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Old Dogs and New Tricks

apples and pink bowlsIn less than forty eight hours I will be another year older. Forty three to be exact. Coincidentally, this is also my blogging anniversary. Four years, 1,441 posts, over two million page views and one midlife crisis rebrand later, we’re still going strong over here.

And I have to tell you, I don’t regret one moment that I’ve poured into this blog. Looking back over the posts of the last four years, I see how much I’ve changed. Certainly there are a few more wrinkles, but honestly that doesn’t phase me much anymore. A near death experience will knock some of the vanity out of a girl.

The change that I find most interesting is my photography. Let me show you some examples…

old food photo 1This dimly lit, poorly shot cake was delicious but you sure can’t tell from this photo.

Another photo from the archives…

old food photo 2Another example of poor lighting and composition. Two concepts that were foreign to me for the first few years of this blog.

old food photo 3This would be the worst of the bunch which is rather unfortunate because it was so amazing. A spiked chocolate bread pudding. Granted, it’s very hard to take good pictures of brown food, but this is pretty ugly.

Fast forward to today…


curried nuts

cookie butter bundt


Now, the point of sharing this with you is not to toot my own horn. I want to show you that change is possible at any time in your life. If I can learn something new, so can you.

I’ve always admired both Paula Deen and Julia Child. That probably comes as no surprise to you, but it’s not for the reasons you would think. Sure, they are both accomplished cooks, but that’s not why I admire them.

I admire them because they hit their stride later in life. Julia and Paula both started their television careers in their 50’s. For sure they were both successful in other endeavors before their television debut, but the point is that they didn’t let their age hold them back.

And I find that so incredibly inspiring, because if they can do that, why can’t I? I’m not necessarily talking about having a television show, although that would be fruit loopin’ awesome. No, my dream is a little less grandiose. I want to write a cook book. Not only do I want to write a cook book, but I want all of the photography to be my own.

It will take some more time honing my photography skills before that happens, but I’m willing to be patient and learn.

So, if you have a passion and you’re holding yourself back because you think it’s too late in life to try something new, don’t brainwash yourself into believing it. Take a step towards your dream. Learn something new. It’s never too late to start again.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Toot!! Toot!! I’ll toot your horn for you since you are holding back yourself! You are amazing and your blog(s) have grown and matured over your journey. Your stats are incredible; four years, 1,441 posts with over two million page views. Wow! Your pix are amazing! I am completely confident that you will write and publish your own cookbook with marvelous pix! Keep the faith girl!

  2. Go for it!!!! In my own way I am putting myself out there again at the age of 45. When, not if, you publish your cookbook, I want to be among the first 100 and an autographed copy would be great. You do inspire and help those of us who are thinking about taking chances and changes in our lives.

    • Thank you so much Pam. Best of luck to the both of us!! Although, I really think it’s persistence more than luck that pays off in the long run. 😉

  3. Therese S. says:

    Happy Birthday (early) Melanie!!

    I’ve admired your photographic skills since I started reading your blog (almost two years!!)

    I’m in my mid 40’s and have gone back to college (online) to finish my bachelor’s degree. I believe you are never too old to learn…anything!!!!

  4. Wow Mel, what a transformation in photography. I guess I just never realized the differences until you actually compared them here. I have to agree with you, the more recent ones are definitely much better, if not perfect. The cookies with the milk make you just want to reach out and grab one.

    And I also agree that regardless of age, or any other statistic, it’s never too late to follow a dream and do what is in your heart. And of course, you’re an inspiration (and testament) because you never fail to remind us of these things – leading by example one might say.

    You should toot your horn…heck, if we don’t pat ourselves on the back now and then, we may never receive any recognition.

    • Awww, thank you so much Nancy. You’ve been such a great support to me. 🙂 As far as the photos go, I’m curious to see if in a few years from now if there will be a marked difference from today. I went on another food bloggers blog and he is a no kidding food photographer. I went back five years in his blog to compare his photos, and guess what? They were perfect. Sigh. I guess some people just get it quicker than others, lol.

  5. Margaret P. says:

    What a great goal! I’d definitely buy your cookbook…in fact, put me down as your 1st pre-order!!!

    • Thank you so much for the vote of confidence Margaret. 🙂 If I get the chance to pitch a publisher, I’ll show them your comment!

  6. This is just what I needed to hear today. Inside of me has always been an artist screeming for it’s liberty,but over the years that voice has become muffled by doubt and fear. Recently after being out of work due to a back injury,I had to ask myself what might I do if I can no longer work in that (physically demanding) capacity. Who have I always wanted to be? What have I always wanted to do? What am I passionate about? Yep,you guessed it. So, a couple months ago I made an announcement at the family dinner table (I stayed seated although I really wanted to stand and tap my water glass with my fork.), “Could I have everyone’s attention please?” “I have made a decision about the direction of my life and I would like to share this humongus news with you.” “I have decided I will no longer work as an CNA, I am now an ~artist~! Instead of a roar from the crowd accompanied by a marching band bursting through my door and confetti falling from the ceiling,I was met with,”Oh,ok Mom,that’s good.”
    So over the last couple of months I have worked on some projects including some fiber art and food photography . I have been frustrated on so many levels and have come to the conclusion that I don’t love the learning process,I just want to KNOW already! Everything in my fiber resists opening that instruction manual for my camera to learn about F/numbers and the like,or researching online what kind of glue I should use when assembling “found objects” so that my work won’t disassemble itself two years down the road. I must confess that I have flirted with giving into the taunting voice that says “maybe your just to old to learn” or “maybe you should just go back to doing what you know,and play it safe.”
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put my camera down and thought (as I eat my subject),”I’m never going to get this right.”. I have to repeatedly muster up the determination to press in and press on regardless of how I feel though,because after all, if it’s my dream,I’m the one who has to breath new life into it,right? Forgive me for going on and on,maybe I just needed to vent a little. Anyway,thanks Melanie for encouraging this old dog to stay in the process of learning new tricks!

