This week, after quite some time without a bean from bloggers (or rather I have been lazy posting their diligent interview answers!) I give you the lovely Ruth from The Pink Whisk. She was runner up in The Great British Bake Off 2010 and has done so many things since including write 4 books. The latest of which I have to giveaway. Read on:

What’s your name? Ruth Clemens

Where do you come from? Poynton in Cheshire

How old are you? 35

What’s your educational background? Did you leave school at 16 or finish with a PhD? I left school after GCSEs and worked in various admin type jobs

What’s your blog called?

When was your blog born? July 2010.

Sum your blog up in one sentence: Baking recipes and tutorials, nice and simple!

Why did you start your blog, where did you think it would lead? I really had no idea, it was a means to make me keep on developing my own recipes rather than going back to baking entirely from books and a place to record them.  I regularly lose recipes I’ve written down at least digitally they won’t get lost!

What’s your most popular blog post? How to make Macaroons (Macarons).  Which completely makes me groan inside.  I think they’re overrated, certainly if you have to go to the faff of making them yourself.  Perhaps  the struggle some people have in making them successfully  means that it’s my most popular traffic post.  For me baking isn’t about putting yourself through that torment!

How often do you check your blog stats, truthfully?! I should have a handle on it but I don’t!  I check the stats when I’m prompted to so for providing info to  various PR databases, things like that and it usually sparks a whole can you believe it debate in our house.

What’s your biggest kitchen disaster? At the moment it’s the whole blooming kitchen – we’ll come to that in one of your later questions! I have a lot of kitchen disasters, mostly smaller ones, the sort that come about through a lack of paying proper attention – burning pastry cases, taking cakes out of the oven sure that they’re cooked through and then still being raw in the middle, balancing things precariously and then inevitably them falling onto the floor, leaving the eggs out of a recipe by mistake.  You name it I’ll do it just like everyone does!

What’s your advice to fledgling food bloggers? If you enjoy it then go for it, doing something you love really is the best bit and having a blog is a huge motivation in trying new recipes, products, techniques and experiences.  It’s also a huge amount of fun!  I would say to try and keep in mind though that it’s not always about taking a photo/tweeting/facebooking what you’re doing, it’s very easy to get caught up and you forget how to just enjoy and live the moment without social media involvement!

Is there anything you’d have done differently? I would have set stricter rules at the start for the times I would work.  If you’re working from home it’s very easy to get caught up into working evenings, weekends and generally not taking any real time off.  In that way I think at times I’ve not been very fair to my children and it’s something I’m still trying really hard to find a good balance.

Blogging high? Being featured in the Independents top 50 food websites – I really was (and still am) made up with that!

Blogging low? Always Internet trolls and unthoughtful people.  People who come along digitally to make trouble, via email, blog comments, facebook twitter etc.  100 people can say lovely things but when 1 comes along with negative and quite frankly nasty accusations and nonsense then that’s the comment you’ll remember the longest and it’s guaranteed to ruin your day.  For me it’s the hardest part of working online.

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by the strong female members of my family rather than folks you’d all have heard of.  Family really is a big deal for me and I’m lucky to have successful grandparents, aunties, cousins and of course my Mum to look to for inspiration.

Do you have a day job? No, I work full time on the blog and baking projects.

What keeps you awake at night? I can at times suffer terrible insomnia.  Getting my brain to turn off can be a real struggle.  Having said that a lot of my most creative ideas pop into my head when I’m trying to get to sleep.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? I am hoping that in 10 years time I have things a little more balanced, with a really good work schedule and allocated time off!  Hopefully the blog will still be going but by then I’ll have posts lined up 3 months in advance – not 3 minutes and I will be making a successful living to support my family.

What would be your 3 desert island items? I think my Kindle for reading, my family (is that allowed?  I think I would miss them too much to be deserted without them) and my hair straighteners.  I have naturally curly frizzy hair, that I can’t do anything with.

What advice would you give to your schoolgirl/boy self? Believe in yourself and have confidence.  That was something I lost along the way and really wish I could have held on to!

What has been the inspiration behind each of your books? How do you decide what to focus on next? I think the inspiration has always come from what I would have liked in books when I was first starting out – lots of pictures and quite an informal style I suppose. The decisions on what to focus on next have come quite naturally and just seemed to be what I wanted to tackle next, then of course there’s some to’ing and fro’ing between me and the teams at the publishers until we can get an idea that works for everybody!

