Happy 2015! We are so glad to be back with stories and delicious memories from our holidays…which included a much-anticipated reunion in Whistler! The fact is, we met (a lightning-fast) five years ago (if you don’t know the story, catch up here) and for the last three we’ve lived on either side of the Pacific ocean, in different hemispheres. This blog began as a way for us to share our near-constant chatter over email–our ideas, writing musings, food obsessions and recipes. Plus, the news and to-do’s when various kids came along. We’ve learned, laughed and met new friends here. It’s been a party.
Having a chance to reunite has made us all nostaglic and misty-eyed, so for this first post back, we thought we’d catch up interview-style, like we did at the start. To see what’s changed, what’s grown and what’s to come. And to mark this point in the journey, the special night we caught up, both families, in the snow and cheek-chilling cold of a mountain town…
So let’s start with a flashback question. Hannah, what was your situation—living, family, writing, etc—when you thought about starting Fork & Fiction?
I must have serious memory erosion because I had to look back at our very first post in order to answer this question. I got a smidge emotional reading that fledgling post…
“I realized the other day that I feel so lucky to have you as a pen-pal (type-pal?), and that I see our emails as lovely little presents that come into my inbox. I love getting presents, and even more, giving them. So thanks for so many little Christmases. It feels old fashioned and modern at the same time, like a Dearest Friend, but in digital form.”
Which led to this:
“Hey, I just had a fantastic idea for a blog. You and I – writing from different hemispheres – about work and family and advice and seasons and home making and writing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?? A kind of ongoing conversation with photographs, gossip etc. I like my blog but it does sometimes feel so one-sided. Something collaborative would be so much more interesting. Clearly we would need Skype sessions to discuss ‘work’ and perhaps a joint holiday or two to catch up, tax deductible…?”
MEMORIES!! (I’m singing that of course) But I digress. Way back then I had two very little babies and no fixed abode.
Ria, how has your situation changed in two and a half years?
When we started the blog, I had a one year old, an old house that needed fixing up and one book published. Now I have a three year old and a seven month old, an old house that needs (a little less) fixing up and two books published. Oh, and more grey hairs, laugh lines and comfortable shoes. Plus, we have Fork & Fiction, which keeps getting more interesting and ensures I write every week, no matter what.
Now both of you: What is your favourite part of writing the blog?
Hannah: Like many bloggers (I am assuming) I used to write a journal about my days, challenges, worries and feelings. It makes me feel good to observe the details of my life – that generally rushes by far too fast – notice them, record them and try to make sense of them. Unlike journal writing, blogging gives the added dimension of relating with others and having a conversation. I really like that. Oh, and photos. I like taking those too…
Ria: There’s a layer of self-reflection and objectivity that writing the blog gives me. And when that’s done, there’s the interaction with readers and other bloggers that’s so affirming and helpful. It’s so unlike novel writing, which can be lonely and snail-paced. Having both going on is a nice balance.
Where and when do you write the blog?
Ria: Anytime I can fit it in. Either during the day when The Tiger is napping or at night when both kids are asleep. My work station has moved around the house as the kids have moved rooms–first I was writing at the dining room table because little e was sleeping in my office, then I moved back into my office (yay!) until The Tiger started sleeping in there, so now I’m writing in the guest room. My makeshift desk sits in front of a tall mirror, so it’s been great for reminding me to improve my posture.
Hannah: Almost always at night (while Matt watches television and I swear at the computer because my photos are taking an impossibly long time to upload).
Where do your post ideas come from?
Ria: From all over the place: books I’m reading, web articles, something I see in my neighbourhood, something delicious I’m making. And then I think about what would interest both Hannah and I about the chosen subject and try to write about it thoughtfully.
Hannah: Generally from the thought “I should tell Ria this”. I write and share the kinds of things I am interested in reading and those usually involve an f-word – food, fiction, family, flying to foreign lands etc. If I come up with an idea on the run I make notes in my iphone or diary; which is also how I keep track of my lists for “Best of Season” posts. I use the Shazam app on my iphone to ‘catch’ music I like and want to share (if I don’t already have the track downloaded) and sneakily photograph recipes (in cookbooks from libraries, an old magazine at a cafe or other’s shelves) to make and adapt and share later.
