The secret life of a Food Blogger…… | Guest Writer Claire from Sprinkles & Sprouts

I am running around like a headless chicken. I have 30 minutes to vacuum the floor, hang the washing out and clear away the breakfast things before I start work.

I get it done, but I know there is still dust behind the sofa……hell there is dust on the side table too. I really should strip the beds whilst the sun is shining, but I also have a load of towels that need to wash. But it all has to wait….I have 5 hours before school pick up.

And now starts the craziness. I have a four recipes to re-test, three extra recipes to shoot and one recipe to write up, post and social media the bejesus out of.

I hit social media, the US is still awake and I can get some good traction on yesterdays post. I check my stats, they are down on last week. I curse the summer body diet, no one wants gooey cheese and potatoes when they are trying to get into a bikini. Well apart from me, I always want cheese….and anyway do they even make bikinis in a size 18? I admit I haven’t looked! Why would I…I love cheese!

I find all the salads on my blog…it doesn’t take long. I schedule them out to hit pinterest overnight. Thank you tailwinds I love that you do the work whilst I get some sleep!

I continue my push for social media domination, until facebook decides I have cleared posted too much. It deletes my latest comment as soon as I hit enter. Time to walk away from the computer before they ban me for 3 days….It happened once, it wasn’t pretty!

Fast forward two hours as I burn my wrist getting a tray out the oven and drop the tray over the floor. Looking at the brown sugar glazed bacon chicken bites, I want to cry……I know they are good, I have made them so many times before, but I was so looking forward to them. I pick them off the floor, and start to place them back on the tray. They are no longer fit to eat but they will still take a decent photo….at least all isn’t wasted.

I tell myself not to feel bad. It isn’t like I am throwing away edible food. I am certain there is dog hair on that bit….hmmm maybe I will give that one straight to the dog….At least someone gets to enjoy them. Start to wonder if a dog should have bacon and brown sugar…too late she has demolished the bits left on the floor….I still have enough…just….. I’ may have to crop the photo slightly and maybe rearrange them on the plate, take a second photo and merge the two! Or I can wait until the weekend when I’ll make them again when our neighbours come over……

Later I open the fridge to grab the cheese for a hot dip…..it has vanished! I know I bought some, I have the receipt and I have already scanned it into my computer ready to file for tax. Someone has eaten my bloody cheese!!!! Tell myself I really need a seperate fridge…hell I really need a seperate office with kitchen, studio and computer space. Remind myself I have already costed that out and there are so many other things we could do with that money. Like take the kids to Europe for Christmas, let them spend a wintery Christmas with their grandparents. Tell myself that I am a selfish mother and I should stop moaning about a sodding block of cheese and a massive fridge. Feel shit so steal the last white chocolate lindt easter egg. Fingers crossed the kids don’t notice!

I pack the dishwasher, open the cupboard and realise there are no tablets left. Bugger!!! I have a kitchen of dirty dishes and 3 recipes left to cook. I squirt washing up liquid into the dishwasher, press go and hope for the best.

I run outside to cut some fresh basil…one of the only plants my lovely goat hasn’t decimated!!! I’m in my ‘work uniform’ aka black yoga pants and a white vest top, I didn’t do my hair this morning and yesterdays mascara is still streaked across my face, just as I reach the vegetable garden I hear a “g’day”. It’s Fred, the postie, and as I take our mail and make small talk, all the time I am thinking, “This is the forth day in a row he has seen me in what are essentially pj’s. I bet he thinks I never get dressed!”

I go in and put my bra on…a little too late but I resolve tomorrow to have it on before he arrives!!!!

No time to think about. I have a pasta dish to shoot. The plate is wrong, the napkin is wrong, the light is just urgh and no matter what I do I cannot make this amazing delicious dish look amazing! I want to cry. It is 1:45 and I have less than an hour of my working day left.

