‘Picnic life Foodie’ fulfills appetite for creativity with bold new book

Friday, September 10, 2021

The online world is inundated with so-called ‘experts’, churning our websites, blogs, podcasts, and posts on a variety of subjects. Truly, one has to sift through a lot of chaff, to get to the wheat. Technology makes it extremely easy for folks to get their brand on social media, whatever the content might be. But there’s something comforting when you hit Anita McVey’s “Picnic Life Foodie” site. Noticing the crisp, clear production, and easy of navigation, your sense of well-being settles in. Some photos by pro photographer Heather Wheeler grace the pages, giving a pleasing, meditative look to the proceedings. Then there’s the food. The food looks very inviting – you could nearly smell, and taste it, by the visuals alone. Given some responses from local people, Picnic Life Foodie seems to be picking up some steam, and it’s no wonder – Anita is pretty much the hometown-girl-makes-good story. A 1985 Alta High graduate, and a 1992 ISU graduate, the daughter of Dwaine and Dorothy Hinkeldey has lots of family still in the area, plus new friends, and converts, to cheer her on. With a forthcoming book, and the ever-growing online following, Anita didn’t think that she would be entering the world of delicious, whole foods, while promoting their values through a faith-based forum.

Why a foodie blog for someone who started out life, with a master’s degree in statistics? “About 10 years ago, I started thinking about creating some type of memoir, to document my favorite recipes with the stories, and memories behind them. Many involved my mom and/or my grandmothers, who were my greatest cooking instructors. Others came from my mother-in-law, people from our churches, neighbors, and friends. The idea of writing a book was too intimidating. A blog seem perfect, but I had no idea on how to start,” says Anita. In early 2016, Anita’s oldest son, Nick, took control of his mom’s ideas, and vision, and within three days, the “Picnic Life Foodie” concept was created. Anita says that she has had to learn a lot herself, on working the website. “It’s been an amazing uphill climb. I’ve had to learn how to navigate Wordpress, plus stage and photograph food, tell a story, and attempt to manage social media, while all being consistent in the approach. Very seldom do I do all of that at the same time. It’s an ongoing, creative learning experience,” says Anita.

What’s come forth from Anita, has been her ability to write. “What surprised me the most in this process, was how much I like to write. Having a math background, I was the one who avoided language arts classes in college, as much as possible. It’s a much different experience, when you can write about something you love, and believe in. I believe cooking, and sharing meals is one of the best ways to truly connect with others, whether it be a family unit, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. We have a common need for food, and for relationships. My goal was, and is, to encourage readers to return to the table, and create memories of their own,” says Anita. Fusing her love of food, and gathering together, was also a natural fit for another element, which was Anita’s faith. “While I was writing the blog, I would have moments where I’d think, “That would make a great devotion!” I started making a list of ideas, and soon, that list was big enough to take on the idea of a book. Eventually, I started drafting devotions around each idea, and those drafts started to take on a similar layout, and feel. This past winter, I dedicated more time to completing those devotions, and recruited my younger son, Marcus, to create the book cover, and a sketch for each devotion’s subject. By spring, I sent the devotions to a good friend, and Lutheran minister, to review. I also found an editor who elevated my grammar and sentence structure, without changing my writing voice. She also helped me find a Christian customer publishing company, which allow me to pick and choose the services that I need, and maintain control of the design, and marketing, of the book,” says Anita.

“Because He First Fed Us – Ordinary Meals – Extraordinary Messages” is Anita’s first book, which is slated for the first week of December. “It is a coffee table devotional, containing 30 light-hearted devotions, pairing personal anecdotes, and memories with scriptural passages about meals, and food,” says Anita. Anita also credits her husband, Marty, with encouraging her to explore the opportunities that have come up, for her venture. After the book comes out, Anita is looking to find some speaking engagements. “Food, and cooking, are subjects that have become so popular in the entertainment industry. I’m seeing more and more women, and men experimenting with recipes, and cooking techniques, Grocery stores are carrying more products that make us curious to learn about other countries, their cultures, and their foods. I would love the opportunity to speak with women’s groups, and men, as well, at their churches, events, or conferences,” says Anita. The book looks to be a logical next step, in the Picnic Life Foodie story, and Anita feels she is blessed with the progression that her germ of an idea has taken. To hear her tell it, she had some help from a greater power, in creating all this. “To summarize this experience, I’ll put it this way: God created this book. It took me five years to write it,” says Anita.