One Year Anniversary for Cook & Be Merry!

by Lynne on January 24, 2011

Post image for One Year Anniversary for Cook & Be Merry!

If you had told me a year ago everything that was going to happen this past year, I would have asked you what in the heck you were smoking. When I started my blog, I was planning on cooking my favorite recipes, photographing them and blogging about them. I wanted to get them in one place for myself, my family and friends. That’s all. I had no idea I was embarking on a great adventure, filled with such interesting people and places. And that I would make so many wonderful new foodie friends, in person and on-line. This has been the best year of my entire life!

Back in the beginning, I was very lucky to take a food styling class from Denise Vivaldo of Food Fanatics and a photography class from Matt Armendariz of MattBites. I also took a photography class from award winning commercial photographer Raiko Hartman. I attended Camp Blogaway, where I met so many food bloggers who were as nuts about food as I am. Then I had the great good fortune to spend a day in the studio of world renowned food photographer Jon Edwards. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from these talented people.

One of the best parts of the great adventure last year was being invited to blogger luncheons and events at beautiful restaurants, where I photographed the food and wrote about it. I went to Ciudad, where lunch was prepared by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. I even got my picture taken with them. At the pre-opening blogger luncheon at Seasons 52 at South Coast Plaza, I was wined and dined like a visiting dignitary. I was invited to Rosti Tuscan Kitchen for a fun pizza making content with a group of my fellow food bloggers. And to Baleen in Redondo Beach, which had the most  beautiful photogenic food. Plus I got to eat all this magnificent food. It was heaven.

I took cooking classes from local cooking teachers, which was one of the things I was thinking of being myself, before I decided to do a food blog instead. I visited Tim Hogan at the Manhattan Beach Parks&Rec, Linda Steidel at Williams Sonoma, and Mary Ellen Rae of Personal Touch Gourmet. Also Grace-Marie’s Kitchen at Bristol Farms, which resulted in my becoming the unofficial website for the Cooking School at Bristol Farms.

One of the most interesting things I did was crafting little appetizers to photograph on the beautiful plates created by the famous glass artist, Barbara Schaefer, of MyKickAssGlass. The story about her and the photographs were published in the Easy Reader Beach Magazine, which has resulted in me writing a food article with photographs every month since. This has been almost beyond belief to be writing for a magazine, something I never would have foreseen.

If you had told me that I would get over 100,000 pageviews during my first year, I would have fallen down on the ground with laughter. But that’s what happened and I am incredulous. I want to thank everyone who visited my blog, because you are the reason I’m doing this and you have responded so generously. I also want to thank the people who have left 800+ comments on my blog. My commenters are so great. They are smart and funny, and enhance my blog so much. I swear, sometimes what they have to say is more amusing or interesting that what I have said in my posts.

Now we get to the part about which were my 10 most popular posts. All of these posts had photos on both TasteSpotting and FoodGawker, which had a huge influence on how many people saw them. So from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most popular:

Gooey Cheddar  Cheese Bread from Grace-Marie's Kitchen

1. Gooey Cheddar Cheese Bread from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen was by far my most popular post. It got Stumbled over and over, and still is as of this very moment. People just seem to go crazy for the crisp, browned, toasted top layer of cheddar cheese under which is a soft gooey cheesy layer full of garlicky ham and onions. I want to go make some right now.

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Twirly Lemon Butter Cookies

2. Twirly Lemon Cookies was picked up by a couple of the baking sites, which resulted in a lot of referrals. I think readers are interested in photos and recipes with piping and detail work, and here it had the cookie and the frosting both. Plus a story about my first chef’s coat.

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RedPepper Provolone Sandwich

3. Roasted Red Pepper and Provolone Sandwich, again, was one of those melted cheese phenoms. That post got more comments than any of my other posts and the photo was the star.

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Mini Tartlet Shells, Food Art & an Optical Illusion

4. Mini Tartlet Shells, Food Art & an Optical Illusion had a title that was definitely a teaser. This post appeared on October 4th, which is also my birthday, and was my blog’s busiest day, pageview-wise, with 1760. In my opinion, it also has the most interesting comments of all my posts. I have great commenters.

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Mushroon and Spinach Quiche with Shredded Potato Crust

5. Mushroom and Spinach Quiche with Shredded Potato Crust also included the Top 10 Googled Recipes of 2009, one of which was Quiche. This has proved to be absolutely true, as I have another Spinach and Feta Quiche recipe that is my 11th most popular post.

