the just one question project

the just one question project: question 8.

hey there! it's JOQ TIME!

You guys: you’re the greatest. When I sent out the email for the Just One Question Project reboot, I thought “ugh…awkward rejection in 5, 4, 3, 2…” but that rejection never came. In fact, I got some really thoughtful, detailed, lengthy (Ashley! I love you!) responses, which is more than I could ask for. I’m grateful to all of you for being excited about this. Let’s away to the charts, shall we?

*and bear with me with the charts, please: I have to find the app I used to use for these because I don’t feel like I’m getting them exactly the way I want. Next time they’ll be fixed.

Overriding theme: Life happens.

And blogging definitely evolves according to what’s going on in our lives, in good times and in bad. What’s interesting is that there’s no positive correlation to how good or bad effects blogging: while some of you slowed down on posting due stress or stressors, many of you slowed down due to positive things. We graduated, we moved, found better jobs, we got (or are getting) married, we had kids. We did all the things this year, and those things made our blogs take a backseat, in most cases. Based on your answers, about 2/3 of us slowed down with our blogs, while 1/3 of us kept steady. 100% of us mentioned things in our lives which had happened this past year – large and small – which affected our respective blogs.

did we blog?

For sure, however, we all started thinking harder this year. Focusing more on the big picture and maybe where we fit into it. Honing in on our own personal journeys, becoming a little more introspective and thoughtful about the time we spend blogging and why we do it, and what place it fills in our lives. Life does that, I suppose: personal events definitely cause me to pause and think about why I spend time doing this, if I want to do this, what else I could be doing were it not for this, how this affects other aspects of my life, etc.

so much thinking.

Seems as though a lot of us have overthought ourselves into a corner; I’ll raise my hand and wave it like a nerd with the answer to that super hard physics question here. There are pressures now which didn’t exist a mere 4 years ago when I started my own blog, and they have created an immense chasm of suckitude. Why suddenly are we all freaked out about how original our recipes are? How sublime our photos turn out? If our audiences will accept our shifts in perspective? Who are we right now? It’s tough when we get like this, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m doing the same exact thing currently. Seriously WTH.

Optional Reading:  You’re Boring, by Tim Mazurek. It’s really, really awesome post by Tim (of Lottie & Doof) and super relevant to the state of food blogging currently. Also relevant to what many of us are experiencing right now with our own blogs and identity, measuring up to others, etc.

Elizabeth and I had a lengthy discussion (it should be noted that most of our discussions are lengthy) about the above post awhile back, and she felt it too – all the feels – about what he was saying. I asked her how we fix it: how we change the climate out there, even just a little, so people can stop feeling so insecure about what they’re bringing to the party. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? Insecurity about your talent, about how you measure up, about how you’re perceived. Let’s break that cycle, okay? Even if it’s just right here, together, because sometimes the smallest things can bring about big changes, even if those changes just happen in your own mind.

With that, I’ll do my own answer to this question, and then we’ll move on to everyone’s responses.

My Answer:

What’s happened since April 2014? In life, I have a 4-year-old who’s finishing her second year of preschool and who will be switching schools and moving up to Pre-K next year; I’m particularly excited for that because she’ll be at my elementary school, and that is special to me to be able to send her to a place I felt so much love and encouragement in. She learns so much and grows so much and it’s equal parts fabulous and terrifying. She’s so smart and feels things – like everything – so deeply (*ahem* like her mother) that at times it really takes all my energy just to answer her little questions and keep up with her, but it’s wonderful. We’re readying the house for an eventual move; how close we are to that changes daily. At this point, I’m planning on early next spring, unless something amazing comes along sooner that we can’t pass up. In official writerly news, every time I think I’m done with a Feast assignment, they pull me back in! Happily, I should note. Features have been coming with some regularity now, in addition to my regular column work, which is challenging, thrilling, exhausting, and educational all at once. I have some new projects in the works with them that I probably can’t talk about at this moment, but soon I’ll tell you about it: I actually don’t know all the details involved, but I know it’s exciting, and I can’t wait until I can tell you.

