#AskAwayFriday: On Books and Legacies

posted in: #AskAwayFriday, Life, Link Up 56 comments

Sluiter Nation written by Katie, is one of the first blogs I have ever read. I have always loved her stories about her children, Eddie and Charlie, her honest posts about battling postpartum depression and anxiety, and more recently, her posts about writing and teaching. If I had to go back in time and be a high school student again, I’ll pick Katie as my English teacher, because she rocks. She genuinely cares about the kids in her class, and about education (read her posts on the Common Core Standards – so good). She’s also been a very good friend to me, and I am thrilled to swap questions with her for #AskAwayFriday this week. 

Katie asks

This fun weekly link up is hosted by Penny of The Real Housewife Of Caroline Country , Amber from Bold Fab Mom, Mrs Tee – Love Life & Laughter, and This Momma’s Ramblings.  Typically for Ask Away Friday, bloggers pair up, swap any 10 questions, answer them on their blogs, and link up their posts with the hosts. It’s such a great way to get to know someone better.  


Here are Katie’s questions for me.

1. You take beautiful pictures and I know you love learning all things photography. How did this love affair begin?

Thank you. That is very generous of you to say. I think my love of photography goes a long way back – back to when I was a teenager, although I didn’t realize it then. My sister and I used to take pictures of each other just for fun, not really knowing anything about photography. I was also fascinated with old photographs of my father’s family – wondering about the stories behind each picture. In a sense, my love of photography goes beyond learning the technicalities of taking a good picture. For me, it is about telling a story. Always.  


2. Your “Know Me” section of your blog claims that you don’t really have advice for parenting, cooking, or anything, but that is not true. You give wonderful advice about blogging and creating community. How did you become such a lover and expert of all things Internet?

Again, you’re being very generous, Katie! The Internet fascinates me, always has, always will. But it was not until I started blogging that I really learned what it means to be online, how all-encompassing technology and Google and Apple and what-have-you really are, in our lives. It goes back to wanting to learn the stories behind what you see on the screen, whether it’s a blog post, or a news article, or an Instagram picture. I am fascinated by the way people have evolved because of the Internet. My curiosity feeds my love, my love feeds my curiosity, hence my need to read, learn and absorb everything I can about the Internet.

3. You have done a lot of traveling–especially in your pre-mommy life–what has been your favorite place to visit/travel to?

New York City in 2008. When I was 18, I had planned to go to Manhattan to visit my cousin, who was working on Wall Street at the time. I was obsessed with the idea of New York. I didn’t make it there because my parents did not think it was safe for an 18 year old to travel alone to such a far off destination. When the opportunity came up to head to the US for a work conference, I decided to fulfill my New York dream. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

New York

Pre-motherhood, so cheesy camera poses are allowed

4. I remember you saying once that you don’t like to bake from mixes. What is it about making treats from scratch that is so appealing?

Baking soothes me. It’s a filler for when I am empty inside (not just my belly!). There is something satisfying about measuring and mixing the ingredients, knowing that the final result is all you, not Betty Crocker.

Vanilla Muffins

5. Which of your personality traits do you see the most in Monkey and Scrumplet?

Monkey, my 4 year old, is stubborn and persistent, just like me. Even at his age, I can see his introvert self emerging – where he needs to recharge in the quiet, on his own, and that’s me too. 

Scrumplet has proved to be really adaptable and resilient, and I like to think that I’m that way too. Not much fazes him, and he leaps with both feet. I love that. 

Both boys love chocolate. That’s all me.

4 year old

6. Which of your husband’s traits do you see the most in each boy?

Both of our kids love to figure out how things work, and that’s their father to a T. They also inherited his inquisitiveness and intelligence, fortunately! And, they both love the outdoors, just like him. 


7. If I was going to come to Malaysia, and you were going to make me a list of HAVE TO DO’s, besides eating cupcakes with you, what would be on the list?

First, I would hug your face off, and tell you I can’t believe you’re actually here. Then I’ll whisk you off for some local food – take your pick from Malay cuisine, to my favorite Nyonya restaurant in my neighborhood, or Indian food, if that tickles your fancy. Malaysia is very proud of its cuisine, made rich by the many different cultural influences we have here. Then we’ll go shopping. There are huge malls with recognizable designer brands, to local open markets selling fake Rolexes. Whatever rocks your boat. 

