Pomegranate Citrus Meringue Cake & Some Thoughts on Blogging


In the last few weeks, I saw several incidents and articles that led me to think about why I blog. First there was the whole Food52 Piglet controversy between two popular bloggers, Mimi Thorrison and Adam Roberts. From that hot mess came several wonderful nuanced and articulate articles from Eater, Lottie + Doof, and Design Sponge that offered differing perspectives on the incident, and each said a lot about the world of blogging and food media.

This post kind of came from me thinking about and digesting all of that. And let me be up front: It’s long and a tad controversial. For a while, I even struggled whether to publish it in the first place. But below are some thoughts about my blog, blogging in general, and the direction I worry it’s headed in the long run (and if you want to skip my rambling and head straight to the recipe, I promise I won’t be offended at all!):


So, first some background: I started this blog back in 2011 as a way to keep up with friends and family, as well as distract myself from a job I hated. Back in 2011, even though it wasn’t all that long ago, Blog Land was an entirely different landscape. Pinterest was just getting started and only accepting new users via email. People still used Instagram in the way they use their personal Facebook profiles today; that is, folks only followed people they knew in real life as Instagram’s content was primarily blurry photos with overwrought filters.

Back in the day, the only way to get your food blog noticed immediately was submitting to content aggregation sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Unlike Pinterest and Instagram, there was actually some sort of quality control — you submitted your picture, and you waited with baited breath to see if your recipe would be published on the site. In the beginning, especially when I was just starting to figure out my DSLR camera, I got a lot of rejections. Rejections often came back with blunt feedback: bad composition, harsh lighting, white balance issues, etc. That feedback, while harsh, was really helpful in helping me figure out how to take good photos! I still remember the butterflies in my stomach when Foodgawker finally accepted and published one of my pictures, a not-that-great, slightly overexposed and underfocused picture of this hazelnut crepe cake (whose pictures are… well...eek!). But still. If I had to point to one thing that put my blog on the map and bring in, you know, readers who weren’t my immediate friends and family, I’d probably have to credit Foodgawker and that picture, which eventually got republished by The Huffington Post.

And this is where my memory starts to get hazy. Because it was around here, sometime between my multiple, frustrated attempts to get published on these sites, that I got bit by The Bug. You know, the feeling of awe that people you don’t know are reading your work and interested in what you are saying; the feeling that your blog could be something MORE… a fully fledged cookbook, a full time job with a steady paycheck, and a stream of sponsorship opportunities with cool companies. You name it, the sky was the limit. Blogging was a new, uncharted world full of financial opportunity and internet fame that I — or anyone, really — could easily tap into. That was The Bug.

I’m not going to lie. I definitely got suckered into all that, especially after Saveur Magazine shortlisted me as one of the Best Baking & Desserts Blogs and the press mentions, sponsorships, and free SWAG came rolling in. I did sponsored posts for the money and wrote nice things about products I was just “meh” on but felt guilty because I’d gotten it for free. These days, I’m extremely picky about the people, companies, and products that I work with. Because after a while of saying “yes” to everything, I started to realize that it just wasn’t my jam. The extra money was nice, sure, but every sponsored post took me further away from why I was blogging in the first place: learning how to cook new baked goods and play with different ingredients. And of course, there was less talking about my life and the things I ate with friends who were far away — instead, I was talking about products and events I attended in a weird overly-smiley, way-too-shilly way. It wasn’t sincere or authentic.

And then there was a whole other gross thing I caught myself doing: pandering. What does that mean, exactly? One of my blogger friends, Kathryn, wrote a thoughtful, articulate post about baking for the sake of blogging that’s worth checking out. As for myself, as recently as a few weeks ago, I noticed that my Instagram follower count would decline as I posted lots of photos of my trip to Singapore and the Philippines. I realized that the majority of my followers only followed me for my dessert pics, and my dessert pics alone. Why else would a picture of a pie recipe of mine have twice as many likes as a picture of some cool architecture in Singapore or dropdead gorgeous ocean views in the Philippines? My initial reaction to the fluctuation was, Oh, shoot! Gotta keep my Instagram followers high; I’ll scale back on my trip pictures and just keep posting pictures of sweets. And I actually freaking restrained myself, holding back photos of mountains and oceans in order not to annoy anybody!

But later, as I was standing watching my old boss dance around in the best Darth Vader costume I have ever seen (complete with a glowing light saber), I realized that there was no way I could NOT take a photo of this for my Instagram feed. There were a handful of old friends and coworkers who I know would just DIE with laughter seeing the photo. It seemed ridiculous to text them all individually, especially since they all followed me on Instagram. Why was I censoring myself, restraining myself from posting and sharing pictures of experiences that I was enjoying? Because a bunch of anonymous followers who I didn’t know personally were unfollowing me?!! Like… really???

Ugh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that in the last three and a half years of blogging, I’ve found myself too easily caught up in the “fame and fortune” side of things. And whenever I am in that funk, I always get really depressed and down on my blog — beating myself up for not making more money, not having as many followers, not being re-nominated for that award, etc. And I hate that. Because it’s not why I started blogging in the first place, and perhaps more importantly, it’s not why I continue to blog, and certainly not what I love about it at ALL. But it’s incredibly easy to forget, and I have to take a step back and remind myself of that every so often.

My big concern, however, is that blogging appears to be moving in the opposite direction, especially with the turn of Instagram and Pinterest as legitimate growth tools. It’s a lot easier to share the pretty pictures of your recipes on either medium, and watch the likes, hearts, and ultimately, pageviews to your blog roll in as algorithms serve it to people around the world. It’s much easier to amass a big following fast, as long as you have a decent eye for what’s hot right now and use the right hashtags. The Bug is easier to catch more than ever, as folks become famous practically overnight with one Pin or regram.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with blogging to become rich and famous, the chance to break into a new industry, whatever. Blogging deserves to be recognized as a perfectly legitimate career (we all certainly work hard enough on our blogs for that to continue being unrecognized), and it’s well on its way to becoming one. But I just hope that we also don’t lose sincere, authentic, and heartfelt content in the process. Because if everybody’s trying to get big all the time, everybody’s cooking and presenting recipes that they know are popular, taking and styling photos that are on-trend and everybody else will like… right? Which is… fine. But also, not really.

Because it’s like what Tim was saying in his post: we need less pandering, especially the kind that I’ve been guilty of in the past. That is, a little less blogging for the sake of blogging, press mentions, likes, hearts, and much less of that self-censorship that prevents us from posting the content that we actually want to. We need bloggers who are unafraid to bring new criticisms, ideas, and perspectives to the table. And certainly, we need more bloggers who are unafraid to lose followers while doing so.

So post that picture that has nothing to do with food, or publish that recipe that you know is a little bit off-the-rails.

I promise that I won’t unfollow you.


