We couldn’t be more excited that two of the most creative women we know have started a food blog together called Kitchen Repertoire. It’s beautiful, inspiring, fresh, but also very approachable. We asked Dana (on the left in above photo) and Frances (on right) to give us some very precious time and introduce themselves you you.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it. How much did becoming a parent shape what your business is? (for you guys–you have other jobs…how do you make the time for your business…and time for yourselves?…do you have a work/life balance, or are you as imbalanced as the rest of us?!)
Dana: Well, I’m the photographer side of things in this operation and for a living as well. After a few stints in colleges, I ended up in art school and one photography class sealed the deal. I could take all day answering this question because I think becoming a mother continuously shapes what I do and the decisions I make. I’m an “older” mom, I didn’t have my kid at 30–I had her at 43–so I already had my career path sorted, but having a baby at that age definitely threw a curve ball in it. I took a step back for a while when Imogen was really young, a very tricky thing to do and recover from career-wise. While I don’t regret it at all because I’ll never have that time with her again, I do feel like I’m making up for it now! Balancing work, family and a our own personal need for success is a constant battle. There are little moments of triumph when you feel like you’ve got it all going on and then all of a sudden there’s a crack in the boat and water is coming in.
Frances: What I do. I am an acupuncturist and a food stylist – with a food blog – kitchen-repertoire. Has taken me a long time to be able to say I do those two things – for a while I thought I had to do one or the other but I don’t. I like the balance. For me the mix works. Food is energy. Qi is energy. They both nurture, fuel and drive. My clinic time is quiet and focused. My time on set is social and expansive. Both feel good to me.
How does having children effect what I do…? Well it complicates things of course. Less so now as girls are more and more independent. But actually I love that my girls see me hard at work – making choices and building something. I hope it inspires them. I hate it when people ask my girls what they want to be when they grow up – as if there is just one thing out there. There is a lot to be said for being happy – and making whatever changes need to be made a long the way.
How old are your kids?
Dana: I have one amazing daughter, Imogen who is the light of my life.
Frances: Sophie Luard (13), Plum Luard (11)
What would you say is your “mom uniform”?
Dana: I’m a jeans and a t-shirt girl. Always have been. But my brand favorites shift every few years or so. Right now I’m into Rag & Bone jeans. And I have a love hate relationship with the overpriced T-shirt. I love James Perse Ts but can’t alway bring myself to feel okay about spending $100.00 on a t shirt!
Frances: Heavy on the vintage. More often than not – my 10 year old RRL jeans with either a oversized sweater or a dress with some sort of floral print. Ann Demeulemeester black combat boots–most expensive boots I ever bought. I the time I was so furious with myself for doing so but now the PPW (price per wearing) on those things is in the negative numbers. They never let me down. Have tried to replace them for years – leather and sole attached by a thread – but can’t anything that I like as much – not even another pair by AD.
Clearly you both cook alot…
Dana: I try to cook most nights. The blog is also a handy source of meals so that’s a bonus! We often plan blog shoots around our needs–“I’ve got people coming for dinner tonight, lets make a splashy dessert” kind of thing. I recently had a school committee meeting at my house and we had just shot “the lazy lady style quiche”. I got such props for that–I did give credit to Frances for making it but I don’t know if they really understood! I love to cook or I wouldn’t be doing KR but I am most decidedly the “lazy lady style” and Frances is much more willing to take on a project.
Frances: Always cooking. Big believer of the family dinner table – much easier to navigate than family bed.
Dana: A favorite go-to meal: really good pasta with butter and parmesan. That’s my “I’ve got nothin” meal. But its also Imogen’s favorite.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
Dana: It usually goes something like this: I pick up Imogen from after school. There’s a battle to do homework. If all goes well, I’ve got dinner out when its done, if not we pull out the art supplies and she’ll paint or draw for a while. That’s maybe one of my favorite times of the day. I love that quiet time when we are both working on creative stuff together and separately.
Frances: Dinner routine: kitchen counter meals…I cook with left-overs in mind – so a roast pork butt can live on and on and on. I am lucky as I often come home from a photo shoot with enough groceries to stock fridge for days. My girls are great cooks – will happily cook themselves and father a meal – that was a nice corner to turn. Someone said that homework is the new dinner time – sadly I kind of think that is true. Often my kids only sit down for 5 minutes – but that 5 minutes mean a lot. Summer time is easier. Table manners are important to me.
How do you celebrate your child’s birthdays?
Dana: This last birthday I bought her cake but also made a boat load of cupcakes for her class party. That’s a blog post TBD! We usually just do something at our house, maybe 8-10 kids. Some games, a project and just play time. And of course there’s always a piñata.
Frances: Sophie’s birthday falls at end of August and so use it as an excuse for one last summer hurray. Usually we road trip to Maine–stay in a dumpy hotel (girls think it is the best place they have ever been) eat lobster and drink milkshakes. Plum’s birthday is in April and as bad luck would have it seems to always coincide with Sophie’s school musical performance so we have to turn the day into more like a month-of-celebration, so to counter-balance.
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
Dana: A big girl bike. The biggest smile I’ve ever seen.
Frances: Actually think it may have just happened – two mermaid tails with mono-fin – straight Mako Mermaid. $150.00 something a pop. Girls suited up 24 hours ago and have yet to resurface.
