State of the Blog Address: 2012

[Photo source]

Hello all! Happy 2012.

I decided very purposefully to take a good long break from blogging. Holiday activities were overwhelming, my posts were getting increasingly underwhelming, and I was annoyed by how annoyed I was with the stress I felt to maintain the blog.

Needless to say, I felt a hiatus was appropriate. So I took some time to think about my entire affair with blogging, what about it I like, and why I need/should continue to do it.

The answer to the latter is the easiest: writing is, for me, a very therapeutic process. Having someone to talk things out with is all well and good, but I’ve never really felt like I’m very good when I try to explain or express things in speech. Probably because in writing I can edit to my heart’s content. There’s no delete key on my mouth, unfortunately.

So, that brought me to the real question: what about blogging do I like, and more importantly, how do I keep liking it?

I love the personalize-able features of a blog – everyone’s is different, no matter the topic. It’s a great way to express yourself in this digital age. In fact, it’s almost necessary – I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read through that list the many, ever-growing reasons why everyone should have a blog, or at least a personal website. In general, I agree – if in twenty years my kid is taking a high school class built around how to get into college with his/her blog, I won’t be surprised one teeny tiny bit. Twenty may even be a bit generous.

It’s just nice to have my own space, emphasis on own. It’s the good kind of responsibility, the kind that makes you feel proud and efficient, and good at something. And it is one place that I can talk about food endlessly and no one can roll their eyes or yawn at me.

But, I have really been struggling to keep up with my internship, my column, and figuring out what my next step is – be it internship, job, or traveling – all the while keeping my blog interesting. Mostly because…my life right now is not interesting. I get up, I work out or I go to the office, I eat, I sleep. In between all those I check job websites obsessively. Like, at least once an hour. It’s a little sad.

What conclusion have I come to? The focus has to go to 3 things: what I know, what I want to know, and what I’m good at. And regarding posts, it’s going to be quality over quantity. We will all benefit more if I focus on writing informal yet interesting articles that actually have depth instead of updating everyday with a picture and sentences like “I had a bagel for breakfast. It was good.” I have a damn degree in English – I might as well put it to use.

Now, about those 3 things. Obviously, food is something I know about and want to know more about. And writing about it is, more or less, something I’m at least passingly good at. Better at it than, say, chopping chives.

You know what I’m really good at? Making lists. In fact, I remember sitting at my desk in 5th grade, making lists upon lists in my Lisa Frank day planner. What those lists were of isn’t that important. So, here is a list of what I want to focus this blog on:

  • Sustainable food. You can call me an idealistic tree-hugging locavore hippie hipster all you want – it’s a really, really, really important topic, and one that I have surprised myself with how passionate about it I am. My internship has taught me so crazy much about the whole world of sustainable food, and I’m trying my damndest to stay in it. Stay tuned.
  • Travel. As you probably know, this blog really started during my semester abroad in Italy, and that’s where my whole food “thing” started. My love outright nerdiness for things like cultural immersion and exploration is very much a part of who I am, and I think it will be difficult, but I’d really like to find a way to make that a part of this blog. I actually have an idea or two, but if you have any or there’s anything you’d like to see, shout it out!
  • Obviously, the overall thesis of this blog is the joy of food – eating, cooking, baking, buying. That can’t change because, well, my dear Mrs. Fisher would be very disappointed in me, and I can’t have that. I also hope to keep this blog as a way to document my really weird life and the crazy things that happen in it, so there will still be rants and ravings about grad school internships, moving, and life in general. A little comic relief is always a good thing.

I’ll add one more thing – this blog does not, nor will it [most likely] in the future, provide any kind of reasonable income for me. I’m completely fine with that. I mean, more power to those who want to monetize the crap out of their site – it takes a lot of courage and energy to do that and it’s great when it works – but that’s not really what blogging is about for me. That does NOT mean I don’t & won’t treat this blog like a job; it just means I won’t drive myself insane over ratings, numbers, or marketing. I do hope to get my own domain eventually but for now, this is working just fine for me.

That concludes my State of the Blog Address: 2012.