As far as blogging, clearly I’ve never gotten back to my original 2-posts-a-week blogging schedule; mission = failed on that front, although I’m working on it. I’m suffering from a lot of the things all of you mentioned: changes in my own life and changes in the food blogging environment have made it more of a struggle than it’s (sometimes) worth, so I disconnect from time to time. I kinda hate social media, in general, and I fight getting really introvert-y about that. I feel inadequate lots of the time: I make food, think it’s good, immediately begin questioning myself, take some mediocre photos, begin to hate what I made because it’s not good enough, feel like an idiot, end scene. That’s happened a lot, actually; the irony of my paying job being that of writer and recipe developer isn’t lost on me. The thing is, I think people have wells of talent, but those wells aren’t attached to vast oceans; they dry up from time to time. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time developing recipes for Feast, and those recipes turn out wonderfully: my problems begin when I forget to take a break from development, which is what I’ve been doing. It wears me out and it’s too much thinking. Suddenly I felt like everyone expected these original, interesting recipes from me personally, on the blog, and that people would be really bummed if I just made food from cookbooks. That’s dumb of me, friends: not only does it really deplete my creativity, but basically everything I make is a failure (based on my own standards.) It’s ridiculous, and it makes blogging not fun. I think I’ve come up with a solution: I’m *gasp* just going to make things from cookbooks for a while, if that’s okay. No adjustments – well okay maybe minor adjustments but whatever – and I’m going to let someone else do the heavy lifting for a bit.

I’m stoked for the restart of this: selfishly, perhaps, because I get to talk to you guys, even if you’re not actively blogging right now. I’ve missed this, my friends. I can’t wait to get into more of this with you. Speaking of…next question I’ll email out is this one:

So we just discussed where we’re at with blogging, and with life: some of us touched on goals we have for ourselves this year. Let’s make that an official discussion topic. Have you set any goals for blogging in 2015? In any realm, so writing, or photography, social media, etc. If you’ve set goals for yourself, what sort of progress have you made on those goals? 

And now, without further ado…your responses. And do yourself a big favor and read through all of these answers, because they’re an awfully great read. You guys are so special, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your life and blog updates. I’ve highlighted a few quotes out of them that I like best, if you don’t mind.

Emma, of agates and madeleines:

Righteous! Happy to see you’re bringing this back Shannon!

Nothing has changed with me, everything has changed with me. I still have the same truck, although it is a bit more decayed. I still work the same job, although some days I feel like ‘work’ is an overrated descriptor, as it’s just me and the woods, me and the trees, me and nature. I still like and dislike the same foods, although I eat more bananas now despite abhorring them, and have worked to eat something other than PB+J for lunch everyday. I had a surgery last May and basically spent the rest of the year recovering from that, in one way or another. I got engaged around the holidays, and am now planning for my wedding – which will be in September! Some days I enjoy that, but I frequently wish I could elope like Brianne did. I’m not super great at trying to please other people who I may or may not be particularly close to, it’s not something I value per se, which probably makes me sound like a witch. I’ll do my best.

I try to do pushups every day. I read shitty romance novels. I’ve tried to cut down on my butter and mayonnaise consumption. My cat is still fluffy and soft.

I think about my blog sometimes, usually with feelings bordering on regret because I can’t dedicate as much time to it as I’d like. I don’t have many outlets for creativity at present, that’s pretty much my only one, and yet I rarely turn to it. I didn’t turn it into a .com like I’d hypothesized on the JOQ Project last year. Instead, I finally got rid of my chocolate business .com which never made it to fruition, again because I couldn’t dedicate the time to it. Things are busy and yet not busy. Really fast yet really slow. I’m feeling deeply philosophical about this response, and it’s quickly devolving into something morose, so I’d better stop there. I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone else is at, and what they’ve been up to!

Dana, Whisks & Words:

Wow. A year already? I think at various points over the past year, I would have opted out of this series because I wasn’t blogging much – or at all. But I was writing:  I finished another draft of my book, bringing me one draft closer to having a book I can actually show people; I became a contributor for Book Riot, which was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. My wife came home from her (short) deployment, and we settled into our routines again. We traveled, I ate at Chez Panisse (the Mother Ship), and we generally tried to revel in our California time.

But in all of that, my blogging identity crisis was still in full swing. I used to consider myself a food blogger. But how could I be a food blogger if I didn’t develop my own recipes? If I didn’t cook exciting, sexy meals? If I didn’t take gorgeous photos of my food? What was I saying that hadn’t already been said a thousand times before? And really, why did that distinction – food blogger – still matter so much to me?