    • Oh my. Sometimes our family doesn’t recognize how important our dreams are. If it makes you happy and you feel satisfied doing it, then keep chugging forward. God would not have put that desire in your heart if He didn’t mean for you to explore it. I hear you about the f/stop and all that jazz. I’m still learning about it. There’s a lot to know. And I get very frustrated myself. Two weeks ago I actually cried over a shoot. After working so hard on the recipe, the light started to fade as the sun was setting. None of the pictures were coming out. They were all gray and unappetizing. I literally had a breakdown. I was half tempted to shut my food blog down. BUT the next day I got up and started again. The photos came out a little better and every day since I learn something new. To quote a Finding Nemo line: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. That’s one of my mottos. The other one is: This too shall pass. 🙂

  7. Happy early birthday, Melanie 🙂

  8. Great post Melanie. I am soooo jealous of your pink pyrex!! I found a few nice pieces last week at a local thrift shop, but I have never seen the pink in person. Maybe one day 🙂
    Happy Birthday girl!! Have fun celebrating this weekend 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday! Those pics are making me hungry! If you write a cookbook, I will buy it! I love both of your blogs. Just reading your blog and various others from your blog list, has encouraged me to start a blog of my own. I took your advice and enrolled in a blogging workshop at a local university. The instructor of the class is eager to help me start a blog. I’m already thinking of ideas and posts. This is a huge stepping stone for me, but Hubby told me to go for it! I’m really excited and eager to get started! Thanks for the great posts and pics!

    • Thank you so much Kellee! Good for you for starting a blog! I bet you’ll really enjoy it. I can’t believe how much adventure its brought to my life. Please share the link when you feel ready for us to check it out!

  10. Happy birthday and blogiversary Melanie! I have enjoyed every minute of following your blogs!

    Thanks for encouraging us not to give up on our passions! Speaking of yours – I look forward to the day when your new cookbook debuts!

    • Thank you so much Tshanina. One of my happy blogging memories was getting to meet you face to face! I love when I get to meet readers. 🙂

  11. What a great cookbook that will be! Good for you and enjoy your birthday!

  12. Yes, transformations are awesome and do-able. I know you will do great in whatever the furture holds for you.
    I’ve been meaning to point you in the direction of a blog I enjoy. Not only are her recipes tasty and healthy, Susan is a terrific food photog. She’s shot a couple of cookbooks and is working on her own. http://www.fatfreevegan.com.

  13. oops, better link http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
    Oh, forgot! Happy blogiversary and birthday!

  14. good timing on your post! I’m 37, unable to have kids and hate my job…been wondering lately if this is it? Is this the best it’s going to get?? I need to DO something about it and find a new direction, thanks for the reminder!

    Have a very happy birthday and blog-aversary!

    • No, this certainly is NOT it. It will get better. You just need to take a step in that direction. My advice for you is to take stock of who you are. What makes you the happiest? When you figure that one out, take steps towards making that a major part of your life. Even if you have to work in a job that pays the bills that is less than appealing, fill your off time with the desires of your heart. At least that way you are progressing towards your dreams. Much luck to you, although it has very little to do with luck. Persistence is the real factor.

  15. Happy Early Birthday! I think you will make a great cookbook author and photographer!

  16. Happy Birthday, Happy Blogiversary! I aspire to photos like that, the change in your photos is amazing!! I got a new camera for Christmas, I can see a difference already!

  17. Gorgeous photos of food! You should be proud of what you’ve learned and accomplished! Congrats!

  18. Happy birthday and blogiversary! Your photography gives me hope for my own.

  19. LeAnn S. Wisconsin says:

    Happy Birthday, apparently we share the same birthday date!!

  20. Patricia N. says:

    Happy birthday, Melanie, and many more. Your photography is becoming amazing. When I saw the pic of the chocolate bread pudding, I thought it was a really thick beef stew before you added any veggies. You’ve come a long way, baby.
    By the way, did any women wait until their 60’s to pursue their dream?

    • Lol, it looks like beef alright. And that’s an excellent question about women in their 60’s. I’m certain there must be examples of that. I will look into it and report back. 🙂

  21. Winnie P. says:

    Happy birthday & anniversary! You know you have a huge cheering section. We’ll all be anxiously awaiting that book!!

  22. Happy Birthday Melanie – you spring chicken you!
    I echo the sentiment that I know you can do whatever you put your mind to.
    You embody perseverance and positivity!
    – Lee
    P.S. Will you please be sure to make your cookbook available in a Kindle Edition? Thanks

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