Weekend Things | September 7, 2013


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Time for an installment of Weekend Things

This week’s installment has lots of tips, tricks, and food-for-thought for food bloggers, authors, or anyone in this space, or thinking about entering this space.

I didn’t plan it, but kept coming across great articles and posts that I think are spot on. And that made me chuckle and nod in agreement.

1. But first, Tori Spelling featured my Peanut Butter and Nutella Snack Mix on her site here. That was pretty cool!

 Tori Spelling featured my Peanut Butter and Nutella Snack Mix

2. She also pinned my Healthy Fudgy Brownie Bites (no-bake, vegan, GF, grain-free/Paleo, soy-free, no added sugar or salt) the day after I posted them. I was so flattered!

Healthy Fudgy Brownie Bites repinned by Tori Spelling

3. Lindsay’s 5 Time-Saving Tips for Food Photography – I found myself nodding in agreement to all, including her rant where she said props don’t make food photography, skills do:

{Soap box side note: I love props, but can I just say this? Don’t overdo it with collecting food prop stuff unless you are the White on Rice couple. When your photography is your livelihood and you are just generally that cool, you’re allowed. But for most of us, we simply do not need 29 styles of cake stands. In the Philippines I had a total of about 10 dishes, I swear, TEN, to work with all year. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. Props don’t make food photography – skills do. End rant.}

Time Saving Tips for Food Photography - Pinch of Yum

 4. I guess I didn’t get the message about collecting props.

This is just a little of what I’ve accumulated after nearly 5 years of blogging and a shooting a couple cookbooks.


And there’s plenty more where that came from.

We haven’t even talked wood boards, linens and fabric, stemware, silver, platters, vintage pieces, vintage bakeware, it just goes on and on. I love dishes and hunting them down, the thrill of the hunt, is so much fun.


5. Russell is at it again, hitting the nail on the head with Kitchen Loiterers, part 3 to his Day in the Life of a Food Blogger series. Honest and hilarious, and spot on.

As much as I love my family, the minute I start a photo shoot, why does everyone suddenly need to be in the kitchen, open the fridge, get water, make a sandwich, or want a bite of something I just made when we have 17 dozen different flavors of cookies in the freezer that I could give them.

As food bloggers, our kitchens are our offices. Glad that I’m not the only one a little protective of my office as Russell pointed out.

A Day in the Life of a Food Blogger, Part One: 20 Things No One Tells You About Food Blogging

6. How Food Stylists Make Food Look Delicious – A look inside their toolkits from Bounty Select-A-Size paper towels to tweezers for moving an errant sesame seed.


7. The Food Network UK featured 4 of my recipes in their Things to Make with Boxed Cake Mix story

8. Think you want to write a cookbook? Read this first. I was nodding in agreement to most of it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and fluffy Peanut Butter all the time.

It’s worth it in the end, but if you’ve ever wanted to write one, just make sure you go in eyes wide open.  Like parenting, you can’t possibly know what you’ve really said yes to and what’s all involved until you’re there and in the thick of it, but the author compares birthing a baby to being easier than birthing a cookbook. I concur.

Here she details taking photos for the cookbook shoot. If your photography skills aren’t good enough shoot your own cookbook, the rate for 32 recipe shots was $16,000, payable by the cookbook author from their advance, to a photographer.

9. Jen’s post on 8 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Start a Food Blog – Everything from spending half your life on social media to needing to be able to understand the technical stuff, it’s all spot on. Like Jen, I thought that if you were a reasonably decent cook, and had recipes to share, that was enough. Wrong.

You better become a photographer overnight as well as learn computer programing if you want to make your blog something more than just a ‘hobby’ and be taken seriously.

8 Things They Don't Tell You When You Start a Food Blog | JensFavoriteCookies.com

10. We’re in the process of moving this weekend and my life has been insane. I have been living out of boxes for a couple weeks and am so ready for it to be done. I spent Thursday carting stuff over to the new place and Friday movers came for the big stuff. We moved all of 1.5 miles away, but whether you’re going one mile or 500, it doesn’t matter. It all has to get from Point A to Point B.

I will not sleep until everything is unpacked. I hope by Monday. Or Tuesday. And I love my new place already!

My posts are pre-cooked and pre-written so stay tuned for your regularly scheduled sugar fix while I unpack in the 90F heatwave. You won’t miss a beat while I sweat it out over here.

