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

    You know you are one of my pillars for advice and stress relief. This alone should tell you how I feel about it all.
    I went to honor the invitation extended by BlogHer and tell people “yo – I still stumble in getting to where I want to be but here is what I did so far – maybe it can help you too”.
    One thing is that these conferences are not representative of normal behaviors and emotions because so much is packed in one or 2 days. As such I took a lot of things with a grain of salt, be it the sessions, the sponsors, the people. I wanted to meet certain people not for status but for years or months of reading them such as Dorie Greenspan, Aida Mollenkamp, David Leite, whom were all teh awesome in authenticity and personality. Others often left thinking “how can you form an opinion about me if you don’t try and get to know me” so I walked away. Their loss.
    I got to hang out with you and Jane. See Jenny Flake, Maria, Dara, Gaby, Jen K, and plenty others I love and my close knit adoptive SF family I just mentioned in my blog.
    Everyone I meet does make my heart and life this much richer but you are on my top list :)

  2. says

    I love your honesty, Kristen… and you know what? You’re so right. That was the message at the conference. It’s always on my mind how to get bigger and better, but it’s not really about that, is it? It’s what’s expected of us though. Love that you got me thinking about this!

  3. says

    Great post! I started reading food blogs long before I started writing one and I agree that blogging has changed so much. That’s actually why I prefer to just get together with blog friends rather than have people talk at me about why my blog isn’t good enough. We blog for ourselves and that’s good enough for me!

  4. says

    Hey Kristin,
    Nice to read such an honest post.

    I don’t see why you have to do a cookbook or get a TV show. You should have come to my panel on storytelling. We just focused on the tenets of telling a story well. That’s always been good enough for me.

  5. Kathleen @ Sugar and Spice says

    What a well written and thought out post. I concur whole heartedly. I’ll save you a seat next to me at BlogHerfood 2011.
    Thanks for the cookie recipe.

  6. says

    Thank you for all that. I blog for my family and friends. No other reason. It’s a modest but honest blog that receives attention when I have the time for it. What really irks me about the current food blogging scene is the overblown egos combined with the lack of interest is nurturing others. 1000 followers for a food blog may make one feel like a celebrity but it certainly doesn’t qualify anyone as the experts they presume to be. All the back slapping among them is enough to make me want to find another pursuit at times. If I can’t learn from the blog and if I’m not feeling the encouragement from an author, I don’t go back to it.

  7. Linda says

    It is so refreshing to read this entry. The heart of blogging really isn’t about reaching thousands upon thousands out there in cyber space and pleasing all (or as many as you possibly can.) It’s about expressing to others our thoughts, talents, and life as we know it, with others who just happen to relate to you. Keep on doing what you do and those that follow are enriched by what you do… being one of many!!! :)
    More power to those that blog and reach the very top of the “hit” scale.

  8. says

    Bravo for this post.

    I completely agree that there’s so much value in just having a blog, trying to make it as good as possible and being part of the conversation. That was what got me into blogging as well.

  9. says

    Well said, my husband doesn’t understand that I feel no competition in this blogging adventure. This is purely a creative outlet and documenting my recipes and meals with people I love. I hope to improve my writing and photography and get a little better in picture style but as a self impovement exercise.

    … but I do love positive feedback in the comment section :)

  10. says

    I really enjoyed your post! My life split between Italy and North america does not allow me to attend any of these blogger conferences and I find that those who are fortunate enough to attend seem to have a different focus about blogging, although the friendships that seemed to be built between bloggers that do attend these conferences looks very inviting.

    I have had my web site/blog for over 9 years and although I am the #1 Italian recipe blog (according to Google) I certainly am not getting rich or famous because of it, nor do I expect to. For me, getting on average 4,000 unique visitors a day coming to my site to enjoy my stories and recipes, plus a newsletter subscription of over 13,000 subscribers is enough satisfaction. Success for me is getting dozens of emails every week from folks telling me that they have followed my blog for years and I am their favorite source for Italian recipes. We have also had a number of guests book our farmhouse rental here in Umbria the past two years because folks felt they “knew me” through my blog and they wanted to come to Umbria and cook with me. THAT for me is a sign that my blogging life has been successful.

