Musings, Odds & Ends

Blogger Recognition Award

Hello lovely blog-friends,

How are the final throws of April treating you? Not long until the beautiful month of May. Do you have any nice May plans?

So, something lovely happened last night. One of my very favourite bloggers – The Winsome Baker – nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.

*Happy dance*

I actually read her whole blog post about the award, and didn’t spot that Charissa’s Kitchen was in the list of nominations. I didn’t expect my blog to be on there! It was only when Kearin left me a comment to say she’d nominated me that I discovered that she’d done so.

A Blogger Recognition Award sounds really rather fancy, but sadly there’s not going to be a big awards dinner and an excuse for the full length gold dress! It’s a bit more low key than that. Essentially, the Blogger Recognition Award is a blogger-to-blogger, ‘I like your blog’ device, which works a bit like a chain letter. One blogger receives a recognition award, and then nominates a certain number of other bloggers, who then nominate others; and so on.

To be brutally honest, up until yesterday, I’ve been pretty cynical of these kinds of ‘awards’. They do seem to have taken over the internet of late!

I did the maths – like the geek that I am. If one person kicks off the process and nominates 15 bloggers, and each of them picks up the challenge and nominates 15 more; assuming everyone responds the following day, by the end of the week there would be 170 million nominations! And by day 9, there would be 38 billion. That’s quite a few. 😄 No wonder these award posts are everywhere. 

However, when I actually received a nomination from the very lovely Kearin. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. Someone whose blog I love, likes mine. Hence the happy dance.

It was also really enjoyable reading Kearin’s completely uncynical response to receiving a recognition award. It seems that it’s not just me that feels the warm and fuzzies. So I’m going to take Kearin’s lead… I’m going to leave behind the cynicism, enjoy the moment, and follow the (Charissa-tweaked) rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:

These are they:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post responding to the nomination.
  • Briefly tell the story of how your blog started.
  • Give 2 pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers from 1 to 15 that you really love.
  • Let the bloggers know that you have nominated them. And provide them with a link to the post you created.

The story of how and why Charissa’s Kitchen began:

Cooking, baking, and eating good food are a big part of me surviving and flourishing emotionally in this crazy 21st Century world. Creating food and then eating it are such simple pleasures, and I find myself wanting to share those joyful food-moments with people – to share the joy. So rather than inundate my Facebook friends with yet more posts about sourdough bread, I set up this blog on a whim. It’s very much an evolving thing, and I don’t know if it will be here for the long term. Who knows if food will keep my interest long enough! I’m just playing around with it at the moment; throwing down different types of posts. We’ll see how it goes. I’m certainly enjoying posting my food adventures on Instagram. Food posts work really well on that particular platform. Who knew!?

My pieces of blog advice:

My first piece of advice to a new blogger would be don’t expect to get it right straight away. Blog whatever you fancy and see what happens. Just try stuff out. Some of the blogs you set up – and some of the posts you write – will work really well; others won’t. Learn from each experience and be reflectful. Read other blogs and learn from them. But don’t be afraid to innovate. See blogging as a skill to be honed, and also as an opportunity to be boldly creative. [I am hoping to take my own advice on this!]

My second piece of advice would be have fun with blogging. Too many articles focus on how to increase your blog traffic, take the perfect food photograph, or make money off your content. If your blog is for a business then go for it! But most of us are writing because we love writing, and in the case of food blogging, because we love food. Don’t suck the joy out of the blogging process! Be authentic, enjoy the writing and engaging with people, and let the traffic worry about itself. And if you must find out the rules of blogging; do so and then joyfully disregard the soul-sapping ones.

My nomination: Cookies and Chemistry

So, I am making one nomination. I don’t read enough blogs regularly to nominate a whole raft, and this particular blog is a standout for me. I’m sure she’s been nominated a whole handful of times, as she’s got lots of followers, but I’m still going to go for Cookies and Chemistry.

Feel free to ignore the rules, my dear, and simply enjoy the warm and fuzzies.

Cindy is an undergraduate student based in Canada who food-blogs. I love the eclectic nature of her posts, her joyful enthusiasm, and the way she weaves her life into the posts. Her food philosophy is on point, and she actually cooks (and eats) things that make me go, ‘Oooh, yes please!’ Which is actually surprisingly rare.

If you’re a food blog person, give her a read.

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Have a very foody day!

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Musings, Odds & Ends

Kitchen Musings #1

Hello lovely blog-friend. This is the first of my Kitchen Musings; no actual cooking but some musings on cooking-related things. Today, I blog about cooking, blogging and emotional-well being.

Encountering blog-fear

This blog began in large part because I am a serial blog-starter! It just seems to be what I do. I get excited about something, and I want to share. The obvious answer: a blog! 🤓

Rather embarrassingly, I have ten different sites registered with WordPress; some of which have never been used; others were up for only a couple of weeks. Only one blog (apart from this one) is currently in semi-active use. It’s a personal blog and I only blog on it when I really feel like I have something to say.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this blog!

