In the Spotlight: Kristy Gardner

You are a busy girl! Tell us how you balance your time between She Eats and your other business Peppercorn Creative.

A lot of whiskey. Just kidding.

I’m a strong believer in owning your time – protecting it. And I use a method to balance my time called time blocking. Typically tasks expand to take the amount of time you allow them. So at the start of each week I block out specific hours between tasks for each day. She Eats gets about 30% of my time right now while Peppercorn Creative gets about 60%. The other 10% goes to naps. I set firm deadlines for myself and move on when the task timer tells me to. I don’t function well when my work/life balance is off and I find blocking out set hours, with a strong finish time, allows me to both be more productive when I’m working AND lets me balance non-work time. I need that time to recharge and reconnect with myself so I don’t burn out.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I’m tempted to say jammies but I’ve actually been making a conscious effort to shower and pull on my big girl pants (dresses) – it sets me up to make sure I’m not feeling like a lazy bum.

I wake up each morning about 5:30 – 6am. I’ve allotted one hour each morning to enjoy my coffee and breakfast while reading. I’m trying to get through 50-some-odd books this year and carving out this time before I start work not only helps me reach this goal but also helps me feel balanced – I’m not up and checking emails immediately. After books & breakfast, I get ready for the day and then pack my portable coffee mug, lunch, and work materials to a local coffee shop or the library. Again, setting boundaries for myself so I don’t blur the work-life-space.

Typically I’ll work through either Peppercorn Creative client and marketing tasks until early afternoon, have lunch, and then tackle She Eats.

Once I finish work, I take 30-45 minutes to work out. It’s important to me to keep a healthy body and a healthy mind. Then my favourite part of the day = dinner and me time! No work related tasks and definitely no email checking. Showing up, 100% each day, requires I give my brain that break.

I aim to work about 7 hours a day, 4 days a week (Mon/Tues and Thurs/Fri), with an extra 5 hour shift every other Saturday.

Tell us about your book Cooking with Cocktails. What inspired you to take the leap of faith and dig into writing a book?

It was actually a bit of an accident.

I attended the University of Victoria where I enrolled in a Woman’s Studies class called “Women, Food & Culture”. It rocked my world. I learned food is more than just something to put in my mouth. It’s an opportunity to connect with others – the folks who grow and produce it and the people close to us. And when done right, damn good. I immediately started a food blog called SheEats.ca <http://sheeats.ca/>; to share what I was learning and to help people in the community create meals and understand where their food comes from. Now it’s a place where I share recipes that focus on farmer’s market friendly meals and cocktails.

7 years later, a publisher – Countryman Press (a division of WW Norton) – based in New York asked if I’d write a book. I said yes.

I’ve always fancied myself a writer. A would-be author. But actually, I was 2 weeks out from going back to university for a second degree in marine biology (to work with large oceanic mammals) when the publisher approached me! Once I got really into the writing, recipe development and photography of She Eats, I thought it would be damn cool to write a cookbook. But didn’t know if it’d ever become a real thing.

The trajectory of my life changed in a single “you’ve got mail” ding.

I can imagine writing a book is a very involved and long process from concept to when it hits the shelves.

It was! And continues to be with promotion. When the publisher approached me I immediately called all my friends who had published cookbooks prior and asked their advice. They all told me the same thing: Take the amount of work you think it’s going to be and multiply it by 7. Much like blogging, a cookbook is so much more than just writing. It involves a complex system of project management: Planning the chapters and recipes, Grocery shopping, creating, developing and testing recipes, managing recipe testers and receiving their feedback which then has to be applied and retested on the recipe at your end, food styling and photography, photo editing, writing the manuscript including headnotes and sidebars, going through various iterations of edits with the publisher’s editorial team, planning promotion on multiple channels, etc… Writing and photographing the book took about 9 months. Post-processing and edits another 4, and promotion once the book comes out can range anywhere from 1-2 years. It’s my baby.

What was the most rewarding part of writing the book?

Getting to connect so intimately with my publishing team AND the folks who buy the book! Seeing the recipes they make from it, shaking their hands at a book signing, and getting to hear their stories about what food and drinks mean to them – it’s so amazing. I’m infinitely grateful for the community I have.

What was the hardest part?

You mean besides having to drink my way through 100 bottles of alcohol (that’s how many recipes there are) once the book was published? …. I’d say having your manuscript come back with red pen all over it. Edit, edit, edit, cut, cut, cut. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was in Stephen King’s book, On Writing, where he said “kill your darlings”. You should be able to cut 30% out of any given manuscript and it will make it better. Receiving requests and edits as an artist is tough – but ultimately, those edits made the book better.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the food blogging industry?

Not my dress size, that’s for sure!

Seriously though, the community. I love how supportive, talented, creative and generous people are. This sounds weird but some of my best friends in the world are readers or other bloggers whom I’ve never met. I can’t imagine my life without them.

What’s your most popular recipe?

According to the oh-knowth-all-Google-Analytics, the top 3 recipes on my blog are:

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Do it. Stop thinking or procrastinating or wishing someone would do it for you. Life doesn’t owe us any favours and no one is going to make it happen for you. And if you do go for it, do it because you love it. If you’re looking to blog just to make money or get rich and famous quick, you’ll quit before the egg hits the pan. Most “overnight successes” have 7-10 years of substance and support behind them that we’ve never seen. Successful people are generally the ones who stuck it out longer than others and really plugged into their community. They applied themselves long enough, hard enough, kindly enough, and passionately enough, and they’ve made it.
If someone else has done it, you can too. Ya just gotta do the work.

Head over to Kristy’s blog and take a peek at her drool worthy recipe photos and her new cookbook Cooking with Cocktails.

Thank you to Kristy for taking the time to chat with us!

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Krista McPhee

Written by Krista McPhee

Krista is the go-to support rep for Cookbook. If you have a question she is your girl! She's an avid Foodie, and always on the look out for the next great recipe.

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