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The Blogging We Do, Send-Off Cinnamon Rolls

I read this post by Erin Loechner, who writes the blog Design for Mankind, last week and have been thinking about it ever since. When I first started blogging, I did it sporadically and unintentionally. I didn’t schedule time to blog or seek out inspiration per se. I would blog when I felt like it, when something interesting hit me, or when I happened to capture a photo of something I made at home or ate out. This was before Pinterest and Instagram and Twitter (but not Facebook). Before I owned a fancy camera or even an iPhone. I wasn’t a blogging pioneer (though I did have a LiveJournal back in 2001) but I definitely remember a time when blogging was still something few people did, and even fewer people did professionally.

I started blogging because I missed writing and as I was discovering my new surroundings in San Francisco, it made sense to tie my ramblings to food. My photos weren’t pretty and I’m not sure that at the time, I actually cared. I photographed food in dim restaurants, used flash, and my only props were my regular utensils and, occasionally, a placemat. By the time Matt and I started Turntable Kitchen, I had accumulated a large selection of napkins, twine, mismatched plates and vintage utensils. I began to have a schedule (Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts, regardless of whether I was inspired or not). Like many writers, I had been taught that in order to become a better writer, you had to write more. And you had to schedule an allotted writing time for yourself, even if you weren’t specifically in the mood to write at that moment. For the most part, it worked. I cooked more, I photographed more, I wrote more and in turn, I became a better cook, a better photographer, and (I hope) a better writer.

But at some point, blogging became more than just writing; it started to feel like keeping up with the Joneses.

In addition to photographing our recipes for the site (and later the Pairings Box) I started photographing using my Instagram account. I signed up for a Pinterest account and immediately began comparing my images to those of others — many of which were taken by professional photographers…people who style and photograph for a living. The more I got sucked into Pinterest, the more I started feeling inadequate in other parts of my life; were my dining room chairs unacceptable? Should my flower arrangements be tied with twine and sweetly tucked into mason jars? Were my new Fall boots already last year? I began to feel overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ associated with getting the word out about my posts: stumbling and pinning and tweeting and Facebook-ing. Even though I was still sharing the food we cooked and ate at home, I began to think more strategically about what would be popular. There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking, and frankly, I think it makes for a better reading experience. But, between the increased flow of craft and cooking projects I was seeing on Pinterest, the amount of blogs I was reading as a result of being so active in social media, and the amount of time I was spending thinking about how to tie my posts to relevant events, I had little time to think about the thing that was at the heart and soul of what I was doing: writing. When I look through my archives, I find many posts that I am still very proud of, but occasionally I will stumble upon posts that feel like more of an afterthought than the lead.

One of Erin’s points struck me: “We live in a world of more.” I want less, she wrote. Maybe it is because we’re on the cusp of such a major life change, it’s the holiday season, or the fact that our site has become more than just a blog but a small business, I’ve become more aware of that age old concept: quality over quantity. Having a schedule and an editorial calendar is great, but only if you have something interesting to say, a unique perspective, something you really want to share. Commenting on other people’s blogs just for the sake of commenting or with the hope of driving traffic back to your site isn’t really worthwhile. Commenting to say hello to a friend to let them know you’re reading? A great way to stay in touch! In fact, I always appreciate your comments, even if they’re just a quick hello or ‘that looks yummy.’

I still love Pinterest, and Instagram, and Twitter, but I’m trying to not put so much pressure on myself with any of these communication tools, but rather appreciate them for what they are and should be: fun. Not a reason to feel pressured to live some kind of perfectly styled life because — let’s face it — none of us have that kind of time. Beautiful things should make you feel good about the world around you, and connecting with people virtually should make it feel small in a good way.

I told myself before the Christmas weekend that I wouldn’t go online at all on Christmas Day but, inevitably, I did. I checked my Facebook, shared images of our gift exchange and breakfast, and scrolled through my Pinterest. It felt natural to me, and only human to want to share what we were experiencing with other like-minded people. On that day, it felt nice to connect with people, and as I looked at perfectly arranged table settings, pure white kitchen islands, and expertly styled hair in my Pinterest stream, I felt happy about everything beautiful in the world. I do think it’s possible to enjoy the ‘more’ in this world, without worrying about putting out less.