Any rules about TV/screens?
Dana: Not a lot of video game action in our house. We try not to watch TV during the week but that all breaks down when we are busy and we need an electronic babysitter!
Frances: Don’t really have TV or screen time rules but the computer is the first thing I will take away when girls talk back or slack off on household chores/homework. Kind of scary how effective and no skin off my back.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….?
Dana: Preferred social media–Instagram for sure. I love looking at everyone’s grid, its like seeing their own personal pin board. I don’t follow a lot of websites right now. No time!
Frances: The RealReal.
What’s a typical weekend like?
Dana: If we go upstate for the weekend, it goes a little like this- wake up, COFFEE ASAP, sit outside and check out what’s coming up in the garden and then off to the farmers market, maybe a little antiquing and then home for chores. Always chores. Sigh. But in the summer we treat ourselves to a swim at the local country club and that shakes off the day. Home in Brooklyn is a similar routine but without the pool…..
Frances: We get out of the city as much as possible – usually to our house in Cornwall, CT. Luckily the girls still like going. We leave Friday night with a picnic for the road. Arrive in time for a glass of wine and a little tele. Saturday – depends on the time of year…
Fall = soccer
Winter = skate/ski
Spring = more soccer
Summer = anything goes
I run and my husband cycles. Saturday night is always about a big dinner – either at home or with friends. Sunday: New York Times, coffee and a big breakfast. We head home about 5… where we have poached eggs for dinner (almost always) – 3 loads of laundry, hot bath and then the Style section – set the alarm for 5:45 and begin again!
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you? (Photo albums? Planning a vacation?)
Dana: I’m sorry to say that those things haven’t even made it to my list, that’s how far behind I am on them. Photo albums have never happened for me unless someone gives them to me. A friend just turned me onto Artifact Uprising and I finally did a book of a family trip for my mom. That was like the holy grail and I even got it together in time for Mother’s Day. Since my baby daddy and I are both freelance and our schedules change last minute all the time, planning anything that involves both of us is always tricky. We are always buying last minute tickets to somewhere!
Frances: Insurance forms. Compost system. Yarn stash
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Dana: What’s a beauty routine? I will say I’m obsessed with this line of French beauty products that are so yummy–Nuxe. I love their moisturizer and body lotion. If I or a friend are going to Paris, I always stock up on them.
Frances: Good night sleep and one glass of wine–no way around it. Cleansing Pomace (Hand Care for Culinary Professionals) from Boulette’s Larder – because hands don’t lie. I am into face oil but only at night. Mascara.
Best family trip?
Dana: Mexico with friends–the Mayan Riviera. All inclusive hotel with like 4 different pools and a buffet style restaurant. Fat and happy kids and parents. Not high-brow but so easy going and actually relaxing. A win/win for all.
Frances: It is a tie -one week holiday in Elk California – did nothing but soak in a hot tub, read books and contemplate our next meal. Total boondoggle trip to Mustique – the full monty – private plane – hot and cold running house staff – It is amazing how much and how little one can do when there is someone else doing everything for you !!!!! My children have yet to recover. Me neither.
Any small business advice–like what is something you wish someone had told you when you started your business? And what is something you just can’t live without?
Dana: Hire a bookkeeper! You can’t do everything. You need people who can help you do the things you don’t do best. I hate invoicing and balancing check books so I make sure someone who knows what they’re doing does.
Frances: Be proud of what you are doing because it is not easy. I like Instagram – old school I know – but it is easy and fun. Something I cannot live without – the search function in mail – I use it instead of a filing system.
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips?
Dana: Whenever I’m having a blow out with my daughter and I can’t figure out what tack to take I try to stop the madness and just take a step back. It’s not much of a tip but melting down just doesn’t fix anything.
Frances: If you don’t want your children to hear what you are saying – do not whisper! Never get too attached to a plan or a schedule because the moment it is working – it will need to change. Apologize to your kids when you mess up – let them know that you are really and truly sorry. No one likes to share – it goes against biology.
You feel your best when?
Dana: My house is clean, there’s food in the fridge and I’ve just finished a big job! It’s so rare when you feel like everything is in order.
Frances: First day of our annual two week summer vacation in Maine -my shoulder blades drop and my vertebra fall into alignment the moment I arrive at our house (been renting the same place since I was 13 – feels like visiting my oldest dearest friend).
Dana: Game of Thrones
Frances: Curling up with my girls and kicking husband out of bed.
Proudest moment in parenting?
Dana: I’m proud of her all the time. Hard to say but I love to see her show empathy to the littles on the playground. When she stops what she’s doing to help another child who’s fallen or lost their ball.
Frances: I have had two – both happened in the delivery room.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
Dana: Some of my closest friends had kids before me. They were great inspirations and gave me skads of help in the beginning. If I still had a memory (gone since becoming a mom) I’d tell you what it was but as usual, I can’t remember anything.
Frances: Someone else just asked me this – so going to say the same thing. That is hard because sometimes advice only resonates in the moment. Out of context it all sounds so phony. But ….my daughter’s nursery school teacher did says to me that “Potted plants always fare better than cut flowers.” I took that to mean – one’s roots are really important. I like mine roasted – olive oil, salt and pepper.