I happen to have a seriously kickass post involving frosting, ninjas, and cookies in strange places – stay tuned, my friends. Winking smile

How has your New Year been so far?

tday 11 (6)

Happy Humpday!

I’m trying. Really, I am. Please know that I drive myself slightly insane because I spend at least an hour at some point during ym day writing different posts in my head. But after either a day of chopping, dicing, stirring and mashing on my feet or sitting at a computer for six or seven straight hours, the only thing I manage to do when I get home is sit, eat, watch tv, and eat some more. Throw in a little Pinterest-ing and before I can blink, BAM! it’s 11:30 and I have to drag my half-closed eyes upstairs before drool hits the counter.

Actually, recently I’ve been doing a YogaDownload podcast every night before bed – totally worth hitting the pillow 20 minutes later. I wake up feeling so much better than without it. A more detailed post on that to come, methinks.

I am a firm believer in doing special things for fun and only for fun. Blogging should be just that. I don’t really have my own kitchen in which to spend hours developing crazy chocolate tarts with sea-salted caramel drizzle. I don’t have the time to spend on it. I don’t have amazing photography skills; hell, I don’t even have a tripod. I don’t have pretty tea towels and chic-yet-simple place settings with which to photograph the butternut squash risotto with parmesan crisps that I did not “just whip up” a la Martha. That would be fun, but at the moment, it’s not really feasible for me. Fun, however, is always feasible, and it’s what I intend to keep in mind as I continue to blog. When something stops being fun, it stops being worth it.

So please, enjoy the following – none of which are mine (click to see source). They made me laugh, and I hope they do the same for you. Have an absolutely kick-ass humpday!

True story.

 

HA!

Love this.

Ridin dirty furry.

 

Embarrass me with stupid hats, you do.

Izzy is SO going to be Yoda for Halloween next year.

Yeah, you heard me.

Blogging 202: The Unexpected

Blogging, I’ve decided, is a funny thing.

I expected – and I still think it was reasonable to do so – to do a lot more of it after graduation. Now, of course, some of that was the very natural “oh I’m done with college so the rest of life should be easy” thing, but I think most of it was more of the “oh. I don’t have a job. I’m an unpaid intern. I will want something meaningful to do at the end of the day.”

You see, I do my best writing at around 2 in the morning. I’m not joking. If I am awake, I will literally start to write posts, either on the computer (rare), with a pen (less rare), or in my head (usually).

What I did not expect was to find myself working 6 – 7 hours every day of the week for no pay ahem, experience, and come home with the sole intention of sitting, eating, and zoning out. Ah, such is life.

It’s not so much that I feel “guilty” for not blogging as often as I’d like; it’s more frustration. Frustration that I don’t make myself do it when I know I really want to, that it takes more energy than I’m willing to admit, that it’s something I feel like I’ve promised myself to do and failed.

All that said, I do have a plan or 2 up my sleeve that will help. I often feel a little overwhelmed with ideas, because there’s just so much to talk about when it comes to food! – but I have a system in place. And hopefully, it won’t involve me posting 10 minutes before I have to sprint to my car to get to “work” semi-on-time.

For now, how about a few adorable dog pictures to start off your week?

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Help! I’m stuck in the couch and…eh, never mind. I’m pretty comfortable.

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You have another cookie for me? Maybe?!?!?!?!?

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…maybe?

Have a lovely Monday!

The Desertion of Words, and other thoughts.

I’ll start here: read this article. Even if you’re not a writer, I think it will help you to remember to take a nice deep breath and just be for a moment. I always appreciate those small reminders.

I have to be honest, because this is the place, perhaps the only one, where I feel I can be as free from self-conscious worrying as possible. I feel a bit like I am running out of words.

I’m not a chef. I’m hardly a cook. I bake, but that’s really a simple matter of reading more than anything else. I don’t have the pretty near-pro photographs that so, so many others do. I don’t have my own kitchen. I hardly have the extracurricular time anymore to do much in it, anyway. And I am very, very scared that, hard though I am trying, I don’t have a lot to offer readers. I realize that this is normal – but for once, the notion of being normal is not particularly attractive to me.

