Aimée Wimbush-Bourque authors the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards winner Simple Bites, which placed 1st in Best New Weblog and 3rd in Food & Drink.
Why blogging? Why did you start blogging, and what drives you now?
In some ways I feel like blogging found me, rather than the other way around. That certainly was the case with my professional blog, Simple Bites, which came across my desk in late 2009 as a very interesting offer from Tsh of Simple Mom. She was launching a small network and asked if this Canadian foodie would be the voice, energy, and workhorse behind the food channel. Ummmlemmethink — Yeah! I had been casually blogging for three years at my personal site, Under the High Chair, with no intention of monetizing or turning blogging into a profession; it was simply my way of showcasing good eats, favourite recipes, and anecdotes about my young children. Then, when the offer came to launch Simple Bites, I bought a MacBook and jumped into the world of SEO, affiliate ads, and viral marketing.
It's a dream to be able to marry your passions together, writing and food, but combining that with raising your young family at home must make for a hectic schedule at times. Describe for us the shape of your life as a wife, mother, writer, editor, and chef at your Quebec forest home.
The fact that I can do what I love and still be at home with my kids is a huge blessing, and one I relish in every day. It's actually a most necessary mental note, as most days I'm buried under dishes, laundry, Tinker Toys and email, and the reminder that I choose this path helps to rise above the chaos. I'm truly happiest at home.
I was homeschooled for most of my life, so that nurtured the time management skills and self-motivation that I now rely on to be proactive with my work and balance home life. Last year required some serious discipline to keep up with writing, two kids under 5 (I pre-schooled my eldest at home), and every thing else required to manage a small household. Fortunately, I have a tremendously supportive husband, and together we found a comfortable groove before we became sleep-deprived zombies!
Where do you find ideas for your content? If you are feeling less than inspired, where do you look for inspiration?
In five years of food blogging, I've never had a dry spell as far as content. Writer's block? Sure. Can't quite nail an intro? All the time. But creative ideas for content are always bubbling up; it's narrowing them down and not over extending myself that is a challenge for me. I credit that well of inspiration to my 'real food' upbringing, world travel experience (four continents), years spent cooking in professional kitchens, and a sheer love of eating!
Share a few of your favourite dishes with us.
A favourite dish is one that the whole family eats without fuss, as my two small boys have rather selective palates. Lemon & Oregano Roast Chicken, Classic Tourtiere, and Chocolate Chip Chili all fall into that category. We're partial to sweets, especially comforting treats like simple shortbread and classics such as strawberry-rhubarb pie.
What is your favourite meal to have from beginning to end?
Well, ahem, since you asked, this one is reserved for special occasions, and each dish is special to the whole.
Are you open about being a blogger? How do people offline react to your online writing? Have their attitudes changed as blogging has become more mainstream?
Am I open about blogging? If people care to listen, absolutely. It's funny, with blogging success (and by that I mean community, not fame or monetary worth) comes less of a need to defend or educate people about what I do. I can accept that many (OK, most) people don't know that "professional blogger" is a valid job position, and those who are aware don't assign much value to it. I frequently get 'When are you going to write a cookbook?" as if, now, THAT would be a real accomplishment. Indeed it would — if I had any desire to publish a cookbook — but I don't. At least not now. In a way, I'm writing my own online cookbook everyday, and the instant feedback is incredibly rewarding. I also get a lot of 'So, now how does that work?' which I'm pretty sure translates as 'Now, how much do you make?', and if that is all they are interested in, then I try to change the subject.
Which weblogs are your current favourites? Which weblogs have been most influential in the shaping of your own blogging?
Calgary's Dinner with Julie and Backseat Gourmet are must-reads for me, just because I can relate so well and they crack me up. Guilty Kitchen never fails to make me hungry, Seven Spoons is ever inspirational, and Cheri from Kitchen Simplicity is my favourite Canadian expat. Canada's got a line-up of rocking food bloggers!
Mentors include the noteworthy ladies of Simple Mom, Life… Your Way, Savory Sweet Life, Food in Jars, and Orangette.
What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Just jump in and start writing. You don't have to wait for the perfect camera, logo, banner, etc. to launch. Blogs evolve; that's what keeps them interesting. All those details can come later, but content does not create itself