{a day in the life} Chip Chip Hooray

Today’s “a day in the life” is the fabulous Tara of Chip Chip Hooray! I “met” Tara on Twitter and she is one of the sweetest people around.  

Lots of fun recipes on her site and tales of her adventures in NYC. 

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Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.

I come from a family where the dessert spread has always been the most important part of any holiday meal (seriously; we sometimes joke we should just skip the Christmas dinner and head straight for dessert). While I baked a lot in college, it wasn’t until I graduated and started working in New York City that I started reading blogs and getting motivated to up my game a little in the kitchen. I was completely terrified to try blogging myself, though, until I met a group of amazingly supportive bloggers at a Share Our Strength Bake Sale in May of 2011. Those women (Maggy, Amber, Lillian, Emily, I’m still so grateful to you!) gave me the kick in the pants I needed to just give it a shot—to write about what was important to me, to get on Twitter and meet some fellow blogging friends, and to find my place in this community. And I’m so glad I did.

Take me through your day.

      • 6:00 AM: Alarm goes off. I drag myself out of my nice warm bed and try not to fall down the several flights of stairs to my apartment’s front door
      • 6:20-7:20 AM: Gym! (45 min-1 hour of cardio/crosstraining)
      • 7:30-8:00 AM: Shower, breakfast, out the door (all without waking my roommate).
      • 8:00-8:30: Quality time with the NYC subway system, aka my daily commute.
      • 8:30 AM-5:30/6 PM, depending on the day: Work. (On quiet days, this may also include a smattering of blog reading/commenting, tweeting, and pinning. Oops?)
      • ~6:30 PM: Arrive home, sometimes after a stop at the grocery store, make and eat dinner. (Or! Two nights a week, 6:10-8:40 PM: Night class.)
      • 7:00-10:30 PM: Write blog posts, catch up on primetime TV or DVR, Skype faraway college friends.
      • 10:30-11:30 PM: Standing phone date with the boy. :)
      • 11:30 PM: SLEEP!

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

My 10-inch skillet/sauté pan. When you’re cooking for one, almost anything can be whipped up in that thing—eggs, a chicken breast, a quick sauce or glaze. Definitely the piece of cookware I use most.

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

I’m so tempted to say “Eating!” or “Catching up on the mindless TV I keep on my DVR!” But if I’m going to be honest with you, it’s probably the time I spend talking to my boyfriend on the phone. With him doing graduate work a few states away and me working full-time in the city, it can be hard to make our schedules match up sometimes. I really value just getting to catch up and hear how his classes are going or filling him in on the stuff I’ve been working on. (All together now: “Awwwwww.” I know, I know.)

What is your favorite part of your day? Why?

I’m a real morning person, so the time I spend easing into my day—skimming some blog posts on my phone over breakfast, catching up on pleasure reading on the subway, and sipping some tea while the office is still quiet—is something that I really value.

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

The post-dinner dishwashing routine. I’ve made it my personal goal in life to cook using the fewest pots and pans possible solely for the purpose of not having to wash them afterward. Someday, I will never take my dishwasher for granted!

If you could choose one room in your house to remodel (on an unlimited budget!) which room would it be and why?

I’d settle for any of them! One big downside of many NYC apartments is that you’re not allowed to paint or remodel in any major way—so I don’t have too many options for those plain ol’ white walls. My current landlady also won’t let us put nails in the walls (?!) so anything we hang up has to be done with tape or Command hooks. Oh, for the day when I’m no longer a renter!

What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

Totally cliché, but Friday for sure. I feel like my whole week builds up in anticipation of that day. Plus, if I’m traveling for the weekend (which I often am, being in a long-distance relationship) that’s usually the day I’ll head out, so I’m excited to see friends and loved ones.

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 had to think about this one for a while. My family has vacationed several times in St. Pete Beach, Florida, and I absolutely love it for the picturesque beaches, seaside eats, and relaxed vibe.

If it were a winter trip, though, I’d have to pick the ski areas in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve gone out there with my dad twice now, and it’s just utterly breathtaking. Once you’ve skied through a cloud, it’s hard to return to any of the mountains we’ve got in the Northeast.

