Blessed to Have these Babies: Happy Mothers’ Day!

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms out there! I thought today would be a great day to jump on and start blogging again! After being away from Food Marriage for quite a while, I wanted to stop by and share a little of what life has brought us recently!

2016 was a life changing year for our family. Long story short: we found out we were expecting our second child, I made the transition from my full time corporate recruitment job to being part time, my husband took on a new job, we decided to put our 2 bedroom condo up for sale and sold it within a week, and then realized we had to find a new house FAST. We found a house, packed up the old one and moved, and then had our second baby exactly a month after moving into the new house. Whew! Just typing that out was exhausting! But it was one of the best years of our lives so far! Now we get to share our lives with not just one little girl but two!

Mommy and Me Matching Outfits - Navy and White Striped Dresses from Ralph Lauren. Happy Mothers' Day!

Matching Mommy and Me Dresses: All dresses purchased online from Ralph Lauren. They weren’t in a Mommy and Me collection, but I searched Women’s Dresses, Girls Dresses and Baby Dresses until I found coordinating outfits! I’m wearing a size Medium.  Our toddler is wearing a size 3T and the baby is wearing a size 3 Months.  All fit true to size!

Now that we are settling into our new normal, we can actually take some time to sit back, relax, and appreciate all that we have in our life. We have the most beautiful happy and healthy girls and that is all we could ever ask for or need. Being a mom to these two girls has been the most rewarding (and challenging) job that I have ever had in my life. I’ll be honest, I’m still learning how to juggle taking care of both of them at the same time! And there are times I lose my cool. But those little smiling faces and eyes that light up a room quickly melt my heart.

These little ones have made me a more patient person, a more selfless person, and a more loving person. I can’t wait to continue to see them grow and learn new things every day. I am truly blessed to have these babies!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Sunday breakfast is one of my favorite meals! Mainly because I don’t have to go to work, I can relax with my family, and I can stay in my pajamas all day if I want to! With a very active one year old girl at my feet, it is definitely tougher to stand at the stove than it used to be. Not only does she hang on my legs, but all she wants is to be picked up so she can see all the action (future chef in the making??) Unfortunately as good as bacon smells and as exciting it is to see grease popping in the frying pan…it’s not the safest place for a baby!

The easiest and most delicious way to cook bacon for breakfast... in the oven instead of on the stove. Recipe for how to cook bacon in the oven. | FoodMarriage.com

So I decided to try something different this weekend. I decided to cook bacon in the oven instead of on the stovetop. It’s not necessarily an overall time saver, but it does allow you to take the cooking time and spend it doing something else while your oven does all the work. All you need is a baking sheet, some parchment paper, and of course the bacon itself. Throw it in the oven for 30 minutes and your job is done.

We took our half hour to build some block towers, knock them down, and build them up again.  We have these classic wooden blocks with ABC’s on them that she loves (I remember playing with the same blocks when I was little!) We sang our ABC’s and I also heard our daughter said “Pooh” for Winne the Pooh for the first time today!  Very exciting day in the Haggerty household, hahaaa. And definitely time well spent! When the half hour was up, I pulled the crisp, hot bacon out of the oven and we enjoyed it with some scrambled eggs. I would definitely recommend this method of baking bacon to anyone! It doesn’t have to just be for busy parents, but even for anyone who just doesn’t want to get splattered by bacon grease in the cooking process! Here’s my way of how to cook bacon in the oven!

Baked Bacon

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 1 lb cooked bacon

Baked Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Lay strips of bacon flat across baking sheet.
  • Bake in 350° oven for approximately 30 minutes - the bacon should appear browned and crisp.
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http://foodmarriage.com/2016/03/how-to-cook-bacon-in-the-oven.html

Looking for some other great bacon recipes? Try my Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

January 2016 Blog Traffic & Income Report

Excited for 2016! The year I begin trying to make an income with Food Marriage! I’ll start out by saying….VERY humble beginnings. But everyone has to start somewhere. A little over four years into this crazy blogging journey, I’ve decided that NOW is the time.  Why now? Well, especially if you saw my recent post on why I didn’t monetize my blog in the beginning, you may have seen that I started it just for fun, I was focused on building content, and I did not understand advertising at all.  I feel I now have a good handle on the direction I’m going and understand a lot more about the business side of blogging. So I’ve decided to create my food blog income report to share!