On that note, after emotionally sorting all my feels, I just wanted to bake something that was pretty, tasty, and time consuming enough to be therapeutic… like this pomegranate citrus meringue cake. Why pomegranate? I’ve been drooling over the pink buttercream cakes on Pinterest lately, but since I’m a hater of artificial food coloring, decided to try and find an ingredient that would provide natural color instead. Pomegranate won the fight (though beet, hibiscus, and red wine (!!!) came close), giving the buttercream a wonderful pale pink tint. From there, lemon curd and crunchy meringue crumbles seemed to pair naturally with the subtle fruit flavor. Enjoy!


Some baker's notes:
  • This recipe has a lot of individual components to it: meringues, lemon curd, cake and frosting. I ended up using store bought meringues because I ran out of time, but my Christmas e-book from a few years ago contains my go-to recipe for vanilla meringues. If you're making everything from scratch, I suggest making the meringues first, then the lemon curd (which can be refrigerated up to 1 month), then the cakes and finally the frosting.

  • This recipe actually makes a three-layer cake; I baked mine in three 6-inch pans, divided two of the cakes in half to create four layers and froze one layer for a later recipe that I'm working on. I've included the instructions for three 8-inch pans, so don't be confused if your cake doesn't look exactly like mine.

  • For this recipe, I tried out a neat trick learned from a new cookbook I recently bought: Decorated: Sublimely Crafted Cakes for Every Occasion by April Carter, the extremely talented blogger behind Rhubarb and Rose. In the book, April instructs you to fill cakes with jam by first piping a buttercream border around the edge of the cake to create a "well" for the jam. I used this method (seen in the gif above) to trap in my lemon curd and meringue crumbles.

  • The cake is best the day it's made — the meringue crumbles will loose their crunch fast, especially when sandwiched between cake and lemon curd.


Pomegranate Citrus Meringue Cake
(inspired by Decorated and Call Me Cupcake)

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Ingredients

Special Equipment:

For the Lemon Curd:
(makes around 1 cup, enough for one cake)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

For the Vanilla Cake:
(makes one 8-inch, 3-layer cake)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup portions
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Pomegranate Buttercream Frosting & Meringue Filling:
(makes enough to frost one cake)
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure pomegranate juice (no sugar or other sweeteners added)

Assembly:
  • 1 cup crushed meringues
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

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Recipe

For the Lemon Curd:
  1. In a heatproof glass bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice,  zest from 1 lemon, and 4 large egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water over medium heat to make a double boiler, making sure that the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water. Whisk occasionally, cooking the mixture until it thickens considerably and a candy thermometer placed in the middle of the mixture reads 172 degrees (F).

  2. Remove the bowl containing the curd from the pan. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool until a candy thermometer placed in the middle of the mixture reads 140 degrees (F).

  3. When the mixture has cooled to 140 degrees, whisk in a couple of unsalted butter cubes from your 1/4 cup portion. Continue whisking until the butter cubes are completely incorporated, and then add another couple cubes until you finish your 1/4 cup portion. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled before using to assemble and fill the cake.

For the Vanilla Cake:
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottoms of each with parchment paper circles. Spray the parchment paper circles with cooking spray as well.

  2. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 4 large eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract and 1/4 cup buttermilk. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3 cups cake flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat on low speed for 1 minute or until well combined. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add 1 cup unsalted butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  4. After 2 minutes, reduce the mixer speed back down to its lowest setting. Add the egg mixture (from the 2nd step) in 3 additions, adding the next addition only when the previous has been fully incorporated into the mixture. Once all the egg mixture has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on low speed for 1 more minute and no more — be careful not to overmix or you'll end up with a dense, tough cake and I'll cry for you!

  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean and the top of each cake bounces back when gently poked. Allow the layers to cool in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, before turning out onto the wire racks to cool completely before assembling and frosting.

For the Pomegranate Buttercream Frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 4 cups confectioner's sugar, 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture comes together and the butter is fully incorporated throughout the sugar.

  2. Reduce the mixer to its lowest speed. Combine 2 tablespoons whole milk and 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice in a separate, small bowl and add to the butter mixture a couple teaspoons at a time. Once all the liquid has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If it is too pale for your liking, add another 1/2 teaspoon of pomegranate juice. But be careful not to add too much, or your frosting will be too liquidy! Add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more of pomegranate juice max. 

Assembly:
  1. Transfer about 1 cup of pomegranate buttercream frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large plain icing tip (or a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off). Pipe a ring around the outer edges of your bottom cake layer, creating a "border". Learn from my mistakes and be generous with your frosting — you should use around 1/2 cup of frosting for one border. The more you use, the prettier it will look when you slice the cake. 

  2. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread 1/2 cup lemon curd in the interior of the buttercream border (see gif above for clarification), meeting the piped line of the border.

  3. Use your fingers to evenly sprinkle 1/3 cup crushed meringues over the lemon curd.

  4. Place the next layer on top and press down gently to make sure that the filling is sealed in all the way around. Repeat steps 2 and 3, and nestle the final cake layer on top.

  5. At this point, use your remaining buttercream to frost the cake in its entirety. Sprinkle the frosted cake with the remaining 1/3 cup of crushed meringues and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
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126 comments

  1. Valerie @ Pursuit of SweetnessMarch 18, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    Beautiful... Both words and recipe ;)

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging.


    I'm still a relatively small blogger myself but have dreams and aspirations of "making it big" because I really want to be able to make money doing what I love. Sure, I try to get some things right with the trends and keep an eye on catchy hashtags but I try to keep myself in check and still post stuff about me and what I like, even if it isn't just related to my blog. It's caused me to make a lot of changes over the last year and while it's probably taking me a lot longer than it would if I I streamlined and kept my blog more "business-like", it's my blog and I want it to grow and change with me and hopefully I'll slowly amass followers that care about the same things I do (even if it isn't just cooking and baking!).


    Anyway, keep doing what you're doing 'cause we love it!

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  3. Thank you for writing this! (And the cake is beautiful, as usual.) I appreciate hearing bloggers like yourself talk about these issues. I think the whole Piglet controversy maybe got a little out of hand, and while I don't necessarily agree with ALL that's been said, I've definitely enjoyed watching it unfold. It's food for thought, at least. But this blogging world is crazy, and it's so easy to get caught up in all of it, hoping that something will go viral or whatever. I think you've inspired me to share my own thoughts on this topic, so maybe stay tuned for that later in the week. ;-)

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  4. Wow stunning photos xx

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  5. Thank you for writing this post and sharing your thoughts. I've intentionally avoided following the Piglet controversy partly because I just don't care to take on any unnecessary drama and partly because I think it would honestly deter me from blogging. That being said, always good to stay informed and I love that you're taking that controversy and using it as a tool to take a step back and reevaluate what you're doing. P.s. Yay for turning those feelings into a gorgeous cake!

