Episode #123: (MINI) Emma’s Life Map

Today, we are doing something a little bit different— Emma is sharing her life map (the story of her life and the things that shaped who she is).

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show notes:

Emma’s Life Map:

Kindergarten: this was her moment to be loud and entertain everyone around her, so didn’t do very well in school. 

3rd grade: there was a play at church (and she got the lead role) but turned it down because she felt that she shouldn’t want too much attention.

5th grade: started going to a new school and was really nervous but made new friends, which boosted her confidence.

Middle school: started making handmade jewelry and accessories and sold them at festivals. This was her first glimpse at running a business.

High school: participated in student government and was editor of her high school newspaper during her senior year.

First job: Dollar Tree

Second job: Papa Murphy’s Pizza

Other jobs – wedding photography with Elsie, selling videos on eBay, and working for Elsie, doing her Etsy shop support and shipping.

College: attended Missouri State University during the day and took evening classes at OTC

After college – moved to Los Angeles for 3 years to pursue acting, and was an extra on Mad Men and a bunch of other shows. Her favorite job in LA was cleaning apartments and houses. This is also where she first started her food blog.

Moved home – She continued her food blog and helped Elsie with her business and moved in with her parents to save to buy a house.

Leave a comment if you are interested in hearing the rest of Emma’s life map about her career at a Beautiful Mess!

Episode 123 Transcript

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Emma: You’re listening to the Beautiful Mess Podcast. We’re doing something a little different today and I, Emma, am going to share my life map. This is something that my book club group did and I really enjoyed it so I thought it might be something fun to do on the podcast. Then Elsie is going to share her life map in another episode. So first off, before we get started, what is a life map? I’m not necessarily qualified to say it, you could Google it and they’ll be lots of different definitions and they’re usually kind of visual. Basically, it’s telling the story of your life and kind of having different points, different beats, things that stuck out to you that you feel may be shaped you in some way or played into other parts of your life, other decisions that you then made. Elsie was also like, let’s do these as many episodes and I was like, okay, but I don’t know if I can keep my whole life under 20 minutes, but I’ll try. She was like, well, it can be over 20 minutes. So we’ll just see how long these turn out being. I also am going to say that I am going to skip over most of the big events that have to do with growing up conservative, Evangelical Christian, just because that does play into my life quite a bit, especially as I was growing up. But we already talked about that in Episodes 75 and 79. So if you’re interested in hearing that, or if you feel like you’re missing things, you’re just listening to this one and you feel like you’re missing things, go listen to those episodes. Okay, so I don’t have tons and tons of memories before kindergarten. I don’t know if that’s unique to me but I do have a few memories from our old house. We moved to the house that my parents still live in, right before I started kindergarten. I do have some memories of our old house that was on Elm Street, Elsie, but I don’t have that many, which is sort of crazy, because that was like five years of life. Anyway, skipping ahead to kindergarten. So here’s the main thing I remember about kindergarten. So I grew up, I’m the middle child, Elsie is older than me, way older. No, just kidding. She’s only two years old. Then our brother Dorn is younger than me. He’s two years younger so I’m the middle child. Both of my siblings are a little more talkative than me, a little bit more like, I don’t know.

Elsie: Loud and proud. 

Emma: Louder, proud, yeah. So I was kind of quiet at home and just a very typical middle child who plays by themselves, or whatever. So what I remember from kindergarten is, I remember getting in trouble for talking a lot. I remember being the only kid in my class the whole year who got their name on the board and it was for talking too much. There was also this time, my class was in the cafeteria for an assembly and all the other classes were too, you were too Elsie, your second grade, I guess you would have been, you saw me like talking loudly and making people laugh. I feel like I all of a sudden in kindergarten was like, here’s my moment, to be loud and to entertain everybody around me. That was like a blossoming, oh, I’m around a bunch of kids my age and I also didn’t do very well in kindergarten. I almost got held back. Nothing wrong with that. But I just didn’t have it in my mind at that age that kindergarten was important like that I needed to learn that that was the point. I think in my mind that was just like playtime and so I didn’t do very well in school at first. I really struggled and I had to have special classes for speech therapy. I had a hard time with th’s with my r’s pronouncing those. Then I also had a special class for rhyming. I couldn’t rhyme but really, I could rhyme I just liked going to the special class. So I would kind of like pretend I didn’t know how to do it because I didn’t understand that school mattered. So I was just kind of messing around a lot. So that was kindergarten, I was starting school. My mom had to help me a whole bunch work on my alphabet so that I didn’t get held back. Poor mom. Alright, skipping ahead. So I remember I think this was in third or fourth grade, I want to say, I remember at church, which again, church was a big part of growing up generally but there was a play, a musical that was going to be happening. I don’t remember exactly what it was called but the main character was, she was kind of like a weather person or a news broadcast type of like that type of character. She was sort of the MC of the whole musical and I remember I got the role. I got offered to do the role and I turned it down because, at that age, I somehow had it in my mind that you shouldn’t want too much attention. You should be more humble. I remember turning it down and then a friend of mine did it and I remember feeling kind of really sad that I didn’t take that chance. Didn’t like to do that thing because I kind of wanted to but I felt like I wasn’t supposed to do that, that that wasn’t like who I was if that makes any sense. 

