Reheat your mug of coffee from this morning, maybe grab a cookie, get settled in somewhere comfortable, and brace yourself for the obscene lengthiness of this post.
The title of this blog is Carpé Season. Recognize the seasons. Embrace them for what they are. Make the most of each season. Carpé Season.
This means finding one more sweet potato recipe to get you through March after months of increasingly dreary root vegetables. It has meant joyfully eating your body weight in asparagus once it finally comes calling in spring. But it is also a principle that extends into the rest of life.
I started this blog three-and-a half years ago because I love to cook, and after reading this book, I was totally hooked on eating seasonally. I started this blog because I love to write, and I love to take pictures, and because my husband is a web designer and developer, and we thought it would be fun to do this little hobby together. None of that has changed.
But in that time, our life seasons have changed pretty dramatically. I started this blog when I had zero children and was teaching full time and had more free time than even seems imagineable at this point. I now have two kids under three and don’t really remember what it’s like to sleep through the night.
Which leads me to the only sentence you actually need to read in this entire, book-length post:
We’re taking a pretty signifcant step back from blogging in order to put more of our energy into our budding photography business…and you know, to create space for things like resting, playing with Owen and Elsa, making homemade bread, cleaning out the basement.
This decision has been long in coming, and you can read more about my whole second-guessing process in the extended DVD version of the story below, but basically over dinner a few months ago, Eric and I looked at each other and came to this: we feel that we have been pounding on the doors of the blog-o-sphere, asking it to let us in and using up large percentages of our limited free time to maintain a space that hasn’t really “grown” in years. Yet, it seems that a door has been swung wide open for us to start to pursue a little side business in photography.
In the last year, we have received several unsolicited requests to do paid photography work: a couple weddings, a birth, a few family sessions. And we have found that we love this work for many reasons: it is a creative process we can fully engage in together. Photography allows us to take the same ethos behind this blog – recognizing and embracing the seasons of life – and translate it into images that capture the seasonal joys behind getting married, having a baby, growing a family. Photography fills so many creative needs we have but allows us to do it at a slower, more self-determined pace than blogging does.
We’ve just launched our site – Carpé Season Photography - and would be pleased as punch if you headed over for a more in-depth look.
This decision has been weighty for me. I love this space and the community that has surrounded it, so please, reheat that coffee (again), and read through the long version of the story below, because, at the end, there’s a message especially for you.
This decision process really started a little over a year ago. About two weeks after we came home with Elsa, I looked at Eric and said I don’t know if I can keep up with the blog anymore. Having a second baby completely upended us, and I spent the next four months feeling like I was never going to get the hang of this whole multiple-kid thing. But eventually, she started sleeping at somewhat predictable times, and I again found my pace, albeit a slower one.
But a few months ago, when I was feeling completely unable to keep up, I felt like every few days I would tell Eric, I don’t know if I WANT to keep up with the blog anymore.
So, last December, I started hemming and hawing and hemming and hawing.
On the one hand, the tasks associated with food-blogging feed the creative part of my mind that is threatened daily by the endless cycle of dishes, diapers, and Daniel Tiger songs about going potty. I love to think creatively about recipes that use seasonal ingredients (much in the same way I love Chopped). I love to take pictures and to tell stories. I love the other bloggers I’ve met through this venture. I’ve loved this little Carpé community – those of you who read and comment and send the loveliest notes and tell me you’re cooking these things and adding them to your family’s regular rotation or that you’re so glad to know that you’re not alone in feeling like you have no idea how to be a parent. This is what I’ve loved most.
But on the other hand, there is the fact that there are actually only twenty-four hours in a day. And of that day, in our current season of life, I get two, maybe three hours tops to focus on non-kid stuff while the babies are napping. I have been finding that three or four of my weekday naptimes were filled with blog-related efforts, and, perhaps more significantly, NOT filled with exercise, laundry, sitting down for ten minutes with coffee, reading my Bible, taking care of the thousands of tiny details that come with running a home and being a wife and mother and sister and daughter and friend. I was finding that at the end of everyday, I would carefully transfer the twenty-three tasks on my calendar that I didn’t get to onto the next day.
Meanwhile, I found myself surprisingly jealous after reading this post – a farewell to blogging and somewhat to screens in general. And challenged by this podcast and its alluring talk about slow blogging. I was inspired by this blogger who just straight up took a six-month break, throwing concern about reader numbers to the wind, so that she could enjoy the summer with her kids home from school.