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  6. i come to your blog to drool at your photos (could you tell im not a baker but have a huge sweet tooth) and most importantly read your content. i have always enjoyed your authentic voice and really respect that. like most bloggers, i would like to be famous and make money on the blog but at the same time, i have realized that giveaways and product reviews are really not my things until and unless i have actually used those products for a while. lately with the influx of pinterest, i feel like everyones more worried about taking pretty pictures rather than the taste of recipes..and dont even get me started on annoying pop ups and advertisements all over the page. making money is fine but common, let readers have some alone time reading the content. sorry for venting even further...but you are just wonderful.

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  7. Wow, this post really hit home. Thank you for writing this out there - it's something that's been on my mind for awhile, and when I read through your post, I thought - did she read my mind? I totally know what you mean by the instagram thing. My account was a personal account - and still is. It doesn't even reflect my blog name! But it's become ALL about baking/cooking. I dont' even post wedding photos (I created a business account for my wedding photography), or any personal posts. I used to post about my trip to Napa, seeing friends who visit Boston, etc... but same thing - I saw my follower count go down. And that's ridiculous! Thanks for putting it out there - I'm inspired to post non-food things now!

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  8. Thanks, this is an awesome post. I feel like this struggle - blog because you love blogging, or blog to turn it into a career - is something we all have constantly deal with. Keep up the great work. I'll keep reading even if you post pictures of Singapore (oh man, those pictures!)

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  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective on blogging. I've been blogging for years, first with a personal site and now on a more food-focused one that also serves as my business website. Anyway, I've never made it big. I've never had many more people reading than my loved ones and friends and there's many times why I've questioned why I spend so much time putting effort into it.

    Your post is such a good reminder of why. For the love of creating, to work on my writing and photography because those are things that I enjoy, and to spend time on something that is life giving for me. If somebody happens to notice someday, great. But in the end, it's not about that.

    Thank you for reminding me.

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  10. Way to put it all out there! It is great to hear about what your experience has been like - props for staying true to your vision.

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  11. Brooke @ Chocolate + MarrowMarch 18, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    Oh Michelle, I love this! I have so many thoughts, reactions, and shared feelings, mostly about posting content that's important, meaningful, and sincere as opposed to attention grabbing. I've found myself at times veering away from that and have to kind of mentally recalibrate. Remind myself of why I began blogging in the first place, which was ultimately just for me...to share the food and thoughts that were meaningful to me. Let's chat more about this this weekend! So excited to get together :)

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  12. I for one LOVED your Philippines photos. So there.

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  13. I just adore this post. Michelle. I totally agree with & can relate to everything you wrote... I blog for myself, but it's hard to not be disappointed when you're un-followed because you posted something you like, but that your followers didn't expect. I've been posting less recipes lately, and experimenting with other types of photography, but my most popular posts are invariably food. Even though this is upsetting, I try to write about things that interest me, and avoid falling into the 'posting for others' trap.
    Oh, and this cake is gorgeous! Your photos are perfection.

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  14. Thanks for this post — I absolutely share you sentiments on blogging! It's hard to find that balance... I know I struggle with it and am currently in a re-haul to see how I want to proceed. Glad to hear I'm not the only one :)

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  15. First, this cake is gorgeous.
    Second, I really appreciate this post. I have struggled with what I call blog-slog...the pressure, feelings of inadequacy, loss of followers (which incidentally has happened since the birth of my son), and just general anxiety. Most of these things are self imposed and it's come and gone in cycles since I started my blog in 2008. One of my goals is to be more authentic as a blogger--even if it means I'm boring or uninteresting or off-putting or being catagorized as a "mommy-blogger"--but I'm finding it even more difficult than I imagined to shed this armor that I've created of upbeat sillyness. Not to say that I am not a silly person (I really am), but that I am also pretty wry, my language is often NSFW, plus I AM a mom and a blogger, so why do I feel like that's a bad thing? And at the end of the day I struggle with being vulnerable.

    That said, to note on your mention of Foodgawker and Tastespotting and the constructive criticism that they offer, I've been thinking I need some of that kind of thing in my life. Maybe some sort of virtual workshop situation--like a meaningful exchange on most recent posts and how we can improve on the content as a whole, from photos to writing. Not that every post needs to be profound, but I think I need it it be better and more authentic--both for real talk and reassurance. Anyway, sorry to just unload! You really got me thinking, so thanks!

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  16. Absolutely. Like I said — there's nothing wrong with blogging for money and getting paid to do what you love. I mean, I monetize my blog with ads and do the occasional sponsored post every now and then, and have the same dreams of getting big enough to be able to quit my job. This is really more a reaction to all the "Get Rich by Running A Blog" guides I've been seeing more and more of, etc. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and are sincere about what you want to write and post about. Can't wait to check out your blog!

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  17. I agree with you — it's so easy to get caught up in everything, that we rarely stop and think about what we're actually doing, lol. At least that's sometimes the case with me! I think the Piglet thing was interesting because it brought up a lot of issues about food blogging and food media that everybody thinks about and discusses privately, but doesn't explicitly and publicly talk about. And yep, even though I didn't necessarily agree with all the viewpoints expressed, I appreciate that they were said out loud and I loved all the resulting articles that came out of it in the end.

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  18. Thanks Alana! Also, hahah, I tend to turn all my stressful feels into desserts of some sort.

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  19. Thank you for SUCH kind words, Dixya. Your comment really made me smile!


    I have such mixed feelings about Pinterest. I spend an embarrassing amount of time on the site, for sure, and it's where I go to get a lot of inspiration and keep track of styles and recipes that I like. But yeah, over the last few months, I've definitely noticed that it's rare that I'm finding content there that I like, unless it's been pinned explicitly from other friends and bloggers I've followed. But as for the general Pinterest feed? Yikes. It really does seem like some recipes are just explicitly designed for Pinterest!


    I've also definitely been guilty of not sharing recipes I really like and think are tasty on my blog, just because they're not necessarily photogenic. What gives???! There will definitely be less of that from me in the future.

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  20. Thank you Betty! Your wedding photos are gorgeous; you shouldn't have to restrain yourself from posting them. At the very least, I promise that I won't unfollow you if you do ;-)


    Also, I saw your email in my inbox but I haven't had the time to read it yet. Watch out for a reply soon though!

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  21. Thanks Deanne! So many bloggers have left similar comments, saying they can really empathize and relate. I didn't realize that it was such a universal struggle amongst us!

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  22. Hah, I find that just about every perspective can find a like-minded community online. But I do think the struggle between authenticity and increased financial opportunities is a big problem in blogging right now.

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  23. Thank you for sharing your thoughts too, Kali. I think what you've said is incredibly important — your words about blogging for the sake of creating and enjoying it? I couldn't have put it better myself. That's what I really love about blogging too.


    And even if you don't have the audience you want now, I'm ***sure*** that it'll build over the years; the blogs that last are the ones with sincere and heartfelt content (after all, that's what makes them unique, right???), and it sounds like that's what your blog is about. Can't wait to check it out.

