Seven Year Bloggiversary.

Each year, on the anniversary of the date I started this blog (the bloggiversary, if you will), I post a recap about all the cool things that have happened in the past year.  There were years when I did several food segments on the morning news and years where I traveled across the country for the blog, but this past year was sorely lacking in these types of exciting life events.  It was instead a year of stress and challenge, a year that frankly isn’t much fun to reflect on.

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(Check out my 5th-year and 6th year anniversary posts!)

I did go on a press trip to Hocking Hills in January, during the Whole30, at which I was served brownies for breakfast, to which I was forced to politely decline.  OH THE HUMANITY.  Honestly, I focused more on fitness than food this year, which I believe helped me from completely going off the deep end.  Well, that and my new obsession with Trader Joe’s plantain chips.  Soooo crunchy.

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This year I thought about changing the name of this blog, as I have done off and on over the past seven years.  I picked the name “fervent foodie” on a whim, and it’s never seemed to fully capture what I hope for this space.  I guess that’s probably how my parents feel about naming me Mary, when clearly I’m more of a Zoe.  I mean, that’s what that online quiz I took said.

My most popular post over the last 365 days was my Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe (originally posted in 2010, most popular blog post, SEVEN years running).  Come on people.  This is followed closely by my Charlotte Foodie Guide and this HIGHLY informative post on how to make leftover pizza taste like it was just delivered.

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I’m still not eating meat, and sure as heck don’t miss it.  Except sometimes when I see a turkey sandwich with avocado and sprouts or a big fat meatball.  Or smell some North Carolina pulled pork.  Other than that, I totally don’t miss it.  This year I also learned that despite all the exercise and healthy eating I cram into my days, my cholesterol is high.  This makes absolutely no sense.  I’ve temporarily omitted eggs and shrimp from my diet.  The verdict is still out on whether this unscientific experiment will make a difference.

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When I started blogging back in 2010, I posted about 3 times a day.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner every dang day.  This past year?  I posted about once every three months.  That’s grad school for you.  The truth is, blogging takes a lot of freaking time.  More time than most people have, actually.  And I believe that’s why so many people are shifting to micro-blogging platforms (like Instagram, for example).

My lack of blogging this year freed up some time which I ironically used to start the Columbus Food Bloggers group.  With the help of Erin (the Spiffy Cookie), Jordan (Midwest Foodfest), and Stacy (Eat Pretty 614), we’ve connected nearly fifty Columbus foodies and planned more events than I can recall.  Our definition of the word “blogger” includes Instagram-only foodies (those micro-bloggers I talked about earlier), which is wonderful, otherwise I’d be kicked out of my own group for lack of posting.

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Last month, I spent a weekend in Charlotte (the city I moved away from last year), and as I headed south on 77 and the skyline finally creeped into view, I was hit with a sharp wave of sadness.  I guess it’s sort of like when a relationship ends for valid reasons, but you still love and care about that other person.  It’s easy to push it from your mind when you’re keeping busy, but there’s no avoiding that punch-in-the-gut feeling that hits when your paths do happen to cross.

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Say yes to lunch.

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When I started this blog,  I was 25 and living in Akron, Ohio, in a house I’d bought because, well, that’s what I’d thought I was supposed to do.  Everyone else was settling down, so I strapped a mortgage on my back, and hunkered down.  I spent my first summer there in the backyard, mulching and weeding like a good homeowner.  I filled the rooms with second-hand furniture, replaced the water heater, and worried endlessly about that weird clicking noise the fridge made.  The house was a fun and infinitely stressful addition to my life, but after a year or so, it lost its luster.  I was bored.  With the house, with my job, and especially with living in NE Ohio.  And that, my friends, is when I decided to start a food blog.

I named the blog Fervent Foodie because I love food, I can be a little intense, and I love alliteration.  *dusts hands off* 

[mug by JMNpottery]

Since then, the word “foodie” has developed some negative connotation.  Eatocracy referred to it as “the other F-word” and HuffPost Taste listed it (along with “moist” and “nom nom”) as a most-hated food word.  I don’t care.  Definitionally speaking, I’m a foodie.  531798_510904095612767_717723832_n

Fervent Foodie was birthed five years ago, to the day, which is, by all accounts, the longest relationship I’ve ever been in.  That’s what this blog is to me.  A relationship.  A life partner, of sorts.  Like any relationship, there have been ups and downs, times when my blog was my priority, and others when it was a burden.  But through it all, the blog was there.  Every time life got turned on its ass, I poured myself into the blog.  My blog became my wingman, support system, and crutch.  When I wasn’t confident enough to go at it alone, I used the blog as my excuse.  We’ve even traveled together, me and the blog, to Chicago, Nashville, Birmingham, Greenville, and Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference, TWICE (soon to be thrice).

