Looking Back At 2012 – A Recap Of The Year


I can’t believe how much has happened this past year. It was both the best and worst year of my life. I set out to accomplish a few goals with this blog, and I did all that and more. I can’t thank you enough for being my supporter and friend. Even if you’ve never said a word to me, I know you are out there reading what I wrote, making what I made, and coming back for more. I wanted to take today to reflect on this past year, not only to share my journey with you, but so I can document what exactly I have achieved. I hope this doesn’t bore you but rather inspire you. For those of you who think your photographs will never improve. For those of you who think you’ll never grow your readership. For those of you who think a year isn’t enough time to improve. Think again. Always think again.

Portabella Mushroom Pot Pie
Portabella Mushroom Pot Pie – my first #SundaySupper post

January I started becoming more active. I had a rough end to 2011 and needed to get everything back on track. I was invited to join #SundaySupper, which little did anyone know, changed everything. I found an online family, one where I can tell them (almost) anything.

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
Award-Winning Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

April I won my first contest with my Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes. Shortly afterwards, I moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress and my own domain. This is when I realized how serious I was about blogging. When money is involved, you really have to think about what you want.

Award-Winning Strawberry Pecan Upside-Down Spice Cake
Award-Winning Strawberry Pecan Upside-Down Spice Cake

June I won my second contest with my Strawberry Upside Down Cake.

5 Photography Lessons Your Manual Won't Teach You
5 Photography Lessons Your Manual Won’t Teach You – with over 27,000 hits and 18,000 pins, this is my most popular post ever.

I also started to get more and more photos accepted to Food Gawker and Tastespotting (if you are not a blogger, these are the two toughest sites to accept your photo). Now I can proudly say I’m a regular contributor. Once in awhile, I’ll still strike out, but most of the time I’m there.

The Big Summer Potluck
The Big Summer Potluck

July I attended my first ever food blogger conference, er retreat. I can’t even begin to explain how much this changed my life. Despite what I may show online, I actually hate meeting new people, but this was different. Maybe it’s because for once in my life, I was surrounded by people who get me. People who stand on chairs to get that perfect shot. People who plan their weekends around natural light. People who take pictures of their food before eating, usually resulting in everything being cold. People that despite not getting paid still pour their heart into every post and photo shoot. I still think about everything I heard that day, that it’s ok to take a step back and be mindful of what’s going on. That it’s ok to be jealous as long as we remember how far we’ve come. That maybe I really am a writer. Maybe I’m not a creative writer. Or maybe I can’t describe a dinner party even if my life depended on it, but my words still matter. That whatever thoughts are going through my head, someone somewhere out there can relate. That maybe there are others like me who are going against social norms of being a successful woman. That maybe I’m not into the latest fashion with skinny jeans and big chunky necklaces, but I know how to marry chocolate and coconut into two winning recipes and that yeast is your friend. That maybe I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend or even a roommate, but I’m still standing and fighting to be heard in this world, and I can do that through food.

Smores Hot Cocoa
Smores Hot Cocoa – it has been featured multiple times on the internet

I have been featured in multiple online publications, including the Huffington Post twice, Foodista’s Drink Blog of the Day, and various features around the internet. You can read about it and more on my brand new press page.

Award Winning German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies
Award-Winning German Chocolate “Cake Sandwich Cookies

This past December, I won my third contest with Award-Winning German Chocolate “Cake” Sandwich Cookies.

Homemade Caramel Sauce
Homemade Caramel Sauce – most popular recipe this year with over 12,000 hits

Back in January, I had roughly 100 likes on Facebook and roughly 200 followers on Twitter. I didn’t have Instagram. And I can’t remember if I even had a Pinterest account. Certainly no Google Plus account. Now, I have 1317 likes, 1016 Twitter followers, 1009 Pinterest followers, added to 939 circles on Google Plus, and 174 Instagram followers.

