Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kalyn's Kitchen Celebrates Seven Years, and Seven Things I Know About Food Blogging

Hard to believe it, but I have been blogging for seven years!

(Edit:  Thanks to David Burger from the Salt Lake Tribune for this nice feature about me, and how fun that he timed it to come out at the same time my blog was having a birthday!) 

Kalyn's Kitchen is turning seven years old today, and I almost missed the party.  For some reason I was thinking Wednesday was my blog birthday, but then I started writing this and realized it was April 24, 2005 when I sat down at the computer and wrote my first post.  That's how this whole blogging adventure got started!

For my birthday post I'm going to take the day off from cooking and reflect a little about blogging.  Last year I posted Six Life Lessons I'm Learning from Blogging, and this year after reading posts asking If Food Blogs are Over and Can You Make a Living Writing about Food, I decided to share Seven Things I Know About Food Blogging.  I don't consider myself a blogging expert, but I know what I know!  Of course, opinions about all things related to blogging are widely varied, so these thoughts may or may not resonate with you if you're a fellow blogger.  For readers who are not bloggers (i.e. normal people!) I hope you don't mind having the focus on the mechanics of blogging for a change.  And for everyone reading this no matter what it is that brings you here, thanks for visiting, and please chime in with your thoughts in the comments!

#1  Being Useful is a Good Path to Blogging Success
There are all kinds of food blogs, including funny blogs, quirky blogs, passionate-about-a-cause blogs, family-oriented blogs, all-about-me blogs, food-as-art blogs, and many more.  I firmly believe there's a place in cyberspace for every type of food blog out there; however if your goal is to have a food blog that people will return to over and over, you'll have more luck with that if your blog focuses on recipes and/or information that's useful to others.  I feel lucky to have learned this lesson early in my blogging career (thanks Elise!) and being useful is something I've consistently tried to focus on with my blog.

#2  Nothing Matters if the Food Doesn't Taste Great
I'm always puzzled when I see a blogger posting a recipe and then saying they didn't really like how it turned out.  If someone is going on the internet to find recipes, chances are they're hoping for things that are better tasting than they could dream up on their own, wouldn't you agree?  Food blogging can be frustrating; I sometimes make a recipe four or five times to get it to turn out.  Even then I don't always get it right, and when I'm talking to friends or my cooking assistant/nephew Jake about recipes that are not keepers, we label them "not blog-worthy."   Those not blog-worthy recipes don't ever see the light of day on Kalyn's Kitchen.

#3  Food Photos Need to Make Your Readers Drool
I started my blog before I entered the digital camera age, and I still don't consider myself to be a good photographer compared to many bloggers, but oh how I have improved!  Back in the early days of the blog I had some photos that were truly gruesome, and for years I've been re-cooking one or two of those recipes each week and re-shooting the photos.  (It's not all bad, because I get to eat the food!)  Now I can usually get a photo that at least makes the food look appetizing (which is all I'm really aiming for.)  I've also learned the importance of step-by-step photos in recipe posts, since I realized how people who are learning to cook are helped by seeing how things should look every step of the way.  I'm grateful to the fabulous food photographers who share their skills through workshops, books, and blog posts, and learning more about photography is something I'm excited about doing for a long time to come!

#4  Search Engine Optimization Really Does Matter
Content is the heart and soul of blogging, and all the search engine optimization in the world won't help if you aren't writing good quality content that people enjoy reading.  But if you're sharing good recipes or writing good posts and not that many people are finding them, you may need to be paying more attention to how you write your posts.  In simple terms, for recipe bloggers search engine optimization means writing your posts in the way that best helps search engines to find them.  The most basic part of that is making sure a recipe post includes the same words that people might enter into a search engine if they were looking for that particular recipe.  (Now you know one reason I use recipe titles that are so descriptive!)  Here's a lot more about SEO For Food Bloggers if you'd like to understand this better.

#5  It's Important to Stand Out from the Crowd
I feel incredibly lucky that from the day I started my blog I was focusing on a niche that would ultimately help people find my site (even though at the time I didn't know I had a niche or how important it was!)  My passion about the eating principles of The South Beach Diet evolved naturally into my blog becoming a resource for other people who wanted to eat that way, and although not everyone who reads this blog cares about SBD friendly eating, it's probably the one thing that defines my blog more than anything else. Having a passion that helps my blog stand out from the crowd is a win-win I'm hugely grateful for, and I'm now hoping my passion for healthy slow cooker recipes might create a natural niche for my new blog.