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  24. Yes, for sure! I'm excited about our HH date this Friday :-) And be warned... I have so many more thoughts about this in real life, I might overwhelm you!

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  25. Hahha, thanks Mariko. I liked them too. I'm pretty sure i lost something like 500 people or something posting them though!!! Which is crazy! But oh well? Like I said, I'm working on trying not to care so much, as much of an uphill battle it can be :-/

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  26. Thank you Abby!


    It's so sad for me to hear you say that about your blog. Because in addition to your food pictures, I love all the portrait pictures and nature shots that you've been posting. I wish I'd had as much talent as you do when I was your age! You have a really good eye.


    I know it's hard and incredibly disappointing to lose followers, but I think you're doing the right thing. You're so talented that it seems like such a shame not to share any of the non food-related work that you've been doing! Like I said in my post — I promise I won't ever unfollow you for doing that.

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  27. Thanks for stopping by, Mary! I've definitely had to rehaul my blog a few times because I find myself losing direction and inspiration. Often times, it's a result of the stuff I've said above. Let me know if you want to chat some more about it!

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  28. Oh man, I have so many thoughts on a lot of what you posted above. So glad we're getting coffee soon, I'd love to talk about this more in real life! See you on Sunday :-) and seriously, be prepared — like I said, I have so many thoughts on this, not all of them necessarily safe for work lol lol lol.

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  29. I love your words more than you could possibly know. And girl, I'll never unfollow you for posting about real-life. I followed you to begin with because of (1) your inspiring photos and (2) your "realness". I want to know all about Portland and cakes and photos...keep being awesome! xx

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  30. Absolutely lovely cake, and beautiful styling! So jealous you have spring in your neighborhood. Still dirty snowpiles here in the Northeast!

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  31. In the words of us Korean folk: "omoh omoh omoh", Michelle!!!! can I just really truly tell you that I love your sincere soul and grit?! There's nothing I appreciate more than truth and integrity in a person, well, love is always first of course. But these are exactly the things that have been plaaaaaguing my mind and I always reassess myself because the last thing I want to do is live a life of vanity and pride. I just want to do the things I love, live for God and serve others, and make people smile. Now is that so hard? Why yes it is, at least in this Instagrammified world. (I still love IG haha) But I definitely do notice that whenever I talk about God's love or quote a few amazing things from His Word, people get turned off and immediately unfollow me. I do it knowingly anyway so I'm not discouraged so that's good. But I'm reminded that my life isn't about me or how greatly I succeed, and who I really am is just a lover of Jesus who happens to bake+cook+exercise for fun+mommies a baby, loves her husband, and loves to help others. So case in point--we are who we are and not what we do. Anyway, thank you for being one of the "great bloggers" (you always have been imo since I started to read here) who stand up for reality without fear of judgment. <3333 Ps: I agree that the financial perks and fame wouldn't be a bad thing at all, but if we do anything at the cost of our identity then it is NOT worth it.

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  32. Excited to make these scones but I noticed the ingredients list says one TBSP baking powder and the recipe directions say 1 tsp baking powder. Can you clarify? I am in the middle of making them and already put a TBSP but tried to fish some out so I guess I will find out :). Thank you!

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  33. I love and appreciate this so much. So so much. Kelsey and I made a conscious decision at one point not to say yes to every opportunity or to pander in our blogging, and I sometimes wonder if it has put us at a disadvantage. (It certainly impedes us on that quest to blogging stardom! Come on, we all want it). Bottom line - I have enjoyed and am so proud of everything we've put out there, both on the blog and on Instagram, since making that decision. So maybe we're not the most popular bloggers around. It's fun. It's rewarding. And those jealous feelings about follower count and pinterest shares? Far better than feeling ashamed or unauthentic. As they say, you could be the juiciest peach on the tree, and someone is still not going to like peaches.

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  34. oh no! the ingredients list is right, the measurement is 1 tablespoon. so sorry about this mistake — i'll edit the recipe instructions now. thank you for pointing it out, and i hope my typo didn't ruin your final product too badly.

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  35. butter and briocheMarch 18, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    I loved this post and can so relate, I often get too caught up in the whole blogging aspiration of fame & fortune and in the process lose sight of what really is important and what makes me happy. As for instagram, I like having glimpses into different areas of your life - so please don't change! As for the cake - IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

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  36. I think it speaks volumes that you're wise enough to think about why you're doing something. I applaud you for recognizing where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  37. These scones were amazing! A little flat due to the decreased amount of baking powder I put in, but the flavor is so good! I will definitely be making them again! Thank you for sharing the recipe and replying so quickly.

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  38. Wow, that post hit so many things and I agree on so many level. I started my blog as our first son passed away and it was a way to get back on track and like on your case a way to stay in contact with family and friends in our home country. As a plus of challenge, as a German living in Portland writing not in my own language, was tough in the first time. Sure, I look up to many other bloggers and think sometimes, wow how do they get so man followers and how can they write such beautiful post. It changed a lot as I got pregnant again ( I am almost at my due date). It would be great to have some additional income, for sure but this was not my approach in the first place and it will never be. Blogging is a small world and you have thousand of followers and still being self- conflicted, life is full of changes and I always love to see the people behind the blogs as human beings. There is no false or right, there is only your way how you want to blog. There is a lot of pressure in the social media world which can be overwhelming, still it our choice how fast we want to push our sites an what is our approach. I love it, to read post like yours- this is a reason why I love the blowing world. Not to mention the recipe <3

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  39. Thank you for this beautiful post and your honesty.We do things to please people and to be liked and accepted,nothing wrong with that as long as we don't loose ourselves and love for what we do.Happiness and a great success is to stay who we are in the world that is constantly trying to change us :* I like you the way you are, so don't change :)

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  40. First off, Michelle, you should know that one of the reasons I come to your blog is because of the way you write- I hate to use the word authenticity (it's too overused in the blogging world!) but that's what I've come to expect from you. You write truthful and inspiring posts that are never pretentious, only engaging.
    I have to admit that I got bit by "The Bug" as well. I started my blog at 14 (I'm 17 now) and in the beginning, it was about various things I enjoy: food, fashion, and a little diy, too. Now, it's mostly about baking, my biggest passion, with a little writing/decor thrown into the mix. But after a recent feature on Food & Wine's Instagram, and then Huffpost Taste, I got a lot of followers that were only there for the food, which led me to be hesitant about posting anything else. I've had to remind myself, time and time again, that it's my blog! For my enjoyment! Yes, I love getting more traffic, more repins and regrams, but if isn't what I want, then why am I doing it all? So far, I'm staying true to myself. And it seems like you are, too! Keep it up! You're one of my favorite blogs.
    Also: I loved your travel pictures! Please post more! I'd love to hear a little more about your trip!

