Today’s “a day in the life” is the darling Emily of Jelly Toast. Jelly Toast is a relatively new blog to me, but as soon as I stumbled upon it, I was hooked. I recommend Emily’s blog to everyone now. For the writing, for the photos, for the food. It’s a good one!

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Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.

I was born, raised and still live in Northwest Ohio, so it’s safe to say, I’m an Ohio girl, through and through. I graduated from college with a degree in Art Education (after a brief stint as a photography major), got married to my amazing husband and taught art full time for a couple of years before having my 2 kiddos (also known as The Buddy and The Baby).

Food and photography have been passions of mine for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until last year that the two collided. Having gotten frustrated that I had lost some of my creative outlet, I started playing around with food photography. I loved to cook, and had recently discovered that baking was a lot more fun than I had previously realized, so I figured why not try taking some pictures of all the food I made. I read Helen Dujardin’s Plate to Pixel (which is incredible, by the way) and got to clicking. I have never looked back. I was completely hooked. (Disclosure: Plate to Pixel is an affiliate link. If you choose to purchase the book you’ll be glad you did and as a bonus, E & N will be 10 cents closer to college. Thanks–much love, Rachel. Back to Emily now.)

I’ve always loved beautiful pictures of food, and have been pretty much obsessed with a capital ‘O’ with all of the gorgeous photos in my Martha magazines. I’m talking, I’ve had a subscription to MSL and Everyday Food since college, and I still find myself paging through, lost in all of the color and light (not to mention the enviable prop stash that they must have).

After a couple of months of playing around with food photography and studying my favorite food photographers (read: surfing my favorite food blogs) I took the plunge and started Jelly Toast in August of 2012. I remember standing in my sister-in-law’s driveway discussing a cookbook we had both recently read (she loves cooking and baking as much as I do) and saying, ‘I’m thinking of starting a food blog’. Her response was, ‘I’d totally read that’. And she does (I think).

Take me through your day. 
Emily Caruso_profile pic

Now that summer is upon us, my days are a little different than during the school year. Here is how a typical summer day seems to go at my house:

5:45 – wake up to the alarm. Hit snooze until 6:15 6:30.

6:30 – drag myself out of bed, throw on some exercise clothes and head to the basement to work out. This usually consists of one of my impressive collection of Jillian Michael’s DVD’s. Lately, 30 Day Shred is back in the rotation.

6:45 – Try to entertain The Baby, who has wandered downstairs, while finishing my work out. Not an easy task. She usually ‘works out’ with me, which just means she gives me mini heart attacks when she gets too close while I’m rocking my kick boxing moves.

7:00 – Make a quick cup of coffee (I love me some Keurig), get The Baby set up with a little episode of Daniel Tiger while I run and take a speedy shower. Then The Buddy usually wakes up.

7:30 – Make breakfast for the kiddos (and me). This usually consists of Cheerios (with milk for The Baby, without milk for The Buddy) and a bowl of fruit. A couple times a week, I’ll break out the waffle maker or the griddle for some chocolate chip pancakes. In the winter, we rock oatmeal almost every morning.

8:30 – Play time for the kiddos: this usually consists of playing restaurant, reenacting Wild Kratt episodes, or crafting. Computer and coffee time (2nd cup) for me: Social media, finishing touches on blog posts, photo editing, etc. Whatever needs to be done that day.

10:00 – Water plants, flowers and herbs.

10:30 – Run errands: grocery, library, Costco, play dates, etc.

12:00 – Return home for lunch and to put all of the groceries away. We’re no strangers to Annie’s Mac and Cheese ‘round these parts.

1:30 – Play outside: This time is spent either in our own yard on the play set or over at my parents’ pool. That’s one of the best things about summer, the pool!

3:00 – Do a bit of cooking for blog posts (with the kiddos). Photograph the food. The beautiful thing about summer is the light is much more available for later afternoon shooting. Gotta love that. If cooking isn’t needed right then, a little more work at the computer. This is usually accompanied by my 3rd cup of coffee. It’s a problem.