I’ve noticed that, over the course of my pregnancy, I’ve put less pressure on myself to stick to a schedule. As a result, I didn’t post significantly less (though there were weeks when I only had one post and when it didn’t get published until the very end of the week), but what I did post was food and stories that I still want to revisit. I have started to put my flowers in mason jars tied in twine and bought some tassels for the baby’s nursery, and I’m thankful for Pinterest for helping me reconnect with my crafty self. And while I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by social media, by and large, it helps me feel connected to people who make me think, question, discover, and continually push myself.

So here’s the thing: in 2013, I’m going to try to not plan so much. I know (or so I’ve been told) that babes don’t really care about your schedule, your big plans, and especially not your cute dry-clean only clothes. I know that Turntable Kitchen will grow with us, as it has over the past two years, and I know that it will only continue to get better for us, and for you. The stuff you’ll find here is the stuff that really matters. Whatever that may be.

I wish you a safe, happy, and healthy New Year. I tweaked my favorite cinnamon roll recipe for Christmas morning, and conveniently froze the leftovers. Whether baby arrives by Jan 1st or not, I think they’ll be a nice way to start a very exciting New Year. See you on the flip side, sparkling and all.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans and Cream Cheese Frosting
*yields approximately 12 cinnamon rolls
Cream cheese frosting recipe adapted from here
My original Cinnamon Roll recipe can be found here

For the dough:

1 cup of milk (2% is fine)
1/3 cup of butter
.25 ounces of active dry yeast
1/2 cup of sugar
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
3 large eggs

For the filling:

1 1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1/3 cup of pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of flour
7 tablespoons of butter at room temperature

For the cream cheese frosting:

2 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons of milk
1 1/4 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar

1. Start by making the dough. Heat milk in a small pot until it just starts to bubble. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter until it is melted. Set aside and let cool.
2. Combine half of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment. Beat until the ingredients are well-mixed.  Add in the lukewarm milk/butter mixture and eggs, beating well. Add in 1/2 cup of flour, stirring well. Continue adding the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well each time.
3. Once the dough has just come together, switch to a dough hook and knead for another minute or two. Transfer dough to a lightly flour surface and knead it for another few minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Add flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to your cutting board or counter.
4. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
5. While the dough is resting, combine all of the filling ingredients (except the pecans) in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the sugar and spices until everything is uniformly mixed and you don’t have any large chunks remaining. Incorporate the chopped pecans using your fingers.
6. Roll out the dough into a roughly 9×12 inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll from the long end, making sure to leave the edges bare. Seal the roll by pinching and twisting the dough along the edges.
7. Butter a 9×12 inch glass baking dish. Cut the dough log into 12 rolls, placing them cut side up in the pan (they should fit snugly against each other). Cover the pan with cellophane and refrigerate for approximately 8-12 hours.
8. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let it sit out in a draft-free place for about 30 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 20 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.
10. While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Add the cream cheese and milk to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Next, add the sugar and beat until fully incorporated and lump-free.
11. Spread the cream cheese frosting over the hot cinnamon rolls and eat warm.

Musical Pairings: Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream + Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans and Cream Cheese Frosting

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Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Oh I can totally relate to this (including the ancient LiveJournal…). There seems to be a bit of an anti-social media backlash at the moment – I’ve heard several people say they’re stepping away from twitter/pinterest/instagram because they don’t like the competitiveness of it and ou’d have to be made of steel not to feel a little bit envious when you see a beautiful kitchen or perfectly styled dining table. But you are so right, it should, above all, be fun. I’m so grateful for what social media and blogging has brought into my life from inspiration to wisdom to friendship and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

    Speaking of which, not only is this post beautifully written and thought-provoking but the photographs are gorgeous too. Definitely pin-worthy ;)

    I’ll be thinking of you all over the next week or so and here’s to a wonderful 2013!

  • http://foodloveswriting.com/ Shanna

    I love this post and agree with it. You’ve got me thinking, as Erin’s original post did, about the blogging I do and how it matters/if it matters/when it matters/etc. I like the way you rightly believe in quality over quantity BUT ALSO aren’t putting pressure on yourself with rules about what that means (i.e., thou shalt not be on Facebook). I can relate to that so much and you’ve said it so well. Excited for 2013 and the very big new thing it will bring for you… and excited to be reading along as it does.

