Hello readers! I would like to introduce you to a sweet bloggy friend of mine, Christina!
I LOVE her blog. She has some AMAZING posts that always leave me hungry and headed to the grocery store. More than that though, she is a sweet person and lover of Jesus. My kind of girl!
Tell us about yourself?
Hi there! I’m Christina and the ‘ol blogger over at Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe! I am first and foremost a follower, believer, and lover of Jesus Christ. I believe completely in His resurrection, mercy and grace- and have seen first hand the truth that is His love for me, a sinner. It is through Him that I try to filter out each and every thing that I do or say (or blog)! Secondly, I am a wifey! In 2008 I married a man who has loved me through all the major ups as well as each and every one of the crazy downs, since 2001. Being a wife has been one of the most challenging yet totally rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I just love it! He’s my best friend and pretty much the only one who can make me laugh so hard that I start crying uncontrollably. This happens more often than I’d like to admit and is quite the sight! I am also a Pastry Chef- I attended and graduated from a Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and then refined that education through years of working in professional kitchens. Lastly, I am a kitty-mama (if you’re a follower of me on Instagram (insert this link there: http://instagram.com/sweetlavenderbakeshoppe), you know this first-hand!), sister, daughter, friend, and lover of ALL THINGS COVERED IN SUGAR!
Why did you start blogging?
I first started blogging completely unknowing what it was I was actually doing! I have always loved baking and in 2009 my husband encouraged me to start blogging about the things I was pumping out. I fought and fought him! First off, back then I had NO idea what a blog was! “An online diary, Bill?! Oh yeah, that sounds fun! Pffffft.” But being an artist and knowing A LOT more than I did about what’s hip and “in”, he kept encouraging me to “blog” about my baking adventures, regardless of any insecurities I had. I finally gave in and in 2010 Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe was born….ish. It started literally, as a place for me to kind of talk about and put up (the lamest) pictures of desserts I was making for friends and family. Then, the more I researched about the whole blogging community, the more I fell IN LOVE. It was such a wonderfully creative place and for the first time in a while- I felt like THIS was where I was supposed to be. I felt a surge of comfort and adrenaline run through me as I discovered more and more amazing fellow food bloggers. I knew right then and there that I was supposed to be one as well. Funny thing is- I always wanted to end up teaching people how to cook and bake. I even heavily considered going back to the culinary school I graduated from and becoming a chef instructor there! God had a different plan for me back then though, and instead had me “teach” people from the comfort of their homes rather than in a kitchen classroom. Pretty awesome.
How did you come up with your blog name?
This was honestly the easiest part! Which is weird, because I freak out and doubt myself over and over when there’s a big decision that has to be made. I’ll make a choice and then immediately change my mind- over and over and over again until someone (usually my husband) gets tired of my babbling and decides for me! One’s blog name is like…a huge commitment! It defines your whole everything (online speaking of course) and it not only brands you, but it is the FIRST thing any one will see and know about you. But like I said this came easy, and the story is less than magical. Back in 2010 everyone knew me as a lover of lavender (haha, I know- story is starting off great, huh?)- from playing with it in recipes, to having it as body oil and home candles…I mean, I even had dried sprigs in vases all around my home. I love lavender! So “lavender” would, naturally just HAVE to be in the name, duh. The other three components- “sweet” and “bake shoppe” just sort of fell out of my mouth one day while thinking of a name. I literally think it took me about a day to come up with this name for my new blogging adventure. That’s like, CRAZY talk!
What are your favorite recipes?
I am a huge “mood baker”- I always cook or bake according to how I feel. Sometimes that means I’m making something completely from scratch and cooking or baking all day long and sometimes that means I’m trying to find as many short cuts as possible! Haha. Right now I am loving the old fashioned approach to things. The slower and longer-to-make dishes. From homebaked pies to yellow cake with that chocolate frosting we grew up with as kids with, popsicles to eat during the summer, and homemade nut butters– childhood staples are really encouraging my creative brain!
Do you like to entertain and cook for others?
Oh my goodness yes! It might literally be my favorite thing to do! Excites me like a kid anticipating Christmas.
You favorite summer dish + dessert + drink?
During the summer my husband and I like to eat lighter/healthier things (as do most people, I think). Because we live by the ocean, it only gets hot for a few months out of the year, which means we naturally don’t have an air conditioning system. Why would we- we’d use it August to October only! Actually, maybe we should look into getting one- when it gets hot IT GETS HOT.
ANYWAY so during those summer months of ours I can’t even stand to look at the oven. The thought of being around a flame or heat makes me want to gouge my eyes out. So, salads and sometimes soups are what we have. I really love making this grapefruit and fennel salad, this kale and citrus salad, and this turkey hai crunch salad when I can’t stand to be in the kitchen. For the cooler summer months, this coconut curry soup with chicken and apples really hits the spot.
For dessert, anything frosty or frozen is the way to go! We LOVE making our own ice creams and popsicles, and this coconut ice cream, EGGLESS coconut ice cream, green tea ice cream and blueberry buttermilk popsicle tops our charts.
Finally, for a nice refreshing summer drink, we always go to lemonade. Not surprisingly, one of our total favorites is this lavender vanillalemonade, haha.
What are your favorite things you and your husband do for fun?
