Defining Success (Recipe: Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies)

As many of you know, I recently returned from San Francisco where I attended a food blogging conference. I’m not going to write a whole recap. I’m not going to gush about all the wonderful people I met and got to see again. Connecting with those friends was a wonderful experience, but I’m honestly just not up for that. What I am going to do is get something off my chest that has been bugging me since I returned home.

Blogging has changed a lot since I began doing it 4 years ago. Success has been defined in so many different ways, even though I firmly believe that success, when it comes to something like blogging, is extremely subjective.

The air of the conference and many of the people who seemed to be “experts” made it seem like if you weren’t the next big thing, just forget it…why bother? Should I feel that because my goal is not necessarily to write a cookbook that I’m not successful? I don’t have a desire to be on The Food Network, so am I not successful? What happened to just blogging and being the best at blogging you can be and that equating to success? Why is it that simply blogging…sharing our gift and life with the world through this platform, seems to not be good enough anymore?

I am incredibly proud of my friends who have taken the next step in their careers by achieving their goals of cookbooks and shows and a zillion Facebook fans and blog followers, but I’m equally as proud of my friends who are finding their voice and refining their sites in an effort to fine tune what they are delivering. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Becoming the best you that you can be, not the best you someone else thinks you should be?

And I’m being ornery again and throwing in a completely random recipe. Well, maybe not so random… we could all be our own little cookie cutter versions of what someone else thinks is successful, but I certainly think life is a lot more interesting when there is a whole bunch of variety thrown in, don’t you?

Kittencal’s Slice N’ Bake Sugar Cookies from

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature ( no substitutes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract ( can use 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • white sugar (optional)
  1. In a mixing bowl cream the butter with sugar for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in egg yolk and both extracts; beat until no sugar granules remain.
  3. Beat in vanilla pudding mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl combine the flour with baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture and beat until combined (the mixture will be dry and slightly crumbly).
  5. Remove the dough to a surface and gently knead the dough until it comes together (this will take only a few seconds).
  6. Roll into one large log or two smaller logs.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard (about 4 or more hours).
  8. Set oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Slice into slightly over 1/4-inch thickness (you may coat the slices in sugar if desired).
  10. Place onto a greased baking sheet/s.
  11. Bake for about 8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  12. Allow to sit and harden slightly in the pan before removing (the cookies will harden upon sitting in the pan).

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  1. says

    Well said, Kristen. I was really unhappy with the overall commercialism of the conference, and that ‘next big thing’ attitude you mentioned. The one seminar I was really really excited to attend, and even skipped Penny De Los Santos for – ended up being awful and not really ever getting to the point. The description on the packet didn’t match up with what happened in the session. That upset me.

    I wouldn’t have skipped Penny, whom I know is a wonderful speaker, for it.

    At least we got to hang out for a few minutes here and there, and reconnect with people we hadn’t seen since Big Summer Potluck. I think though, for this blogger, it’s going to be small get togethers focusing on content and voice from now on.

  2. says

    So well-said, Kristen. Much of what you wrote about here is what has caused me feel awkward and a little lost in the food blogging community in the past. I’ve recently come to embrace wholeheartedly that I started this as a hobby, I’ve fallen in love with doing it as a hobby, and it will always be a hobby. There are so many different ways to measure “effort” and “success” in food blogging, but as long as we each do what works for us/what’s right for us, then I’m happy. When it starts getting hierarchical (especially re: numbers/readers/followers, etc.) is when it’s not fun anymore. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. says

    Well, I am going to take it that you didnt attend my session, because I could not have made a bigger fool of myself reminding everyone that I was just someone who liked to bake and take pictures and, of course, EAT!

    That being said, I always enjoy a good sugar cookie recipe. :)


  4. says

    You hit on exactly why I decided to sell my ticket. After IFBC, where many of the same people spoke, I realized that it was going to be much of the same. Currently, BlogHerFood seems to be “owned” by a handful of folks who are extremely successful (at least according to the number so followers, etc.), for whom it seems to be a private cool kids party. That makes me sad. Thanks for your honestly.

  5. says

    I think authenticity always wins out, whether you’re shooting for stardom, just to connect with the folks down the street, or record your thoughts to share with family and friends. And I appreciate yours. Keep speaking your mind. Everyone else seems to be. ; )

  6. Pat Wogan says

    Interesting thoughts! People everywhere look for ways to define success. We spend a great many stages of our lives trying to please others. As children, students, parents, employees, and just human beings, someone else’s beliefs define our success. Perhaps maturity is reaching that place where we are able to define success by our own standards and beliefs. ..and live our lives accordingly. It is a happy place.

