Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week meet Shauna, the Kingston, Ontario blogger behind Linden and Lavender!
Name: Shauna Solomon
Blog name: Linden and Lavender
Where were you born? London, Ontario
Where are you living now? Kingston, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
In 2012, I was fortunate to attend pastry school in London, England. When I returned to Canada, I found that without regular practice my pastry skills began to fade. For years I thought about starting a blog but with a full-time job and becoming a mom, I couldn’t get the start I needed. Finally, in 2016 I decided that it was now or never. I started Linden & Lavender in the fall as an outlet to practice and share my love of baking. The premise was that if I had an audience, then I would find a way to bake each week as I wouldn’t want to let them down.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I wanted a name that evoked seasonality as well as beauty. Following the seasons in baking and cooking helps me to feel connected to the earth. The seasons are also a continual source of inspiration. My degree in environmental studies is ever present so I chose a tree and a flower to represent my blog.
What do you blog about?
My blog is focused on sharing recipes, photography and stories. I create sweet and savoury dishes that connect with the seasons of my life (and, hopefully others as well).
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
My blog is a hobby. It is a way to express my creativity and challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. It has the side-benefit of maintaining a part of myself outside of being wife and mother of 3 children under 5.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
This one may be surprising as it has nothing to do with finicky pastry skills! The post that most encapsulates me is Overnight Peach and Almond Baked Oatmeal. I wrote this piece after a family holiday along the shores of Lake Huron, which is my favourite place to be in the summer. The ease of the dish along with the calming peach and rose photography creates the calm and stillness that only summer can bring about.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
It feels like forever ago, but I created Lemon Spelt Madeleines with Seasonal Poached Pears and Rose Crème Anglaise in the fall of 2016. I put a lot of love into that dessert and did it with my one-and-a-half-year-old at my side. Since it was an early post and I didn’t have a clue about blogging, photography, marketing, etc., I assumed that a good recipe would be (in the very least) a Pinterest star. At this point, I think it is safe to say that only a handful of people have seen this post. I now realize that the post was idealistic and the food photography and styling were off. I have learned so much since that blog post! But still, I stand by my recipe!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
My Mini Pumpkin Maple Crunch Cake post was the first recipe that I felt I made a leap in terms of connecting with food bloggers. Though blogging is largely a solo adventure, I feel that the support of my online peers is very important. It is a really dynamic community and I’m grateful to be part of it.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Managing all of my social media accounts. When I began blogging, I had no idea how much time I would need to invest in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (I have limited myself to those ones). At first, I really resented it as I felt that it was taking away from the content that I was trying to create. Now, I see it as a continual source of inspiration and have been delighted with the online friendships that has developed.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
In the social media sphere, photography can be more important than writing (sorry, writers!). A great photograph on Instagram or Pinterest is the hook that gets people to visit the blog.
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
My biggest success has been the improvement that I have made in my photography. Before I started the blog, I kept my camera on automatic, pointed it and took far too many photos. Now, I have more confidence to test lighting, composition and take my time.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Call Me Cupcake - Linda Lomelino, the woman behind the blog, is incredibly talented. Her photography gets me every time. It is a feast for the eyes and then I get right to my kitchen after reading a post.
Local Milk - Beth Kirby’s blog is another one that I have read for a long time. Her writing is raw and honest. She aims to help others without being prescriptive or judgmental. Her Instagram feed is beautiful and ever changing.
The First Mess - I discovered Laura Wright’s blog shortly after I started mine. I really connect with the foundation of her blog which is that “a meal is nothing to take for granted.” The layout of her blog is calming and her recipes are refreshing.
Finally, two blogs that I have become a recent regular reader of are: Stem & Forks and Constellation Inspiration. Both Betty and Amy’s, respectively, approaches to food, photography and the incorporation of florals is artful and inspirational. (Editor's note - check out our Featured FBC member profiles of Betty from Stems and Forks and Amy from Constellation Inspiration.)
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
The phyllo pastries from Hot Oven at the Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario. I haven’t found a place that makes them quite like Zoran Sehovac. Whenever I visit I purchase 1 to eat at the market and 4 frozen ones to cook at home in Kingston.
What are you working on next for your blog?
My daughter’s 3rd birthday cake. She has asked for a purple cake.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
That I studied lemurs in northern Madagascar for my MA. It feels like a lifetime ago!
What makes your blog unique?
It gently offers readers a sense of balance and inspiration. The journey in making the dish is just as important as the final product. I try to make the steps in my recipes as straight-forward as possible. I also like to think that the local feel of my blog makes it feel more like a story.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
The blogging resources are very useful. The first article that I read on FBC was “Food Photography: Photographing a Cookbook” by Tessa Huff which made me think, maybe, one day I could do this! On another note, the newsletter issued by FBC highlights the trends and what’s new in Canadian Food Blogging (newsletters are the best way to get my attention). I love that we have access to something so supportive and in tune with my interests.
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