“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling ..
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This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” ~ Iain Thomas
— — —
It's a funny thing that happens when one decides to start a cooking blog. You think
“I love to cook .. and wouldn't it be fun to share some of my favorite recipes? It'll really be no big deal. I'll snap a couple of photos while I'm cooking dinner .. write a few lines about life's happenings .. or things I'm thinking about .. and create an online cookbook/diary of sorts.
For those that have walked this path .. you'll certainly understand. Once you've given birth to this kind of project .. it will become a deeply personal experience.
For three and a half years I continued along.
Sunny afternoons were spent in front of the patio door in the living room trying my best to capture whatever tasty morsel was on the table in front of me. Weekends included classes on Photoshop, Lightroom, WordPress .. and reading nearly every book I could find in the library about photography
My horizons were expanded last summer when I started networking with other bloggers. Between an Iowa blogger get-together and two food photography classes .. I began to hear stories of how others were monetizing their blogs. Admittedly .. I was impressed. While I didn't want to replace my career job .. I started thinking
“Huh, maybe I could do this too. Wouldn't it be fun to make a little extra money for something I'm doing already? We could take some of the vacations on our list .. or work on the house .. or spoil our grandchildren little a bit more .. or .. ”
So I put my first toe into the world of blog marketing .. and quickly learned it's all good. That is ..
until it's not
“I feel like I have forgotten my why in the past couple of weeks and it became about the how. How will I get this done? How can I edit this in time? How can I do this event and still get my blog post out? How do I market it and do everything simultaneously without creating a time machine? (Wait . . . can anyone find me, Doc Brown?)” ~ David Elliott | Single Dad’s Guide to Life
A beautiful reminder .. When you think you're alone .. that you're the only one who's ever felt this way .. you're not. This group of incredibly talented people .. who echoed his thoughts and offered heartfelt words of encouragement.
All of us having felt the same way .. at one time or another.
Admittedly .. the past nine months have been a marketing blur.
I've hired (and fired) virtual assistants .. updated photos and edited content on posts throughout the archives .. and have been promoting them (especially my favorite stories and recipes). Trying my best to squeeze all of the extra tasks into the margins of my days
I've come to realize that it's a terribly slippery slope
I hop online thinking “I've got twenty minutes before my husband gets home. I'll respond to a few Instagram comments” Pretty soon I find myself checking in on Facebook .. email .. and writing a few blog comments as well. Wait, someone shared the link for Tabless Thursdays? I have to watch that .. it always makes me smile .. and just like that I've lost twenty minutes of my day
It's distracting at best
And something else entirely .. at its worst
(Video Credit – YouTube – The Atlantic)
Last year I was lunching with a group of friends. It'd been so long and we chatted excitedly over each other. “A new man in your life? You're training for a marathon? How big is your new puppy? The kids are doing what?”
Midway through .. a friend stopped talking as she checked on her phone's latest beep
“You guys .. the buyer for my house just backed out”
We didn't talk about summer plans for the rest of our time. In fact .. we didn't talk about much of anything. She silently picked at her chicken salad as we tried to cheer her up
“I think I just want to go home”
— — —
One of the many things I love about my brother? Whenever he calls he'll ask “Is now a good time?”
It's really a question of kindness .. a clear sign of respect for the other person's time
It's a courtesy .. I've begun offering to myself
Before I open Facebook “Is this a good time?”
Before I open my email “Is this a good time?”
Before I scroll through my Instagram feed “Is this a good time?”
— — —
Am I in the right state of mind to receive good news .. bad news (or anything in between)? Is this a good time for me to exercise self-control as I wade through the correspondence waiting in my inbox? Will I have enough time today to finish this marketing thread and truly do it justice?
Is this week a good one for re-shooting a couple of recipes from the archives? Is this a good time to respond to an unfortunate comment with grace and curiosity? Is this a good time for me to react to what is required of me in a way that reflects my character and judgment?
The answer is often .. no
It's nearly impossible to do any of this well when I'm distracted. From under the table of a cafe .. or in the check-out lane at the grocery .. or waiting for a train to lumber past
My friend used to talk about that lunch .. about how a single text had ruined her whole day. We can laugh about it now .. but really .. only so much
I'll never be an advocate for rigid rules and sweeping expectations. For some .. an unfortunate message is just that: a bummer. We move on .. rejoin the conversation .. laugh along .. and tell ourselves we'll react to the disappointment later on
For others .. the disappointment hangs around .. and we're no longer in the mood for the grilled broccoli with blue cheese. We're no longer in the mood for much of anything at all
A text interrupted her life .. the world of online marketing has interrupted mine
And we both allowed it to
Not long ago my brother called “Is this a good time?”
“Can I call you right back?”
“Of course .. it can definitely wait”
— — —
It almost always can
Every time I flip through a Bon Appetit magazine I can't help but think of him. As I flag my recipes, I can't help but wonder if he's picked some of the same ones
Here .. a simple one-skillet summer pasta with squash .. zucchini .. and large tube pasta. The sauce made with olive oil .. garlic .. parmesan .. and lemon juice
You might tweak it with a different cheese .. goat cheese or even ricotta. The left-overs can be reheated the next day .. along with a splash of water. The pasta holds up beautifully
A few recipe notes: I wasn't able to find Aleppo style pepper so I substituted the combination of paprika and cayenne in a ratio of 3:1 (paprika to cayenne) Adjust your heat level accordingly
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | June 2017
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- Fine grain sea salt
- 1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper + more for serving
- 12 ounces large tube pasta
- 2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about ½ cup) + more for serving
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup basil leaves
- In a large skillet over medium heat warm the oil
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's beginning to smell and is lightly brown (~2 or 3 minutes)
- Add the squash, along with a strong pinch of sea salt
- Cook, tossing occasionally, until the squash has begun to break down (they may start to stick to the skillet a bit, which means you've arrived!) ~ 12-15 min
- Sprinkle 1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper over the top
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions, stirring occasionally, until it's (very) al dente (** Note: reserve a cup of the pasta water)
- Transfer the pasta to the skillet, along with ½ cup pasta water
- Cook the pasta, adding 2 oz Parmesan in stages along with more of the pasta water, as needed, until the sauce has coated the pasta and the pasta is al dente
- Add the lemon juice and the majority of the basil
- Divide the pasta among the bowls and top with more Parmesan, Aleppo-style pepper, and the remaining basil