Andrea is a friend; she lives just down the street. I took this photo of her at her sparkle themed birthday party a few years back. She’s the blogger behind OhDearDrea and her cookbook The Plantiful Table: Easy, From-the-Earth Recipes for the Whole Family was just released. We talked about blogging, writing recipes, traveling to India and getting healthy.
01. What’s your typical morning routine? How do you get your day started?
Ideally, I’d like to find a happy balance between ‘sleeping as late as I can’ and ‘oh no, I’ve slept too long and wasted my whole morning”. It’s tough. Some days I’m up bright and early at 7:45 to help my kid get ready for school, but most days I like to sleep in till about 8:45. Then I make a giant bowl of steel cut oats with a bunch of healthy stuff thrown in before jumping on the computer to do a tiny bit of work.
02. You’re a successful blogger. Everyone seems to have a blog this days, but yours really hit and you have tons of followers. How did you build it up to be so widely read?
Mostly luck. I started publicly (over)sharing online at the age of 15 or 16. Ever since then I remember attracting a good amount of followers and readers for no particular reason. When I started this new blog (I took about a year off from my old blog) it seemed to again pick up readers pretty quickly. I think the second time around, part of the draw was that my blog seemed pretty different from a lot of the other new blogs popping up. Everyone was posting pictures of their adorable families while I was sharing my (sometimes too real) story of being a single mom. There were no magic tricks or advertisements, it just sort of grew organically on it own — thankfully!
03. You are very open about your personal life on OhDearDrea. Was that a conscious choice? And have you ever regretted sharing anything?
I’ve always been a very open person. My whole life, I’ve felt that if I can’t feel comfortable being completely honest about who I am and what I’ve done, then I must be doing something wrong. I just like to be an open book. I don’t want people to question who I am; I want them to see me or see my words and know my whole story. I think I can be honest to a fault, but I’m not sure I’ve ever really regretted anything. I feel like I’m lacking that embarrassment gene, things are what they are. I fall, I fail, its life. I kind of see what I share that way too. I mess up just as much as anyone, but I just have to learn and keep moving forward. No regrets.
04. You wrote a cookbook and it just came out! How did the opportunity to write that come about?
Yes, It came out! The second week of December. I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far it’s only had great reviews! I actually had a rather large publishing company contact me about two years ago with the possibility of publishing a book. E-mails were sent back and forth, but at the end of the day I got a, “Sorry, I love your book, but the guys above me said the company isn’t ready for a vegan cookbook.” Well, okay then. This gave me a bit more of a push to consider reaching out to companies. It was sort of one of those “I have a friend of a friend of a friend” things where I got a contact at a company, sent over an e-book along with a little brochure I put together of what I envisioned the book to be, and I got an e-mail about a week later discussing the potential of a book. Despite my horrible grammar, they liked my ideas and signed me up!
05. What was the process of writing the book like? Constant trial and error? Eating nonstop?
It was mostly exhausting. I’m not sure how the cookbook process works for most people, but on top of being asked to do 125+ recipes in three months, I also had to run my blog full time and raise a three-year-old. Most of the recipes in the book are serious staples in our home so it was pretty easy to nail those down. There were a few that took a good amount of tries before getting it right. Mostly, it was rather expensive! I wanted to make full size portions to measure everything properly. So, when I’m making multiple giant meals in one day — well, it took a lot of veggies and a lot of eating!
06. You collaborated with Above The Clouds this year on a trip to India that was open to your blog readers. What was it like setting that up? And what was it like taking a trip to a country you had never been to before, not only as a tourist but acting as a sort of travel guide?
It was pretty awesome! The trip was of course amazing, but even the set up of it all was great. Above The Clouds has been around forever, they definitely know what they’re doing. I didn’t have too many concerns on my end. I was just lucky enough to plan my dream trip and have them really make it happen. We went back and forth on the itinerary for months trying to perfect it. For me, the details are everything (and for Above The Clouds too), so from the hotel, to the first welcome dinner, to the events planned, everything had to have a bit of magic to it. When I (and we) actually got to India it all went really well. I arrived two days early to get over jet lag, scope out the restaurants, and pick out a venue for our goodbye party. Despite language barriers and having almost no sense of direction, I was rather comfortable with my surroundings and happy to welcome the girls to the trip. Above The Clouds then took on much of scheduling type of details, while I just tried to make sure everyone was content and happy.
07. What advice would you give to someone trying to get a new blog started?
I think blogs are pretty great. I wouldn’t have much advice for someone trying to make a profession out of it, except maybe, “Don’t quit your day job just yet” and “Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away.” But if there is no hurry to try to bring in cash from the blog, then go for it! They are a great creative outlet and a great way to connect with other like-minded people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise! Just pick a name, open up a site, and share your story!
08. Are you working on anything new right now that you’re excited about?
Sleeping more. It’s been a hard year, so my main goal is trying to get my health to its maximum potential and to just be happy and have fun everyday. Other than that, I just want to find my voice on the blog again. I feel like I sort of lost it in this tough year, but I do feel like it’s coming back. Outside of blog/business stuff, I’m just hoping to plan a lot of trips! California in May. France in August. And maybe Hawaii at some point. We’ll see where else I end up.
09. What is currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, podcast, anything really…)
This may be a strange one, but I’ve been reading A LOT of health books lately. And watching a lot of health related TED Talks. I’m happy to see so much information coming out about the dangers of our current medical system. I’m excited to see so many more people open up to the world of a more natural way of life. No fairy dust or magic tricks, just good ole’ natural food and plants to keep us well instead of pumping chemicals in at every doctor’s wish. I feel hopeful that the world, or at least our sad American diet and culture, will slowly start changing.
10. How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind?
I work on an opposite schedule. The early part of the day is my unwind time. The night is when I type furiously on a keyboard trying to spit out my brain on the blog and answer some e-mails. So to unwind, I like to just kick my feet up outside or on the couch and try not to worry about all the bad stuff, but to focus on the good.