On Feeling Burnt Out…

I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now, and I’m honestly amazed at how long I’ve kept it up. I figured it would be something I did for a year or so and didn’t think it would turn into something that I loved. I’ve made some truly amazing friends through blogging, and I’m by NO MEANS writing this post as an “I quit” post.

I’m just going to vent/blabber/yammer about feeling burnt out by the whole blogging thing.

I’m proud of my photography skills in current posts. Case and point:

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Same dish, five years apart. Crazy.

I’m super-proud of that photo on the right. Never mind that FoodGawker and Tastespotting claimed it had “composition” problems and was “too tight”. I love it. The world of food blogging has changed so much in the last five years. When I started, it was all about the community. Posts would go up, and within minutes, discussion would begin in the comments, with either a comment on the recipe or even just a “hope you had a great day!” comment. I loved that. I’d interact with people here and on my Facebook page, and I thrived on the community.

But here I am, five years later, with some amazingly close friends made through this blogging community, and all I feel is disdain for this little piece of internet I’ve carved out. I still love cooking and baking, and I love when I come up with new recipes…but I’m finding that I’m making things FOR the blog, as opposed to making things for me and then posting them on the blog. Does that make sense?

At first, a fun recipe that I came up with for Adam and I to enjoy as a healthy dinner would make a great blog post. Now, I’m constantly trying to come up with something new for my readers, and when I come up with something that I think is AMAZING, I get absolutely no response. Nothing. Weeks upon weeks of posts with no comments. It’s discouraging, and I know I can’t judge a post by the number of comments…but do you get what I’m saying?

The burnout feeling started about two months ago when, for the zillionth time, I started to attempt to lose weight. I found myself not making the healthiest of recipes because I’d “already posted it” or “it didn’t photograph well.” Needless to say, the weight loss attempt didn’t go all that well.

About a month ago, I started posting fun things that I did for me that I thought would make a fun blog post: the What I Love Wednesday posts, the Freebie Saturday posts, and the few photography gigs I’ve had. I crave the interaction that used to happen. Still nothing.

So here’s what I’m saying: I’m going to stop blogging for the sake of blogging. When I make something new and fantastic, I’ll post it. It might not always be food, but I think you’re all ok with that. I’ll still post Wednesday in Numbers for the Summer, and I have a self-imposed challenge I’m beginning Monday that I’ll be sure to keep you updated on.

But, I’m no longer going to make ridiculous rich recipes “for the blog” at the expense of my health, hoping that someone, somewhere will interact.

Here’s what I will be doing: I’ll still be cooking, photographing, eating, and going to fabulous restaurants. When I feel like there’s something worthy of posting, I’ll post. Wednesdays will still be things I love and number-filled, and I’ll keep up Freebie Saturdays, mostly because it’s an excuse to crochet. I’ll still make fun treats (at least one a month, thanks to Adam’s birthday present!) and if worthy, I’ll post them. No more posting to post, but rather posting when good.

I hope you choose to stick with me, but if not, I understand.

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Freebie Saturday (On Sunday!): Drip the Droplette {free pattern download}

Having Memorial Day off of work, as lovely as it was, really really threw me off for the rest of the week. So, Freebie Saturday got moved to Sunday. Never fear, I have cupcakes slated for tomorrow.

Sometimes, in a caffeine-fueled frenzy late at night on a weekend, I start randomly crocheting shapes and kind of see what they turn into. Once, I made a tiny penguin. Another time, a baby seal. Last night? Well, last night this cutie took shape before my eyes and I had to share her with you.

crochet cutie-1-2 copy

It’s been a bit rainy here in the last few days, with everything from drizzle to major thunderstorms so I had rain on the brain. Drip the Droplette is a cute and positive take on rain… complete with a pom-pom headdress!

She’s pretty small…

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And she’s much happier when in brighter climates… my Vera Bradley Kindle cover made her very happy.

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I whipped her up in about an hour, and I can’t wait to gift her to her new home. The pattern for her is below, or you can download the PDF here. If you need help with crochet stitches, check out Crochet Pattern Central for tutorials.

If you make her, please share your pictures with me! I love to see my patterns at work!

This is an original pattern for a cute little creature, nicknamed a Droplette. Feel free to make as many as you wish, and you may sell the final products; please credit Whats for Dinner (Mara Rosenbloom) as the pattern creator.

