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Friday, November 21, 2014

A Hard Goodbye

I'm not even sure how to begin this post. I suppose I'll come right out with it: it's time to step away from blogging. Whoa, it feels weird to even type that. The Sweets Life has been a huge part of my life for the last five years. It's hard to remember a time when I didn't create a weekly meal plan full of never before tried recipes, take photographs of whatever we were eating for dinner, and spend hours on the computer several nights a week. The process of blogging is so ingrained in me that I can't really imagine stopping, which is kind of why I've delayed it, even though there was a little bug in the back of my head for the last several months telling me it was probably time.
There are thousands of food blogs out there. Tens of thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands. The Sweets Life is a tiny little fish in a really, really big ocean of food blogs, the majority of which are much more impressive than what I've got here. Given the abundance of food blogs, I'm realistic enough to know me quitting isn't a huge loss to the world of food blogging. I don't say that with false humility or because I'm fishing for compliments...I've never blogged for fame or fortune and I'm grateful to have even a few thousand of you reading regularly! This has been an amazing creative hobby, and one that has brought a lot of perks over the last five years. I will never tire of hearing from readers who've made something they've seen on the blog and fallen in love with it. Just yesterday I got one of those emails and it made my day! Thanks to blogging we've received some pretty fun things in the mail...new cookbooks, a smoker, and countless food products to try. I've had fun "meeting" other bloggers and being inspired by the meals they're creating day in and day out. Most of all, we've eaten really well along the way!

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish
So why am I quitting? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. In other words, I'm able to make blogging work in my life these days, but I don't necessarily want to. The Sweets Life has been a stressor more than anything else lately. I'm scrambling to make new recipes, photograph new recipes, and then get on my computer to do the actual blogging part. I can make it work, but I don't want to anymore. I want that time for other things! My favorite part about all of this has always been the cooking and the sharing food with people, and I can do that part without blogging. Even still, I have second-guessed my decision many times the past few weeks. There was freedom in not rushing to make dinner while it was still light out so that I could take pictures, but at the same time I was sad I wouldn't have the chance to tell you all about what I was making!
Homemade Cracker Jack
 The bottom line, though, is that I'm ready to focus on the really fun parts of my hobby and do away with the really time-consuming part! I love food and eating and all things related, and I'm kind of excited to see how I can incorporate those interests into future endeavors. For now, however, I think it goes without saying that I also want and need to devote more time to my family. Part of the reason I'm not weeks ahead on content like I used to be is because I'd rather spend time with Brecken and Ryan. Ryan has always been 100% supportive of The Sweets Life (he even expressed concern when I first considered quitting a few months back), but I'm ready to just hang out with him in the evenings and not feel like I have to be stuck behind my computer editing photos and drafting posts. 
King Cake
I will genuinely miss a lot of this. Besides passing along our favorite recipes, I enjoy sharing anecdotes of our lives and I know there are at least a few of you who pop in to read those, not for the recipes I'm posting (you are too kind, I'm really not that interesting!). I'm not planning to disappear completely from the internet. I love social media too much! The Sweets Life will stay online for those of you who do come here for recipes, and I myself am excited to start cooking more of my favorites out of the archives. I plan to maintain The Sweets Life Facebook page, where I'll likely post photos and recipe recommendations fairly regularly (almost 6,000 of you "like" that page but probably aren't seeing my posts there due to Facebook notification rules--to make sure you're getting them, follow the instructions here!) On that same note, follow me on Instagram where I'll probably up my food-posting game (and of course the usual abundance of Brecken pictures!). In other words, I'll definitely still be around and it's possible I'll pop back here occasionally. I committed to a few sponsored posts down the road that I may still come back to finish, and I can see myself writing a sporadic post at times simply because a recipe must be shared! On that note, don't hesitate to be in touch...I'm always happy to answer a recipe question or help you plan your party menu. I'm the nerd who gets seriously excited about meal planning...just ask my brother who recently had a weekly meal plan and grocery list sent to him (unwarranted) or my friends who don't dare plan a freezer cook day because they know I want to obsess over those details! You can always get ahold of me at natalie@thesweetslife.com!
Finally, there aren't poignant enough words to end this post, but I do want to give a giant thanks to each and every one of you who have popped in to read. Whether you've been a devoted reader for five years or you Googled your way here today, I am truly honored! It's been way too fun!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12 Non-Pumpkin Pies for Thanksgiving

Check out 12 Non-Pumpkin Pies for Thanksgiving!
by Natalie McLaury at Foodie.com
At 28 years old, I have yet to host Thanksgiving. I have no doubt my time will come and until then, I'm pretty okay with being the sous chef and letting either my mom or my father-in-law, both fantastic cooks, do the bulk of the cooking! This year we'll be with Ryan's family for Thanksgiving and Ryan will actually be smoking a turkey to serve alongside the traditional roasted turkey. An aunt has the desserts covered, but our family abides by the law that there's no such thing as too many desserts, so I'm contemplating what I can contribute to the table next week.

I'm already pretty sold on remaking the Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and I know Aunt Julie will be bringing Banana Pudding (non-traditional for Thanksgiving, maybe, but the best) and her famous chocolate cookies. Even with all of those options, I can't help but think we need some pie. It's Thanksgiving after all! I know a lot of you don't like pumpkin pie (don't worry, we can still be friends) and since our bases are covered when it comes to a pumpkin dessert, I've instead put together a collection of non-pumpkin pies that can be found on Foodie.

A few years ago I made the Salted Caramel Pie and I'm still pretty partial to that one, although part of me says we're already abandoning the traditional desserts so maybe we should go for the crowd-pleasing Reese's Fudge Pie! From chocolate pies to pecan pies to Biscoff pies to pie milkshakes, I have some serious decision-making to do before next week!
Reese's Fudge Pie

Check out the entire collection on Foodie, and let me know what pie you're making for Thanksgiving!

Note-I wrote this post as a sponsored Foodie contributor, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

One Year Ago: Green Curry Shrimp with Vegetables
Four Years Ago: Bananas Foster and Pumpkin Knots