If you’ve ever pondered how to make a go of putting together all of the things you live and love throughout the week, then look to Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean. She highlights relevant slices of her life on her blog, utilizing her background in photography to capture cooking, projects and the adventures of motherhood. Jessica at the studio had a chance to talk to Tracy about how this all came about. Read on for Tracy’s essential kitchen ingredients list…after going over it, I need to go get me some Sriracha and Tapatio Sauce sauce!
What is your background? Have you always been creative?
I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was born and raised. I went to college at the University of Oregon where I studied both Graphic Design & Photography. After I graduated from college I continued studying Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.
I think I always had an eye for art, but it wasn’t until I took formal Art classes that I understood the depth of my creativity and how necessary it was for me to live a creative life. I have been channeling my love for photography and passion for food & home decor through my blog, Shutterbean since 2007.
Tell me about a day-in-your-life? What’s it like to be in your shoes?
When I’m not parenting or working on my blog, I work as a bookkeeper for the family business three days a week. The other two days, I work from home with my son, Cooper. What I’ve learned in my almost 3 years of having a child is that everyday will be different. Some days will be more challenging than others and if I don’t just roll with it, I’ll get buried alive! It’s all about rolling with the punches and keeping myself organized in the process. A day can only be as stressful as I make it.
How do you balance work and family?
I always remember to put my relationship with my husband first. We are an excellent team and if we aren’t communicating well, everything collapses. If we divide our workload around the house as well as our child care duties, our household runs like a tight ship. We both understand the importance of having individual creative/free time so we carve out times for both of us each week to do so.How does your son inspire you creatively?
Cooper can be quite the picky eater and his likes/dislikes change constantly! He keeps me on my toes and while it can be frustrating, I do enjoy coming up with new things for him to try. One of the joys of having a child is that he helps me access parts of my childhood that were once buried. This past year we went trick-or-treating with Cooper and it was so exciting! It helped me remember all of the Halloweens I had forgotten. Holidays become more important and magical when you have kids because it’s easy to forget about them when you’re a busy working adult.
When I’m spending quality time with my son, uncluttered by my TO-DO lists, I get to see the world through his eyes and that’s pretty amazing. He helps ground me with his innocence and joy; it helps me focus on what really matters most-FAMILY.
I always make sure to exploit nap time to get caught up on chores around the house while I’m at home. I might whip up a recipe in the kitchen, edit photos, or write a blog post during nap time if time permits. If I power through the day, I’m free from chores and work around the house at night after Cooper goes to bed and I’m so thankful for that. I need time at night to recharge, work on my blog, and occasionally I’ll throw in a meet up with a friend if I can.
If I’m looking for a way to recharge my creative batteries, I go out to eat with my family. I find restaurant menus extremely inspiring! It’s important to try new dishes and I’ll like trying to recreate them at home. I also spend a lot of time looking through cookbooks, magazines and Pinterest for cooking inspiration.
I know how you love lists… could you list for us some ingredients that every kitchen and aspiring chef should have?
-A wedge of Parmeggiano-Reggiano
-Red Wine Vinegar
-Aged Balsamic Vinegar
-San Marzano Tomatoes
-Red Chili Flakes
-Tapatio Hot Sauce
-Fresh Italian Parsley
-Canned Garbanzo Beans or Black Beans
-Chicken Stock & Vegetable Stock
-Coconut Oil (Extra Virgin)
-Raw Walnuts & Almonds
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Get a container of the really GOOD stuff!
-Anchovies (it’s the secret ingredient to a lot of dishes)
How do you like your eggs?
FRIED & over easy.
If you could do one thing this year that was totally frivolous, what would it be?
Buy a new camera and spend a whole summer in Italy with my entire family.