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  41. hip hip hooray for doing it for yourself. beautiful words and a beautiful cake :)

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  42. I LOVE YOUR WORK LADY! NEVER STAHP! (and that goes for both of you two)

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  43. Is there something going on in the collective unconscious of bloggers at the moment? Because I've been feeling the SAME THANG. For me, that means that I want to be more aggressively different, more myself, more insane, more creative, more strange. And I want to do that to take the pressure off, not to put more on. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, I loved this. You're the bees knees and I wish I was in Portland so we could hang out. And I loved your travel photos, and I especially loved your Darth Vader photo, which I only just saw.

    BIG LOVE FROM ME. xx Sarah

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  44. Ahh, you took the words right out of my mouth and wrote this beautifully! The whole Piglet controversy has definitely made me rethink my perspective on blogging. It's so easy to get caught up in your own little microcosm with fame and fortune and the competitiveness of blogging. It also so easy to be hard on yourself when you don't get all of those things which is why I think I'm glad this happened. It brings up a lot of issues within the blogging world which were definitely not discussed until now.
    On a different note, this cake is all sorts of gorgeousness! Pom meringue cake with that buttercream, yum. I recently started using the large stand mixers at the bakery and started using a torch to make my meringue bases, I now want to get my own torch but I think my husband will freak out ;)

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  45. Michelle! Hi. We're new blogging buds but I'm so happy today was the day we connected. I stumbled into blogging the way many of us do—urged by friends, reluctant to start measuring my freewheeling drizzles of olive oil and shakes of sea salt, in love with the beauty of food. Even as K&C has grown, it's largely remained that for me (though I actually learned to measure my ingredients ; )). I don't read many blogs (which will explain why I'm just coming to you now!), and I am drawn to others' work primarily by aesthetic and authenticity. I wasn't aware of the Piglet controversy until I started reading your post today and clicked through to the link. That post was so hard for me to stomach—Mimi was one of K&C's first followers, and though I can't personally relate to her travails in the French countryside, her kindness and beauty has inspired me deeply.


    Which is to say: I, like you, take this blogosphere with numerous grains of salt. Like you, I am also making a career out of it, but I'm also aware of its pretense and its ego and its challenges. I want, always, to share my heart through my food and writing and the pictures I take. For me, to tear anyone down is not only needless, but also a tremendous waste of energy. That Food52 post saddened me so much that I almost didn't keep reading yours here! But I'm so glad that I clicked back through. Thank you for sharing the shadows of your experience and shedding light on a way forward that is kind and beautiful. Together we can!

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  46. Aww, thank you Ellie! Your kind comment really made me blush over here. You said a lot of great things that I agree with — it can be surprisingly hard to do the things you love without getting distracted. I especially like your PS at the end. Thank you for following as long as you have! I really appreciate it.

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  47. I know what you mean — since I started saying "no" to things, I do feel like I sometimes miss out on more opportunities for followers, money, etc. It's that FOMO, I guess. But YES to everything you said — this way, I get to remain in control of my blog and keep having fun. Keep on rocking it, Natalie.

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  48. Aw, thank you Thalia! It's surprising to hear you say that you've undergone through the same struggles because I literally LOVE everything in your blog. Everything is so beautiful, and it's clear that you put in a lot of hard work and time on your posts. I've never once felt that you were pandering or being insincere in any way. Seriously — keep up the good work!

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  49. Yes, yes, yes to everything you said. I especially love your note about how life is full of changes, and the importance of seeing people behind blogs as, you know, real actual humans. My favorite blogs are the ones that give a full view of their life, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. Thank you for your comment!

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  50. Thank you, Bea! And you're right — there's nothing wrong with wanting to be liked or accepted, as long as the price isn't our love for what we do. I couldn't have put it better myself :-)

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  51. Aww, thank you so much! And also, I love your comment. Not to sound like an old maid, but I wish I was as together as you are when I was your age. At 17, I was still trying wayyy too hard to please other people and live up to their standards of cool. But you really sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, especially after what you've said about having to remind yourself and check yourself — I admire your self-awareness! It's still something I'm trying to figure out, and I'm exactly 10 years older than you, lol.

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  52. Yeah, it's funny. I was kind of cringing from a far when I saw the whole Piglet thing roll out, but I really appreciate the dialogue that it's started and the resulting topics that people have started talking about because of it.


    Also, side note — my initial plan was to torch the meringue for this cake, but can you believe it??? My torch gave out right before I was going to. I was FURIOUS. Maybe you can make a version with a professional torch!

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  53. Hey Lily, I agree with you about the Food52 thing. Like I told Nik above, I spent a lot of time cringing as the events unfolded, but I really appreciate the dialogue that it's opened. It brought up a lot of issues that I think are important and seldom discussed in blogging.

    I can't wait to follow along your blog; thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself and comment on my blog! Glad to have made a new blogging friend today.

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  54. Just have to say..you=SO AMAZING for responding to all of us lovers on your site today!

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  55. Great to hear your thoughts on blogging and I totally agree. I gave up blogging around three years ago, am just starting up again and it's just such a different world. I have to constantly remind myself that I blog and write for me first and foremost and try hard not to get pulled into all the "stuff" that surrounds it. Don't worry, no unfollowing here if you aren't posting cake. All your work is beautiful, desserts or buildings or otherwise!

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  56. Preach! I'm no where close to your blog, and I've been following along with yours almost as long as I've been blogging myself (2 years or so). As a fellow baker, of course I love your dessert pictures and recipes. But I also love hearing about your house renovations, your bike commute to work, and your life. I recently contemplated quitting blogging. So much negativity, putting pressure on myself to blog often enough, take pretty enough pictures... which isn't why I started blogging in the first place. Like you, I felt trapped in a boring job and cooked and baked as a creative outlet of sorts. I started writing about it and my life to feel more connected in an isolated job and new town. I veered away from that at some point when I caught The Bug. I feel like I just woke up. I know I can do this because my blog isn't anywhere close to as awesome as yours, but now I blog when I want, about what I want. Sometimes I use my DSLR. Sometimes I use my iPhone. Sometimes it's recipes, and sometimes it's a picture of my brand new niece. I think the truly dedicated followers like to see all of the above.


    You keep doing you.


    Natalie
    oystersandpearls.net

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  57. Hi Michelle - I'm a new follower - having been hooked by your Honey Sugar Pie - which is awesome! I loved your post - I've been blogging for almost 8 years now and I started my blog as a way of keeping my mom/family up to date and as a way to organize my recipes. I've done everything you mentioned - been suckered into thinking numbers matter - when really, after 8 years, I still blog for the reasons I started - for me, my family and friends and if some strangers want to come along for the ride, they are welcome. The best thing about having your own blog is being able to search for a recipe and read a post written years ago and being able to remember that day like it was yesterday. My blog is my memory!! Thanks for your post - loved it! xo, Nan

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  58. Amber-Loves Food, Loves to EatMarch 19, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    Michelle this post is so, so on point. I felt super bummed out about blogging and my blog (which I started in 2009... yikes!) during that whole debacle, and Tim's post (which I loved) made me feel even more bummed, because I just felt like.. he's right! I'm SO boring! What's the point!? I love your perspective, and it's encouraging to see bloggers I admire, such as yourself, also taking a step back and reevaluating. Thanks!!

