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A Day in the Life: Carrie Vasios, Sweets Editor
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
7:15 a.m.: I tend to wake up in the morning thinking two things. One: Oh God, I have to pee but I also want coffee immediately. Which to do first? And two: Oh God, I hope the site hasn't blown up. By the site, I mean Sweets, which has started its day almost three hours before I wake up. Being on west coast time means that I can't monitor the first posts that go live, which is a source of constant anxiety. Thanks, orbital motion.
7:20 a.m.: This morning I have chosen to start my coffee first, and as the water heats up I grab a Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Cookie from the "too ugly to photograph" pile and shove it in my mouth. Probably surprising no one, in addition to coffee, I also need sugar first thing. Luckily there is always some sort of baked good hanging around from one of my two columns, Wake and Bake and Cookie Monster, to become my pre-breakfast snack.
7:45 a.m.: So. Many. Emails. Already. I do a quick sort, deleting the obvious PR junk. Did I know that the Grill Cleaning Robot is the must-have gift of 2013? I did not. Do I want a free all you can eat Indian buffet meal in Boise? I must sadly decline.
9 a.m: I usually get all my editing done in advance of the day that a post is running, but this week has been crazy so I need to last minute edit a post that's going up this afternoon. It's "Snapshots From the 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest" written by longtime SE contributor Jessie Oleson Moore aka Cakespy. I enjoy looking through the photos, especially when I see the one about which Gergnutz will later astutely note: "The winner looks horrified because the dough boy is eating her head." Padma, the consummate professional, does not bat an eye.
9:45 a.m.: Erin Jackson has been doing a lot of coverage of chain restaurant and supermarket sweets, most recently taking on the heroic task of eating all of the desserts at the Olive Garden. She suggests doing a similar post for Chili's. I give her the green light because a) she brings a fair yet exacting mind to even the chainiest of chain sweets and b) I can see what you people click on.
10:10 a.m.: I've started doing this thing where I put Scharfen Berger hot chocolate mix into my oatmeal. It's delicious.
11 a.m.: Most of my day is spent editing posts. For the recipe columns, that means looking at both the anchor post (what you might call the "story") and copy-editing the recipe. When I'm done editing the recipe for typos, formatting, and the like, I schedule it and let Kenji know so that he can check it for technique.
This morning I have to edit this week's Know Your Sweets post, which is on candy canes. I was a history major in college, so I really enjoy reading this column and learning all the historical tidbits. (Not to mention that "Attend National Banana Pudding Festival" is now on my bucket list.) After I edit the text I have to drop in photos, so I do a search through the site for images of candy canes. Turns out we have a lot of candy cane-inspired sweets but few photos of the actual candy. Luckily I have a box of canes sitting in my kitchen, so I shoot a couple of glamour shots (You look fabulous! No, those stripes are slimming!) and upload them into the post.
11:42 a.m: Goats! How do they do it?
11:43 a.m: I do periodic check-ins on the site to see how posts are trending and review comments. Things are pretty quiet today but someone did leave a nice comment on my pumpkin custard post. As I quickly learned when I became community manager of SE, the internet is a real double-edged sword. One day they're saying your cookies look delicious, the next they're chasing you with pitch-forks because you called a backyard BBQ a BBQ even though there was no physical barbecue involved. Then your mom has to sign up for an account and comment that in New York City, where some people live, that's what they call a grill-out and it's perfectly acceptable so leave her alone OK?
Still, I can't help but feel like this when I get positive feedback on my posts
12:30 p.m: Max pings me to discuss this year's Scooped gift guide. He's concerned that his recommendations for ice cream affectionados will be essentially the same as last year's guide. It's a tricky problem because on the one hand, we always want our content to be fresh, but on the other hand, our audience continues to grow. That means there are new SE'ers who don't know that Max recommends only eating ice cream from spoons that measure 6-inches or longer. I also point out that many people repeatedly search for the same thing on the internet. In fact I'm probably Googling "health benefits of honey?" right now.
1:30 p.m.: This is where my day starts to go off the rails. I've decided that for the holidays someone should make a gingerbread house out of cereal. When no one volunteered at the editorial meeting, it became clear that that someone would be me. The first step is to head to the supermarket to buy so many boxes of cereal and bags of marshmallows that when the cashier asks me what I'm planning on doing with it all, I feel compelled to blurt out that I'm doing an after-school program with kids.
2:00 p.m The goods.
2:05 p.m: It's been a long time since I've made Rice Krispy treats and they're one of my favorite things ever, so I'm pretty stoked. The plan is to make the sides of the house out of Cocoa Krispies, the roof out of Golden Grahams (or as they will henceforth be called, Golden Shingles) and the trees out of
bootleg Apple Jacks Apple Orbits.
As I start the first batch, alone in my kitchen, I consider one of the downsides to working from home: there's no witty banter with colleagues or interested bystanders to watch me embark on this ludicrous journey. Instead, I do the word search on the back of the box while I wait for the marshmallows to melt. Banana! I yell and point to no one.
As I take the first batch of krispy treats off the stove, the advantages to working from home become clear: no one can see it when I burn my fingers trying to mold a boiling hot blob of sticky marshmallow mixture over a piece of parchment. They also aren't there to witness the marshmallow-cereal mixture as it quickly cools, fastening itself hard and fast to my fingers, leaving me no choice but to gnaw myself free. I'm gnawing as fast as possible because the treats are cooling and I don't want them to harden before I smooth them into their rectangular shapes. I gnaw and shape and pull some errant krispies from where they have attached themselves to my eyelashes. Finally, exhausted by this experience, I eat the rest of the mixture from the bowl. The highlight? When I successfully make these adorable trees.
3:45 p.m: As I wait for the cereal components to harden I go back to my computer to assemble the Sweets newsletter. When the Mail Chimp monkey gives me a highfive, signaling that the newsletter is done, I heat up bowl of leftover spaghetti squash with parmesan, bread crumbs, and pine nuts. I never eat my spaghetti squash with tomato sauce because gosh darn it, it's a squash, not spaghetti, and I'm fine with it just the way it is.
4:10 p.m: A friend gchats me to alert me to the fact that Jay-Z and Beyonce have gone vegan. We come to no real conclusions except that we should buy stock in pleather.
4:15 p.m.: Crap, now I'm on NYMag, which is my favorite site to waste time on. I read an article that poses important questions about Tumblr, hashtags, and hipsters, gasp to learn that Julianne Moore just turned 50 (girlfriend looks amazing), look at pictures of synchronized swimmers underwater, and then mosey on my way.
5:30 p.m.: Work with Maggie to set up an upcoming taste test that will determine whether or not it's worthwhile to use top shelf booze in fruitcake. (After first determining whether or not it's worthwhile to...write about fruitcake.) I consider that if I had Maggie's job, I could be drinking right now. Realize that this is why I could never do Maggie's job, because I would probably just be drunk.
6:30 p.m.: My last task of the day is to go through the spreadsheet that I made for myself and figure out where I am on my holiday posts. Thanksgiving and Christmas are even more on top of each other than normal this year—not to mention that whole once-in-70,000-years Thanksgivingukkah convergence thing—so it's been a super intense rush that has left me a bit overwhelmed. Luckily, things seem to be on track. So I glance once more at the site, turn off the internet, and commute to my couch.