We love being together, so usually we try to lay low and keep things simple- a movie night at home with some coffee or tea is a big one for us. But if we decide to go out, topping our list would be trying out a new restaurant or bakery (we live in Los Angeles, so there seems to be a new one popping up every weekend). I LOVE eating out at a good, organic, sustainable, made from scratch place. Doesn’t have to be a fine dining experience- in fact some of my favorite places are little mom and pop places that literally shopped at their local farmer’s market that morning and made all their dishes in the kitchen from those ingredients that day. MmMmMmmmmm.
What is a normal day like for you?
Oh this is embarrassing, I’m such a homebody! I actually realized yesterday that I hadn’t left the house in two whole days. HA! So, I went running with my husband last night ;) Be prepared for an epic day!
A typical day for me involves waking up to one of my two cats stomping on my throat, standing on my chest, or rubbing their furry faces on my face (and leaving tickling hairs behind). My husband leaves for work early, so I get up and make myself tea and some sort of nutritional breakfast. I’m loving raw oats with greek yogurt and honey right now! While eating breakfast I usually check and answer all my emails, and create a list of things I need to do that day. This is so crucial, if I don’t I’ll wonder around looking for the next shiny object to grab my attention. Or spend WAY too much time on Pinterest! Haha. Then once I’m really awake I get started on my list which almost always involves either editing a recipe, baking, cooking, photographing, editing pictures, writing new recipes, or finishing up a blog so it can publish. This takes up the majority of my day. Also included are kitty snuggles, texts with my husband, Pandora (loud) and eating (a lot). I try to always have AT LEAST a week or two worth of blog posts up and ready to go- just in case something happens, like a sickness or unexpected schedule change. I would be sad to have my followers expect blogs and miss them just because I’m too busy or got a cold. So this allows life to happen and my blog to continue along with it. Of course there are ALWAYS exceptions!
I try to be done with my work day an hour or so before my husband comes home so I can fulfill my stay at home wife responsibilities- like cleaning up, prepping for dinner, and just mentally checking out of blogger work mode and into “Christina mode”. I also like to give myself some time to unwind from the day’s work with a quiet devotional ;)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I’ll be 33 (which IS CRAZY) so hopefully by then I’ll have one or two little ones running around and absorbing most of my time. I can’t wait to be a mommy! I hope to still be blogging, but staying true to the course of how my blog has transformed over the years naturally. With each new chapter of my life, my blog has very naturally become a part of that redefined aspect. It’s pretty fun. Hopefully we’ll see some kid-frienly crafts, homemade baby food recipes, and such!
Do you have a blog calendar and plan your blog posts?
I hope the blogging police don’t come and get me- because I DON’T! I actually don’t really even understand the blogging calendar aspect. Ok, maybe I do a little. My blog revolves around real food, real desserts, and real things that are happening in my life. I don’t make sure I have a red-something dessert for Valentine’s Day…or a Guinness something recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. Not to say that’s a terrible thing to do- it isn’t! It’s just not for me. I blog about yummy things we ate at home the night before, a recipe I found from a new cookbook I just received, something I found, tried and LOVED from a friend’s blog, and yummy desserts I made for family members’ birthdays. I love the homey/personal feel that gives. I want my readers to feel like friends and family members of mine. Like they were there with me during the event of that blog post.
I do try to get at least 2 blogs up a week- one at the beginning and one right before the weekend. I try to have the beginning of the week’s post to be easy and something one could do during the week and the end of the week’s post to be a little more involved or party-centric…something you might want to do during your weekend…or something you might plan for a party you’re having soon.
Naturally my recipes do change with the seasons- like berries or rhubarb in the spring/summer and apples/pumpkin/squash in the fall- and I always try to cook or bake at home under that rule. So my posts will of course go down that road and include things I feel my readers will want to make during that time as well.
3 favorite blogs to read?
Right now I am just loving The Fauxmartha, Oh, Lady Cakes, and Creature Comforts. Talk about inspirational!
What are your hobbies?
I love to continually keep creative- always looking to exercise that muscle. So I LOVE to experiment with new recipes. Whether I am making up my own from scratch or editing a pre-existing one to more of my liking- the challenges I face while doing this are amazingly great. It’s like a puzzle and mathematical equation all at once- but one that I get to eat! Right now I love creating recipes that are dairy, refined sugar, or gluten free! I also love crocheting, dating my husband, running, catching up with sweet friends over tea, and exploring all our Californian state has to offer.
Your blog + Etsy shop future plans?
With both I am sort of just taking it day by day. Both my blog and Etsy shop are a gift from my Heavenly Father and I am trying to never take either for granted. I know not everyone gets to wake up whenever they want, spend the day with their cats, and do their most loved thing in all the land- every single day. I want to remember what He’s really given me and keep that truth close to my heart. It’s such a blessing to have this opportunity and I am trying to make sure I do my very best to display the Gospel properly and never take for granted the responsibilities He has given me. Right now I have a few things my husband and I are prayerfully considering; when we have a definite answer I’ll for sure be sharing! So, be on the lookout!
Thank you so much, Kenzie, for giving me this opportunity to share myself with your awesome readers!
Thank you so much Christina for guest posting on my blog and for sharing some of your yummy recipes! I hope you stop by and visit her adorable blog!