FAQ version 2.0

>> Thursday, May 20, 2010

We've gathered a bunch of reader questions in our email, so we figured it was time to do another FAQ post. We couldn't include them all, but we tried our best to answer the top five kinds of questions we've received. If you have others, don't hesitate to either leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com. Now, without further hesitation . . . FAQ version 2.0.

#1: I love all your vegan recipes, but I'm confused. Are you guys vegan or not?

Good question. And, I agree, it is a little confusing. Here's the deal: I'm a vegetarian. I eat eggs and cheese. I shy away from milk, yogurt, and butter (instead, I drink soy or almond milk and other alternatives). Strange, I know. I like to eat a work-week vegan diet when I can (if you want to know why I eat the way I do, check out my diet write-up on Healthy Ashley). No matter what, though, I tend to avoid labeling my diet. I eat what makes me feel good. And I often like to eat vegan foods because they make me feel good, which is why so many recipes are vegan.

Stephen, on the other hand, is vegetarian -- well, actually, I'm still getting used to him being pescatarian. He eats fish of all shapes and sizes. He isn't as squeamish about dairy as I am. But, must like me, he also enjoys vegan foods and eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables.

#2: I am thinking of starting a food blog. How did you get people to actually read your blog? I have no idea where to start!

We get this one a lot. And we're definitely not one of those bigger blogs with millions of subscribers/readers, so we're seriously not experts. But the best advice we can give is to take the extra time it takes to write quality content. The kind of stuff people want to read and tell their friends about. The kind of stuff YOU want to read about. Try to post regularly, but if you don't have anything to post -- don't apologize. Quality is way better than quantity.

We try to outline (and even write most of) our posts during the weekends so we have an idea of what will be featured in any given week. It helps us a lot, and I think that extra step really ups our quality. It gives us time to plan and really think about what we're putting out there for all of you to read.

As far as getting picked up onto larger sites (like the ones in our right-hand column -- we get this question a lot, too), this takes a bit of work. Just check out submissions guidelines and submit, submit, submit. If you have something share-worthy, you'll make your way eventually. Just be patient, and if you don't get chosen or included (which happens to us all the time), don't worry. Your time will come. And if you'd like to be considered for a Reader Spotlight on (never home)maker, just check out this post with all the details.

Having tasty photos -- especially for a food blog -- helps, too. For inspiration, check out sites like Tastespotting and Foodgawker.

#3: My husband and I were following your progress with "slashing your grocery bills," and we liked it because we're on a tight budget right now. Are you going to write more about that?

Those of you new to (never home)maker may not know what this question is all about. You can check out our grocery bill slashing successes and failures here, here, here, here, and here.

The short answer is yes we will post about this topic again. The reason we haven't written in a while is just laziness. We actually fell off the wagon a bit, too. We've been entertaining more, going out to eat for graduations and other events, but that's no reason to stop telling you all what's up. So, we hope to get back to posting about this money saving topic soon.

In the meantime, Caitlin (from Healthy Tipping Point) just recently posted an AWESOME article -- featuring yours truly -- about creative ways to save at the grocery store. Check it out here.

#4: (And this one is the number 1 question we have received, hands-down.) Can I substitute X ingredient /Y ingredient / Z ingredient for A ingredient / B ingredient / C ingredient in your recipes?

The answer is most always a resounding YES. What's so cool about cooking is that you have the freedom to be creative. But I totally get it. When I was first starting off -- before I started crafting my own recipes -- I wanted to follow the book exactly as shown. And that's good.

On the other hand, take the Everything but the Kitchen Sink dinner, for example. We totally didn't know where we were going with it. After a bit of taste testing, etc. we created something pretty tasty.

If you're still hesitant: Just substitute like ingredients whenever possible. Use almond milk instead of soy. Earth Balance for butter, etc. Sunflower butter for peanut butter. Dried cranberries for raisins. Things like flours may get slightly more difficult, but there's always Google if you're worried about conversion/measurements. You will undoubtedly make mistakes from time to time, but unless you do -- you'll never discover your full kitchen potential! :)

#5: How long were you running before you decided to train for a marathon? I just started running this year, but I'm already itching to "go to distance."

Also another question we get a lot. I think this whole marathon thing is a personal decision. That being said, I actually waited a long time compared to others to run a marathon. I started running back in 2002 . . . I didn't race at all that first year. Then, I did a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks before entering my first half marathon in 2004. After that, I started doing more 10Ks and a 15K or two, but didn't run another half until 2009. All the while, I was slowly increasing my mileage. Making my long runs ever-so slightly longer in cycles. Then, during the training for that half marathon in 2009, I decided (and persuaded Stephen) to sign up for the Philadelphia Marathon.

It was a scary/exciting decision. And it involved more dedication than pretty much anything else I've ever done in my life.

I remember when I first started running, the emphasis seemed to be on the marathon. It was like this line between recreational and "serious" runner. But what I can tell you is that you must resist feeling this way. I did, and I'm happy for it. I upped my training slowly. I think this approach helped me get faster, actually. I spent the time getting comfortable. Doing some speed at shorter distances. So, when it came time to up my training, I felt confident. If I had started sooner, I fear I may have dealt with more injuries as a result.

Back to this whole thing about it being a personal decision. If you're new to running and you want to sign up for a marathon with the core of your being. Do it. Just be careful with your training. If you want to sign up for a marathon because it seems that everyone and their mom is doing it -- I'd say hold off. There will always be marathons (and more and more races are popping up with each passing year). Spend some time really getting comfortable with the sport and yourself. Your goals are for you and only you. Enjoy shorter races. Then work your way up. And be sure to let us know how you do!


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