Apr 23, 2014

The Thing About Blogging

Blogging. To say it is a strange hobby is an understatement. Every year, millions of blogs are started, and if you asked a blogger if you should start one too, they'd probably say something like Oh my god yessss it's the best thing everrr. But I think that there are a lot of things about blogging that people don't really discuss that I'll talk about:

It really is a narcissistic pursuit. And that's perfectly fine, own it! But let's not kid anyone. A blog is all about me, me, and look at me!

It takes a lot more time than it looks. I know that for me, posts on average take at least an hour, to create: there's working out ideas, the writing, editing, editing photos. And that's just once I open the page.

Which leads to another thing: planning. Posts, at least for me, are not always as spontaneous as they may seem. I create an editorial calendar so that I know what I will be writing about (more or less) throughout the week. Recipe posts, for instance, take some brainstorming, shopping for ingredients, preparation, and photography. That means that in addition to being concerned with a current post, you also have to be planning ahead and thinking about what you'll be posting next week.

And when you don't plan ahead, you might have irrational anxiety about what to post. Because blogging also makes you worry about the strangest things. The world will keep spinning if you don't have a new blog post every day, and yet, the anxiety about tomorrow's post is real.

And that isn't the only thing you will be irrational about. Once page views begin increasing, you might become obsessed with them. Page numbers low one day? I know that it sours my mood. Page views hit an all time high? Holy crap this is the best day ever! Why I care about how many people look at my blog on a given day is beyond me, but blogging will likely make you develop these OCD tendencies.

You might find yourself taking a lot of pictures of yourself. And if we're being real, let's admit that it's a little bit obnoxious. I'm not going to stop any time soon, and I think that they help blog posts (see above about page views), but taking pictures of yourself so often can be a bit ridiculous, and hard to explain to your friends who are not bloggers.

You probably won't make lots of money from your blog. Some people make some decent money, but few do it in a way that manages to maintain the integrity of their blog. Calm your tits; I'm not saying that if you monetize your blog it sucks, but I will say that the blogs that I think suck the most are ones where every post is let me introduce you to my new BFF sponsor or this post is brought to you by Tampax or Depends-- do you really want to be that person shilling Depends? If you're starting a blog to earn money, then by all means, make that money. But know that the money won't come immediately.

You have to remember that you have an audience, and that audience is entitled to an opinion. If you're putting something out there to the public, that public has every right to judge you or laugh at you. It may suck, but it's the truth. It may be something you have to deal with as a blogger.

Of course, there are all sorts of wonderful things about it: the people you "meet" and then those that you really meet, the ability to connect with others through your writing, and the creative challenge, just to name a few. It takes a lot of dedication, preparation, and guts, but in the end, I'd say that it's worth it (even if it makes you a bit crazy at times).

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Apr 22, 2014

Saving the Earth, One Plate at a Time

Happy Earth Day everybody! 

My life goal is to see as much of the Earth as I can. What can I say; I think our planet is really, really neat. And the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be mindful of our actions and choices. I want my future children and grandchildren to get to enjoy it as much as I do. 

C and I try our best to make Earth-friendly choices: we recycle, we have an electric car (my Mini is obviously gas powered, but gets very good mileage), and our house is solar powered. But I've long felt a twinge of guilt knowing that I have been avoiding the one thing that could probably make the most positive impact on the environment: giving up meat. 

We often think that it's gas-guzzling SUVs that are the biggest enemy, and while they certainly aren't doing any good, it's estimated that one-fifth of man-made carbon emissions are generated by the meat industry.

What's even more frightening is considering how quickly our planet's population is growing. This month's National Geographic has a fascinating article about how our current diets and agricultural products are just unsustainable. 

The problem is, I love meat. I wish I could be a vegetarian, but....I just.... I just love a good steak.

But I can commit to going meat-free one day a week. You may have heard of the Meatless Monday movement-- if you haven't, it's just like it sounds: not eating meat on Mondays.

That is definitely something that I can do. Now imagine if thousands of people cut back on meat consumption. What if hundreds of thousands did?

It's something that is so easy to commit to, and at the same time, so effective. So who's with me on pledging to go meatless every Monday?

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Apr 21, 2014

Awesome Housewarming Gifts

Over the weekend I was lucky to celebrate a new home (and engagement!) of some friends. I didn't think until the day before, however, that I should probably bring some sort of housewarming gift-- even though it was a casual get together with "no gifts" specified on the invite, I wanted to bring at least a little something for their new home.

And so I got to thinking about housewarming gifts, and the kind I'd like to give if I'd actually thought it through ahead of time. These are some gifts that I think would make a great housewarming/host gift, especially because they are ones that I want myself!

Infused olive oils. This is what I ended up bringing in a basket with organic dried pasta. If you can find a truffle-infused olive oil (my current favorite), even better!

Or check out this Press and Measure Infuser!

A bamboo cutting board in the shape of the state you live in. Can I have this right now please?

Or even better, can I please have this folding cutting board?! Talk about useful!

The tech geek in me is obsessed with these USB wall sockets. They're currently out of stock, but I am crossing my fingers there will be more really soon. 

I've always been a fan of bringing a small plant to a new home, but I realize that that can be a pain in the ass since that means the person then has to take care of said plant. Solution?

Potted succulents! They don't require much care, and they're even more decorative and fun. You can even by them on the cheap in terra cotta pots and decorate the pot yourself. 

A Corksicle is perfect for the white wine lover!

These pillows.  How sweet are these?! I also like that they should match any home decor; the problem with many housewarming gifts is that you run the risk of it just not being that person's style, and then they feel obligated to keep that serving tray/candle/whatever on display. I've tried to keep most of these items fairly neutral and mostly useful. After all, those are the best kinds of gifts, right?

What about you? Do you have a gift, one that you've received, gifted, or just want, that should go on the list?

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