I’m happy to “know” Brenda and am so happy she let me pick her brain for today’s feature. In you’re not familiar with her blog, head on over there and check it out! Great variety of food and her photography never disappoints.
PS: It’s Brenda’s anniversary today!
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
Hi! I’m Brenda from a farmgirl’s dabbles. I grew up on a farm in South Dakota, and now live in Minnesota with my husband Blake and our two daughters, Hatti (10) and Tessa (5).
My blog was launched in April 2010, on Tessa’s birthday. It was my answer to my need for a creative outlet that would keep my focus on all things positive. I’ve always loved to play in the kitchen – baking, cooking, preserving, grilling – I love it all! The blog has turned into a very cherished place to share favorite recipes, family traditions, and stories, and I hope that our girls will view this blog as one big awesome scrapbook/cookbook some day. It’s been so much fun connecting with friends (old and new!) and family, all for the love of food!
Take me through your day.
6:00-6:30am – I set an alarm about 80% of the time, so I can be sure to get a jump start on the day, before the girls get up. Summers are usually more relaxed, though. Some mornings, especially during the summer, I get a walk/run in through the neighborhood.
7:30am – I eat breakfast and help the girls with their breakfast, although they are getting to be much more self sufficient and don’t require much help anymore.
8:00am – I work part-time outside of the home 2 days a week, so on those days, I’m out the door about this time. And the girls are off to school. Some mornings include school carpool for me.
8:30-9:00 – If I’m not at my job, my time at home is spent between the computer and the kitchen for the majority of the day. Music is usually on, as well as a pot of coffee. And when an errand or two, a possible appointment, and a load of laundry are thrown in…my day is spent!
3:30-4:00pm – During the school year, backpacks are being emptied and homework is being worked on.
4:45pm – I’m in supper prep mode. Blake enjoys preparing meals, too, and is awesome at the grill. We’ve always involved the girls with meal making and clean up, so they’re usually in the kitchen, right beside us. Music is switched to something more upbeat, and turned a notch or two louder. Wine might be involved, and even a little dancing, especially on the weekend.
5:30pm – Time to eat!
6:30pm – During the school year, lingering homework is finished up now. Depending on the day, there might be basketball practice, a piano lesson, piano and violin practice, church youth activities, etc. And hopefully this time involves a little family play time.
7:30pm – In the summer we have a much looser and later bedtime. But during the school year, this is when we start winding down for the night. The girls get their pj’s on, brush their teeth, and we all read together. Blake reads with one girl, and I with the other. And then we switch girls the following night. Reading consists of a daily devotion, followed by a book of their choice. Lights out by 8:30.
9:00pm –Although I’ve tried really hard to eliminate/shorten computer time after the girls go to bed, sometimes it’s just not possible. I might be at the computer for another hour or two now, depending on my schedule. It always feels so good (and rather indulgent!) to just turn off the computer and grab a book or magazine to read for an hour before going to sleep.
10:00-10:30pm – My usual lights out.
What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?
Just ONE?!?! I’d have to say my chef’s knife. I use it several times a day and would be lost without it. I love to chop, chop!
What is the most important part of your day? Why?
A quiet breakfast and devotion always gets me started on the right foot.
What is your favorite part of your day? Why?
Preparing for supper and then eating our meal together. The house smells good with the food we’ve made, and we have a chance to catch up and unwind.
What is your LEAST favorite part of the day? Why?
In general, I don’t like running here, there, and everywhere all the time. I like plenty of unscheduled time mixed into our routine.
If you could choose one room in your house to remodel (on an unlimited budget!) which room would it be and why?
Probably our kitchen/dining/sunroom space. We did a small remodeling of our late 60’s kitchen about 18 months ago.
Our aim was to create a more comfortable and appealing space, with more light, on a frugal budget. We kept existing cabinetry and painted it, and then installed new hardware. Upper cabinets over the peninsula that divided the kitchen and dining area were removed and replaced by hanging pendants. No more hitting our heads while chopping at the counter! Dated Formica was replaced, and undercabinet lighting was added all the way around. The remodeling made a HUGE difference in the quality of time we spend in the kitchen, without breaking the bank.
But, with an unlimited budget…I would love to enlarge the kitchen just a bit to add more counter space, and bump the connected dining area into the adjoining 3-season sunroom, as the dining space is pretty tight, especially when we entertain. Then put in new flooring to connect all 3 rooms. I can dream…
What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
I like Thursday evenings (my pre-weekend starter!) and live for Fridays. The work and school week is done, and we can spend more quality time together.
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 never tire of northern Minnesota lakes country. There’s just something about the lakes and trees and slower pace. I think I could seriously retire there.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go and how long would you stay?
Italy, for at least a month.
What is your favorite cookbook?
I could eat from Bobby Flay’s various grilling cookbooks every single day of the week. That boy knows grilling and big flavor!
What recipes on your blog do your readers seem to love most?
It makes me smile to know I’ve helped someone achieve a happy tummy! As we’re headed into fall, here are a few reader favorites for this time of year…
People LOVE the Lasagna Soup recipe. I also hear a lot about the Apple Bundt with Brown-Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze, the Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar, and the Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting.
What have you learned since you began blogging?
Blogging has been one HUGE learning experience for me, on so many levels. Technologically, creatively, socially, mentally, physically, spiritually…it has stretched me immensely. And I’ve learned that the only way this gig is going to work is if I’m being authentic for my readers, and authentic to myself. I have to be comfortable owning 100% of what I do.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of blogging?
Balancing blogging and family time. The kitchen and my computer are always close at hand, and sometimes it’s hard to pull away.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in cooking or food blogging?
Just start! There are so many different aspects to food blogging, and it can be downright overwhelming at times. But don’t let yourself get too bogged down by it all. It’s a continual learning process. Remember to have fun with it!
Thanks Brenda! Happy Anniversary! Hope you’re doing something fabulous to celebrate!