I assume budget would not be a concern (because this is a dream right?). I’ll take you to the best spa I can find in Kuala Lumpur, and you can relax after a day of eating and shopping. For the rest of your time here, you must visit some of our beautiful islands. 

8. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

My Dad told me once: It’s always better to try and fail, than fail to try. 

9. What books have impacted your life?

My love for reading came from reading the entire series of the Encyclopedia Brittanica when I was a little girl. Is that….. strange? That love was cemented by Enid Blyton books, and I recall tales of The Faraway Tree and Brer Rabbit, fondly. My first recollection of feeling all the feelings after finishing a book, was George Orwell’s 1984. More recently, I have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, and Stephen King’s On Writing; and left breathless by The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

10. What do you hope your legacy will be?


Leave people better than when you found them quote

Thank you, Katie for your thoughtful questions. I really had fun with them! Now, head over to Sluiter Nation to check out what I asked her

What would you like your legacy to be?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • February 21, 2014 Tiffany

    Always great to come to your place in Bloggerville πŸ™‚ I am in love with the advice from your Dad mainly because it is very similar to something my Hubby says all the time. It has become our family motto: Nothing Beats A Failure But A Try.

    To simply say you can’t do something without even attempting it…it has become unacceptable for us.

    Great answers…have a lovely weekend!
    Tiffany recently wrote…#AskAwayFriday W/ Beth from Structure In An Unstructured LifeMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      That’s my personal philosophy now!
      Have a great weekend yourself!

  • February 21, 2014 Stacey Gannett

    Amazing, ladies! When my mom baked, it was rarely from a mix, actually when my mom cooked it was from scratch. I love to bake, though more mixes than from scratch…but I am working on getting back into “from scratch” because it is so much better! Such great advice from dad! Hope you have a great week, Alison!
    Stacey Gannett recently wrote…#AskAwayFriday 29 with Dee from Simply D Constructed!My Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      I’ve tried a couple of mixes, and they never taste as good as when I make stuff from scratch. So from scratch it is. πŸ™‚

  • February 21, 2014 Katie

    Oh Alison, I knew you would make me smile with your answers! Your boys look so much alike…handsome and adorable! The picture of you in NYC cracks me up because I swear you never age. Also PEACE SIGNS!

    And of course now I am plotting my escape to Malaysia πŸ™‚
    Katie recently wrote…Alison Asks Away!My Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      I wish the never aging thing was true. πŸ™‚
      And thank you for your great questions, Katie, I had fun with them.
      Yes, come to Malaysia!!

  • February 21, 2014 Brittany

    I want to come to Malaysia. And I want to see that tower and those 2 giant buildings. I adore buildings. But of course the islands and most importantly, I swear meeting you and getting a hug is on my freaking bucket list.
    Brittany recently wrote…Vintage Sheet Music Art TutorialMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Aw, dude, that made my day!
      Time to start planning your trip, my friend.

  • February 21, 2014 Tamara

    My legacy..hmm… I always thought it would be a life-changing book or a photograph. Now I have kids and I’d have to include them in there too!
    NYC dreams! New York was “my” city growing up because it was so close to us. I probably took it for granted. Now I hope I don’t do the same with Boston!
    Scarlet has such Cassidy’s personality. Des is more like me. Both love chocolate.
    Tamara recently wrote…In Which Des Takes Over My Ask Away Friday.My Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      I think you’ve already got a huge collection of potential legacies from your amazing photographs and stories, Tamara!

  • February 21, 2014 Kir

    Seriously, could your sons be any better looking? I loved your answers, but couldn’t even pay attention after those photos.


    you’re a rock star, I’m so glad I know you. xo
    Kir recently wrote…The Space Between: The Love Story of Kimmy & David: Chapter 12 {Write on Edge}My Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      They are pretty cute, but I’m totally 100% biased!
      And thank you, I am glad I know you too. xo

  • February 21, 2014 NJ

    New York City is one of my favorite places in the whole world. We live about 3 hours away, which makes it too long for a day trip. I wish the hotels there weren’t so expensive!

    I have that Stephen King book, but I haven’t read it yet. I hope to get to it soon.