I take a million shots from 10 different angles and hope for the best. I’ll fix in post later. I mute the voice inside that says ‘you’ll have to spend 10 times as long editing these. You haven’t got the hero shot’ I continue to ignore her as I grab the so perfectly placed fork and shovel now slightly cold pasta into my mouth. MAN I LOVE CARBS

The buzzer goes and I run from my studio back to the kitchen to remove a chicken from the oven and slip the baked cheesecake in. I forget to turn the heat down….I remember as I am half way through shooting the chicken. I run back to the kitchen. Turn the oven down and head back to my shoot. If the cheesecake isn’t ruined at least I can tell the readers my funny story and let them know that 10 minutes in an oven that is 30ºC too hot, makes no difference.

I finished my chicken, reach for a gorgeous cake platter that I picked up in an op shop in Donnybrook, it slips and smashes to the floor. Damn you roast chicken and your greasy goodness!!! Had I not stolen a sneaky bite, I might still have my beautiful platter. I look at the broken base and wonder, can I glue it? Or will it always show. Will I spend every shoot trying to position the platter just so. I can’t decide and I have no time, so I shove it back on my props shelving and reach for another platter. Cheesecake shoot here we come.

My school alarm goes and I am just finished. My kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it and I can see bubbles escaping from the bottom of the dishwasher (note to self don’t use washing up liquid in the dishwasher again!)

No time to worry about that now, I have two cherubs to pick up.

I plug my phone in and dictate myself a blog post as I drive to school. I’m a little late, the bell hasn’t gone but the car park is rammed! I squeeze my tiny car into a space that everyone else couldn’t use and smile a slightly smug smile. The smile doesn’t last long. As I get out of the car I realise I have cheesecake mixture on my yoga pants and something brown on my vest. Hmmmm I think it is is bourbon maple glaze from my roast chicken dish. But hey at least I went and put that bra on!

No time to think about it, I walk to my sons classroom, sunglasses firmly over my eyes, avoiding any eye contact. I am thinking about the 20 things I need to do later. Planning my evening. I don’t have time to small talk…plus I hate it.

No luck, the small brigade of Mum’s who just make me feel bad are there in force. Today they need us ‘stay at home mums’ to spend a day painting a fence. I grit my teeth, say sorry I can’t spare the time and walk away from ‘the look’.

What a day!

I catch one of my besties smile, I am about to say hi, when our other bestie appears. They know!!My clothes and hair say it all “We still on for gin night on Saturday?” “Hell yes!”…my day gets a little better.

Then the classroom door opens and my youngest whirlwind sprints towards me and gives me the biggest of hugs. My day is 1000% improved.

I get back to the car and my eldest (who is now too cool and too old to be collected from his classroom…..where did that time go!!!!) says “You look messy Mummy, I bet there is some good food for afternoon tea” my day improves again.

Homework, washing, kids dinner. 8pm all quiet. I re-heat the bourbon roast chicken for Stew. He is over the moon happy with it, licks his lips and smiles when I tell him there is cheesecake for dessert. “You look after us so well”

I smile as I sit down at my desk, I reply to a few emails, message my business coach and start some sharing and marketing of my latest post. It is after 11pm when I am done.

I walk to the bathroom to have a shower, and as the water washes over me I think ‘Damn my day was good’!!!!

More of the same tomorrow…..

—————

It isn’t easy working for yourself and it isn’t easy working from home. But when I decided that my little blog was going to become my full-time business I made myself a promise, I would give it my best. I would work my ass off to make it a success. And hey if it didn’t succeed at least I could say I gave it everything I had. I’ve had some very tough times, time I really didn’t think I would bounce back from. But I kept slogging away, working, learning and never giving up.

I am lucky. I had a support network.

I have some beautiful friends who can lift my day just by smiling (and mentioning gin). They always take my food handouts and I know I can meet them and just feel better about myself.

I have a wonderful business coach, who believed in me from the beginning. Who gave me so many tips that I should probably be making her a cake on a weekly basis.

I have met some amazing bloggers who share and support each other, we are spread over the world, and even though some of us have never met in person, we are like one big office of co-workers. Seriously the world of bloggers is a supportive place.

