Well, well, well…hello, 2018! Nice of you to arrive! Happy New Year to you! I suppose if you’re reading this, you’ve survived 2017 like the boss that you are. You’ve also had to cross out “2017”, like, ten times already because you’re not used to writing “2018”. No matter, and no judgement. Welcome to a new year! I have a strong suspicion that 2018 will be a great one for us all. In the midst of all the holiday festivities, Sense & Edibility went and turned a year old on me! I pushed “post” on December 17th, 2016, and I’ve not looked back since. So, happy everything is in order!
What have I learned as a newbie blogger in these 12 months? A whole hell of a lot. One of the most important lessons I’ve figured out is that this blogging “thang” is a marathon, and not a sprint. Some of my best work came when I was under the gun and under pressure.
Remember how I started 2017? Happy, it was not. Sending my Soldier off to a combat zone was not on my list of “must do’s”, but must’ve I did. I know without a shadow of a doubt that last sentence made zero sense, but I think you get me. The Deployment Strikes Back was a blog post that struck a chord among many of my military readers. That post was cathartic in so many ways for me, too. It helped me vent to unknown faces and speak to the truths that so many of us face on a regular basis. It also helped me gain support from people I’ve never met. This image reminds me, and the Twinks, that we can always get through stupid-hard times. It was my husband’s deployment that helped me realize that I’m no punk.
It also is a testament of my fashion sense. Those are some cuuuuuute boots, y’all!!
Growing a year older also helped me realize that you are never as good as you think. When I started this blog, you couldn’t tell me nothing! I was happy as a lark shooting picture after picture under my kitchen’s funky, yellow lighting. This is one of my first images. Wicked good recipe. I just knew I was the bomb when I look at the image on the LCD after the shutter clicked on this one…now, I look at it and cringe. Just one year! I can’t imagine how I’ll look back on images in five, or ten, years from now.
From that to this. It’s never easy to take a step out and allow yourself to be judged. Initially, when I saw the link for the Cut the Cheese Food Photography Contest on Cuttingboard.com‘s website I contemplated the “what ifs” of entering. What if I get embarrassed? What if they say I’m the worst food photographer ever. So, I immediately sent it to Hector. Since he was still downrange, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to tackle this contest and win. Still, I asked him if he thought I should enter.
He is extremely eloquent in his speech, is he not? So, I did.
I placed third.
That’s a win in my book. I was judged by a panel of other, more seasoned, food bloggers, and they thought my work was worthy of a prize. There’s nothing more reassuring than being told your photography doesn’t suck. Happy didn’t begin to describe it.
When I started this blog, Pintrest was as confusing as Greek to me. Yet another thing I was blissfully unaware of when I began this adventure. I had no idea that you could go to Pintrest to look for nail polish, and eight hours later you’ve pinned “How to Level a Home with a Spoon.” I became more proficient at photoshop and lightroom because I wanted to create more impactful pins.
Who says that!?!? “My goal in the coming year is to create awesome pins,” I’ve totally become that chick. But, I mean it. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I created a pin and it didn’t look like one made by a three-year-old who was left unsupervised with a mouse and a keyboard.
I posted my very first food video on Facebook. It didn’t go viral in the least, but I was happy with the response from everyone who did view it. I learned some new tips and tricks, and was gifted an amazing tool to make even better food videos in the future.
Instagram is a beast that confounds me to this day. One minute you’re riding high with an insane following, the next minute they’ve all unfollowed you because you didn’t follow them back. It’s cyber-high school, for sure. Other food bloggers have suggested I buy my followers, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s like paying for a date…and we all know what those are called. The realization that followers and likes aren’t a reflection of your substance and talent was a revelation. I know the response will come. Marathon, not a sprint; I have to keep reminding myself. Those followers and readers I do have, like you- my precious- mean so much more to me. You’re my ride or die, aren’t you? I know you are. *fist bump*
Then this happened. The moment I pined for since he left, happened. One more deployment down. Hopefully, no more to go. I began my life as an Army wife at the ripe ol’ age of 21- just five years ago…
…you finished with the guffawing?
Good. Can we move on now?
I had just graduated from culinary school a month before and proceeded to use my culinary degree for two, of the next nineteen, years. To say I was going a wee bit stir-crazy is an understatement. When you’ve been working in commercial kitchens for more than half of your life, and you can’t find a job because you’re busy supporting your Soldiers’ career, it does something to your soul. The older I grew, the more I found myself sinking into a depression because I felt I was wasting my skills and potential.
I found joy in writing and publishing my first cookbook in 2016. This was a labor of love in every sense of the term. I proved to myself that I had the grit and determination to pull off something that, even I, didn’t think was possible. The creative rush I got when I wrote about the one thing I am most passionate began to die down as the book lost steam in its sales. That led me to explore the idea of food blogging. My dear friend, Missy, had suggested I become a blogger nearly four years ago, but I always brushed off the thought. What the hell would I have to talk about? Turns out, I have a mouth on me. I also love teaching others to cook for themselves, and I had an unknown passion for food styling and photography.
I also learned that I break out in hives when I’m stressed.
There’s a lot of stress involved in this gig. It’s a good stress. The kind that makes you feel alive. But, food blogging isn’t easy. There’s at least ten hours devoted to every post on this blog. That’s passion, right there. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, what’s the take away for this happy, joyous, monumental occasion in my blogging life? Well, there’s a few:
- I actually don’t suck as much as I thought I did. No one is harder on me than I am on myself. I’m brutal when it comes to my failures, and annoyingly critical when it comes to my achievements. I piss myself off. But, when I take an objective look at how far I’ve come in the last year, I have to pat myself on the back. I’m not all that horrible. But don’t get crazy, Marta.
- I was raised right. Not raised perfectly, but pretty damn well. My parents instilled in me a work ethic that is insane. Every time I publish a blog post I think, “Imagine how much more I’ll put into a sponsored blog post?” And I know it to be true. I am devoted to my craft and I know the best is yet to come.
- My tribe is freaking amazing. My husband and the Twinks are my rocks. My friends at Simply Recipes who’ve given me a chance to develop my writing and photography skills. My web designer, Robin. You! You’re a part of my tribe. Everyone that’s ever liked, shared, or commented is a part of my crew. Without you, I wouldn’t have near the amount of confidence and encouragement I need to continue down this road. Thank you.
What are goals for the year ahead? Well, among them are:
- Begin doing sponsored posts. I wanted to wait until I got my feet wet to start reaching out to my favorite brands and exploring the possibility of working with them. Now I feel confident and competent enough to take that leap. Wish me luck!
- Create more food videos. The Soldier has invested in me by buying me a slammin’ camera. I’m going to take it and rule the world…or just make really dope videos.
- Balance my free time better. Confession: I don’t spend as much time as I should just “being” anymore. I, honestly, don’t think I’ve ever been the type to sit around doing nothing. I’m always a person who has to be busy or I’ll become antsy. Recently, the female Twink asked me, “Mom, can you just sit and cuddle with me?” My knee-jerk reaction was to tell her, “I need to work on the blog.” Then I realized that she is taller than me. My baby is almost six feet tall at the age of twelve, and soon enough she’ll be leaving me to go to college. Balance. I need to be better about it.
So, there you have it, people. Your girl is A YEAR OLD!!! I can’t thank you enough for joining me on this wild ride. I certainly hope we can bring in 2019, and year Two, together as well!