Just popping in on this lovely Thursday to say Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you. I am grateful for you, for this space, for my family and friends, for carbs, and for the freedom and opportunity to be able to spend this holiday around the table eating home-cooked food with those I love. I hope and wish the same for you and yours.
We spent four days there but it only took a few hours for us to fall for the place. Between the food, the gorgeous scenery, the eclectic people, the fresh mountain air and the Southern charm, we knew right away we picked the perfect place for our getaway.
Before we left, a lot of people asked us, “Why Asheville? What’s in Asheville?” At the time, we knew about the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the famous food and the breweries. But after having spent some actual time there, we now know there is all of that, sure, but also so much more.
So why Asheville? Because there are red brick walkways and cat-head sized biscuits. Because there are rolling green ridges and unique, hoppy brews. Because there are fried green tomatoes, warm goat cheese grits, patina-laced castles and pretty paintings. Because there are sprawling rose gardens and rows of vineyards. Because it’s a great place to go for a baby-free or family trip, for a weekend or a few days. And we already know we’ll be going back.
Six years, y’all. That’s how long I’ve been blogging. That practically makes me a dinosaur in blogging years. And I’ve got a big sweet tooth and a constant mountain of dishes in my sink (OK, and a lot of recipes) to show for it.
It also means I’ve picked up a few experiences along the way, many of which I shared with you back in this post. That post was super fun to write and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people, many of whom have followed up with me via e-mail or social media (hai, frands!) to connect and ask more questions. I love it. It makes me remember why I do this in the first place, and hopefully my rambling words have helped you. Help me help you. How very Jerry Maguire of us.
A lot of your follow-up questions have had to do with my ongoing partnerships with brands, which you may notice in a sponsored post from time to time or by checking out my portfolio page. In the time I’ve been running this bloggity blog, I’ve worked with dozens of brands, big and small, national and local, etc. These partnerships have been huge for my food blogging career and are the source of a good chunk of my income.
But it’s been about so much more than the income, too — the experiences I’ve gained (like, walking through Iowa cornfields or cooking in the Kitchens of General Mills or shaking Bob’s hand) are unforgettable, and the relationships I’ve cultivated are unmatched. I am insanely grateful for all of it.
That being said, it hasn’t been all sunshine and lollipops and rainbows (though there have been a few rainbow-themed recipes). It’s been a LOT of hard work and there have been many lessons learned. I thought I’d take some time to share some of those lessons — or, in a “more fun” manner, top 10 things to know — with you today. Neato, gang!
(P.S. For those of you who don’t blog/aren’t interested in working with brands, tune in next week when I may or may not have a fun surprise for you! I’m such a tease, I know.)
I’ll continue to say it because it’s just so true: Time flies. It really does. I swear I blinked and yesterday Avery was born. I blinked again, and today she is one year old. Just a moment ago I was the most sleep deprived I’ve ever been in my life, waking up every couple of hours day and night to nurse/swaddle/try to figure out why she’s crying this time (or maybe it was me crying? I forget) while simultaneously cuddling the smallest, sweetest bundle of baby joy. And then, a moment later, she’s wobbly and walking and pointing at “birdies” and clapping her hands and throwing her first toddler tantrums and calling for “mamamamama” and giving me the best hugs and kisses I’ve ever received in my life.
If there is a thesis statement to this post, it is this: Motherhood is the single most difficult and amazing role I’ve ever played. And I am so blessed to be able to play it for my sweet Avery Kate.
Oooooookay, so before this gets too sappy, I’ll tell you about her party: Um, we didn’t have it. My mom came into town the week before Avery’s birthday to visit and on Thursday night, she very quickly came down with a case of nausea and the shivers. A few hours later, she had the stomach flu. I’ll spare details. Because it got worse: By Friday night, my birthday, it had taken me down. And by Saturday morning, Avery’s birthday and the day of her party, it had knocked down my husband, too. Thankfully we were all pretty well recovered by Sunday, but I also had a fridge stocked full of uneaten cake and appetizers and, on the counter, a few boxes and bags of unopened streamers, pink polka dot plates and yellow pom poms.
I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing about my experience as a mom for nine whole months. Some days feel like they never end, but overall, cliche as it may sound, the time has flown by. I swear it was just a few days ago when I was watching “Friday Night Lights” re-runs on my computer at 3 a.m. with a newborn who just would.not.go.back.to.sleep; just yesterday morning when I was sharing my favorites in baby gear and apps with you guys and snuggling a sweet six-month-old; just a blink of an eye ago when I saw my baby crawl for the first time.
And now, here we are, nine months into this adventure and I’m telling you about the solid foods my little girl is eating all on her own. Sniffle. (And also the fact that we are SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT, glory glory hallelujah.)
Truthfully, though, it’s been so fun to see Avery grow and develop into the lovely little lady she is today. She’s still spunky and headstrong as ever — in fact, we are starting to enjoy the very early stages of protests and temper tantrums when we take her away from things that are, you know, bad for her and dangerous — but she’s also incredibly sweet, gentle, cuddly and hilarious. The girl knows how to make me laugh like no one else with her funny faces, screeches and giggles. And yes, she still loves pulling giant tufts of hair from our poor cat.
I just want to start this post by saying thank you. No, THANK YOU. And if I could make that text a billion times bigger and make it shoot out confetti and play a song I would do that. And that would only skim the surface of the level of my appreciation.
Seriously though, I am so grateful to each and every one of you who took the time to take my first-ever reader survey last week. To say that I should have done this a loooooong time ago is an understatement. It gave me so much insight into not only who you are, but why you read Girl Versus Dough among the eleventy billion other food blogs out there. I feel like I really got a good idea of what you are looking for when you come here (carbs, mostly. And this is why we get each other), your own kitchen life (loves to bake and cook! Hates small spaces and lack of time! ← oh, do I hear ya) and how we can work together going forward to make this humble space even greater and more useful while also maintaining the tone and recipes and overall environment you seem to love (which, you guys, I totally shed a tear while reading your comments, for real). It makes me THISEXCITED about the future of GVD and I just really want to virtually bear hug everyone right now about it.
Ummmm all right. Let’s get to the details already.
Most of you get here by way of e-mail updates.
This really surprised me, actually — I always thought people came through readers like Feedly or Bloglovin’. A good chunk of you also come directly to the site, whether you have it bookmarked or just remember to check in (which warms my heart that you think to do so). And then there are a few that come by way of Facebook. If you’re interested in signing up for my e-mail list (and getting a free eCookbook out of it, hey-o!), you can do so here. And if you’re interested in following along on Facebook, you can do so here. Otherwise, keep doing how you do. I’m just glad you’re here.