I have a family who support what I do, supported me in the beginning when I couldn’t take photos and when 200 views a day was the most I ever thought I would get.
A family who appreciate the food, which is the point of it all. Without the food I would just be a girl with a computer and not much to say! I also have a partner who will work way into the night to fix an issue for me, because he knows I am stressed, he knows it matters to me and he is my tech guy!

Finding the support is vital, you may run our own businesses but you aren’t not an island, you don’t have to be cut off. Find your group, your village, your possie. Whatever you want to call it.

FIND THE PEOPLE WHO WILL RISE YOU UP.

Find them and love them, hold on to them and push for your dreams.

Your village will make a difference, for me they gave me something so very valuable…something I couldn’t have found on my own. They gave me self belief.

I am still learning it and I still have moments of doubt, moments when I judge myself, moments when I think I am not good enough.

But when I feel like that I remind myself, I knew nothing when I started. I learnt a whole new computer programme, I learnt to take a decent photo, I learnt to edit photos, I built up my knowledge of SEO in the every changing landscape of Google, I hit pinterest by storm and racked up 2 million monthly viewers. I did that and I am a little bit proud.

So, yes, working from home for yourself isn’t easy, but with the support of people who love you….you can achieve your dreams.

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My Birth Story | Guest Writer Kimberley Major

In 2015, our first daughter’s entry into the world left me feeling helpless, anxious, questioning my body and womanhood and feeling cheated of a beautiful birth experience like I’d read and heard about so many times. I was induced at 11 days past my due date and after 12 hours of labour and many attempts to stabilise her heart rate, our daughter was born via emergency caesarean. I felt like I had failed her from the outset and I fell into a spiral of anxiety, fearing I’d ‘stuff up’ with her somehow and this time wouldn’t be so lucky. After counselling, support from my husband, family and friends, a lot of self-care and empowering myself through research, we decided to plan a VBAC when we fell pregnant with our second daughter. My husband and I attended VBAC workshops, worked alongside a student midwife and wrote a birthplan – including both VBAC and repeat caesarean wishes.

My main goal for my second labour and delivery was, that no matter how she was to arrive, I would get those first precious, goopy cuddles with her that I missed with our first daughter as she arrived struggling to breathe and required a lot of attention for what seemed like an eternity. She was all cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket by the time I got to hold her for the first time in recovery, and as precious as that moment was, I knew my hands had not been the first to be wrapped around her. My other main focus in my birth plan was that I wouldn’t be by myself in theatre. Of course, if it was needed (as with our first birth) my husband would go with baby so she was not on her own. This was a huge part of deciding to have a student midwife share our journey. I had hoped I would at least have her, should my husband need to be with baby. With our first daughter’s birth, I was left in a room of strangers, not knowing where my baby or my husband were or how my baby was. So, with these two main goals in mind, we waited for our second baby’s arrival.

I was pressured early on by the visiting obstetrician who performed scheduled caesareans, to book a date for a week before my due date. I was ok with having another caesarean if it came to that, but I was not ok with not giving my body a chance to do its thing. I declined at each appointment to schedule a date in. My due date was the 18th June and, on the 15th June, I reluctantly went along to my final appointment, knowing I would need to book in the following week for a repeat caesarean if baby had not arrived. I got out of the car as my husband pulled into the car park and as I stood in the hospital carpark and waited for him to join me, I felt a sudden pop and a gush down my legs. I looked down and my leggings were drenched through from top to bottom. My body had done it.

We were about to embark on our VBAC journey!

After a quick visit with the midwives to confirm my waters had in fact broken in the carpark, we returned home where I laboured, surrounded by my homemade birth affirmations, essential oils, my big baby girl and my husband. Into the late evening, my surges intensified and were getting closer and closer together. We phoned my student midwife who had been sitting exams all day and she suggested we meet at the hospital. We called my mum and she came to stay with our daughter. Little did I know that when Daddy had put her to bed that night, it would signify the end of our breastfeeding journey together – at 27 months she was still feeding to sleep most nights but that night began a new bedtime routine for her and her decision to not have any more milky cuddles.

