Hi all! Today’s “a day in the life” features Flavia from Flavia’s Flavors.

Flavia is one of the warmest, most sincere people I’ve “met” since I started food blogging. When she interacts with people, you can tell that she genuinely cares about them and what they are talking about.

Not only that, but she also has a great food blog full of delicious recipes and beautiful photographs. She recently wrote a post all about making pie crusts, a must-read for anyone who has struggled in that department. And let’s be honest, that’s about 95% of us. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.

Ciao! I’m Flavia Scalzitti and I am the creator of Flavia’s Flavors. I come from an Italian family, and I grew up around people who used food and cooking as a way to keep their traditions alive, celebrate their Italian culture, express their love for their family, and nourish the people they cooked for with the freshest and best quality ingredients. I grew up eating really well. I am originally from the East Coast, born in Washington, DC and raised in Bethesda, Maryland. My kitchen can be found in Katy, Texas where I live with my husband, Peter and our Irish Setter, Sienna.

I started Flavia’s Flavors in February 2009, four months after my maternal grandmother passed away. I was very close to her and she was an excellent home cook, originally from Rome, Italy, where I still have many relatives. Initially, my blog posts helped me channel the sadness I was feeling from my grandmother’s passing. I cooked, baked, photographed and blogged about many of the traditional Italian recipes that my grandmother often made. Around the same time, I had discovered food blogs and once I started reading and exploring them, I knew that writing my own food blog was the creative outlet I had been looking for. I started my food blog by featuring both Italian and American recipes, but I recently decided to focus the majority of my blog’s content on Italian and Italian-American recipes, while still occasionally featuring some American recipes. For the most part though, Flavia’s Flavors is now about “a taste of Italy in your American kitchen”. I also have three topic-specific features on my blog: Flavia’s Fundamentals are posts about basic recipes and/or cooking techniques that are accompanied by step-by-step photographs. Flavia’s Favorites are posts about my favorite kitchen and food-related products. The newest feature I’ve added is called The Side Dish, where I feature posts about my other non-food interests such as books I’ve read, antique finds, traveling, and photography. I am also a contributing guest blogger for Mom It Forward, where I write about food and travel, and am occasionally a featured panelist for their #gno {Girls Night Out} Twitter parties.

Take me through your day.

6:45am :: Wake up

7:30am :: Take the dog out for her morning walk

8:00am :: Feed the dog, eat my breakfast, online time

8:30am :: Leave for the gym

9:00am-10:00am :: Yoga practice {Monday, Wednesday & Friday}.

10:00am-12:30pm :: Shower/dress, housework, laundry, online time, blog/cookbook reading, cook/bake, photograph, edit photos, write blog posts and/or do recipe research.

12:30pm- 1:30pm :: Lunch {sometimes at home and sometimes out if I’m running errands}. I especially love the occasional lunch date with my husband.

1:30pm-4:30pm :: Run errands. If I don’t have to run any errands, I’ll stay home to do blog/coobook reading, cook/bake, photograph, edit photos, write blog posts, and/or do recipe research.

4:30pm-5:30pm :: Feed the dog, dinner prep, online time

5:30pm-6:30pm :: Cook dinner

6:30pm-7:30pm :: Eat dinner Buon appetito!

7:30pm-8:00pm :: Clean kitchen, do dishes

8:00pm-10:00pm :: TV time with my husband {we DVR a lot of shows!} or write blog posts, work in my office {paperwork, pay bills, etc.}, online time, sometimes participate in a Mom It Forward #gno Twitter party.

10:00pm-11:00pm :: Read and then buona notte! {Good night!}

What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?

A very sharp knife. As much as I love my food processor for certain tasks, I use my professional kitchen knives on a daily basis. My favorite one is my Wustoff Nakiri knife.

What is the most important part of your day? Why?

