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

    Good for you. I think it’s all about saying what you think and feel. I totally agree that it’s important to feel good at what you’re doing, whether or not you have a book deal, massive traffic, etc. I’m in it for the art of the thing. Art exists with or without an audience, it’s true. But I do admit to loving the fact that when a few people stop by–and you have a kind of kismet and you find out you’re like minded people–you suddenly know you’re not alone in all that creating. Stay focused on what you want and keep doing what you’re doing.

  2. says

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too. Why can’t my blog continue to be what I set out to make it – a fun hobby and creative outlet? Who says my ambitions have to include one day quitting my job to blog full time, publish a cookbook or go on endless blogger tours? That’s all nice, but it’s easy to get lost in the what ifs and not enjoy the right now!

  3. says

    Wow… I LOVE this. I am so glad you said these things. I have often felt “not good enough” because I don’t want certain things or am not in a certain position with my blog. I really like just writing for me and sharing with others. I just love you for this Kristen!

  4. says

    You write so beautifully and I too love blogging because it makes me happy. Anything further that comes out of it are fun extras :) Love everything you put out there! Well said :) …….and come on you threw an AWESOME party! Well done girl :) Hope to see you again very soon!

  5. says

    Thank you for this Kristen. I’m sure there are some out here like me who felt like we weren’t even *real* bloggers because we didn’t attend the conference. Or ANY conference for that matter.

    I’ve been doing some re-evaluating lately…trying to take the pressure off myself to post X number of times a week, or make the “perfect” cookies or the “perfect” pictures.

    I started blogging because it was fun…and it was fun mainly because I LOVE to bake and I LOVE the people I met through blogging, not because of SEO or blog stats. :)


  6. says

    This is a really thoughtful post, Kristen. Considering that I was one of Alice’s roommates (see her comments above) who was occasionally found taking a breather in my room and take joy in chatting with my smart, insightful roommates, I can say that I definitely agree with you. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely had a great time connecting with many bloggers I had wanted to meet, but I could have done without the showmanship that I saw in a few instances. I spent about 15 minutes in one of the sessions that I thought I should attend because everyone else was. I couldn’t stand being in there, and the little voice in my head urged me to move over to the writing workshop, which ended being a very honest, interesting session that really spoke to me. Everyone needs to make their own way during these conferences to get the most out of them.

  7. says

    Kristen I’m really pleased you have addressed this issue. As I watched the conference unfold via Twitter I got the feeling blogging was now about monetizing your site or at least attaining maximum visitors to your site. I even considered giving up my blog as I felt people would think “poor girl, slogging away all these years and still hasn’t made the ‘A list’ and got a cook book deal “. Which is never where I have wanted to be. Yes it is nice to have readers who leave wonderful comments, but it isn’t why I started blogging. I’m pleased to read I’m not alone with these feelings.

  8. says

    Thanks for this post Kristen. I think there is a place for every blogger out there and an important place at that. Blogging is not a competition and there is room for everyone to succeed. Success isn’t determined by traffic, number of tv appearances, fans, etc. it is about accomplishing goals and becoming a better person and finding joy in life. If a person’s blog brings them fulfillment, then who cares about the rest. Anyways, just a few thoughts. Love this post and the cookies:)

  9. says

    I said it on FB and I will say it here, success is measured in different ways. I haven
    t been to many food blogger conferences, because the ones I have been to, have been like this! It costs a lot of money to go to these conferences, and although I love the chance to meet other bloggers, I don;t need to spend the money to feed others’ egos!

  10. says

    Very honest and real post, Kristen, thank you! Its hard for me as a new blogger when I see everyone striving for the “goal”, and wondering what the path is a “should” take. Truly I have just loved what I’m doing since I started a year ago and have LOVED meeting SO MANY DIFFERENT bloggers!! A year ago, I didn’t read blogs, didn’t really know the existed, and now I read hundreds and I learn and am inspired from all of them. There is truly a place for everyone and you can really tell those blogs that are written by people who have a passion for what they do…thank you for always encouraging, inspiring and sharing!

