You’re probably bored of hearing how my life is one big juggling act of baking and working full time, but have you ever wondered sometimes what my day to day actually looks like?
Well I spent a week at the end of May writing down every waking move, every bake, every moment, from dawn until dusk. I could explain the inadvertent two month break between then and actually publishing this, but I think this daily diary will do that itself.
Before I begin I should disclaim that running a food blog, publishing cookbooks and being able to call baking a job in any way is an absolute dream. However, between the baking, writing, photography and all the business admin such as marketing, accounting and keeping up on social media, it’s quite clear that it’s a dedicated job in itself, and so partnering it with another busy role is no walk in the park.
“I quite literally have to switch my brain off baking and onto fashion”
Most of you don’t know, but my official day job is in Training for a luxury fashion brand, a field miles away from food and drink. This means that between the working hours of Monday to Friday, I quite literally have to switch my brain off baking and onto fashion. The story is visa versa when the evenings and weekend roles around. With the two being in complete different worlds, it’s difficult not to let my mind wander between the two, but to ensure I can get the best out of both, it’s a needs must.
So here’s how it’s done. My week as a food blogger, who works full time. I should add that I’m by no means a professional yet, I’m still working things out and finding the best balance. I’m certainly not one of those crazies who wakes up at 4am to jump start their day (although I do wish I was). My commute is 3 hours long and my job is a solid 8 hours of intense focus, so it can very easily take one busy week at work and a weekend of plans to wipe me out. There are weeks, as you’re about to read, where wiped out or not, I need to continue working. Over time I have learnt a few tips and tricks on how to manage and schedule my time, which has helped highly with reducing my anxiety and stress. I think it’s important that this post is little more than just a peep inside my kitchen drawer, so have added these in should there be any readers in the same boat, who need the support.
Whether you’re a food blogger yourself, or are simply just curious as to what goes on behind the scenes, I hope you enjoy this preview of my day to day. If you read something you’d like to hear more about, please let me know by either leaving a comment, or sending me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
Now let’s get to a week in my crazy life.
5:30am – Alarm set early this morning as I need to head into work for an early meeting. Coffee is urgent.
06:00 – Working on my instagram schedule on the train. Commuting is the perfect excuse for social media admin.
10:00 – Meeting over and realised I haven’t eaten breakfast. I’m called into support a training urgently so have to just grab a banana from the fruit basket. Looks like my first substantial meal will be lunch today. Yay to Monday.
13:00 – OK, I’m finally eating food. Using the time to check over work emails and look over the rest of the week’s agenda. I love planning ahead but I very occasionally take it too far so it overwhelms me. I’ve made the mistake of looking at my work week and then into the weekend and realised I have so.much.to.do. Decided to clear my brain with a list of priorities and split it between work and personal. Brain dumps save my life.
TIP 1: If you suffer from an overactive brain like me then you’ll sympathise with the overwhelming feeling you get when you have so many thoughts rattling around. Brain dumps are an amazing way to get all those thoughts out and onto paper so they’re visible. Half the time my anxiety comes from a fear of forgetting, and then feeling rubbish for not being organised enough, so this helps hugely.
Tip 2: Once you have the list, next you need to allocate time to think about certain things. It’s counterproductive getting the thoughts out of your brain and then continuing to worry about them, so set yourself a schedule, and plan the time to focus on it. Easier said than done maybe but you get used to it.
17:30 – Rushing out of the office to catch the train. It’s 25 minutes from here to the station and my train arrives at 17:57. I can do this!
17:58 – I made it! I’m using the return commute to listen to a podcast to wind down. I’ve been listening to Ferne Cotton’s Breathe series recently and it’s been really good so far.
19:45 – Home with dinner in the oven. If it’s been a mad day, we usually keep dinner easy, so today it’s roasted salmon, veg and crispy kale.
20:30 – I need to use the next 30 minutes before Game of Thrones to go through my personal priority list from earlier and action some tasks. I update my book schedule with all the bakes completed so far and plan my bakes for this week. At some point I need to check the cupboards for what supplies I need to buy.
22:00 – Game of Thrones – WOW
22:45 – Going to sleep takes me a good 30 minutes at night. It’s like the process of relaxing, relaxes my mind enough to allow more thoughts in. This is a time when I remember things I urgently need to do/didn’t do, or it’s when all my creative ideas spill out.