What tip would you give someone starting a blog?
Hannah: Blog for the love of it not the ‘fame’ of it. Be prepared to feel uninspired and tired at times, a little lonely and unloved other times; it’s all part of it. Be authentic. Be prepared to learn a lot about yourself.
Ria: Do it because you want to, not because you want other people to want you to. And what Hannah said.
Now let’s talk reunion! Hannah, what brought you to North America?
I won the lottery. Kidding! Welllll, only sort of. My in-laws shouted Matt’s entire family to the trip of a lifetime to Whistler, Canada and Hawaii for Christmas and New Year. Twenty three people including eleven kids in matching t-shirts. It was chaotic and wonderful.
Can you give us some highlights of your holiday?
I have always wanted to go dog-sledding; it was on my bucket list. I had been really sick and in bed for three days prior so I wasn’t sure I was going to make the booking but I did and I loved every minute of it. Paddling an outrigger canoe in Hawaii was also great fun. Then there were the far-too-short catch-ups – meeting Ria’s beautiful baby boy, awwww that was special! Other highlights are mostly to do with the girls. Their faces while making snow angels, watching a tropical gecko crawl over their arm or riding around on their Uncles shoulders. Pure joy. Those moments made me warm and toasty inside.
Do either of you have delicious holiday food memories to share?
Ria: Best pizza I’ve had in ages: Il Castello in North Vancouver. Hand made, wood oven fired, perfect toppings and delightful people (who humoured a precocious three-year-old so patiently). Plus, they do a nutella and banana dessert pizza. Get ye there if ye can.
Hannah: Big bummer – the virus that slayed me for the first few days of the holiday effected my throat and sense of taste so most food tasted, well, terrible. BUT…I battled on. My two favourite food moments were ahi tuna poke from Duke’s restaurant and shave ice from Matsumoto General Store – both enjoyed on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii.
And the reunion??
Ria: There’s always a building-up of this kind of event, isn’t there? When you haven’t seen someone in so long and you’ve been talking about it for ages and finally it happens. There’s sometimes the worry it won’t live up to the hype, but happily, that wasn’t a problem for us. I’m glad, in a way, that it wasn’t just the two of us, children tucked away somewhere, husbands otherwise occupied (although that will be our next reunion for sure!). Having the two families meet, kids dash about, all trundle through the snow in search of dinner for hungry tummies…it was so very real and true to us. It seemed to reflect a lot of what we write about on this blog. It was wonderful and too short!
Hannah: Spot on – waaaaay too short. Very grateful that Ria and her entire family including young babes were able and willing to change all their plans to come see us up in Whistler (after I was too sick to head down to Vancouver as planned). It felt like no time had passed except there were new children to meet and about one million things to catch up on. If I’d happened upon a genie in a bottle my three wishes would have been to 1) stretch time 2) find a café (which happened to serve the world’s best hot chocolate) to natter away in during stretched time and 3) be able to properly taste the hot chocolate. In lieu of the genie we’ve already been talking about meeting up again as soon as we can.
And what’s new for you in 2015?
Hannah: Great question. I have a few things to look forward to in 2015 but the one I am most excited about is….a NEW BOOK!! With my name on the spine!! I have so much to say about it I won’t go into it here but let’s just say APRIL is gonna be a good month. I promise to share absolutely all the details with you here very soon and to use an unnecessarily excessive number of exclamation marks.
Ria: In the short term, there is homemade bread on my horizon. Beyond that, we are heading into a renovation, so there may be be photographs of an exploded kitchen coming up soon. And in the spring I’m heading back to Toronto for the Forest of Reading celebrations because The Opposite of Geek is nominated for the White Pine Award! It’s going to be a great year.
Thanks for reading and sharing with us. Here’s to a fabulous 2015.
Ria and Hannah