If I had a piece of advice for anyone with a blog, it would be this:  know thyself. The thing is, I’m not a food blogger who develops recipes, or takes gorgeous photos, or makes sexy meals. We worry about calories and how much protein we get. We stick to a budget when we shop. We repeat meals:  I mean, how much can I tell you when we soft-boil eggs and put little pats of butter in them? (Probably a lot, actually. I am quite passionate about soft-boiled eggs and little pats of butter.)

The answer that I’ve come to is that I am not a fraud. I’m a writer. And all writers freak out about their writing. But also, all writers are vast. To borrow from Whitman, we contain multitudes. So maybe it was time to chill and just write and let it be.

I still don’t blog terribly often. I work as a Reader for a book subscription service, and I’m gearing up to tackle the next draft of my book. But my blog has become, once again, the fun, free place to explore food, to tell stories, to connect with people. When I take away the pressure to have a perfect blog – when I just engage with it the way I am learning to do with my other writing, as a practice rather than a pursuit of perfection – I remember the reasons I came to it in the first place. It’s a work in progress, this line of thinking, but it’s bringing me back to a place where I love my blog instead of feeling obligated to it. There’s freedom in it, and that freedom feels so good.

Katherine, Eggton:

Since the last Just One Question, I moved, got married, got a new job and had a kid! No joke. I’m exhausted and plan on spending the next three to four years sipping lemonade on the front porch.

The changes of the past year have affected my blogging in a couple ways, now that you mention it.

For one thing, the subject matter of what I want to write about, and the tone, is evolving. For the first few years, I tried to write about random little things that were funny. Now, all of a sudden, I find myself surrounded by Big Stuff with things to say that aren’t necessarily funny. Having a baby has made me more introspective than I’ve been in a long time. I find myself wanting to write about things borne out of self-reflection or newfound convictions. Writing these down is difficult. I don’t know how to end these posts. For the most part I get partway through writing them, find that they don’t tie themselves up neatly with a funny quip, and I abandon them, perhaps using some of their less serious insides in a funnier post that I do publish but which doesn’t really reflect all of what I’m feeling. I have yet to finish these posts, so I haven’t really had to grapple with whether my little audience really wants to read non-comical stuff from me yet.

Second, with the job (which I’m taking time away from right now) and the baby, I’ve had a lot less time to cook, photograph and write than I used to. I’m learning to work around this by preparing the various steps of a recipe in advance (measuring out the dry ingredients for a baking recipe and leaving them on the table for a few days with a post-it note that says “add the butter and milk”, for example!) That said, I’m still cooking a lot–probably every other day–which is neat. I didn’t know that cooking was that therapeutic for me until my free time was cut to a fraction and I found myself still cooking.

Third, I’ve had less time to read. Reading other people typically helps get me juiced about language and makes me want to write more. I’m not sure how my lack of reading will affect blogging.

What has remained the same about blogging (what’s gotten better, even!) is this: the little group of friends and readers I’ve become a part of has been an amazing source of support and joy. I took pictures when I was in labor because I wanted to tell my reader-friends all about it. Now I have some pretty funny photos from that momentous day. I have the story written down, which my son will be able to read someday. I have a sense of humor (most of the time) about being a new mom because I’m looking for things to catch my writing fancy as they unfold. If not for my reader friends, I don’t know that I’d be this way. What gifts they have given me! I love them more than a chocolate cake and a box full of puppies.

Elizabeth, The Manhattan [food] Project:

Obviously the biggest change has been our relocation from Connecticut down here to Baltimore–it’s been a big shift in many ways, of course, but I have to say most of them are positive. (Having to deal with the MVA and the parking authority not so much, but you can’t fight City Hall.) One of the most positive changes has been the fact that daylight savings time means we have way more natural light here starting in late March, so my window of taking pictures of our dinners has opened up much more for me now than up in New England, which is fantastic. I’m still taking as many photos as I used to, although I’ve switched to RAW format and I’m using proper photo editing software now, so I feel like my photos have improved. (Again, having the natural light is a massive boon too.) I’m also experimenting much more with tableaux of all different kinds to take some interesting photos.