    Cant wait to try the cookies!

  11. says

    Kristen, thank you for your refreshing/honest take on “San Francisco”. As one of the new kids on the blogging block I have to admit there have been countless times during my short time blogging ( 4 months) that my head has been “turned” by those I’ve met who are focused on stats & SEO alone. That’s not why I got into blogging! For goodness sakes I’m still finding my own voice. Time to put the blinders back on and stayed focused on what I want my blog to be all about. I hope I get to meet you some day so that I can say thank you in person for sharing your viewpoint(s)! Following your blog has been a real blessing for this “newbie”! Keep up the good work. :-)

  12. says

    Well put, Kristen! There is room for everyone — the hobbyists, the probloggers, the ones with big aspirations for their blogs … and I hope that conferences take note of that in the future.

    Lovely cookies! I just saw a delicious sounding recipe in the Fine Cooking 2010 Cookies magazine. Can’t wait to try them.

  13. says

    well said. I’ve often felt the same way about my little old blog and where it fits into this world of food blogging that often feels like an exclusive club to become a part of.

  14. says

    Kristen – thanks for putting it out there. I don’t like that awkward feeling that comes when you walk into a room and think, “what am I doing here?” I’m relieved to know I was in good company…I’m feeling so much better about it already. I liked some of the sessions I went to, walked out of those I didn’t, escaped to my room, chatted with my roomie & friends, ate a lot of good food and connected with some awesome folks. Still this weekend validated (with some internal struggle around not feeling good enough) I’m OK with what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. By the same token some folks probably want to know the secrets to becoming a foodblogging star–I wonder if they walked away from the conference with those secrets in hand?

  15. says

    God, I love that you wrote that. I have so many people ask me if I want to do a cookbook or be on T.V. and when I say “gosh, that’s not my goal at all” I’m met with blank stares. I love teaching people how to cook and my food photography. And I have to laugh a little when I see the blogging events highlighting the same people over and over. Sometimes I think it has more to do with personality and our culture of “celebrity” than cooking chops. Just sayin’.

  16. says

    Nice for a newbie to hear. I’m just blogging because it’s a creative outlet that I desperately needed after losing something I thought was very important. It’s just a way to get a few of the random things floating around in this ‘ol head down on paper and maybe, just maybe, my 20 y/o daughter will get to know her mom better. I just want to blog about whatever is on my mind at the moment I decide to write it, be it food, craft, breast cancer, etc. I don’t need nor want fame or fortune; but I do love my friends and family.

  17. says

    This is why I love you, honestly. You know I have never been about any kind of blogging that expects me to be someone or something I’m not. Four and a half years blogging and I don’t advertise, don’t go to conferences, don’t frequent any A-list blogs (and really, I never have) and I sure as heck don’t care WHO looks down at me about it. I blog for me. Always have.

    Thanks for having the courage to speak out about it. We need way more bloggers to connect in authenticity and stay there. To sell out for the popular vote is pathetic and small.

  18. says

    Thank you so much for this post. I am relatively new to blogging (4 months) and have definitely had highs and lows. I try not to get beat up if my pictures don’t get accepted on Foodgawker and Tastespotting, or if my daily visits aren’t as high as I would like them to be, but sometimes that is easier said than done. I always try to tell myself that I don’t blog so that my pictures get accepted, or so that I can have a gazillion followers. I blog because baking is something I love to do and I hope to share it with other people, no matter how many. I will be bookmarking this post so that I can come back to it and be reminded of this. Thanks again!

  19. says

    Yes, exactly! Thanks so much for writing what I’ve been thinking for a while – some want their blog to become their profession and some do not, and one is not necessarily better than the other. I don’t intend to quit my day job because I like doing what I do, and my blog is just a place for me to “play,” to enjoy writing and taking photos for the sake of it and if other people read it, then great! But even if not, I’ll keep writing.


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