New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
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Totally Together

the weekend

December 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

345 & 346

How many of you unplug for the weekend? Do you stop checking email? Do you turn off the computer and cell phone?

I usually don’t. But I wish I did.

I feel obligated to check email, and so I do–sometimes obsessively. I need to change this. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for the family, and it’s not the person I want to be.

so I’m going to change it. It’s Friday, 4:04pm, and I’m turning off my drug.

this weekend:

keep up with the daily 7

wrap presents

spend time with the family


NaNoWriMo—day 9

November 9, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

It’s the ninth of November. How did that happen already?

Well, I took all of your wonderful advice and cut myself some slack and took a break from writing this weekend, and immediately felt a huge sense of relief and my shoulders weren’t so slumpy. We had a very busy weekend, starting off with a book launch party for the slow cooking book on Friday. It went really well, and I’m so happy it’s over and I can check one more thing off my list. Saturday was all-day soccer stuff and a Costco run, and Sunday was a baby shower thrown by my amazingly wonderful friends. We also took the playroom apart and prepped it for painting and set up the crib.

No time for writing.

Today was much calmer, and although we’re out tonight, I was able to squeeze in a few thousand words to bring my word count to practically 6k. I’m still much lower than I wanted to be this far in the game (most people are reporting 15k counts on twitter), but I’m feeling okay.

I am writing a lot of dialogue—-it seems my brain seems to propel the storyline forward with dialogue, as if a play or movie is playing out in my head, so at some point I need to go back and add filler. But for now, I think the important thing is to propel the story forward as much as I can before it disappears out of my head.

and to be honest, the story isn’t so much of a “real” story as it is a bunch of scenes I’ve got to tie in together somehow.

But it’s fun, and it’s definitely something I haven’t done before, so I’m getting a kick out of the process.

How’s it all going with you? Are you having the same experience with “seeing” it happen in your head, then reporting it to the computer, or are you writing from a completely different viewpoint?

xoxo steph

day 1, day 2, day 3, day 5, NaNoWriMo: I’m in. I think. Maybe.

Holiday Gifts to Support Bloggers

October 26, 2009 by · 12 Comments 

Don’t look now, but the Holidays are RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. They really are. Pretending you’ve got plenty of time will only cause a lot of undue stress.

I’m trying to get as many presents out of the way as I can in the next few weeks or so because

1) that’s just who I am. I like to get things done and out of the way (I know. It’s annoying. Feel free to throw eggs, I can handle it).

2) Whether I’m ready or not, this baby is going to get born. I spent most of the summer in denial, but she’s really going to come. I’m actually getting a bit nervous and feel the need to disinfect and re-paint every surface of the house.

3) Thanks to your wonderful comments and emails, I’m going to go for NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month). I’m kind of excited!

I get emails about book publishing and blogging, and how to get the two to collide. I am probably not the right person to ask, since the book I spent a hundred million years of my life (8, but whatever) trying to get published got canceled (but I’m staying positive. Yes, that’s it. Serenity Now!), and the slow cooker book was kind of a fluke thing—the publishers came to me, which is NOT NORMAL. Regardless, I’m going to pretend I know something and throw this idea out there, which I do believe makes sense:

If you write a blog, and want to become published, the best way to help achieve that goal in the long run is to support bloggers who *have* books. Because the more they sell, the better the chances of you selling a proposal to an agent and/or editor. And it’s good karma.

On that note, start your Holiday shopping early and support a blogger (or twenty-three) at the same time.

Note: Whenever possible, I’ve linked to the author’s Amazon Associate account, not my own. While reading the reviews on Amazon is a fantastic way to get a feel of the book, buying the book at your friendly neighborhood independent book store is best for your local economy. I am familiar with the work of *all* of these bloggers. While I am sure that there are other books by bloggers “out there,” I have not personally read their blogs or their books.


The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook Elana blogs at Elana’s Pantry, and has a beautiful website and an even more beautiful book. She has healthy recipes for all types of gluten free food that is healthy and wholesome. She introduced me to the wonders of almond flour and agave nectar. Cooking with almond flour creates moist, delicious gluten free baked products.

Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris Clotilde blogs at Chocolate & Zucchini, and was the first food blogger I followed regularly who wrote a book. This book reads like a memoir/travel guide, and she does have a fabulous cookbook, Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen.

