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365 Days

ago I quit my “real” job.

I didn’t quit my job to be a full-time blogger, and my decision that day, while being the only thing I had thought about for the last 18 months, was completely spontaneous. And the best decision of my life, obviously. It wasn’t one of those jobs where I was sooooo busy and complained all the time about how much horrrrrible work I had to do. In fact… I had nothing to do. Ever. Okay, maybe there were like five days when I had stuff to do. But no stress. No challenges. Two days in, it became clear that the job was not what it was promised to be and over the next year and a half plus, I had a sickening feeling in my gut at the multiple *questionable* business practices I was now associated with. Even still, I didn’t once regret that I left my career as a personal trainer – I was ready for a change and craving something new, even if this was far from it. I was racked with guilt because I actually had a job when so many others didn’t and were struggling, which is the exact reason I kept it. My husband and I often talked about how others would love my job – sitting on their rear doing absolutely nothing all day in a very small office – but for me, who spent the last 6+ years surrounded by tons of people, working an active job, loving what I did – it was a challenge to say the least. I searched for jobs nearly every single day (um, I had from 8-5 everyday to do so… literally) but never even got an interview. While I have a degree, spending my entire 20s basically running my own business as trainer translated to one thing: I worked in a gym, where no degrees are required and stereotypes are too often the norm.

Many days I wished this was my work stash.

So I started a blog and spent the majority of my day reading other blogs and interacting with the blog community. It helped me from going completely insane. And stopped me from constantly online shopping too.

The day I quit, it was pretty much against everyone’s wishes – my husband’s, my parents – but I did it anyway. Within a week I began working a 30-40 hour per week retail job, which I worked for about 8 1/2 months, until this past May. It was fun and enjoyable – not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life – but it helped pay the bills because I still considered blogging my hobby. All the while, I wanted to fully be able to support myself so that was the ultimate goal.

The most common question I get asked is “how do you do all these recipes?” or something in regards to “what is your normal day like?” I’ll be honest: I spend about 80-100 hours a week on this site, every single week. The weeks before vacations, probably even more. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to make, so I just keep brainstorming until I come up with something. Other weeks are great and I have a boatload of ideas, to which I add to my always running master list of recipes to make (currently at 43 recipes… I think I’m good for awhile). Sometimes it is challenging and sometimes it’s easy. But everyday I love it so much.

I don’t find posting 5 new recipes a week for you guys all that excruciating. Most likely, because I posted 5 new recipes a week while I was working 40-hour per week jobs just like everyone else, albeit my quality was lacking and my pictures were horrific. So this seems like fun compared to that.

By request… here is what a normal work day is like for me. I’m a pretty big dork.

5:15AM: I wake up, throw on my workout clothes, head downstairs and immediately get on the computer. I respond to comments and emails from the night before, proofread my post again (or write it, if I ran out of time last night) and make changes if needed, and post my recipe post close to 7AM. I usually have a snack at this time but it just depends on if I’m hungry or not.

6:45-8AM: This is my most recent workout window. Depending on if I’m doing morning/evening yoga, I may move this a little earlier. I am, by fault of genetics, a serious morning person.

8:15-9:30AM: I eat breakfast then respond to emails and comments and questions, check out some of my favorite blogs, and get started on tomorrow morning’s post. Supporting other bloggers is huge to me. I rarely start experimenting in the kitchen before 9:30AM, because that is when I start to get the light needed for photographs. I try to get the majority of my computer time (i.e. responding to people) in now. I also may run to the store if I need ingredients for a recipe.

9:30-1PM: Often 5 days out of 7, I will to be in the kitchen at this time: developing a new recipe, testing ones I’ve already tried, photographing, not cleaning, and generally making a huge mess. I blast music and dance like an idiot and sing at the top of my lungs to the Jersey Boys soundtrack. Sometimes I blast the Young and the Restless from the living room and pretend I’m Mother Lovett. Shhhh. I didn’t just say that. (In all seriousness, I try to never turn on the TV during the day as I find I get sucked into the couch vortex which does nothing for me… or you.)

