Shape Up + Ship Out. Then Eat At Flat Top.

by Jenn (eating bender) on September 22, 2010

Good eveeeening! Actually, would you look at the time? “Morning” is officially here at 1:30 am.

Uh oh. It’s 1:30 am? Bear with me. :)

I have so much catching up to do, but then again, when don’t I have catching up to do? It’s one of those traits that I thought just came with the territory this past year – love it or hate it. But I’ve had a small epiphany in the past week thanks to several good conversations with my business partner.

I need to shape up and ship out!

What does that mean, exactly? Although I have always placed high value on the quality of the posts I write, I’ve realized that getting too caught up in the content has caused me to avoid posting every day. I deem my smaller thoughts and passing ideas “trivial” and wait for that big moment where I have enough pictures, enough recipes, enough ANYTHING to write a long and windy post for you all.

But this leaves both me – and I’m sure you – a bit frustrated. I have no idea when I’m going to post next and therefore you have no idea when I’m going to post next. Sure, our friend Google Reader keeps us on our toes, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could count on at least some sort of schedule from me? I know that at the end of the day, this is my blog and its on my terms, but I think I need a schedule, too.

Enter the concept of shipping.

Seth Godin explains it best here: Finding Inspiration Instead of It Finding You. In a nutshell, he suggests that instead of waiting for the muse to strike you, just start writing anyway.

I see so much food-related inspiration and thought around me every day and think, “I should write a blog post about that.” But then time passes me by and the words don’t flow from my fingers the way I imagined they would, so I set it aside and tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow.

And so September 16 becomes September 22.

My goal is to start sharing those ideas, events, recipes, meals and whatever else there may be with you as they happen. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to be posting Twitter style updates as blog posts. :) It only means that you may see me popping up a little more consistently.

Now, I can’t promise I will be posting during my wedding – in fact, I guarantee I will not be. But these random holes in my blogging calendar are about to be filled with spontaneity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Flat Top Blogger Dinner

Now that I’ve officially scared all of the lovely women I went to dinner with tonight with my impromptu rant, I would like to tell you about our fabulous blogger get together at Flat Top Grill.

Five of us met up after work at the Loop location. Flat Top is a create-your-own stir-fry restaurant that uses fresh ingredients and homemade sauces. They also cater to those with food allergies, as well as vegetarians and vegans. In short, there are a wide array of options on the menu.


When you get up to the stir-fry bar, you throw all your grain and veggie ingredients into one bowl and your protein into the other. I chose brown rice with red and green bell peppers, edamame, pineapple, tomatoes and mushrooms. Then came the multitude of sauce options – the beauty is that you don’t have to pick just one! I had a combination of teriyaki, soy sauce, sesame and hoisin kung pao for a kick.

I chose chicken for my protein and then brought everything over to the flat top grill where they throw it all together. Here is where you can choose your sticks. They have many different colors that each symbolize different things you want added to your dish. I added a green stick for tofu to mine. You can also add sticks for lettuce wraps, roti bread, shrimp – truly, this is not a restaurant for someone who doesn’t like to have a lot of choices. 😉 They are limitless!

After putting your own name on a wooden stick, they bring the prepared stir-fry right to your table. This was a phenomenal, filling dinner.

Amidst good food and great conversation, I can safely say that all Chicago bloggers rock. I’m looking forward to future meet-ups in my city!

From front left moving clockwise we have Val, Me, Chelsey, Lainie and Kate.

Being back at Flat Top reminded me of college. My friends and I went to the Evanston location many times. I’m glad I could scope out a new location with new friends closer to where I now call home.

Can’t wait for the next adventure!

QOTD: If you could make your perfect bowl of stir-fry, what would it include?

Edited to add QOTD: How do you approach your personal schedule of blogging?


1 Lauren September 22, 2010 at 5:28 am

My dad and I were just talking about this kind of restaurant. It’s Mongolian right? We don’t have any around here but he said he visited one in Canada one time and was blown away. Looks great and what a fun night! :)

2 Erica September 22, 2010 at 7:45 am

I hear ya on the consistency in blogging! I try try try to do M, W & F. But…I usually get off on one of those days. Three times a week seems to work best for me. I like reading your posts whenever though :) I have been to a stir fry place like that- totally rocks. My favorite stir fry bowls contain brown rice, chick peas, loads of veggies (water chestnuts, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli slaw, carrots) and pineapple with an asian inspired sauce! I like to top them with sesame seeds too

3 Kate@andwhenshesays September 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

It was fabulous to see you last night! Great meal and great company – can’t wait to do it again. And can’t wait to see how you decide to reshape your blogging style – it will be a good break from the wedding planning, I bet.