  7. says

    Amen! While I absolutely loved connecting with people I have never met in person, I couldn’t ignore the voice in the back of my mind that questioned my stats and perceived value (how many readers do I have, does anyone here even read it etc.) But clearly – real value comes when you connect with ONE person or help somebody do something better. Those things are hard to remember when the person you are talking to is looking over your shoulder for someone more important. But I did have lots of laughs and hugs, and I made one solid new friend at this conference – and for that, I will forever be grateful.

  8. says

    What a refreshing recap Kristen. I am still processing this past weekend and I whole heartily agree with you. I was surprised by my own take-away from the weekend which was less glowing than conferences past. It wasn’t the conference itself or the wonderful after parties (thank you for hosting) I had issues with. It was the presence of excessive arrogance by some people which was disappointing. Much of the time I found myself escaping to my room just to get away from all it all only to be pleasantly greeted by my roommates who were also hiding out. Together the three of us had much fun just chatting in our room. Not everyone has the same goals and it’s unfortunate when success is measured by popularity and not substance. It was great seeing you as always.

  9. says

    Kristen, I’ve been on 4 and in some ways I get the same vibe. It felt I need to go for loftier goals than simply blogging, sharing recipes and stories, and enjoying the company of food-minded people (who also share a lot of other things with me aside from food). I was so happy to meet you all last year, though, and wish I could have hung out with you again this year. Nevertheless, I’ll always cherish the friendships I made. :) xo.

  10. says

    I wholeheartedly agree with you Kristen. I feel like I am successful at blogging, considering I started it as a hobby and can now actually meet people because of my social networking, get work, and have learned immeasurable amounts of knowledge in photography.

    There are numerous ways to measure success, not just in blog and twitter followers, facebook fans and subscribers…although they do help now and then.

    Kudos to you for having the chutzpah to say it like it is.

  11. says

    Well said, Kristen! I fought hard to keep myself focused the whole weekend on pursuing the topics and activities that interested *me* most. To not get caught up in who I “should meet” or get sidetracked into aspirations I “should want”. Like you said, I couldn’t be happier for my friends who have achieved or are pursuing the kind of success they want to have – the cookbooks, the shows, etc. It’s a struggle sometimes for me to feel like I’m not making some kind of mistake if I don’t want those same things. Or maybe I do, who knows? I don’t know if I’ve figured out what my idea of success is yet. I’m just trying to stay focused on what I enjoy most – cooking, creating fun and useful experiences for my readers, talking about food – and see where it takes me.

  12. says

    I like this! I felt like the keynote speaker panel really honed in on this feeling at the end–writing about food because it brings us closer to humanity; sharing the painful stories in our lives; feeling awake because we can write; being part of a community. When it begins to feel like a popularity contest, it takes away from feeling. Thanks for writing this!

  13. says

    Thanks for this, Kristen. All we usually see are glowing recounts of the conferences, and I’m sure there’s a ton of fun and good information. But it’s refreshing to see someone who has attended a few be so honest and put themselves out there–telling the truth as they see it. I do get that vibe occasionally, and that’s just from reading things online. I really don’t like the “implied assumption” that if you don’t have the huge numbers and career goals, that maybe you should just pack up and go home. Bummer.


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  2. […] BlogHer Food 2010 was this past weekend in San Francisco and what a trip it was!  It was filled with learning, eating, and meeting some other amazing and wonderful bloggers.  I was eagerly awaiting this trip since the moment I received news that Carrie from Deliciously Organichad a ticket only 2 short months ago.  Since the arrival of the girls, it is very rare that I actually get to go anywhere much less across the US for a food blogging conference.  Thanks to my wonderful hubby though I was off and “running” to SF on Thursday night with my bags packed and mind opened to learn.  This was my very first BlogHer conference (or any conference for that matter) and at many points I was overwhelmed by it all.  There was so much to take in and so many to meet.  I’m a shy person for the most past too so meeting and talking to all these other bloggers was the most overwhelming part of it all.  I am happy to say that I left inspired, exhausted and with a renewed understanding of why I love sharing, cooking, and blogging.  It also made me thankful for my readers because it is you that inspire me to be better not to be the next “it” blog.  Kristen from Dine and Dish says it best in her recap. […]

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