Food Blog Income Report - January 2016 | FoodMarriage.com

I spend about 10 to 15 hours a week commuting to and from work (my full time job as a corporate recruiter).  The commute used to be the worst part of my day and I felt like I was wasting so much valuable time – however, I’ve recently discovered podcasts (I know….totally late to the game!!!) Now every day, I fill that time with listening to really great podcasts. I’m a huge Serial fan, but as you may know, with a new episode coming out just once every two weeks now, I have some other space to fill! I’ve been keeping my food inspiration alive with the Bon Appetit podcast, I’ve been listening to some of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast, and I’ve been keeping up to date on parenting pop culture with the Spawned Podcast (they are super funny! Check them out if you get a chance!)

But mostly I’ve been binge-listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Whether you are new to the game of blogging or an experienced veteran, you will definitely benefit from listening to this podcast! Each episode Bjork Ostrom interviews someone different who is influential in the food blogging community. Each person’s story is so unique in how they got started and how they got to where they are today. Many of them also started out with humble beginnings and lack of knowledge. The best part? They want to help other bloggers avoid the missteps they made and help them achieve the success they know is possible. Because I am so thankful for those bloggers that have paved the way and who are so generous in sharing their knowledge, I wanted to join in on the community and share my journey as well.

How I will be measuring my income and expenses:

While I have not attempted to make money in the last 4 years with Food Marriage, I certainly have incurred expenses over the years (domain name purchase and renewal, web hosting, camera, etc). I will not be reporting any previous expenses before this point. #1 – I was blogging for fun, so just considered it my hobby expense.  # 2 – I never truly kept a good record of expenses! So I actually don’t have a clear record before now!

I will be reporting income as it is paid out to me. Depending on the ad networks a blogger can work with, you can actually earn income that may take some time to pay out until you hit a certain threshold. Some bloggers report out their income in the month it was earned, and not in the month it was paid out. I find that it makes most sense for me to report on when it is paid, because let’s face it, money that is sitting with an ad network that I can’t access actually isn’t mine yet!

Income & Expense Breakdown:

  • Expenses:
  • Net Income:
    • $15.45

Income & Expense Summary:

I’m calling it a win that I have a net profit this month! Okay maybe it’s enough to buy me lunch tomorrow, but it’s a profit nonetheless!

My profits came solely from ad revenue.  I’m so excited to be working as part of the Propel Program with the Blogger Network. While most premium blog networks require high traffic volume of 100,000+ page views a month to join, The Blogger Network created this great program to teach you how to grow your traffic while they take care of the monetization piece. It cost $99 to join the program (again another expense that I already previously paid in 2015, so not reporting at this time) but I do anticipate to make back that money quickly and continue earning even more! As part of the Propel program, you get access to a wealth of online trainings to help you grow as a blogger. They also take care of setting up all ads on your site, so you don’t have to worry about it. You are eligible to sign up for the Propel program if you have over 10,000 page views a month. The goal is to keep your traffic going up and up so you can continue to be successful and make money! I love how supportive they are of bloggers and also how quick their customer service is to respond if you ever have questions!

My only expense this month was with Canva. I know a lot of bloggers live by PicMonkey, but I’m personally obsessed with Canva! It’s generally a free service to use to do graphic design if you use your own photos or their free elements, but you can also purchase stock photos with a one time use license agreement for a great price! The photos are only $1. I don’t use stock photos that often, so for an awesome price and if I find exactly what I’m looking for, I’ll use it! I spent $10 this month since I bought a package – $10 actually gets me 11 images. A couple examples of the stock photos I’ve bought and did some design with include my post on Travel Tips for Flying with a Baby and 5 Tips for Blog Branding.

