(there’s no backplash or real glass in those windows behind me, but production begins!)
PART 2: if you haven’t caught up with PART 1: The Making of The Simply Real Eating Cookbook, Behind-The-Scenes, you’re gonna want to read that one first, for any of this to make sense. Catch up here.
Oh where were we?
Oh right. I had just signed a book deal, for a book release in Fall of 2019.
I had 9 months to create it.
And I just found out I was pregnant.
Pretty quickly, I also found out just what it meant when people said “morning sickness”. Aka, it was all-day, non-stop nausea and throwing up. Not just for a plane ride. Or a day with the flu. It was weeks like that. Months like that. Like whoa. I know I’ve talked about this before in my pregnancy posts, but I didn’t expect it. I (naively) thought that since I ate so well, had prepped my body beforehand, took care of myself, etc that I wouldn’t get that sick. Welp guys, I was so wrong. It was an intense time for sure, and everyone told me, oh don’t worry it’s just first trimester. But that time came and went, and I was still in bed everyday by noon, unable to even look at my computer or phone– let alone any pictures of food, even hint of a smell of food, because it would make things worse.
Meanwhile, I was starting to freaking out.
I had a book to write. A deadline. And a serious one: one just 3 weeks before my due date.
4 months passed. Then 5 months. And then 6, with little improvement.
So then, cue: every amount of grit and hustle molecule in my body. A stool placed in the kitchen so I could sit and lean against it and chop and prep anyways, sometimes excusing myself mid-shoot to run to the bathroom. Carina dying of laughter as I (literally) held my nose closed, turned away at vegetables and meat, and sipped on the only thing that helped me feel slightly better in the moment: Arnold Palmers, in what felt like by the gallon.
I’d take breaks from cooking these beautiful vegetable forward meals, so I could make my box of Annies GF mac n cheese because it’s the only thing that would stay down.
The irony wasn’t lost on me.
I kept thinking: ok, what is this experience here to teach me? Patience, for sure. Empathy, 100%. But most of all, I kept coming back to this: how good it feels to feel good. How lucky I am that I feel good most of the time and have a heathy feeling body. How it’s something none of us should every take for granted. Because when you have that, you can do anything (and everything) easier. Which is exactly what this book is about: how to take care of yourself well, so that you feel good for most of your days. And how to be more present and intentional, even when things aren’t perfect.
So. The show must go on.
That the things we do for our big dreams, goals and what we want most in life, well…… the steps along the way aren’t always easy. In fact, they’re usually not. I just tried to keep my focus on that: the big picture. How amazing this all was (the book coming to be, my family coming to be, etc) even if some of the days to get there weren’t exactly dreamy or a part of my initial vision.
But, we did it anyways.
(Yup. That’s our washer/dryer waiting to be installed that day. Plexiglass on the windows. No backsplash. No potfiller. House still under construction, and the show must go on. This is why normal people shoot in professional studios with huge teams. But, normal? That’s boring).
Photography wise, styling wise, production wise, cooking and shooting wise, Carina and I did it. Together.
The dream team, I called it. Because it’s true. There is no one I respect, adore, trust, admire, and am in awe of the generosity of her heart, her beautiful work, her work ethic and eye for design, and everything that she is. Talented doesn’t even begin to describe it (if you don’t believe me, check out her work here). And this book turned out the way it did because of her endless amount of hours, love, work and her creative genius.
There were 175 recipes overall that we shot (125 final ones that made it for the book), styled and then edited. Plus a bunch of other shoots for all the other images. It took us a year, at a casual but consistent pace. I’d learned my lesson from the first book (which in total took one year for everything, from start to printed copies delivered)…but also shot my adrenals, made my hormones and body go crazy, and took me a year to recover from the stress and craziness.
Someone once told me that writing a book or cookbook on health, will do the opposite to it’s author. And it’s kinda true.
So, this was my way of doing it healthier this time. And for Carina and I to both run our businesses full time, with this as our side project.
I’ve got a full video of our days and the behind-the-scenes footage coming this week, so you guys can see what it was really like shooting on these days. We had just moved into our new house, after 8 months of remodeling it down to the studs. I had been designing the kitchen for this purpose— to be the shooting location, my home office, and Simply Real Health, in tangible form. And of course, things weren’t done yet, even with a buffer of 2 months.