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Cookie and Kate

    Hear, hear, Kasey. I just checked my Google Reader account and I was shaking my head in a mix of awe/mild disgust that some bloggers had managed to maintain their daily posting schedules this week. I can’t keep up. I have to feel inspired to write and take photographs. It just doesn’t work if I’m not. My best intentions to post on a regular schedule and keep up with an ambitious editorial plan always fail. I just can’t do it! So I try to focus on quality over quantity and hope that my visitors appreciate that. I love your writing and what you do here and I’m always happy to see a new post from you, whether it comes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday or whenever inspiration strikes.

  • elalderson

    Yes, Kasey! I’m working on simplifying everything in my life right now and I’ve realized I’ve been putting pressure on myself to keep up with everything (even things that shouldn’t be as important as they are). I hate seeing all the major sites jump on “food blogging” and naming “best food blogs” or “best instagrammers”, etc- it seems like we’re gearing up for some giant competition. I’ve been pulling away more and more! Love this post (and Happy New Year!)

  • Nicole

    Quality over quantity has been my mantra this year, and I’m planning to stick to it in 2013. I had a similar reaction to Erin’s post last week too. Her words were a good reminder for us all.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Kathryn! I’m so glad to hear this resonated. Omg, those LiveJournal days…funny what early blogging looked like. I, too, have heard so much backlash against social media but I think it’s quite misdirected. In many ways, I feel that these channels open our eyes and make us think, but they also expose us to much more than we used to be exposed to. I think sometimes it feels overwhelming, but the key is knowing how to self-curate. After all, I’m thankful I met you thanks to blogging and social media! Cheers to 2013! xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you Shanna! I think it’s important to step back and re-evaluate what we do and why we do it to reaffirm our beliefs or, sometimes, question them. Rules are meant to be broken. :) I say, we should always do what feels right. Thanks for all of your support in 2012 and to a wonderful 2013! Excited to use my newfound sleepless hours to finally dig into your wonderful book. xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I love the straightforward nature of your comment, Kathryne! I do think some of these bloggers genuinely love posting every day and were probably excited about using a quieter week to reflect. But, like I said in my post, if it was only for the sake of sticking to a schedule, it feels unnecessary. It means a lot to know that you enjoy stopping by here, regardless of how often I post. I feel very much the same about your site – sometimes I find myself falling behind on my blog reading and will stumble across a post that’s weeks old, but that I relate to so very much. I’m so excited to see what you’ll come up with in 2013, and so happy that in 2012 we got to know each other, meet each other in person (!) and support each other’s endeavors. Here’s to more of that! And hopefully a real glass of wine in person :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Erin, just read your post and thought it was funny how we are both clearly having the same reflections (lots of big changes for both of us on the horizon!). If there’s anything I’ve learned in 2012, it’s that saying no, cutting back, and focusing on a smaller group of people actually leads to much more quality in general – in our writing, in our time spent with people, and even in the recognition we get from some of those lists! I know 2013 is going to be a great year for you and I’m so very excited to finally get to chat with you in person in the New Year :) xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Nicole, one of the reasons I adore your blog is because you never compromise quality over quantity. Every post (and newsletter!) is thought-provoking and intentional. It makes me want to sit down and write, which is so wonderful and refreshing. Wishing you a wonderful 2013, friend. xo

  • http://thefauxmartha.com/ Melissa // the faux martha

    Amen, amen, amen. I’ve been questioning blogging in general which all started after I made my work designing blogs. Ironic. I love so much about blogging and the people I’ve met through it-you! But the constant need to be better and the internal comparison is killing me. Not to mention pumping out mass quantities of content. I’ve been sitting on the couch all morning trying to slow myself down. It feels weird but I need it. I love your words Kasey and your encouragement. You are a gem.

