This Blog Turns 10 + Giveaway to End All Giveaways

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

As the holidays were in full swing a few months ago, my blog hit a major milestone.

In the quiet of a cold night late in November 2017, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (formerly My Kitchen Cafe) turned ten.

TEN YEARS OLD!

I mentioned it briefly in a few posts through the holidays, but I wanted to wait until life calmed down a bit to really celebrate.

And today’s the day!

I’m not going to lie, I’ve shed a few tears (seriously) getting this 10th anniversary celebration post together.

Dramatic?

Maybe.

I guess it’s hard to sum up all the feelings I have regarding this huge milestone.

But since it’s my birthday (both my blog birthday AND my big 40th birthday next week!!), I’m taking a little personal license today to talk candidly about what all this means to me and my family.

When I hit publish on that first post back in 2007 (I think it was a recipe for cheesecake pops that has since been deleted; in a fit of insecurity several years ago, I unfortunately deleted many of my first posts*), I had no idea that ten years later, I’d still be blogging.

*Don’t worry, I still have some of those “beginning” gems up. Like my mom’s homestyle stew. Get a load of those pictures. And that clever writing style. Hahahahaha.

It doesn’t help my tender emotions to look back and realize this is what my sweet family looked like in November 2007. It seems like another lifetime looking at those cute, chubby-cheeked little boys. I’m pretty sure I was holding that chubba wubba on my lap when I published the very first recipe.

Little did any of us know where the next ten years would take us! I was so young (29!!). So naive. With so few wrinkles.

And this is us today. Ten years later.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

Two more kids. And a whole decade of laughter and trials (and of course, FOOD!) behind us to make a multitude of memories.

And yes, I have a lot more wrinkles now.

Many, many of you have been here since the beginning! That’s crazy to me. And kind of makes me get all weepy again (WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??).

If you remember when Mel’s Kitchen Cafe was My Kitchen Cafe (over on blogspot, no less), then we are bonded for life. That very classy web design that you see below is courtesy of yours truly. #sotalented #hahahaha

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

When I finally moved from blogspot to a real, live dot com in 2010, I also got a spiffy new web design.

Some of these other logos may look familiar as I’ve gone through a few design changes here and there over the last seven years.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

And if that doesn’t get us all nostalgic, let’s have a moment of silence for how far I’ve come in the picture taking department. Let’s call this:

Then and Now.

I am by no means anything special when it comes to taking pictures of food, but I think we can all agree that time and upgrading from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR camera kind of, sort of made a huge difference in the pictures I posted in the early days of blogging.

The funny thing is, even though it’s been nine or so years, I distinctly remember thinking that carrot cake shot was such a good picture. I mean, look at the texture and the detail! Oh boy.

I think there’s some kind of really great object lesson here: like, when you step back and refocus, looking at the bigger picture, things look clearer and more beautiful (and a heck of a lot yummier).

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

On that note, cookies never looked so…I don’t know. Blurry? And thank goodness I tagged that picture with my web address in case someone wanted to steal it and republish, because it’s such an amazing, award-worthy photograph! 

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

And hello, spaghetti sauce. I’m sorry I did you such a terrible disservice all those years ago. I’m glad we were finally able to make up and get you a more flattering look for the world.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

I’m sorry, I just can’t stop.

Stew, anyone? Honestly, it shocks me anyone ever made the recipe with a picture like this. The trust many of you put in me in the early days (and still today) is…flattering…and frankly, kind of surprising.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

Ok, enough with the pictures.

These last ten years have been filled with so many ups…and yes, some downs thrown in there, too. Both personally and in blogging.

We’ve moved our family across the country multiple times, struggled with the loss of a pregnancy, found ourselves dealing with health issues (cancer + radiation + skin cancer), and managed to weather many other challenges that at times have seemed to rock our small world.

But through it all, my family and I have also been incredibly blessed. Brian has a wonderful job (and we benefit from a nonstop supply of applesauce because of it), my healthy kids are growing into fine young people (except when they’re not, ha!), and year after year, I find our lives naturally swaying toward being more firmly rooted in love for Jesus Christ and love for each other (even if that means my house is loud, chaotic, rowdy, and sometimes irreverent).

Real life, man.

Family really is everything. I know I can be a bit lighthearted here on the blog and I don’t always delve into serious matters, but at the end of the day, I hope the one thing you would say about me if you left is that “Mel loves her family.”

That’s really all that matters to me (even above my love for dark chocolate), and even though my blog has seen tremendous, unexpected growth over the last ten years, I’ve turned down many opportunities that have come my way because of this crew right here. And I don’t regret any of those missed chances, not in the least.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

Blogging has been the most wonderful journey for me.

I started with a handful of readers (oh hey there, mom!) back when blogs weren’t really a thing. I mean, there were a handful of us blogging a decade ago, but not many, and if you would have told someone back then that you were a “blogger,” they would have looked at you like you were saying something incredibly inappropriate.