Traffic Summary:

For January 2016, I had a total of 18,744 pageviews! It is so exciting to watch these numbers grow month! As I continue to create these monthly income reports, I plan to dive deeper into analyzing other data such as mobile vs. desktop usage and main sources of traffic.

Food Blog Traffic Totals - January 2016 | FoodMarriage.com

Social Media Overview:

Pinterest continues to be a front-runner in the social media space for Food Marriage! One reason may be because of my increased pinning and utilization of a tool called Ahalogy! Not only does it give me the ability to schedule pins, but it also helps with elevating my SEO with Pinterest by helping pick out different keywords as I type in your pin description! It allows me to be part of an AWESOME content network with so many other talented bloggers. I love sharing my content and pinning the great things that I see from the other bloggers!

Social Media Following - January 2016 |FoodMarriage.com

Another thing that Analogy does is give brands the ability to pin my content! A notable brand that has pinned one of my pins is Keebler Toll House Crackers! They pinned my Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots recipe to their Entertaining Made Easy Board! In the last 30 days alone, because it is on this board, this ONE pin for Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots has gotten 59,611 impressions, 944 clicks, 318 re-pins, and 28 likes! SO POWERFUL!

Goals:

Gosh – where to start with my goals!? I have so many for this year!! If I had to narrow it down to my number one goal – it would be to blog more consistently! I’ve gone through periods where I’ve blogged very consistently, and then through periods where I didn’t blog for months on end (ahem….during pregnancy….ahem….again after I had my daughter). The goal I want to work towards is blogging consistently once a week and I plan to implement this starting in March.

Once I get into the rhythm of consistency again (which should hopefully in and of itself increase traffic, which should then increase income), but I would also like to then look into other avenues of blog monetization!

Thanks for joining me on my money-making journey! Looking forward to continuing to share my story!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Super Bowl Sunday: Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball Recipe

Recipe Header - Food Marriage Blog

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Appetizers are my favorite part of any football party and today is no exception! Here’s a fun recipe that you can whip up in no time before the game: a Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball recipe. I made it before for my Girls Fantasy Football Draft party and it was a hit! (please excuse the photography here…it was a quick pic snapped on my iPhone that night!)

Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball Recipe | FoodMarriage.com

Needless to say, my participation in a Girls Fantasy Football league (3 years in a row) has not enhanced my knowledge of the game much. However, it has increased my attention span for watching football games! It was always so fun throughout the season to recognize players’ names and cheer for my guys! While I didn’t win the big money, what I really got out of this football season was the friendship, camaraderie, and competition with the girls! It’s something I think we will keep going for years to come!

This recipe is so easy with only 4 ingredients: cream cheese, pimentos, pecans, and string cheese. Anyone (even the kids) can make it! You can make it an hour before the game or you can make it the night before so it is ready to go. It also transports very easily if you are traveling to a party – I put it on the serving tray and covered it with plastic wrap. I brought two different boxes of crackers and opened them up once I got there.

Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 Pimento Cheese Ball

Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball

Ingredients

  • 2 (8oz) blocks of cream cheese
  • 1 (4oz) jar of pimentos.
  • 1 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1 piece string cheese

Instructions

  • Let your cream cheese sit out to soften.
  • Finely chop your pimentos (do not discard the extra juice).
  • Add your chopped pimentos _(and the extra juice from the jar) into your cream cheese.
  • Mix together well (I used a hand mixer).
  • Set the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Using your hands, shape the mixture into a half football shape.
  • Crush your pecans into smaller pieces.
  • Sprinkle pecans onto the top of the football, slowly pressing in so they stick to the cream cheese/pimento mixture. Continue adding pecans until the entire top is fully covered.
  • Refrigerate for at least a half hour to allow it to harden again (you can also make it the night before and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. This will also allow the flavors of the pimentos to infuse into the cream cheese even more).
  • Remove from the parchment paper onto your favorite serving dish.
  • Pull a couple strings of string cheese and lay on top to make the laces of the football.
  • Serve with crackers and enjoy!
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http://foodmarriage.com/2016/02/football-shaped-pimento-cheese-ball-recipe.html

This Football Shaped Pimento Cheese Ball will be a great addition to this year’s Super Bowl Sunday Spread! If you make it, let me know how it turns out for you!