Elsie: You felt guilty.

Emma: Yeah, I felt guilty about taking a lead role.

Elsie: That’s so sad at such a young age. 

Emma: I don’t totally know where I even got that idea from. It’s very strange. I don’t know why I thought that. Then moving ahead in fifth grade, I went to technically a new school. So what happened, it wasn’t really, my parents didn’t move. So we live in Springfield, Missouri, but the school I went to growing up is Willard, which is a small town just outside Springfield because my parents kind of lived on the border. It has a few different elementary schools and then at the time, one main middle school and one high school, which I think is still kind of the case. They had just built a new elementary and the elementary went from kindergarten to fifth grade. So I was in fifth grade so I went to this new elementary, and I was only there for one year, and then went back to the middle school building. What happened was all my friends who I had grown up with from kindergarten, some of us went to this new school and some of the kids from Willard South went to the school too. I was from Willard North so it was like going to a new school, but none of us had moved. 

Elsie: Mixing up all the groups of kids. 

Emma: Yeah and it was only for one year. So that was also kind of strange because, in the next year, we all went back with some of our friends who we had known before. So it was just this kind of strange little thing that happened. I remember I made a lot of friends. I was really nervous about it before it happened when I found out that was going to be what was going to happen with my school the next year, I felt really nervous. Is anyone going to like me? Am I just gonna be awkward and not have any friends? But I made a lot of friends and I had a new best friend, her name was Michelle. So I remember feeling a lot of confidence that year. Like, Okay, I’m able to go into a new environment, and make new friends and not fail. I just felt like, okay, I’m able to do this and it made me feel really good about myself. So that was good. In middle school, like everyone who goes through middle school, I feel like the story is you’re kind of sad, and you’re growing up. That definitely was true for me.

Elsie: What a time.

Emma: But a highlight of that time was middle school and early, early high school, I started to make handmade jewelry and accessories and selling it at festivals with Elsie and Rachel. I feel like that was the first time I started thinking more about business but in a very…

Elsie: Punk rock way. 

Emma: Very punk rock way. Yeah, very creative. We grew up, our mom was an art teacher. I mean, she stayed home with us when we were little, and then she was an art teacher. Creativity was like, kind of the theme of our family. If our family had a theme, it would be creativity. 

Elsie: Definitely. 

Emma: So yeah, so I loved making stuff and then it was really fun to try to sell it. It was really fun to like, I don’t know, keep track of that or try to guess like how many of this style of necklace we could sell or, oh, I think this one will be really popular and this one won’t be as popular and like just trying to figure out little things like that with your inventory.

Elsie: She made earrings with like guitar picks, and then there were some that had like three kind of like hanging down like a dangle earring and then there were like little buttons, like bands we liked and old movies and Tank Girl and the Labyrinth, things like that.

Emma: We loved Tank Girl. Loved Labyrinth.

Elsie: It was really, really cute. I think introducing a kid that age to business in that way is so special. 

Emma: I remember too making homemade patches and these were very like punk rock type patches. So they’re basically like canvas that you stamp and then has like frayed edges and you would sew it onto like your army jacket or whatever. I do think that was also the beginning of me like looking at things in magazines or looking at what musicians were wearing and being like, could I make that? Could I make a version of that? That really plays into, spoiler, our career later. Where we’re like, can I make this? Could I somehow make a version of this or something? 

Elsie: My home economics teacher in high school said go to the mall, go to Old Navy, and anything you see you can make and I never forgot that. I think it’s such a great message for kids and true. Once you become a DIY blogger, it’s like what can’t you make?