Writing on a regular basis has been a major goal for me this year, and while there are days that I’m not as prolific as I’d like to be, it has helped me be more frequent in updating the blog and just make me a better writer in general. I can mull over posts more often, tweak them more, and I think that helps with the editing process.

I’ve also become a blog partner of the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project because given that we live so close to the water now we have access to great seafood pretty regularly, so I want to make sure that I’m helping to promote good choices. It’s been helpful in forcing me out of my comfort zone a bit and attempting something other than tried-and-true preparations with the added bonus of working with a non-profit so I don’t feel like I have to compromise my voice to play nice with a sponsor or similar. I have some ideas I’d like to try in the next few weeks; I have to simply get off my butt and actually do them, you know?

That partnership is part of an overall quest for more and better inspiration–I think what gets me excited to blog is to write about the new and interesting (at least to me) and hopefully share that enthusiasm with readers and encourage them to try it too. Tim’s post about being boring struck a real nerve with me because it was so on the mark, and it’s high time I remind myself that staying authentic to myself and my own aesthetic is way more important than adding yet another mac and cheese or similar recipe to the internet, because hopefully I’m adding a little something new to the conversation instead of just repeating what everyone else likes to say.

Can’t wait to see everyone else’s responses!

Ashley, Hops:

On the life in general front:

I finally completed grad school after 6.5 years.  In the past year, that meant generating data for a first author paper, then writing and submitting the paper (which was sent back with requests for minor revisions, mainly rewording a few sentences to be more open-ended conclusions and a few quick experiments, done by the incredible research associate in our lab who had already helped on my paper. Speaking of this, I think it was resubmitted and accepted, and I never knew and don’t have a copy. Hmmm…). I also helped write portions of a paper with a collaborator that contained my experiments, and that was published.  And, of course, I wrote a gigantic and deadly boring thesis, presented/defended my thesis in a public defense (which my parents, my husband’s parents, and other relatives attended with giant grins and glazed eyes, totally understandable), and earned my Ph.D. in biology in December. Wahoo….I think.

Currently, I’m still searching for a job where I can use my graduate degree. So far, not much luck. I initially thought about teaching in college, but without experience, I’m not a strong contender in these highly competitive positions.  I’ve expanded my search to other areas, like medical writer or positions with a little bit of research + mostly other non-research stuff, but a) there aren’t a ton of options in the hour driving radius around me and b) I’m not sure what I truly want to do for a career. Aside from not doing research and only research. I definitely don’t want to do that. It’s not my strong suit and it’s not something I enjoy enough to make a long-term career.  So I’m in the process of reevaluating myself, my skills, my interests, my goals and hopefully going to come up with a magical solution. If any of you have ideas, I am all ears!!!!

Eric and I have been married almost 1.5 years now. He’s at the same job and constantly amazing me with his skills and motivation. He’s dabbling in making websites on Wix, learning how to use Photoshop and Lightroom (for a fancy DSLR camera he gave me for my birthday….which I have not yet used, ahem), organized his own race, and is working with the rest of the store management to hopefully open a second location.  He’s also become a bit restless and considered moving a few states away, but that’s currently on hold (because I’m too afraid to move so far away from my family and begged him not to).

Eric and I almost started a business related to food, but we never did because it was all before our wedding (which I realize is over a year ago, but I don’t think I ever shared it with you). It would’ve been a fun little business for us to work on together – I doubt it would’ve become huge – and possibly a small source of revenue.

Eric and I also generated another idea for a bar together and kinda-sorta-really-want-to do it without the financial risk and crazy work schedule of a bar/restaurant. If you’ve read Kitchen Confidential, you know how scared I am of doing that. But we think it’s a seriously awesome idea for our area and that it would be successful. As of right now, though, it’s a no go (though we are trying to convince a friend who owns a fro-yo shop that he should do it and we could help….evil genius, right?).

We went to Mexico (Playa del Carmen area) with friends last year for an awesome friend trip and we get to return to the area for a friend’s wedding this year. With that in mind, plus with the rationale of I have time and no reason for excuses, I’m going all out in a fitness and nutrition challenge right now. I still love fitness and nutrition (though I often stray outside of truly clean eating, oops, can’t help it when there’s butter and sugar and cheese involved), so this has been both fun and challenging.

