Happy New Year! 2016 is finally upon us. I hope you saw 2015 out with a bang and are ready for all that 2016 has to offer. This year holds a lot of change for me as I mark my quarter century, embark on a new role as a fully qualified solicitor and hopefully, just hopefully, move in the direction of becoming a homeowner. EEK!
But before we look ahead I always think it’s good to do some reflection and to look back at the 12 months that have just passed. Today I’ll be doing a month by month rundown of the blog looking at some of the best posts, the stats and brand engagement this year. Make it to the end and you’ll find a link to the reader survey where you can let me know what you’ve liked/disliked this year and what you’d like to see on the blog going forward.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
Supper in the Suburbs – 2015 in Review
January was an exciting month as Jon and I started the year celebrating our 10 year anniversary with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I shared with you our itinerary for the long weekend along with reviews of the restaurants we visited.
I also celebrated my birthday in style with not one but TWO cakes, the second of which was a giant cookie cake just like the ones you find in a well-known cookie chain.
roughly 1,080 people visited the blog 1,751 times – little did I know it was about to get very busy indeed…
When we weren’t out and about, eating cake and comfort food (like this Ultimate Jacket Potato with Cheese) I was attempting a half-hearted detox.
In the grand scheme of things, January was a quiet month – roughly 1,080 people visited the blog 1,751 times. Little did I know the year was going to get very busy indeed!
In February I made a conscious effort to shrug off the Christmas excess and make a good start on my new year’s resolutions.
I signed up for Foodie Penpals – where foodies across the globe swap food parcels once a month and blog about what they are gifted. You’ll find my first write up here .
I also tried cooking with new (to me) ingredients like quinoa. My Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole was very popular with comments from readers letting me know how well it had turned out. A couple even sent in photos of the finished dish! I must set up a gallery of reader’s photos this year! What do you think?
As hard as I tried to eat healthily in February I did have one little slip…this year Chinese New Year fell on 19 Feb so I couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of my Chinese Fakeaway Spare Ribs.
In March things were still going slow and steady. My loyal readers were sending me lots of love and I was practicing hard at taking more appealing photos.
Unexpectedly, my Easter Kit Kate Cake managed to make it on to a Buzzfeed list sending blog views sky rocketing! You can find the famous cake here.
Sadly the chocolate cake’s fame meant that my Lemon Sponge Cake and my Fresh Fruit Cream Cake didn’t get as much love as they might otherwise have done – if you missed them first time round then do check them out! Why not pin them for next Easter?
In between stuffing my face with chocolate cake, lemon cake and cream cake I did manage to post a savoury recipe for Japanese Chicken Noodle Soup. This was an old recipe I’d posted on my original blog Kitchen Goddess (in training!) back in 2011 while I was still at university. The updated method and photographs have made it very popular ever since.
On Supper in the Suburbs, April was the month of salads, soups and superfoods. Unfortunately in April both Jon and I had health scares which meant we quickly realised the need to treat our bodies like temples. We put ourselves on a strict regime exercising frequently and upping our intake of fresh fruit and veg.
Where did the 5,733 readers in April come from? They visited the blog a whopping 7,830 times!
The lovely Lia from Lifestyles with Lia kindly offered to do a guest post too, sharing her traditional Italian recipe for Kale and Cannellini Beans. It was wonderful having another voice on the blog – I hope I sent some readers her way!
As I shared my journey to getting fit and healthy in my posts, suddenly I saw a surge in readers and quadrupled the average number of visitors I got in a month! Supper in the Suburbs was growing – who knew the answer was soup?!
As the weather started to cheer up so did I. Jon and I had shifted a fair amount of weight and we were both feeling much better for it so in May we really went for it and celebrated with lots of tasty treats.
This month saw my Slow Cooked Beef Chilli Con Carne get a revival as part of my obsession with Mexican food.
I also posted the definitive guide on How to Build a Taco Bar.
Another one of my new years’ resolutions had been to attend more cookery classes (just like last year). In April I went to an Artisan Sausage Making Class at Jenius Social and in May I shared my review. It was so much fun and I’ve been enjoying the fruits (or sausages) of our labour ever since!
May was a good month for recipes!
In the previous month I’d gone and doubled the number of visitors to the site AGAIN! The blog was now being visited 6x more often than at the start of 2015. I couldn’t imagine the blog would have seen such growth in the year and was super excited when I got to launch the new, self-hosted Supper in the Suburbs website. Hopefully readers can now find what they are looking for more easily, with better recipe features (like print and yum etc).
The increase in numbers meant that I could offer you guys something extra including more access to brands and products than before. My old blog had hosted lots of giveaways and featured many a review. In June I was given the chance to share with you the ProWhip – not for whipping cream but for using in a fun and innovative way in the kitchen, COCKTAILS!
I also reviewed the hottest new restaurant in Soho, London called Bao , a fantastic Taiwanese eatery that specialised in soft fluffy buns topped with rich slow cooker meat. If you still haven’t been make sure it is on your list for 2016.
World Gin Day also took place in June. I was invited to visit The Clachan in London for An Evening of Gin with Nicholson’s Pubs. You can see my round up of gin based recipes for Gin Day here.