  • http://twitter.com/kitchconfidante Liren Baker

    I made the same promise to myself over Christmas. I was going to unplug, but, almost like an addiction, I was on Instagram all day. I go through many phases where I try to take that break, but I find myself returning to the blog again and again. There are days that I feel extremely motivated, and of course, the ones where I wonder, why? And when that happens, I remember the joy it brings and the people I have met along the way. Like you!

    Thank you for such an honest post…and for these beautiful cinnamon rolls. I’ve had that on my to bake list for a long time, I will definitely make time this weekend :)

    Enjoy the last moments before the little one arrives, make sure to focus on pampering you!

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    I secretly sort of despise Pinterest. All the pictures feel like fake life rather than real life and some of my favorite blogs aren’t just photography driven but are word driven or personality driven. And that’s impossible to convey on Pinterest. And the blog competitions annoy the hell out of me. There’s room for everyone, stop trying to make everything a stupid competition. Who cares. Super awesome post, Kasey!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Hi friend. I am sad to hear you’ve been questioning blogging! I think that it’s so unfortunate that we feel these pressures from outside forces and ourselves to be churning and churning and promoting and promoting. Thing is, I LOVE your blog. Your voice and photos, and it doesn’t matter to me if you post once a week, once a month, or once a day. Slowing down is a good thing. Focusing on the things you care about and blogging because it truly makes you happy is what’s important. I’m glad I was able to provide some year-end encouragement because I look forward to your posts in 2013! xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Isn’t it funny how we try to make these silly little deals with ourselves? Every time I go away for the weekend, I leave my computer at home. But I always bring my iPad and inevitably connect! I think we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves…sometimes it feels good to snap photos and share and blogging SHOULD make us happy. If it doesn’t, we certainly should step away. Thanks for the support. Enjoy a cozy weekend and happy 2013!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I think I did for a while, too, but I’m coming around to taking it at face value. It does help inspire my food styling, clothing choices, and home decorating. But like you said, it’s not the place I go to for the ‘meat’ – the word-driven and personality-driven content that I love so much. I think there’s room for everyone, too. The thing is – I know when I see a beautiful photo from your site on Pinterest, I’ll get something very different out of it then when I go read your post and hear your voice. I’m glad we are recognizing, more and more, that there will always be noise, but in order to continue doing what we love and loving what we do, we have to teach ourselves to cut through the clutter, be gentler with ourselves, and do what makes us happy! Happy New Year!

  • Megan Gordon

    Thank you for this, Kasey! Such an appropriate post for how I’m feeling right now … we lugged the big camera to California and I had plans to do a post from my mom’s house and I haven’t felt remotely inspired. So I’ve been doing “less” as you say: reading a lot, napping, occasionally baking. It is always a struggle to figure out where it all fits in and how to keep it authentic, isn’t it? It sounds like you’ve got a good post-baby plan, and it will, as you said, just grow and change with you … and we’ll all be there along for the ride :) Miss you, friend, and so excited for all the BIG things to come for you in the coming weeks. xox

  • MJ

    Made these tonight. Can’t wait to try them tomorrow! We may not be able to catch up in perspn this Christmas, but we will think of you and Matt while we have breakfast tomorrow. Hope all is well and we can’t wait to meet your little one when she makes an appearance.
    Megan

  • sara forte

    yes! preach it! your best post all year. You’re wonderful and that is all.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Oh I am so glad to hear you are taking such much-needed rest and NOT putting pressure on yourself to photograph and post. I think the holidays should always be about doing less, but I, too, struggle with my natural tendency to do more. I’m so sad I didn’t get to see you but I hope you’ll be back sometime soon to meet baby H :) Happy New Year, friend! xoxo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    So awesome to hear you made these, Megan! I hope you and James enjoy them. Whenever I make cinnamon rolls, I have a hard time NOT eating at least two…Then the food coma ensues. We definitely missed seeing you guys this Christmas, but we’re looking forward to next year… ;) Happy New Year to you guys! x

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you dear friend! As are you. Warm wishes for the New Year.

  • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

    What I love most about what you’re saying might be between the lines – that we all blog in a space that welcomes change and flexibility, on the front lines of what’s new on the ‘net. To me, that’s exciting! Great post, and happy new year!

