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2018 in Review

Holy crap on a cracker, what a year! Today we’re doing a quick look back on the last 12 months and talking about plans going forward. I shamelessly stole this idea from my friend Christine at Happy Veggie Kitchen.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the post, I wanted to take a moment once again to say thank you. Thank you for being a reader, for your support, your kindness, and challenging me to keep doing more. You’re the reason I am here and my heartfelt wish is for a very merry 2019 for everyone.

Ready to roll? Let’s do this!

Top Recipes of 2018

  1. Homemade Vicks Soother Tablets {Shower Soothers} – This post has been my highest driver of traffic since it was originally published in March 2012Homemade vicks soother tablets on a grey board with herbs and essential oils
  2. Healthy Sweet TeaTwo glasses of healthy sweet tea with mint and lemons
  3. Cleaning Schedule For Working Moms – Originally published in 2014, this little post keeps chugging along.
  4. Whole30 Bruschetta Chickenbruschetta chicken on zucchini noodles in a blue bowl with a fork
  5. Instant Pot Sous Vide Egg BitesThree s ous vide egg bites on a plate with a dish of chimichurri

My Favorite Recipes of 2018

My favorite recipes may not be the most popular, but they have a special place in my heart.

  1. Ridiculously Easy Paleo Salmon Cakes. I love this recipe because the salmon cakes are delicious and they are totally freezable which gives them major meal prep creds. And the bright colors make my heart happy every time I see them.paleo salmon cakes on a plate with chimichurri and tomatoes
  2. Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowls. The love of soup is so strong in my heart.chopsticks holding noodles over homemade ramen noodle bowls
  3. Chicken Pot Pie Soup. This dump it and forget it Instant Pot/slow cooker soup is so good and easy. We had it last night as a matter of fact.a bowl of chicken pot pie soup with herbs and vegetables on a white board
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Roasting Frozen Vegetables. This is the first post I spent weeks writing and researching and it felt like a big accomplishment for a topic I love.
  5. Fried Halloumi With Bruschetta Zoodles. This is stupidly fast and yummy and the colors make me smile. And it involves fried cheese, so…fried halloumi with tomatoes and zoodles in a bowl
  6. Cilantro Chimichurri. I put this ish on EVERYTHING. It’s seriously one of my favorite things.homemade chimichurri in a bowl with limes, cilantro and garlic on a white board

Favorite Products of the Year

I don’t think publically declaring love for my Instant Pot will surprise anyone. I had so much fun getting to use this wonderful kitchen gadget and I love developing new recipes for it. And as always, I stuck by my goal of including non-Instant Pot cooking instructions for all recipes so that anyone can make them regardless of kitchen equipment.

Spiralizer. I got this one after trying and returning three others in late spring and it’s so fun to spiralize alllllll the things!

8 cup measuring bowl. This Pyrex bowl is indispensable in my kitchen and is used at least once a day. I can’t imagine cooking without it!

Insulated Liberty Bottleworks water bottle. I bought two of these on a Cyber Monday sale for Jack and myself and holy balls they are awesome! I took it on my trip to Canada and ice I added to it at 7 am was still in there the next morning. And I love that it is a Washington company.

My Fit Bit Alta. It is almost three years old now and still going strong. As someone who sits at a computer for long stretches of time (when not being climbed on by a toddler), this thing keeps me moving and honest.

My Dr. Scholl’s Madison sneakers. I now have them in two different colors and they are my favorite shoes ever. Comfortable and adorable, these are my go-to for jeans all year and shorts in the summer.

Podcasts! Totally free entertainment for my ear holes. What’s not to love?

Favorite Books

I used to read so much more when I worked in an office. I do miss eating lunch with a good book, but you know, self-employment and all.

I did manage to read a few books that I enjoyed enough to share (previous discussions about favorite books can be found here, here, and here).

  1. American War. If you like dystopian societies and hate having hope about the future, this book is for you! If you thought The Road or Angela’s Ashes were too sappy and happy, you’re in for a treat. Whomp whomp.
  2. The Radium Girls. Goodness, gracious this story about the radium dial painters during WWI is tragic and fascinating.
  3. A Column of Fire. If you like Ken Follet and historical fiction (all the nerds say heeeeeeey) this story has it all. It covers some of the monarchy battles in England, France, and Spain, and weaves in history about the division of the Catholic and Protestant churches. As a Lutheran, it was so interesting to hear things I didn’t previously know about.

Blog Changes

We started 2018 (well, the end of January) with a whole new name/brand and website! The amount of work that undertaking required was staggering and I don’t want to do it for another three(ish) years. Or sober.

But it was 100% worth it, and I think you all barely remember the shitty old blog look. I certainly have pushed it out of my mind.

2018 was primarily about me fixing old posts on the blog and cleaning up the junk that had been hanging around for seven years. Reworking content, making old recipes printable (finally!) and taking new photos pretty much consumed most of my posts for the past year.

I have been working on this blog for eight long years now, but only with any actual intention for about 18 months. This year brought some big and exciting changes for me and while they may not seem “huge” compared with some other sites, I know I worked my ass off to accomplish them.

If I compare 2018 to 2017, my blog traffic grew a respectable 36%. My Instagram community more than doubled, and Pinterest followers also doubled. What changed? I basically just got serious, started listening to what you were all asking for, and made sure that what I was producing was worthwhile to others.

May 2018 brought a shift in content that I never really saw coming. Troy and I did a Whole30 round in May for a challenge and it changed so much for me.