I don’t really remember a time when I felt that I could use the spoken word spontaneously, with confidence. My brain is not quick enough and I feel like I spend many conversations fighting for the right words, and haranguing myself when I can’t find them. Writing has always just been a much more natural mode of expression for me. But suddenly, I feel as though even written words are slipping away from me. That is very, very scary for me.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere, because I know they’ll come back. Simply because they have to. In fact, part of the reason I think I have refused to give up on blogging is because it allows me my own space, virtual though it may be, in which to find words and twist and turn them until I like them enough to send them off into the world for all to see.

I hated writing in high school, couldn’t imagine what all those college English majors were thinking. And yet, I ended up one, because in the end, I couldn’t  be anything else. At times, I think I still do hate writing – but I need it. I wouldn’t be my extreme-introvert, self-conscious, quiet-to-a-fault, constant-observer self without it.

As wonderful as I’m sure it is to turn one’s blog into a main source of income, I would still much prefer this blog to reflect who I am – a young, confused, honest person who needs to have a space to write and to share my passion for food with whoever will read it.

I’m struggling with a lot of things in my life right now, and I am simply not the kind of writer who can push aside emotions and go on perkily about the wonderful pb & j sandwich I had for lunch when I spent most of the afternoon crying in my car, just because I’d rather write about “what people want to hear.”

So, I have decided to take my mother’s advice (I hear that’s often a smart way to go) and start taking each day, one at a time. And that is what you will see here every day. I really think that’s what Mrs. Fisher, the inspiration for this blog, would prefer anyway. And she had truly impeccable taste.

I rambled my way through this post. I do that, sometimes. But that’s okay. Because when it comes to this blog – my blog – it’s not business; it’s personal.

We’re Back

And by WE I mean Stronza, my big-a$$ Dell laptop that decided about 2 months ago to crash every 8 minutes (yes, 8.). I have been working on poor baby Melvin the Netbook, who is a good little trucker – emphasis on little. Let me tell ya, coming back to a full-size laptop after 2 months on a netbook is like stepping out of the car for the first time after an 8-hour road trip – it feels goooooood.

 

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about what it means to be a “food blogger.” Clearly, it is not just one thing. Take a look at any old Blogroll and you’ll find healthy living/nutrition blogs, bakers, Italian chefs, French foodies, raw foodists, vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, locavores, carnivores, ovo-lacto-wacko-whatever. It’s a huge umbrella of a genre that houses everyone from the crunchy-granola hippies to the 100-dollar-wine-sippers. It’s overwhelming to try to get into. And in my teensy weensy corner of an inherently infinite world, I get confused. Should I post once a day? Every meal? Just when I’m inspired? What do I want out of this?

 

This blog at its core has been a chronicling of my life from the beginning of my junior semester abroad and onward. After all this time obsessing about what I should blog about and how I should do it, I’m just now realizing that this blog does exactly what interests me about food so much: it shows my life through the lens of food. Perhaps not every post has had a recipe or picture or random kitchen adventure, but the inner foodie seems to be there lurking in the background, at least to me as the writer. I find it so interesting and, well, pretty cool that I’ve ended up putting into action all the theory that I’ve spent so many classes and papers discussing. I think this is what I’ve been trying to get at with my title – when bread is broken, life just happens, and all you can do is savor the moment.

 

So, what is this blog about? A life. Through food. Really good food. Buon appetito.

frms mrkt ago-11 (13)

Ch-ch-ch-changes

#1: New header….yes, no, maybe so?

I don’t exactly have warm & fuzzy feelings about it [yet], but it took up the better part of 2 hours to do, so it might have to stick for a week or so. I read this tutorial about how to make them on Picasa and it was super helpful – it might have even created a monster. Been playing with themes and stuff so…well, if you happen to see a different-looking website every time you come to visit, I’ve just been bitten by the I-know-how-to-do-something-technological bug and am celebrating. It will pass.