For me, the morning is the most important part of my day. I always start my day with a walk with the dog, even if I’m going to the gym that day. Exercising first thing in the morning makes me feel good the rest of the day. I then have a good breakfast and take time to plan out my day so that I make sure I spend my time as productively as possible.

What is your favorite part of your day? Why?

My favorite part of the day is the evening when Peter gets home. We spend the evening talking about our day and always sit down to dinner together.

What is your LEAST favorite part of the day? Why?

My least favorite part of the day is the late afternoon, starting around 3pm. I’m generally a morning person, so I feel the most alert, creative and productive in the mornings and early afternoon. By the time late afternoon rolls around, I my energy begins to wane so it’s often difficult to be as alert as I want to be to get work accomplished. This is the time of day I will occasionally take a 30-minute power nap or go to a local bakery for a cappuccino and a few of their delicious butter cookies for an afternoon pick-me-up. It always works!

If you could choose one room in your house to spend the WHOLE day in, which room would it be? Why?

This is easy…it’s my office. I love it. A couple of years ago, we had the two downstairs guest rooms painted a butter yellow and we converted one of the rooms into my office. We bought all the furniture at IKEA, except for my desk chair and a small side table, which both belonged to my late maternal grandmother. I started a collection of “F” letters in different materials to hang above the large, empty wall space above my desk. My bookshelf houses all of my cookbooks {a collection which is constantly growing} and my favorite books of fiction and memoir. My office is also the space where I house some of my most treasured possessions: a picture of me and my best friend, Francesca, when we were little, my collection of small, antique Yellow Ware bowls, and a porcelain figurine that belonged to my late grandmother.

What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

Friday! Even though I no longer work outside the home, I still love Fridays because it means the start of a weekend where Peter and I can do things we can’t ordinarily do during the week.

If you had to choose one place to travel to every year over and over, where would it be? Why? Have you been there before?

I would have to choose Saint Michael’s, Maryland. My parents used to take me and my sister on day trips there when we were young, especially when we had family from Italy visiting, and we always loved it. It’s one of many beautiful, quaint, and historical towns along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. I love it because Saint Michael’s and all the other surrounding towns are filled local restaurants and shops, and everything is in walking distance. If you want to eat some delicious Maryland blue crab, the Chesapeake Bay area is the place to go. Peter and I always talk about someday retiring in Saint Michael’s.

If you could travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go and how long would you stay?

Italy, of course! I started traveling to Italy when I was a year old. My dad is originally from a small town outside of Venice and his parents moved back to the same town when they retired from their jobs in Washington, DC. My mom’s parents were from Rome and I still have great-aunts and cousins living there.  I spent almost every summer vacation in Italy and have visited several regions, but we spent the most time in Northern and Central Italy visiting both my parent’s sides of the family. If I could travel there for free, I would probably stay six months. I think that would give me enough time to eat all the gelato I want!

What is your favorite quote or verse?

I have many favorites, but this one from Julia Child always makes me smile: “I didn’t start cooking until I was thirty-two. Until then, I just ate.”

I can relate to it a little because I didn’t start cooking until my mid-20’s, after Peter and I were married. Before then, I was too busy eating all the wonderful things my parents and grandparents cooked. I grew up helping a lot in the kitchen, but not really cooking. Once I was married and on my own for meal preparation, I realized I was pretty competent in the kitchen and gained more confidence with each recipe I tried. There were a lot of flops and some of the recipes I made gave Peter heartburn {sorry, honey!}, but I learned from my mistakes and kept trying. Now you can’t get me out of the kitchen!

What is your favorite cookbook?

It’s hard to choose, but one of my favorites is Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. I’ve used it so much the spine is cracked. It’s the cookbook I refer to when I want to learn how to prepare a traditional Italian recipe that I’ve eaten many times but never made before. It also has many recipes that my grandmother used to make often. Since my grandmother cooked from memory, she didn’t leave any recipes behind when she passed, so this book was a treasure when I first bought it because it has many of the same recipes my grandmother made and many of them taste close to identical to hers.