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[with Nichole (Gap Creek Gourmet) in Seattle, IFBC 2014]

Shortly after moving to Charlotte my birthday rolled around.  I didn’t have a friend in the entire city, so I sent an email to a group of random Charlotte food bloggers asking them if they’d like to come to lunch.  Guess what?  THEY CAME.  The food blogging community is incredible.

[Julie (Willow Bird Baking), Vanessa (Life Undeveloped), Katie (Honeystuck), and Jamie (Bibliophiled Away), looking like straight up babies here.]

After that birthday lunch, I implemented a new life mantra:  say yes to lunch.  If someone asks me to lunch (or coffee or dinner or drinks, whatev) I just say YES.  Even if I don’t know the person, or think we have nothing in common, and ESPECIALLY when I really just don’t want to go, I just say yes.  This is how I built a circle of friends and colleagues from scratch in Charlotte.  “Say yes to lunch” was my personal policy, but somehow it seemed everyone else was on board.  I can’t think of a time when I’ve asked someone to lunch and had the invitation turned down.  That’s Charlotte for you.

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[#cltfoodbloggers Holiday Potluck]

Looking back over my posts in those early years is somewhat embarrassing.  My views of healthy living have shifted drastically.  Back then, I was the captain of Team Fat-Free Everything.  The fewer calories, the better.  PB2?  I was all about it. For those who aren’t familiar, PB2 is basically peanut butter that they sucked all the fat out of, turning it to peanut dust, which is then reconstituted with water to a flavorless, peanut butter-colored paste.  Yes, I was ALL about that.

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[#cltfoodbloggers event at the Punch Room; Corri (Black Wednesday Social Co.) & Chrissie (Off the Eaten Path)]

These days I care more about whole foods than about how many calories are on my plate.  Thank god, because I don’t want to live in a world without peanut butter.  My cooking skills have improved drastically over the years, so it’s somewhat embarrassing when a friend mentions she looked up an old recipe post.  The most popular post on this blog to-date is by far the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe I posted back in 2010.  Part of me considers this a personal failure, but ultimately, I’m just happy to contribute to game-day grubbing festivities across the globe.

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[#cltfoodbloggers group dinner at Red Ginger]

It’s been five whole years of recipes, ramblings, and restaurant reviews.  Through the blog, I’ve written for the official Urbanspoon blog and Our State Magazine’s Food Blog, did a series of recipe videos for Tropical Foods, and appeared on the morning news to talk about sausage, not once but twice.  Yes.  I’ve made friends, found inspiration, and grown immensely.  It’s been a heck of a ride, these past five years.  That’s the thing about anniversaries–they force you to reflect.  What I’ve realized, over the past year or so, as I’ve watched friends pursue their passions and opt to take the roads less traveled, is that I’ve spent a lot of my time working toward things that I’m not necessarily passionate about, just going through the motions, doing what I thought I was supposed to do.  For what?  For who?  For why?

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[#cltfoodbloggers fancy date night at the Fig Tree – LeAndra (Love & Flour), Vanessa (Life Undeveloped), Chrissie (Off the Eaten Path) ]

My new favorite line is, “You’re in charge.”  I say it to myself and to my friends all the time.  Each of us is in charge of ourselves and our lives.  I believe that if you don’t take the time to set your priorities, someone else will do it for you.  Over my four years in Charlotte, I’ve watched from the sidelines as Charlotte’s food scene exploded.  This year, I want to get involved.  Get my hands dirty.  Work with organizations whose missions I’m passionate about.

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[ with Keia (Ink & Fork) and LeAndra (Love & Flour) ]

Because, why not?  Change is coming, and I’m excited.

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Food.Blog.Forum.

What’s up guys?  Hope you had an awesome weekend!  I spent mine over in Nashville for the much-anticipated Food Blog Forum!  My brain hurts from the vast amount of information learned in zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

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Whaaat?  Where am I?!

Ohhhh… My bad.  Suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation over here!!  Anyway….  This weekend I made the voyage to Nashville with Vanessa of Life Undeveloped, Brooke of Baking with Basil, and Jamie of Bibliophiled Away I left Nashville a mere two days later with a few new friends, 17 pages of notes, 33 items on my want-to-do list, and crap ton of free swag!

