Little Spice jar turns 5!

It was exactly five years ago today that I hit the publish button on the first post I’ve ever shared here on Little Spice Jar.

For me, blogging was a way of filling my days after choosing to walk away from my job in the healthcare industry. It was my first job right out of college, it was monotonous, and within the first several months, I knew I didn’t want to do this long term. Even as I was finishing the last couple of years of my undergrad, it was becoming increasingly apparent that I wanted to work with food. I hold a degree in Human Nutrition and Foods, and while most of the classes I took geared me towards clinical nutrition, I owe all of this to the food science classes that were part of our curriculum. It was those food science and hotel and restaurant management classes that lit these tiny sparks that my day job wasn’t fueling.

So even after work and on the weekends, I’d whip together treats to share with family and friends. My coworkers often joked that I’d bake and cook at work if I could, they weren’t wrong! So after three years, I made the leap.

The blog started as an outlet. I needed something to do while I figured out my next steps. And I always had family and friends asking me for recipes of things I had made and shared with them in the past. So I figured while I worked through what I wanted to do, I can use the spare time to organize my recipes online. I had an old DSLR camera I had bought before our honeymoon, and I used that to take pictures in our then two-window apartment that only had sun for a couple of hours in the day. Right away I noticed that I had way more fun running around in my kitchen, in the middle of the day (sometimes in my pajamas) than working towards a career that albeit secure, just wasn’t working for me.

I gave myself a year. If I could continue to blog three times a week for a year, I’d find a way to make food my life. In all honesty, I figured I’d head back to culinary school. I just needed validation that it was worth the enormous student loan I’d need to take out in my mid-twenties.

Never in a million years did I sit at my breakfast table (which doubled as my office at the time) and dream that I’d be sharing my recipes with all of you guys as my fulltime job one day. I’m so incredibly humbled and grateful that things worked out the way they did!

kitchen picture with books, stand mixer, and sign that read "a party without cake is just a meeting'

hands holding cake stand with cupcakes on it, one with lit candle

5 Things I’ve Learned

  1. Do it for the right reasons. This is first and foremost for me. Don’t do it because you think it’s easy money (it most certainly is not!) Like any other job, if you plan on making your blog a fulltime thing, it requires a significant chunk of your time. It’s also more likely that you’ll burn out if you do it for the wrong reasons. Do it because you want to; do it because you’re passionate about it. Don’t do it for any other reason.
  2. Don’t compare your success to others. This is hard. We live in a connected time where we’re lead to believe that what you see on someone’s heavily filtered Instagram feed is their reality. There have been so many times where I’ve turned to my husband, half defeated by the chocolate chip cookie recipe that just wouldn’t turn out, and have complained ‘why do I even bother? Such and such has been blogging for only [insert a minimal amount of time] and already has much more followers than me.‘ I can tell you this much; success comes to those that persistently work hard and are patient. There will always be someone who takes better pictures, who had a better internet voice or has more followers. Everyone catches their ‘big break’ at a different time and in a different way. You just need to keep chugging along and produce quality content until it happens for you in your own way.
  3. Be kind to yourself and take breaks when you need them. Writing recipes that you share on the internet is a 24-hour job because the internet is never closed. There’s always an email that needs to be answered, a commenter that needs help, a blog post that needs to be completed and so on. It’s important to step away when you feel ‘blogger burnout.’ Take a day, two, or a week, regroup, think about why you’re doing this and where you want to go with it. In the beginning, if I missed a post, I’d beat myself up for it for hours on end. But now, I know that I can’t produce quality content if I’m not doing well mentally or physically. I love coming back refreshed and recharged, especially after a good vacation! At that point, I’m itching to get back in the kitchen!
  4. Think outside of the box. When I started blogging, I made my versions of recipes that were already well known and liked, such as a traditional green bean casserole or a basic beef stew. But it turns out; people want original ideas! Would you believe that my most popular recipes on the blog are those that I doubted would do well at all? Chicken piccata meatballs, tomato baked chicken, and garlic noodles are just a few of them!
  5. Don’t get too comfortable! This is especially true when it comes to different social media outlets. Snapchat is happening. Now it’s not? Instagram changed its algorithm. Facebook wants you to mark all sponsored posts clearly. And the rules for any and all of these can change at any given time. It reminds me of the moving staircase at Hogwarts for my fellow HP fanatics. Be open to learning. Bloggers are pioneers and the internet is fast-paced and ever-evolving!

me holding a hot coffee mug sitting on counter top

5 Things you guys wanted to know

  1. How do you take your pictures? I exclusively use natural light that’s being filtered through a sheer curtain from a south-facing window in the upstairs loft portion of my house. Most of the pictures are shot on a clean white or gray background, as I always want the food to be the star of the show!
  2. Where do you get inspiration for your recipes? It’s everywhere! Sometimes I’ll make things based on food trends, seasonal produce, magazines, other times it’s from eating out at restaurants, listening to new recipes that friends or family have tried, and sometimes it’s just finding new ways to make food I already love!
  3. What’s your favorite place for grocery shopping? I grocery shop way more often than I should, think at least a handful of times on a good week! But my favorite is my local Sprouts Farmers Market store, they always have the freshest produce, and I’m a sucker for that! But second up would be Whole Foods. You just can’t beat their free delivery with prime now! Especially when I have a crazy schedule for the day and need ingredients for recipe testing. They show up on my doorstep before I’ve even finished my morning coffee and that makes me incredibly happy!
  4. Do you have a cookbook? If not, why? I don’t! I personally feel I’m not at the point where I’m ready to write a cookbook just yet. It’s a big responsibility. When I write a cookbook, I want it to be everything! I want to make sure that every recipe I share is something that’s easy, delicious and foolproof. Maybe in another year or so I’ll revisit the idea! 🙂
  5. Is blogging your full-time job? So blessed to say that it is! I’m a full-time recipe developer, photographer, and social media enthusiast!

me smiling at the camera holding a cake stand with cupcakes

Last words!

As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading the blog and making the recipes that I share. I honestly love what I do, and if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be doing it <3

Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for!

me moving freshly baked cookies from baking sheet to serving dish

The Little Spice Jar Turns 5 Giveaway!

In honor of Little Spice Jars 5th birthday, we’re giving away $500 in gift cards! And it goes all week long! The best part about the contest is that you have not 1 but 5 chances to win! And YOU get to choose what retailer’s gift card you’d like, so pick out all your favorite items and enter in the giveaway for your chance to win!!! You can choose between Amazon, Williams Sonoma, Nordstrom, or Crate & Barrel!

Here’s how to enter

  1. Follow @littlespicejar on Instagram
  2. Like the posts between 11/26 – 11/30
  3. Tag at least 3 foodie friends in the comments (no duplicates)

One entry per Instagram post. You have 5 chances to win!

About the Giveaway:

From 11/26 – 11/30/2018 we will be giving away $100 gift card a day. Contest closes at 11:59 pm CST on 11/30. Winners are chosen at random. Be sure to enter each day! Winners announced on Instagram on 12/02/2018

Terms & Conditions

  • There will be 5 winners, one per day
  • Tagged friends cannot be repeated in the 5 day period
  • Winners must respond by noon CST on 12/4
  • This is not sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with Instagram or any of the retailers mentioned above. By entering, entrants confirm that are at least 18+ years of age, release Instagram of any responsibility and agree to Instagram’s terms of use. The contest is open to residents of US & Canada only (Quebec excluded. Canadian winners restricted only to an Amazon gift card worth $100 CAD)

me holding a cupcake with candle that I just blew out