I am so excited to bring back my “A quick chat with” series and promise it’ll be a more consistent (ideally roughly monthly) thing around here! Even more exciting is that Kate Bowler of the newly released A New England Invite is sharing some of her background and experience as a blogger turned cookbook author. Kate Bowler and I have been “internet friends” for awhile and it’s crazy to watch someone going from writing a daily lifestyle blog to publishing a legit book in the span of a few years. I’m so excited for her and cannot recommend this book more highly–the recipes are digestible and not overly complicated, the photography is unsurprisingly beautiful and reminiscent of New England!
Kate Bowler sweetly sent me an advance copy to preview and photograph, and I literally made the Chocolate Chip Cake–a family recipe–the same afternoon. Trust me when I say you don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen to cook from this book–the recipes sound fancy but are totally doable with basic skills and equipment. I love browsing fancy cookbooks as much as the next person, but prefer to cook something with ingredients that won’t break the bank, doesn’t require obscure utensils, and doesn’t leave much room for error :)
A quick chat with… Kate Bowler
Hometown: Katonah, NY in Westchester County
Currently live in: Scituate, MA – a cute little coastal town outside of Boston
Current profession: Lifestyle Blogger, Cookbook Author, and Mom
What does your typical morning look like?
I always attempt to get up a little bit before my daughter and tackle emails over coffee and go over my to do list for the day. Then when Jane wakes up we have breakfast together, get ready for the day, and head out for an activity. Sometimes that’s errands for upcoming blog projects, or we do something fun like go to the library or the playground. By mid-morning once I’ve tired Jane out, she goes down for a nap and I sit down to my computer to start working.
Tell me a little bit about your academic + professional background.
I went to Northeastern University in Boston and studied Communications. After college I had a handful of jobs with a focus on marketing – I worked for a market research firm, a social media ad agency, and spent several years in corporate marketing for a large financial services company, and then moved to a small retail start-up where I wore many marketing hats – from email marketing to internal communications to organizing photo shoots. Every night at the end of each of those various jobs I would come home and work on my blog – it’s been a consistent thread, a space for my own creativity, throughout my whole career.
I decided to take my blog full time after my daughter was born, in order to have a little bit more flexibility. Now I work on the blog full-time while staying home with her. It was the greatest decisions I ever made because a few months after I took the leap a publisher accepted my book proposal – it was some really perfect timing. I actually blogged for over 8 years before I went full-time, so seeing all of that hard work pay off has been really exciting.
When did you know you wanted to publish a cookbook? Can you walk us through the general process of going from a blogger to being a published author?
I have had this book idea in the back of my head for years. In fact when I was putting the proposal together I had a stack of random notebooks I had been jotting ideas down in for several years that I used to really organize and compile my thoughts. I knew that I wanted to fill a gap in the entertaining cookbook space. I’m a huge collector and reader of cookbooks, and have a special affinity for those with an entertaining spin, but I didn’t feel like any of them reflected how I actually cook and host family and friends. I wanted to create a book that real people, home cooks – like me! – could use to make entertaining at home a little less daunting.
I am learning every single day about the process of going from blogger to published author – it’s a whole new world for me. I think the best part for me has been that it has created some legitimacy for me around my career choice. When I tell people I’m a blogger, a lot of times they don’t really understand what that is, or how blogging can be a job, and they assume it’s just something I’m doing for fun. But people understand what a physical book is – they suddenly start to take blogging a little bit more seriously.
Where did you get inspiration for the recipes?
I’m always digging for inspiration wherever I can – magazines, cookbooks, restaurant menus. For the cookbook I started out with an outline of all of the seasonal events I wanted to cover, and then built the chapters around a menu for the parties. It was pretty similar to how I would plan an actual party at my house – a balance of old favorites and new ideas mixed together to create a cohesive meal. I actually mapped it all out on little sticky notes all over a wall in my office and it helped me visualize how each menu would work individually and then together as a whole in the book.
Organizational tools you can’t live without? I love a good old fashioned to do list on paper, but I also can’t live without the TeuxDeux app. It keeps my busy brain organized and helps me remember everything from project and writing deadlines to simple errand reminders.
Three words you’d use to describe yourself: Organized, creative, and humorous!
Top three favorite travel destinations?
Block Island, RI (one of my favorite places on earth!)
West Texas (we took an awesome road trip to Austin, Marfa, and Big Bend National Park a few years ago!)
Quebec (my husband and I went here around Christmas time a few years in a row when we were dating, and he proposed to me there on a magical snowy evening!)
And where are you headed to next?
We have been talking about booking a trip to Italy next year, and Charleston and Seattle are also on my list for our next cities to visit.
Favorite restaurant in Boston?
Island Creek Oyster Bar, everything on the menu is amazing but I almost always order the oysters and the Lobster Roe pasta
Best lobster roll you’ve ever had?
Eventide’s brown-butter lobster rolls [in Maine] are life-changing, they’re a favorite!
Favorite weekday lunch:
I am always nibbling on leftovers from recipe testing, but if I had my choice I’d have a nice turkey club with an herb aioli.
I am more of a beer gal these days, but I will never say no to a bloody mary with extra olives.
One piece of advice:
I will share an adapted piece of advice that a mentor gave me at one of my first jobs right out of college – you have to have confidence in yourself for other people to have confidence in you.
I’m always struggling with the imposter syndrome, and wondering if I’m good enough or if people will take me seriously. That icky little doubt-filled voice can be so hard to mute (especially in an industry where we are constantly measured by likes and compared to others on the internet). But I try to always remember that I need to believe in myself first, and if I own that confidence, then other people will believe it too.