TIP: Have a note pad by your bed for moments like this. This is the bedtime brain dump. I’ve tried forcing myself to sleep, saying I’ll remember it all in the morning, then the morning swings by and I’ve forgotten so I spend the whole day annoyed and unfocussed.
06:30 – GOT gave me odd dreams and I’ve woken up exhausted.
07:30 – Posted my Bake yourself Happy Challenge post on instagram on mistakes made. Reminded myself that mistakes are a good thing.
16:00 – Tuesdays are definitely the busiest day of the week for me. It’s been back to back meetings all day. It looks like I might be heading to Barcelona too next week to hunt some venues for a work event so need to make sure I relook at my baking schedule.
18:00 – On the train home, using the time today to research for my new book. I get inspiration from Pinterest mainly, and this is where the ideas seed from. It’s then a case of researching recipes and putting together a plan of how I’m going to develop my own version. It’s a good way to pass the hour and I find it really helps my brain wind out of day job and transition into baking.
20:00 – Another easy dinner tonight as I need to bake a batch of cookies for the book. No time or light to shoot them tonight though so I’m saving that for tomorrow.
22:00 – Getting into bed early tonight so at least I’ll fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
23:00 – So much for a reasonable hour.
06:55 – Working from home = an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Hurrah! My day job have launched Work from Home days once a week and they’re a god send. Not having to endure the commute, even for just one day, is a dream.
07:00 – Liam however, still needs to commute today so I need to take him to the station.
07:15 – Dropped Liam off and popped into the shops to grab some supplies for lunch and my book shoot this afternoon. Finishing work at home means I’m going to be able to jump straight into the kitchen at 17:30 and finish off those cookies.
08:30 – Got home and managed to fit in 20 minutes of yoga before a quick shower, breakfast and coffee. Spending the next 30 minutes getting some baking admin done. If only every morning was this slow.
TIP: If you have 20 minutes spare, find time for exercise like Yoga, HITT or running. Even on work from home days I like to get up at normal time as it allows me to ease into the day. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much before 9am which is a great motivation for the rest of the day ahead.
18:00 – Where did the day go?! It wasn’t exactly the 17:30 finish I planned but 18:00 will do fine, at least I haven’t got the commute. Time to set the stage up for the cookie shoot.
18:45 – Shoot interrupted as I need to go pick up Liam from the station.
19:00 – Every time I do a shoot I forget how long it takes. I like to be able to offer my publisher a selection of image compositions so I change the background, layout, lighting and angle several times throughout. In the end it takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour just for one bake.
20:30 – Late dinner tonight and my brain feels wired so no more work for today. This evening we’ll catch up on our boxset shows. I also need to do some wedmin and get our invitations ordered.
08:45 – Woke up this morning to some exciting collaboration opportunity emails in my inbox so spent the morning looking into them and responding. I have to be mindful when I get these opportunities not to jump straight in with a yes response. I’ve fallen victim to my hastiness in the past by not checking my schedule and overbooking my agenda, so now I have to be honest with myself in order to make sure I give myself and brand justice. Sometimes this does mean I sadly have to turn things down.
TIP: If you have to say no, it will be rubbish, but if you really want to work with them don’t close the door. Leave it open and stay in touch with the brand via email and on their social posts. Keeping that communication flowing means you’ll be one of the first they think of next time there’s an opportunity.
12:00 – There was an important business meeting today at work so it’s been a little bit crazy this morning.
17:30 – The rest of the day continued to be mad, but it’s been such a beautiful day I need to get out of the office to enjoy some sunshine.
18:30 – Decided to eat out tonight so headed straight to our local fancy pub for dinner and a few drinks.
20:30 – Completely forgot to write my shopping list for what I need for this weekends bakes so searching the cupboards now so I can book in the delivery. I think I need to create a pantry inventory to make this easier. Oh wait, but then I’ll need to keep the inventory updated….
08:00 – Happy Friday! On Friday’s I usually grab an Avocado and Bacon breakfast bagel from a place in London called Abokado. If you live/work in London and haven’t tried this yet, add it to your list.
10:00 – Team meeting at work was great today. We’ve had such a crazy week, it’s been good to sit down together and hear what everyone has been doing.
13:00 – Made some wedding calls at lunch as I need to lock down our catering and finalise details with the florist.
17:30 – Practically ran out of the office today to get my nails done then got a text from Liam to meet him at his office for drinks so detoured. I’m so easily swayed. I’ll rebook my nails for the week before we go away.