How long does it take to write a book? How many times do you make a recipe before it’s right? It feels like a long time, the whole process is about 16-18 months from start to finish but the intensive work of recipe development and writing is done over about 4-6 months, depending on the schedule.  Sometimes I’ll hit it lucky with a recipe and it only takes 3-4 versions before I’m sure it’s what I want.  Other recipes I can get up to attempt 8 and it’s still not there.  That’s when I tend to shelve it for the timing being and move onto something else, generally when you come back to it, it all slips into place (hopefully!)

Where do you write and how long does it take to write each book? I write perched at the end of my dining room table!  Everything needs to be moved away before teatime every day.  Holly, I think your interview is making me realise what a poor show I am in the professional stakes, a falling apart kitchen in a state of self inflicted DIY disrepair and an author who doesn’t have a desk! Hmmm!  I suppose this is real family life though and just the way things are,  I might move the teen out of his bedroom and tell him I need an office ;)

Having learnt the hard way I write up recipes as soon as they are finalised in the kitchen so there isn’t a huge amount to do right at the end, that way you remember to include all the hints and tips you thought of throughout the recipe and your notes still make sense because they are fresh in your head.

What’s next on the book front? Do you have an ultimate recipe book you’d like to write? I’d like to do pastry next, having done cake and bread but who knows which way I’ll end up going.  I’d really like to do a Best of the Blog recipe book at some point and a Christmas recipe book, I’m such a Christmas nut it’d be fab to work on Christmas all year round!

Questions from facebook folks:

How do you stay so slim with all that cake in the house? Who eats it all? It’s my greedy gannets bunch of boys!  I think it must be a bit like working in a fish and chip shop, I bet very soon the last thing you want to eat is fish and chips.  Baking all day is a bit like that and I really don’t fancy it when I feel like I’ve been overfaced with it.  You can guarantee though that at 10 o’clock at night when I really do feel like a piece I’ll go looking and there’s nothing left – they’ve eaten it all.

Are you pleased with your kitchen renovation? It has completely ground to a halt, half done for now.  It drives me insane but the budget was eaten up with couple of unexpected major problems and I’m constricted for the amount of time that I can be excluded from the kitchen with it out of action.  For the time being it’s a suspended project.  I can well see it featuring on DIY SOS in the future!  Back to saving up a bit more and hopefully we’ll extend it through into the garage which would make a world of difference.  In our house though these things never happen quickly so I’m not holding my breath for it to happen imminently!

Creative Eclairs

Ruth has 5 copies of her latest book, Creative Eclairs to giveaway worth £14.99 each. There are lots of ways to enter – see the Rafflecopter form below. The first way is just to leave a comment on this post. Easy peasy. Closing date 18th April 2014. How to enter:

  • Complete the Rafflecopter form below to confirm your entries made via blog comments, Twitter, Facebook etc.
  • This giveaway will close on 18th April 2014.
  • Please read the rules below.
  • Winners are announced on the Rafflecopter form after the prize has been claimed by the winner.
  • First timers: Please watch how Rafflecopter works (video)! It is 46 seconds long. It explains everything.
  • If no form is showing, hit refresh and it should appear.
  • Complete the form – or your beloved entries will not go into the draw. And that would be such a waste of time.
  • Mandatory entries need to be completed first – so leave a blog comment before you try and complete any of the other methods of entry.
  • Want more chances to win? Come back daily after tweeting about the giveaway and fill the form in again.
  • If you are viewing this by email you will need to click through to enter.

Rules and things:

  • Open to anyone over the age of 18, worldwide. Sorry to anyone younger.
  • There are 5 copies of Creative Eclairs available to win, each worth £14.99. There’s no cash alternative to the prize and the prize is not transferable. No part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.
  • Instructions form part of the terms and conditions. Entries using any software or automated process to make bulk entries will obviously be disqualified. The winner will be picked at random using software and then contacted by email. If you win and then don’t respond to this email within 7 days then another winner will be picked so check your emails and your spam! The goodies will be delivered to the winner as soon as possible after you have sent me your delivery address.
  • I am running this giveaway on behalf of FW Media who will be responsible for sending the prize to you by post should you win. Their decision is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • This is where I get all stern – please don’t say you have liked the post and followed me on Twitter and Tweeted away like a Tweety thing if you haven’t as guess what? If you win I will check you did do the things you said you did. It’s only fair after all. And I do like fairness.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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