Jalapeno Popper Dip – my most popular savory recipe this year

I went from posting sporadically to posting three times a week (although I may drop it to two as I take care of some priorities). Before 2012, I didn’t care about CM and whether it was neglected for two days or two months. Now, I think about it every day. I keep a calendar of recipe ideas for the month and get excited as I plan and bake. Trust me – if there wasn’t any excitement, I wouldn’t be doing this.

2012 was also the worst year by far. Back in July, Murray started drooling. We got him to see the dentist and removed what appeared to be a loose tooth. He did warn us of potential bone cancer, but because the symptoms overlapped with an irritated tooth, he couldn’t confirm nor deny. A week later, he snuck his way outside to freedom and was out adventuring for 9 days. I thought I was never going to see him again. A week goes by, and Murray starts drooling again. I’m thinking maybe it was an infection from drinking dirty creek water. Turns out what we all feared – a big tumor in his jaw. Nothing anybody can do except give him pain medicine and make him comfortable.

As the weeks go by, Murray gets worse and worse. Now he can’t even eat his dry food, so he eats about 2-3 cans a day. He constantly sticks his tongue out for some relief and has drool everywhere, from his tail and paws when he curls up in a ball to the couch, chairs, and even the wall. He doesn’t give as many kisses and makes this weird clicking sound after he eats, probably trying to clear any stuck food. The tumor also pushes on his eye, so you can start to see it drift (similar to a lazy eye). Murray has managed to live through the holidays, but with him getting progressively worse each week, I don’t think he’ll be around next Christmas.

We had Murray since he was a year old. Now he will be 13 in January. He is my first long-term pet, with owning only goldfish before him. Murray is still energetic (and hungry), so we will keep going as long as he keeps going.

Found this on Pinterest, but the link is broken. Not sure of original source

So here’s to 2013. With Murray being sick, I know the worst is coming. However, the best is also coming. I’m hoping this little blog becomes a gateway to some big dreams I have. Surprisingly, it has already improved my skills as a videographer.

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Liz for winning.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored totally by me from my wallet. Bon Appetit has no knowledge that I am doing this. I’m not sure if they even know I exist (besides on their mailing list).

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  1. That portebello mushroom pot pie above has got me to craving one so I’d say that post. Hope 2013 is great to you.

  2. Carla I think you are awesome. You have improved in leaps and bounds – no matter how many followers you have. You’re just great. I am so very sorry about Murray. I know there isn’t much I can do – but I am thinking about you and sending you a bloggy-friend-internet-hug. A big one.

  3. I am a quite new reader,but the Coconut Caramel Cinnamon Cookies definitely made me become a loyal one! ;)
    Happy New Year’s Eve!

  4. I enjoyed all of your posts this past year. Even more I enjoyed your friendship even though we have never met “in real life”. You have helped me in so many ways, especially with photography. I know my photos improved because of you.

    I hope that all the good things in 2013 far exceed the bad. You know I feel for you and what you are going through with Murray. I also wonder if Tiger will be here next Christmas. We will get through it with support from each other and all the great friends we have through blogging and Sunday Supper.

    Hugs, Renee

  5. Oh, Carla, I am devastated to hear about Murray! After praying for the little escapee’s return last summer and being thrilled when you got him back, I had no idea he was unwell. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you this year. As much as I love your food, I have gotten the most out of your many tutorials. You have such a lot of knowledge about so many things pertaining to blogging and social media and photography, and are so generous about sharing it. Blessings to you and Murray as you enjoy each others’ company for as long as you can!

  6. The sweet chilli sauce recipe is tops for me — surprisingly, my grandma loves that stuff!

  7. Awww I’m so sorry about your cat, Carla! Poor lil guy :(

    On a happier note, I adore every post you’ve ever put up and I’m just so happy to have “met” you and become your friend this year!

  8. I love the Peanut butter stuffed chocolate cookies! They are yummy!

  9. What a delicious year!!! Somehow I missed those german chocolate cookies. They look absolutely amazing!!!

  10. The homemade caramel sauce has me drooling! Can’t wait to make it!

  11. My favorite moment this year was your cupcake win…because in some way, I had a small part in it…sorta. LOL!

    I’m so glad you’re my friend. I cherish you. And I hope you know that!

