Though the blogging world is quite vast, like most professional circles you do eventually find “your people”. The main difference is that – instead of seeing those people as you head to your desk each morning – they could potentially live thousands of miles away.
And yet I can honestly say that I have forged real, solid relationships with women – smart, talented, wonderful women – whom I’ve never met in real life.
Even better? Since good people tend to know OTHER good people, I’ve expanded my circle exponentially through that core group of bloggers I met almost six (!!) years ago.
Melissa Bahen – of Lulu the Baker – is one of those people (all images courtesy of Melissa Bahen).
I was introduced to Melissa and her lovely blog when we were both featured on MJ’s “12 Blogger Christmas” series a number of years ago. I clicked over immediately and was immediately smitten.
There is literally nothing this talented lady can’t do. Baker. Photographer. Gardener. PUBLISHED AUTHOR. And her warm, sunny, stylish aesthetic shines through it all.
We officially “met” last month, and I was delighted when Melissa agreed to be this month’s “blove” – let’s take a look!
About Lulu the Baker:
“My tagline is, ‘Simple food & modern country life’. And I think that describes my blog pretty well! I mostly write about food, somewhat wholesome and usually made from scratch, with the occasional project or blurb about our house or our garden or our chicken coop.”
How did you get into blogging?
I started my blog almost 9 years ago! There was an online baking group called the Daring Bakers that I wanted to join, and you had to have a blog, so boom, here we are nearly a decade later. I still think back on that stage of blogging very fondly. It was just fun and simple, no pressure. And some of the recipes I made through the Daring Bakers were amazing! That was the whole point–to bake crazy things.
What were you doing before you started blogging, and are you still doing it today?
I taught high school science for 5 years, but I hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years before I started blogging. I quit teaching when my oldest was about 8 months old to become a full-time stay-at-home-mom, which yes, I’m still doing. Sometimes I miss the whole atmosphere of my teaching job. It had some really wonderful aspects to it that I have such good memories of. One thing I will always miss is having coworkers. I had a great department with lots of talented, lovely people. Blogging can be so lonely, which sounds crazy, but I’m sure you’d agree. You’re just by yourself all the time!
What – if any – changes to your blog have you made since you started?
Oh gosh, so many! I started my blog just as a way to share things. I think so many bloggers that have been doing this for a while can say the same thing. It wasn’t a job or a way to make money. It was just a way to connect with people and share whatever you were interested in. And now, blogging is a legit business! I take it much more seriously. Or maybe not seriously, but more thoughtfully. I pay attention to what I post. When I post. How often I post. How my pictures are styled and edited. If things reflect my authentic brand voice. And my blog design is completely different than when I started. I’ve always wanted Lulu the Baker to look nice, but 9 years ago that meant downloading a free backdrop that looked very scrapbook-y! Today, that means hiring a designer to make it look very professional.
My favorite thing about blogging is…
The kindred spirits I’ve met. I’ve had the chance to become friends with some of the most amazing people, and I never would have met them if it weren’t for blogging.
My least favorite thing about blogging is…
It’s kind of a never-ending hustle. Like, there are no vacations ever! It can be really exhausting, physically, but more often, creatively.
What are your top 3 favorite blogs?
Oh, this is sooooooo hard!! I’m randomly picking three blogs that I think are standouts in their niches, but there are so many amazing ones out there besides these three.
Bakers Royale by Naomi Robinson: Naomi’s food photography is stunning and her recipes are things I’d actually want to make. I feel like so many beautiful food blogs make really hoity toity food that I’m not sure I’d ever want to make or eat. But all of the recipes on Bakers Royale sound easy and delicious, and the pictures are gorgeous. And I took an online photography class from Naomi a few years ago, and she’s very down-to-earth, which is always nice in someone so talented.
Studio McGee Blog: I think of myself as slightly design challenged, so whenever I need to style a room or some bookshelves in our house, I think “What would Studio McGee do?” Seriously! Their blog, portfolio, and Instagram feeds are home design goldmines.
Alice & Lois by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon: Alice & Lois is a DIY blog from my friends Sara and Melissa, with some recipes and lifestyle posts thrown in too. Their photography is always simply and beautifully styled, and their projects and recipes are lovely things that you’d actually want to make and eat. Cute projects and yummy food that aren’t complicated!
Which of your own posts mean the most to you, and why?
First, I have to say that I think it’s funny that all of the posts I chose are kind of old! I think they’re all from 2013-2014. I’ll try not to judge my posts from the past 3 years too harshly!
Petite Summer Fruit Cobblers: In either 2012 or 2013, Minted launched their blog, Julep. It was really beautiful, and every post had great content and gorgeously styled photos. At the beginning of 2013, I decided that I was going to become a contributor for Julep, which was completely out of left field. At the time, I was really new to both contributing to other blogs and getting paid to write, so this was kind of a stretch for me. But I pitched an idea to them, and this post is the result. I’m really proud of how the photos turned out. They’re super simple, but that’s about the time I started really paying attention to how I was styling my pictures. So these photos are kind of like Step 1 in my styling journey. Anyway, this post was just a guest post, but about 6 months later, they offered me a regular, paid contributorship, and I’m still happily writing for them now. And the recipe for those little cobblers is fantastic.
Liege Waffle Ice Cream Sundaes: Liège waffles are pretty amazing, and I loved dreaming up and trying out all of these delicious ice cream sundae flavors featuring them. I had never eaten liège waffles before working on this post, so I’m not even sure where the idea came from, but I still think it’s genius. The waffles are so good all on their own, but making a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar with them kind of puts them over the top in a good way. As a total aside, I can date all of my blog pictures based on what surface they were shot on. This post had pictures with the glossy, orangey kitchen table that I was desperate to replace. It was a great kitchen table, but so hard to shoot on!
The Harvest: Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm: A few years ago, I had the idea to do a series on the blog about this agricultural renaissance among our generation–young families that had an appreciation for the land and were starting small agriculture-based businesses. It was called The Harvest, and I had plans to write about lavender farms, flower farms, an artisan salt company, olive oil makers, small wine labels, etc. The series never really got off the ground because the two posts I wrote got basically zero traction, and I even had a hard time convincing people to come let me take pictures of and write stories about their businesses. Which still kind of mystifies me. I’d be all over it if someone wanted to write a story about me. I’d roll out the red carpet for them. Despite all of that, those two posts are some of my favorite that I’ve ever written, and I’d love to do more posts in the series. I loved doing something more in the realm of photojournalism; it’s a nice break from creating projects and recipes. Maybe this year will be the year I start it up again. I actually like the photos in the other post in the series better, but this one gets traffic from Pinterest, which blows my mind! And I really like the shot of that red tractor.
Head over to Lulu the Baker and make sure you’ve got time, as you will find yourself down that lovely rabbit hole of wanting to click post after post. And be sure to follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Thank you Melissa! xo
Want more “blove”? Check out my Pinterest board!