Love pimentos? Me too! Check out these other Pimento recipes deep from the archives of Food Marriage!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Why I Didn’t Monetize My Blog in the Beginning

Tip Tuesday Blog Post Header for FoodMarriage.com - a Philadelphia area blog about being married, having fun, loving life and loving food.

As a mom who spends 40 hours a week working outside the home along with 10 to 15 hours a week commuting, I’m always looking for different ways to make money. I have known for a while now that bloggers can make significant income, but didn’t realize the true potential until I discovered bloggers who disclose their income. The best example I have found of this is by the blog,  Pinch of Yum. They started trying to make money blogging in September 2011 (Eek! Just a month before I started Food Marriage!) and they have grown exponentially since then! Pinch of Yum’s Monthly Income reports are not only for their own tracking purposes, but also to help and inspire other bloggers that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

When I look back at my own blogging experience, I often wonder to myself, “What if I had monetized my blog early on?” I actually didn’t start to try to make money until December 2015, a good 4+ years after I began my blogging journey. Why didn’t I monetize early on? There are several reasons why I didn’t monetize my blog in the beginning.

Reasons for Not Monetizing a Blog | FoodMarriage.com

My Reasons for not monetizing a blog in the beginning:

  • I started Food Marriage for fun!

    This blog has always been about being married, having fun, loving life, and loving food! I have kept that theme present from the very first moment I started blogging on October 3, 2011. I have always loved to cook and saw it as a great platform not only to share recipes with friends, but also to document and save some great family recipes! I’ve been able to share some of my wedding and party-planning ideas. And as our marriage has evolved and we are now parents, I incorporate some of that into the blog. Food Marriage always has and always will be a space for sharing and personal expression for me. I do it because I enjoy it, not just to make money. If it turns out that it can bring me an income in the future, that will be an added plus!

  • I was focused on building content.

    Looking back at Food Marriage’s Blog archives, it was surprising to see and remember that for the first three month’s of the blog’s life, I was posting almost every day! Granted, it wasn’t always the best content or the best photography in the beginning, and I certainly wasn’t sharing it out on social media at that point. But the effort to be consistent and really build up a good base of information was there. Currently, at this point in my life with a 1 year old, I’m lucky if I even get the chance to make a grilled cheese at the end of the night for myself, but back then in the newlywed stage, I spent a lot of time cooking for myself and my husband, learning to blog, and sharing that content out for everyone to see.

  • I had a Bad First Experience with Ads

    I remember installing Google Adsense when I first started blogging. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and thought that maybe it would make me some money, but I was thinking in terms of nickels and dimes. As soon as I installed the ads, I saw an ad for something divorce-related on my blog. I had assumed they picked up the keyword of “marriage” and somehow thought a divorce ad was appropriate. It definitely did NOT fit with what my blog represented. At the time, I didn’t understand that you could actually have some control over the ads and filter certain things out, so I completely uninstalled the whole thing. It wasn’t until several years later that I actually took the time to sit down and learn more about different advertising networks and what control a blogger can have with the ads on their site.

My Advice to Other Bloggers

My advice to other bloggers is to NOT start a blog with the sole intention of making money. If you do, it has the potential to come off as forced or not genuine. I believe to build a blog and to gain a following, you have to have passion for what you do. The love and passion you have will really shine through and be what makes your blog special and memorable. Once you have that, I think looking at monetization is a great idea! Why not start to make money from something you love!?

 

xoxo, Food Marriage