This day is finally here and I am beyond excited! Let’s have a few more exclamation points to really drive that home. I’m so excited!!!!!!! <—- too much?
Welcome to your new home – Sustainable Cooks. I hope you love it here as much as I do.
Many of you might be wondering, “why the change? Why now”? Well, there are about 100 reasons, and I will list them below in paragraph form. 😉 I kid, I kid. But in all honesty, this post is crazy long, so go and have a pee first. I’ll wait.
You back? Cool. Last summer, I got a bug up my ass about my site. I wanted to improve it! Grow it! Love it as much as I loved what I was sharing with you. The space itself never felt entirely right for me, so I decided a new site would be the best move. But I had another problem. The actual name.
I started Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity in 2010 when our lives were very, very, VERY different. At first, it was all about saving money and getting the best deal on everything. But along the way, the content I was creating was also going through its own evolution. It changed from the original mission of just saving money, to helping people live more simply and sustainably. It became about meeting people where they were and not trying to shove an ideal down their throats. Simply put, I had changed. The site had not.
On top of all of those things, my old name felt so long. SO LONG. Have you ever told a friend or family member “I got this recipe from Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity”? Chances are before you hit the “Cheap” part, they would be asleep. It was a long ass name, my friends. A long ass name. And it got to the point where I didn’t even share my site with people in my real life because the name made me blush and it sounded like I was talking with a mouth full of marbles. I sounded like how Eddie Vedder sings.
You know that feeling after a sunburn when your skin is healing but not quite 100% yet? You may look the same, but things just feel tight and itchy. That is how I felt about this physical place for the last few years.
And then one day I was listening to a podcast and the owner of a blog talked about how she no longer felt comfortable on her site so she rebranded. She just went for it and made the new site exactly what she wanted so she could share the absolute most authentic version of herself. It was a total lightbulb moment for me and I was all in.
I looked around and found a designer that I loved. I signed up for her waiting list to get on the waiting list (<— that is an actual thing) last summer and then I waited. And waited. And waited. I will yell at a microwave to hurry up, but somehow this waiting was ok. It was different. More adult. Worth it.
While I was waiting, I brainstormed new site names and branding ideas. I knew it had to contain our last name. I’ve never shared my actual full identity on my old site, but I figured it was high time. And you see, I am blessed with the (married) last name that any food blogger would kill for. Seriously, they would be fighting in an arena with spatulas to have my legit and legal last name.
Nice to finally meet you, friends. My name is Sarah Cook. Swearies. 🙂
All of my initial new site name ideas were either taken (homecooks, greencooks, seasonalcooks) or were for sale for a stupid amount of money. While I was in a full-on tantrum during a group text about this fact, my dear friend Angela said: “how about Sustainable Cooks”?
I love that woman.
As I have been working on the update, I have slept maybe three to four hours a night. I am exhausted each night, but wake up so excited to get to fully move into this space and make it my own. During this process, I have learned so much about how incorrectly I have been doing some things for the last seven years of blogging. Oy. One of those things resulted in spending 25 hours going through every single recipe I had ever publish and having to identify key ingredients in a function called “tags”. More on that later.
Late last week as I was at a coffee shop working, 20 hours deep into this process. I paused and realized what that work truly looked like. As I viewed the changes on the site, I swear I teared up and almost started crying. It could have been the lack of sleep, but honestly, I think I was just so happy and proud.
And now I want to share it with all of you.
When I signed up to be on the waiting list for the waiting list for my designer, I had to submit a 12-page document about what I wanted, didn’t want, etc. I knew from the beginning that I wanted this site to be for you. Here is the actual text I included on my list of requirements: “I want the site to be super user-friendly. I don’t want them to even have to think about the site; just does it work and can they find what they want. If they happen to think the site is beautiful and fun, then great. But I want the user experience to drive everything”.
Everything we did from that moment on was with that goal and you in mind. Because I love you.
If you were to come over to my house for an event, I would appear to be the worst host ever. I forget to take coats, I rarely offer coffee (I forget to even make it!), and I never serve wine with dinner because I’m a complete dork. Why do all of those things happen? Because my real focus of the night is on the food. I spend my time and mental energy on crafting and making you a delicious meal from scratch. I want to serve you things I think you will love and then I will insist you take leftovers home with you. Food is my love language.
But we’re not at my actual house, and I am going to try to be the best gosh darn online host you’ve ever (not really) met. I seriously don’t have any coffee, but take your shoes off, get comfy, and let me take you on the grand tour.
A quick note on the images below. They show what a desktop user will see when they log in. The site functions exactly the same on mobile, but the views are different. I took these screen captures when the site was still in maintenance mode, and let me tell you that maintenance mode on mobile was whack AF. The live version is pure perfection though.
- Reader Sara (great name btw) requested a “Start Here“ page when I asked for feedback. Girlfriend, you got it!
- Shop page! So many people will email or comment asking where I got a cooking tool, my clothesline or pair of shoes. This page puts it all in one happy little place. And it saves you time and keeps you from having to search to find which garlic press it is that I love so much.