#6  The Golden Rule Applies to Blogging
I've had some fun opportunities to speak at blogging conferences, and one thing I've always talked about is what I call "Good Blogging Karma."  I firmly believe that the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you) applies as much to blogging as it does to every other part of life.  Building up Good Blogging Karma means doing things like giving link love to other bloggers' recipes in your posts, following referral links to thank people who mention you, giving credit for recipe inspiration, generously promoting the work of your fellow bloggers through social media,  sharing your knowledge when asked, and generally being kind and generous with readers and fellow bloggers.  I was raised with the Golden Rule as a guide (thanks Mom and Dad!), and this is something I'm always trying to be conscious of.

#7  Social Media is Changing Everything
Who could have imagined a few years ago that brilliant web developers would invent a site called Pinterest and thousands of people would find food blogs that way, or that RSS readers would become less important as people by the droves started following blogs through Facebook?  Social Media sites like these (as well as Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, and many more) are making the web all about connections in a way it never was before.  Even if you're not interested in spending all day on Facebook or Twitter, if you're a blogger you need to make your site friendly to people who want to share things through social media.  I resisted adding the social buttons at the top of my posts for a long time, but now when I visit a blog I'm always happy if it has them, and I'm grateful to everyone who uses them on my blog to share things they like. 

What do you know?
So those are seven things I know about blogging.  But one more thing that I definitely know is that it's the other people you connect with that makes blogging so much fun!  Whether you're a fellow blogger or a frequent blog reader, I'd love to hear in the comments about things you know about blogging.

Thanks to Rand and Jennette!
I want to express a huge Thank You to my brother Rand (who does the monthly headers and graphics for the blog) and my web designer Jennette (who does everything techy that I can't do myself!)  Kalyn's Kitchen definitely would not be the same without them.

Other Birthday Celebrations from the Past:  
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns One
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns Two
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns Three
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns Four
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns Five
Kalyn's Kitchen Turns Six

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89 comments:

  1. Congrats! Kalyn's Kitchen is one of the first food blogs I started reading. For me what makes it stand out is its authentic voice, like it's a friend sharing recipes with me.

    I've also learnt of new ingredients via your blog - Sriracha sauce, heart of palm to name two. Thank you for all your good work.

    - S

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  2. Congrats! Seven years ago I didn't even know blogging existed! One thing I now know about blogging is that behind it is an amazing community if one wants to take part. Love that. Didn't expect that. Thanks for all your great recipes, Kalyn.

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  3. Happy Birthday to Kalyn's Kitchen! The title could have been 107 things I know about food blogging! You are such a wealth of knowledge and as kind as they come. Thank YOU for being a friend and mentor. Here's to you today!!!

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  4. What a great way to celebrate seven years of food blogging! Your blog has always been a shining example of how to present creative and healthyrecipes clearly, organize in a way people can use intuitively. I do think today's internet is a much more visual place than it was when we started blogging, so photography is more important. But the lessons we learned in the beginning (create the best content you can, share and link generously) are still the most important. Here's to many more years of KK (and Slow Cooker from Scratch)!

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  5. Happy blog birthday, Kalyn!! I truly admire you for all that you do, and it's easy to see why you have been so successful. Congrats on 7 years, and here's to lots more!

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  6. Thank you everyone! And seeing who is leaving comments reminds me that it's the friends you make that's one of the best things about blogging!

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  7. Happy blog anniversary, Kalyn! You're a great role model re: writing very well-structured and informative blog posts, and it's always a pleasure to read. I've still got many of your recipes in my regular recipe repertoire (remember those roasted carrots and mushrooms?)
    Here's to many more years of foodblogging!
    Pille from Nami-Nami (few months behind you :))

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  8. Congrats on 7 years!~ You've truly built a wonderful site in all of that time. I refer to it quite often myself! Happy to know you in this fabulous sea of blogs!

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  9. Good heavens - has it been seven years already? Happy Blog Birthday, Kalyn - and many more to come. I remember when Farmgirl Susan sent me to your blog wayyyyy back in the beginning, which, in turn, inspired me to dip my toes in the water. Thank you for all your inspiration and, of course, your recipes!

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  10. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing what you learned along the way.

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  11. Happy Birthday, Kalyn's Kitchen! I sure have enjoyed sharing this journey with you. I still remember the herb blogging days :)

    Jeanette @Cooked from the Heart

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  12. Congrats! You're one of the first I found and I still enjoy your posts very much :)

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  13. Congrats on 7 years! Keep up the fabulous work:)

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  14. Seven years! That's a huge accomplishment. As you know, your blog is one of the first that I started reading when I began blogging six and a half years ago. Your great recipes, clear passion for your niche and beautiful photos are an inspiration. Best wishes for many more years of blogging success.