#2: Check it outttttttttttt —–> http://www.dedhamrocks.com/2011/08/new-foodie-in-town.html

I am now a recurring guest blogger on Dedham Rocks.com, a blog devoted to the hip-hop-happenin’ things going on in my hometown! I will be writing about all the sweet finds at the Farmers Market & what exactly you can do with them! My first post: salad! Sound boring? Not this bowl of green goodness, my friend. This is the kind of salad I asked my mom to make when I came home from college. The kind my 17-year-old brother eats voluntarily. Yep. You read that right.

dedham fm heirlooms

I’M wicked excited to be writing for such a cool space in the blogosphere, and doubly excited to be talking about the farmers market, one of my favorite things :). SO, if you have ever gone to the farmers market, come home with a bundle of mostly recognizable produce and then realized you have no idea what to do with it all – stop over at dedhamrocks.com for a visit. The cool thing about farmers markets is that even if you don’t go to MY market, we’ll probably find the same stuff – that’s the beauty of eating seasonally!

dedham frms mkt

LOTS of other changes going on, and the minute I know more, you will too!

Have a delicious weekend!

Whew!

You may have noticed that things look a little different around here. This blog has been long overdue for a new look, and after several hours of previewing various different themes, I think I have settled on this one. I quite like the look it has, although I do feel like my header looks a little bit out of place now. That’s next.

Please let me know your thoughts on the site’s new look! I’m horribly, horribly picky when it comes to things like this and always find the one thing I don’t like about a theme, so I’m always open to more, ahem, open-minded comments & concerns.

Off to continue tweaking – I’ll back to regale (regail? EnglishMajorFAIL.) you with my latest adventures tomorrow. Hope you’re hungry!

HAPPY AUGUST!

What A Drag

I do believe that for every door that closes, another opens. But these hallways are really a drag.        -The magnet on my aunt’s refrigerator

That about sums up my life at the moment. This whole transition from college – 4 straight years of a steady schedule, living with my best friends, generally having a good time – to the unemployed, schedule/purpose-less state of new college graduate…sucks. Like, a lot.

I am living with my wonderful aunt and uncle for the summer in suburban Georgia, working (interning, I suppose) at a restaurant just down the road from them. I’ve applied to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), but my application won’t be complete until I have six months of twelve to fifteen hours per week of food preparation experience. Sounds easy,  right? Well let me tell, going from the graduate with the highest GPA in the graduating class to the inexperienced girl in the corner who can’t figure out how to chop chives small enough is anything but easy.

The past two weeks have been exhausting, physically, mentally, emotionally. Hell, this whole month has been pretty intense. And of course, what that means is that while I have been writing books in my head, very few of those words have been physically put down in writing. Which is really just bad all around, because writing helps me sort out all my crazy tangled thoughts, and occasionally can be found to be rather entertaining.

But, perhaps luckily for you dear reader, I did not write when I really needed to, when I had a complete breakdown. It was inevitable, and of course, my mother was predicted down to the day when I would crash. For about 3 days, I was an absolute mess. I hated feeling like the idiot in the kitchen (and it does not help that it’s all guys back there, either), I hated the work, I hated the people, and was beginning to believe that I had made the wrong decision. Culinary school could not possibly be the fate of the lefty who took 30 minutes to peel and devein shrimp.

I’m not entirely sure when the slap in the head came. Maybe it was when I memorized the restaurant’s recipe for key lime pie (more on that later), or made one of the sous chefs laugh. Maybe it was when I made a vegan marble cake on a whim, or spent 2 hours in Barnes and Noble staring at the cookbook section. Maybe it was when I reread the CIA’s admissions material and got excited all over again to learn everything I possibly can about baking and pastry. But maybe, it doesn’t matter.

I do know what I’m doing. I love food. So much, it’s slightly ridiculous. To me, there is nothing better than the taste and smell of fresh bread, and the smile that goes with that first bite.

And, I love that I’m going to learn all of it on the other side of the country. I so desperately need another adventure since studying abroad, a change of pace, a new place to call home. I need a little culture shock. And, you know, being right in the heart of wine country ain’t so shabby either.

I promise, I’m back for good this time. With recipes. And pictures. In fact, my brother’s and my graduation party (him from high school, me from college) is this Sunday, and we have a pretty fabulous menu planned. Homemade olive tapenade, anyone?

