The Kitchen Thyme Blogger Spotlight Series is a way for you and I to get to know and support the wonderful Bloggers who share their delicious recipes on Kitchen Thyme.
Meet Caitlin from Cuts and Crumbles
Check out Caitlin’s recipes at Kitchen Thyme!
Kitchen Thyme: Thank you for being part of our Kitchen Thyme Blogger Spotlight Series! Tell us where you’re from and how you got into blogging?
Caitlin: I am so excited to be included! I am from northeast Ohio (O-H!). I originally started blogging as a way to collect, create and share low-calorie recipes for weight loss. I was also seeking a healthy (and potentially lucrative) hobby and food blogging seemed like the perfect creative outlet for my love of writing, cooking, photography and spending wayyy too many hours on Pinterest.
KT: How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Caitlin: “Cuts and Crumbles” came to my mind when trying to creatively connect cooking/food terms with weight loss. My “Cuts” recipes are all those that I consider healthier alternatives and lower calorie dishes. (Hence, the cut calories!) The “Crumbles” are the higher calorie and more indulgent dishes (because what diet doesn’t have a few crumbles along the way, right?)
KT: How long have you been blogging?
Caitlin: I started blogging in February of 2016 so a little over 2 years.
KT: Where do you find inspiration to create new recipes?
Caitlin: I am always trying to take my favorite high calorie dishes and use alternative ingredients to help cut calories without sacrificing flavor. I am inspired mostly by recipes I see on Pinterest, other food blogs, cookbooks or restaurant menu items.
KT: What are your top 5 favorite recipes on your blog?
This marinated cheese has been blowing people’s minds since the first time I made it. It is so simple yet flavorful and unique and my friends are always asking me to make it!
I love Japanese steakhouses and the shrimp and vegetables are my favorite. This is a lighter alternative that is so flavorful I don’t even miss the fried rice. (And it is only 228 calories!) My fiancé and I make this all the time as a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.
These fries are the epitome of what I aim for in my “Cuts” recipes. By substituting potatoes for butternut squash, I save SO many calories! They are tossed in rosemary and garlic so they’re still very flavorful and have only 58 calories per serving!
These brownies are decorated to resemble the Hocus Pocus Spell book. They’re so freaking cute. And delicious. And festive. And chocolate. So naturally they’re a favorite of mine!
The. Best. Eggs. You’ll. Ever. Eat. I can’t even, you guys. This is so good. It’s a make ahead breakfast and the eggs are so creamy and velvety I don’t even know why I make eggs in any other way anymore.
KT: What camera and lens do you usually use for your food photos? Do you edit on Photo Shop or another Photo Editing site?
Caitlin: My original photos were shot with an iphone, however, I now use a Nikon D3300 with the standard 18-55 mm lens for my photography. For the “BBQ Brothers” photography (recipes created by my fiancé and his brother), I still use my iphone 7, mainly because it is easier and less dangerous than using my DSLR! (Since we’re usually drinking while we grill…) I edit my DSLR photos in Lightroom (I think it is more user friendly than Photoshop) and the iphone photos I simply edit on my phone. I like to keep the BBQ pictures a little simpler and less edited, to maintain a manly vibe, haha!
KT: What advice would you give to new food bloggers when it comes to taking photos of food?
Caitlin: Oh my gosh I have so much to say. I think number 1 would be make sure you’re using good lighting (either natural or photography friendly artificial lighting. Don’t just use your overhead kitchen lights because it will make everything look terrrrrible!) Number 2 would be to study, practice, study, practice, practice, practice, study! I downloaded and purchased a ton of food photography tutorials and eGuides (my favorite of which is Food Photography by Pinch of Yum) to learn the basics, especially when it comes to the DSLR. I also relied on the Food Blogger Pro videos and forum to help me navigate almost every step of the way. I think it is important to know the basics before you begin, especially with SEO, image dimensions, meta descriptions, etc. If you start with a good base then you won’t have to go back and edit everything once you learn more (although you will always be learning more!)
I would also say don’t be afraid to be different in your photography or writing style and don’t be afraid to reach out to other bloggers or experts for help! Networking is definitely important but the best part of it is meeting new and interesting people who share your passion!
KT: Do you have great lighting in your house for photos or do you need to use artificial lighting and filters?
Caitlin: I have a blog room in the front of my house that gets perfect lighting during the day. I have white sheer curtains and a thicker white set over top of them so I can alter my lighting as needed if the sun gets too bright at any point. I do not use any artificial lighting or filters because I am fortunate enough to have enough daytime hours that I can utilize for photography, but I’m sure they would come in super handy for rainy days!
KT: Are you a part-time or full-time blogger?
Caitlin: Currently part-time with full-time dreams! I would love to be able to research, cook, create, photograph, edit and write every day!
KT: Do you have a Virtual Assistant that helps you, and if so, what does that person do to help? What tasks do you like to do yourself and which ones do you prefer to outsource?
Caitlin: I do not have a VA, and I actually just started providing Pinterest VA services to others because I am absolutely obsessed with it! I have outsourced a few website related tasks since I’m not super website savvy, so any time I feel over my head I might reach out for that! But I like to try to run everything myself so I don’t have to depend on paying someone for it.
