To date, Nicole has lived in 52 places around the world in 54 years, and through her blog – yumsome.com she shares stories, photos, and recipes from her travels. Some of her recipes are faithful recreations of the food she’s encountered, some are adapted, and others are old family favourites brought up to date. All however, are vegan.
Nicole’s mission with yumsome is to demystify vegan fare, and to show it doesn’t have to be full of unfamiliar, expensive or ‘fashionable’ superfoods. Almost all of her recipes can be made with basic store-cupboard ingredients, and those that can be easily sourced from farmers markets and grocery stores.
Through yumsome, Nicole demonstrates that great food doesn’t have to be complicated, or cost the earth (in more ways than one), nor does it have to contain ingredients which come from animals.
It’s a joy to welcome Nicole to the blog:
Describe a typical day for you?
Y’know I’d love to tell you that I’m up with the lark, going for a run! The reality however, is that I generally awake around 6 am, and listen to a few chapters of an audio book on my iPod (currently, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks), before going out into the garden to harvest whichever fruit, veg, and herbs I need for the day.
Around 9.30 am, I’ll draw myself a bath, where I’ll languish for a couple of hours with my iPad, writing recipes and blog posts, which I’ll then email to my laptop. Once out of the bath, I’ll make anything between one and five new recipes (which we’ll eat later!). When I’m happy with them, I’ll write up them up, with accompanying colour text, photograph them, edit the photos, and schedule the blog posts. Then the hard work begins – publicity and social media!
I generally finish work some time between 9 and 10 pm. Once dinner is done and dusted, I’ll have a quick chat with a couple of friends (via Facebook), and then K and I will chill out with a 20 minute episode of How To Train Your Dragon, or a bit of Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts, before bedtime.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I’ve won awards for my writing. I’ve won awards for my theatrical set and costume designs. I’ve had a gown – with a 300 ft train, which I made for an art-house movie, featured in Marie-Claire and Vogue.
As a teenager, I modelled for some high-profile photographers, rubbed shoulders with the great and the good at society parties, and appeared on several TV shows with the stars of the day. One world-famous rock ‘n’ roll star had a 20 ft high poster of me.
But none of that compares to my greatest achievement – that of surviving three years with my mother! My early childhood was spent with my grandparents, and it was lovely. Unfortunately I spent a few years with my mother, and it was far from good. She was a violent bi-polar alcoholic, so when I was 15, I left her for good, and set out to achieve all the things she told me I could never do. Mission accomplished!
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Painkillers (the injuries I sustained when I fell part way down a mountain in the Alps occasionally hurt a lot), hankies, camera, lenses, iPad, mobile ‘phone, Lego Loki (he goes everywhere with me!), spare ear buds, two small travel bottles containing Sriracha and Tabasco (many an in-flight meal has been saved by those), reading glasses, hair bands, lip balm, purse. Plus a cork and a spork… for y’know, emergencies.
(As it happens, I am in desperate need of a new lady-like camera bag, so if there are any manufacturers out there who’d like me to review theirs… Just sayin’!)
What are your ambitions in life?
I’m so fortunate to have already fulfilled so many ambitions but I still have a few. Assuming I’m never going to get to explore the stars (and I haven’t given up hope yet), I guess my main ambition is to have a best-selling cookbook. Or several! I’m currently working on my first one, which will be released soon.
Part of me would love to have a cooking show but I sound like a less-endearing version of Chummy from Call the Midwife… I’m not convinced that anyone needs that coming into their home!
(Caveat – I love Chummy to bits!)
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
Oh gosh, so very much! I wish I’d known about link parties (such as your own!). I wish I’d known how important it is to be an active part of the food blogger community. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not networking sooner. Not only has engaging on social media and with other people’s blogs helped to bring yumsome to a wider audience, it has resulted in me making a bunch of new chums from all over the world.
I am, however, the first one to admit I could do much better, and it’s something I work on every day. Well, almost every day. OK… most days.
(See what I mean?)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Back living in SE Asia! Either because my beloved’s company, Agency, Mai?, will have grown sufficiently to enable him to hire an even larger team to take the pressure off him, or I will be successful enough for it to not matter!
Whatever happens, and wherever we are though, I’ll have a trusted team to take care of all my PR and backend blog needs, leaving me free to concentrate on creating great recipes, and publishing more cookbooks.
What advice would you give a budding food blogger?
Be your best, authentic self. Don’t follow trends and fads because other bloggers do; don’t publish a recipe unless it’s one you’ve made and love, and don’t copy or rip off other food bloggers. Your readers will know! At the end of the day, people come to your blog because you give them something they can’t get elsewhere – be it your own spin on certain dishes, your sparkling wit, amazing photos, or simply fantastic posts. Bottom line, don’t try to be the same as everyone else, and don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
Also, understand that there’s no such thing as overnight success. If you want an easy life, get a 9-5 job! Being a successful pro blogger can often mean working long hours, especially when you’re learning everything from the ground up. Trying to do all the things all the time can feel like a Sisyphean task! What really helped me was discovering Nagi Maehashi over at Food Bloggers Central. Not only does she have a wildly successful food blog of her own but she is one of the most generous people on the internet in terms of sharing her knowledge and skills. Go and sign up for her newsletter now!
What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
No, really, I mean it! Honestly, if I’d known what I was letting myself in for (and not just in terms of childbirth, either), I’d totally have wimped out. Sometimes, ignorance most certainly is bliss!
Finally, happiness is…
Freedom. My freedom is the most important thing to me: freedom to travel; freedom to have a career that I love; freedom to be who I am; freedom to live my life according to my own moral compass.
I am incredibly privileged to have won the geographical birth lottery, which has enabled me to have such freedoms. There’s not a day goes by when I am not grateful for that.