Today’s “a day in the life” is the gorgeous and talented Monique of Ambitious Kitchen. I met Monique in March and then had the pleasure of spending time with her again in July at our Sharing by the Shore retreat. Monique is SO gorgeous, SO talented and SO creative that she might appear super intimidating at first glance. But spend more than 30 seconds with her and you’ll find a kind, down-to-earth, hilarious individual, who just so happens to be an amazingly driven and smart business woman. I’m so lucky to call Monique a friend and am happy to finally be introducing her to you! I’m excited to follow along as she continues to grow her blog into the business of her dreams and I hope you’ll hop over to her site to take in the (healthy!) recipes and fun posts.
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
I started Ambitious Kitchen in 2011 after seeing a few blogs that I admired. I had just graduated college and wanted a place to share my ambitions for a balanced lifestyle that included clean eating and baking indulgences. It quickly became my passion and I haven’t looked back since. I quit my full time job in September of 2014 to focus on AK and I LOVE IT.
Take me through your day.
My days vary because of the nature of my job. I’m usually a night owl, but here’s my typical day if I’m working on recipe development:
- 7:00AM: Wake up, go to a workout class
- 8:30AM Make breakfast
- 9:00AM Walk to the grocery store (usually Trader Joe’s)
- 10:00AM Prep first recipe
- 10:45AM Answer emails, respond to comments online
- 11:30AM Photograph first recipe and clean up the kitchen
- 12:00PM Lunch at my favorite local cafe
- 1:30PM Prep second recipe
- 2:30PM Photoshoot for second recipe
- 3:30PM Check email again, respond to more comments or social, have an afternoon call
- 4:00PM Laundry (I do laundry ALLLL the time.)
- 5:00PM Work on writing or editing recipes or spend some time on Pinterest
- 7:00PM Make or grab dinner (Depends what I made earlier in the day.)
- 9:00PM Work on editing and writing recipes for the next week
- 11:00PM Watch something on TV. (Right now I’m addicted to House of Cards and the Americans!)
- 12:30PM Go to bed
For me, no day is the same. Sometimes I have appointments or days where I get my nails done, etc. Other times, I’m traveling so I keep up with the blog when I’m on the plane. I do a majority of my writing at night because I enjoy it. There are also days where I’ll workout in the evenings so that I can sleep in a little extra in the mornings.
What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?
What are the top 5 essential items in your fridge?
- Almond milk
- Fresh fruit and veggies
- Plain Greek Yogurt
What are the top 5 essential items in your freezer?
- Meat (chicken or turkey)
- Frozen bananas and berries
- Frozen veggies (especially broccoli!)
- Homemade breakfast burritos
- Skinny Cow Ice Cream Cones
What are the top 5 essential items in your pantry?
- Peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- Coconut oil
- Flour (any and all kinds)
- Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn (Slightly sweet)
- Quest or Kind bars
What is your favorite part of your day? Why?
My favorite part of my day is probably creating a recipe and (hopefully) having it turn out. I get excited about bringing something new and different to my readers. I also love to enjoy morning walks to Trader Joe’s; I could spend hours there.
What is your LEAST favorite part of the day? Why?
My least favorite part is cleaning my kitchen or paying bills. HATE it.
What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
My favorite day of the week is either Thursday or Sunday. Thursdays because it’s almost the weekend and I love indulging in my favorite fro yo, watching a movie and relaxing with a bowl of popcorn or heading out for a night in Chicago! Sundays because I’m excited for the rest of the week.
If you had to choose one place to travel to every year, where would it be? Why? Have you been there before?
Byron Bay, Australia or Whitsunday Islands, Australia. I lived in Australia and have been to both. They are my two favorite places in the world and hold a special place in my heart. I love the adventure and beauty of Byron Bay including the whtie sandy beaches and hippie atmosphere. Whitsunday Islands is full of adventure — we rented a Catamaran and sailed for a few nights on the ocean – best experience ever.
What is your favorite quote or verse?
“Be daring, be different. Be impractical. Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers. The commonplace. The slaves of the ordinary.” -Cecil Beaton
What is your favorite cookbook?
What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most?
(Note from Rachel – I’ve made this salad and it’s wonderful!)
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!
McDonald’s Ice Cream Cones. Or White Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (not cups)
What have you learned since you began blogging?
Be true to who you are and what you believe in. You don’t have to follow what everyone else is doing or making. I make recipes that I would eat and they always come from the heart. I love creating healthier meals and treats because I believe we should lead a balanced lifestyle. That is the challenge for me and without it I wouldn’t be as interested in being a blogger. Find what you love and do exactly that.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of blogging?
Keeping up with social media, marketing, emails, etc. Sometimes it’s just too much to tackle in a day.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in cooking or food blogging?
Ask questions, read books, immerse yourself in a similar career. Also, use Google. There are plenty of resources out there for people who want to start a food blog. Do not hesitate to do it, just start and be CONSISTENT!
Thanks for telling us about yourself, Monique – I’m surprised your guilty pleasure food isn’t BW3’s.