Emma: Yeah, it’s just a matter of growing your skills and knowledge but like you can make anything really. I don’t know if I really thought about that all that much before that and this was sort of my introduction into that and I really liked it. Also just really close with my sister, obviously, and then also my friend Rachel. It was just fun to do stuff together and you guys were older than me. So I think I felt a little sense of cool.

Elsie: Rachel was our cool hero, like how to be cool. We just copied everything she did. 

Emma: I mean, we still would but now she’s just like too cool, and we just could never aspire. It’s like I understand that now in my 30s. I will never be as cool as Rachel.

Elsie: But if you see me making a quilt, you’ll know who I’m trying to be like.

Emma: Pretty much. Rachel’s the best. Okay, so that was kind of middle school, early high school. So Emma in high school, here’s what I was about. I was in student government. I did the high school newspaper, my senior year, I was the editor. I generally really enjoyed high school and I got along really well with everyone but I never thought of myself as a popular kid. I didn’t play sports, really. I did a little bit, it was a fairly small school so anyone could kind of get involved in anything, which was nice. But I wasn’t really athletic, surprise. I wasn’t necessarily like the prettiest girl at school or anything but I think people liked me. I think people knew I was a nice person and I had a great attitude and I’m kind of funny. So I think people enjoyed being around me. I just felt like I got along really well with my class. I really liked high school, it was very fun. I didn’t really feel like oh, this is the best time in my life, and nothing will get better. I was definitely ready to do something else once it was over. But I really enjoyed high school and felt like I made a lot of friends and felt it was a really positive time in my life of trying things and figuring out who I was.  I loved doing student government. I love doing the newspaper. It was really fun.

Elsie: Those are such cool activities for kids that age. I wish I would have done something like that. That sounds really cool. What did you do as a newspaper editor? What kinds of stories were in there?

Emma: So before I was the editor, I just wrote for it. What I liked about being the editor, and also Student Government, this is what I also like about my job now is I like working with lots of different people and helping them. Whatever they’re good at putting it all together into a big thing. I think that’s really fun. It’s kind of a weird, I don’t even know if it is a skill, but it’s not like I have one thing that I think I’m really good at, like I was the best writer or I was the best photographer on the staff, I didn’t really feel that way. I more felt like I was good at putting it all together and working with lots of different people with different personalities. Some people were good at hitting deadlines and some people I knew they probably weren’t going to hit their deadline but I kind of knew that about them. I could help facilitate an environment where things could still kind of happen and I really enjoyed that. That was kind of what student government was like to it was like working with a bunch of different kids to make things happen. I thought that was really fun and that’s kind of what I do at my job. 

Elsie: Yeah, I mean, you’re really good at helping people communicate in a meeting.

Emma: Thanks. I enjoy it. I like working with people, even though I like staying home and just having my skeleton in my Zoom meetings. Let me tell you about my first job because I feel like that’s always interesting. I always loved knowing what people’s first jobs were. So my very first job was at a Dollar Tree, which is basically like a dollar store like a Dollar General or you know, there’s different names for them. This particular chain is called Dollar Tree. I worked there for the holiday season because a lady at our church worked there and she said they needed holiday help because it’s busier during the holiday season. So that was my first job. I was 16 and that was pretty fun. I liked it. My main memory from it was we would get very random. So we’d have the main things that were always in the store but then we would get random shipments of things, kind of like probably like a TJ Maxx or something where you get a random oh, this didn’t sell somewhere so they’ve shipped it here. Now you can sell it for a dollar. I remember one time we got all these VHS tapes of Dragonball Z and my brother, Doron loved Dragonball Z at the time again. I was 16 so he was probably 13 or something. Instead of putting them on the shelf, I kept them in the break room and then I bought them all before I left work. I brought them home and it wasn’t a complete set, but it was really close. I remember he loved it and watched them all the time. I was so happy. It was seriously like $8 but it was eight VHS tapes. It was endless hours of entertainment. 

Elsie: That’s so cute.

