I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s been a few changes round here lately.
Over the last few days I’ve updated the entire look and feel of the blog, with everything from the logo to the colours and my email template getting a refresh. It is much more than this though, it marks quite a big change for The Usual Saucepans.
The last year or so has been one of two halves. The first was an adventure around the world – during which time the plans for a revamped blog were hatched – and the second where I came very close to stopping the blog altogether.
Whilst I was away there was plenty of time (in between the Instagramable moments) sitting reading a book or waiting in a departure lounge to think about what I wanted from things like the blog.
Now, I didn’t go away to ‘find myself’ (I know where I am; I am right here), or anything else you might expect from ‘my gap yaahh in Peraaaah’, but the change of pace and place inevitably teaches you things, if you are prepared to listen.
It was also when I realised that I probably needed to start looking after myself a little better – the days of eating an entire pack of biscuits or a massive burger without feeling rubbish afterwards are seemingly over. Let’s not even talk about hangovers.
All this is of course totally OK. It seems this new found ‘wisdom’ (although it’s worth mentioning I still got refused service in a bar without ID the other day) makes you think a bit more. And also be less tolerant of people who don’t know how to airport.
I actually wrote fairly extensive notes on what a new-look blog might look like, when I got home and had time to work on it.
Then I got home, got a job and that’s where it all went wrong.
Still with me? Confused? Let’s get to the point then.
By the end of last summer I was balancing work, commuting, blogging and trying to have a life. I realised that if The Usual Saucepans was to continue something needed to change.
It started as a recipe blog back in 2012. A photo of a recipe quickly snapped, written down and published. But that doesn’t really work any more.
Today a post can take hours. In the whirlwind of photos, editing, writing, optimising for search, social media, connecting with other bloggers, brands, replying to comments, emails – the list goes on – I lost something. Enjoyment.
Sure, it’s a litany of first world problems – and I do appreciate everyone that reads TUS – but when it felt more like an onerous demand on limited time than something fun, it felt like a pretty big problem. Before Christmas I came very close to cancelling the hosting and walking away.
Thankfully though a little break was what I needed. And over Christmas I read the notes and plans I made whilst I was away (they started forming half way through a glass of wine in Hong Kong, of all places) of how to make The Usual Saucepans something I was excited to do. How it can expand a little and officially be more than just a recipe blog.
The new look and feel may simply be cosmetic, but behind the scenes it’s sorted more than all the little technical glitches, it feels (at the risk of sounding overly dramatic) like starting a new chapter.
The recipes from the last four years I’ve been writing The Usual Saucepans are still here with me, but there’s now more. There is room for proper stories about what I eat when I’ve been travelling and now there’s space for posts that aren’t just recipes.
There’s now space to talk about ingredients, cookbooks, great producers, the tips, tricks and tools I use in the kitchen. Over the coming months there will be a few new categories emerging and I’d love hear what you think of them.
On the recipe front, some of the old recipes are getting a facelift. My raspberry gin, for example, recently got new photos and a recipe improvement, and I have several more in line for the same treatment. Others will be new and more focused – The Usual Saucepans’ new strap line is ‘good food for busy people‘, and there will be a greater focus on weeknight dinners and lunches that don’t sacrifice flavour for convenience and maybe are a little on the healthy side. Drinks will be featuring a lot more regularly, maybe not all of them laced with gin (although please don’t hold me to this), and the way recipes are presented is next on my list of things to tackle.
What I’ve realised throughout this little refresh process though is that I really enjoy blogging. The ‘pressure’ to do it all properly, post a ton of high-quality posts every week, and for everything to be technically perfect is utter nonsense that mainly exists in my head and perfectionist tendencies. TUS exists as a place to talk about food. Of course I want to do things in a way that encourages people to make, share and enjoy the food; but when it comes down to it, the blog doesn’t pay my rent, it is for fun. And for it to work it needs to be fun.
So I hope you like the new look, the slight change in direction for the recipes, the new things that are coming. I will do my level best to have new, useful and exciting content on a regular basis, but please know that sometimes there will be little imperfections and gaps.
And with that I think it’s time to stop this (somewhat self indulgent) ramble and time to go on an adventure to ‘find ourselves’ in that place we always were – the kitchen.