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  59. Thank you, Rebecca! It's great to hear that you're heading back into the game. To be honest, I've thought about quitting a bunch of times, but find myself just really sad and depressed when I'm not baking or taking photos. But then again, I get all sad and depressed too when I (inevitably( start getting sucked into the Numbers Game, lol. It's all about reminding myself why I started in the first place: my love of sugar and desserts. Can't wait to check out your blog — drop in your URL some time!

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  60. Hey Natalie — I really appreciate you taking the time to leave that comment. It sounds like we've had really similar experiences! Believe me, I can't even count the number of times that I've wanted to quit on one hand anymore... and usually it's because I'm just putting way too much unnecessary pressure on myself, too! I like your point about blogging when you want, about what you want. That's definitely one of my big goals for the year.

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  61. Yes!!! I love looking through my old posts, even the ones with the terrible photos and bad formatting. It's like an electronic time capsule! Very cool.


    I can't believe you've been blogging for 8 years. In my post above, I speak like an old timer, but really, I'm still a baby compared to folks like you. I can't even imagine the changes you've seen, and the masses who come and go.

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  62. Hi Amber,


    I love, love, LOVED Tim's post. It really resonated with me and shook me out of my, well, pandering and trying to keep up with the trends that everybody likes.


    Also, your question about what's the point? Honestly, the point is that if you love your blog and what you're doing, you should just keep doing it, right??? Like, sure, maybe you like the same boring stuff that everybody likes. That's fine! Or maybe you want to go crazy and start blogging about eating cheese with chopsticks (or... uh, something???). That's fine too! Screw everybody else.

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  63. Hehe of course, lady! I always try to stay genuine and genuinely encourage people with kind words...not flattery (or at least I hope not). I say--hold on to people who open up about things in life like you did (small or big) because they're rare, so keep it up! ^_^vvvv

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  64. Michelle!


    Ok, so I definitely wrote this super long comment yesterday and then totally forgot to post it, so here's a little condensed version of my feelings:


    First things first ... this cake.


    I'm so impressed with that smooth as heck icing I could scream! That perfect pink color (made even better knowing the fact that it's not food-dye)!! That delicious-looking lemon curd! Ah, yay!


    Second... the Lottie & Doof article.


    Wow, talk about a kick in the pants. It's totally accurate though, blogging is kind of a formula. You make a cute thing, say some cute stuff, and wait for the applause. I love that the article basically called every one of us out for it and it made me feel pretty inspired to be more creative.


    Everything else you said:


    I love how you speak out against sacrificing your personality as a means of keeping to the status quo or blogging. I'm new to the whole food blog thing, but I quickly realized I just had to be myself and hope that people like it. For me, personally, I've always been more interested in the individuals behind the blog than the food itself. The food plays a huge part, of course, but it's the entire creative process, starting with the person creating and ending with the actual creation, that I find so interesting. It's fun to learn what other bakers and bloggers are actually like, including all the quirks and flaws and reminders that they're still actual human people and not just machines that pump out pretty pictures and funny words.


    Anyway, I'm sure I could have worded all of that much more eloquently, but I'm rushing off to class! Have a good day Michelle! Thanks for writing such a great post :D

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  65. Michelle, just so you know (because after reading this post which touches on your reactions to your blog / IG followers' actions, I felt I need to say): I started to follow your blog because you posted that 2 person birthday cake recipe for Erland, and I fell in love with this cute little cake idea & your photos in that post. I think it was on tasteologie. I subscribed to your email feed because I continued to love the lighting and mood of your food photos, and also because I thought the story behind why you started the blog (about the Hummingbird Bakery) was so sweet and something I would totally do myself. I also stayed because of the crepe cake you made for your mom, which I found while browsing through your archive.


    I continue to read your blog posts because I really really really want to make beautiful cakes and I like that you provide more details in your baker's notes -- so not common in many food blogs! I joined your IG late in the game because I'm pretty late in the game with instagram. BUT even though it was your food and recipes and the way you put earl grey in so many things (swoon, mmm), I LOVED your pictures from the Philippines and other parts of Asia. Not gonna lie, I'm biased because I'm Filipino(-American) but omg, so many little details about the photos I saw made me smile or made me nostalgic-sad or made me weirdly proud to be Filipino (read: umm, that BBQ stick hahaha but also the gorgeous views).


    I love to travel and cook/bake/eat, so know that not everyone who started to follow you because of your lovely food photography is in the same boat as those "unfollower" peeps. Seriously, who would unfollow based on gorg photos of the Philippines (yep, being biased here again)? I happen to like seeing bits of the lives of bloggers I follow, it makes me realize more about the person creating this site that I enjoy so much & it also helps me believe that maybe I can make something in this space too.


    Ok, ramble over. I promise I edit blog posts better than I do my comments ;-)


    (TL;DR: You're awesome Michelle! Keep posting your non-food photos too!)

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  66. Marissa@ In My Yellow CardiganMarch 19, 2015 at 5:57 PM

    YES TO ALL OF THIS.

    I've been trying to get my blog off the ground off and on for about a good year and a half now and it's taken a lot for me not to kick myself for not figuring out my groove or feeling so out of place with being new to the food blogosphere and not taking great photos just yet. Only in recent weeks have I finally felt like I figured out what I can do in between a full time reporting job. I've also been much better about not comparing myself to where I THINK I should be. I just love getting lost in all of the food blogs I follow and getting excited/inspired by food and beautiful photos that come with them. There's a need for more posts like this to help fellow bloggers put things into perspective so I was so happy to read your post (and pin your recipe). I love your blog a ton so keep on being great!

    Also, because of your post a couple of months back I definitely finally decided to try the NYT chocolate chip cookie recipe and have been hooked on buying chocolate feves on Amazon. :)

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  67. as darth would say, "don't go to the dark side of blogging!" . . . or something like that. thanks for the good post (and perfectly appropriate cake pic! :))

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  68. Hey Beau,


    1) I'm gonna have a tutorial on how to frost a perfectly smooth cake on the blog soon! Once I figure out this whole video thing. No, really.


    2) I know. That Lottie & Doof article was a real eye-opener for me. In a good way.


    3) My favorite blogs are the ones that share full, complete stories about their lives (whether through words or pictures). Even though I'm relatively new to your blog, I was showing it to a friend the other day and introduced it by saying, "Oh my god, look how adorable this guy is with his cakes, his also adorable boyf, and their dog! Not to mention pretty awesome dress sense." To me, your blog stuck out not only because of your baked goods (which are AMAZING by the way), but because of you and your life! What I'm trying to say is, even though you're relatively new to blogging, it seems like you've already nailed it and got it down. Can't wait to keep following along!

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  69. Aww, thank you for posting this, Ashley-Marie!!! I can't believe you've been following my blog for that long! And the fact that you actually read all my baker's notes??? I'm beyond flattered. Really.