Emma: It was fun. I also feel like oddly enough, I learned a lot about people’s buying habits from working at the Dollar Tree. Because so often I would stock shelves and clean things but I was also really the checkout person. I would be ringing people up. So often people would say oh, I just came in here for two things, and then they would spend like $50, which would be 50 items. It was just interesting how often that would happen and how much they would spend. And I was like, that’s interesting. They only came here to spend $2 and now they’re spending $50. I don’t know, it’s interesting that the store was able to make that kind of thing happen, that the spending habits, the whole thing, the whole thing is just kind of like, I don’t know. I’ve always been interested in human behavior and I think it’s kind of fun to watch and learn about. So that was my first job. Then after that in the same parking lot, because it was kind of like a strip ball, so just down there, there was a Papa Murphy’s pizza. A lot of the kids from my youth group worked there. I worked there, all of high school, the rest of high school, like two more years, and then the first year or two in college also. So I worked there, I think, like four years. So I went from the night person to the daytime person during college. By the end of it, I was one of the people who’d been there the longest. It was a funny Papa Murphy’s pizza, because, like I said, most of us were from the same youth group and so it was a really positive place. There wasn’t a lot of turnover, like people who worked there worked there for years, which is probably strange for that industry. So it’s actually really fun.

Elsie: No, I’m kind of jealous of that because I didn’t work in high school. I was one of the only people that didn’t work at the Papa Murphy’s. But Papa Murphy’s is a very big sensory memory for me now. I hardly ever eat it but if I did, and especially if you know that chicken pizza that we always got. It was like our whole Friday night of our entire youth.

Emma: Yeah, and I learned a lot there too, about learning to work efficiently and batch working. Also hourly work, it was a really big deal if when you closed you only spent 30 minutes cleaning really quickly or if you spent an hour and a half. Your manager would talk with you about that. It wasn’t that you would get in trouble, you would just need to explain why it took so long. It just was a time where I was really learning about working in that type of environment, I guess. Learning how to do a good job and thrive in that type of system. It was a fun time. At the same time, towards the end, I started doing wedding photography with Elsie. 

Elsie: Oh, it was so cute. We were so young and we were like, you can make so much money photographing a wedding,

Emma: Which you can but it’s so much work. 

Elsie: We were like the cheapest wedding photographers in probably the whole state. 

Emma: Possibly the youngest. 

Elsie: Definitely the youngest. I definitely concealed my age a lot. Anyway, I’m not going to take over your story, continue.

Emma: I mean, I love doing wedding photography. So I love photography. I still do photography and my job so that was really fun. I think weddings, it’s not an environment that I thrive in career wise, because it’s so packed. There’s so many people around. I do better when I’m working by myself. It was kind of a chaotic thing. Then also, this was so long ago, Elsie and I are so old, that we shot weddings with film. So you had to carry around rolls and rolls of film in our bags and switch out the film when you were out of pictures on one. 

Elsie: Black and white film and color film were separate roles. It’s so different. I basically never shoot film these days but anytime I do, I’m like, how did we do that? It’s so funny.

Emma: Okay, another first job so I was doing this during Papa Murphy’s era and early wedding photography, I also used to do this thing where I would buy huge lots of DVDs on eBay. Then I would resell them individually online, which again was very hard with dial-up internet. I would always make more money but it really wasn’t worth my time. It was just like this weird, I don’t even know why I got this idea, but I just thought that it would work and it did technically work. But it was a lot of time. 

Elsie: I think it’s one of those ideas that’s better in your mind when you think a DVD can be $20 and these are $20 for 10 but then you’re like it never really is and you have to pay shipping.

Emma: It was also like you would buy a lot and you didn’t really know always everything in the lot. So some of them would be worth quite a bit and some would be worth basically nothing. So it was kind of like that type of game too. I don’t know, I don’t know, it was just this weird thing.  I definitely learned a lot about shipping but also just selling things online. I think I was just trying to figure out business things. I just was interested in that type of thing. So this was me, I don’t know, almost like playing a game where I was just kind of being curious, but it was a really weird thing to do. What high schoolers doing this? I don’t know. 

Elsie: I think it’s so cute how you were so committed to your side money.

Emma: It was just such a measurable thing, you know. It was just a fascinating little thing to me. What else? So also, the last thing I did in college was I worked for Elsie to do her Etsy shop support and shipping. I remember you kept asking me to help you, I helped you like a lot kind of randomly as you were just too busy. I would be like, yeah, okay, I’ll help you this weekend, no big deal. But I was like, I don’t really have time.  I’m going through college and I work at the pizza place. I’m just really busy and I don’t always have time. You were like, well, how much would it take for you to quit the pizza place, and to just do my Etsy support and shipping. I thought about it in my head and I knew how much I made at the pizza place so I was just like this, how much money a pizza place if you could replace it all work just for you. And you were like done.

Elsie: It was like $500 dollars a month?