What recipe on your blog are you most proud of?

I’m proudest of the first recipe I made for my blog, which is a dessert called Cicerchiata. It was a dessert that my grandmother would prepare every year to celebrate New Year’s. I am especially proud of it because it came out right the first time I made it.

What have you learned since you began blogging?

I’ve learned so much that it’s hard to know where to start! Since I’m very Type A, I made a list:

Be Yourself. Let your personality shine through in your writing, photography and creations.

Be honest. Take inspiration from your favorite bloggers, but never copy or plagiarise anyone’s material. Respect proprietary information. Ask permission if you want to use someone else’s photo or words. Link back to the original source. Give credit where credit is due.

Be Patient. It’s easier said than done and I often don’t take my own advice on this one. Keep writing, photographing and creating. Keep practicing. Stay committed and put in 110% of your effort. Learn from your mistakes and then try again.

Strive for excellence, not perfection. Another piece of my own advice I have a hard time following because I am a card-carrying perfectionist. Nothing is perfect. Instead, strive for excellence in your chosen blogging niche. Be OK with the fact that there will be goof-ups, type-o’s, kitchen disasters and bad photos. For example, I’m still learning to use my dSLR and I still don’t know how to use Photoshop Elements! What is important is staying committed to learning and getting “back in the saddle” and trying again. Excellence takes time and effort, but it will come.

Learn from Others & Ask Questions: Seek out bloggers in your chosen niche who have been writing and creating for a while and ask them questions. Also seek out bloggers in different fields to get different perspectives on blogging styles, photography, and the creative process.

Get Connected: Join Twitter. Start a Facebook page for your blog. Sign up for Instagram to share your photos. Sign up for Pinterest and curate boards with your interests. You do not have to join every social network under the sun–join the ones that will be beneficial to you and your creative niche and start connecting with others, including people in different blogging fields.

What have you found to be the most challenging part of blogging?

Staying on a schedule is my biggest challenge. I don’t post blog entries for the sake of posting. Rather, every post I publish is something I want to share with my readers. I believe in quality over quantity, so I try hard to make sure that every recipe I publish will work for someone who tries it. Nevertheless, I am still striving to publish on a more consistent basis so that I can also be more disciplined about practicing my photography and writing.

Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in cooking or food blogging?

For anyone who is new to cooking and/or food blogging, my best advice is to read and practice consistently. I am entirely self-taught in both areas and I learned everything I know up to this point by reading and practicing. Read food blogs, food magazines, cookbooks, newspaper articles, etc. Take a cooking class. Attend a blogging conference. Do not be afraid to ask questions. I am still learning, still practicing and still asking questions. It is an ongoing process, but it is a lot of fun if it is your passion.

Who would you like to see featured here in the future?

If I gave you my entire list, this post would go on forever! Here are a few blogger friends whom I would enjoy reading more about:

Kelley Epstein {Mountain Mama Cooks}
Annalise Sandberg {And Now for Something Completely Delicious}
Dara Michalski {Cookin’ Canuck}
Theresa Sullivan {The Craving Chronicles}
Jenna Weber {Eat, Live, Run}

Is there anything else you would like to tell the world about yourself?

English is not my first language. I actually spoke Italian first. Once I started school, I learned English but still continued to speak Italian at home. English is now my mother tongue, but I am still fluent in Italian. I studied French in high school and college {it was my minor} and although I’m not fluent, I can communicate fairly well.

What question would you ask a fellow blogger?

What is your blogging process? :: I’m always curious to know about my fellow food blogger’s creative process.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thanks Flavia! I love your list of things you’ve learned since beginning blogging…mostly because I’m totally type-A as well.

I also love your list of who you would like to see featured here in the future. You ladies can all expect an email from me sometime soon!

You can also find Flavia on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest

PS: Isn’t her dog gorgeous?

Disclaimer: This post has an affiliate link and I’m required to let you know. If you buy the book Flavia mentioned, I’ll probably make five cents.