Friday, September 13, 2013

The Simple Life: Behind the Scenes

One of my latest articles for the San Francisco Chronicle is about a new trend called Here-Sourcing. It's about how many of us want that dreamy Pinterest-worthy simple life with chickens, edible gardens, edited wardrobe, clean and tidy house and wonderful suppers, but we don't have time to do it. Now a clever group of entrepreneurs is providing that simple life full-service. Here are three of them...

Farmyard Darlings who will take you on a Coop de Jour Tour, build a unique coop, advise on "The Girls" and sell you a  ceramic egg holder so you can take your eggs to dinner parties as a hostess gift
One of the Darlings' coops

*The Farmyard Darlings, aka, Carole and Kim, scour the countryside and even the side of the roads for bits and bobs to re-purpose for things like chicken coops, ice-cream stands and candle holders. They were asked by a national design store to make 500 "of anything" but because their pieces are so one-off, they couldn't do it. Their ultimate aim is to have a reality show.

*Star Apple Edible Gardens will plant your edible garden, tend it, harvest it, demonstrate recipes and even leave decorative arrangements on your doorstep. Leslie of Star Apple came over to take a brief look at our backyard. We gaze on my husband's sad tomatoes which he's tied with ...electrical cords from an old TV? His $2,000 tomatoes I call them; he is a big spender at our local nursery. The soil is good, she says kindly, does he ever till it? I'm afraid to ask, I reply. 

Stefani and Leslie of Star Apple Edible Gardens

Bounty from one of their gardens

*“Fashion Therapist” Vanessa Hernandez, 47, draws on her experience as a licensed therapist to help clear your wardrobe of items you'll never wear again.

Our closets reflect our three selves, she says. Your past self; for example, those jeans you fitted into before you had the baby. The present; you're a stay-at-home Mom and need clothes that look good soccer-side, but you hold onto your old work suits. And your future self; glam cocktail dresses for your future club-going selves...except er, you don't go to clubs.

We look into my wardrobe. There is the secondhand woolly sweater a-la The Killing which is too scratchy to wear.  Also in the donate pile: three pairs of too-tight jeans which taunt me every day.

Fashion Therapist Vanessa (pointing) with client Nicole

Vanessa looking for a dress to fit the shoe 

So I'm pretty much freelancing full time, mostly for the SF Chronicle. My husband says: "Why do you keep saying 'pretty much' - you're working more than full time." The thing is, it's a bit surreal to be back writing about life and style "trendisms" while sitting at home in UGG boots and drinking builders' tea.  My only company being Teddy, the smelliest Maltese in the land.

The biggest revelation writing this article was uncovering the myriad of 20-somethings in San Francisco who are doing start-ups that help you clean your house, store your stuff and provide gourmet meals, all at a click of your phone. One chap had already done five start-ups and he was only 26. All of them were genius including the travel site he was currently working on: "There are three guys on my street working on a similar service" he said "It will be the first past the post." 

A world away from me and my smelly dog.

What would you like to outsource in your life?




46 comments:

  1. In a perfect world I'd outsource all of the mundane tasks of housework, laundry and grocery shopping. The house gets a full clean by pros once a month, but I do most of the rest of it because somehow men and boys don't see dirt-they just make it. My boys do their own smelly laundry though I take care of linens.
    Professionally I'd love to outsource marketing. It is hard for me to promote my business-so I rely on referrals-and could be busier so it is time to do what makes me uncomfortable and get that web site built, network, etc.
    I love seeing you in the Chronicle, errrr...on sfgate.com.

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    1. All that facebook-twitter stuff is a job in itself, exhausting

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  2. How great that you are working at the SF Chron now! Congrats.

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  3. Love this and so happy for you (this coming from someone who writes fiction all day with a smelly dog!).

    As for outsourcing. Hmm.. I would like someone to weed my my garden right now, though I typically love to do it myself. Oh and maybe exercise for me.

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    1. Hopefully the smelly dog injects the writing with a bit of panache

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  4. What a wonderful article! Geez, I have chickens, bees, gardens and a professional job. It's not that much work, but you do need know-how, so I guess it's a good thing these services are available. Spendy, though

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    1. Thanks for popping by Lane, think of all the money you're saving yourself!

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  5. I can be anal at my sea
    If it is done by me
    Then it will be done right
    So not sure I'd outsource at my site
    But then again
    They are welcome to clean the litterbox at my den lol

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    1. Loos are always
      Something for someone else to do...

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  6. I'd outsource the food side of the house. The shopping and the follow on cooking. A cook I am not. Infact, now you've mentioed it, I need to take a leaf out of their books and find some kind of "niche" work that I can do as the kids are now at school

    And well done for continuing with the Freelance work. It must be great to be doing something you love.

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    1. Sue _ what about making a biz out of that great post you did today. Armed with your tips about plaid and stripes and materials "Acrylic is an arsonist's dream. Put an iron anywhere near and it will melt." we would all save ourselves a lot of dosh

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  7. I already outsource the cleaning to a gang of polish ladies who glare at the amount of detritus the shifting population of my house can deposit in a week. I would love someone to come round and sort out my veggie garden, my wardrobe etc *gloomy face* And congrats on writing for the SF Chronicle!

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    1. Yes, someone else has the pleasure of cleaning our house too and everytime they turn up I'm like "sorry sorry"

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  8. Congrats on doing so much freelancing! You've worked hard to get here, it makes me happy to see you're having success.