On a sad note, our sweet cat Fonz had to be put down last December unexpectedly. We were heartbroken….and quickly adopted a new boy kitten, Butters, who we love dearly. If you ask Eric, he’ll tell you I’ve become a seriously crazy cat lady who shows pictures of her cat to everyone and talks about him non-stop. I can’t deny that. I do. I spend most of my day with Butters and I do indulge him.  But it has made me realize I’m not ready for human kids yet and that all mothers to human kids are absolutely superwomen. Seriously, I’m in awe of you ladies. This kitten exhausts me, and I can’t even imagine how much harder a baby would be!

I’m still obsessed with food – I’m in the kitchen at all times, reading a ton of blogs and cookbooks, feeling curious and excited about new ingredients and techniques, and wandering around grocery stores for fun. None of that has changed. I just haven’t been blogging about it.  Also, have you guys fallen in love with about a dozen cookbooks in the last year or so? I have. It’s insane how many great cookbooks have come out recently and how much I want to make every single thing from them.  My poor Amazon wish list hasn’t shortened either!

I’ve made some crazy food in the last year, from several Milk Bar recipes to Jeni’s ice creams to some serious hippie food (it’s a recent thing. Eric doesn’t appreciate it.). I even learned how to grill (a little, I’m still not as good as Eric) and how to use our meat smoker (I did it all by myself one day and did unspeakable things to meat during the prep. Let’s just not talk about it.)

I’ve become an unofficial caterer for my mom’s side of the family and for events at the store Eric manages.  Between menu planning, shopping, pre-party prep, and day-of party prep + setup + cleanup, I’ve gained experience cooking for larger groups. I was almost solely in charge of food for a race we recently help and for a ladies’ night event at the store.  All seemed to go well and I enjoy the challenge of choosing recipes people will like (but are hopefully a little out of their comfort zone) and planning the allocation of work over several days. It’s nerdy, but it’s a bit fun.

On the blog front:

As I said, I haven’t been blogging. While I did have a lot going on (at times), I never actually tried to write or develop a post. I have been using Instagram as a very informal way of blogging, particularly when I’ve attempted a more difficult recipe or made something new. (pssst, I’m @acontreyas if you’re interested) That said, I’ve had plans to return to the blogging world.  I’m going to end Hops, the blog I haven’t posted on for over two years. It isn’t what I want anymore – how it looks, the food, the randomness of it all.

But!!!!  My husband has been encouraging me in several ways, since he knows I love food and I love blogs/blogging/talking/sharing and he loves to map out ideas. He bought us a DSLR camera and a GoPro (okay, so those were also new toys for him and I have yet to learn how to use them), plus starting learning how to use Photoshop and Lightroom.  He created a new blog for me on Wix (it was to be called An Experimental Kitchen and have a science + information theme to it, like I was a junior Alton Brown), but I never used it.  He recently created another new blog for me on WordPress (because he wanted to learn how to use WordPress, how cool/nerdy is that?) called Work Out Eat Up, where I can blend fitness and food.  I know, that’s definitely a combination that’s been done a million times already, but these are areas I truly love and have a lot of information about.  So….new camera, new blog with new theme…’s time for me to actually get to it.  I’ll let you know when I do. Should be very soon. I keep putting it off because a) I feel guilty blogging when I ought to be searching for a job and b) I’m often worried my content isn’t original and no one will want to read it.  I need to make myself just go, do it, and figure it out as I go (aka the modus operandi of my life).  Anything you would want to hear about in these areas???

Deb, East of Eden Cooking:

So much has changed in a year, yet much remains the same. 2014 was a year of loss for me. I lost my mom, my cat and forty pounds. So there it is. Or was. And now it’s deep into the new year. I still enjoy blogging, especially the cooking/baking and photography. The writing, software and coding for the blog bring the most challenges, probably because I’m just not as interested. I’d have to say the the biggest change is my attitude. If I learned anything last year it was to stop, just stop all the busy, and enjoy each day. I’ve always been a champion of blogging when we want to, not because of a self imposed schedule. But now, if given a choice of spending an afternoon on a blog post or time with my husband, daughter, son, brothers or friends I’ll choose the real time relationships. The blog will wait. After all, life is for living.

