Hip Hip Hooray! It’s Marin Mama Cook’s 1-year celebration. Can you believe that this blog has only been alive for a year? I can’t, because honestly this blog has become such a huge part of my life and has really transformed me. I now have a hobby and passion that I adore. This post is going to be a bit long, so grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and settle in.
Why did I start a blog?
Yes, why did I start this exhausting hobby, I often ask myself this question. A year ago I struggled with finding a passion, something creative that I could do while the kids were in school. I thought about going back to school, getting a part-time job or possibly getting back into interior design. All of those options sounded great, but I wasn’t really passionate about any of them, and going back to school would mean that I would be compromising my job at home. I was envious of people who got out of bed with a passion for the day. They just had that extra spark because they were doing something that excited them and brought them joy. I loved reading blogs and secretly wanted to have a blog of my own, but wasn’t sure I was ready to put myself out there, and I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about. One day I got up and decided to create a cooking blog for my friends and family with all of my favorite recipes. A cooking blog seemed like a natural fit, as I was always cooking up something new, and my friends would often ask me to email them the recipe. I thought, why not take some photos, write out some recipes, and have my friends and family just come to my blog to get a recipe. It would be way easier than emailing them all separately. So, I had a blog idea and now I just needed a name. All of the sudden, the name Marin Mama Cooks came into my mind. I LOVED it and it was a perfect fit. I’m a mom who cooks and I live in Marin. It couldn’t get any easier than that, right? At first, I posted about 3-4 times a week. I had so many recipes that I loved and I wanted to get them out there. I soon learned that I needed to set some limits, as posting 3-4 times a week was not something I could maintain if I wanted to have a quality blog and basically a quality of life. I slowly worked down to posting 2 times a week and I feel like that is the perfect amount for me.
Highlights from my first year
The biggest and most exciting thing that has happened (for my family and I anyway) is that I have become such a better cook over the past year. I have tried so many new recipes and learned so many new cooking techniques and skills. The best way to become a better cook is to cook often and try new recipes. You should also try a recipe that intimidates you once in a while, because you will feel such a sense of pride when you’re finished. I have definitely had my share of failures as well as successes, but I don’t fret over the failures, because I know that its just part of the learning curve. Luckily, my family has been kind and eaten some of the recipes that we’re not so palatable. Below is an example of one of my failures. It’s a photo of a s’more cupcake that never made it to the blog. Hmmm… I wonder why?
Oh, there’s why. I think you can see why the recipe never made it to the blog. Can you say DISASTER?
These cupcakes were the messiest things I have ever made and I was cleaning the oven for hours. YUCK!
My kids become such adventurous eaters. They have tried so many new dishes and so many spices that their taste buds have changed. Zoe is such a foodie now. She requests kale salad weekly, and sometimes I catch her and Eli battling it out over the last piece of kale, I kid you not! When the kids were younger, I use to make 2 separate meals, one for John and I, and one for the kids. That was so labor intensive and my kids ended up eating the same dish over and over, boring! A few years ago, I started feeding my family the same meal at dinnertime, and you know what, my kids adapted and starting liking and appreciating new foods. Now, when we have a week off from trying new recipes, my kids get bummed out. They truly love exploring new recipes as well as John and I. Below is a picture of the kale salad that turned us all in to kale lovers!
Our diets have changed as well. We use to consume much more meat, but since starting this blog, we have cut back considerably. I have learned how to cook amazing meatless meals. Our daily veggie intake has gone up considerably as well. These days we find ourselves craving these refried bean tacos way more than our standby buffalo tacos.
I have not only become a better cook, but a better photographer and writer as well. My spiritual coach told me 10 years back that she didn’t see me doing just one thing. She said she saw me writing, doing something creative and artistic, as well as working and connecting with other people. It’s truly amazing because with this blog, I’m doing all of those things. I love that!
This blog has also connected me with people I would not have met otherwise. I love the new friendships and relationships I have built, and the blogging community I have become a part of. I love helping and connecting with people, and I really get to do that with this blog. I love being out and about and having someone recognize me from the blog and come up and say hello. It makes my day meeting someone that has randomly found my blog. Most of the time I’m recognized at the grocery store when I’m grabbing a head of kale (kale obsessed mama) or when I’m with one of the kids. So, if you see me out and about, please say hi!
For fun and a few laughs, I thought I would share with you some of my older photos and their updates below. These are some of the blog outtakes or should I say, do-overs.