    Sure, if someone knocked on my door and offered me a great cookbook deal I’d give it serious consideration but I do not judge my success (or lack of) because I have not published a cookbook or because I am not offered a television spot. Heck, the LAST thing I’d want to do is be on television!. I was in fact offered a cookbook contract last year that was for a cookie cutter type of book that was part of a series that I turned down. It simply wasn’t the type of format I wanted for “my” first cookbook, and although the money would have been wonderful, I simply felt I was selling out to accept such a proposal.

    It is ALWAYS beneficial to hear folks speak who have turned their blogs into full time cookbook or writing careers, and for them that might be the way they judge the success of their blog. For the rest of us, life just isn’t so black and white. I believe that putting your heart into something you enjoy, giving it 100% of yourself, then having folks really appreciate that honest effort is sometimes all that some of us need to feel “successful”.

    Italian Food Forever

  11. says

    Great post – as someone who has not had a chance to go to any conferences this year, but is looking at the possibility of one next year, these are so important to me. I think I need to sit and spend some time really considering exactly what I am hoping to gain from one of these conferences before deciding to invest the money to fly halfway across the world, and defining exactly what “success” means to me is going to be an integral part of that introspection. And I agree, the blogging world has transformed incredibly from just a few years ago, it’s a totally different game now!

    • says

      I think conferences serve a lot of value… it is nice to be with people who have a shared interest, however you have to be prepared to tune out a lot of the noise and remember why you do what you do!

  12. says

    THIS is exactly why I’m nervous about attending a blog conference……. I’m really happy in the “little blog world” I live in right now (with awesome support of some AMAZING friends)……..but I know there are big and scary things out there.

    Can’t WAIT to spend time with you in a few weeks Kristen!!!

  13. says

    Kristen, I guess it all depends on what we need. Some people are starting careers this way…I’m fine with that. Some of us just want to have fun, meet people all across the world and share recipes.
    I remember going to a reunion years ago…everyone had to stand up and say what they were doing. One after another had resumes a mile long or at the very least had been in the Peace Corps. Me? I was a stay at home Mom. I finally decided to stand up proudly and proclaim it! Nobody applauded, but you know what? I raised three productive kids, each and every one is kind and loving.

  14. says

    This is the best thing written about blogging in a very LONG time. Blog sites more often than not, are infusing me with a very unhealthy dose of jealousy. What the heck? And then I realized, it’s becoming so commercialized that it’s turning into a very competitive place. I suppose it’s a natural outcome when the big bucks started flowing in. But the nasty hiss fit I saw thrown when one blogger naively credited another’s recipe but posted it, made me want to gag. Blog’s have turned into corporate warfare. Thank heavens big bloggers like Simply Recipes take the time to gently lead novice bloggers by the hand when they make such a blatant mistake. The best little non commercial blog right now for me is The Lumberjack’s Wife.

  15. says

    I just read Alice’s post too and couldn’t agree with the two of you more. I knew when I met you during the Sam’s Club trip that you were just like me. I clicked with you immediately and knew were a genuine woman I could totally relate to. I feel honored to have met you and cherish our new friendship. I can only hope that one day my blog will grow enough that I can quit my jobs, but I want my blog to grow because of the content that I create and because people enjoy it, not because I’m riding on the coat tails of someone else. I was never in the ass kissing crowd in high school, so you won’t catch me in it in the food blogging world either! :)

  16. says

    I blog as a way to document my style of cooking for my daugher and family – to pass on the traditions I have learned… it is also as a creative outlet… My ambitions at this point in my life really don’t extend past my community… and that is just fine with me!
    If it is the ambition of others – more power to ya!
    Those cookies look tasty!

  17. says

    Thank you for this honest insight. I’ll probably never be able to go to a blog conference because of money and time. I often get jealous when I see my local food bloggers go out to lunch together, or get together and cook. But, you know what? My blog is for ME. It’s for those who have asked for my recipes. Sure, I’d like to get to know more people, but since I don’t think of my blog being on the same “level” as those ladies, I probably wouldn’t have much to say to them. I just need to organize my own event! Thank you again for making me think honestly about my blog!


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