This post is definitely a coffee break read! It’s been a challenging few weeks, although on the whole, March has been a month full of excitement in terms of family life, as well as more opportunities for recipe work, setting new goals and even an exciting print feature in Woman and Home! Sometimes, particularly when things pick up pace, it’s good to sit back, take stock and to really examine your journey to see how far you’ve come. It can be all too easy to assume that the end-result of something has been quick or effortless, when, in fact, a great deal of hard work has gone on behind the scenes. Sometimes, when I’m writing up a blog post in the haste of everyday life, I forget that as a reader, you might be new to my blog and that you might know nothing about me at all. Other times, as I catch up with comments and social media, I am reminded that blogging has brought me many new friends and that I’m surrounded by lots of fellow creative souls who have supported me right from the start. My goal, always, is to come across as the sort of person who constantly seeks to better herself – whatever I put ‘out there’ or on my blog – I hope it is the best that it can be. I enjoy innovation and experimentation and I’m a sucker for courses (I’m taking three online courses at the moment!) Perhaps sometimes I don’t share all of my hopes, dreams and wishes through my blog, but I do constantly try and share things that I hope you find interesting, inspiring, creative or helpful.
I started writing this blog in November 2010 – originally called Fabulicious Food! It was winter and I had given up a career in criminal law to become a stay-at-home mum. I spent much of my time doing baby-related activities; there wasn’t a group or class we didn’t try. I had the support of a wonderful antenatal group (still my closest ‘early years’ allies seven years on) and I volunteered for my local branch of a parenting charity, which slowly brought back some of my confidence and skills, which had long been buried under a pile of never-ending washing. Motherhood presented me with a steep learning curve and became a lesson in both letting go and of adjusting – to a new life dedicated not to my career, but to my family. Soon, our second baby came along and just at the point of considering a return to legal work, the prospect of redundancy and a move to a new work location followed. After much deliberation, I closed the chapter on law and began to look for a more flexible and creative way of staying at home, supported by my family who were keen to help me stay out of the courtroom!
At first, there were lots of people who really didn’t get what blogging was all about. Everyone assumed I would run out of things to say, or that my enthusiasm would run out. There didn’t seem to be a purpose for blogging, other than having a place to spill out various elements of your life for all the world to read and comment upon. I always knew that I wanted a clear focus and direction and to maintain an air of professionalism; I was keen to develop my writing style alongside sharing my love of cooking and creating. Having grown up in a food-loving family, the topic of food had always been close to my heart, but I had no real idea where I was going with it all in terms of starting a blog. In some ways, the best way of starting something new is to venture into the unknown. In other ways, it’s a more risky process to start something from scratch with no guidance. I signed up to a distance-learning course in Food Journalism, which confirmed that starting a blog was a good thing to do, as well as teaching me all about creating a brand, writing strong copy and finding new and modern ways of engaging with an audience. I moved my writing platform from Blogger to Word Press, eventually going self-hosted for greater control and I slowly learnt more and more about food and blogging, writing and taking photographs.
During the last three years, I’ve taken additional courses, such as an evening course in food styling and have attended numerous blog conferences, such as IFBC in Seattle, always with the aim of growing and learning. More recently, I’ve given talks and lectures on blogging and on getting published in magazines. I became a member of The Guild of Food Writers and I’m currently writing my first E book. The reason I continue to blog is because blogging is fun, immediate and fast-paced. Creating recipes is always thrilling and challenging, taking photographs of food has become a bit of an obsession, but the hours and hours of time spent dedicated to my blog and my recipe work have proved themselves to be worthwhile. I suppose if I were to look back to the start of my journey in 2010, I have come a long way and I’m living a life that I have created through blogging. My recipes and writing are now good enough to be published on sites away from my own blog and I’m lucky enough to get paid to do all the things that I love doing – cooking, writing and taking pictures. During this last year, I also left the name ‘Fabulicious Food!’ behind and created a business called Ren Behan Food, changing my blog name, too, to reflect a fresh chapter and a new period of self-employment.
As we await the arrival of our third baby in June, more changes are on the way, but somehow, I feel happy knowing that I have a place to come to and be creative for a while, when time allows. Hopefully, more opportunities will follow, too.
I’m just in the nick of time to share one final bit of news – my story is featured in the print edition of Woman and Home Magazine - the April 2014 edition, but very soon to be replaced by the May edition, so hurry if you want to buy a copy! It was a huge privilege to be contacted by features writer Nathalie Whittle, who approached me to take part in a feature on women who blog for “Fun, Fame & Fortune,” alongside fashion blogger Josephine Lalwan and travel blogger Heather Cowper. All three of us had experienced new adventures through blogging and were excited to share our stories. Twenty four weeks into my third pregnancy, I can tell you that the very last thing I expected to happen was to be whisked away to a shoot house, to be pampered, made up and styled for a feature, but nevertheless, this was an experience that will stay with me for a long time to come! Thank you for all the hugely positive comments so far on this piece – I hope you find a quick moment to grab a cuppa and have a flick through!
Although unintended, this post has been a chance to indulge, though I also hope that it reflects on how far we can go if we push ourselves and work hard. I’ve had the opportunity of working with some truly talented people who have helped turned my vision of a creative home on the web into a reality – from the early days of Fabulicious Food! and a blogsite created by Barney Thom, to badges, headers, site design and more by Violet Posy, Sharnee, Jo at Callia Web, friend and fellow blogger Regula Ysewijn aka Miss Foodwise. Most recently, I’ve worked with an amazingly talented lady called Shay Bocks, whose Foodie theme is taking the world by storm! It has been an incredible journey so far, I continue to learn something new every day and I am hugely grateful to all of my readers – old and new.
It’s time to put the kettle on again. Don’t forget to pop over to JamieOliver.com to read my latest post on Cooking for Mum this Mother’s Day.
I’ll also be back a little later with a new recipe for the weekend, too.
One final note, I have recently realised that my newsletter sign up form hasn’t been working very effectively – so there is a new box to add your address to for email updates on the right hand sidebar or along my footer. If you have already subscribed, it should let you know now, rather than duplicating.
Have a great weekend!
All links within this post are editorially given.