I still remember when I got the first comment from someone other than my family. At first I was creeped out (ack, a stalker!), but then I was like, “hmmm, maybe this is awesome!”

Fast forward to today when I am visited by millions (!!) of people each month and filtering through hundreds of comments and emails a day (hence the hiring of the virtual assistant as outlined in that timeline below!).

That is completely insane to me. Millions of people here? On my blog? Reading me wax poetic and ramble on and on about food??

If you would have told me ten years ago I’d be managing a full-time business from the comfort of my home day after day, I would have laughed in your face because that would never have been possible in my mind (and it wasn’t at all my intention).

I feel incredibly fortunate and honored to still be here.

My extremely talented friend, Catherine, put together this clever and cute one-glance timeline of what my life has been like the last ten years.

There are a few blog details sprinkled throughout, but there are also a lot of personal details, some of them I never really talked about on the blog. I love this visual summary so much.

{Click HERE for a closer view of the graphic!}

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

I really feel like I have the best readers in the world. I think of so many of you as legit friends! I know that means I probably need to get out more, but I don’t care.

I look forward to seeing your comments pop up, and I appreciate your loyalty and support so much. You have made my life more fulfilling than I can explain – your stories, your friendship, your comments. Thank you.

I literally wouldn’t be living this food blogging life (which I deeply love, even on those days that I want to run far, far away and never blog again!) if it weren’t for those of you that come back time after time, that find me via google, that stumble on a Pinterest pin and manage to get over here.

Thank you for being here. It really means everything to me.

While I make a good financial living from this food blog, it’s never been about money (it took me years to even think about putting ads on my site at all, but having done so, I appreciate your patience with the ads and very occasional sponsored post, as it is a justification and reward for the hard work that goes into this blog, as well as a way to pay for the tremendous amount of backend, 3rd party, technical support this site needs).

I truly am only posting new recipes to this day (and spending a lot of late nights working behind the scenes to keep it all running) ten years later because of you. 

What does the future hold for Mel’s Kitchen Cafe? Well, as always, you can look forward to tons and tons of new, foolproof, best-ever recipes.

Of course.

I also have some projects planned this year (an upcoming YouTube cooking course, as well as a few out-of-the-box projects that I’ll tell you more about in the next few months) that I think will rock your world. I’m sooooo excited for what’s to come!

Ok, now on to the good stuff!

Since I only do a giveaway, like, once every decade (ha!), I wanted to give back to you guys in a big way.

You already know I rave about tons and tons of my favorite kitchen equipment. I have deep and abiding passions about things like Bosch mixers and wheat grinders, and I subject you to those opinions a lot. #sorrynotsorry

So today, I’m giving TEN readers a chance to win one of my favorite, favorite things!

And the potential prizes are pretty epic, I must say.

{FYI: This giveaway is not sponsored; I’ve been saving up my pennies to personally provide all the prizes as a way of saying thank you!}

{GIVEAWAY OFFICIALLY CLOSED! I’LL ANNOUNCE WINNERS MONDAY! }

To enter:

1) Make sure you are following me on Facebook and Instagram and have signed up for my email newsletters (you’ll want to do this anyway, as this is where I’ll be launching the upcoming projects + blog news + first access to recipes, and you don’t want to miss out on those things, trust me!)

2) Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite recipe you’ve made from my blog AND in your comment, include the number of prize you would choose if you are a winner (see picture and list below). It may take a few minutes, or longer, for your comment to show up. Please be patient and DON’T POST MULTIPLE COMMENTS. 

Of course, I’m not going to be able to tell if you are some giveaway lurker pretending to have made a recipe of mine, but my goal is to reward my loyal readers, so if you haven’t made a recipe yet, you better run into the kitchen and do that. 🙂

Additional rules: one entry per person (multiple entries will NOT be counted and will most likely result in all entries being deleted); giveaway open to Canada and US residents only (due to shipping costs). So sorry about that!

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway

#1: KoMo Wheat Grinder

#2: Vitamix Blender 

#3: Bosch Universal Mixer (with dough hook and whisks)

#4: Cuisinart Multi-Clad Cookware Set

#5: KitchenAid Professional 600 Series Mixer

#6: Blendtec Blender 

#7: Ice Cream Compressor

#8: Breville Food Processor

#9: Favorite High-End Knives

#10: The Almighty Instant Pot (can choose between receiving the 6-quart or 8-quart model)

I love your guts!

Thanks again for being here and for making this blog (and giveaway) possible!

{PS: my blog anniversary and 40th birthday gift to myself, because you know I had to do something, is a new set of pots and pans, and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited! It’s about time to put my 20 year old Farberware pots and pans to rest. RIP}

Mel's Kitchen Cafe 10th Anniversary + Giveaway