Amrita, The Sweet Art:

A year ago, I was in India, traveling all over with my fiance. We had gotten engaged the first week of April, the night before our flight. We spent a wonderful 5 weeks exploring all over India and also spending time with my extended family. It was a pretty life-changing experience to see parts of India I had never seen before and meet people from all walks of life, but my favorite part was still waking up to my fiance learning to cook an Indian breakfast each morning with my grandma.
Since then, I’ve been planning and preparing for our wedding coming this fall, as well attending 4 weddings over the year, including one back in India again in December! Can you tell what’s been on my mind?
It’s definitely affected my eating habits and my blog. I’ve been leaning towards eating more mindfully and making healthier choices when sugar cravings are particularly strong. I don’t want to do it just to look good for a day, I wanted it to be a lifestyle change so I started early.
My blog has slowed down but that’s because my business has picked up since the new year started and I couldn’t be happier about it. Dealing with my fiance’s awful residency hours, my unexpected health issues and the health of my mother, it’s been difficult to focus on the blog but a blessing to keep myself buried in macarons for a while.

Natalie, Wee Eats:

In the land of interwebs, WHAT HAS CHANGED? Well, I got a new logo for the blog a few months back. Nothing too flashy, but better than my previous creations in MS Paint (I’m super high-brow). I’ve made a commitment this year to do more original stuff, even if it doesn’t make it to the blog, and so far it’s been working out. It’s keeping me from getting too bored with blogging or cooking for sure.

I also recently started co-managing for BestFoodPhoenix on Instagram. Two days a week I take over their IG feed and go nuts! It’s a lot of fun because I get to have a chance to talk to people about the other part of food I love – that whole EATING it part.

WHAT HASN’T CHANGED? Most other things… Me. As a person. And as a blog. As a blog-person. I’m still going through bursts of lots of recipes and none and lots of planning and none.

In the real (non-internet) world… pretty much the main thing is that Mr. Eats and I got married back in September so there’s that. I guess it’s kinda a big deal – I’m officially Mrs. Eats. I think I should get an address stamp to that affect…

I’ve been focusing more on house projects, too. In the past six months we’ve re-painted our sitting room, kitchen/dining area, and living room (twice!)… we got some new furniture and started hanging some wall art… I just figured after living here for liek 6 years we could make it look like people actually live in our house ;).

In the food world, you may recall Shannon and I spent 30 days of our lives eating like crazy people last year. And, although eating like that makes me feel ridiculously good, I could never live like that for real. (A life without cake is no life at all!)

That being said, it’s definitely had a lasting effect on my (and I think Shannon’s) diets. For instance, I can never again eat like a whole pan of brownies by myself. The same feeling I used to get from that, I now get from like one brownie. Which, while tragic, is probably for the better.

Abbe, This Is How I Cook

What’s been up in my space? Actually the last year has been fairly calm. Hubby finally got a regular job which is great after so many years of uncertainty. He still travels and he is still crazy but at least it lets me breathe a big sigh of relief even though we have a lot of catching up to do.

Blogging: I made some design changes on my page using and for the money I think they did a great job. Would recommend them for sure. Still haven’t made the switch to WordPress as I’m not sure I’ll ever be popular enough that it matters! Added Instagram and I really enjoy that. Didn’t think I would, but I find it lots of fun and a total time waster, but then I think most social media is. I like Pinterest because I really do collect recipes and such that I think I will use. Facebook is another thing I’ve been trying to get into. I love reading about “folks” on there, but it isn’t really me. But I try. Because I’m supposed to? My biggest change has been that I’m now on Daily Meal and I’ve gotten featured on a number of their recipe collections. It brings a lot of traffic my way which helps my subscriber list and increases my hits. I do get a lot of unverified subscribers though and even after writing them I find they still don’t re-verify. I presume a lot of these go into spam. I have found that I could spend every possible minute doing this and still not end up anywhere. I’ll work real hard for a week and then I have to personally catch up for a  week.

My numbers have risen this year, but this is still way too much work. My return is making friends and learning new things and I think my photos have gotten better but that is only if I never change my camera settings, because I still have no clue HOW IT WORKS! I still love cooking and writing and hate taking photos. But I do like getting a good photo. Explain that?

Sarah, The Cook’s Life

I am still in the midst of a long break from my blog. So far it has been about eight months. I am starting to get the itch to write again and I am composing posts in my head, which is a good sign. I don’t want to say I had writer’s block, instead I was majorly burnt out. I had started scaling back my posts from three times a week to once a week to once every two weeks to once a month. I was dreading writing posts, taking pictures and even playing in the kitchen to make something for the blog. It was definitely time to step back and take a break.