Things went smoothly once we were settled in the birth suite and I continued to labour through the night and into the morning, with our impending bundle happily working her way down to meet us. Not once was there concern over her wellbeing, which gave me such fuel to ride each surge, knowing she was safe and coping well. At the morning change of shift, we got a beautiful new midwife and we discussed our birth wishes with her. She was so warm and nurturing and I felt completely at ease with her. I decided I wanted to have an epidural, hoping that it would ease the insane back labour I had been having for hours and it worked a treat. I could still feel my contractions but it took the edge off the back pain and allowed me some rest time.

Just after 10am, I suddenly got stabbing pains very low down. I was in more agony than I was with contractions and when my midwife came to check where the pain was, it was at my scar. My OB was called and after a quick check of what was happening, she said I was at 10cms and ready to push but that she feared I was having a uterine rupture. A Category 1 emergency caesarean was called. I thought my first birth had been a whirlwind when it came to surgery… it had nothing on this time. There were suddenly midwives and doctors rushing in and out of the room, loud machines were placed around my legs as we were being wheeled out (as there wasn’t time to put the very classy compression tights on) and before I knew it we were in the brightly lit surgery and I felt tugging and every single movement (not pain but so much movement, which I didn’t remember from the first time) while it was happening.

Because she was basically ready to rock, they needed to really dig around with forceps in my pelvis to get her out.

Very quickly, our beautiful midwife we had shared the morning with was suddenly up at my chest and her words ring so clearly as she cut my gown from me ‘I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but I don’t care!’ She pulled my gown down and at 10.19am on 16th June 2017, a goopy, warm and perfectly healthy little girl was placed on my chest! I was the first to hold her close at just seconds old and for the rest of my life, this precious memory will be etched in my mind. I continued to hold our daughter close and feed her when she went looking for a boob while the minutes ticked by and had no idea as to what was unfolding behind the curtain. They didn’t interrupt us for any measuring or checks, we just got to hold her close and take in the fact she was here and safe. Over an hour passed by and they weighed and measured her with my husband as we were getting ready to head out to recovery.

When we got back out to recovery we were told that my scar had thinned excessively, to the point of rupture and I had haemorrhaged during my surgery. I didn’t quite process it at this time, but I was very lucky. Recovery was not wonderful as my body had a lot to heal from but my labour and birth experience was so very different to my first and it was so healing in so many ways. I felt like my body had done what it needed to this time. I got to live out the labour I prepared for for months – labouring in and out of the bath at home, with my big baby girl by my side and surrounded by my positive birth space and despite the rush in the end, the whole experience had been relaxed and beautiful (well, as beautiful as labour can be!!)

And the hugest saving grace, was that skin to skin I got as soon as she was out. For my midwife to encompass how precious and vital that was for me, I cannot put into words. She gifted me so much healing in those moments and I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m also so grateful for the fact we have this life saving procedure and that my girls and myself are safely here today because I was able to have a caesarean. I don’t regret our decision to plan a VBAC. And we came so very, very close to fulfilling it. But in the end, the whole experience was a beautiful, healing and positive one and brought us the most perfect little Everley Kate.

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Eat Less Sugar… cause you’re already sweet enough! | Guest Writer “Mumma O”

Mumma O was born in 2013 when I was pregnant with my son. I’d been experimenting with raw sweets for about a year and decided I wanted to share a few of my recipes via Facebook and grow my collection. My purpose was to also better nourish myself during pregnancy as well as slowly developing recipes for my little guy once he was earth side and ready to eat. I launched my page and within a week I already had 1,000 followers. Over next 4 years I shared recipes, photos, kitchen tips and tricks, hosted numerous workshops and sampling evening, gave out samples, ran market stalls, hosted competitions and was a guest at local events.

