2013 - A year well spent

Last year, I decided not to make the obligatory New Year’s resolution and instead focused on all of the positive things that happened to me last year. I’d set some goals for myself so I'm looking back to see how I did.

#1 - Cook more

I cooked a WHOLE lot more this year.

In addition to taking more classes towards my culinary certificate, and conquering my fear of cooking fish, I also expanded my sweet baking skills. I started out by taking a Baking class with my good friend Ali, and amongst the laughs (at my decorating skills mainly) I built up my confidence with sweets and learned to bake a heck of lot more cakes, breads and cookies.

Baking Arts 1 © OliveandRuby.com   Blackforest cake ©OliveandRuby.com

Now I’m not about to stop and hang up my cooking shingle, because I am NO dessert baker. But I’m a lot less intimated than I was at the start of the year at the prospect of making sweet treats.  In addition to battling with basic cake decorating,  I finally, finally, finally mastered the art of fileting and cooking fish.

I also cooked in a whole lot of different places, and at the top of that list, was some vacation baking I did in Paris when I learned to make baguettes and fougasse.   I highly recommend this experience to any budding bakers. A huge thank you to Mardi from Eat. Live.Travel .Write for recommending both the school and the course to me.  I’ve tried to recreate the recipes at home but haven’t yet perfected it enough to make it onto the blog but watch out in 2014 because I’m going to be baking a lot more breads. In fact, I think another trip to Paris is definitely in order to check things out one more time.

At the beginning of the year, I’d set myself a target to adapt at least one of my grandmother’s recipes a month, and publish them on the blog. Funny thing happened with that, I didn’t do them monthly as I would have liked. I’ve started modernizing a few but it’s taken way longer than I’d have liked so I’ve now decided I’m going to keep work on them and I’m not going to set a schedule on myself to get these done. My own cooking experiences just seem to be getting in the way of getting these done. 

In the last 3 months, I took a bit of a break from cooking classes because I came to the shocking realization that I AM NOT Wonder Woman. I was burning the candles at both ends, so I stopped all of the structured, scheduled activities, and cooked and blogged just for the fun of it. While I didn’t seem to have all of the free time that I thought I’d would, it was good to take a break, and work on my plan for where I want to be.

#2 - Blog more

I voiced my opinion a lot more this year, and looking back I was surprised to say that I had something to say almost every month. Reviewing some of those posts I’ve also realized how much my writing style has changed, I dare say it’s evolved. Some posts made me groan (at how they were wonderfully they were written- NOT), while some posts struck a chord with others.  The one thing that I’ve learnt is that I have to write for myself, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

This year I also focused on finding my “voice”, and while it’s still not perfect, I’m certainly feeling a lot more comfortable about how I say, what I’ve got to say. I’ve been taking writing classes, and there is nothing more humbling than sitting in a room full of strangers who sole purpose is to provide honest, unbiased  feedback on what you’ve written. While at times, it was painful to sit there and listen to their feedback,  it has definitely improved my writing skills. Now I just gotta work on my vocabulary, cause there’s got to be more ways to what I have to say.

#3 - Participate more

Martin's ©OliveandRuby.com

When I set this particular goal, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had joined Food Bloggers of Canada, and I knew that I wanted to attend their conference in April. I arrived at the conference like a kid on the first day of school, scared and excited and hopeful that I would find someone to talk to.

By the end of my first evening all of my fears were gone, and what I found was immediate acceptance by the wonderful community of Canadian food bloggers who embraced me (some literally) and welcomed me to their ranks, despite my newbie status (< 1 year ) of blogging. I left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose, a determination to find my voice , make my blog the best it can be, and continue to push myself beyond the boundaries that I’d seemingly placed on myself.

Since leaving the conference I’ve met a group of wild and crazy women that I’ve gotten to know over the last year, and done a couple of mini FBC Toronto events – Heather from the Tasty Gardener, Robyn from What’s cooking on Planet Byn, Christina from Buffy & George, Meg from Sweet Twist of Blogging, and Jenny from The Brunette Baker to name a few.

I joined the Women’s Culinary Network, went to my first event with them, and it was a lot of fun. Thanks Charmian – the Messy Baker, for telling me about it and I’m looking forward to doing more events with the group in the New Year.

I lived below the poverty line as part of Alexa Clark’s from Unsweetened.ca's team and I met a whole bunch of tweeples who I tweet with but never met IRL (in real life).

I attended my second blogging conference in October which was very eye opening. I’m currently participating in the Canadian Food Experience project where I share recipes and blog about how the blending of my culinary culture with the Canadian culinary identity is re-defining Canadian cuisine. This month I also participated in my first ever Cookie Swap. Yup that’s right, me the non-sweet baker, baking cookies and shipping them across the country.

This year, I also participated in my first giveaway thanks to Meg, and learned enough about Instagram, Twitter, Rafflecopters, Bloglovin and Link Parties to know that I need to know a helluva lot more about these things.  I can weave my way around a B2B marketing campaign blindfolded with one hand behind my back, but need help on keeping up with the way to use social media tools in a non-B2B environment. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I plug away confident that one day I’m gonna get it. Hopefully before some new social media tool comes out that I’ve got to learn.

#4 - Read more

My head is swimming with the articles, blogs, recipes, tweets, recipes, enewsletters, vlogs and posts that I’ve read and viewed. I’ve tried to stay on top of the new and popular websites but I gotta tell ya, it’s hard enough to read all of my emails at work far more for.


I’ve been finding that google plus and bloglovin’ do a great job of highlighting new sites that I need read/follow.

#5 - Do product reviews

I should have said start doing product reviews.


I did my first ever product review on a Mandolin that I’d been lusting after, and it wasn't as scary as I'd thought. That led to another review, and then another and before I knew I’d done a few. Yay!!! I enjoy doing these and hope that I’ve done a good job so far. I’m hoping to do more of these and a couple of new things in 2014.


All in all it was a great year forOlive & Ruby, and writing down all of the things that I've done has helped me see how much I've done.  I travelled a lot, made new friends, had great experiences and above all else learned a lot.

I am immensely grateful and look forward to doing moving onwards and upwards in 2014.


Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Copyright © 2013, Olive & Ruby. All rights reserved.


Meg @ Sweet Twist 's picture

I am glad you participated more and me too. It has been fun doing our gta blogger events, can't wait for 2014.

Rhonda's picture

will be a lot of fun. Merry Xmas Meg to you and your family :)


Bhupinder 's picture

Great blog post Rhonda! Exciting to hear about another possible trip to Paris! Next time I need baguettes, I am tweeting you! ;-)

Rhonda's picture

Let me practise a bit, then for sure you'll be my first take out order :)

Robyn's picture

I love this year end wrap up Rhonda! The conference has been a game-changer for me too, and I have loved getting to know our little group of GTA bloggers better. So excited for many more fun adventures in 2014!

Jo-Ann Blondin's picture

Rhonda what a great post. It was wonderful to meet at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference. So happy to see all that you have accomplished this year.

Let me know when the FBC Toronto event is as I would like to join you.

Here is to another successful year.

Jo-Ann Blondin

Rhonda's picture

I will definitely reach out and let you know when the FBC mini group gets together next time :)

Here's to a successful year to you as well in 2014.


Heather's picture

Can't wait for even more fun and crazy things this coming year! Just think what we all did in the 6 months getting to know each. Now we have a whole year of potential debauchery! And a conference! So great knowing you Rhonda and keep up all the grate (sic) work you do!

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