Supplies Needed

Worsted weight yarn in two colors

Two 6mm safety eyes

Small bit of embroidery floss for mouth

Fiberfill

Yarn needle

3.75 (F) crochet hook

stitch markers

Main Body Pattern

Round 1: ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd stitch

Round 2: 2 sc in each sc (12)

Round 3: (1 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next stitch) around (18)

Round 4: (2 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc) around (24)

Round 5: (3 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc) around (30)

Rounds 6-8: sc around (30)

Round 9: (dec 1, 3 sc ) around (24)

Rounds 10-12: sc around

Attach safety eyes between rows 6 & 7, about 6 stitches apart.

Round 13: (dec 1, 2 sc) around (12)

Rounds 14-16: sc around (12)

Fill with fiberfill at this point,

Round 17: dec around (6)

Round 18-21: sc around (6)

finish off, bend the top to make the droplet effect.

Feet:

Round 1: ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd stitch from hook

Rounds 2-3: sc around (6 st.)

Finish off, sew to bottom of Droplette

Make the pom-pom top

Wrap cream-colored yarn around your first two fingers about 15-20 times.

Slide the yarn off and tie in the middle with another piece of yarn.

Cut all the loops, then sew pom pom to the end of your droplettes head.

Enjoy your new friend!

See all the other Freebie Saturdays.

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What I Love Wednesday

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Ok, ok I know it’s Thursday. I had most of this post written and I was all excited about it, and then I realized that YESTERDAY was Wednesday, not today. So… it’s What I Love Wednesday on Thursday. This whole having Monday off thing is throwing me.

Anyway, here are 10 things I’m loving lately:

1. Watch this. Seriously. It’s worth every single minute. It’s hilarious and nostalgic at the same time.

2. On another nostalgic note, my sister sent me this and I can relate on so many levels, 2, 6, and 9 in particular!

3. These llamas want to be models. I love them.

4. I treated myself to a new Kindle PaperWhite e-reader. I’ve read 3 books since it came in last Saturday. I think it’s one of the better purchases I’ve made in the last year or so.

5. We saw the Great Gatsby last weekend and I absolutely adored it. I’m a huge fan of the book (Thank you Ms. Johns’ amazing English class in High School!) but Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation was fantastic. I know a lot of people had complaints about the music, but really, it was just what I expected.

6. I love Joss Whedon and his take on the typical college graduation.

7. I really hadn’t been sleeping well for quite some time. I watched my caffeine intake, I’ve been walking and still nothing. Then I got this pillow. Best. sleep. ever.

8. My family visited this hotel when I was a mere 15 years old. I want to go back, and soon.

9. If cats could write diaries, this is what they’d write.

10. Thinking about doing this to my hair for the summer… thoughts?

And, because I love you, here’s a dog on a trampoline:

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Honestly The Best BBQ Ribs

My early childhood is peppered with memories of spending time with my grandpa Bernie, who we lovingly called Papa.

He was insufferably funny, and did goofy things with me like painting my nails each a different color, letting me try all of my grandma’s perfume, and making ridiculous jokes that my four-year-old brain thought were HILARIOUS. Telling me my green pants were gorgeous when they were CLEARLY red? Best. joke. ever.

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Notice the painted nails. And I assume I smelled like a mixture of Chanel No. 5 and Jean Naté.

He passed away when I was 5, and his legend remains in many things, but a few foodstuffs in particular. Back in the early days of the blog, I attempted to recreate his BBQ sauce upon instruction from my mom. Oh how I wish I knew then what I know now. Duh, I should’ve strained the BBQ sauce for a more traditional texture. Oh well, live and learn. Besides BBQ sauce, I remember my Papa making ribs; great slabs of ribs on a smoking grill in the patio behind his and my grandma’s house. And of course, he’d use his BBQ sauce.

For Memorial day, I enlisted the help of my mom to help me make ribs the way she does, which is the way Papa did. A series of text messages and a trip to the grocery store later, and I was ready to go.

There was a dry rub for the ribs, a simmering pot of sauce on the stove, an hour in the oven and then an hour over indirect heat on a smoky grill before the ribs were ready, but my oh my was the wait worth it.

 

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There’s really something to trying to replicate something that only lives in my memories. It made me smile when I saw smoke billowing out of the holes of my Weber grill, because that’s what I remembered from my childhood. When I cut into the racks of ribs to separate them into manageable portions, the smell brought me back to endless summer BBQs at my mom’s house, celebrating one holiday or another.

 

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I’d never done BBQ like this before. Sure, I’ve grilled chicken, and thrown things on the grill before, but this had the feel of “real” barbecue. It was slow, painstaking, and nerve-wracking because I honestly didn’t know if it would work. The meat had the incomparable “smoke ring” from the slow cooking, the ever saught-after “bark” and the flavors were beyond what I’d expected.  An ear of grilled corn and our meal was complete, with a side of nostalgia.

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Best BBQ Ribs

by What’s For Dinner?

