This post has been a long time coming. Several months, in fact. It’s long and I encourage you to refill your coffee, or other beverage of choice while settling in.
It began at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t feeling my most authentic self with where my food blogging was heading and in particular a couple of brand partnerships. I was struggling with food waste and creating content in an excessive way that went against what I was trying to achieve healthwise or how I felt morally. I walked away from some partnerships that required me to create recipes that I knew I wasn’t particularly eating at home. Indulgence had been the bain of my existence and it was time to change.
The food blogging space is a tricky one, and if we are being honest, not one I ever walked into with eyes wide open. A series of events sort of landed me here, rather blindly. You know the background so I’ll keep it brief- won a cookie contest before I was even a legit blogger, created an apron and circulated it across the country, published a book about it, contracted a second cookbook, went on national television to sell said cookbook, given a food column platform in our local magazine, offered a third cookbook…and here we are.
It goes without saying that I have been blessed. Truly. Immeasurably. Someone even said to me one day, “you’re living my dream” and do you want to know what’s sad? The entire time I thought, but am I living MY dream?
At times, yes. And at times, no.
I was so busy creating food content that I had forfeited creating the things that fill up my cup. So busy creating content to appease what the algorithms dictated I create and post. So busy worrying about whether a sponsored post crashed and burned, or why no one was liking my most recent creation. So busy, yet not truly fulfilled.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic. And the need to slow down, quarantine and wear masks.
I received an email from JoAnn Fabrics offering mask making kits. I posted on my personal Facebook page something along the lines of “how hard can it be to make a mask”? as I set off to go pick up some kits.
I dusted off my sewing machine- a sewing machine that hadn’t been touched since the making of a traveling apron and got to work leaving behind any despair over what brownies needed to be posted next or who was going to pay me to create a cake I’d hope someone would get out of my house. While other bloggers capitalized on quarantine baking and staying sane, I went on hiatus.
A friend’s daughter working in the SICU in Alexandria requested masks for her team as they were having to reuse their N95s each day. Those masks created a frenzy.
You can read some of the press about it here:
For months, Christine Law (Zachary team captain) and I (Baton Rouge team captain) ran around collecting fabric donations then redistributing to our team of seamstresses and sewing until our machines blew steam off of them. Seriously. I had to replace my machine at about the one month mark and went through 9.2 million broken needles. Our coordination efforts and what we were able to accomplish here in Baton Rouge was the envy of all the other local chapters. We even had a team of non-sewing transportation volunteers we called “Mask Movers” to shuttle around supplies or get the masks to the people who needed them leaving those who could sew the time to sew.
We partnered with the Baton Rouge Junior League, the fabric shop P Tree Textiles, and countless friends and family members who so generously donated funds and supplies to keep our machines cranking. We were even asked to provide masks for our Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, utilizing their tourism bandanas as fabric.
And then I coordinated the group sewing day of all sewing days to make it happen.
I knew the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center, aka the LSU basketball arena, had been turned into a PPE Assembly Center to get highly needed hospital gowns into the hands of the medical professionals and I had this bright idea to coordinate a sewing team, haul our machines into the center, and crank out a whopping 500 masks during our time together.
It was ambitious and it was insane.
(those were the gowns LSU was making)
Our team of volunteers (we could only have 10 per the mandate at that time) wearing the same Mardi Gras colored masks we made for the Lt. Governor’s office. With exception of two ladies, I had never met any of them prior to our sewing get together.
And if I never accomplish anything else in life, there will always be the time I was posted on the Lt. Governor’s Facebook page wearing a mask. Sigh.
During that team effort sewing day, we also created 150 masks specifically for the Baton Rouge Food Bank and another 100 or so for area nursing homes. The remaining masks went to those requested through the Sew You Care group. Our final total was 510 masks. In one day together.
Now that the mask making has wrapped up, I’ve realized that it was unfair not to include the past few months here. My website is not Aimee’sBakingBlog.com. It’s just Aimee Broussard. On purpose. A good friend and long-time blog reader said to me, “Aimee, you took for granted that we didn’t want to be part of your mask journey. We follow “you”, not just your desserts”. She made me realize it never needed to be all or nothing.
I have now given myself permission to pivot and do and post the things that truly fulfill me. Actually, I gave myself that permission months ago I just failed miserably at including you. And I am sorry about that.
If it’s no longer brownies, it’s no longer brownies. I’m certain my rankings for mask making do-gooder posts will tank according to Google, but I have always believed that if you are joy-filled with what you are putting out there, it will be valued, and “your people” will find you and love you for it. The moment you are not happy with what you are creating or doing it for the wrong reasons, it will show and it will lead to feelings of overwhelm.
So in the spirit of continuing to create, I made a date with my sewing machine once again. The masks have long been cleared away and space created to work on a little something that better represents two things that make me happy: my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and apron making.
After all, this began, years ago with the power of community and the beauty of a handmade apron.
If you have read this far, thank you for being my people. I owe the utmost gratitude to you for sticking around.