When I wasn’t doing reviews I was focusing on more summery recipes like this Watermelon Salad with Crumbled Feta and Balsamic Glaze. and my recipe for Kale and Walnut Pesto.
In July I also had my first attempt at making a video – EEK! I filmed myself making this Nutella and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast and shared the post on Facebook and the blog. I had some good feedback but was a little disappointed the video didn’t take off as well as I hoped. I guess practice makes perfect. If you’d like to see more videos let me know in the comments below!
Salads and soups were also back on the menu with Broccoli and Raisin Pasta Salad, Peanut Soup and Portobello Mushroom and Lentil Salad with Lemon Dressing all going live this month.
One of my favourite posts in July, however, was the Formula 1 Cake that I made for my sister’s boyfriend. He’s a real petrol head and I wanted to make him something special for his birthday. I am by no means a cake decorator but I had lots of fun moulding the fondant and it’s a skill I’d like to improve this year.
In July, 7,872 people visited Supper in the Suburbs 10,663 times! The first month I had more than 10,000 page views!
August was a quieter month. Jon and I went on holiday, touring Cornwall in a Vintage VW Camper. I didn’t have much time for recipe development so instead shared a couple of advice pieces including: advice for renting a VW Camper; 4 tips for surviving a tube strike; and one simple thing anyone can do to up their cooking game – learning the mother sauces.
Overall the break was much needed and I think next year I might take a week or two off from the blog altogether!
After the incredibly laid back August I couldn’t have imagined just how busy September would be.
Again the blog had lots of fantastic engagement with brands from Smirnoff Espresso Martinis from TheBar.com, a review of Homeslice Pizza, and a fantastic competition from Alhambra where one lucky reader won a huge crate of beer. I was also lucky enough to be invited down to River Cottage for a fantastic blog camp. It was fantastic learning lots of new skills, visiting the stunning kitchen garden and networking with like-minded folk. You can find out all about the day here.
As the weather got a bit cooler I really focused on seasonal ingredients. I used up the last of the summer flavours in this Crab and Avocado Salad with Chargrilled Asparagus and Spring Onions and I made the most of the first batch of figs with these Fig and Prosciutto Sandwiches with Whipped Cheese and Honey.
I also showed you how to make this stunning Cardamom Cake with Rose and White Chocolate Buttercream as well as the Candied Rose Petals to decorate the top.
I received 394 comments on blog posts this month – the most comments in any one month in 2015.
Aside from the blog, Jon and I went to see the filming of a Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice. We queued for hours to get in and only just made it as it’s a weird hybrid of first come first served and priority tickets (a silly system really)! Everyone who comes to the filming is encouraged to bake. I bought a long my Profiterole Celebration Cake but as soon as I saw just how many other people had baked I didn’t hold out much hope for getting on the show. But, by some miracle, the producers decided they LOVED my cake and although the panel wouldn’t eat it or talk about it, they wanted it on the front row for a number of TV shots! You can see me here, on this still from the advert, holding the cake high and proud. I couldn’t believe my cake had been chosen!
In October I continued the focus on seasonal ingredients hosting the #PastaPlease Challenge with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes. I shared my own Chestnut, Leek and Mushroom Parpadelle recipe which was jam packed full of seasonal vegetables.
I also shared this Slow Cooked Beef Barbacoa recipe – a simple slow cooker dish that takes a cheap cut of beef and turns it into the most delicious, shredded beef you ever did eat!
Halloween was also a fantastic excuse to put my crafting skills to use when I showed you how to make a Pumpkin Flower Display which was picked up and shared by Wayfair to all of their readers!
November came and millions of pumpkins were chucked into the trash, but not mine! I used mine to make this delicious cheesey pumpkin dip.
It was also Thanksgiving in America. It’s become a (weird) tradition for me to hijack the holiday and invite my friends and family round for dinner. I made this Festive Beef Wellington followed by a Dark Chocolate and Ginger Trifle for afters. Delicious!
With Halloween and Thanksgiving taken care of it was time to start thinking about Christmas! You never can be too prepared so I shared my secrets for putting together the perfect cheese board, how to make pickled gherkins as well as a couple of gift guides.
I washed November down with a big mug of White Hot Chocolate and before we knew it December was here.
In December the only thing on my mind was Christmas. I shared something for dinner (Winter Wild Rice Pilaf ) a Christmas Eton Mess for pudding, Cranberry Gin and Tonic to wash it all down and after dinner Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Stars to nibble on with your coffee.
I also had an early Christmas present this year when my Cranberry Infused Gin recipe got picked up by Huffington Post and featured in one of their roundups. Foodista also featured me as their Food Blog of the Day this month too. I really ended the year on a high!
December: the final month in what had been a crazy year. I sat down to do an audit of the blog and couldn’t believe just how much it had changed in 12 short months. But, I can’t become complacent and there is still a lot more that can be done to improve the site.
This is where I’d love to hear your thoughts. Looking back over the last year what did I do well? What could I improve? And what would you like to see more of in 2016? You guys are the reason I write so I’d love to hear your feedback! Click here to fill out a short survey.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!