Emma: Yeah, something like that. So I was like, okay, cool. So then I just worked for you. Yeah, and that was pretty fun. At the end of high school, so again, this is kind of Papa Murphy’s era, wedding photography, I had decided, I was like, oh, I gotta go to college, or start a job or do something, you know, end of high school. I decided what I wanted to do was move to Los Angeles and pursue acting, because there are a lot of things changing in my life, including my spiritual beliefs and religion, which again, you can listen to in episode 79. Basically, I just wanted to do something different. I also felt like, it might be important for me to be away from my family. I love my family and I also think I have a personality, especially at the time, because I was still very much maturing, and I probably still am, where I would really kind of throw myself into my family. I think a lot of myself get shaped by who I’m around, which is very sweet. But I think I was really craving carving out my own thing, and figuring out just who I was all on my own. I felt like that was a good time in my life to pursue that. So moving to LA had to do with I did want to do acting and I was really interested in doing comedy acting. I wanted to be in romcoms and be the quirky best friend, that would have been my dream job. So I wanted to do that but I also just kind of wanted to move and have an excuse to move so that I could have some space to just figure out who I was all on my own. I think that was part of it, too. So anyway, I told my parents that that’s what I wanted to do after high school. My parents are incredibly supportive people. They were like, okay, we believe you can do that. Also, though, I think they were scared of their 18 year old daughter moving somewhere that she’d really only been once and had never lived on her own. They’re like, why don’t you just do college first, and then move to LA. I think in their minds, they were like, she’ll get over this in the meantime, but I did not. So I was like, okay, I’ll go to college, and then I’ll move to LA. So it became my new whole life’s goal to do college as quickly as I possibly could to save up as much money as I could so I could move to LA. Then I also started taking acting classes with this man who was from LA and he had done TV and film acting. I loved theater and I think it’s wonderful. I love to go see theater productions but I didn’t really want to learn theater acting if I’m being honest. I really wanted to learn something that was more geared towards TV and movies, because I love movies, that that’s more what I was hoping to be in. So I was really busy in college because I ended up doing college in three years instead of four because again, I was trying to do it as fast as I could. I realized pretty quickly that your advisor is not that helpful on helping you get the most efficient schedule that you can get so I just stopped using my advisor and I would make my own schedule. And I would make it where I always took to at least 18 hours of classes, which is the max. But I also figured out there was no rule about going to two colleges at once. So I would go to Missouri State during the day, and then I would take night classes at OTC in the evenings. I was able to do the OTC classes for free because I had done this thing in high school called the A Plus Program. I also started taking college classes my senior year in high school as another way to kind of get ahead and get through college quicker. So I did all of those little hacks, they’re really truly just like weird little hacks.  I got through college in three years instead of four and that was really fun. I think it was another kind of just confidence thing because I was like, I’ve never been a person who I walk into a room and think I’m the smartest person here. I don’t feel that way. I don’t say that, that’s not a diss to myself. I often walk into a room and think I think I might be the hardest working person here. I think that’s more like where I see my unfair advantage, especially at this age because I think a lot of people at this age are like they’re just looking to have fun.

Elsie: I would add to that, it’s not just working hard. It’s creating a better plan and a better strategy so your strategist skills are next level as well. Because you didn’t burn yourself out you were able to actually do it. 

Emma: Yeah, I was able to do it. And it was really hard. I don’t know, I feel like a lot of people, when I’ve told this story to friends, they’re like, oh, you must be one of those people who doesn’t really have to study and you get A’s. I’m like, nah, I have to study a lot to get an A. But I also understood don’t put all of your hard classes in the same semester, do half the hard ones, half easier when so that you have time to do all of the reading or all of the studying that you’re going to need to do. Spoiler, I did graduate college for three years, I did take acting classes all throughout that time and I saved up $10,000 so that I could move to Los Angeles. I think my parents were, simultaneously proud and also a little disappointed that I didn’t change my mind or maybe just get married or something. 

Elsie: I’m sure they were scared.  I was already married by that time and they were probably just nervous to be like losing you to move away so young. To their credit, they let you do it and you f*cken did it.

