Today’s “a day in the life” is the fabulous Lauren of Climbing Grier Mountain. Lauren is not only an insanely talented cook and photographer but she’s one of those people who you just instantly “click” with. Or at least I did. And just online! We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting in person yet, but some day soon, right Lauren?
I think you guys are going to love Lauren just as much as I do. Enjoy this feature and stop by her blog and check out some of her fantastic recipes.
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
Climbing Grier Mountain (CGM) was not a food blog at first. No way?! Yes, way. The hubs (Mr. B) and I live in Denver, Colorado and started CGM as a way to stay connected with family and friends back home. For the first year, I blogged about our travels, my outfits at work, snow skiing adventures, the Denver Village, running marathons, and dining experiences in Denver. You know. . .the ins and outs and what-have-yous. By the second year, I wanted to expand CGM. I had a curious heart, a hungry belly, and I yearned for something more. At the time, I was still learning how to brown meat and trying to pronounce ai-o-li, so I figured, hey – if I can teach myself how to cook, maybe I can help everybody else do the same. Thus, Foodie Fridays was born. Each Friday I would post about a certain food topic. What is miso? How do you make a roux? What are the perks of ginger? I still remember walking into Whole Foods for the first time and freaking the *%#$ out. Ooooohh. . .that’s a strange-looking ingredient – let’s cook it up!
After a year of doing one food post a week and realizing I had true passion for cooking, I upped my food posts. I still blog about travels and a few life-in-general things here and there, but now the site centers around food. And that’s how CGM came to be a food blog. No way?! Yes, way.
6:00 AM: Alarm goes off. One beep and I’m generally up and out of bed. The other half. . .not so much. Mr. B is the cuddler in our household. By the time he hits snooze a dozen times and I finally peel him off me, it’s about 6:30 am.
6:35 AM: I head downstairs in my p.j’s. (usually in one of Mr. B’s college tees and some Old Navy yoga pants). I make a pot of coffee and turn on my laptop. I do all of my blogging in our living room. We have a den and an actual desk in our house, but since I sit at a desk all day for my “other job,” the last place I want to be at 6:30 in the morning is at a desk. I review the day’s post to make sure that everything is grammatically correct and Paula Deen kosher. I hit “publish” and take a sip of coffee, and spend the next 25 minutes tweeting, checking emails, and catching up on news.
7:00 AM: Mr. B heads downstairs and I take a break from tweeting and doing “internet” things. I make us breakfast – generally oatmeal smoothies, lunch – turkey sandwich for him/salad for her, and coffee for him to go.
7:20 AM: Back at the computer for more tweeting, commenting on blogs, checking emails, researching recipes, writing grocery lists, writing a to-do list within a to-do list, noticing that I need to water our plants – reminding myself again that this is the reason we don’t have children.
7:41 AM: By this time, I realize I have to get ready for my real job. Since I shower at night, it’s a quick blow dry, curl, apply the makeup, throw some slacks and an oxford on type of routine.
8:00 AM: Head back downstairs to do a final check on tweets, emails, and social media thing-ys.
8:15 AM: Grab my lunch and workout bag, press start on the dishwasher, do one quick look in the hallway bathroom mirror to make sure I don’t have any boogers in my nose, and I am out the door.
8:50 AM: Arrive at my day job. I work for a private investment firm doing finance-y things.
9:00 AM to Noon: Conference calls, emails, meetings, more meetings, reminding people to $AVE their Benjamins.
Noon to 12:30 PM: I work through lunch and use this time to outline and format a blog post in my mind for the next day. It’s a nice escape to use the other side of the brain for a bit.
12:30 PM to 5 PM: Back to the grind. More meetings, conference calls, and quietly advising people that “Blue horseshoe loves Endicott steel”.
5:15 PM: Peace-out from work and, depending on the day, either run around the park or attend a body sculpt class. It’s Monday, so off to the park I go.
6:30 PM: Arrive home, unload groceries if I stopped by the store, unload dishwasher, turn on Bravo for background noise (Oh, silly Gretchen from RHOC, Slade will never change), pick up around the house, and begin to prep dinner.
7:00 PM: Bubbling, cheesy naan pizza comes out of the oven just in time for Mr. B to walk in the door. Re-entry for us is very important. We always ask each other “How was your day, dear?” Sometimes it’s short and sweet, other nights take a little longer. Important marriage advice: constantly communicate and never assume.
7:15 PM: We make a plate and eat dinner. I would love to say that we are very Leave-It-to-Beaver type, eating properly from a table and discussing politics, but we’re not. We’re more Simpson’s style, and eat on the couch while watching How I Met Your Mother. Someday we’ll become civilized on the weeknights and use TV trays.
8:15 PM: After dinner, or in between shows we are watching (Boardwalk Empire, Two Broke Girls, Sons of Anarchy), I get back on the computer and catch up on emails, answer comments from today’s post, edit pictures, and/or complete tomorrow’s post. Phew!
10:00 PM: Take a hot shower and crawl into bed with my iPad. Read the news, read more food blogs, or stalk people on Facebook.
10:45 PM: Kiss Mr. B goodnight and lights OUT.
What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?
Hmmm….I have two, to be exact. The first one is more of a mental tool that I think is important: Curiosity. Curiosity is a powerful tool that many people forget to tap into sometimes. I try to ask myself, “Why? What if? Do you think…? Let’s see if that will go in there!” As a food blogger, it’s as important of a tool as a sharp kitchen knife.