  • http://twitter.com/MyFoodThoughts Brian Samuels

    Hi darling… I’ve been the same way. Always torn between wanting to shut down, tune out, and focus on other things in my life… and wanting to also be connected to the world of food blogging that has brought such inspiration to my life. It’s a tough one that I’m still struggling with. But I am so glad to come here and read this thoughtful post. Wishing you two and happy and healthy 2013. Hope we get to meet one of these days.

  • http://twitter.com/comeconella come·con·ella

    Kasey, what a lovely post. I agree with all your sentiments. I started blogging out of fun and then felt compelled to keep up with the jones. Now I follow my own schedule. It does mean that people read my blog less but I know that I’ve put my heart into it. I can see the changes in writing and photography and am very willing to follow my journey at my own pace. I really wish that Turntable Kitchen was available in London. I love the music lists you two curate and look forward to seeing what happens to them post the arrival of your new born. Best wishes for the year and big changes ahead.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Cara, you are so right and your point is so well-spoken. That is, I think, the true beauty of blogging. Happy New Year to you!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Brian, I so hope to meet you one of these days! Your spirit and energy come through everything you do, and I hope you know that your support and encouragement is so very appreciated! I think we all struggle with balance in our lives – whether it has to do with blogging, work, raising children, tending to our hobbies…I think, ultimately, there is no wrong in staying connected, as long as it makes you happy. Hope you had a great NYE and wishing you a wonderful 2013! x

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you so much! Ultimately, I think blogging is most important for your own inner soul…I find that the writing that resonates the most with other people is the writing I do, first and foremost, for myself…to help myself figure out my hopes and dreams, navigate my fears and anxieties. Thank you for reading Turntable Kitchen, and for the well-wishes. All the best to you in 2013! Also, not sure if you are referring to the Pairings Boxes when you say you wish we were available in London…but if you are, we ship all over the world. You can purchase an international subscription from the Pairings Box page, or visit the TK Market to purchase a gift subscription. We’re currently sold out, but will be open to new subscribers on January 14th.

  • Nicole

    Kasey! Another beautiful post. Sometimes I go back and re-read your posts 2 or 3 times because you share many wonderful thoughts that always resonate with me! I love that you mentioned that we can still appreciate the beautiful without falling into those perfection traps. We don’t have to pick a side, we can take what we need and live the life we want. For the most part, I checked out for the holidays, but as you shared, there’s nothing wrong with a peek at what your friends are up to! Sending you best wishes as you wait for baby :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, Nicole! I’m flattered! I do love when I read fellow bloggers’ posts and feel like they are speaking directly to me, so it’s nice to know this post resonated with you. I think 2013 is all about balance, and I hope that we can all be better about achieving it. Thank you for the warm wishes…Happy New Year, friend!

  • http://twitter.com/ABCDsofCooking Chitra Agrawal

    Kasey,

    Love your candid words, really rings true. I agree that it makes sense to keep your schedule to when you feel most inspired because that’s when your best content is created – just like this post of yours:) Also with so many blogs out there, I think it’s easy to compare, but I think it’s important to have faith in what you are putting out there too. In the end, we are doing this as a form of self-expression and sharing of our own unique experiences, which is great any way you look at it. Wish you a happy new year!

    -Chitra

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, Chitra! Really appreciate the comment and completely agree that we do this as a form of self-expression and hope that someone else out there might relate. A happy New Year to you as well!

  • WithStyleGrace

    i love everything about this post. so beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/happyolks Kelsey

    Proud of you, Kase. Here’s to a year of less, and so so so much more.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you so much, Kelsey! Just read your recent post. You amaze me.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, Lisa! xoxo

  • http://www.facebook.com/mehrunnisa.yusuf Mehrunnisa Yusuf

    Oh great. I didn’t know that. I will have a look!

  • http://www.aidamollenkamp.com Aida Mollenkamp

    Thanks for being so forthright in this post about, well, everything social media. I too was feeling like I was in a grind before I went on book tour and it was liberating to post when I was inspired and not merely because of the day of the week. Cheers to embracing a less scheduled life!

  • http://carrolluna.com/ CARROL LUNA

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I’ve certainly felt this way too. And yes, I definitely want less, our blogging lives can be quite overwhelming these days. Keep up your wonderful work! – CL

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