    I'd outsource meal planning, shopping and cooking.

    Honestly, I'd outsource most household tasks, but the above is the one that I think there would be the most payoff for, in terms of improved quality of life.

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    1. Thanks Abby, its been three long years getting here..

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  9. I can see why you're doing so well at the freelancing - this blog post and the people you have featured make a great read. I clicked on the YouTube clip of the Farmyard Darlings and they are fabulous. Definitely worthy of a reality show.

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    1. I think so too - they have the likeability factor!

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  10. So happy to hear that you are freelancing so much Jody. This is a great article. I always enjoy reading about entrepreneurial endeavors and these are some great new businesses. Congrats! Looking forward to reading more.
    xx, Heather

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  11. Fantastic...am happy you are doing the freelancing, that is awesome, I hope it continues to go well :)) xx

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  12. Yeah, you know that edible stuff sounds great, but boy is it hard work. (I might have to write a blog about my summer's experience. When I have the energy. I'm still tending to the friggin' tomatoes.) What started off as a little project with my ten year old ("Oh, let's plant seeds) now sees me moving then around our tiny city back yard to get maximum sun, feeding them old coffee (they apparently like that) and generally trying to keep them alive. Result - a few tomatoes that never come out at the same time so we have to nibble them one by one. Sigh....

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    1. Yes, as I see the fruit flies gather around some old apples that dropped from our tree, I can say we're only using them for decoration at the mo

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  13. Strangely enough, I like all the house chores. I'd like to outsource my job so I can spend more time tending to my chickens, then I wouldn't have to hear office speak like, "we need to socialize our output."

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    1. Hi Wally, yes chickens are always thinking out of the box and touching base without having to talk about it...

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  14. These all sound fantastic. If I could outsource something, it would be some kind of service to get my files and paperwork under control. Then I could have a completely clean office, with a little flower arrangement the only thing on the desk.

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    1. Jen, I can't believe all that queuing for meat in your blog today!

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  15. This is so interesting it's amazing really creative ways people have for making money and doing what love.

    Ali of Dressing Ken

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  16. Hey Jody, Congrats on working for the Chronicle! Very cool. You'll be great for them with your unique view of life in this crazy part of the world!

    This is interesting. I give these people cred for coming up with these businesses. For those who can afford it, it's great. However, I do think the reward of the garden is being in it. If you need this you may be too busy to really enjoy that or the chickens! However, I like that people are getting back to growing their own food. It's so good for you.

    Have a good week freelancer! You go girl.
    xoxo
    Kim

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  17. I want chickens so badly, I think I need to hire those Chicken Gals aka Farmyard Darlings...brilliant!

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  18. Can I outsource my children, or is that called a nanny?!

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  19. Every time I throw out some garment, I wish I hadn't because I find an occasion to wear it some 15ys after the last time.

    Congrats on the Chronicle connection. :)

    I'd like to outsource the ground behind my house optimistically called a garden.

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    1. There was that pink dress I was going to donate, but then I wore it as a costume...

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  20. I did what Wally Bell wants to do... gave up the office to go 100% DIY.
    Qx

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  21. Do what you do best and outsource the rest!

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  22. My brother is a pro at outsourcing everything including getting his kids' wardrobe overhaul. I'm all for outsourcing housework and gardening (thank goodness, we don't have a garden because being labeled as a plant murderer isn't all that nice).

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    1. Love your outfit for London Fashion week on your blog today, you cannot outsource that!

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  23. Congrats on the freelancing ... although I'm not surprised. Truthfully, when I see you've written a post, I wait until I have a cup of tea made, so that I can sit down and properly enjoy it! Love the way you write. As for outsourcing ... if it was just one thing, then I'd have to say ironing. HATE it, but sadly, I hate wrinkled clothes even more.

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    1. Thank you! That makes it all worthwhile. My friend in London, Suem used to even iron her t-shirts and i remember her as the best turned out of all of us - she was the only one of our Kiwi mob who ever had a boyfriend and found a husband first.

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  24. Congrats Jody on the freelancing! I'm so excited, do you think I could outsource my garden? I was just thinking of hiring an organizer for my guest room (filled with junk) and then thought, I really need an organizer for my closet, and then my taxes...but those kind of 20 somethings don't exist here, they're all tied up surfing and like partying. How did you find these people?

    xo Mary Jo

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    1. Send one down from SF...or TaskRabbit? Or Handybook, both listed i the article...They must have a division there?

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  25. first, congrats on the busy writing schedule, they couldn't have found a better writer. it's funny - we now have 3 chickens (bought them as chicks on father's day almost on a whim), the coop we built ourselves and 2 vegetable beds in my "backyard farm" (i call it). it was a lot of work but that was part of the joy of it. painting and decorating the coop, choosing what to grow etc. seems so odd to have someone come in and do it for you but i can see how it might seem daunting when your time is limited by work etc. tell your husband i'm right there with him. they love to see me coming at the nursery.

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    1. I'd love to see your chicken coop! kevin brings his bounty inside proudly and even took very artistic photos last time, I hated to tell him the aubergines were all bitten through by the snails.

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  26. I'm behind on About Last Weekend!!! We are getting ready to put our home on the market to move to the city and I've put off going through my clothes! It can't wait much longer but it's hard to give away items when you know how much you paid! De-cluttering. I need help with that!

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    1. Good luck with the move Gina! I throw things out too quickly, it doesn't make me take the consequences of things I buy!

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