The Year of Doing Hard Things


I’m hereby dubbing 2015 “The Year of Doing Hard Things”. I’m not trained as a chef or a photographer or a book reviewer or a graphic designer or a web developer. I spent most of my career in marketing. Marketing for small organizations is a funny sort of discipline. I ended up teaching myself the basics of a lot of different things because we often couldn’t afford to hire a professional or because I couldn’t make a case for better whatever without first illustrating why doing it ourselves wasn’t good enough.

But as I’ve progressed as a blogger, all my self-taughtness has become increasingly frustrating. So, rather than continuing to coast along, learning what I need to learn as I need to learn it, I’m going to focus on a few specific skills/goals this year. Here’s what I’m interested in learning, along with the first step for each goal, just to keep me honest. I’ll post an update near the end of every month and provide mid-month updates on Twitter using hashtag #2015DHT.

1. Learn to shoot in Manual mode.

I have a really, really nice camera. And a really, really nice 50mm, 1.8f lens. But I still shoot in Automatic mode. Why? I don’t understand anything about shutter speed or aperture or any of the photography terms I see bandied about on the web. So I’m going to take a class. First step: find an in-person or online class/set of tutorials that I connect with.

2. Post more photos of recipe steps to either Flickr/Picasa or Facebook.

I take approximately 30-50 photos per recipe post from different angles, with different lighting, with different compositions in order to get the 5-6 shots I use. About half of those are recipe steps, which are always ugly (I mean, I’m cooking and usually covered in flour so I rarely think about staging in that moment). I’d like to get better about those so I don’t feel so awkward about sharing more of them and also get more useable shots of the finished product, which means less guessing about what might look good and more, well, knowing. I have no idea if there are classes for food photography, but someone has probably done online tutorials if I look. First step: find tutorials.

3. Make my recipes easily downloadable/printable.

It has come to my attention that some people actually use my recipes. Pretty nifty! But I can only imagine it must be somewhat frustrating because of how they’re written. A lot of food blogs have nifty plug-ins that enable a standardized format and easily printable recipe pages. But they only work on WordPress and I’m currently hosted on Blogger with my own domain name. Complicating this process is the fact that the theme I have installed was designed for Blogger only. First step: find out how to move my blog to self-hosting with WordPress.

4. Develop more of my own recipes.

This is a challenge because I love to bake and baking is very precise. I also like to bake complicated things, like this Dobos Torte I made at Christmas (my effort/photo is above). In order to do that though, I have to plan for more failures since not everything I invent myself works. I’m not sure to what degree this is possible and it’s not as well-defined a goal as the others. Like, how many recipes should be exclusively mine? What about books where the most obvious choice is something basic that I really can’t invent myself? First step: schedule recipe reviews at least a month in advance.

P.S. I’ m also doing Wendy the Super Librarian’s 2015 TBR Challenge so you can expect to see those posts pop up once a month too. They may have recipes attached or they may not depending on whether something grabs me food-wise or they may not since the point of my doing this challenge is to read some of the things that I might not choose to review otherwise (as well as putting a dent in that TBR pile). My first book will be The FabergĂ© Cat by Anne Weale, a Harlequin Romance from 1994, if anyone wants to read along.

What this will add up to is two more posts per month, which will be in addition to my usual Monday and Thursday posts. Otherwise, nothing much will change, except hopefully, better photos, better, more useable recipes and less frustration for me. WHEEE!

So is there anything on this list you’re good at? Anything you’d like to learn?


  1. My food resolution for 2015 is to add more recipes to my permanent repertoire – I cook a lot, but I've fallen into the habit of making the same things over and over again. My plan is to revive some old favorites and try a lot of new recipes to discover new favorites.

  2. […] quality is supremely uninteresting for me to think about and talk about. Plus, in order to meet my Year of Doing Hard Things goals, I really need to be able to cook and photograph and write. I can’t waste time […]

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