    Send me a link to your blog! Us FilAm girls gotta stick together. ;-)

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  70. Hi Marissa,


    I really like your point about not comparing yourself to where you think you should be!!! It's different for everybody; there's really not any set journey or arbitrary milestones aside from the ones we set ourselves. Thank you for stopping by!


    Also, I freakin' love those cookies. They are like one of my fave recipes on the blog. So annoying that feves are as expensive as they are!

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  71. hahah, but wouldn't Darth encourage me to the dark side???

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  72. What a post...thank you for sharing your thoughts on blogging and maintaining an audience, Michelle! I found myself nodding to so much you said. And that cake is seriously amazing!
    P.S. I LOVE travel pics. Any pics, actually, as long as they're authentic. xoxo

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  73. Love this post!!! The cake is beautiful, and your words made a story unfold!
    http://www.sprinklewithsalt.com/

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  74. I have goosebumps as I sit here reading this. So beautifully written (and of course like all your photos so pretty -even the crepe cake was beautiful :) ) As a blogger I too struggle with all the things you mentioned, but for me it's a little different - I happen to love my 'day' job and didn't even know about this crazy blog world I now find myself in (3 plus years later). Yes, it's nice working with companies and all the other stuff, but no, it's not a necessity or why I blog. I like that you shed light on that! I also like that you shed light on those that just become a crazy huge success overnight with a repin or regram. I'm all about slow growth and doing what makes me happy, so please keep posting a mix and letting us see a gimps of your fabulous life :)

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  75. Your kind words mean so much to me! Thanks Michelle, looking forward to that tutorial!

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  76. Thank you, Phi! I'm kind of in the same position as you; as much as I love blogging, I'm not sure I could ever do it full time. I feel like if I did, it would quickly become about getting as many followers as possible, which is not what I consider fun.

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  77. I love what you wrote about blogging. I am just starting out with a blog, and I am trying to remember that I am doing it for fun, and not to "make it big." I am reaaaally jealous of all of you bloggers who get to do it full time, and make a living from it. It's amazing. But I think it's more important to do it because you love it. You gave some really good advice. :)

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  78. Thanks for sharing!! I came to this realization almost a year ago. I started blogging with less posts, less giveaways, no sponsored content, real life documented, writing about anything that pleased me. So freeing! (http://www.simplebites.net/changes-afoot-and-looking-ahead-for-simple-bites/) And there was a great response, too. As for Insta? I post anything and everything I love - and it makes me very happy.


    Great read!

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  79. Wow, I hadn't heard of the piglet controversy until this post...that's so sad that food blogging can get ugly like that. Michelle, thank you for an inspiring post. I've definitely gotten lost in the stats and the dollars before too, comparing my page views and followers with other sites. I love food blogging because I am passionate about food and am so inspired by the amazing community of bloggers I get to meet...it's always good to be reminded of that (:

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  80. First of all, this cake looks awesome. Pomegranates in cake = yummmm :)


    Also, I'm glad you mentioned that cookbook review, because I've never heard of it and it's so timely given that I recently reviewed a cookbook very similar to "A Kitchen in France". It was written by a man who was admittedly somewhat attractive...and the book was absolutely FULL of glamour shots of this bloke, making him look handsome or worldly or whatever. So it's definitely not isolated to just women. Personally I think it makes for a shitty cookbook buuuut that's my personal opinion.


    I wouldn't know about the "fame and fortune" side of blogging, but eh it sounds tough :)

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  81. That was a long entry indeed but I read it all because I felt what you said is what we all think when we blog. We want to be ourselves and find our way to catch following. Right now I blog for fun, I have no nitric yet and I haven't even thought of how to make money although if I'd have the time, I'd totally try to make money out of my time invested.
    Good luck with your blog, keep it just as it is. We ,your readers love it.

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  82. Last night was cookie night at my apt. We made white chocolate, chocolate coconut and peanut butter cookies.

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  83. I am very intrigued about how this will taste. I too enjoy recipes that involve tea.

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  84. Where to start.
    1. This cake looks a DREAM. Stunning. Wonderful. Gorgeous. I can't take my eyes off it!
    2. Obviously I'm not in the know. TOTALLY missed the piglet controversy. Having now read it I actually took it tongue in cheek and am surprised it caused such a stir.
    3. Though my following and my blogging experience is no where near yours (I mean no where), I did ask myself the same this week. Everytime I post things like pics of flowers or of my family, I barely get a look in. Or delicious food, that's not sweet, yet still super yummy, leaves the instagram community cold. After some tossing and turning, I've come to the realisation I couldn't give a fiddler;). It sounds like you've arrived at the same place too ;).


    Thanks for such a brave and honest post.
    K

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  85. HI! how much espresso would I put in a 3 layered cake?

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  86. Lydia Robins HendrixMarch 21, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    I can't thank you enough for this. Although I'm in a completely different industry, I so quickly become overwhelmed when followers jump ship because I post something that isn't brand-related - or worse, that speaks to my actual beliefs, versus just pretty pictures of my work or whatever. I have been practically losing sleep because I have no desire to pander to the masses, but it so feels like this is the only way to be "successful." In reality, it's a way to *appear* successful. I just want to do my work and do it well. Sorry, maybe a little much, but I can't tell you how much I am taking to heart the "so post that picture that isn't about food" (for me it's calligraphy). And for what it's worth, I really came for the picture of the cake (drooooool), and was so overwhelmingly grateful for the words that accompanied the recipe.

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  87. You had me at buttercream.
    But seriously, your thoughts are um...well thought out, and I applaud your courage in saying what you believe. BTW, I arrived here from Cake before Steak. And I spend a lot of time panda-ing. Oh. that's something different.

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  88. Hahah, I'm jealous of the bloggers who get to do it full time too (I'm not a full time blogger myself). But it's important to remember that it probably took most of them a longgg time to get to that point, and to not compare. Maybe you'll get there one day too!

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  89. Awesome, Aimee! It's so funny, I was just flipping through your cookbook earlier this afternoon. I'm so happy to hear that, even with the changes you made with your blog, you're a success! That's such an encouragement.

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  90. Ditto, Caroline. All the reasons you listed above = all the reasons why I'm still in the game. XOXO

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  91. Yeah, I agree with you. I'm all about the cookbooks that are about, you know, food. The whole Piglet thing was out of control though...

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  92. Hi there, I used this recipe but used 3x 8-inch cake pans instead of the 2x 9-inch cake pans.

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  93. Using the same recipe above, but with an additional half of everything? I would add another 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder.

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  94. Hi Kimberley!


    1) Thank you!
    2) I also read the Piglet review as tongue in cheek — I thought some of Adam's comments were cheap, sure, but I was surprised at how quickly it BLEW up. I'm also surprised at the controversy!!!
    3) Word. Let's just do what we want, when we want ;-)

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  95. I think your point about "being" successful and "appearing" successful is a really important one. If you're sacrificing good work just to "appear" successful, what's the point, right? Like you, I just want to do my baking and photo stuff to the best of my ability ;-)


    Can't wait to check out your calligraphy!