4 MoniMeals September 22, 2010 at 10:32 am

How fun! My perfect bowl would have brown rice, a ton of veggies, kombocha squash, nuts, a zillion condiments, and maybe some beans.
I am new to blogging but yes, so far it seems like a lot of work, lol. 😉 The problem is-there are so many amazing blogs I want to read read read! Then when you have a passion to cook and bake(I can’t turn it off) you have to update yours or your brain gets too full of recipes, this is my case anyways. :)

5 yummiee cupcake September 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

when it comes to stir-fry, it got to have onions in it!!

i started my blog like 3 weeks ago. in the beginning was hard, the time management was off. but it has gotten a bit better…slowly.

6 Tracey September 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I love Flat Top and that location is so close to my house. The bread they make is probably my favorite part:)

I’m still working on my blogging style. I feel like I need to be on a schedule or else no post will happen.

7 Megan (Braise The Roof) September 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it last night- I was busy getting my butt kicked in flag football! We should plan another weeknight get together and I’ll definitely be there. :)

I know what you mean about waiting for inspiration to hit you- sometimes the words just don’t flow when you want them to but it’s funny how you can surprise yourself if you just start typing! Keep up the good work!

8 lesouefsbrouilles September 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

that is an awesome restaurant. it sounds like a better version of that crappy one in the malls. but they only give you 3 options lol

9 Natalia September 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Stir-fry… what NOT to include is my problem!

10 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) September 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I know – that’s exactly how I feel too! Just wrote about that in my PFB post – about how I get caught up in my blog’s tagline about food looking fabulous, that I don’t post on my blog if the food presentation is less than stellar – and so I can go days without blogging! Boo! Sometimes it is that life just gets busy, which is understandable, but a lot of it is just that I want everything to be the best of the best. But I suppose as long as I’m having fun with it and trying to be creative and try something new, that’s all that counts, right?! :)

I also think that, for me, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I just don’t have enough confidence in myself. I just never feel good enough, unless it’s the best of the best, and that’s why I want things to be so perfect. Well, that and because I just am a perfectionist, but also because when you do quality work, it shows that you care (not that if you just do a quick post, it doesn’t, but you know what I mean, right? Quality doesn’t have to be synonymous with a long post, though I think sometimes I have that notion as well) You want to do good work so that you can take pride in it. But at the same time, you don’t want to take it so seriously that it stops being fun. I guess it’s a fine line between the two, and you just have to figure out where that line is.

Oh, another thing I wanted to add is that I like to have themes with my posts. And so I’ll wait until I have enough food/photos to post, so yeah, it takes a while for that post to get published. I am trying to do the same thing as you, to post as I get the ideas, not waiting so long to publish them. For example, yesterday I posted about a nifty food presentation I made with an apple. It was just one food presentation, not a ton of them, which is what I had planned. I decided to just go right ahead and post what I did have, otherwise it would never get published, or it would, but that would be like a month from now!

Anyway, good luck with posting in the moment and having confidence in your ideas!

P.S. Sorry this post was so long! Sometimes I just have a lot to say!

11 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) September 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Oh, and don’t groan that there’s another comment from me – this is about the rest of your post!

That restaurant sounds so amazing! A stir-fry bar?! How cool! It looks like a really fun place to have dinner! Glad you got to hang out with fellow bloggers too!

12 BroccoliHut September 22, 2010 at 7:45 pm

My perfect stir-fry would have tofu, broccoli (both shocking choices, I know), carrots, snow peas, multiple kinds of mushrooms, cashews, and water chestnuts!

13 Shannon September 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm

gah, i always feel behind, too. i need to find some extra hours in the day… every day!! i just do it when i can, i like to do a couple posts a week, but sometimes i don’t have time to cook that much, so i just go with it. can’t say i don’t stress at all, but i try to keep it to a minimum. my google reader, however… eek.

14 dianacheung September 23, 2010 at 6:33 am

veggies and tofu are all I need in life…oh and seasame seeds on top!! I guess I have to visit flat top grill..everyone raves about it! I can’t believe you won’t be there the weekend of oct 14 :( alas, have a great wedding! hahaha!

15 Stina September 23, 2010 at 8:26 am

I was thinking about the same thing last night/ this morning in fact. It’s been a while since I blogged. It’s not that there hasn’t been stuff going on/ I don’t have anything to day, but I just don’t feel like I can make it interesting enough…or something.

I’m so bummed I missed the blogger dinner at Flat Top. I totally forgot about it! (I also ended up having to leave work ealry and rush home to return my Comcast equipment that was three days late!)

16 CaSaundra September 25, 2010 at 7:43 am

It’s really hard to post/update everyday–I still don’t know how some people do it multiple times a day!!

17 Marianne September 26, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Your blogger meet up location looks awesome. We have a bunch of places like that here, called Mongolian BBQ. Love it!

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