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

I’ve never been to Italy, so I’d love to spend a few weeks touring the country. Spending time in Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and assorted other cities I’m sure I’d want to stop (and sample the gelato) in would definitely keep me busy for nearly a month.

What is your favorite quote or verse?

“Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

What is your favorite cookbook?

I’m kind of in love with the Joy the Baker cookbook. Joy’s was one of the first blogs I discovered, and her real-talk style still makes me feel like I’m having a cup of coffee with her as I read her posts. Plus, I was lucky enough to get to meet her during her book tour and have her sign my copy!

What recipe on your blog are you most proud of?

For completely nostalgic reasons, I love the recipe I have for boxty (Irish potato pancakes). It’s my grandma’s recipe, and when I made it for my mom, she closed her eyes and said the whole kitchen smelled the way she remembered it as a kid when her mother would make this for their family on Sundays. That meant more to me than any number of page views.

What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most?

These mini peanut butter cup cheesecakes were a big hit (both on the blog and in real life among my boyfriend’s fellow grad students).

But “healthy quinoa breakfast cookies” is also one of the top search terms that leads people to my blog, so these cookies have gotten a ton of great feedback as well!

What have you learned since you began blogging?

I’ve learned that it’s okay to mess up a recipe. It happens to everyone, and it doesn’t make you a bad blogger. It took a lot of guts for me to own up to a recipe flop—I had visions of people deleting me from their Google Readers, casting me aside as a talentless kitchen oaf (clearly I’m a little overdramatic). And I was totally shocked when several people actually thanked me for being truthful and for posting about the changes I might make to improve upon the recipe in the future. We’re all human, kids.

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

For me, the hardest thing has been not feeling like I have to live up to the standards set by the “big-time” bloggers. I don’t have a fancy camera (nor do I have the budget to add one to my arsenal at this point!), and I’m hardly ever home at a time when natural light is an option for my photos. But I love writing, and if I work hard to make sure the content I’m putting on my blog is engaging and well written, and truly captures my voice, then I’ll feel like I’m doing the best job I can with what’s available to me. And I hope people like to read my blog for that reason!

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

Bring your baked goods to the office (or lab, or neighbors). You will be everyone’s favorite person. You will be able to use this to your advantage at some point in the future. ;)

(In all seriousness: make the stuff you like. Don’t feel pressured to use quinoa just because everyone else is doing it if you think it tastes like dirt. And if you prefer your butter un-browned [though that’s just crazy talk], keep it that way. It’s your blog!)

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

Erin from The Spiffy Cookie

Christina from Dessert for Two

Caroline from Chocolate and Carrots

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Thanks Tara!

You can also find Tara on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

14 comments

  1. Loved an adventure into your daily life! And thanks for the feature request :-)

  2. aww Tara!! I’m glad you featured her! It’s fun to peer into the life of a New-Yorker! She’s one of the sweetest people I know and I’m so glad to have “e-met” her :)

  3. Hooray you interviewed Tara! I love her :)

  4. love the feature on Tara! It’s so fun to read more about my bloggy buddies here. =)

  5. Wow- love everything about this post! It also brings back so many great memories of my 9 years living in Boston without a dishwasher!! :-)

  6. Tara, I just love you. I’m not articulate enough this morning to explain all the reasons I think you’re darling and great, but I do. I’m glad that conversation had the effect it did, but I’m even more glad that you’re simply writing. For Chip Chip Hooray, and the post-college living stuff – you’re a talented writer, and I love to read your stuff!

  7. Love this series! Those cupcakes are making me salivate!

  8. I had such fun meeting Tara when I was in New York a few weeks ago and so I’m thrilled to see her here! Another great feature!

  9. Great interview and those mini peanut butter cup cheesecakes look so good!

  10. Tara is always one of my favorites to read! It always shocks me how people with a full time job can keep up a blog too!

  11. These interviews make me so happy — love Tara and Chip Chip Hooray! :)

  12. Fun interview! I can’t even imagine living in a world where you couldn’t nail things into the walls or paint.

  13. I love Tara and am so glad you featured her, definitely one of the sweetest bloggers I’ve met!

  14. I wish I had the oomph to get up and go to the drag myself out of bed to go to the gym in the morning! great interview

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