KT: What does a typical week look like for you? Do you create recipes and blog posts on certain days of the week? What are some of your daily tasks or routines? Do you have a good blog/life balance? Do you unplug at night or on the weekends?
Caitlin: My blog “work week” is mainly from Friday-Monday. I work full time during the week but I am fortunate enough to have an awesome boss who is supportive of my blog and allows me to take Mondays off to work on it. I do most of my cooking and photography on Mondays, or during the weekend if it fits into our plans (we grill out with friends a lot so I’m usually making some sort of side dish or appetizer!) I use my free weeknight hours to edit the photos I took over the weekend. Once the photos are edited I then start writing my post, with the goal to finish it by Friday. I then spend the weekend editing the post (and finding/cooking new recipes) and then I share my recipe on Monday and start all over again!
I also use Tailwind to schedule out all of my pins for the week, and I do this mostly over the weekend. I do feel like I have a good blog/life balance but I still wish I had more time for my blog. When I first started I was constantly staring at my computer or my phone and felt like I was ignoring my real life too much. I now keep things pretty well balanced and I am more comfortable with allocating appropriate time to my blog. I just wish I had more time for everything!
KT: How much time do you spend on Social Media each day?
Caitlin: On the weekends I spend a few hours on Pinterest scheduling my pins for the week then maybe another 1-2 hours during the week each day on Instagram and Pinterest.
KT: What tools/Apps help you to stay organized with your blogging business?
Caitlin: The Tailwind scheduler is my best friend. Once I discovered that it really freed up the weeknight time that I used to spend scouring Pinterest. I have a secret board on my Pinterest that I use to organize my own ideas, inspirations, and new recipes I will be making within the next few weeks. I stay organized with notepads in my phone of blog ideas, hashtags that I can quickly copy and paste, and to do lists. I also have a calendar, to do list, and inspiration wall inside of my closet so I every day I can see and check off what needs to be done.
KT: Do you use any schedulers for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? If so, which ones do you use and how to you organize all of the scheduling?
Caitlin: Tailwind. LOVE. IT. Like I said I will schedule the pins mostly over the weekend (I currently schedule 350 per week but will be increasing soon). I will go through and repin a handful of my own recipes to revamp them, spread them out throughout the week, then fill in the gaps with pins from other bloggers. I do not use a scheduler for Instagram, my Facebook account is not a priority to me as it is kind of just a mirror of my Instagram (and I mainly have it so my friends and family members who don’t have IG can see my posts), and I am not a Twitter user.
KT: What are some Word Press plug-ins you find helpful?
Caitlin: Grammarly is an awesome plug in for easy, user-friendly spell check and grammar check. I just started using it but I love it! Also, Shop page WP is a super user-friendly plug in that helps you create a chic and organized shop.
KT: What are the main sources of income from your blog? Sponsored Posts? Advertisements? Affiliate Links?
Caitlin: Almost all of my (measly) income is from ads. I have affiliate links as well but they haven’t been too successful for me (help?!) I have earned from Google Adsense, Gourmet Ads, and some affiliate work with Amazon and Blue Host. I am hoping to make the jump to Mediavine soon!
KT: Do you have a long relationship with any particular Brands?
Caitlin: I wish! Sadly, all of my relationships are one sided at this point, haha!
KT: Do you enjoy going to Blogging Conferences? If so, which ones do you recommend for Food Bloggers?
Caitlin: I’ve never been to a blogging conference but they sound amazing!! I am a huge introvert so the thought of throwing myself into a room with strangers is terrifying but I am hoping one day I can attend one!
KT: Do you have any advice for someone starting a food blog?
Caitlin: So much! Study a lot and never stop learning and implementing what you learn as you go! Also, make your blog what you want it to be. Figure out what you enjoy doing and do more of that. Be in for the long haul because for the first few weeks (or months) you might feel like no one is reading but slowly things will increase. Do what you love, focus on what you want to and don’t try to be anyone else! Also, make sure all your ducks are in a row (disclaimers, privacy policies, proper credit etc.) so you don’t get in trouble for anything!
KT: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Caitlin: I really love Cravings by Chrissy Tiegen. It is so funny and the recipes are great!
KT: If you could cook with a famous chef or celebrity cook, who would it be and why?
Caitlin: See my above answer! Chrissy Tiegen! She’s hilarious. And maybe John could sing to us while we cook?
KT: Did you get your love for cooking from someone special in your family?
Caitlin: Actually, my family is huge into going out to dinner. My mom is a wonderful baker but no one in my family really cooks that much. I think my love of cooking came from wanting to learn more about prepping my own food, making recipes healthier with substitutions, and improving my cooking skills. My fiancé and his family are amazing cooks so I have been learning a lot from them! (Starting with how to properly hold a knife…I’m a monster.)
KT: You are constantly working with food. What are a few ingredients you cannot live without?
Caitlin: Cheese. If you read my blog you’ll quickly learn how much I LOVE cheese. But it’s super high in calories so I try (and usually fail) to avoid it. We also cook with a lot of onions and garlic so I couldn’t live without those. Oh and eggs, I eat eggs in some form every day!
KT: Thank you so much for joining us at Kitchen Thyme! I really enjoyed learning more about you! Where can our readers find you?
BLOG: Cuts and Crumbles