    When I think about legacy it is easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of it. I hope that mine is to raise children that realize there is a greater purpose than whatever is right in front of them.
    NJ recently wrote…Ask Away Friday With Dana From Kiss My ListMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Make a weekend trip of it some day! I would make friends with some NYC bloggers and crash at their place πŸ˜‰
      That is a great legacy, NJ.

  • February 21, 2014 Kerstin

    I love your Dad’s advice – I happen to believe that as well!
    There is actually nothing I don’t love about this post πŸ™‚ xox
    Kerstin recently wrote…Parenting BylawsMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Aw, shucks, thank you. This was one of my favorite posts to write thanks to Katie’s great questions.

  • February 21, 2014 Alexa

    That is a fantastic quote! And after reading your description of what you would do if Katie would come to visit, I’m heading your way!!! πŸ™‚ Love the picture of you in central park. I want to go there too!
    Alexa recently wrote…Do you have children in K-5?My Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Yeah, come to Malaysia!
      But first, head to NYC πŸ™‚

  • February 22, 2014 Nicole

    Yummy food, shopping, a spa day, and beautiful islands? Throw in a beautiful place to run, and I’m sold on a trip to see you! Now, to just figure out how to get those business class seats…
    Nicole recently wrote…4 Real Benefits of Massage TherapyMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      You can definitely run on the beach, Nicole!!
      Start saving up for those business class seats. πŸ™‚

  • February 22, 2014 Tonya

    I love this. Alison, you are too cool. I’m so happy we’re friends. Your responses actually made me tear up a bit too for some odd hormonal reason. And? I want to come visit you. I need a baking lesson, some great Indian food and a spa day! Plus, your children are delicious.

    Great job, Katie.
    Tonya recently wrote…When β€œThank You” Isn’t EnoughMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Tonya, truly. I’m glad we’re friends too!
      Please visit, and bring YOUR delicious children along please. We’ll leave the kids with the men and head to the spa. πŸ™‚

  • February 22, 2014 Lisa

    Great answers! I have been to NYC twice – it is a whole different world from my usual small town life. I love that quote from you read and the one you ended with. They are both great! Would love to do an Ask Away Friday with you sometime! πŸ™‚

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      I want to go back to NYC some day!
      Yes, let’s swap questions, I’ll send you an email. πŸ™‚

  • February 22, 2014 Rorybore

    My kids are so stubborn, and unfortunately, that is me. But I’d like to think they are in an intelligent way, rather than just a defiant manner (although of course, they have that too sometimes. let’s say that is from daddy. ha). They want to present their case armed with all kinds of reasons and ideas; and I often think they just want to win the argument itself, and not just permission to do whatever it was their were arguing for.
    My high school trip to NYC was definitely my favourite too. There was just something so amazing and BIG about that city. So much to explore. I have an incredible picture of the Twin Towers taken from the back of the ferry to Ellis Island. A bittersweet treasure.
    Rorybore recently wrote…Guest Post at Butterfly Masterpiece: Friendly FaithMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Oh yes, NYC was incredible. I was there for 6 days and I didn’t feel like I’d covered enough of the city AT ALL. Which is why I really want to head back there soon.

      Stubbornness + intelligence is the way to go!

  • February 22, 2014 Kim

    Oh, I love that Marvin Ashton quote. That is always my hope, too.
    My oldest is enthralled with the idea of going to New York one day. He has talked about it for over a year now. And a day in your city sounds like it would be totally awesome too!
    Kim recently wrote…A Small LifeMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Time to plan a trip to the Big Apple then!

  • February 22, 2014 Ilene

    Alison – I think you definitely leave people better than you found them. You are such an awesome and thoughtful blogging friend on top of being a kick ass blogger. And if I ever get to your part of the world, we’re gonna eat and go shopping and go to the spa.

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Ilene, that is such an amazing thing for you to say, thank you so much!
      Do come, we’ll have a lot of fun hanging out.

  • February 22, 2014 Dee Williamson

    I love your story on how you got into photography. I love taking pictures because of the stories they tell. I am interested in learning about the technicalities, too. I’ve been to NYC, a few years ago, as a day trip. There is SO much to see there though! There is a sense of fulfillment when you make something from scratch. Plus, I really enjoy using my Kitchenaid mixer! Do you live in Malaysia?

