Yep, today is my blog's fifth birthday! I wrote my first post on March 29, 2007. Actually I posted twice that day, an introduction and reason why I started the blog, and my first posted recipe, Spicy Mixed Nuts. As you can tell by the url of the introductory post, my blog was originally called "Culinary Tales." I knew that wasn't a great name, but I was itching to get started and couldn't think of anything better. It wasn't long before I came up with Edesia's Notebook. Much better, if not just because it was more interesting and memorable.
Some (if not most) of you may be quite surprised that I have been blogging for five years now. I posted very sporadically at the beginning, and it wasn't until 2011 that I really got serious about it, posted regularly, and started getting more involved in the food blogger community (thanks mostly to Facebook). There was a lot going on in my life in the first few years that I had this blog. Two months after starting the blog, my husband graduated from Seminary, was ordained, and took a divine call here to Michigan. Moving from St. Louis to Michigan was quite demanding of my time, and a couple of weeks after we settled in, we found out that we were pregnant with our first child. The first trimester was rough, to say the least!, so food was the last thing on my mind for a long time. Then, once I started feeling better, we moved again to our first house in the next town over. I didn't post very often the year Lena was born; it took some time to get into the swing of motherhood! Then daughter no. 2 came along in 2010.
Okay, enough of my life story. I want to share with you the card I got in the mail yesterday.
My mom's hobby is card-making, and she made this super cute card for me! She printed off graphics from the blog, and even used my category labels as the background! I love it! Thanks so much, Mom!
Okay, now I would like to share with you some stats from my blog's first five years. I have posted a total of 358 recipes. First up, my five all-time most popular posts (as determined by number of page views):
1. Slow Cooker Garlic-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
This one caught like wildfire on Pinterest last year. Somebody pinned it and it got over 200 repins.
2. Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole (Cream Soup Free)
This was my 300th recipe.
The only recipe in the top five not posted in 2011. This was a very early one, from October 2007. This one is popular because of Google searches (see below).
And now, the top five referring sites to my blog.
1. Google search
Three of the top five referring sites are search engines. This is one reason why I am very particular about how I name my recipes (making sure they accurately represent the dish) and why I title all my posts with the name of the recipe.
The top five keyword searches bringing people to my blog:
1. stovetop chili
2. chicken broccoli rice casserole
3. weenie wraps (I forgot I even had weenie wraps on here!)
4. corned beef and cabbage soup (this was something I posted just earlier this month!)
5. stove top chili
Very interesting! And now a little bit about you! The top five countries that compose my audience:
1. United States
4. United Kingdom
Wow, my blog is popular with Russians? Who would have thought? :)
This is going to be sappy, but I really want to thank all of my friends and family for supporting me in this endeavor. As a stay-at-home mom, I don't get much interaction with other adults on a regular basis, so having this outlet is really important to me. I would also like to thank each of my 71 followers through Google Friend Connect, each of my 530 Facebook fans, every one of you who has ever commented on a post, shared a post, talked about my blog with your friends, or just dropped me a line to tell me how much you like my blog. Those things really mean the world to me.
This will sound weird, but I would also like to thank my camera. Every single picture on this blog was taken with my now over seven-year-old cheapo digital camera that is literally being held together with electrical tape.
This is why I am totally amazed whenever someone comments on a picture on my blog. I have absolutely no photography training, so when a seasoned food blogger with amazing pics herself, compliments a photo of mine, it totally makes my day!
But mostly I would like to thank my husband, Jim, who puts up with a lot of annoyances in order for me to food blog. He waits very patiently while I set up my "foodio" in the dining room, hoping that the food doesn't get too cold while I am taking 20 pictures to get that "one" perfect shot. He doesn't complain when I ask him to eat the ugliest muffins because I still need to take pictures of the prettiest. He has been such a sport whenever I try a new food that he isn't crazy about, or when I put too many onions in something. He has supported me 100% from the beginning and I can't thank him enough. I love you, Babe!
5 Years/500 Fans Giveaway
Okay, enough mushy stuff! Let's get to the giveaway! This giveaway is not only in honor of my fifth blogiversary, but also in honor of reaching 500 fans on my Facebook page earlier this month. I thought for a long time about what I should give away to my lovely readers. Finally, I decided to give one lucky reader a little "taste" of the great spices I use and am constantly going on and on about. Penzey's!! This giveaway is in no way, shape, or form, sponsored by Penzey's. I have decided to use every bit of the small amount of money this blog has earned me to reward my readers. So I am sponsoring this giveaway all myself. I am doing this because I really love Penzey's spices and think they are pretty much the greatest thing ever! If you don't live near a Penzey's, it's hard to give them a try, so I am making it easier for someone to try it.
Here is my Penzey's collection:
The giveaway is for an assortment of Penzey's spices. The specific spices included is subject to change, but will most likely be these:
Tuscan Sunset (used in pretty much every Italian dish I make, and also Slow Cooker Italian Beef & Veggie Soup)
Bicentennial Rub (really good on grilled steak or roasted chicken)
Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle (great topper for spaghetti)
Tsardust Memories (really good on pork chops)
Mural of Flavor (really good in tuna salad or other seafood)
The total value will be about $52.
The winner will receive 1/4 cup jars of each of these spices. I chose the spices very carefully. Most of them are blends unique to Penzey's, therefore you can't buy them anywhere else. These are the ones I use most often and you have probably seen them listed in recipes here on this blog. I have listed how I use each spice, so if you are the winner, come back to this post after you get them in the mail and you have a list of recipes to use them in.
So, to enter, please leave a comment telling me the name of one spice, herb, or blend that you have yet to try. Here are a few rules for the giveaway:
1. Please like my Facebook page and follow my blog through Google Friend Connect, if you haven't already. You don't have to tell me that you did this. It's one entry per person, but I will be able to tell if you have done these things if you win.
2. No anonymous comments and please enter your email address when posting your comment. I will contact the winner via email, so this is important.
3. Winner will need to provide me with their valid mailing address. I am really, really sorry, but I have to limit this to U.S. only. I will be placing the order online to be shipped directly from Penzey's and they don't give shipping costs to international addresses until 48 hours after the order is placed. I can't place an order not having any idea how much shipping will be, so U.S. only please. Again, sincere apologies to my international readers!
4. The giveaway will close on Wednesday, April 4th at 11:59 pm. Winner will be chosen on Thursday, April 5th, and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply with his/her address or I will chose another winner. I will probably also announce the winner here on the blog.
Remember, it's one entry per person, so if you comment more than once, I will delete all but the first comment.
Thank you so much for indulging me in this anniversary post and actually reading all of this! I love you all and can't wait to see what the next five years brings!