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  96. Lovely write-up! Great insights and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts as well as drooling over your cake as I read :) That last gif is crazy awesom!

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  97. What She's HavingMarch 22, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Your post explains exactly why I stopped I found myself writing in a "fake blogger voice" that just wasn't me.I would get obsessed with my stats and number of followers, to the point where if a new post didn't do well I felt like I had somehow failed.
    I've been thinking about getting back into blogging recently, but more as a creative outlet for myself than as a tool for fame and fortune. I hesitate only because the "likes" are very addictive and it's hard to not to write for them.

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  98. Thank you for your thoughtful words on blogging. Funny, I follow you on Instagram and was over the moon when I saw your travel photos because they were so incredible! Anytime a blogger does a travel post, I always love seeing the photos and reading about what they ate.
    As for content in a post, I love to see gorgeous photos of desserts (and your photos are incredible for this post!!!!!), but I am not just interested in the superficial. That is why I take the time to read every post instead of just looking at the pictures. I like to get to the heart of the post. Also, anything I have ever made from your blog has been INCREDIBLE, so I can tell you put your heart into it.
    I am struggling with my blog because I am not so much interested in fame as I am in recognition from other bloggers, and it is hard to break into the circle! It makes me want to work harder though, as there is always room for improvement. In my opinion, I had to check my vanity at the door when I started blogging, because I have received a lot of rejection.

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  99. Dori | Malibu Kitchen BlogMarch 22, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    Your pictures of your beautiful cake drew me in, but your words sucked me in. I left a job I hated a year ago to focus on growing my blog. However, it has not been as successful for me so I recently made the decision to start my own business and to go back to blogging as a hobby. Thank you for your message in this post.

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  100. Michelle - I discovered your blog last week via AT/ The Kitchn. And at first, I just wanted to drool over your gorgeous new kitchen (congrats!) and take notes for my own upcoming renno. But after reading a bunch of old posts, I had to add your blog to my regular reads. Not so much for the baking, but more for posts like this….honest, authentic thoughts on life and blogging….it's really a rare and precious thing to find online. Don't stop!

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  101. I don't even know how came to your blog...I've been traveling from blog to blog and end up here. What a treat! I've loved your post, so sincere, so honest. I'm not a blogger but I think e can all relate what you said and feel with some part of our lifes. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  102. Michelle, you have absolutely outdone yourself! Beautiful cake and such wonderful words as well. I sometimes get dragged into the 'competitive' mindset and it's so important to remind myself to be supportive instead! Thank you!

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  103. Beautiful post, Michelle. Thanks so much for sharing this! I appreciate your honesty and perspective, two things that always rings true in your writing. Also, slightly freaking out about this cake and its layers - so pretty!

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  104. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about blogging! I definitely agree: no job should be done solely for the money or fame. Wouldn't you rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable? :)
    I love your photography! This cake looks delicious :)

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  105. Thanks for writing (and posting!) these truthful words. I've ben struggling with this exact thing and my blog isn't even one year old yet. I pledge for more content we truly love over meticulously researched content we only do halfheartedly. I had a massive drop in pageviews since I started blogging about what I really want but who cares, at least I'm not dreading blogging anymore!

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  106. I can't thank you enough for this post. I feel like you read my mind! I've been thinking about the direction of my own blog for the past couple weeks and have been very torn. Your words have given me a lot more food for thought! I like monetizing so I can afford ingredients and camera swag, but I always feel a little dirty if I do a sponsored post where I'm just not crazy about the product or post concept.

    I also had a looong discussion with my sister about self-censorship on my blog out of fear of losing readers or offending people, being authentic and human, etc. I also worry about posting too many photos of my son on Instagram, but... he's goddamn adorable, so I'm trying to worry about it less. I'm not going to miss documenting these moments and sharing with family over blog followers. I was actually in the process of drafting a post about my own thoughts on this subject when I took a break to catch up on blogs and saw this!

    And, as usual, this cake is incredibly gorgeous and sounds like a fantastic recipe. <3

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  107. Dear Michelle,
    I've been reading your blog for a long, long time. Since 2012, actually. And I've looked up to your simple, beautiful photography, delicious food and artful writing. Thank you for being so honest on this post.
    I'm commenting now since I'm a new food blogger, and I don't think I've ever dreamed as big as getting tons of sponsorships, traffic and collaborations. But now that I'm reading this, I'll try to prepare for "The Bug". I have some questions I really hope you could answer.
    1. Why did you write great reviews about products you only thought were "meh"? Was it guilt, or hope for more sponsorships?
    2. If I was writing a review about a paid meal at a restaurant but thought it was just ok, should I let the owner know? OR if I think it's terrible, should I let the owner know I'll be releasing a bad review?
    3. You say that you were getting caught in beating yourself up over not enough new followers or getting renominated, when that wasn't what you started blogging or continue blogging for anyway. So what DO you do it for? Pure love of baking and sharing?
    4. You say that you bake this cake that's long enough to prepare to be therapeutic. What else do you do that relaxes you? (eg. education, volunteering, planting trees, hiking, traveling, sowing, etc?)


    Thank you for your time, it really means a lot to me.
    A huge fan,
    Moe (moebakingcomics.wordpress.com)

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  108. Hey, thank you for taking the time to write such thoughtful questions! Do you have an email address I could reach you at? I'm happy to discuss this all over email!

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  109. oops, rereading the post and found answer to #3: "learning how to cook new baked goods and play with different ingredients."
    My bad! :P

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  110. Thank you for these thoughts! Inspiring and grounding.

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  111. I love the honesty in this post. As a new blogger watching my counts go up or down, I get easily encouraged or discouraged. I keep reminding myself why I am blogging.
    Kari
    www.sweetteasweetie.com

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  112. Dear Michelle, tk you for the lovely blog and the open mind words. I am started my blog1 year and a half ago and am doing as a hobby. But of course be able to earn money with it would be really good. But in the end, nothing can pay the joy i have by posting something that i love. So your words just encorage me to keep that way. Cheers from Brazil!

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  113. Michelle,

    Thank you so much for sharing what I've been thinking all along. My blog is still a baby, relatively speaking, but I refuse to compromise on the actual CONTENT just to gain followers. I've never been a fan of blogs that solely speak about JUST what they are baking or cooking. I love connecting stories to my food, or sharing tips and tricks that will make people better bakers, not just over-describe what they see in front of them. I mean, that's why we all love to cook and bake, right? Because it not only allows us to make and eat delicious food, but it allows us to share it with others!
    After reading your post, I am confident that I should keep doing what I'm doing. The people who want the content will appreciate it the most, and those are the kinds of people that I want to read my work!

    You rock,

    Blayre [letherbakecakeblog.com]

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