4:30 – Get dinner started (if it wasn’t the dish I was cooking at 3:00) and photograph it if it’s going to get blogged. Is blogged a word? I think it is.

5:00 – My husband comes home and hangs out with the kiddos while I finish up dinner/photographing etc.

6:00 – Eat the dinner – hopefully, outside on the patio if weather permits

7:00 – Go on a little bike ride around the block. This is usually my husband and I walking around the block while the kiddos pedal away on their little bikes. You can expect a spill or two, but very few tears. They’re tough little cookies.

8:00 – Showers, stories, prayers and bedtime for the kiddos.

8:30 – A bit more blogging work – writing, photo editing, etc.

9:00 – Hang out and relax with my husband watching whatever show we’re into at the moment. Perhaps enjoy a cocktail that my husband has whipped up while I was finishing blog work. Love those nights.

11:00 – Set out my workout clothes for the next morning and go to bed.

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

My chef’s knife. I actually could use a new one, but I use it every single time I cook.

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

Stepping away from the blog world to spend time and share snuggles with my kiddos. Blogging can be consuming, and it’s so important that I don’t lose sight of the fact that I’m here for them first.

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

Listening to my kiddos play together. They come up with some of the most creative and hilarious games (they opened up a muffin shop last week that was only open on Tuesdays – an interesting business model, for sure). And to hear and see them play so well together makes my heart happy.

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

The reverse of #5 complete with hurt feelings and tears.

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

My kitchen! And I pretty much do. I just need a computer in there and I’d be all set. A cozy chair would be nice, too.

Emily Caruso_kitchen photo

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

I would save my unlimited remodel budget and put it toward our next house in order to build my dream Party Barn. Yes, I have a dream of a party barn, ala Ina Garten complete with a space for parties, guest rooms and photography studio. Oh yes, I definitely have plans.

What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

This is a hard one. I’d have to go with Friday. We have great family nights on Fridays. The kiddos have soccer (which we all go to) and then we usually hit up Cold Stone on the way home. It feels like a weekend, with the bonus of actually having the entire weekend to still look forward to.

Favorite quote?

Anything from Friends.

What is your favorite cookbook?

This is like Sophie’s Choice…

What recipe on your blog are you most proud of? 

Asparagus and Shallot Salad. This was the first recipe that featured my new camera and also the start of finding my healthy self again.

Asparagus and Shallot Salad_Emily Caruso

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

The Salty Dog. This is the post that has the most page views on my whole blog. There are some others that are close, but this one was a hit right off the bat.

SONY DSC

What is your guilty food pleasure that you’re embarrassed to fess up to? Kraft Mac & Cheese? Spagetti-o’s? Canned cheese? We promise not to judge!

Does eating handfuls of chocolate chips count? Because I totally do that.

What have you learned since you began blogging?

Be yourself. It is something that I have come around on, but it seems to be that that is what will make you the most happy, and that’s what this is all about, right?

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

Time management and making myself be disconnected from the social media/blogging world for periods of time during the day. Blogging can be extremely consuming and while it’s very rewarding, time can be sucked away messing around on Facebook or Instagram and you end up missing life’s real moments. I’m learning to punch out and put my phone down.

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

Do your best. Don’t get swept up in what everyone else is doing. Do what you want and do it the very best you can.

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

Kate from Foodbabbles

Maya from Alaska From Scratch

Carey from Reclaiming Provincial

Jodi from What’s Cooking Good Looking

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

I think that’s probably a lot to digest for now. Anytime you’d like to hear more, swing by and we’ll chat and have a (virtual) cup of coffee. Thanks so much, Rachel, for having me over today!!

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Thanks Emily! I’m going to come hang out with you in your party barn when it is complete.  Also–I’m a huge Friends fan and I totally eat handfuls of chocolate chips too. Let’s be friends.

You can find more of Emily on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.