Pow-Wow in the Kitchen at Camont

... Hello, Camont! (Rocky, you've grown!)

I’m just back from a short jaunt in Gascony for my yearly pilgrimage to visit Kate Hill at her Kitchen at Camont. This is my third visit to see Kate in as many years, making these visits sort of a summer tradition. If you read my early post, My Food Story From Gascony, you might understand why. The south of France is inherently wonderful for its weather, food, landscape and tradition. Kate brings to it her own take on France, and I’m very grateful to her for having introduced me to markets, people, recipes and a way of life I would never get to experience as a tourist.

Meeting of the savoury breakfast fan club.

But there’s more to our visits than just eating good food and drinking rosé in the sun. Camont is the perfect environment for bringing ideas to life. One of the most valuable parts of our visits have been our “pow-wows”, a collective brainstorming on our respective personal projects. For Kate, it’s her business as a butchery and charcuterie teacher. For me, well, my aims were a little more disparate, but with Kate’s help I’ve been able to break things down a bit, and I thought I’d write about it here since I’ve come to realise that most people (including myself sometimes!) don’t really get what I do.

Mastermind session with Kate

There are two sides to my world, which I’m calling the monicashaw.com side and the smarterfitter.com side.

Over at monicashaw.com is the stuff that makes me a real living:

  • Social media consulting
  • Web analytics
  • Copywriting
  • Teaching and training
  • Writer’s Residence
  • Airbnb

smarterfitter.com is really my hobby job

  • Blogging on food, fitness and travel
  • eBooks
  • Recipe development
  • Product reviews

The above makes me a trickle of income from advertising and the occasional writing gig but it’s really just for fun. However, I’d like to make it more than that. I’d like Smarter Fitter to “feed” what I do professionally.

About that professional stuff; I’ve been feeling a little angsty about it all. I look at my hodge podge of income sources and wonder if I’m too unfocused. But then I take a step back and see how all of the above is what has allowed me to live something pretty close to the life of my dreams: I work from home, I work for myself, I live in a beautiful place and I get to go to other beautiful places. The only thing that would make that better would be to make more money – ideally on passive income, or by doing something that I’m super duper passionate about – to enable me to more beautiful things in beautiful places with beautiful people more often.

Stuffed artichokes at the Summer Solstice Supperclub

So maybe the way to fuse the two is to make “Smarter Fitter” all about the lifestyle choices I make to tune my life towards financial freedom and my ideal existence. The recipes fit with that, but my hope is that this will also free me up to write more about travel, work, life and so on (like I’m doing now).

From a practical point of view, this also means making a few design changes that make a clearer parallel between monicashaw.com and smarterfitter.com. I want to revamp monicashaw.com into a more organised portal for all of the things I do. It will also have a clear link to smarterfitter.com through its navigation and overall look-and-feel. Basically, it’s the smarter fitter life that’s enabled the work I do as detailed on monicashaw.com. Their branding needs to gel.

How does this all come back around to making a living? I shudder at the word “pro blogger”, though I wouldn’t mind if Smarter Fitter made me a bit of change on advertising and sponsorship from brands I already like (Vitamix, Fitbit, Vibram – I’m looking at you!). What I hope is that Smarter Fitter helps support my other income streams (writing, ebooks, speaking, teaching, consulting, even Airbnb). We’ll see how that pans out.

I’m still wrapping my head around all this but the important thing is to do something. Thanks to Kate for helping me organise my thoughts and decide which direction I should take.

Having got that off my chest, I’ll be back soon with a few of the foodie delights from Camont – fava bean hummus, Kate’s Spanish omelet on overdrive, and the Shaw family “sunshine cake”, a cake for all seasons!

6 thoughts on “Pow-Wow in the Kitchen at Camont

  1. Traca

    I came to your site through a FB link from Kate. Since you’re doing some revamping, I’ll tell you my first impression. I like your voice, I liked the photos. I clicked on the supper club link and saw that gorgeous pie photo. Then I wondered about your recipes, which seemed in line with my own culinary style. But there is no tab directly to your recipes, collected in one place. There’s no place to click and dream of future meals. It seems you’ve got room in your blog header to add a “Recipes” page. If cooking and recipes is part of your branding, I’d tackle that first. A relatively quick and easy fix.

    1. Monica Post author

      Hi Traca,
      Thanks so much for visiting – it’s so great to get some feedback from a pair of fresh eyes. And YES to recipes. This has long been on my to do list and you’re right – it’s a quick and easy fix. I think I had this vision of having a searchable recipe index or something fancy. But even a navigation link to my recipes would be a start. And that’s what it’s always been about to me – small, incremental steps. I’ll go add that to the navigation now. 🙂

      Thanks so much,

  2. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    How great that you can find inspiration and put your ideas together with lovely people over in France. You should indeed take time to put plans to paper and I am sure you will make a fine job of gelling your two sites together. I feel the same, with my blog, my teaching sire and my new surrey review site but I love it and as you say if you love what you do, that counts for a lot!

  3. kellie@foodtoglow

    It is wonderful to hear you are thinking ‘big’ even if it must feel a bit scary. I think the changes you are proposing make complete sense as both side of your ‘on show’ life marry very well. And you can do the lifestyle blog thing in a way far different to that already out there (much of which is smug and/or twee beyond belief – or maybe I am just jealous!). Good luck with the behind the scenes tinkering. If anyone is equipped to make this happen, it is you! It seems the inspiration from supportive friends and the beautiful setting of Gascony is just what you needed to do what you have instinctively been wanting to do. You’ve got all the ingredients for a one-stop-shop blog, if you know what I mean. Give Rocky a big hug from his fan in Edinburgh 🙂 PS I agree with Traca about the Recipe Index. I’ve needed to Google to get what I want from your archive sometimes!

  4. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)

    Monica I can totally relate to where your head in (and I can’t wait to get to France next week where I do some of my deepest thinking!). Change is big and scary but it sounds like you have a plan. I’ll be following along all the way, you know it!


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