As a blogger, I often find myself running in the same circles as other bloggers I admire from afar, but haven’t yet had a chance to meet. Emily Han is one such blogger. We both wrote for Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, and KCET, we both live in Los Angeles, and we both have a love of cooking, foraging, and exploring the natural world.
So when I found out Emily signed with Quarto Publishing (who’s also my publisher — we now even have the same marketing manager!) for her boozy new book, I was so excited to see what she came up with, knowing we share the same passion for fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices.
Now that we’ve made it past Thanksgiving, it feels like we’re hurtling straight toward Christmas. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s less than four weeks away! We have a tree to cut down, a house to decorate, parties to attend, and presents to buy — all while digging over our garden beds, transplanting the last seedlings, and mulching the rest of the yard before El Niño moves in.
Sometimes I wish we had a “real” winter here where all we do is sit inside the house, stoke the fire, and drink mugs of hot cider all day because it’s too damn cold to do anything else. But winter in Southern California just means you add a layer of flannel and put on some socks — and try to keep up with yard work amidst all the holidaying.
Because holidaying, despite its maddening pace of imbibing, devouring, and celebrating, makes me feel really, really lazy. A slip-on-the-fuzzy-shoes, stir-up-some-cardamom-coffee, break-out-the-crafts-and-make-my-own-gift-wrap type of lazy.
I realized after starting this post that it’s going up on Cyber Monday, which seems appropriate. If you like to take your time with presents, as I do, and haven’t yet found a gift for the garden lover or foodie in your life, may I suggest a signed copy of The CSA Cookbook?
After gestating the “baby” that was my book all of last year and the ensuing book tour this year… I’m thrilled to say another baby is on the way. A souvenir from the book tour, as I like to joke. I’m pregnant! Or we’re pregnant, I guess is the proper term, but I’m the one putting on the pounds over here.
There are so many thoughts going through my mind right now as I’m belly-deep in my second trimester… though maybe not the same thoughts that other soon-to-be moms might have.
I dream about the babe’s first wave on a surfboard and smile at the thought of little bathing suits hanging on the line. I revel in the hope of tiny hands reaching in my chalk bag and happy squeals coming down the rapids in a raft. I wonder whether I’ll still be able to tighten my snowboard boots next month without my husband’s help, what kind of diapers to bring on our first multi-day backpack, and how we’re going to handle a brand-new baby and two senior pugs on our road trips next summer.
Confession: I never really liked bananas until I moved into a house that had several banana plants on the property. I always found them a bit dry and starchy, and unless they were soaked in rum and set aflame in a pan (or blended with espresso in a frosty smoothie), I usually passed them up in favor of fruits like oranges. Peaches. Strawberries. Bold, juicy, refreshing fruits.
But then I tried one of the bananas that we grew. They were fat and short, unlike anything I’d ever seen in the market, and they tasted like a cross of banana and apple — light and sweet. Certainly sweeter than a standard banana, but not cloyingly so. Come to find out, our particular variety is called an apple banana!
Growing up, I always ate Thanksgiving dinner with my friends’ families since my own family never celebrated it — not because they weren’t thankful on that day, but because it was never a part of their culture. So when that fourth Thursday rolled around every November, I couldn’t wait to partake in the classic American holiday.
I loved watching the grand entrance of the turkey, steaming hot from the oven and being carved up at the table, I loved the green bean casseroles with French fried onions, the marshmallow-glazed sweet potatoes and Marie Callender’s pies, but most of all, I loved the cranberry sauce that came out of a can. It was so fun to see the jiggly relish scooped out of the can, ridges and all, plunked down into a serving dish, and sliced up into individual rounds.
I still get nostalgic for that cranberry sauce, even though I now make my own and my palate has shifted to fancy-schmancy cranberry sauces with ginger and bourbon and other delights. I guess it’s the shape that I’m most fond of, and its appearance on the dinner table always brings me back to some of my favorite childhood memories.
The five little things that made my week…
1. After two years of trying to convince Twitter to release the name, I finally got @gardenbetty as my official handle! If you’re already following me on Twitter, there’s no need to do anything on your end. The name transfer was seamless and all tweets and followers remained intact. But be sure to tag @gardenbetty in all your tweets from now on!
So you’ve poured your heart and soul into your blog, it’s got a good motto or mission at its core, people are connecting with it and the next step in cementing its status as a full-fledged business — what will launch you from a passionate hobbyist to a full-time blogger — is monetization.
Monetization is the machine that keeps a blog running. It’s also a highly controversial subject, as often there are naysayers who believe monetizing your blog means selling yourself out. But let’s be realistic: one cannot pay the bills by working for free. If you are offering a useful service and running your blog like a business, you deserve to be compensated like a business.
I’m not sure how it happened, but since my series of biz tips last November during National Career Development Week, I went from a serious blogger earning part-time income from my posts to a professional blogger making a living from writing about my life.
Saying that out loud is something I can’t even convince my own mother is true. Blogs, for her, are still a new world — and a strange one at that for a career. And honestly, even I am baffled by this transition. Blogging was (and still is) a hobby for me, and I’m so thankful that it’s reached a point where it can support my lifestyle too.
I don’t make millions from my blog, though there are certainly superstar bloggers out there who pull in an impressive income without celebrity status. I don’t have a staff or even an intern, and I still prefer to produce my own content without contributors or guest bloggers. In a way, I feel that makes the idea of blogging for a living more approachable for most people.
Working from home all day means I’ve become accustomed to the various sounds coming from my chickens in the backyard. There’s the egg song, which they trumpet upon a successful lay. There’s the cooing chatter as they happily scratch and peck at the dirt. There’s the homing squawk when one of them suddenly realizes she’s alone, and the frantic flap of wings meant to shoo the neighborhood cats as they dart across our garden.
Then there’s an entirely different sound I’d never heard until recently, a cross of the homing squawk and a stuttering siren, a definite distress call that told me something was not right.