Now that I’ve had a break I think I am going to change the character of the blog a bit. I am still going to work on making food that anyone can make, with the occasional foray into adventurous cooking. And I am still going to work on getting people into the kitchen, either for the first time, or to break out of their comfort zones and try something new. I think I am going focus less on providing a recipe with every post, or even with every other post. I feel the need to show people what a cook’s life really is – what happens in the kitchen, in the garden, at the farmers market, at the grocery store and in my mind. How I approach food and cooking, in short. I am hoping that if I relax a bit about posting recipes and if I start slowly, I will get back some of the enthusiasm for blogging that I seem to have lost.

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  • Reply Dana Staves June 10, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Well, Shannon, this newest installment of the JOQ has already prompted me to updated my blog’s theme and start brainstorming some post ideas. What was it, a month ago I told you that my blog was a space for fun and freedom? And hardly a word added to it in that time.

    I so loved reading all of these responses – you’re right, we have been having some EXPERIENCES this year. But it’s clear, too, that this is a group of people that deeply cares about writing and food, and we’re all working with it in our own time and spaces and ways. I can’t wait to touch down on some blogging goals – I will actually make some, and fingers crossed, I’ll stick to them – and to continue to read everyone’s words.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Dana, omg i know! Doesn’t it make you feel super good inside? Reading all of these responses prior to even compiling/publishing them made me feel so motivated, and refreshed, and really stoked to do more…kind of hard to put into words, but it moved me…i feel like that’s the best way i can describe that. And it moves me even more than so many of you feel that very same way. You and i must really be cut from the same cloth in terms of that: i feel like i’ve started every post since January with “i’m back so excited to blog feeling good!” and then…silence. I think it’s one thing to really feel like you want to write and cook and just BE in this, and a whole other thing to have the time and drive and willpower to actually DO it. For example, i can sit here and have 394 thoughts a day about what i want to do, different series that would be fun to do on the blog, different types of things i want to talk about, what i want to cook, etc. NONE OF THEM GET DONE. Because i’d basically have to be superhuman or require zero sleep to do everything i want to do, but that doesn’t mean i don’t want to do it. you know? I get the very strong feeling that what we want to do/wish we had time to do versus what we END UP doing are two very different things. I guess that’s one of the things i’m trying to get to the bottom of with myself and with maybe the group; what’s the disconnect. Why doesn’t A always equal B, basically. I think everyone’s answers about life stuff is a decent way to start that.

      Me too! We have been DOING SOME STUFF this year, collectively, and i’m amazed some days that any of us blog anymore because we have so many other things taking up our time. I need to send the official email out for the next question (i popped that on the list for today!), and i’m excited that you’ve already started thinking about them; i have too, and i’m really looking forward to discussing that.

  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking June 10, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    I felt silly after I submitted my response but now I see that EVERYONE has had a busy year filled with life altering changes. Life happens! All the changes will be mirrored in our blogs, even though we may not notice at first. I’m so glad you gathered all our thoughts together, it is a very insightful read!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Life TOTALLY happens, and i loved what you said in your response, Deb: it was nice to hold everyone’s responses up against each other and realize that all of us – in one way or another – had lots going on and big changes were happening, in very unique and personal ways. Never feel silly about your responses: everyone’s individual answers make the project what it is, and it’s my favorite thing.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs June 10, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Fun post! I don’t actually read blogs (or magazines) for original recipes — I read for voice, style, and new info/tips. Learning a new technique in making a classic Quiche Lorraine is more interesting to me than an ill-conceived ingredients list for an “original” quiche, for example. I’m with you on social media — it’s not me. Best thing about blogging remains the virtual friends one makes. But then, I’ve never tried to make a dime out of my blog, and never will (good thing, because I’d stave if I did!). Anyway, glad to see this feature again.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Thanks, John! I like hearing how everyone sort of treats blogs – some totally use them for recipes, and i’ve been known to make things from blogs, altho the majority of recipes come from my brain or from cookbooks i’ve consulted. Definitely the reason i read blogs is primarily to connect with others, chat, and be virtual friends with them; it’s nice to talk to people who may be thousands of miles away (or in your case, local to me but we may never meet) about similar interests. The internet may be a cesspool in some ways, but the connection part of what all of us do is a definite upside, i think. 🙂