    I really enjoyed learning about you in this post.

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      I love my KitchenAid too!
      Yes, I live in Malaysia. I was born here, went to university in England for a few years, then came home.

  • February 23, 2014 My Inner Chick

    Love clicking into your universe, Alison Lee.

    I think what a love the most about you is your humanity & humbleness.

    I mean, you have no idea that you’re f*cking incredible!

    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Our Stories Become Our LivesMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, you humble me. Love you. xo

  • February 23, 2014 Nina

    Loved reading the answers–and the questions! That last answer was gold. And the picture too.
    Nina recently wrote…Friday Finds: Food Babe, John Legend, and MoreMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      That is one of my favorite pictures of the toddler. πŸ™‚

  • February 23, 2014 April

    I don’t think there was one answer that didn’t have me grinning from ear to ear, so I think you’ve accomplished leaving me a better person. This is the first time I’ve been here, so pleasure to “meet” you.
    April recently wrote…#AskAwayFriday with SarahMy Profile

    • February 23, 2014 Alison

      You’re very kind, April, thank you!
      Thanks for stopping by, nice to meet you too.

  • February 23, 2014 Natalie

    Reading this just made me smile and love seeing these photos of your boys. I wish I could come visit you in Malaysia!
    Natalie recently wrote…Sunshine Heals the SoulMy Profile

    • February 24, 2014 Alison

      I wish you could too!

  • February 24, 2014 Angela Youngblood

    Your boys are adorable. I loved learning all of this about you! I’m very impressed with the no-mix baking. And I love the quote you put in for your legacy and I so feel that too.
    Angela Youngblood recently wrote…Tough Times & What I Know For SureMy Profile

    • February 24, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Angela! You know, when I first started baking, I didn’t even know about this box mix stuff, seriously. πŸ™‚

  • February 24, 2014 Alison Hector

    Enid Blyton books! Oh my, this carries me back to a very happy place. It’s always great to meet another book lover from back in the day. I still need to finish Bird by Bird and On Writing. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Alison!
    Alison Hector recently wrote…Ask Away Friday with Lisi P at Lisi’s PlaceMy Profile

    • February 24, 2014 Alison

      Do finish them, they’re awesome!

  • February 25, 2014 Lady Jennie

    Two favourites in one place! I loved reading all the answers. I was no longer in NYC in 2008. That’s so hard for me to believe. Juliet was born there in 2004 and we left in 2005.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…The One Jesus LovesMy Profile

    • February 25, 2014 Alison

      I can hardly believe it’s been nearly 6 years since I was there!

  • February 26, 2014 Keely

    I wholly approve of these interviews. (Can they be longer next time?)
    Keely recently wrote…Sex Ed Scare Tactics (And Some Cute Baby Pictures).My Profile

    • February 26, 2014 Alison

      Sure, but only if WE swap questions. xo

  • February 26, 2014 Greta

    Oh, your boys are little heart throbs. Swoon. Great questions and great answers!
    Greta recently wrote…Check Up. Buy Food. Cut Hair. #iPPPMy Profile

    • February 26, 2014 Alison

      The boys thank you!!

  • February 26, 2014 Galit Breen

    Love this thoughtful back and forth between the two of you — I learned so much about you in this clever way!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…ForgetfulMy Profile

    • February 26, 2014 Alison

      Thanks, you!

  • February 28, 2014 Andrea

    Katie has the best questions, doesn’t she? Love the answers about those darling boys. πŸ™‚
    Andrea recently wrote…Math WhizMy Profile

    • February 28, 2014 Alison

      She does! The last one about legacy was hard. πŸ™‚

  • March 3, 2014 Michelle

    This is wonderful! I am so far behind on my blog reading…I’ve missed coming by! I too use my photos for storytelling…to me that’s what the best photo is. Posed pics are great, but they usually aren’t the storytellers. So my most cherished ones all have some sort of story behind them. I love making photo books and including the journaling…that hopefully will be a treasure to those I leave behind. That quote at the end…LOVE!
    Michelle recently wrote…Pie for Dinner! 14 Recipes to Please Your Comfort Food CravingsMy Profile

    • March 4, 2014 Alison

      I’m sure your photo journals will be treasured! And thank you!

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