Honestly, I don’t think Whole30 is for everyone, or the way to eat or even a good idea for most people. It didn’t really do anything for my health, but it reignited my love of simple, healthy, and colorful foods.

And as I started publishing more Whole30 recipes, or even just labeling my existing recipes correctly (Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, carby AF, etc.), more people found this blog than ever before.

In fact, my two most popular Whole30 posts are my Trader Joe’s Whole30 Shopping List, and Whole30 Costco Shopping List. And that really speaks to my love language of organizing things, making something that seems complicated more accessible, and then putting it out there to help others.

Blog boner fo’ sho.

Looking Forward

I need to make it perfectly clear that we don’t eat strictly “anything” in the Cook house. I just wrote the last section about Whole30 recipes while eating the final crumbs of the 2018 batch of my Nana’s Almond Roca. For breakfast.

But, with Jack dealing with some lingering stomach issues, Troy feeling better when we reduce/cut things from our diet, and me loving new inspirations for cooking, I do see 2019 as leaning into more of paleo(ish) recipes.

This does not mean that I won’t be busting out a batch of Crack Bread from time to time. But, it seems worth it to explore to see if those boys feel better with less of certain foods. And because I blog about what we actually eat, that may seem like a deliberate shift to many long-time readers.

To quote my friend Katie, “I preach from the pulpit of moderation”, and I think if you like what you’re eating, then keep on it. I’m not here to tell you what is or isn’t right or wrong. And if I post a dairy-free breakfast recipe and you think “that would be so much better with melted cheese on top”, then I encourage you to adapt it to your preferences.

You know I’m totally putting the cheese on my serving too! My goat gut doesn’t mind dairy in the least.

And with that, I’ll say I wish you and your family a very happy new year and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for all of us!




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16 comments on “2018 in Review”

  1. Thanks for all you do, Sarah! I agree with all the above comments and won’t reiterate all of it, but I really enjoy how “real” you are. I decided to try Whole 30 this month and so all your recipes and lists are extremely helpful!

    • You’re very sweet Jean, but it is my pleasure to get to do this work.

      Good luck with the Whole30! Have you seen this timeline of how most people react during their first round? It was really helpful for us:

      • Thanks so much! This really helped so I didn’t worry too much about the food-anger that has been occurring the past couple of days.
        I am the only one in the house doing the Whole 30, which makes it difficult. I stopped making separate meals for them (my kids are adults and can cook for themselves). Last night I threatened my husband that if he made frozen pizza for dinner, I was going to punch him in the nose. I threatened my adult son to not eat the last of the roasted green beans because they were MINE.
        Your tomato soup is a godsend because I can make it Whole 30 and the whole family really adores that soup! I didn’t have Nutpods, so I used coconut milk instead and it turned out GREAT! Plus, it is super quick to make and basically a meal you can pull together out of your pantry.

      • “feeling stabby” is legit.

        When we did the Whole30 the kids weren’t involved. So I would make something that fit for everyone and we’d add on some things I knew the kids would be excited about. So I’d make a big thing of taco fixin’s up and Troy and I would have them on salad. Then we’d add some tortilla chips or something for the boys. That way I wasn’t make separate meals and no one was too upset.

        So glad the tomato soup has been a successful part of this! Man, I love that soup and love how much it makes for leftovers.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    Really enjoy your blog.
    If you like Ken Follet and haven’t tried Sharon Penman you might like her. Mainly medieval period english history, very well done.
    All the best in 2019 for you and all your peoples…

  3. Happy New Year! I still sometimes type in “being…” 🙂 srsly love the egg bites!!!

    FYI – the link to crack bread is broken.

  4. Happy New Year! Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into this. Sustainable Cooks is my favourite email that graces my inbox a few times a week. I continually look forward for what you have to say. All the best in 2019!

  5. Your oven fried gnocchi recipe has been my household’s favourite new meal of the year, it’s gone into regular rotation for us.

    If you’re looking for any new podcasts I’ve discovered Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces this year, it’s an interview podcast and the range of people on it is brilliant.

    Happy new year!

    • That is one of favorites too Heather and it makes me so happy you all enjoy it.

      Now that is quite the name of a podcast – ha! I’ll have to check it out. Happy 2019 to you and yours.

  6. Wow.  This just highlights how amazing you are!  Thanks for all your hard work and being so approachable.  It seems that so many bloggers put out this perfect product, yet it feels so superficial.  You put out lovely, lively, informative, professional posts, but I never feel like that with you.  You’ve grown by leaps and bounds as we’ve watched you along the way.  It’s so “real” to read about your challenges and successes, as well as your goals.  Even your comments to the comments are personal and don’t seem “canned.”  Bonus:  pictures and stories about two special boys.  Best wishes for continued success!  Happy New Year!

    • Awww, thanks A. Very sweet of you to say and since you’re such a long-time reader I know you’ve seen all the various changes we’ve gone through.

      Happy 2019 to you and yours!

  7. Sarah, I so love your blog. Even when we couldn’t eat most of the recipes you posted, I still followed along. Actually, your blog is the only one I still follow. I love your foul language, your parenting, your honesty. But I think what I love the most is your dedication to improving. For someone who kinda hates hard work, seeing the amazing results you have gotten has been inspiring.
    I am excited to see what you bring to the world in 2019!!!

    • You’re too kind Tina and thank you for being one of my first readers and part of this community!

      I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings for you and your family.