I started having thoughts about the fact that I chose to quit my job as a teacher to be a stay-at-home MOM, not a stay-at-home food blogger. I was feeling less and less like popping in a video if Owen woke up from his nap before I was done photographing a post. And more than anything, talks wtih a few close friends were pulling me deeper and deeper into the feeling that I want to grow in being present in the moment. To live more and more in kairos time where moments stand still and are recognized as beautiful and valuable and reasons for thankfulness. For me, in this season, blogging has definitely been a deterrent to that desire.
What really brought this decision to a head was this story, which has become sort of a metaphor for this entire decision:
In the weeks before Elsa’s birthday party, I was thinking through our brunch-party menu and had concluded that rather than spend the whole party flipping pancakes, I’d make pancake muffins, something a little sweet and kid-friendly to go alongside our yogurt and granola, the egg bakes, and fruit. I got my google on and tried one recipe that actually ended up with the consistency of rubber. I tried a Joy the Baker one – normally so reliable, right? – that was slightly better, but was so dry that it felt like sand in your mouth. After more research on baking time and temperature, I thought I’d test them one more time before going another direction entirely, and I thought, Well, since I’ve made these three times, I might as well photograph them for the blog.
I was set to make them next morning and wanted us to eat them for breakfast, so the night before, I got out all of the props and background and light reflectors, so I could bake them and photograph them as quickly as possible for my hungry family. That particular night, the kids took turns crying from the hours of 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., which led to us all sleeping in a little later than normal. By the time I got the pancake muffins in the oven, Eric was leaving for work, which left me with two hungry kids that both needed diaper changes (normally, Eric is captain of getting at least Owen breakfast and changed, but again, we’d slept in).
While the pancake muffins baked, I got my picture background all set up, carefully pouring our farm-fresh, kinda-pricey but wonderfully delicious maple syrup in a bowl for the background of the image when the kids fell apart. One of them had clearly pooped. Owen was whining and whining for more juice. Elsa was crying, and as I raced back and forth between checking on the muffins in the kitchen and trying to do crowd control in the living room, my child-bearing hips bumped into the edge of the table holding my photography props, knocked my light-reflecting background down, which in turn, spilled the cup of my syrup gold.
The syrup spilled in between the cracks of my photography background. It dripped onto the dining room table and then onto the floor. It hit the corner of one of our cloth-covered chairs on the way down. Owen stepped in it. It was everywhere, and it was sticky.
I took a long look at my whining, hungry, mushy-diapered children. I listened to the beeping sound of my oven telling me that the third round of these pancake muffins needed to come out of the oven. I watched the syrup do its syrupy thing. And I thought: This. this! is why I do not think I should be keeping up the blog right now. This. this! is insanity.
And then I cried (which at that point, amounted to three total people crying in our house. At 8 a.m.).
So Eric and I started talking about pulling the plug on Carpé Season altogether. We talked about posting only when inspired, though I knew that a further dip in the frequency of my post would essentially kill the blog anyway (because who read blogs that don’t post at least once a week? Nobody.) And that feeling of failure, of giving up before this blog became financially profitable, of not “making it,” is a hard pill for this Type-A overachiever to swallow.
But essentially, that is where we’ve landed. Here, on Carpé Season, we’ll be here, just less frequently. I’ll post – recipes and reflections – only when I’m really inspired to do so. We’ll probably share sneak peaks of some of the photography sessions we are doing. And I’m hoping some of you keep us included in your blog reader and stop in when we have something significant to share. This might be once a week or once a month.
So, this isn’t really a farewell post. More of an “I’ll see you when I see you” kind of post, which is something you really only say as you’re trying to part ways with that friend of a friend of a friend who you met at that one party and now find yourself awkwardly small-talking with in aisle seven of your grocery store.
More than anything, I want this to be a Thank You post. For the three-and-a-half years of my over-sharing that you’ve read, for helping me put an end to this feeling that we’re alone in our messiness, for loving cheese as much as I do, for making these recipes, for your kind words and comments. I hope you stick around. And I hope that if you’re ever in Minneapolis, that you’ll get in touch with me so we can bond over a plate of spring rolls and talk about our favorite puns and find out how similar people really are.