Four years ago I sat on the couch in my Mom & Dad’s family room, and send out an email to my closest friends to let them know I started a food blog. I can’t begin to express the joy that it has brought me since that day! This was a big year of change on Planet Byn, both behind the scenes and in what you see here. Read on for a recap of most viewed posts, my favourite posts, fun foodie experiences/projects from the past year, as well as my general thoughts on blogging as I move into Year 5.
Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:
- Lemon Meringue Cookies – This post has been in the Top 5 ever since I posted it back in 2011. Kind of ironic as it’s fairly well known around here that citrus desserts are pretty much at the bottom of my personal list in terms of favourites. In any case, I should probably remake these and take some prettier pictures!
- School Bus Birthday Cake – I said it last year and I’ll say it again: who knew there was so much interest in a School Bus shaped cake?
- Chocolate Whoopie Pies – Making their debut in the Top 5 are these little cakes which I compared to homemade Jos Louis. I would definitely make these again and switch up the filling.
- Dinosaur Birthday Cake – I love this cake I made for my friend Heather’s son’s birthday last year. This is the only post from the past year in the Top 5!
- Toffee Bar Crunch Pie (aka Skor Bar Dessert) – I LOVE this post from way back in 2011! I remade a dessert my Mom used to make when I was little with homemade ingredients instead of a box of pudding and a tub of Cool Whip.
My Favourite 5 Posts from the Last Year:
- Fresh Strawberry Tart – It’s no secret that fresh, local Ontario strawberries are my obsession in life. This tart was my favourite dessert I made all year: crunchy shortbread crust, creamy vanilla filling, and sweet strawberries. This was also the mission inspiration for Gastropost that week, which was just the icing on the cake. I was really on my pie game this summer too! Loved this Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie & Blueberry Lattice Top Pie.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream – I can’t help but have two strawberry recipes in the Top 5. This ice cream was a labour of love, and all the more special as I was freaking out that it was going to melt during the power outage of that big summer storm in July.
- Coconut Bread – I had so much fun adapting this recipe from my friend’s mom for Gastropost’s Caribana mission this summer.
- Thick Rich Tomato Sauce with Beef, Peppers & Mushrooms – Favourite savoury recipe of year, hands down, and will be making this for years to come. Just don’t call it MEAT SAUCE. It’s so much more than that, right Danielle?
- Castle Birthday Cake – I felt like a Cake Boss as I worked on this for my niece’s 6th birthday. I was so happy with how it turned out!
Fun Foodie Experiences/Projects:
- Food Bloggers of Canada Conference – I’ve said it so many times before, and will never stop: this conference changed my life. It has set off a chain reaction of friendship, fun and community in my life that I can’t believe I ever lived without. I seriously cannot wait for #FBC14 in October.
- Site Re-design – I didn’t have an official launch or debut of the changes that went on around Planet Byn from a tech perspective, but it was a big year. I moved off WordPress and had a full redesign – thanks to my friend Alexis for designing the header! Truth be told, it took me a long time to get used to the changes behind the scenes, and sometimes it made me not want to blog because I was overwhelmed. I would say that in the last few months I’ve hit my stride and become more comfortable with everything. I even installed the Related Posts feature myself!
- Recipe Testing Project – So this project is still confidential, and I can’t even talk about what I made or what it was for, so it may seem a little silly to include it here. Let’s just say I tested about a dozen recipes for some cookbook authors who I love, and had so much fun doing it. The book comes out in the Fall, and will even have my picture in it (!), so we’ll talk more about this as year goes on.
- The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – I still love sending and receiving actual mail, so it was so much fun for me to participate in this Cookie Swap! I *met* a few new Canadian bloggers to follow through this, which is always great.
- Instagram – I mean, duh. I’m so late to this party. I finally got an iPhone back in July, and Instagram is a total game changer when it comes to sharing food photos as well as connecting with other bloggers.
Goals for the year:
I loved looking back on the goals I set for myself since my 1st blog-iversary back in 2011. I’m happy to say that I’ve crushed just about everything on those lists: working with yeast, making homemade marshmallows, and making ice cream. They seem like such cute little goals in retrospect. I still haven’t taken a photography class, but I’m way more comfortable with the settings on my camera now.
So I’m thinking a little differently as I move into Year 5 (!!!!!) of blogging, and I’m taking some inspiration from two of my favourite Canadian foodies who I met at FBC. I have loved reading Julie and Jan‘s posts about Gatherings, and their approach to entertaining – that it doesn’t have to be high pressure/stressful – sometimes you just want to have a few friends over for a casual meal on the couch. With that in mind, I can’t wait until their book on the same topic comes out, and I’d like to have a goal to have at least one casual gathering per month at my place. It can be anything from brunch to afternoon tea to just drinks on my balcony (*sigh* when summer gets here). I feel like I used to do this way more when I first moved to my condo, and I’d like to get back into the routine, but without the stress I sometimes put on myself that everything has to be perfect or it’s not worth having people over.
With respect to blogging, I want to be a little more consistent in my blogging this year. There were weeks that went by where I didn’t blog, and then there were stretches of time where I was posting every other day. I want to blog more, and blog better, and by that I mean not posting just for the sake of posting. I also feel like not every post needs to have a styled photo with perfect natural light, mason jars and stripey straws, and I need to take the pressure off myself if I don’t have time to make that happen. Sometimes you make an amazing pizza and it’s 9pm, and it’s the most delicious thing you’ve eaten all week, and all you have is an picture from your phone with dark light. It’s fine. It doesn’t matter. Post it anyway.
I made a choice this year after FBC that I wasn’t going to try to treat this blog as a business. No ads, no working with brands. This is for fun. This is my online recipe book. This is where I come to remind myself of something amazing that I made for dinner that I want to make again. It’s where I document my niece and nephew’s birthday cakes. It’s where I come to destress after a long day. It’s where I unapologetically embrace butter and sugar. It’s not about page views and SEO and number of comments. It’s for me. And you. And that’s okay.
Thanks for reading!