The second tool is my 11-inch All-Clad skillet. It’s the Cadillac of skillets, as far as I’m concerned. You can do anything and everything under the sun in it (well, you can’t make out in its back seat, but hey, use your imagination).
What is the most important part of your day? Why?
My afternoon jogs around the park. Running for me has always been therapeutic. I spend an hour sorting through life problems, solving said problems, brainstorming recipes, and organizing life goals. It’s the one time of day I’m not interrupted and free to let my mind wander.
What is your favorite part of your day? Why?
Cooking dinner. I love the ceremony of coming home, pouring myself a glass of red wine, chopping vegetables, sauteing a little chorizo, boiling pasta, and just breathing for a moment.
What is your LEAST favorite part of the day? Why?
I despise- no, loathe the day between 4 and 5pm. I get the insta-“sleeps” when the clock strikes four, and I become the least productive person in our office. Plus, it’s not quite cocktail or dinner time, and my stomach gets confused. Can we just permanently cancel this ridiculous time slot?
If you could choose one room in your house to spend the WHOLE day in, which room would it be? Why?
I wouldn’t say this is an area I would “hang” out in. In fact, it would be rather hard to hang out on a wall unless you’re repelling down (note to self: buy repelling equipment on Amazon). But!… I do enjoy coming home and entering our house and seeing the graffiti wall. Even though we are just renting (we never know where Mr. B’s job will take us next), I like looking at all the colors the artist painted. It reminds me that it’s okay to mix things up!
What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
Saturday mornings. I love naturally waking up and feeling the warm rays of sun on my face. Plus, knowing there is a full day of endless possibilities makes me giddy. This is also the time I get to spend cuddling with Mr. B. I’m a romantic at heart, so those precious moments when you aren’t quite awake and are just lying there are priceless to me.
If you had to choose one place to travel to every year, where would it be? Why? Have you been there before?
Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri. I have been visiting this lake since I was a little girl and couldn’t imagine a summer without water skiing, barbecuing, swimming, or cruising around the lake. It’s my true happy place.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go and how long would you stay?
I would go to New Zealand. Mr. B and I almost went a couple of years ago, but couldn’t make it work because of schedules. I would spend two weeks, first on the south island snow skiing and doing mountain adventure things in Queenstown. The next week I’d head to the north island and be a beach bum in Tauranga and learn how to surf. So, this is where you tell me I won a free trip, right?!!!
What is your favorite quote or verse?
My favorite quote is from a fellow you might have heard of Einstein. . .
You know, the guy with the crazy white hair who sticks his tongue out a lot? Anyways, I love this quote: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” I constantly have to remind myself to not judge others nor myself by success, but by our value. I think it’s important to ask ourselves, “what am I leaving behind? Am I leaving the world in better shape than I found it?” It’s a good soul-searching quote.
What is your favorite cookbook?
Jeez, that’s a tough one! I have so many that I cook out of, but if I had to choose right this second I would pick Jacques Pepin’s New Complete Techniques. I’m a nerd when it comes to learning. Give me a history or how-to book and I’ll sit on the couch for hours reading. If you don’t have this book, I highly recommend picking it up. Jacques teaches you everything from culinary basics to how to make carrot butterflies. I mean, who doesn’t want to make epic carrot butterflies?!
What recipe on your blog are you most proud of?
I would have to say my North African Spiced Harissa. Besides harissa becoming the new ketchup (just you wait!), the story that goes along with this recipe makes me proud. I loved telling how Mr. B traveled to Libya, with the country in mass chaos, and found a cure for homesickness in harissa.
What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most?
People definitely went bonkers over my sweet potato tots with sriracha aioli. It was nice to know that people were on Team Tot. #tots4life
What is your guilty food pleasure that you’re embarrassed to fess up to?
Even though I am not a huge dessert person, I would totally eat my through an entire box of Nutty Bars. Little Debbie definitely knows how to go for my sugar jugular.
What have you learned since you began blogging?
I mentioned this when I celebrated my third blogiversary a while back, but it’s worth mentioning again. Besides learning about html coding, DFP, rss feeds, and widgets, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to accept myself, good or bad. This was a tough pill to swallow. I have to remind myself daily to put my best foot forward, because you never know what will happen or who it will affect. This blog has been the perfect vehicle to allow me to get to know myself. When you think about it for a moment, it’s kind of amazing what a blank, white space can do for the soul.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of blogging?
Being present. As a food blogger, it’s very easy to check Instagram, Facebook, tweet something that just happened, pin something on Pinterest, 24/7. I constantly have to remind myself to watch a TV show or read a book without picking up my iPhone. To sit and be present in the moment changes everything and eventually will keep you from going Glenn Close fatal attraction crazy.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in cooking or food blogging?
Two things. 1) Have conviction. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, no one else will. 2). Be your biggest cheerleader. This was a hard one for me to grasp, because I felt like a used car salesman at first, always trying to promote myself and the blog. It’s seventh grade puberty awkward, but eventually it makes sense.
Who would you like to see featured here in the future?
– Laurie from Simply Scratch
– Ali from Gimme Some Oven
– Stephanie from Girl Versus Dough
Loved, loved, loved getting to know more about you, Lauren! You’re so wise! :)