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  15. Happy Birthday to one of my favorite blogs ever! And congratulations to one of my very favorite bloggers :) Love you!
    Kalyn, everything you said resonates with me. I will say that about food photos, it is OK to not be very good at it and treat the photo as just a means to give readers an idea of what the finished dish looks like. I know my photos are very mediocre but that's the best I can do under the circumstances. So instead of despairing about the quality of the photos, I hope other facets of my blog will keep readers interested.
    And two things I know about food blogging: It can lead to opportunities far beyond food and blogging (real life friendships, improvement in writing style etc.) and nothing else matters if you are not authentic and if your real voice does not come through.

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  16. Congratulations Kalyn. And thanks for some wise reflections from an old hand at this blogging malarkey. I've always enjoyed seeing how you organise your blog as well as your recipes.

    I wanted to respond to #2 about only posting great recipes. In my kitchen there are three categories - the great recipes that I want to blog, the terrible ones that aren't worth blogging and the not great ones that are a learning experience. I find that if I blog the learning experiences it helps me come back and learn from my mistakes and in some circumstances get closer to that idea of perfection.

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  17. Congratulations on 7 years, Kalyn! You started before I had even heard of a food blog!

    This is a great post and should be required reading for every food blogger. #2 especially resonates with me. My favorite blogs (and that would include yours) can always be counted on to present great recipes and ideas. With my own blog I'm rather go a week or two without posting than to publish a recipe that has been declared "not blog-worthy". (We use that term, too!)

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  18. Congratulations on seven years of blogging, and thanks for the seven insights. Some of these are things I've tried to follow by instinct, but you always have such a good way of articulating the key things to learn - must be the teacher in you! All the best!

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  19. Happy birthday and congratulations on your success! I really enjoy your blog and love your recipes. Thank you for posting tasty healthy food!

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  20. Happy blogiversary!! If we met 5 years ago (BlogHer 2008) then I must have been reading you for at least 6 of those 7 years :)

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  21. Happy 7th anniversary, Kalyn! I've always loved reading your blog. It's wonderful to read about low-fat food that actually tastes good.

    While I do see what you mean about not posting about food that doesn't taste good, I plan to still continue posting about the occasional recipes that didn't work for me. Especially if the recipes seem like they would work really well. I find this sort of information to be quite valuable when I'm googling for something in particular. I guess this decision all depends on the kind of foodblog being presented. For instance, my blog is labelled 'disasters, triumphs' (and sometimes I think that people enjoy reading about the disasters more than they do about the triumphs...).

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  22. Happy Birthday Kalyn's Kitchen! Keep up the good work!

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  23. How exciting that you are on 7 years! Love your blog -- esp. the soup recipes :)

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  24. Congrats, Kalyn!! Here's to 7 more years!!! (BTW, my husband just lost 30 lbs. on the South Beach Diet. Thanks for being such a great resource!)

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  25. Congratulations!! I have loved your site ever since that clerk at the Walmarts in Traverse City MI told me about you. I follow the South Beach way of eating. It's not a diet but a way of life. Thank you again for all the great info and recipes!!!

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  26. Congrats!!! You were one of the first food blogs that I discovered!

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  27. Congrats Kalyn. And thank-you again for the readers you have sent my way. Always enjoy reading your blog and the stuff you do on Blogher too.

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  28. Happy Blog Birthday! It's posts like this that I've actually found more helpful than the recipes. I learned a lot about blogging etiquette through you and Weekend Herb Blogging.

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  29. Happy Blogiversary, Kalyn. Excited to hear about the new blog! Ditto all the comments about your impact on food blogging. Keep up the high standards you've set for yourself and that the rest of us try to emulate.
    Aloha!

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  30. 7 Years! Congratulations! Well done, and all that. and 7 great tips / insights for bloggers. Do something fun today - and eat something wonderful!

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  31. Thank you everyone for all the nice thoughts. I've been out running around and having lunch and it was fun to check in on the phone to see see many people I've met, either virtually or in real life. And always rewarding to hear from people who have used the recipes to lose weight too.

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  32. Happy 7 years! Congrats, what an accomplishment!

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  33. Happy 7th Birthday Kalyn. Keep up the fabulous job you do! Great tips for all us bloggers...

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  34. Kalyn, Your blog is one of the very first that I started reading years ago. I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now. Happy Birthday and Best Wishes!