    Happy new year.

  12. Hi Carla, thank you for sharing. My favorite recipe I found on Pinterest in 2012 was your Sweet Chili Sauce. It makes me drool just to think about it. Your method of making the sauce was so good I was able to improvise with the ingredients I had available.
    Pamela Stevenson

  13. Cheryl illinois says:

    I only very recently discovered you so I have no favorite recipe, no favorite post , no favorite conversation with you.I can say only that I am very happy to have found you and your awesome blog and I know how difficult it will be when the time comes for Murray to go to kitty heaven. It took me three years to give a home to two new kitties after my 17 year old and 16 year old cats died. A new cat will present it self to you when it is the right one and you will know. Thanks for doing this for all of us out here who love this site.

  14. You have no idea how much you have inspire me. I started blogging about gardening and it evolved into food because of passionate bloggers like you.
    I’m a cat person, I attach very deeply to my furry friends and have been where you are with Murray now, going the extra mile to make him as comforable as possible.
    We might never meet in person, although we are both PA girls, but do “get” you.

  15. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite post. I read and love all of your posts and have gotten many very good recipes off of here. I love the writing you do and the recipes you share. I’ve been following you for a long time now and enjoy all that you do. In addition, here is a prayer for Murray. Our pets become so much a part of our family and it’s so hard to lose them. I pray that you will be able to enjoy his company for a long time yet, but when his time comes, he’ll be going to another good place to live (the first being with you, of course). May God bless you and Murray!

  16. Your recipes are always so good – love trying new things. Now, I’m off to the store so I can make jalapeno popper dip for tonight!

  17. Carla, I love your blog and through it, I feel like I know you. When I read your honest, thoughtful, warm and spirited words, I feel like we could totally be good friends if we knew each other in “real life”. Your food and photos are stunning (yes, I’m jealous – lol) and it’s a culmination of everything that keeps me coming back for more. You should be so proud of everything you’ve accomplished (quite frankly, it’s amazing!) and I know that 2013 is going to be another big year for you. I am incredibly sorry to hear about Murray. You’re right, all you can do is make him comfortable and enjoy every moment you have with him. Cheers, lady, and happy New Year!

  18. I’m so sorry to hear Murray’s diagnosis. My own dog is having some health issues, too, thought not as serious, but it’s a reminder that she’s getting up in years. I’m sure Murray knows how much he is loved and will be missed.

  19. Robin Chesser says:

    My fave was when you got Murray back home!

  20. Thank you for this post. :) I have to say that this is the first post of yours that i have read. I’ve never read one of your recipes (yet) so I can’t honestly comment on one. However, I really found this post inspiring. What a difference a year can make! I hope that at the end of 2013 I feel as positive about my blog as you do about yours. Well done! :) I’m now your newest follower.

  21. Susan Reiners says:

    I only discovered you lately, with your espresso brownies in a jar. Made up several of the pretty striped mixes in old green canning jars and distributed them to my friends and relations who are hard to think up presents for. For one son who inexplicably doesn’t like nuts, I put that layer in a plastic baggie, so his wife could enjoy them. They were a hit! (Now that I can take a breath, I plan to make a batch for my husband and me!)

    Enjoy Murray. Of course it will be sad to lose him, but sadder still if he’d never joined your family! Both of you stay warm and comfy. Can’t wait to browse your archives and your new goodies as they appear. I forecast a delicious 2013!

    Susan R.

  22. Congrats on everything you’ve achieved this year! I’m a relatively new follower (since Mixed!) but it sounds like you’ve come a very long way. All of your hard work has clearly paid off! I look forward to seeing more of what you accomplish in 2013~

  23. I have just started to read you, so I will have to say this is my favorite post. I am so sorry to hear about your kitty. We have three kitties, one pup and a bird. It makes me sad to think of them being sick. Your photos are stunning and they make me drool a little! I am glad I am getting to know you.

