Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Now what??? Reflections of a Year-Long Blogger...

 Where do I begin?

About a year ago I was contemplating starting a blog.  I never thought I had anything original enough or "internet worthy" (well, I guess that's not saying much) to say.  But I loved the idea of journaling, or blogging online.  I've never been one who can easily keep up with a journal.  I always try and fail.  But I'm passionate about food.  I was finding inspiration for new dishes in so many places, and was already offering ideas to other cooking women verbally, so it seemed to fit that I start blogging about food and sharing my ideas and inspirations with a larger group of people.

This has been an incredible year.  I learned a lot, I met a few of my goals, but not quite all of them. Looking back, I sometimes can't believe what I did.  I remember about 2 weeks into the project I was already getting tired of taking pictures of my dinner EVERY night and I seriously wondered if I was crazy and what I was doing.  Of course, I didn't quite take a picture every night for the whole year, and the guilt of my repeating meals or dining out nights subsided as the year went on.  (We also got busier as the year went on!)

I was looking back through my entire blog, especially the Why I'm Here tab in order to help me form what I wanted to say as my "concluding" post and this paragraph stood out to me:
"I also wanted to address why I'm starting this NOW.  There's a saying, "In trying times, try something new."  My husband and I have been in a sort of waiting period for a while for things to happen in order for us to start meeting some of our goals.  Emotionally, it's been hard on both of us, and now that he's graduated, it's a step in the right direction, but the waiting has also intensified.  I guess this blog is a way for me to keep my mind occupied on something else--a distraction, if you will.  I'm already pretty busy, but it's mostly with "heavy" stuff: kids, work, Bible study, housework, bills.   Hopefully this will be something light and fun to do which may lead elsewhere."
Wow.  Around July of 2014, I was doing our budget and looking over some of our yearly goals we wrote when we first got married.  I realized that we met all of our 5-year goals, and we'd only been married for 4.  Praise the Lord!  Of course I'm in no way saying that it's because of the blog.  But when I went to re-read what I wrote a year ago, I didn't even remember that I had written it.  This blog truly was a good distraction for me.  I dived head first into a passion I have and it kept me (kind of) from going crazy while we waited on the Lord.  The flip-side is that I do feel like our house search and renovations became a hindrance to this blog.  There were so many nights we had to eat out or do something very quick for dinner because of everything we had going on.  I feel like I lost momentum for a long while, there, which disappoints me, honestly.

Some of the things I wanted to accomplish but didn't were: making my own pasta from scratch, making my own ice cream, and I wasn't able to limit my repeating meals as much as I wanted to once the home renovations started.  But the fact that I was able to blog about the renovations a little bit, blog about home-schooling Abby, and write more thought-provoking pieces, really brought me into my own as a blogger.  So much so that I bought my own domain.  It's not ready to be launched yet, but I'm very excited about what that will turn into!

I do think that my blog was successful in that my confidence in the kitchen grew tremendously.  Reading back on some of my posts has definitely helped me plan new menus.  And of course, I got a ton of positive feedback both online and in person, so thank you everyone who supported me and read my posts and even tried the recipes!!!

So, now what?  Well, I mentioned the domain that I purchased.  I'm working on a new website that will be all my own.  It's not finished yet, but I'm hoping to use this time I have now that I'm not under the 365-day blog pressure to work on the new site.  So am I done blogging?  No.  Just like I'm not done experimenting in the kitchen and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.  (Um, I made DUCK on Monday!)  The funny thing is that when I started this blog, cooking duck would've definitely felt like stepping outside of my comfort zone, but when I made it on Day 365, it didn't feel uncomfortable at all.  I will be taking a hiatus for a little while from blogging, and trying to step away from social media as much as I can for that time, too.  I need some time to just cook and not publish, and to do things other than sit at the computer.  I'm looking forward to it, but also scared of it.  I can't remember how much time people say it takes before something becomes a habit, but blogging about my food has definitely become a habit.  And habits are hard to break.  I made homemade granola bars yesterday and instinctually thought about how I would write the post for it.  We're having bleu burgers and onion rings on Friday night, and I was thinking about what I'd write on my blog for that meal, too.  I'm also a little sad that my meals won't have as much of an audience anymore for a little while, haha!  But I know it's a good thing.  The break is needed.  During this time I'm hopeful that I'll enjoy cooking just a bit more (without the pressure of writing about it) and get more enjoyment from things that aren't internet-related.  (I have a lot of craft-projects, reading, and other things to catch up on!

And hopefully we'll tighten our belts!  (Literally and figuratively.)  I'm absolutely certain that cooking delicious meals doesn't have to break the bank or your "figure", however, I'm pretty sure I used this blog as a good excuse to spend just a little more at the grocery store and bake just a little too much at home.  So now it's time to get back on track.  (Maybe I'll blog about that when it's over!) :)  Randy and I have big plans for our wallets and our diets.  I've actually adjusted my perpetual menu for our family to include more protein shakes and salads for my lunches and I'm being more intentional and, quite frankly, limiting on the amount of baking I do!
For now, thank you so much for reading and I hope this blog can still be used to look up recipes and inspire home-cooks to try new things!  Use this time that I'm not publishing anything new to get caught up on past posts if you want!  And look out for my new website that I hope to publish soon enough (no time frame on this whole hiatus yet).  I have so enjoyed this year and this time of opening up my home, heart, and kitchen to you all!  Blogging is a pretty cool thing, I think!
I came across these verses in a recent devotional, and although it was used in a completely different context, in a way I feel like it fits our whole social media, blogging world we're living in!  And it's another reason I'm looking forward to my break:
"There is a time for everything, and season for every activity under heaven ... a time to be silent and a time to speak." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7