Softbatch Funfetti Sugar Cookies (from scratch not a mix) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Thanks for entering the two giveaways going on: $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway and the Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System Giveaway ($140 value)

What are your Weekend Things?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

If you’re a blogger, author, photographer, or wanna-be, feel free to share your tips, tricks, thoughts on anything you’ve learned along the way, things you wish you’d known, things that have really helped you, things you wish you didn’t ever come to know (like what HTML code is) or things you could do without, leave your wisdom below.

If you have thought about doing any of the said things but never have, what’s stopped you?

Enjoy your weekend!

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. haha! I had to laugh because I read Pinch of Yum’s post on not having a lot of props and immediately thought of all my overflowing cabinets and storage containers. Obviously I didn’t get that memo either. Although I have to agree with you…there is something so fun about hunting down the perfect linen or plate. I love that IKEA cabinet…I need to look at that one the next time I’m there!

    1. And I *JUST* bought another one and had it delivered and assembled today. I maxed out the first one. It’s $349 before tax, delivery, assembly etc but it’s SUCH a good value. OMG GET IT!!!!!

  2. I love your collection. I’m just on my first year of blogging and I’ve just started to build up a collection.
    Totally with you on kitchen loiters. As soon as I start to take photos the whole family decide to come home and find their way into the kitchen, blocking the little sunlight I have and trying to have a bite or taste of what I’ve made.

  3. Although I come here for the cookies, I love seeing a little glimpse of personal stuff. Good luck with moving in this heat – I live in Orange County & I think it was just as hot up here over the weekend!! I’m ready for a hot chocolate & cardigans.

    I think good food photography is one of the main aspects I didn’t expect to care about so much when I started blogging. No matter how great something tastes, if it doesn’t look that great, I don’t think that many people are interested in trying it. Great post!

  4. Excellent links and info! Would it be okay to raid your prop shelves someday?
    I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who has to ward off hungry stragglers during a photo sesh. My biggest pet peeve(s): When someone suddenly turns on the light, or when I turn around and find keys and a pocket book in the middle of my board…grrr!!! :P
    Congrats on the Tori Spelling mention!!

  5. Hey girl! Enjoying the heat wave down there? I’m ready for some 80 degree days as I’m tired of these 90 degree no air conditioning days. I’m sure it hasn’t been fun moving in this weather either. I totally feel for you girl!
    I love this post and I can’t wait to bring my lap top into bed tonight so I can link over and read all of these great reads. You did a great link up here on food blogging etc and I’m excited to read it all.
    I am so there with you about everyone chatting or getting in your way when you’re trying to photograph and stage food for a photo shoot. How about trying to photograph dinner while everyone is waiting to eat? That’s what I always encounter and for some reason, maybe it’s because my kids are growing like weeds, they were not as patient this summer. They kept commenting how hungry they were and asking me when I was going to be finished. That’s why my pics and my posts were lame this summer. I’m not one of those bloggers that makes food for a photo shoot and then wastes it. We’re literally eating everything I post. I had not only the kids home for 96 days but John was here for half the summer as well. I love having everyone around, but I’m excited to get some space and to not feel guilty every time I’m on the computer editing photos or posting.
    I never knew the work that went into a food blog until my blog grew a bit. In the beginning you can post a recipe and it doesn’t matter when you post your next one, because no one is really reading your blog and isn’t subscribing, but as you grow, your audience counts on you (as they should) to maintain some sort of schedule and then you have to maintain that schedule.
    I wish someone had told me earlier about all of the social media stuff that was involved. That’s the part that wears me out. I love the blogging and cooking part, but having to keep up with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and comments can be more work than the actual blog. I still don’t get Twitter and I may just quit that as I’m more of an Instagram girl anyway and I feel that Instagram is way more interactive than Twitter. What is Google Plus anyway? I still don’t get that :) (you don’t have to answer, I just don’t get it).
    Ok, I’ve written a story here instead of a comment, but I love talking about this stuff and I know you get it all! Have a great rest of the weekend and make sure that you take some time to chill out. xoxo, Jackie

    1. I just moved this weekend and so slammed and I read this standing in line at Target (another $250 later for stuff needed for the new place..the joys of moving…) and I was nodding in agreement to everything you said. From a family who thinks they’re going to die of starvation if they dont eat the minute you start a photo shoot or cant wait 30 mins for dinner. Have a snack? lol Another reason I am NOT a dinner blogger. The lighting, the ‘pressure’ and we eat eveyrthing I make too! I mean the desserts, sometimes we donate but if it’s a savory item, yes – that’s our dinner! No stunt food here! It all gets eaten.