Look at all this stuff!

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Free stuff = happy foodies!

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Our first night in town we headed over to a Taste of Nashville party at the farmers market where we were given the task of sampling everything from mustard slaw hotdogs to goo-goo clusters to vanilla vodka over blood orange soda.  It was horrible.

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Out of everything I sampled, My FAVORITE nibblet was the Onion Bisque from the folks at Perl.  I am sending hopes and prayers that they someday offer this soup online.DSCF7996

Please!!  I beg you!!!

We also got to see a live cooking demo with Arnold Myint.  Arnold is a Nashville native who owns several restaurants in the city.  He was also a Top Chef Season 7 contestant.  Since I cancelled my cable to support my coffee addiction, I had no clue who this guy was until I read the marketing flyer… Regardless, it was super fun to see a professional chef at work in the kitchen.  I really liked the lentil tacos he cooked up.  I’m going to try to recreate them… one day.  Hmmmm where did I put that want-to-do list anyway?

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Saturday was JAM PACKED with forum sessions on different topics, including:  PRspectives, recipe writing, blogging etiquette, food styling & photography, working with brands, blogging as a business, and social media.

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My favorite of all the sessions was the food styling & photography session with Todd Porter & Diane Cu, the White on Rice Couple.  Beyond being extremely informative, it further cemented my desire to become a better photographer.  It also resulted in about 7 of the want-to-do’s on my list!

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Caroline, Brooke, Moi, Jamie, Vanessa (thanks to Vanessa for the people photos!)

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For lunch we hit up some local food trucks for a sampling of their tastiest wares.

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The weekend was pretty much scheduled out from start to finish, so there wasn’t much time left for exploring Nashville.  Sunday morning I took a quick stroll in hopes I might stumble upon something interesting near the hotel.

All I found was this piece of art… and I have no idea what the heck it is.

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Time to toot.

It’s that time.  Toot time.  As in, time to toot my own horn Winking smile

Kelly, who blogs at Foodie Fresh, nominated me to participate in a fun game (of sorts) that’s sweeping the blogosphere.  It’s called “My 7 Links” and the goal is to unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

THE RULES

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
5) And so it goes on!
6) We’ll be sharing the best posts from participating bloggers on our blog and everyday on Facebook and Twitter at #My7Links

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#1—>  *My Beautiful Post *     This IS a food blog after all Smile

#2—>  *My Most Popular Post*     Overnight Oats For Dummies.  So many people just do not understand the OO concept.  Whenever someone asks me what I’m eating, I always preface it with “OK this is going to sound really gross but…”  Smile

#3—>  *Most Controversial*  I tried to recall a controversial post, and honest to god I could not think of one.  This makes sense given my hatred for conflict.  So, in lieu of inciting anger here’s this post that is SOMEWHAT controversial… at least my brother might think so Winking smile –> Two Random Things

#4—>  *Most Helpful*  I love to reflect on this post when things get crazy at work, and it applies to ALL jobs, not just taxes:  10 Tips for Tax Season. Given that I’m rolling into fall busy season, this is an especially appropriate time to remember to bust our my daily happy dance.  Shout out to all my old coworkers in Ohio Smile

#5—>  *Most Surprise Success*  Maker’s Mark Bananas Foster Bread.  Not sure why, but this get A LOT of googlage.  Well that and “pizza porn,” which is now officially the third most common search that links people to my blog.  Oh dear.

#6—>  *Not Enough Attention*  Words of wisdom from my mom.  You can NEVER get enough of those.  NEVER.

#7—>  *Most Proud*  Hello Cat, please exit the bag.  The result of EVERYONE and their mother assuming I was moving to CLT for a boy.  I don’t know why, but every time someone would make that insinuation I would literally go red with rage.  From family, to coworkers, to a PARTNER at my old employer, it didn’t matter.  RED RUM… RED RUM…………….

Lovely ladies I’ve nominated to participate:  Leashie Loo from All Kinds of Hungry,  Andrea from Can You Stay for Dinner, Jamie from Bibliophiled Away, Jaci from Engaged and Running, and Shanna from Shanna Like Banana!

Psssttttt by the way, the winner of the Veggies Chips Giveaway is:

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~*~ Hope from With a Side of Hope ~*~

(Note that I removed Scott from the giveaway since he was the sponsor.  It’s only fair he can’t win his own prize Smile )

 

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