Daily rituals with Manja Wachsmuth
New Zealand-based Danish photographer (and self declared foodie) Manja Wachsmuth creates two mouth-watering recipes, one of which utilizes the powerful spices found in our hand blended Masala Chai tea. With an impeccable eye and penchant for flavor, Manja steers her creativity through the practicalities of family life with two beautiful boys, and gathers waves of inspiration from Auckland’s rugged West Coast, Piha Beach.
On daily rituals
With two little boys (Rylee 10months and Flynn 3.5 years) a lot of the rituals I’d like to do get thrown overboard in a rush to keep everyone quiet and happy. I do make sure I have a proper breakfast of raw oats, almonds, coconut and cacao nibs and my cup of tea before I head out the door in the morning. That cup of tea often ends up cold though!
Manja’s daily moment with tea
I’m probably the only photographer in the world that doesn’t drink coffee, but I am a huge tea drinker, and like to store a varied selection in my pantry. I start the day with a milky chai; sometimes I’ll have two, if there’s time. As the day progresses I’ll move to a caffeine-free tea, often a chai tisane or a spiced rooibos. I like the sweet & spicy combinations and pretty much always drink my tea with whole milk. It just rounds the flavors of nicely, and also makes it drinking temperature almost instantly.
Honestly, it’s rare that I actually get to sit down with my tea though, again the boys interrupt my quiet time… What I do love is a sunny spot outside on the deck or in rare cases our sheepskin beanbag in the lounge is a dream to dive into with a food magazine and a cuppa!
On cooking and family rituals
I very much believe in the core of a family gathered around the table for dinner. I think it’s an important time to get together to talk about the day and be focused on one another. But also breakfast and lunch in the weekends are important meals and we often enjoy eggs on toast, in various variants. I specifically love goat’s cheese smeared on sourdough rye with crispy bacon (important factor) and fried egg, sunny side up with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
In terms of cooking, I pretty much only cook recipes I’ve photographed, apart from making Ice Cream. My husband gave me a small ice cream maker for Christmas a few years back, and although it’s not used as often as in the early days, I still loooove making ice cream. I’ve been saying that if I were to do a cookbook of my own, I’d probably do an ice cream book! My favorite flavor of the moment is a Snickers ice cream from a recipe I made up, but perhaps I should try to make a chai flavored one, it is my favorite tea after all!
On home, the importance of space and light
Our lounge is such nice space with great light. It’s still a work in progress in terms of style, but I like how it’s coming along - a bit Scandinavian. It’s often a bit of a mess though because I also use the lounge as my studio, so there’s a bit of compromising going on. In the perfect world, where I had more me time, I’d spend more time in the lounge reading cook books and magazines and dreaming up new shoots and new personal projects. Currently I’m spending a lot of time in the bedroom - because of the baby, so it’s important that this is a nice space also. We’ve just bought a new super king size bed, so there’s room for all of us in there when the little ones come to join us in the small hours.
On maintaining a healthy lifestyle
It’s important for me to eat well because I’m still breastfeeding the baby. I make a big deal of eating nutritious food that includes fats, greens, meats and carbs. But my mental health is also incredibly important to me, especially because I had post natal depression after I had my first born, so this time I’m careful not to push myself too far. What helped me through was meditation and mindfulness. I don’t practice it as much as I should, but I love the Calm app. It even has stories for kids to help them fall asleep at night. It’s brilliant!
I try to make time for exercise in the form of biking - I love my bike, I am from Denmark and wish that Auckland was just as bike-friendly as Copenhagen; I’d use my bike a lot more if it was! Whenever I feel like everything is just getting a bit much, I head to a black sand West Coast beach, preferably Piha, to reset my ions. There’s nothing like sand under your feet and wind in your hair that can sweep all the worries away.
On keeping creative endeavors fuelled
At the moment my creativity is booming! So many ideas going on, there are no shortage of projects to get my hands into. Just before I got pregnant with Rylee I did a course with a photographer’s consultant to rebrand my business to move into shooting other genres than just food. It was a brilliant exercise and all things good came of it, and still do. Obviously the pregnancy delayed everything a bit, but now I’m back in full force, I’ve just launched a new website and a new personal project, which will be ongoing for sometime. Further more, I’ll be moving into doing some more fine art type work as well as my commercial practice. Every idea I get at the moment feeds into a new one. I’m really lucky on that front; I don’t really have to do much for new ideas to arise. It’s something I don’t take for granted, so am trying to make the most of the moment while it’s there. If you don’t use it, you’ll loose it!