21:00 – Ate a Leon takeaway on the train home (satay chicken box with a side of GF chicken nuggets – #ifyouknowyouknow)
22:30 – More wedmin and boxsets tonight.
09:00 – Liams off to Marbella today for 2 days with work so this morning he is packing, while I try to clean the house a little.
10:00 – Food delivery has arrived, so I unpack and make a quick coffee.
11:30 – I drop Liam at the station and wave him goodbye for his free weekend in Marbs. We’re going back in 1 week for a wedding so I’m actually not feeling too bitter about it.
12:00 – I try to give myself one day off a week but I’m going to make use of the quiet kitchen and work on a collaboration bake I’m doing for a brand. The light in the kitchen isn’t the best until the afternoon so I try out the shoot set up in our living room as it’s dual aspect so it gets the light all day long. It’s annoying having to transport all the props and bakes between the two rooms but the set up works
13:30 – I finish that shoot and then get to work preparing another bake for tomorrow. I end up sitting down and getting lost in Instagram stories for 30 minutes, I’m so easily distracted!
15:30 – I’ve finish preparing and call it a day for now and head to my friends.
16:30 – 22:00 – Spent the rest of the day at her house chilling out. Exactly what I needed.
09:30 – Slept really well, which I tend to when I’m in bed alone as I have the whole bed to myself. I decided when planning this book that I need to treat baking days like any other working day, so I’m already up, showered and dressed ready to start the day.
10:30 – Swiss roll, a mocktail and choux pastry are on the agenda today. I start with the Swiss roll as it could go wrong so I want to have time to redo if necessary.
11:30 – Smashed the Swiss Roll – I’m SO pleased with how that turned out. I set it up ready to shoot, but my camera battery is dead. Went onto Amazon and bought a spare battery so this never happens again.
12:30 – Swiss shoot done and onto Choux Pastry. I forgot how much I enjoy baking Choux. The best thing about baking a book is that I’m able to make such a variety of things. There are times when the book can get quite laborious, especially when I’m baking stuff I’ve done tons of times before, but when it comes bakes I’ve not done in ages, it’s makes the process so much more fun.
13:00 – Quick tea break. Does anyone else completely forget to eat and drink when they’re baking? I think it’s mad, especially considering I’m in the kitchen!!!
14:00 – My Choux bake is ready for it’s photoshoot. The aches in my feet from standing and pain in my back from bending down and shooting have begun to set in.
15:30 – Final bake of the week and but this one will be my biggest challenge. Drinks are easy to make, but I find them notoriously hard to style. Drinks need to be bought to life so they look appealing. The background and lighting are also quite key so there are a number of tips I try to follow when shooting drinks.
Drink Food Styling Tips
- 1: Use fake ice – you only have a few moments to shoot with real ice and in some cases a diluted drink changes the scene completely. To solve this issue you can buy really realistic fake ice cubes online that come in handy for these exact moments.
- 2: Use a spray bottle to add condensation to a glass – maintaining the perfect temperature during the shoot to keep glasses and drinks cool and crisp, is nearly impossible so spraying on your own condensation does the trick.
- 3: Use plain backgrounds and complimentary colours so your photos pop- drinks are hard because they can be fairly one dimensional objects. Ensuring the colours stands adds interest and vibrance.
- 4: Experiment with lighting and try back lighting the subject – a good way to counteract light from bouncing off the glass and onto the lens is to backlight it instead.
- 5. Get creative with garnishes – garnishes such as fruits, salt to the rim of the glass and straws are a fun way to add more life and another layer of interest to photos.
16:00 – 19:00 – I tidy the kitchen, then settle down to write up my recipes from yesterday and today. I need to share my collaboration post with the brand tonight so work on this first.
19:00 – I make myself some dinner, have a shower and do some yoga to unwind and stretch. I haven’t finished my work yet so it’s back to the laptop for the rest of the evening.
21:30 – Need to switch off before the working week begins tomorrow so shut my laptop and turn on a film. I miss Liam when he’s away but having free rein of the TV remote means I get to watch whatever trash I want. I pick the trashiest chic flick I can find.
22:30 – Realise I have a baking order for next weekend. Panic that I’ve double booked and not allowed myself enough time, but it’s all fine I just need to plan to bake mid week again so I’m prepped.
23:00 – Can’t sleep as I’m now worried I don’t have enough ingredients so have to run downstairs to check as I know I’ll forget or won’t have time in the morning.
23:15 – Decide to plan Yoga into bedtime routine next weekend then eventually fall asleep.