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, give or take

Keywords: barbecue grill entree pork ribs American summer

Ingredients (2 slabs ribs)

  • 2 slabs pork back ribs

for the rub

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

for the sauce

  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whiskey (I used Gentleman’s Jack)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

prepare the ribs

Trim off any excess fat.

Pre-heat oven to 350*F.

Mix together all ingredients for the rub, and spread it liberally on both sides of the racks of ribs.

Place the ribs on a large cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for at least an hour.

In the last 15 minutes, prepare the grill. Stack the coals on one side of the grill and light, allowing the coals to become grey.

Remove the ribs from the oven.

Carefully set the ribs, meatier side down, on the side of the grill opposite the coals.

Cook, covered, for at least an hour, turning the racks every 10-15 minutes.

In the last 15 minutes of cooking, baste with good BBQ sauce (recipe follows) and turn once more.

Cut into manageable portions and serve.

BBQ Sauce

Cook the chopped bacon in a large heavy-bottomed pot until a good amount of fat is rendered.

Add the garlic, onions, and green peppers and sautee until softened and nearly caramelized.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, then mostly cover the pot.

Simmer over low heat for at least an hour.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture.

Pass the sauce through a sieve for a smooth texture.

Return the sauce to the pot, and keep warm over low heat until ready to use.

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Freebie Saturday: DIY Body Scrub & Printable Label

Ok, so I know that I’ve told dozens of stories here about how I was “into” certain things “so long ago” and I sound like either a snob or a hipster or some odd combination of both.

I swear, that’s not my goal! I just find it so amusing that things that were “so weird” back then, like quinoa, almond butter, whole wheat pita, and whatever the heck else I’ve waxed hipster about. And now, here I am on Freebie Saturday waxing hipster about some other thing that’s über-trendy right now that I’ve been “into” for so very long.

The summer I turned 17 (this was 1997 people!) my mom bought me a massage and “salt glow” at my still-favorite day spa here in Chicago, Urban Oasis. I remember a few distinct things about that day: 1) I had never had a stranger give me a massage before, and it took me far too long to enjoy it. 2) The salt glow treatment made my skin feel better than it had EVER felt, and 3) Taking a rain shower afterward was life-changing.

So, in 1997, not long after that spa treatment, and long before the days of searching Amazon for the odd products you can’t find anywhere else, my mom and I searched high and low for salt scrubs. For a mere 3 months, Origins sold one, and we stocked up and used it through the winter. It was gloriously orange-smelling, and super-moisturizing. Fast forward to 2013 and now, salt and sugar scrubs are EVERYWHERE. There are expensive ones, cheap ones, delicious-smelling ones, weird-smelling ones… but they have a few things in common: oil, scent, salt or sugar.

DIY Lavender Coconut Body Scrub-2 copy

I wish I’d known when I was 17 that making my own darn body scrub was this stinking easy. I did a little online research and asked at the craft store about ingredients to use, and the general consensus is that coconut oil is the best base for dry skin. It’s been a long winter and my skin is beyond dry, so that’s what I went with. The craft store had some delicious-smelling lavender essential oil specifically for soap and scrub making, so I went with that as well. I used a 3/4 : 1/4 mix of sugar to salt, and a 2:1 mixture of salt/sugar to oil.

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I’ll include what I did for my scrub, but feel free to play around with it to match your needs. Different oils work differently, but few are solid at room temperature like virgin coconut oil. I can’t wait to experiment with different scents, but I’m looking forward to smelling like a tropical lavender field for as long as this scrub lasts.

DIY Salt & Sugar Body Scrub

  • 1 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (for a coarser scrub, use sugar in the raw)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (feel free to use all sugar, or more salt, for different levels of exfoliation)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (I used lavender)

Heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about 15 seconds so it’s slightly melted and easy to mix. Add in the sugar and salt and stir until combined. Add the essential oil, stir again, and store in a sealed jar in the shower.

To use: Scoop out a small amount and rub into skin. Rinse thoroughly, then rub the remaining oil into your skin after your shower. Use soap when rinsing if you don’t want to rub in the oil. Be careful in the shower too, since oil makes the floor slippery!

I used a cute jar from the craft store, but a regular mason jar or even an empty peanut butter jar would work, as long as you can get your hand in the opening.

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Conveniently, last week’s Freebie was a scrubbie, which combined with the body scrub, would make a wonderful gift for most anyone! If you’re gifting your scrub, I’ve made a printable label for you to use. It would look adorable printed on card stock and tied on with some raffia.

Download the printable here

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So, that’s your Saturday Freebie! Check out all the other Freebie Saturdays!

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