1 year ago today, I was so excited to launch my new food blog, “Two in the Kitchen”. It’s hard to believe how fast this year went. So instead of giving you a recipe today, I wanted to take some time to reflect, share some stories, and even give some advice.
Oh, and stick around to the end of this post, because I have a fun giveaway for you that I am very excited about! 🙂
First, some reflections on why “Two in the Kitchen” was first contemplated: My husband Erik and I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen together. In fact, Erik attended culinary school and even interned at Chicago’s famous “Frontera Grill”, owned by celebrity chef, Rick Bayless. As for myself, I have always enjoyed baking because I am addicted to sweets of any kind. Growing up, I was frequently in the kitchen while my mom baked up cookies and sweets and such.
Erik and I had talked in the past about one day opening a restaurant or catering service, but we both have careers and three kids on top of that so the reality of fitting a restaurant into the mix was highly unlikely.
Fast forward to 2012 when I threw a baby shower for a friend in the spring and a lot of people were asking me if I got my decorating ideas from “Pinterest”. And I was like pinterest?? What’s that?? Upon learning, I immediately became obsessed!!
Of course, I gravitated to dessert pins and soon realized there were actual people who ran blogs who created these yummy desserts themselves, took pictures of their creations and posted them on their blogs. I was amazed!! I quickly fell in love with dessert blogs like “Crazy for Crust“, “Mom on Timeout“, and “Shugary Sweets“.
Soon after this I finally created a Facebook account (I know…..I was late on the train for this one!! ) and reconnected with old friends, one of which I noticed had her own blog…… A homeschooling and Christian life blog called Charlie Brown’s Teacher. And I thought: You mean you can just start your own blog? How cool is that?? So I immediately started some research.
I actually researched for about a year before I started my food blog because I wanted my site to look somewhat professional. And thanks to all the helpful bloggers out there, it really was not hard at all to find information. I learned about “self hosting”, “themes”, “plug-ins”, “widgets”, “SEO” and a plethora of other terms.
I also soaked in all the information I could about food photography. I went out and bought a new DSLR camera and tried to follow all the advice I could.
I then hired “The Pixelista” in September of 2013 to design my website. Jessica Bernard, who IS the Pixelista is reasonably priced and made my design around the Innovative Genesis theme. My husband and I always liked the Arts and Crafts style and I thought Jessica did a great job in giving us a design that was the look we were after. I then spent three weeks uploading recipes and pictures I had been accumulating for the past several months to upload to the website before I launched so it wasn’t “blank” when people began to visit.
Finally on October 25th 2013, I announced our website on my own Facebook page, started commenting on bloggers sites (thus leaving my “calling card” so bloggers knew I existed) and submitted my very first recipe to Food Gawker. (Which got accepted by the way!)
And so, Two in the Kitchen was born. Since then, here are some memorable moments and interesting facts:
I was very excited when the first photo I submitted to Food Gawker got accepted. Understand that I really don’t know what I am doing when I take food photos.
I tend to keep things simple with my food photographs. I don’t use many props. Maybe a kitchen towel for some color and texture, but really, I like to keep it simple and the focus on the food. I keep my dial on aperture mode and normally shoot in the range of 3.2-4.5. I normally take about 50-60 shots and hope for a couple good ones. 😉
When I fist started last year, I was looking at some blogger’s food gawker galleries, and 1 blog had 63 photos accepted for a year. I thought that was a good number to shoot for so I am very happy to say that as of today, a year after I started, I have 64 photos in my food gawker gallery. 🙂 It always helps to have a goal to aim for.
Three weeks after starting the blog, Erik’s “Mesquite Pork Tenderloin” was featured on Six Sister’s Stuff’s Saturday Link Party. I was dancing on the living room floor, I was so ecstatic.
I nearly fell over and fainted when America’s Test Kitchen Feed wrote a little blurb about me when I adapted their Red Velvet Cake. I mean really, my name was on America’s Test Kitchen?? Woo-hoo!!
Meeting other bloggers and Build Your Blog Conference:
I have met so many wonderful bloggers since I have started blogging myself a year ago. The blogging community is really the most supportive community ever!! I can’t even begin to name all the great people I have met on-line through blogging and I only wish that I had more time to visit their awesome blogs more often because each and every one is so inspiring and creative. I hope to meet everyone in person someday.
The one time I did get to meet some great bloggers in person was at The Six Sister’s Stuff “Build Your Blog Conference” in Salt Lake City last February. I was blown away at how many great people I met (and still keep in touch with). I absolutely cannot wait for this next year’s conference. I hope to meet many of the bloggers that I “chat” with often. (So go buy your tickets everyone!! 😉 )
When I started a year ago, I had zero followers on any social media. And now Two in the Kitchen has;
2,426 followers on Facebook
1,664 followers on Pinterest
532 followers on Twitter
178 followers on Google+
I am not all that comfortable with Twitter and Google+, and I think I might have some followers on Instagram but I have no idea how to use it. 😉
Goals for year 2:
Now that I’ve got my feet wet with blogging, my plans for year 2 include:
Continuing to build my social media following and learning how to use it more effectively.
Learn to work with advertisers and affiliates. I am working with Bonnie Andrews from Hobby to Hot on this endeavor. Bonnie is amazing, and if you are a blogger and looking to grow your business side, I highly encourage you to check her out! 🙂
Give my blog a bit of a facelift.
Attend BYBC this February and possibly another conference if I can fit it in.
Improve my photography skills
Continue to grow my relationships with bloggers I am now connected with and meet new ones as well.
Most importantly, I hope to expand my readership and give my readers what they are looking for on a consistent basis! 🙂
Well, thank you SO much for reading along with me this past year! It would really not be much fun to blog if no one was around to read and comment on my recipes. I thank you for every comment, share and “click” you have given me this past year and I hope you will stick around for year 2! 🙂
To show you my appreciation, I am holding a “Tastes of Chicago” giveaway.
I am a Chicagoland girl born and raised. So to show my appreciation for my readers, I thought that I would offer you a chance to win a shipment of some of my favorite Chicago treats right to your door where ever you live in the country! (Opened to U.S. residents only)
Look at these mouthwatering delectables!! The lucky winner will receive:
– 2 pizzas from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. This pizza is so unbelievably delicious, that I order it once at least every other week or so. Seriously, you have never had pizza till you have had Lou Malnati’s.
2 lbs. of Italian Beef from Portillo’s. Portillo’s is another Chicago staple. Their Italian beef is mouthwateringly sensational. No, this is NOT your typical roast beef sandwich. It is Italian beef, done up Chicago style. You are just going to have to take a bite to understand!
1/2 lb. box of Fannie May Pixies. Fannie May candy store at Woodfield Mall was my very first job in high school. I have a soft spot for these caramel, pecan filled, chocolate drenched Pixies.
So there you have it. A “Taste of Chicago” that will arrive straight to your door if you win.
Oh, and should you NOT be fortunate enough to win, but you are still interested in these great eats, you can visit www.tastesofchicago.com which is where I will be ordering the prizes for the winner. (Tastes of Chicago is not affiliated with this giveaway, nor am I being compensated by them for this giveaway.)
So go ahead and enter through the link below! This is offered to residents of the U.S. You must be 18 or older to enter. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 3rd. The winner will be notified and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Good Luck! 🙂