Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week meet Jo-Anna, the Calgary, Alberta blogger behind A Pretty Life!
Name: Jo-Anna Rooney
Blog name: A Pretty Life
Where were you born? I was born in Calgary, AB, but grew up in rural Northern Alberta (Gibbons area)
Where are you living now? I live in Calgary now. Right after I was married we moved to Calgary for my job, which at the time was at an environmental and food testing laboratory.
Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog after my Mom suggested that I start writing one. I’ve always loved sharing recipes and ideas with others, and Mom thought a blog would be a great outlet for me. At the time I didn’t even know what a blog was, but as soon as I delved in, I was hooked!
How did you decide on your blog name?
Honestly, I really have no idea! Once I decided to write a blog, I sat down one morning at the computer and began searching for available names. I didn’t have any plans or a real vision for my blog, so I didn’t have any ideas for what to call it. This is a big regret of mine. But who was to know where my blog would go? It’s not a name that I would have chosen for my site now, but I’m learning to embrace it.
What do you blog about?
My blog is a food and lifestyle blog where I share my love of fresh and easy recipes, uncomplicated home tips and decorating ideas. Basically I share my home. We eat, I bake, cook and decorate my home, and I share that with my readers, all in hopes to inspire others in their own homes.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
My blog started out as a hobby blog, and I had no idea at the time that I could actually earn an income. After some time, I began to get approached by different companies who were interested in working with me. The timing was perfect, because I was a stay at home mom with small children, and I was facing having to go back to work. I really wanted to continue to stay home with my kids, so when I realized that I could make an income from home, I took a leap of faith. What started out as a hobby, has now turned into a full time business that has grown into something I am quite proud of!
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
My post for Stewed Rhubarb is one of my favourite posts…I’m not sure that it encapsulates me fully, but I do love it. I really love gardening, and there is a thrill with creating a recipe from food grown in my own garden. I remember this night well, and having my husband take pictures of me with giant rhubarb leaves is a good memory. Rhubarb also reminds me so much of some of my most favourite people in life…my Mom and my Grandmas.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
I love my ‘Building a Pantry’ series posts (Building a Baking Pantry and Building a Dinner Pantry) For me, having a stocked pantry for baking and cooking is really important and a big time and stress saver. I’d love to see these posts get more love, because I think they’re really helpful! I think I’ll go back and offer a free printable to make them more useful!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
My recipe post for Crustless Quiche is my biggest success surprise. I sat down at the computer while on vacation in Arizona, and put up an unplanned post. I wasn’t going to post this particular recipe because I didn’t like the pictures I took of the finished dish. But because I was going to be on vacation for a while, and didn’t have any posts planned to publish, I decided to put that Crustless Quiche up. Now it is in my top 5 most viewed posts! Who knows why?!
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
My biggest challenge as a blogger is trying to find a good work/life balance. I find it hard to draw a line between my home life and my blog life. Because I blog and share what I create at home, sometimes I feel like I see everything as a potential blog post, which in turn makes me feel like I’m working ALL THE TIME. I need to find a way to separate the two.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
My biggest lesson, and one I carry with me on a daily basis, is to not get caught up in what other bloggers are doing. I learned from very early on that I want to do my own thing, and not be influenced either way by other bloggers. I put my ‘blinders’ on, keep my head down and blog in a way that feels good to me. And that’s not to say that I don’t want to be a part of the blogging community, because I absolutely do. There is nothing better than giving and getting support to and from my blogging community. I just try to stay out of the comparison game, because there is room enough for all of us!
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
I am most proud of being published in Chatelaine magazine. I have been reading Chatelaine since I was a teenager, so to see my work, images and recipes in Chatelaine, is such a thrill for me.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Simple Bites. I adore Aimee’s blog. I love her photos, here realness, her easy but beautiful recipes. I love how she can take a simple recipe and make it look stunning through styling, simple props and pretty garnishes.
Dinner With Julie: I love Julie’s approach to life, her enthusiasm for food and sharing it with others. I also really admire her connection to our local food community, and the way she is always looking for ways to help people.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
My favourite food is Thai food…especially coconut soups. So much so that I created a Coconut Curry Noodle Soup recipe that I make at home at least once a month!
What are you working on next for your blog?
I am hoping to continue to grow my blog, and share easy recipes and home tips through my site. And I want to do that in a way where I actually share more in-situ scenes. Looking back, I have noticed that the posts where I share pictures of food I’ve created as it sits on the counter to cool, or a picture of my family enjoying a meal on the deck, these are the posts that seem to speak to people. I think people like to see real life, and images that they can relate and connect to in some way.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Hmmm, now this is an interesting question! Looking at my ‘About Me’ page, I have realized that I need to update it. My kids are no longer babies (I have 2 teenagers!), and my pup, who is the love of my life hahaha, is not on there either! And I probably should tell people a bit more about myself! I actually have a degree in Environmental Science, I love to travel and have a travel Blog (ThisBigAdventure.com), and I don’t really love living in the suburbs…I hope to retire in a little house by the sea.
What makes your blog unique?
This is the hardest question of all! I think that what makes my blog unique, is that it has me. I know that sounds strange. But there are so many food blogs out there to read and gather recipes from, and I’m continually surprised to have people visiting mine. But I am realizing that I have a community of people that come back for me, and this continues to humble me. I have so many great supporters and readers…they are why I keep on blogging!
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
The Blogging Resources section of FBC is the most useful to me. I love being able to have access to the expertise, tips and resources from fellow bloggers. The experience and knowledge that is available about my business, is so valuable to me…there is nowhere else I can go to find answers from people who just ‘get’ what I do for a living. Truly.
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