Emma: Yeah, Elsie drove with me, and also my grandparents and I moved out to Los Angeles. I loved living in LA. I lived there for three years. I tried to become an actor so I did the Groundlings Program, which, if you know what that is, then you probably think that’s cool. If you don’t know what it is then you’d probably don’t care, but it’s just a program that you can go through. That’s about comedy acting. It’s a lot to do with improv and it’s really fun. Here’s another thing about living in LA, so many people my age at that time, were doing the same thing I was doing, wanting to pursue something in performance, or they were a writer, or they wanted to get into directing. So everyone was just really dreamers and very positive. Springfield, Missouri, I love where I’m from but I ran into lots of people growing up who were just very, like, they just dreamed really small, or they didn’t dream at all. All of a sudden in Los Angeles, everybody was dreaming and they really believed they could do big things.  I loved that atmosphere because that’s how I always felt and I always felt like I was a weird person for being that way. It was nice to be around so many people my age who were just like, yeah, just try it. It’s no big deal if it doesn’t work out. This is fun. We’re all trying stuff. 

Elsie: That is so sweet. That makes my heart like bigger and bigger.

Emma: Yeah, it was a blast. I love the environment. I loved the people I met. I loved the weather, although I do like four seasons but it was just nice and warm all the time. I did not like the cost of living. It was so expensive to live there and the traffic was terrible. So also, I don’t think I’m a big city person. I think I like small to medium cities, mainly has to do with traffic, I’d say. Anyway, as you can probably guess I didn’t become an actor. I did really enjoy the Groundlings program. I also did get a commercial agent and I remember going on a few commercial auditions. I remember there is one for Fruit by the Foot, which I didn’t get but I got a callback and that was exciting. So you go to like the second round.

Elsie: You were an extra on Mad Men. I thought that was the coolest thing. I was so jealous because in those days when we first had our vintage store and they cut her hair because they want it wanted it to be like so authentic. She got to have her makeup done and her costume done. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I’m still jealous of it.

Emma: I was an extra on lots of different TV shows and movies at that time. It was really pretty fun. You would get to hang out with people all day who were kind of doing the same thing you were doing so that was fun. It was also kind of boring, though, it was a lot like being a substitute teacher, which I had done a little bit in college. You just kind of sit around all day and wait for your time to go stand in the background. So I read a lot of books. I made a lot of friends and I read a lot of books. The other job I had while I lived in LA other than being an extra was I cleaned apartments and houses. I actually really liked that job. What I’ve sort of figured out, what was dawning on me while I was there was being an extra you get to be on TV and movie sets all the time so you get to kind of see the environment of that. It’s pretty chaotic and there’s lots of people and things move kind of fast at times and it’s really cool. I’m a pretty quiet person who likes to kind of be alone and be at my house all day so it’s a completely opposite of what I kind of enjoy. Then cleaning apartments, I actually kind of loved it because I was alone usually in people’s apartments or houses all day just cleaning and I actually really liked that.  I know the twist. I do remember though I felt, especially towards the end, a little bit directionless and kind of bored, because I felt things weren’t happening as quickly as I wanted. You can probably tell from this I’m a little bit of a fast mover. I like to kind of do a lot of things. So I was getting kind of bored, kind of feeling directionless.  I remember at the time, I started my food blog. I had read a book, kind of about local eating and I was like, oh, this is fun and I am interested in cooking. I really hadn’t cooked a lot until I moved out of my parent’s house so I’ve kind of gotten into it the last few years. I was like, I think I’ll start a food blog. That sounds really fun. Elsie had her blog at the time, kind of about scrapbooking and about her life. I wasn’t very interested in sharing my life so I started doing my food blog. Pretty quickly, I realized that was really fun. It was something where you kind of worked by yourself and you did it from home. I did.  I don’t know, it really worked well for my personality. It sort of became another little game where I was like, oh, I think I could make a little bit of money at this. I remember the first money I made from food blogging, I entered this contest for The Kitchen, which is a big website about food blogging, about recipes and things. I entered a contest they were having and if you won the contest, then you got to host a dinner party. They gave you like, a certain amount of money to do it and I won. So I did host the dinner party, but the money that they gave you to do it, you could spend it all, but you also didn’t have to spend it on the dinner party. So I probably only spent like two thirds of it on the dinner party and then I just had the rest of it. I threw a party for my friends and they all came and it was really fun. It was a fun dinner party. 

Elsie: A cute little saver, Emma. 

Emma: Yeah, I’m a weirdo. That was the first money I made. Then after that, I was like, just started learning more about other food bloggers and blogging generally. I was like, I think I could pay my rent with this if I really worked hard at it. I was like, okay, let’s try that. So then I started getting to where I could pay my rent just with food blogging.  I started to become more interested in that very quickly realized I didn’t need to live in LA to do food blogging. Basically, since I moved to LA, Elsie had been trying to get me to move home to help her with her stuff because that’s just the story of our life. 