  24. My favorite recipe was the Hot Chocolate Spoons in the Holiday Desserts Roundup 2012 post! I made them to give as Christmas gifts to my coworkers and friends and family. Everyone loved them. I put them together with hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows and cookies! Most recipients said it was their favorite gift!

  25. My fave part about this year was definitely meeting you! Your whole recipe development and blog creativity is incredible and you really are a genuinely kind person I’m glad to call a friend. In terms of your recipes I love your Simple Olive Oil Pasta and your Chocolate Chili Spice Cookies!

  26. I don’t have a favorite post of yours yet since I’m brand new here, but I’m a fan. Hang in there with Murray. I lost my first and most beloved cat a year and a half ago, and it was the hardest loss I’ve ever had. But the new guy we adopted to keep his brother company makes me smile. Cats are a blessing. Have a Happy New Year!

  27. “That maybe I really am a writer. Maybe I’m not a creative writer. Or maybe I can’t describe a dinner party even if my life depended on it, but my words still matter. That whatever thoughts are going through my head, someone somewhere out there can relate. That maybe there are others like me who are going against social norms of being a successful woman. That maybe I’m not into the latest fashion with skinny jeans and big chunky necklaces, but I know how to marry chocolate and coconut into two winning recipes and that yeast is your friend. That maybe I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend or even a roommate, but I’m still standing and fighting to be heard in this world, and I can do that through food.”

    THIS. re-read that first sentence. You ARE a writer. You are compelling and thoughtful, informative and helpful. This may be your best post yet. It was honest and vulnerable and beautifully written. Not to mention holy WOW. I still can’t get believe that picture was taken a year ago. I hovered over to see the date on that link because I refused to believe it, given how awesome your photos are now! This post is really inspirational. There’s no question that you’re talented–at photography, recipe development and blogging–but it’s amazing to see how much you’ve accomplished by setting goals and being intentional! I can only imagine what incredible things you’ll do here in 2013!

    Becoming friends with you has seriously been a highlight of 2012. You’ve taught me so much–about blogging, photography, community, optimism and friendship [I think of you every time I set up custom white balance! ;]. I can’t thank you enough for all of your help this year–whether it was a bit of encouragement or unending blogging questions. You are giving and patient, funny and thoughtful, and I’m lucky to count you as my friend! :]

    Here’s hoping that 2013 will be a banner year full of opportunity, accomplishment & joys big and small. xo

  28. Happy New Year, Carla! You sure have come a long way. I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. My favorite moment had to be our ice cream week. Good times!

  29. Jalapeno Popper Dip, and I remember when you bought the dish!!

  30. Lori Williams says:

    I just found you thru Juanita’s Cocina and I am enjoying reading all your past recipes and stories. I love the 10 best blogs you must follow. I also love the carmel sauce recipe. I look forward to getting to know you more through your blog, Facebook and pinterest. Thanks!

  31. Go on, girl!!! We’ve never met in person, but I follow you on Twitter and occasionally check in on your blog, and I just want to say CONGRATULATIONS to you for your fabulous growth in 2012. Keep it up! Keep it up! Keep it up!

  32. I like the DIY faux wooden board backdrop. It would be great if I only had that natural light!

  33. Love the chocolate coconut cupcakes!!!

  34. Wow quite a year! My heart goes out to you and Murray. From your random tweets about him it certainly sounds like he’s living his life to the fullest though! Your recipes and photos have my mouth watering, especially the chocolate coconut cupcakes (aka heaven in my mouth). But I think my favorite post of yours was the recent one on using wood panels for photo backdrops. It’s clever and ingenious, and something I hadn’t seen or thought of before. I’ve found myself thinking about it while walking through the hardware store and craft store. I like how that post reveals some of the easy magic behind getting a good image to complement a great dish. It definitely shifted my thoughts on food photos – though I’d like to believe bloggers all have spotless, high-end, perfectly-color-coordinated kitchens – so thanks very much. It’s very inspirational. Hope to see more of your delicios creations showcased here next year!

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