1-1:45PM: I’ll eat lunch and respond to more questions/comments/emails. This is really important to me. My favorite part about blogging is the community we have here on my site, and I try so hard to respond to each and every relevant question that comes my way. I know exactly what it feels like to send someone an email and never receive a response, and I don’t want my readers to feel that way. Obviously there are exceptions, obviously some slip through the cracks, and obviously I’m completely aware that once there are children in my life, there is no way this will happen.

I also spend about 10-15 minutes working on a Crumbs post here if I have one that day, and schedule it to publish around 4:30 or so.

1:45-5:15 PM: Back in the kitchen! Same stuff… developing, testing, creating, tasting, not cleaning, taking notes and photographing if needed. If I am not doing recipes or photographing, this is the chunk of time I spend writing and working on freelance and other projects. That happens 2-3 days per week.

5:15-5:45PM: Clean the kitchen that looks like a bomb went off. Blast music and shake the house. Decide what’s for dinner if it isn’t already made and coming from a blog recipe. Not a big deal because my husband doesn’t get home until 8:30-9.

5:45-7PM: Upload selected photos from the day, edit if needed, upload them into my actual blog posts and type the written recipes into the posts so I don’t lose them. If I don’t do this the day of, the photos + recipes just accumulate and I end up needing 6+ hours of computer time, which is awful. I also like to type out the recipe I’ve written throughout the day to make sure it’s free of typos (it never is) and check it out while it’s fresh in my mind.

This is also the time chunk where I might go to yoga in the evening if I didn’t go in the morning, or when my cousin and I (and Natalie – hi Nat!) will go on a big neighborhood walk (about 5 miles) and BS the entire time. It’s a nice break. But if I do that, I usually end up coming home and spending the rest of the evening working.

7PM: I may eat dinner, depending on what time my husband is going to get home, or I might wait for him. I finish responding to any recipe questions/comments (again, they too are a pain if they begin to pile up), prepare dinner if needed, work on my post for the next morning, finish uploading some pictures, work on miscellaneous writing pieces and figure out my game plan for the next day (what recipes I’m making/what I’m writing/what I need from the store). Work, work, work.

9:30-11PM: Try to take some downtime from technology and relax and talk about our days, which doesn’t always happen. But if I am working, at this time I’ll watch trashy shows while doing so. More so than not, one of us has the computer in front of us.

11PM: Head to bed… and sometimes get waaay too involved on my iPhone and end up working from bed for a little while longer.

There you have it.

I can be flexible and occasionally will take a weekday afternoon to visit my friends + their kids or hang out with my mom or in last Wednesday’s case, leave the house around 3 to head to dinner and see Wicked. For example, this week Ashley will be in my area on Tuesday and we are leaving for a short trip on Friday to celebrate our anniversary, so I’m working continuously through the weekend.

I like to keep my weekdays as “workdays” because I really love having an actual weekend, even though I still may work through most of it anyway. I also don’t like to spend Saturday and Sunday developing recipes and cooking all day (I did that for the first 1.5 years of my blog… enough) because it takes away from fun things we could be doing… and when my husband is in the kitchen we want to kill each other. Often on the weekends I still end up making 2-3 recipes (today I did 3) but it’s in a much more relaxed fashion. I sleep in a bit, work out when I want, write when I need to, do recipes when I want and change things according to our plans.

I work best on a structured schedule, and I’ve tried to develop one for myself time and again when it comes to recipe development, such as spending Monday and Tuesday only doing recipes, Wednesday through Friday only writing… but it doesn’t work out. Crazy things come into play – like the fact that it may rain 3 days in a row and I have no light in my house to photograph food.

I don’t view blogging as a long term career, but more so as a creative outlet and launch pad for my job as a recipe developer and writer. I am very grateful that this is part of what I can call my “work,” but it certainly didn’t fall into my lap. I can easily say I’ve never taken one day off from my job… and that’s okay. I’ve been on the other side and am willing to do what it takes to enjoy my life. I don’t believe that anything worth it comes easy. Plus… I’m sort of in love with it.

And a fun fact? My crazy dreamy kinda goal in life is to write fiction novels. I have the most insane imagination.

Alright. Enough with the serious stuff. Any questions? That’s what 2 glasses of wine will do to you.

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