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  35. Congratulations! You are an amazing blogger and an inspiration for me, a newer blogger to look up to.

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  36. What a great post Kalyn - full of sound advice and thoughts! Congrats on 7 years - here's to many, many more with Kalyn's Kitchen and Slow Cooker from Scratch!!!

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  37. Congratulations! Seven years is amazing! You're recipes are always great and you've been an inspiration to me since the beginning of my food blogging adventure! I'm glad I found your blog :D

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  38. I agree with everything. I would emphasize that posting a recipe that did not turn out, or didn't look good, is more of a diary post, but not blog worthy. So I might add this. Just imagine that before you hit publish, this posts goes viral or becomes your number one post. Is it blog worthy? I don't always make the mark,but I try hard to live by it and I will make a dish 3 or 4 times to get it right either taste or photo wise just in case.

    Congratulations on sticking it out. Food blogging is hard work. You do offer something very valuable.

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  39. Happy, Happy Birthday! I loved your blog long before I became a blogger myself. You are my go to vegetable guru for healthy, inspirational dishes. Now, you are my go to guru for blogging as well.
    My tip on blogging would have to be something that you are very good at. It's to take the time to actually thank the readers of your blog. Sometimes shopping and chopping and photography and dishes can make things feel rushed. So, schedule in time to let people know you are grateful.

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  40. Seven years! Congratulations, best wishes, felicitations and all the very best! The golden rule is extra important ...

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  41. I swear I have my head in a hole. Happy 7 Years to you Kalyn! Thanks for the example you set, for the knowledge you willingly share and most of all for your encouragement. Here's to many more years of success to you!

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  42. I am really enjoying the comments; fun hearing from so many long-time friends, readers, and fellow bloggers.

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  43. happy birthday to your blog! I am one of those people who found you through pinterest. your stuffed peppers, sriracha lettuce wraps and guacamole tostadas are on permanent rotation at our house. and there are probably others that I'm forgetting.

    Thank you for all that you do, I am looking forward to reading kaylyn's kitchen for many years to come (:

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  44. Happy Birthday. I am new to your blog but I love it! How awesome to have an article written about you in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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  45. Happy #7! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Your blog just keeps getting better and better!

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  46. It's hard to believe it's been seven years, although I'm sure there are many days when it feels much longer than that. Beautiful job my talented sister. Very proud of you! I love you.

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  47. Congrats on your seven remarkable years! Truly amazing and inspiring!! Thanks for the seven great blogging tips. I look forward to many more years of your great posts.

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  48. Thanks Rand! Love you too and you know I could not have done it without you!

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  49. Big congratulations on seven years of blogging! It is an amazing achievement. You have put so much hard work, heart and soul into Kalyn's Kitchen- and it shows! I wish you continued success and fulfillment. Not to mention, deliciousness.

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  50. Oh My Goodness - has it really been seven years? You have inspired me so many times and been my Gold Standard for food blogging. I ask myself frequently WWKD? What Would Kalyn Do? when deciding something on the blog. And you never let me down! May you live and blog forever!

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  51. Donna, I love that. So glad we finally became fiends!

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  52. I lovethe brightness of this photo Kalyn. Congrats on seven years.

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  53. I'm sorry I didn't see this yesterday, Kalyn, but MAJOR congratulations! Yours was one of (if not THE...it's hard to remember anymore) first blogs I read, way before I even had one myself. I "blame" you for how hooked I am today. :P You're such an inspiration!

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  54. Congratulations on 7 years! That's a terrific accomplishment. I look forward to reading and sharing for many more to come! Thank you for all you do!

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  55. Congratulations, Kalyn! I loved reading this great list - and many of the informative links you included.

    I can't believe we've been blogging for 7 years - but then again, it's hard to remember life before blogging, lol.

    Blogging has changed my life in so many ways, but the best thing about it has been meeting amazing friends like you all around the world - even if we've never actually met. :)

    Here's to another seven years of your fabulous recipes! xoxo

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  56. Wow! 7 years! Congratulations, Kalyn! I have followed your blogs from the beginning. Although I only cook once a week, I have a Kalyn's recipe folder for my favorite delectable dishes and I always get accolades when I follow one of your recipes. Its fun seeing you in person occasionally too.

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  57. Congratulations, and best wishes for many more years of blogging success. You were one of the first sites I found last fall while searching for low carb recipes, and thanks to many of your recipes, and other bloggers, my blood sugar is now normal again, with no meds.
    Keep up the good work!
    Francie - a fan from Florida

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  58. Congratulations. I've followed you for a long time and you have really set the bar for bloggers everywhere.