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Gumbo ~ Shrimp, Chicken, Andouille Sausage

6. Gumbo ~ Shrimp, Chicken & Andouille Sausage is a post about the frustration cooking a sub-par recipe and then fixing it. This is a really good recipe with a good story.

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BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

7. BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp was popular in the summer grilling season. Although recently there have been a lot of people googling bacon wrapped shrimp, plus this photo above has been picked up by a couple of Tumblr sites resulting in a lot of pageviews.

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Mini Corn Muffin Appitizer and Linda Steidel's Cooking Class

8. Corn Bread Tartlets & Linda Steidel’s Cooking Class was my most popular post for the first half of the year. This is a very cute and easy appetizer with a nice photo.

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Mojito Grilled Lime Chicken Wings

9. Mojito Grilled Lime Chicken Wings has the most delicious looking chicken of any of my photos. Plus the fact that it is a Weight Watchers recipe that has lime juice, cumin and garlic. And it’s grilled. What else could you ask for?

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Umami Manly Burger

10. Umami Burger is a restaurant review with photos of the food. There are no recipes. I have to laugh at its being number 10 in popularity on my list, because I absolutely trashed this restaurant – the food, the venue, the service. Everything. Go figure.

There you have it – my first year in review. Thank you all for visiting and I hope I can make my second year as fun and interesting for you. Cheers.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy@acommunaltable January 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Congratulations Lynne on an awesome first year!! I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for you and your blog!

polwig January 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Happy Blogiversary !!! I am so happy that this year was so amazing, the blog is beautiful and you totally deserve all the doors that are begining to open because of it and your hard work.

Lana January 25, 2011 at 2:04 am

Lynne, it was wonderful meeting you on Saturday! Pam wasn’t kidding – your photos are fantastic!

I love your blog. Now I have to go back to the beginning and read from the first post… Looking forward to it!

Happy anniversary!

BTW, your crostini were great! My husband raves about them! Did you say it was tapenade?

Nuts about food January 25, 2011 at 3:27 am

Happy 1st anniversary. You deserve every hit you got, and every presence on Tastespotting and Foodgawker. You take awesome pics, besides cooking fabulously!

Caroline January 25, 2011 at 7:00 am

Congratulations on a great first year! I’m coming up on my first anniversary of my blog as well, and hope that maybe my second year can be as successful as your first! Love reading your blog and all you have to share. Hope you have many more years of success!!

Grapefruit January 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

Happy Blogiversary! Totally in awe after seeing all your beautiful photos again!

Juliana January 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Happy 1st Blogiversary Lynne, I sure enjoyed visiting your posts and look forward to many more :-)

Monet January 26, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Happy First year! You are such a joy, and I love all the beauty and thought you put into each of your blog posts. I’m so blessed to have found you this year, and I look forward to the months to come. Thank you so much for sharing with me again and again…and thanks for all the sweetness you leave on my blog…it means so much to me!

Adair @ Lentil Breakdown January 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

Congrats, my foodie friend! Hope the terrible twos are terrific!

Magic of Spice January 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

Happy anniversary! Everything looks wonderful…wishing you an amazing second year :)

joanne January 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

hi lynn and congtatulations. I stopped by your site at Christmas and made your moms gingersnap cookies. Yum! Then I found the post on the lemon twirl cookies. Double yum! I’m afraid they never made it to the Christmas cookie platter as they were eatten by my husband and myself.:) your site is awsome. your photos so fresh. I enjoy stopping by freqently so I can read the posts from the past. Your replies were so kind and friendly. Now go get em. Be creative.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks January 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Lynne – So many accomplishments and so many more to come. Happy one year blogging. You have a beautiful site with amazing photos and recipes. I just wish I lived closer to you and some of my new California friends. I don’t know how, but I missed that gumbo recipe. Getting ready to peep it out.

Kim February 6, 2011 at 11:14 am

Happy first anniversay, Lynne! Glad to see you made a top ten list. My personal favorite is # 4. Can’t get over those bees. Here’s wishing you an even brighter year # 2!!

[K]

Fran Varnadore June 22, 2011 at 11:38 am

Lynn, Happy First Anniversary!!!! May there be many, many more.
I thoroughly enjoy your website and peruse it immediately upon receipt.
Thanks again.

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