David Lebovitz I’ve linked to David’s author’s page on his blog, because he has a great collection of cookbooks and a fantastic new memoir entitled, The Sweet Life in Paris. David goes out of his way to support bloggers, and is an all-around nice guy.

Pioneer Woman Cooks Ree blogs at The Pioneer Woman, and her cookbook just came out (well, tomorrow, Oct. 27, but it’s already shipping). Ree is warm, friendly, and loves butter–a fabulous trifecta. She’s absolutely wonderful.

Steamy Kitchen Jaden writes at Steamy Kitchen, and has phenomenal recipes for all kinds of Asian-inspired food. Her recipes are simple, clear, and use fresh ingredients. Her friendly writing style and gorgeous photos suck readers right in.

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook Erin blogs at $5 Dinners, and is not only a great friend, she has created a fabulous resource for busy families on a budget. ALL of her meals have been made for $5 or less for a family of four. Her book isn’t out yet, but you can pre-order it and have it delivered to your gift recipient.

Family Feasts for $75 a Week Mary blogs at Owlhaven, and has 10! children. She knows how to feed a crowd, and knows all about picky eaters. A fantastic resource for anyone looking to streamline the kitchen, learn about meal planning, and save money.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines Gary blogs at Gary Vaynerchuk, and he does video-blogging (vlogging) on wine. He is hysterical, witty, and down to earth. Gary is the furthest thing from a wine snob, yet knows all there is to know.

Make it Fast, Cook it Slow Stephanie (that’s me!) blogs at A Year of Slow Cooking. In 2008, she made a New Year’s Resolution to use her slow cooker every day for a year, and write about it online. This book has the best 338 recipes from the year. All recipes are gluten-free, due to a family intolerance.


Sleep is For the Weak Rita writes at Surrender, Dorothy and she put together the best of the best of the mommy bloggers into a great gift for any pregnant woman, new mom, or any dad who needs to better understand his wife’s wonky behavior. I’ve given this numerous times as gifts, and it’s always well-received.

Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family Mary (featured up above) writes at Owlhaven, and is a mom to 10. I read this book when we were deciding to take the plunge from two to three, and found her advice helpful and straightforward.

The Rookie Mom’s Handbook Heather and Whitney write at Rookie Moms, and wrote this book when they were trying to figure out how to keep their little ones entertained during the day. The handbook is chock full of developmentally appropriate activities, broken down by age groups. I’ve met Heather and Whitney, and like it that they are *real* moms, instead of parenting “experts.”

It Sucked and Then I Cried Heather is an internet rockstar. She started Dooce an awful long time ago, before there were tons of blogs, and is known as the Ultimate Mommy Blogger. I found her memoir fun and light-hearted. Although it’s presented as being primarily about postpartum depression, I wouldn’t classify it as such—I found it more like a being pregnant and new-mommy memoir.

The Mominatrix’s Guide to Sex Kristen blogs at Motherhood Uncensored. Her book isn’t out yet, but will be mid-January, just in time for Valentine’s Day, and is available for pre-order. I’m probably more prude than most, but am happy that a book like this exists, and that a blogger wrote it.

Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay I’ve linked to Stefanie’s Author page on Amazon, because she has three books out. She blogs at Baby on Bored. I’ve read her first book, and thought it was a nice change to the parenting books I was reading at the time. Stefanie isn’t afraid to call it as she sees it, and she doesn’t sugar-coat the hard(er) parts of motherhood.


Gluten Free Girl Shauna writes at Gluten Free Girl, and she was one of the first resources I turned to when we were first diagnosed with Celiac in our family. Shauna’s love for food and her vast knowledge gave me the confidence I needed to start embracing our new lifestyle. Her eloquently-written memoir shares much about her personal road to gluten free living. She is working on a new cookbook which I eagerly await.

Half-Assed Jennette blogs at Pasta Queen, and shares her personal journey of losing 180 pounds all on her own in this fabulous memoir. I read this book coming home on an airplane during some rather rough turbulence, and her friendly writing style and hilarious anecdotes kept me calm.

