This week’s Candid Canuck is Serena from The Bewildered Bug. Check out our interview with her..
What prompted you to start your blog?
I originally started my blogging in 2008. I did this because I was arranging my wedding in Trinidad while going to school in Toronto. Only one of my friends from Canada was able to make the wedding, so I thought that it would be an easy way of keeping them up to date on what was going on while I was in Trinidad. It also helped me to not have to answer the same questions a million times, but rather, just email everyone the private link. After the wedding I used it to keep my family and friends in Trinidad updated on my new married life. I decided to go public because a few of my friends encouraged me to. I started with writing about life events and doing writing challenges. I later was mentored by Kim from Tales of a Ranting Ginger and started doing product reviews on my blog.
I have many, many allergies, the worst of which are my food allergies. After writing about it once, there were so many questions from readers that I decided to start writing about food allergies and promoting allergy friendly foods and products. I have also been diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Panic Disorder, and try to write about Mental Health to help get rid of stigma about Mental Illnesses and to help educate the public.
What are some of your favourite topics to blog about?
This is a difficult question. Blogging is therapeutic for me, so I like to blog about issues that bother me and my Mental Health challenges. However, I love blogging about food, I love attending events and travelling and then telling you about the awesome places I have been and things I have seen. I love jewellery and makeup, so when I get those products to try and write about I am over the moon!
As a gluten free blogger do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?
I still consider myself a newbie at gluten free cooking – the reason is because food, in itself, is actually pretty easy to convert to gluten free. If I write a recipe, I want it to be original and from me, not some form of someone else’s recipe. Gluten Free baking, however, is a completely different matter. It is all about mixing different flours to get an effect close to normal wheat flour – which does not always work. Dairy free cooking and baking is probably the easiest because you replace dairy with dairy free on a 1:1 basis. The hardest allergen to replace is egg….because nothing in the world comes close to reacting like an egg!
I digress. My favourite recipe is actually not one of mine, but one from Carol A
at Simply Gluten Free – Dairy Free Chocolate Pots. I just make them without berries. I just die when I have them! I have made them with milk chocolate as well and those are quite divine and loved by my dairy-loving friends and family.
You recently moved from Canada to the U.k. What do you miss most about Canada?
I miss so much! I think it is due to me having to get used to it here. I am living at least 4 hours away from anyone I know so I am pretty lonely. I miss the familiarity of Canada and I miss having my usual support system. I definitely miss meeting up with my bloggy girlfriends! We did not do it that often but I always loved seeing them. I miss living near a big city where things do not close up at 5pm. I miss the 24 hour Korean restaurant down the road from me. I miss the stores (cause I am a shopaholic). I miss Pho!!!!!!! Wow I can go on and on, but in the end, moving somewhere new is a process and I just have to be patient (which I have a hard time doing).
What are some of the challenges of blogging from overseas?
There are a few challenges. When I knew I was moving I swore to upkeep the Canadian part of my blog because I have so many North American followers, and let’s face it…without their readership, I never would have had a blog. So, the biggest challenge with regards to that is doing the reviews and attending the events. I am not there, so I have to depend on others (in my case my MIL and my cousin) to do what I used to do. My MIL is not the most reliable with getting info to me on time and she leaves it to my BIL to take photos which he NEVER does. After that, when I ask what they think, I get a one sentence answer (“I liked it” or something similar), which I have to tell you is impossible to write a review from. My cousin is more reliable but just learning the ropes. A lot of the time I end up buying a review item if they sell it here and reviewing it myself. With regards to events, I have to contact my cousin to see if she could go, and she has a newborn….and does not check her email very frequently…so I feel as if I am in the dark, but we are figuring things out (I hope).
With regards to British companies, I feel as if I am starting all over, and it is frustrating not to have the support and network that I had in Canada. If I ever needed help or advice, I knew who to turn to. If I needed to contact a company rep, I knew how to and who would answer. The British reps have no clue who I am and take their time getting back to you, if they get back to you at all. It just is very frustrating to have to start from scratch with my product reviews after a year and a half of it.
The awesome thing is that this is forcing me back to my personal blogging and I am starting to think out of the box to bring my readers interesting content that are not reviews and giveaways, but full of information and tales to make them react (hopefully in a positive way).
Share with us 3 other Canadian bloggers you think our readers should check out.
There are so many great bloggers that I will be doing an injustice to the ones who don’t get mentioned. Let me first say that all of the Canadian bloggers I have met and read are amazing ladies, and each one of them have spectacular stories!
I love sarcasm and cynicism, so Tanis Miller (formerly Attack of a Redneck Mommy) is one of my absolute favourites. She lives in an incredibly difficult situation, yet she always manages to make me guffaw out loud when I read her writing. I think the first blog of hers I read was “Blue Thunder” – and what a read that was! She is so awesome that I have actually never gone up to her to meet her at conferences because I am too intimidated. Sad I know!
I seem to like people who struggle with problems and manage to get past them somehow…and then take it that step further to try to help, in their own little way. My friend Sober Julie has a section on her blog called “Sober Doesn’t Suck” where she talks about her alcoholism, addictions, her sobriety story and ways to help others get sober/clean. I admire people like that.
Not really a blogger, but rather, a community of bloggers, I like Masalamommas because in the one year that I was alone in Toronto, Anjum, Sheba and Kulbinder, three of their bloggers, supported me to a ridiculous extent online and IRL. If it wasn’t for their encouragement I am not sure I would have gotten through my loneliness as easily as I did. Anjum in particular also somehow got through some of my fears of mingling with a South Asian community and I truly appreciate her welcoming me with open arms to Masalamommas events even though I am neither South Asian, nor a Momma.
So what is the future for Bewildered Bug?
I am looking into starting “Wandering Wednesdays”, a series of posts with loads of photos that describe the areas I now live in. England is so different and I want you to discover it along with me!
Also not so much this blog, but soon to be an affiliated website, I am starting my allergy free baking business, The Baking Bug. I will be specialising in professional allergy free celebration and wedding cakes for the West Yorkshire area. Unfortunately I cannot ship to Canada. Oh, and yes, I am formally trained.