The start of the new year is a special time for my blog, not just because it’s a brand new year, but because it’s the anniversary of my blog’s birth. I started my food blog on January 2, 2010. That was 6 years ago. It started as a new year’s resolution to “start a blog and stick to it,” as I wrote in my very first blog post. I’m proud to say this is one resolution I actually followed through on. It’s become my creative outlet, my passion.
I still have a day-job, but what I’ve never mentioned here before is that for the last couple years, the future of my current career has been uncertain. Faced with the possibility of being laid off, I started to look at other options for work. My job allows me to work from home, and that’s something I’d have a hard time giving up, because it gives me the flexibility to be there for my children when they need me, while still working full-time hours to bring in a decent income. We can’t make it on my husband’s salary alone, so it’s important that I bring in money somehow. I started to wonder if I could make enough money blogging and freelance writing to make ends meet. It would certainly be a dream come true to make a living doing what I love.
So I started making connections, and working more with brands. Last year and this year, I had the pleasure of working with brands that I truly love and trust, like Campbell’s, Pulo Cuisine, and Epicure, to name a few. I wrote a few articles for Cella magazine, and discovered how much I really liked writing for a magazine. I took a food writing course at UBC with the very talented Don Genova as my instructor. He taught me how to pitch to magazines, review restaurants (I had never done this before, but it turns out I’m good at it!), create compelling stories, and take better photos of food. I went to Montreal for the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference in October, and met so many amazing bloggers, many of whom were making a living through their blogs. This gave me hope that one day I could do the same.
But the more I thought about the reality of blogging as a career, being self-employed, not knowing how much I would make from month to month, the more panicked I became. It’s nice to talk about “taking a leap” and “following your dream” but it’s not always as simple as that, especially when you have a family to support. I worried that if I turned blogging and writing into my career, it wouldn’t be my passion anymore. It would just be a constant source of stress. That’s not what I want for myself, for the blog, or for you, my readers.
Fortunately, it looks like I won’t be losing my job in the immediate future, so for now I can take a deep breath and re-evaluate things. I’ll continue working at home full-time for my employer as long as they’ll have me, and in my spare time, I’ll remain devoted to my blog. I’m making a promise to myself this new year that I won’t lose my passion for blogging. I’m not saying that I’ll never turn it into a career, but at this point in my life, I’m happy to keep it as a hobby. I want to spend more time this year writing for me and about the things I love, without worrying about money, traffic, or gaining followers. By writing my thoughts and goals here, I’m hoping I can “make it stick” like I did back in 2010 at the start of this journey.
Thanks to all of you who read Food & Whine. I hope you’ll continue to follow my posts and comment here or on social media. I always love hearing from you. I’m really excited to share more recipes and ideas with you this year, and I already have a lot of plans for blog posts filling up my head, so don’t go anywhere!
And now it’s time to look back on the most popular posts from 2015. Ah, memories! I love all of these posts and it doesn’t surprise me at all that they are the most viewed this year. Enjoy!
RV Camping Food – Our family loves to go RVing in our big comfy trailer. Here are my favourite tips to help you plan meals for your RV camping adventure, and a big recipe roundup of camp-friendly food ideas.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken – This is a revised version of an older post for Crockpot Butter Chicken. It’s even simpler to make than my original recipe, and I share creative ideas for using the leftovers, like Butter Chicken Pizza. It’s one of my favourite MOLO Monday posts (Making Over Leftovers).
Orange Brownies – I made these Mandarin Orange Brownies to promote a holiday Epicure giveaway, but you don’t necessarily need Epicure products or even a holiday to make these tasty little brownies. You make them with whole mandarin oranges that you blend up and mix in with the batter, so they’re packed full of vibrant orange flavour.
Cauliflower Cheeseburger Casserole – I found an orange cauliflower at the grocery store and it inspired me to create this low-carb dish with lots of cheese and ground beef.
Roast Beef Fajitas – Another MOLO post made the top ten! I made over leftovers from Slow Cooker Roast Beef (another fan favourite) into beautiful colourful fajitas. It literally only takes minutes to make when using leftover roast beef.
Mango Chili Pork Tenderloin – I created this recipe using Pulo Cuisine Mango Chili Marinade. This was the first time I ever made mango salsa and now I love it so much! It adds such beautiful colour and flavour t everything you put it on. This recipe uses pork, but this salsa is fantastic on fish, beef, or chicken as well.
Easy Skillet Chicken Parmesan – Skillet dinners are the best! This was a recipe from Cook with Campbell’s using chicken breast, tomato soup, and lots of cheese. Serve it over spaghetti for a fast weeknight meal.
Smoky Corn Chowder – I made this soup for a family birthday party, and it was a big hit! It’s been very popular on Facebook as well lately. It’ll warm you up on a cold day.
Easy Chicken & Broccoli Divan – Another Campbell’s post that did very well! I love easy recipes that anyone can make, and this is a perfect one. Chicken and broccoli are such a lovely combination.
Chocolate Banana Loaf – Chocolate and Banana — one of my favourite flavour combinations, for sure! This was popular one among the Whine Critics in our house, clearly because of the chocolate.