I”ll never forget the market stall I shared with a friend at 34 weeks pregnant with my second child. I had to arrange my morning and find somebody to look after my 2 year old son firstly (I get mad mumma guilts!). It was a freak 38 degree day and we were set up on the black bitumen car park. It was so hot under our tent and these markets had recently been moved from a really successful spot. The new spot however was not so successful and I made $150 profit. 6 hours of setting up and packing up and standing in the sun (not to mention all the work it took to make all my product). That was my last market. Having raw treats in markets is a challenge in itself to keep anything from melting and spoiling, let alone being heavily pregnant and over it.

Perhaps I should of persisted? Perhaps in 6 months I would of had 100’s of followers coming each week to grab their favourite treats. Who knows? As a mother of two now I have realised I simply can’t do everything, so I focus on what I can do. I’ve never used daycare and wanted to be the mum who taught my children how to behave at the shops, how to cook, and for them to realise that things just don’t happen, we make them happen as a family and as a team. I hit 10,000 in December 2016 and am currently at 11,805.

It is a continuous work in progress and a labour of love. I’m always thinking of my next post, recipe, photo, eBook and how to broaden my reach. I have never paid somebody to assist me in my marketing to date, but it is most definitely something I’d consider. Social media sites such as Facebook for example are relying more on paid and sponsored advertising, so if I went down that road to gain maximum exposure and more reach then I would seriously consider some assistance. Facebook and Instagram have changed so much in the past 4 years. I love what I do. I love helping people make better choices. That has and always will be my mantra.

If you can afford organic superfood ingredients then that’s awesome. If you can only afford dates and coconut from Coles then that’s also awesome. Why? Because it’s still better than buying a highly processed Snickers Bar full of refined and synthetic. 2 bags of dates is $3.20. 2 bags of salted peanuts is around $4. A bag of coconut is $3. Two blocks of dark chocolate are $4 and a jar of coconut oil is $5. So for $25 (ish) you can make two slabs (40 decent squares) of different slices (which are freezable and will store for months. See where I’m going? I wanted healthier options to be accessible to everyone.

So, going back a little, my recipe collection grew from 20 recipes at the end of 2013 in my first year to 129 now in my Sweet Recipe Photo Album today. It was all trial and error, a labour of love and everything was made from the heart. It was a hobby turned into a dream and a lifestyle.

In December 2017 I launched my first eBook ‘Mumma O Basics.’ It’s pretty basic, and very basic on the eye. I love it, but, knew there was room to grow and improve tenfold on presentation and style. I’d been using essential oils on and off for 4 years and then came across Young Living which has 35 culinary oils approved by the food standards of Australia and New Zealand. I was impressed. I was more than impressed! So I switched out my old oils I used in the home and on myself and the kids and started on my Young Living journey in December 2017. In the first week of April 2018 I launched my second eBook ‘Healthy Treats With Essential Oils.’ It’s 100% better than the first. My photography skills are improving and I’m slowly simplifying the content and steps in the recipes. I never stop learning. I just wish I had a bucket of money to tip in and get everything I need. Don’t we all!

My kitchen is approved by our local council so now I take lots of private orders for birthdays, kitchen teas and the like, as well as supplying 5 cafes with healthy sweet options. Now, as a mother of two, 4 and under it’s a constant juggle. I love to keep fit as I believe a strong body assists in building a strong mind. I still teach Body Combat and Body Pump a few times a week and have a few long term clients I still personal train. Team that with being a Mum (most fulfilling AND hardest job all in one!) and experimenting in the kitchen and yep it’s busy! I am a constant work in progress. Some weeks I might make $150 and some it’s 5 times that and sometimes more and sometimes less. Overall, it grows each year either financially or portfolio wise. Mumma O will continue to build and I will continue to love and embrace my journey within it.

Mumma O love’s motivating and inspiring people to clean out their kitchens a little and to make a few healthier choices for their families. Most of her recipes consist of cheap, easy and accessible ingredients that you can buy at the supermarket.. without racing around to specialty shops and having to order from the ends of the earth over the net. She has simplified so many recipes so that the busiest of people can make it in a flash. You can find her at Facebook and Instagram.

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