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats June 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I love this post! I love seeing everyone’s feedback – I’m with Deb where I felt like a huge knob when I replied, but seeing everyone else’s replies makes me see that I”m not alone in the world <3
    I love these posts and how it connects us all together! It's like a not so anonymous "Bloggers Anonymous" support group! lol

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 7:54 am

      Didn’t everyone give great feedback? i loved it…i sort of can’t wait to start asking the questions i have planned b/c everyone seems so into answering them, and i can’t wait to talk over some big stuff with everyone. it’s totally a Bloggers Anon (altho with less “anon” than usual i guess) support group, and that’s my favorite part: i’d like to think everyone comes away from these feeling stoked about being a blogger. I know i do.

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook June 11, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    OMG! I feel so boring after reading what everyone had to say! This is a lot to digest. Better get a cookie!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Abbe, you are SO not boring! I loved your answer just as much as everyone else’s: all of you were so honest and detailed and forthcoming, and it was great to catch up with everyone and how they were doing. It’s totally a lot to read and digest, for sure, but a great read. I had a wonderful time putting it together.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats June 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

    ugh, I totally dropped the ball on this…even after your friendly reminder email. Sorry! 🙁 I loved reading all the responses to this though. Amazing how life can change so much, so quickly!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Amy, no big deal! You have lots going on and this was the first one from the restart, which means there will be PLENTY more to come. So amazing to see how life can (and has!) changed so dramatically in the past 12 months, for sure. It was definitely fun for me to read the responses and catch up. Join in whenever you feel like it! I’m emailing out the next question today.

  • Reply Ashley June 17, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Hi, I’m Ashley and I can’t keep it concise…or not overshare a bit. But oh well!
    And I love you too, Shannon!
    I love these posts, to read everyone’s unique perspective. It does energize and inspire me to be a blogger and to love + be proud of what I do. Thank you, everyone, for that boost. You rock!

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends June 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Ah! There is so much I want to say. First, I am sorry I failed at responding to this… I really was so excited to see your emails, but I just never got around to formulating a response — which pretty much sums up my answer to the question, actually. Life has gotten in the way. A lot. I haven’t been doing anywhere near as much blogging as I would like (insert guilt here), in part because life is busy in both good and bad ways (I’ve been taking pottery classes, which is the most fun I’ve had in years and is all I can think about, but also struggles with personal relationships that have put a lot of stress on me and taken up a lot of my time and energy), and in part because what creative energy I do have is being pulled in all different directions, and somehow blogging, which I love, has fallen temporarily by the wayside. Reading everyone’s responses to this question has been so reassuring, though. Feeling uninspired in the kitchen, or like my voice isn’t worth speaking behind the keyboard, is a major struggle that prevents me from blogging even when I do have the time and energy, and it makes my heart swell to know I’m not alone.

    Also, thank you so much for sharing that Lottie and Doof article — I couldn’t agree more, that the world of food media has become very same-y, and we need more diversity. Finding ones own voice and having the courage to speak it is easier said than done, but is something I think about often when I sit down to write. Here’s to taking baby steps in that direction!

    • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends June 19, 2015 at 11:40 am

      ALSO — as if it weren’t bad enough that I haven’t kept up with my own blog, I’ve basically fallen off the face of the internet in terms of keeping up with all of you, which is possibly the saddest thing ever, because having blog friends is one of best parts of the whole interwebs. HOW HAVE I LET THIS HAPPEN?! Shannon, your new blog design (I don’t know how new it is, because I suck) is fantastic! And congrats on all the work you’re doing with Feast, that’s so exciting! Thanks again for making the JOQ project happen, even if I suck at participating… this post has been a huge reminder of why I like blogging in the first place. 🙂

  • Reply Emma June 23, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I didn’t write ‘witch’……… did I? Are you censoring me??! 😀

  • Reply Chocolate Chip Cookies and Getting Back to Basics | Whisks & Words July 7, 2015 at 6:07 am

    […] not blogging enough). Our cooking and eating lives had changed. New jobs, marriages, babies, etc. (You can read the full post here.) I felt that old refreshing feeling of knowing I’m not alone in this writing […]

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