Jeannette Ordas authors the Ninjamatics' 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards winner Everybody Likes Sandwiches, which placed 1st in Best Designed Weblog.
Why blogging? Why did you start blogging, and what drives you now?
I started Everybody Likes Sandwiches back in 2005 just to get back into the practice of writing again. Way back in the late 90s, I used to self-publish a zine called "Queen of the Universe", and while it was mainly a personal/music/movie zine, I also wrote a column about food. I also had a couple of online journals where I poured out my heart about stupid boyfriends and dumb jobs, and I liked the idea of making online connections. So, after stumbling upon the food blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, I thought it was a great idea to start a blog just focusing on food. I jumped in despite not having a camera or any kind of audience, but I didn't care. I loved the process of documenting my recipes and all the activity that was going on in my kitchen. I needed a creative outlet, and this blog gave me so much of what I was looking for!
Despite seven years of blogging, there's still so much to learn and try that I'm not getting bored in the kitchen. I hate to rely on the same old basket of tricks, so having a food blog keeps meals interesting, as I'm always trying to find a new way to cook up lentils (or whatever is hiding in my fridge). Plus, I also have gotten to know and meet other bloggers and readers, and many of them have become genuinely amazing friends. My small little world has grown tremendously, and I have my blog, in part, to thank.
What are your favourite recipes to share? What makes some recipes more fun to share than others?
If I make a recipe that is awesome, it's going on the blog — well, as long as I've also got a decent photo for it. Sharing the love is easy, and I think that's why people visit my blog. My recipes are usually simple without a lot of complicated ingredients or complex instructions, and I think they taste great. But I also think a good story is also worth sharing, and I like when the two are intertwined. My blog isn't just a collection of recipes, but there're stories and memories and stuff I need to get off my chest. Those are the posts that are the ones I like to share best.
Food is only one of your many talents, it turns out. Tell us about your other creative work.
My husband and I run our own web design business, Matchbox Creative. He does the web programming, and I do the design work. I also have a small greeting card company that I started back in 2005 on Etsy, and I now sell wholesale to shops around North America. While being a web designer, a greeting card maker, and a food blogger all seem so different from one another, they actually all tie in pretty well together. Having a popular blog has given me web design clients and all kinds of food writing opportunities, and it's I think how many of my etsy shop customers have come from my food blog. It's a big web of awesome, and I'm happy to have carved out my own little space for myself.
If you are feeling less than inspired, where do you look for inspiration?
It's pretty easy to feel less than inspired or burnt out from blogging. Often times, I've got so much other work and responsibilities that the blog gets put on the back burner. Or I've felt like I've got nothing left to give. I don't ever want to feel like I'm writing a post just so I can tick off an item on my "to do" list. I don't want blogging or the process of making food to feel like a chore, because when it does, it means your heart isn't into it.
I've felt that way before and I've just taken a break — order in some take out, make a few old standbys, or just give myself some time away from posting. It's okay to take a break! Everyone needs a vacation, and I don't really feel guilty when that happens. Taking time away from the computer or the kitchen is perfectly fine... you'll find your way back when you're ready.
As for inspiration, I get it from so many places — farmers' markets, cool little shops in my Chinatown neighbourhood, restaurants, blogs and magazines. I also get a lot of inspiration from my memories and my childhood. I've culled so much from thinking back to how my mom or grandmother would cook certain dishes. And I think some of my best posts and recipes have come from those remembrances.
Are you open about being a blogger? How do people offline react to your online writing?
I don't hide the fact that I blog, and it would probably come up in conversation pretty quickly. It's a hobby of mine, and most of my friends and family know about it. But the funny thing is, my husband and my family don't read my blog. And neither do most of my close friends, or at least not regularly. But I love it when my good friends have told me that they've made one of my recipes and that it's become one of their favourites. Accolades from the people you love are always good!
What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Write from your heart and use your own voice. Be honest and open and willing to share. And don't worry about your photos not being perfect or your stats — just jump in and do it!