But yet, there we were, shooting in a kitchen with plastic windows, no backsplash, and rolling out cookie dough on the coffee table because so many contractors were in the kitchen trying to finish up the cabinets and backsplash.
So, just a few little things going on.
I say this because the road to doing the things you want to do in your life isn’t always perfect. Or easy. And it doesn’t always go according to plan. But– that’s part of the fun. Part of the experience. And it’s something I’ll never forget or regret.
So, pregnant, sick, kitchen under construction. But yet, happier than ever. It was such a treat, those days, to be back in the kitchen. Creating, cooking , and working with my hands. There’s something so satisfying about it, so relaxing, and so soothing for my brain to do. Between the remodel and moving, I felt it even more so: the siren call of the kitchen. My special little place. It felt so good to be back.
It’s a feeling I wanted everyone to have or experience at some point in their lives, and is what kept me going.
(Proud, because at 7 1/2 months, I finally ate my first leafy greens, without getting sick, and made Carina take a picture. The Winter Greens Gratin is therefore magic // on page 196)
THE COVER SHOOT:
(letting it all out after a day of trying to suck it in/pretend there was no bump for our 1st cover shoot attempt)
I kept waiting to feel better to shoot the cover, knowing that time was ticking. I couldn’t hide that bump forever, and this wasn’t a pregnancy or mommy blog kind of cookbook.
At 5 1/2 months, still soo sick, we had to do it anyways.
For a few reasons, it ended up being just the first of 4 cover shoot attempts: one non-pregnant, one pregnant, one too pregnant, and one 6 weeks postpartum (the thing I was trying to avoid). But the one we picked? Yup. You got it. The last one. Not exactly in my plans and vision, but I love it, it was the best one. And I think I’ll appreciate it even more later because it’s such a good capture of this time and season exactly. Of doing both: running a business while having a family and being a mama.
DEADLINE, DUE DATE, EDITING BEGINS:
So, Year 3 on the project begins.
My deadline for every single piece of content is December 31, 2018.
My due date is December 25th, 2018. A
It’s a fuel like no other.
We wrapped the shooting and production part by September 2018, which gave me 3 months to get all the other writing and editing done.
I said no to everything else. Everything. It was GO time.
And I did. Including a few trips away solo and locking myself in a airbnb or hotel room. I’d only stop to eat a meal or leave the room for my allotted 2 walks a day. It was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life— and I’m not sure I can describe why. Those of you that are writers will know it well– but resistance comes up like crazy when you attempt a project like this: something in print for the rest of my life.
I can’t even tell you all voices that were in my head saying things: This is stupid. Why is this so hard, this should be easy for you to describe– it’s exactly what you teach. You’re a writer, but you must not be a good one if this is hard for you. What are you even trying to say? Who’s gonna care? Etc, etc, etc.
So many points along the way, I thought about stopping.
But for some reason, I kept imagining you guys– my people. The ones that said that their lives have been changed by the first book. The ones that bought copies for all of their family members and friends, and the ripple effect that had on thousands of people. The perspectives that got changed because of it, and the lives that shifted.
So, I kept at it.
And ultimately, did it.
December 11th, I submitted it all. A little bit early.
Good thing I did, because exactly 6 days later, baby Noah was born. I remember being in the middle of a crazy labor and frantically throwing Kyle my phone, telling him to get on my email and tell the publishers I couldn’t make our 11am call that day to chat about the submission. They were so great about it, and so excited for me.
I felt a relief greater than anything I’d know. The book was in. My baby was here. A new season of life began.
(OMG this picture. His face. So little. 4 weeks old and editing begins).
Then, 4 weeks later, it was time to start the editing process. Thank god for my mom, who helped me so much in those early days (still does), balancing my laptop and pouring over all the edits and questions, in between nursing, pumping, ALL THE THINGS.
By Feb or March, it was ready for printing and production.
By June, it was ready for pre-sale.
SEEING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME:
It was my birthday, at the end of August when I got the padded envelope in the mail that could only mean one thing. I looked at it for 5 minutes straight, but could not get myself to open it. We went away for Labor Day weekend with my family, and I brought it with me: still wrapped up, and waiting for a moment that I could work up the nerve.
