some music. Although I am rather a loner, I liked the idea of a ‘mastermind group’. Thank you for the idea and keep on the good work.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Sandra! I’m curious about your chickpea flour scramble. Can you give us more detail as to how you make it?

      • I am always glad to share this one. I actually have the recipe in my blog in portuguese and spanish but let me put it in english for you. You can see the pictures. http://ascoresdossabores.blogspot.com.es/search/label/farinha%20de%20gr%C3%A3o

        Ingredients (1-2 serves):
        4 Tsp. chickpea flour
        8 Tsp water
        1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
        1 small onion, chopped
        2 hanful chard, washed and finely chopped
        1/2 green chili, sliced
        1/2 tsp cumin seeds
        1/2 tsp spoon coriander seed powder
        1/2 tsp spoon turmeric
        1/2 tsp Garam Masala powder
        1 pinch Asae foetida (facultativo)
        Fresh Cilantro

        Put chickpea flour in a bowl and add water, mixing gently with a spoon until you have a creamy but rather thick paste. Add in spices.
        Heat some oil in a pan, sauté onion, garlic, green pepper and cumin. Stir for a few minutes, then add chard. Cook until chard is tender and looses its water (5 to 10 minutes).
        Now add the chickpea mixture in the pan and cook on medium heat 2 to 3 minutes. When the chickpea paste starts to become firm, start ‘scrambling’ (like you would do with scrambled eggs) until flour is cooked and gets a nice golden colour.
        Sprinkle with fresh cilantro serve with some nice bread slices, raita or chutney…et BON APPÉTIT

        Of course you can use any other vegetables of your choice or use up leftovers.
        I hope that you’ll like it. I have been writing the recipes in English as well lately. I will probably paste the english version and add it in the blog.
        Any questions? Feel free to ask.
        Greetings.

  • Katya Willems

    What an interesting post! I really enjoyed hearing how you spend your day. It was very inspiring. x

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