Straight Up and Dirty and Moose Stephanie writes at Stephanie Klein, formerly named Greek Tragedy. I met her July 2008 at BlogHer, and was charmed by her warmth and wit. Stephanie has led such a different life than I have–which is kind of neat since we have the same name. I’ve read both of her books, and loved being able to “listen in” on her life experiences–both as a newly-divorced and dating single, and as a young teen at a camp for overweight youth.

Bitter is the New Black, Jen Lancaster Jen blogs at Jennslyvania, and was one of the first bloggers I’d heard of to write a memoir. I’ve linked to her Amazon page, as she has four books under her belt. Jen writes like a friend speaking, and immediately engages the reader with her cut-t0-the chase humor.


The IT Girls Guide to Blogging Kathie and Joelle blog at Moxie Design Studios, and have written a comprehensive guide to blogging—perfect for the newish blogger,¬† the wanna-be who wants to get started on the right foot, or the blogger who wants to beef up his/her web presence.

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog Maggie writes at Mighty Girl, and wrote a fun compilation of blog post topics. This is great for the personal blogger who sometimes has a hard time figuring out, or narrowing down blog post ideas.

Personal Development for Smart People Steve blogs at Steve I found his blog a few years ago when I was googling how to create a highly trafficked website. I like a lot of his ideas, especially the 30 Days to a New Habit posts. Some of his ideas are quite out there, and may be offensive. Please read the Amazon reviews carefully.

Crush It! This is Gary’s (featured above) newest book. I haven’t yet read it, but am interested in doing so. It’s gotten rave reviews as a fantastic resource for any interested in learning more about social media.

TypePad for Dummies Shannon blogs at Rocks in My Dryer. I love how Shannon writes, especially the way she interacts with her readers. I was fortunate to meet her at BlogHer in 08, and was thrilled to learn that she was writing a Dummies book on Typepad. The book isn’t quite out yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.


okay! I hope these ideas help in your holiday shopping—hopefully you can quickly cross people off your list and help fellow bloggers out at the same time.

Happy Shopping!

Is Self-Esteem Tied Into SiteMeter?

October 14, 2009 by · 8 Comments 

Part 4 of the Business of Blogging Series.

I get emails here and there asking how to attract blog readers, or how to get more web traffic. I really don’t know. I wish I had the magic answer, but I just don’t, so I’m not going to pretend that I do.

When I started the Slow Cooker blog, I needed to learn how to blog. I had just started working for, and in order to do my job properly I needed to figure out how to blog. I chose to use a blogspot (Blogger) blog because it was free. I’m all about the free. I knew that I was going to install BlogHerads on the site, and I knew that I wanted to be able to cover the expenses of the groceries I was going to buy.

I asked Jenny what to do, and she said to follow Elise’s advice on her How to Build Blog Traffic. So I did. I followed pretty much everything Elise said to do.

And it worked.

What Jenny didn’t explain, and what Elise didn’t mention, is that it doesn’t matter if your blog isn’t highly trafficked. It’s okay. And you could go a little nutty tracking your stats each day (or each hour, or each fifteen minutes). It might not be good for you to know who is on your site and how they got there and how long they’re on and where they go next.

Trying to write for other people is very difficult. Writing for yourself is fun.

Because I am not interested in going (too) nutty, I have only downloaded the free version of Site Meter, and have stayed away from services that offer too much detail about my readers, or which track where users go after they leave my site. Although I understand that my every click is being monitored by someone, somewhere, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel comfortable with¬† the idea that I’m being watched, and don’t want to feel Big Brotherish on my own site(s).

Most people don’t agree with me. Most feel like the more info the better, and then they tailor their writing to fit into site demographics. I come from the school of thought that If You Write It, They Will Come.

and, the more you write, the better you will get. And then more people will come. Don’t start out trying to be the best of the best. Start out because you are interested in writing, and are interested in providing valuable content–whether it’s information or entertainment.

It’s okay to tell people about your writing though—-use tools that are at your disposal to bring new readers to your site. If you are on Twitter and Facebook, link to your newest post. Attend blogging conventions, and meet other people with similar values and perspectives.

The internet is huge, but at the same time it can feel really small and tiny.

Make connections, answer questions, and remember that if you’re having fun, others will join in to have fun right along with you.

other posts you might be interested in:

The Business of Blogging series: part 1, part 2, and part 3

Time Management and Social Media: An Oxymoron?

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