While I had seen it all in PDF version on my computer for the rounds and rounds of edits, I hadn’t experienced it, like you guys will experience it: all together, hardcover, full color, and the fullest expression of the work I’d been doing for the last 3 years. What if it was horrible? What if the paper or the quality wasn’t what I envisioned? What it my message wasn’t clear or something went weird?
I gave Noah to my mom and went outside on the deck, just me and that envelope.
I opened it, and just felt an immediate sigh of relief. It was beautiful to hold. Slowly, I traced my fingers over the cover. The spine. I turned it over to the back. Wow. It was here. Really here. It was REAL.
My hands started shaking a bit, opening it up. Reading the opening lines. And page by page, turning each one slowly, just trying to take it all in. I started crying. Weeping really, as I read the words. More than ever, they resonated with me. More than ever, I felt my heart just expand. Yes. Exactly.
HERE it is.
More than anything this project was teaching me how to get over my own resistance, my own excuses, my own busyness, truly, and just FOCUS on what mattered and what I wanted to create. To be ok with delayed gratification instead of instant feedback, which goes against everything in our culture.
More than anything, it was a lesson in learning how to say no to everything else, so I could do that: focus on the one thing.
It’s been hard for me to do that in the past (I’m an entrepreneur and my brain is always going and thinking and wanting to do the next big thing). It was so good for me, even though it was such a long process. I think it’s probably exactly what I needed to learn the most.
THE RELEASE INTO THE WORLD:
The birth, if you wanna be weird about it.
As I sit here writing this, it feels a little surreal. And here’s the part that most authors don’t talk about: about how vulnerable and nervous I feel, just as much as I feel excitement to FINALLY freaking share this creation out in the world. That— what if I spent so much of my time and energy and poured my heart and soul into this one thing……. and people don’t like it. Or appreciate. Or get it. Because it’s not just a cookbook, it’s a blend of all the things I do and love and teach about the next layer deeper to creating a healthy lifestyle that you love.
It’s a funny thing. I don’t know how it will be perceived. I’m not in control of that part.
But what I do know is this: I didn’t write the book to be liked. Or for me to be cooler. Or for my own ego to say I’ve written 2 cookbooks. Nope.
I wrote this book for you, reading this right now. Because I believe that simplifying your food, and bringing more joy to the process of nourishing yourself, simplifies your life. And it changes your life.
And it’s time to CHANGE how we talk and think about food. Without the guilt. Without the extremes. Without the stress. It’s time for a better and more sustainable way, and no one else is talking about how to ACTUALLY DO THIS IN REAL LIFE.
Because no matter where you are in your own journey with health, that there is so much you CAN do, to take small daily actions over time that ultimately can change your life, your perspective, your body and your mind.
All of this matters so that we can take back our time and energy so we can focus on what really matters in life: the people we love, our purpose and work in this world, and to be the best version of ourselves as possible. Because we’re only given a short time on this earth , so we might as well make it count, and make it the most beautiful, joyful and vibrant version as possible.
And that, it doesn’t have to be perfect. So even if this book encourages just a handful of you to get in your kitchens and have fun—to not take yourselves too seriously, to get messy and play, create and give yourself more grace in the process– well then, it’s all been worth it to me.
So, thank you for being my people. For reading, for supporting, for loving and encouraging this project, through all the steps along the way. That you choosing to grab a copy, and tell all your family and friends about, means more than you’ll ever know. And it means supporting this message and mission and helping it spread even further to help more and more people get out of old programming around food.
Because we did this together, my friends. And I hope you know, this book is for you. And what I hope is like having a best friend/life coach/personal nutritionist sitting on your kitchen shelf, rooting for you at all times. No matter the day. Or season. Or season in your life. You are worth it. You can do this. And you deserve the very best life for yourself possible.
With love and all my heart, OMG it’s almost here!
AND PART 3, COMING THIS TUESDAY 11/19 (LAUNCH DAY!!): THE BTS VIDEO REEL, BOOK TOUR SPOTS ANNOUNCED & 3 BIG BOOK BONUSES REVEAL!
professional photos by Carina Skrobecki