      Social media, twitter, timesuck, google+ (don’t get it either!!) nodding in agreement to all! Have a great week! And enjoy your time alone. School starts tomorrow for Skylar. Ahhhhhh….yes :)

  6. I’m loving your weekend list and totally agree that blogging or cookbook writing is way harder than I expected ! I didn’t get enough advance though and by the look of things and prop shopping it is more of a loss than profit! That said I would do it again for the sake of seeing the work in print !

    All the best for the move !

  7. 1st-congrats on all the greatness!
    2nd-omg that post about everything that goes into a cookbook….terrifying, I knew it was obv. hard work though. I’d already read and also giggled or commiserated on the other posts you linked to, so much good food blogger solidarity going on :D

    1. Yes it’s insanely hard. Wayyyyy more so than I ever imagined but worth it. But just eyes-wide-open type of thing for anyone who thinks it’s a walk in the park and butterflies every day. Not exactly :)

    1. Is this directed at me personally or are you speaking in general terms?

      While I do agree with you to a point, as a blogger and a baker, I am sometimes really proud or excited by what I made and try to capture EXACTLY what it looked like for readers. So sometimes even if it seems the changes are small from image to image to the casual reader, as the person who’s really darn proud of that food, I will post similar images. We all do. I try to give diversity but sometimes there’s only so many ways you can twist it before it looks similar.

      1. Dear God, no, yours is one of the few blogs I kept in my (new) reader! This is a pro’s blog, there’s a lot to learn and emulate.
        I am not talking about illustrating how a dish/dessert is made and how it should look at the end – images are essential here. I’m talking about bloggers putting a cookie on a plate and taking a hundred shots from around the table, under the table, up on a ladder … and so on.

      2. Ok whew! :)

        I was a little worried b/c 4-5 yrs ago my photos were the same thing, over and over, no changes but I have come quite a ways and I give it my all with my photography!

        Thanks for sticking with me and migrating me over to your new reader. I use Vienna (if you use Mac – it’s a free app and SO much better than any other service I’ve tried – random aside there)

  8. I love your post today! The link the Day in A Food Bloggers Life is hilarious!!! Love that Tori pinned another one of your recipes!!

  9. Okay, where is that cabinet from??? Please say Ikea, lol. I need it in a bad way. My props are OUT OF CONTROL.

    I love all your links today, that 8 things post was awesome!

    1. GIRL YES IT IS!!! It’s the Hemnes China cabinet (just like their bookshelves but with doors) and it’s about $325 ish if memory serves b/c I actually may buy another one. Clearly, mine is PACKED to the max. I can hardly see in it. SUPER sturdy. Cannot say enought great things. With shipping door-to-door and professional installation (would NEVER attempt that) it was $500 ish. Best.money.ever. I looked and loooked and looooooked some more. And finally that was as good as any that were 3x the price, i.e Pottery Barn and similar. Get it. You will love it.

  10. My weekend things are to try to get as many to-dos done as possible, because I have ZERO time during the week to get them done! ZERO. It’s bad. I don’t know how I managed to blog at all last week. Oh, wait. Becuase I don’t care what my photography looks like and my blog is a hobby. (I’m not saying that snidely either. I read the posts you linked to…okay, skimmed…and it just made me realize that while I love LOVE blogging, I am not at all ready for it to be anything more than a hobby.)

    Good luck with the move, congrats on all your features, and can I just live in your food prop cupboard?! Honestly, I think I would be overwhelmed with the options. I have about 5 plates and a bunch of fabric. No props. No skills either, but eh.

    1. Your attitude toward blogging has always been great and you’ve always been able to draw a line in the sand and not let IT rule you or take over. Very admirable! And your photography skills have def improved in 5 years! 5 plates..lol. I dont even want to tell you. This is just some of my stash.

  11. Kitchen Loiterers was one of the best posts I’ve read and there are some great tips in that Food Photography post. Looking at your cabinet, I have some serious prop envy!

    1. I loooooved his post. And prop envy? Well I’m flattered but it’s really not that much compared to say Todd & Diane or Matt A. ! As in 1/100th. Now THEY have some props!