You will notice that all of the older photos had a fancy white border, kind of like a polaroid picture. Most of the photos were taken at night without any editing, as I had no clue how to edit a photo. Wow, I’ve come a long way but still have so much to learn.
First off, the recipe is for chicken parmesan, not chicken parmigiana. Is that even a word? I’m sure I confused a lot of readers. I love that plate, but it’s not the best china to use for food photography, as it takes away from the actual food. I’ve learned that simple is better and that taking an overhead shot of certain dishes works better. In the updated photo below, the chicken parmesan looks much more appetizing with all the red sauce surrounding it, don’t you think? I just want to take a fork and dive in there!
What can I say about the pumpkin enchilada below? The enchilada looks overcooked, the sour cream looks like bird poo, (per Eli) and there is really too much going on in the photo, not to mention the photo is overexposed. Oh, and there’s that china again.
I simplified the photo and just showcased one enchilada from the top view, (best view with dishes such as this) and added a hint of green as the enchilada needed a pop of color.
So I made these dark chocolate chip cookies around Christmas time. I thought it would be cute to place the cookies next to those mini trees. It’s cute, but the cookies don’t look too appetizing. I’m not going to say what they look like, but you really don’t have to use your imagination. These cookies are best not photographed from above either.
This is a much better shot of the cookies, and as you can see, they photograph better from the side.
Ok, I’m saving the best for last. Zoe and I cracked up when we saw this photo on my post for the best chocolate chip cookies a few months back.
We decided we needed to update the photo ASAP.
The old post title said, “Got milk have cookie?” Zoe and I decided that it should have said, “Got milk, have plate?”
Get it, because the plate is showcased in the photo, not the cookie?
Here is the updated photo. Again, cookies look much better when photographed from the side.
Let’s continue this trip down memory lane, shall we? Here are some of the old headers I created all by myself (so proud) before I had a professional design my header.
This was my first header. I love that I have a random shot of a half eaten sandwich; I don’t know what I was thinking there.
There’s a photo of our favorite chocolate cake with a chocolate frosting (too rich with the chocolate frosting).
The photo next to the chocolate cake is a random quinoa dish I threw together.
There’s the cake from Zoe’s 11th birthday, awwww!
There’s a picture of one of our favorite things, popovers.
There’s that failed cupcake. I used the photo for the header, but never posted the recipe. That cupcake, btw, was the only one that came out looking halfway decent. I can tell that this header was done after Thanksgiving because I remember most of those recipes came from Whole Living’s Thanksgiving edition.
That tangerine bundt cake was such a production, but so good. All of my photos of the cake were overexposed as I had the camera on the wrong setting, so I had to really edit them. I think that is another recipe that should get updated. Whoopie pies, yum!
Robert’s absolute best brownies also got a facelift.
This was the last header I did before the current design. This one had a much better flow than the previous headers. It also looks a bit healthier as it’s showcasing a kale salad and smoothie as well as this whole-grain skillet corn bread.
What’s next for Marin mama?
People often ask me what I want to gain from this blog? That is a tough question, and I really don’t have a definite answer right now. I’m just enjoying seeing the blog grow and I’m going to let the blog organically transform into what it will. Ok, I do have a small dream. I dream of one day opening up a cafe in Marin called, Marin Mama’s Cafe. It would feature recipes from my blog and would be a community gathering place, casual and comforting. My favorite chocolate cake, brownies and cookies would be available daily. My cake would sit on a pedestal under a cake dome for people to purchase by the slice. I could see Zoe and her friends stopping by after school to grab a snack and hang out, as well as helping out in the cafe on the weekends. Eli would be there greeting everyone and helping to take orders and get water. There would be lots of take out items such as pre-made turkey burgers, veggie burgers, kale salads, pastas, green smoothies, basically all the recipes form the blog. Moms and dads could swing by before dinner and grab the featured menu item of the day to take home for dinner or they could come by and eat in the “kid friendly” cafe. Maybe there would be cooking classes for kids, adults and new moms. I might even have kids teach kids. Who knows? I have tons of ideas, but for now, I’m just gathering the ingredients and will assemble the recipe later.
The best thing about this blog is YOU! Thank you for stopping by and reading my posts and making the recipes. I really enjoy hearing from each and every one of you. Truly, it makes my heart sing knowing that people are actually reading my words and cooking from the blog. I’m writing this blog for me and for you! Where will it be in a year from now? Who knows, but I hope I will still be posting and growing and that you will all still be here with me.