- Speaking of searching around, oh look, it’s an obvious search bar! The number one thing you all requested on my survey, was a search function! I actually had one on my old site but it was so hard to find (search for the search?) that most of you didn’t even realize it was buried right there. In not so plain sight.
- Resources! I get emails a lot from people who want to start a blog. I start off by sharing the same info with everyone and then it evolves into a personal discussion. This Resources page puts all of that content into one happy little place. But I still want to have that personal discussion, so contact me if you have any questions.
- Easy to find social media follow buttons so that we can be friends away from this space as well. And the fact that they’re in orange (Troy hates orange and I want to bathe in it) makes me incredibly happy. But here is one giant weird quirk that we will all have to get through together for a few weeks. Some of the social media channels make it a freaking Greek tragedy quest to get your former and new social media channels to synch and mesh. I’m working on all of this but couldn’t implement request for changes until the new site was live. And as of this post being written, Facebook decided the day prior to my launch to ban my new account, so we’re working on that. Excellent timing Facebook. So appreciative. For now, you can join my previous page and eventually the two accounts will be merged.
- Email opt-in. Yep, I have offered readers the option of getting my posts via email for years. But the sign-up function was so hard to find on my last site. Boom, it’s in yah face now.
This page was the greatest bulk of my work in the last week, and it is the one I am most proud of! I get so turned on just looking at all the features. Don’t make it weird.
The Recipes page in the header will take you to an efficiently organized (c’mon, it’s me people) page where recipes are in easy to find categories. Oh, and just because you all mentioned search so much, there is even an extra search bar at the top of the recipe categories. Ka-pow!
Then you click on a category and get to see all the recipes available. Some have a cast iron skillet icon or a weird old “Pin it” image for the recipe thumbnail. Those posts are super old and I no longer have access to the original photos. I’m working on updating this but it will be a long slog. Check out the various recipes and marvel at what kind of photos I used to take. Yikes.
Oh, and did I happen to mention you can also search by ingredient? You should go check it out and laugh at how high the mentions of garlic, smoked paprika, and eggs are. It’s pretty hilarious.
Are you excited? I’m excited. Is it getting a little hot in here…?
Then, you can open up a recipe and this is where your beautiful head is going to explode! Have you ever looked for a recipe that you have made 10 times before and hate scrolling through the whole “oh I made this soup because my kindergarten teacher read us a story about it and then I made stone soup and it brought my family together…blah, blah, blah” backstory?
Well, now you can say a giant “shut up already Sarah” and click “jump to recipe”. It takes you right down to the details of the recipe. You can also print it right from the top of the post or the body of the recipe as well.
I mean really. I’m going to need a moment here while my heart stops racing. I’m spent.
There are billions of other little improvements with this new site and I can’t wait to hear how you use it. If you come across anything wonky while hunting around
keep it to yourself because I am effing exhausted let me know!
This post is long enough already, but I have so many people to thank. First off, to my husband Troy who didn’t even blink one of his beautiful baby blue eyes when I said “I want to build a new website and spend an insane amount of money in the process”. He was like “yep, let’s do this”. Thank you, love.
To my friends who had to put up with me during this process. You have no idea the depths of hell they endured while they had to give me feedback on site names, logos, site designs, photos, colors, and everything. Their support and honest feedback mean the world to me.
To my designer Lindsay, I couldn’t have done any of this without you. No, literally, none of this. I can’t even code our garage door opener. You were patient and understanding with me throughout this whole process and made something more incredible than I could even imagine. You took a photo of a quilt that I made for my son and created a space full of every color that I love and that makes me feel happy. And that Troy won’t let me use in the house for decorating.
To TNT and ION television – thank you for airing Law and Order episodes at ungodly hours. Dearest Amazon, thank you for the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It wasn’t like anything I expected it to be, and it kept me company on many late nights. And to Podcasts, I love you. Thank you.
To my friend Kendra – thank you! Oh, Kendra, your expertise was so instrumental to me in this process! Kendra is the badass and brilliant brain behind Fueled Marketing and because she has the misfortune of being my friend, she helped guide me through this process and made everything you see today better than I would have made it if left to my own devices.
To my boys Jack and Bennett, thank you. I know I have been absent-minded and pulled in so many multiple directions lately. I haven’t been the mom you have needed and have missed playing with you. But how about all that Netflix, eh? That was fun!
While I have been less involved lately, I won’t say that I am sorry. You are learning a valuable lesson right now that sometimes people need to step back and focus on a passion for themselves. I’m proud of all the work I have been doing but I am just as proud to show you that people can achieve things through sheer determination and perseverance. Never be scared to work hard in life. And for the love of God, stop spitting.
And lastly, to all of you. Thank you for your patience, feedback, and willingness to go through this process with me. This place is for you and I hope you feel right at home.
Now give me a minute and I’ll try to track down that cup of coffee. I hope you don’t want cream because I didn’t think to buy any.
PS, if you can only see my old site when you view this post, you may need to clear your cookies and cache on your browser to see all the changes.