  12. Oh my gosh, I’d love to come over and have fun browsing all your fun props! Kudos to your mention from Tori…so awesome! I was a huge BH 90210 fan. :)

  13. Thanks so much for mentioning me, Averie! I can’t wait to check out everything else you mentioned. I love Russell… everything he does is so fantastic! Good luck with your move!

  14. good luck with the moving!! you are so right about the things they don’t tell you when you start a blog, so much more involved ;)

    1. We’ve all been at it about the same amount of time and the things you learn as a blogger in 5 years will just make your head spin, won’t they! :) Stuff (both good and bad) that you could never see coming!

  15. I love your Weekend Things! I hear you on moving–I am sure you are ready to be unpacked and in your new home…then you will feel relieved that the move is over! (that’s how I feel when I’m moving). Weekend things for me? Last night I had a date night with my husband and got some amazing sushi and then went to Tupelo Honey for pecan pie. #winningsohard :)

  16. Good luck moving and getting settled into your new place! Some day I will have a website to sell my jewelry. I stay busy with my career as a physical therapist, so turning my hobby into a part time business right now makes me nervous because I don’t want it to take over all my free time. (I still have to cook yummy things, get in some running mileage, practice my guitar, and sleep…..and spend some time with my husband)! I will probably be starting a semi retirement phase in my life in the next 5-7 years and would probably feel ready to do something then.

    1. When I started blogging I didn’t intend for it to be an all-encompassing thing. I expected it to be a ‘hobby’ but as I quickly learned, it was all or nothing – so I gave it my all and never would have dreamt the twists & turns things have taken. It’s been a crazy and fun ride! And your guitar, jewelry as a hobby, day job as a PT, running, and your hubs, yes – that’s PLENTY. But as life changes in 5-7 yrs, nice to know there’s a plan B for things on the horizon! How wonderful!

  17. Love your prop collection and good luck with the move! Now as a blogger, I have to say it is way harder than I anticipated. I thought I would love it and people would flock to it. But I don’t and they haven’t. I know that I don’t want to be a food blogger forever and I question whether I would want a cookbook or cooking show, I’d give it my all if given the opportunity though. I really never thought my life would be this complicated!

    1. It’s always hard to predict what will happen when people start blogs or have blogs – there are some blogs I honestly don’t know why they’re wildly popular and every.thing.they.post has people flocking to it. And other blogs with people who can genuinely cook and are super creative but their blogs don’t get much attention. The ‘it factor’ is such a wild card!

  18. I love al the food blogging links!! Headed to check those all out now and congrats on being featured on Tori Spelling’s site and Food network UK! That is awesome! Good luck with all the moving and unpacking! Still do not now how you get it all done with barely any sleep. You are a rockstar!

    1. If I get 3-4 hours a night, I am happy lately. It won’t always be this way, but for now it is. And it’s fine! I’d rather be busy than not!

  19. Happy weekend, Averie! I have such admiration for the talented food bloggers like you. It really does take so many skills. My husband is my savior when it comes to the technical, coding, and design stuff- I wouldn’t have a blog without him!
    Oh, and totally jealous of all your props- I’m always admiring your dishes in your pics :)

  20. what a great list of weekend things. my props are probably the saddest of them all, all I have are a couple of white plates a few colored ones and then I use whatever I can get my hands on to fill in the blank spaces in the back of the picture haha. that’s totally awesome that Tori Spelling pinned your recipes

  21. Excellent and helpful post, Averie! Appreciate the links related to blogging and photography. Read each article. Also, read the post on the Toronto Star Cookbook and all the work that went into it as well as how the financial side works in publishing. Doesn’t surprise me a bit as I’ve read so much from Dianne Jacob (Will Write For Food). Anyone wanting to write a cookbook needs to be enlightened a bit as to the realities. Fab news about Tori featuring Averie Cooks! Good luck with your move, girl. Glad to know you are so happy with your new place! You’ll be settled in no time. Have a great weekend! xo

    1. Dianne J and I worked together a few years ago and I’ve met her in person. Such a wonderful resource! And yes, being enlightened – so true! Most people think you just eat frosting all day long and then go write about what you made it with and do that 50 times and you have a book. Reality is just a wee bit different :)

  22. Man I need all the tips I can get! I am so not up with the HTML, web hosting and domain things…. I am so confused it is not funny…

    I love Pinchofyum’s tips, I have already change my space and it is so much easier! Great links Averie!

  23. Thanks a lot Averie, this post is going to be so helpful! And oh, your props collection, I’m so jealous ;-)
    Have a great weekend & good luck with the move x