And if you don’t like that, you KNOW there will be cake. Really, really good cake. With that white fluffy frosting that I could just bathe in.

Yes. A frosting bath is definitely in order.

Catching Up

Buon giorno!

Well, it’s taken a while, but I’m finally starting to get into the groove of this semester. Senioritis is definitely looming its tragically ugly head, but I am doing my best to get it all done.

To-do lists on post-it notes are my best friend.

I’ve been doing some blog maintenance, and am working on expanding the pages – see those tabs up there on your right? Click, baby, click! I have a photography page from my semester in Florence, and I am working on a restaurant page and more from my Italian adventures – especially my eating adventures.

You can also now subscribe to this blog – on the right is a button, and if you enter your email address you will be notified when I’ve updated! If nothing else, my parents will certainly appreciate it 😉

It’s still a bit of a struggle to maintain two blogs (I also write for my school here), 3 other jobs and continue to be hold up my GPA as a full time student, but I’ve accepted that. I also don’t have class on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays…so really, no excuses, Gillian.

Coming up I have some recipes for you – some deliciously moist and not-too-sweet banana bread, my favorite cookies that I keep a constant stash of in the freezer, and a buttermilk-saturated surprise later this week! Any guesses?

I’m also going to bring back the Wednesday Over-the-HumpDay Challenges, because they are fun and I want to. Anddd maybe even a countdown is in order…I never did get closure from last year, anyway.

Preview time:

 

Gosh, I love baking.

Blogging 101: Why Bother

I have no idea if this is going to be a new segment of my blog. And that, it turns out, is the perfect way to start this post.

There are a LOT of food blogs out there. Like, a lot. Click here and prepare to be overwhelmed. You will probably become distracted by one of the many beautiful pictures of brownies or bread and click on it. I will wait.

……

Did you bookmark that page? Good, me too.

On with the class. Food blogs – that is about as broad a category is as the cookbook section in Barnes & Noble. Healthy lifestyle blogs, raw food, vegans – both veteran and newbies, vegetarian, bakers, eaters, writers, moms, dads, college kids…the list goes on. And within those slight more specific genres are thousands of writers, telling their own individual story.

So to those of us relatively new foodies who are struggling to find our own personal way of standing out from the ranks of our fellow bloggers, it’s a rather intimidating task. I had it good for the beginning of mine – a student studying abroad in Florence, Italy??? Um, yeah, I would call that blog-worthy. A student studying in South Carolina who lives on protein bars and yogurt…maybe not so much.

I went from this...

to lots and lots and lots of these. I'm sorry, change is not always good.

But, as I struggle to find that perfect niche, I will continue blogging about all things edible. Because it’s fun, because I live it, and because I will change. Interning at a restaurant this summer is sure to bring up some fun topics, and going to culinary school for baking & pastry is sure to hold plenty of bloggable material.

Let’s return to the question of the day: why bother blogging if the chances that someone else in a strikingly similar situation to you already is, and is doing so as a full-time career, getting millions of hits on their page everyday and has hundreds of loyal followers?

Maybe because everyone is unique and has their own voice. Maybe because food is just that important to us, and writing is an outlet for expressing that value. Or maybe it’s just that you have that perfect combination of brand new saute pan and serious cajones that drives you on. More power to you.

 

@ ReVision Urban Farm in Boston, MA.

All this to say, hi. I’m Gillian, and I really like food. Especially the types that involve carbs. I live in a dorm at the moment, but in a couple weeks me and 3 of my friends are moving into the brand-spankin’ new apartments for the last spring semester of our college career. I will finally be able to cease subsisting on over-processed foods and the slightly edible substances served by the cafeteria and cook for myself. In between now and that blissful day, my roommate and I are flying out to California, her to audition for an internship and me to check out the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena – camera and netbook in tow, of course!

 

CIA Greystone...future?

Clearly, I have convinced you to stay tuned. By Jedi mind trick if nothing else.

Now click back to Tastespotting. I know that picture of homemade cinnamon marshmallows is calling you.