Elsie: I’m needy.

Emma: We’re just meant to be together. I was just trying to do my own thing for a while, which I think was healthy and I needed. But I think eventually I was kind of ready to do something else. 

Elsie: I’m jealous. I wish I would have moved there too because that sounds like a really fun experience.

Emma: It was really fun. Some people like to make fun of LA and I think all the little jokes about it are true. But it’s also such a positive place or at least it was for me. Maybe I fell into a really good group of friends. I don’t know. But I just felt people were very open to different ideas and dreams and I really liked that. I really understood that point of view. But anyway, I did move home and I kept growing my food blog, and I started helping Elsie with her business that she was growing. That was really, really fun.  So what I would do with my food blog, which originally was called From Scratch, and then I eventually renamed it to Food Coma.

Elsie: Great name.

Emma: Thank you. Thank you. I still like that name. 

Elsie: From Scratch, not so good. 

Emma: Ouch, burn. 

Elsie: Well, I mean, Food Coma is like way, way more like, you know.

Emma: Thanks and burn, I guess. When I moved home, I remember I was reading Young House Love’s blog and I remember thinking, oh, I should buy a house. Buying a house in LA versus buying a house in Springfield, Missouri, just go ahead and get on Zillow and do your own research. It’s very different. I just was seeing what I was paying in rent in LA and that I was already making that money from my food blog.  I was like, you know if I lived with my parents for a year, and I kept doing my food blog, I could probably buy a house. I probably would have the money for a down payment. I don’t know if a bank is gonna give me a loan but at least work towards it and see what happens so that’s exactly what I did.

Elsie: So cool, Emma. I love that and I love that you are the first person that got into Young House Love because I forgot that detail. Now I remember you had their first lighting collection in your first home. 

Emma: I was just very like, Elsie, have you read this blog? I really love it. I loved how they were very like they would share a lot about money and just projects they did and what it costs and it made the whole thing seem much more attainable, which I really appreciate. Because there are many things that you’re like, I don’t understand how that works. I don’t understand how I could ever own a home or I could ever renovate a home. So when someone shares real information with you, it’s actually really helpful because you realize like, oh, if I make some goals around this, I could probably make something happen.  I started living with my parents, which I loved because I love my parents, and also my niece, Penelope was very young. She was like one and she lived there, too. So it was just like fun, it was very crowded. I’m sure my parents were like, okay, this is not what we were picturing for this time in our life. They’re ready for their empty nest but you know, here we are were again. I was able to save money for my first home. Then also, what I would do is I would work all week with Elsie doing our thing with our local shop. Then on the weekend, I would batch work all of my food posts for the week. So I would only have two to three recipes in a week. I would do a meal for my family every Sunday, that was like, three, four recipes. Whatever the best ones were, those would end up on the blog. So that was kind of how I kept doing my side hustle while I was doing my other thing with Elsie which eventually we combined our blogs together to just hers, A Beautiful Mess. That’s why there’s food on there. Mega blog. So now we’ve come to the part of the episode where Elsie and I disagree, because I was like, this is where I’m going to end my life map for now. Because one, I feel like it’s already past 20 minutes, I have a feeling. But two I was like a lot of our podcast listeners are probably longtime blog readers, we kind of know that based on the things that they write us in the email box and all that. So I was like, I’m just so nervous that the next part of the story is kind of boring because they’ve heard it. But I also just, I’m gonna put it out there, so I am going to end my life map here for now. This would be around 2010 so I’m only like 24 years old and that’s where I’m leaving it off for now. If you’re interested, let us know in the comments and I’ll do another life map that’s really my career in A Beautiful Mess. What I consider the high points and things that I learned along the way, so far, doing A Beautiful Mess if you’re interested. If not, it’s not going to hurt my feelings just for the record, because I feel like a lot of you already know that part of the story so maybe it would be boring. That’s kind of my fear. So I wanted to use this episode as a place to tell you some things and little snippets of my life that maybe you hadn’t heard or that might be just kind of random that might color a little more of what you already know about me.

Elsie: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. I get that. 

Emma: So that’s it. So but if you want to hear another part, you want to hear the highlights or lowlights of my career at A Beautiful Mess. Let us know in the comments which you can do at abeautifulmess.com/podcast.