The reason I say that, is that I’m currently experiencing the blog fear.

Other bloggers out there, I don’t know if this has happened to you? Or whether it is just me. For me, for each new blog, there comes an unhappy moment when I suddenly feel ashamed and confused. A project which had felt full of hope and promise, suddenly shifts and becomes embarrassing and fills me with heaviness – it’s like the lenses have been switched, and it all looks rather awkwardly self-indulgent and derivative.

A few days ago, I was getting excited at the idea of maybe writing a recipe book; I was planning all the things I could try baking/cooking that could feature on the blog, and I was coming up with all kinds of ideas for types of posts. Yesterday, I even made a Facebook page. And yet suddenly, the shame and the blah.

Discombobulation.

Being a reflectful sort, it’s gotten me thinking…

Life-y or death-y?

My lovely friend Emily talks about ‘life-y’ things and ‘death-y’ things: things that fill you with a sense of wonder, meaning, purpose, connection and delight, and the things that are hollow and empty. The life-y things may not be easy or necessarily fun (although they often are), but there is a depth to them, a wellspring of life there. And the death-y things aren’t always obvious; they may be wrapped up in sugar-coating.

Cooking for me is very often a wonderfully life-y thing, and a big part of emotional wellness.

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A few years, when I quite my job in a bid to recover from depression and anxiety, pottering around the kitchen, baking bread and making marmalade was a balm to my soul.

The slow practical process of kneading or stirring connected me to the present moment; the visual beauty of the food filled my heart with gentle delight, and being able to see solid evidence that there was real progress in my skills and that my actions resulted in a physical food-item right there in front of me started to fill my battle-scarred soul with a drip-drip-drip of hope.

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Cooking also gave me something solid and uncomplicated to think about – slicing grapefruit is just so lovely, it smells good! – and it connected me to simple (but deep) spiritual realities:

I know that spiritual waffling may turn some people off, but bear with me, it’s just one paragraph. 😄

For me, learning how food works feels like mining the vast potential that God built into his creation. It feels like I am receiving a gift from God; hidden by him in the earth’s construction, millennia ago, knowing that humanity (including a broken Charissa standing in her kitchen stirring marmalade in 2014) would receive the gift all those years later! I can feel the warm smile on his face.

And lots of other things… but some of you are feeling awkward, so back to the journey!

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Wonderfully, I have been well for a while now, and the all-day cookery sessions have mostly disappeared in the busyness of life. Even though I only work part-time!

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Every journey has its twists and turns

However, a few weeks ago, I experienced an unexpected bout of anxiety, brought on by a whole load of emotionally difficult things happening at once. And I found myself instinctively reaching for the same slow-cookery medicine, amongst other sensible self-care things.

The joy of cooking and baking was all of a sudden most definitely a life-y thing again. And the joy bubbled over into far too many Facebook posts – my poor Facebook friends! – and the answer came to me. A blog!

The answer to everything!! 😀

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And the ‘Charissa’s Kitchen’ has been a lovely, joyful thing. Until the blog fear! 

So what’s going on?

Good question!

I think a big part of blog fear is that something happens to shift blogging from life-y to death-y. I think it can happen for all kinds of reasons, but I suspect that a significant jigsaw puzzle piece (at least for me), is that the blog in question has become inauthentic. There is a joyful meaningfulness in genuine connection, and an emptiness to going through the motions or putting on a mask.

On reflection, the death-y feeling hit in earnest as I was writing yesterday’s post about Venison Pie; it just didn’t seem right somehow, but I ploughed on regardless. In large part, I think I was feeling death-y because the post was in some ways inauthentic. I didn’t really feel super buoyant about the meal or the process by the end, but because I had been excited about cooking it beforehand and because I’d already taken all the photos, I wrote the post anyway.

It’s really not a bad post – I’m going to leave it up – but it didn’t feel like it came from the overflow of delight in cooking or from any excitement at developing new skills that originally motivated the blog’s creation.

Interestingly though, the bit about the C S Lewis quote did feel right. I think, because I was genuinely excited about the quote and the ideas within it. I genuinely did want to share the joy!

And I did really love those leeks!! I think the post should probably have been an ode to the joys of vegetables, and the pie should have been eaten and enjoyed, but never introduced to the internet.

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Oh vegetables, I love thee. Even you, Celery!

I think there’s much more to whether blogging is life-y or death-y than authenticity, but it’s a start! I suspect there is probably something in there about the big (or little) picture of the ‘why’ of blogging and its meaningfulness, and ironically also something about self-indulgent over-sharing (I hope this isn’t what this is), but I’ll leave my Kitchen Musings there for the moment. 😄

I would love to hear from you if you have had similar experiences. Or opposite ones!

And thank you so much to everyone who has gotten excited about sourdough bread with me! That in particular has been wonderfully life-y! Joyful!

Oh whoops! That reminds me that I’ve not fed my sourdough starter this morning. It’s a good job I haven’t named him yet! I best go feed him! 

Have a lovely day.

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