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  59. Happy Birthday, Kalyn. I have learned so much from you. Lots of love and success in the next seven years---you have so much to be proud of.

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  60. Kalyn--Congratulations! You and your blog are awesome. I truly believe that you are getting people to eat fantastic, healthy meals daily. That is so inspiring to all of us! Thanks so much for your seven lessons; they're very useful/helpful so you're proving #1 once again. ;-)

    All the best for your continued success here at Kalyn's Kitchen, Kalyn! We need you and love "visiting" with you here. :-)

    Shirley

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  61. Thank you again everyone. All these lovely comments are really making me smile!

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  62. Congratulations on your first seven years and may you be around offering us all tasty treats for many more.

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  63. Congratulations Kalyn!! You're the best, and I truly feel blessed to know you.

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  64. Insightful post Kalyn!! I don't even pretend to know much about food blogging, even though I've been doing it for a few years now. What I do know, I've learned from you and a few other friends. One thing I always remind myself is that the people are more important than the popularity or 'blog success'. I always want to value the people around me most of all. Thank you for being so caring to me and the slc food blogging community!

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  65. Dennis, I plan on it!

    Carrian and Becky,
    Thanks guys! It has been fun getting to know you both. I need the young energy!

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  66. Happy, Happy Anniversary! xoox

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  67. Great article and so well deserved. Your blog was the first I got into, learned about it from a SB bulletin board. I've have been reading (and enjoying) it for years. You do it so very well! Keep it up, please.
    Happy Anniversary.

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  68. Thanks Doren! I am definitely going to keep doing it.

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  69. Congratulations, my friend! What an accomplishment! I have learned so much from you and am so grateful for your generosity with your knowledge. On top of all of that, I am so glad to call you my friend.

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  70. Kalyn,

    I have really enjoyed your blogspot. I have passed it along to friends.

    I know I can always count on your recipes to make a fabulous and healthy dinner for the family. We need good food and good friends in life, Thanks for helping out with both. Your kindness and caring extends past your keyboard and touches all of us.

    P.S. Made the blue cheese, asparagus dish the other day. You received 2 thumbs up from my 10 year old. That's high praise from her, she's just started developing her taste buds past the kids menu.

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  71. Dara, you too! xoxo

    Betty, so glad you are enjoying the recipes so much, thanks!

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  72. 7 years- that is exciting! I believe today is the first time I've viewed your blog and really appreciated this post. Thank you for the info!

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  73. Congratulations Kalyn! It hardly seems like 7 years has gone by. Your site is a wonderful resource, and we are glad you are still here!

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  74. Thanks Andrea, and so glad we have gotten to know each other!

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  75. Happy 7th, my friend -- here's to many, many more!

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  76. Happy Blog Birthday, Kalyn! Your site is one of my all time faves. I don't do the SBD but your recipes are right on for the Zone diet as well. Thank you for sharing your expertise and yummy recipes!

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  77. Thanks Genie! xoxo

    Mama Peck, glad to hear the recipes are working for you!

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  78. Congratulations, Kalyn!Thank you for the info.

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  79. I follow you on every blog since the beginning and have yet to make a meal that wasn't fantastic!
    Thank you.
    - Kim

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  80. I'm glad that I found your blog. You really do a wonderful job with the photography. congrats on blogging for 7 years!

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  81. Thanks Erica!

    Kim, that is great to hear. So glad you are enjoying the food.

    Karen, thanks! And believe me I have some pretty gruesome photos still left on the blog!

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  82. Congrats on Kalyn's Kitchen 7th anniversary! I met you at IACP in Austin, and have been following your blog ever since. May you have many more blog celebrations!

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  83. I am very grateful to have found your blog. Your recipes have helped me and my husband so much! Thanks for all you do and here's to many more!

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  84. Thanks Judith! I was saw to miss IACP this year, but hope to make it next year.

    Heather, I love that the blog has been helpful for you!

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  85. As a new food blogger (only started 3 weeks ago!) I found this post incredibly helpful. There are some things I've been putting off (like making a separate facebook and pinterest page for my blog) that I am now determined to bite the bullet and get it done! Thanks so much!

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  86. I am so grateful for your blog. It is my go-to place for yummy vegetable recipes. As a low-carber, it is very important to me to find ways to add variety in the vegetable dishes. The fresh herbs in your recipes are wonderful! I also enjoyed your gardening posts. I'm going to try to grow those round zucchinis you always write about.

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible.

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