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Kalyn’s Kitchen Celebrates a Birthday with Four Questions for Readers

(Four Year Birthday Graphic from ClipArtStock.net)

It sounds like a cliche, but when I wrote the first post on Kalyn’s Kitchen four years ago, I never imagined how much this blog would change my life. I was just a fourth grade teacher who liked to cook, and I’d never thought about photographing my food or writing about it on the internet. Now I’ve got shelves full of “blog dishes,” a collection of notebooks filled with recipe notes, and I’m about to trade a 30 year teaching career for the job title of food blogger. I feel constantly thankful for all the good things blogging has brought into my life, not the least of which is connections I’ve formed with other bloggers and readers from all over the world.

As my nephew Ethan once said to his mom when they arrived home from the store with his birthday party decorations, “Let’s get this party started.” For my birthday, I’d like to take the day off and let those who are reading talk about themselves for a change. If you feel like playing along, here are some questions to talk about in the comments:

  1. What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago?
  2. How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading?
  3. If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu?
  4. What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired?
Thanks to everyone who’s been reading, commenting, or providing moral support these last four years. In the moral support department, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my brother Rand and his partner Bradley who are the design and technological brains behind Kalyn’s Kitchen. I’m also grateful for the many blogging friends who inspire, motivate, and nurture me daily as I write this ongoing chronicle of what’s on the menu in Kalyn’s Kitchen.

More Blog Birthdays:
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns One
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Two
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Three

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79 comments on “Kalyn’s Kitchen Celebrates a Birthday with Four Questions for Readers”

  1. Four years ago, eh? After I'd decided to quit teaching–English, high school and middle school–after a disastrous year under the thumb of a tyrannical principal, I was pursuing a new dream: I wanted to be a book editor living in NYC.

    I was just finishing my first year of grad school four years ago, and two weeks from taking a trip that would forever change the course of my life. (I flew 4000 miles to meet a friend I'd met through Bookcrossing, who I afterward couldn't imagine living without and who I married in Dec 2007 and move to BC with shortly thereafter.)

    As to what you should do post-retirement (congrats, by the way!)… never, ever be bored. I encourage local travel. I've always been amazed at how many fun things are happening within an hour of anyplace I've lived. Do you have volunteering on your list of things to do?

    I don't know what social facilities you have in your area, but if you were here, I might be asking you to volunteer with a kind of occupational rehab through our brain injury society–so many people with brain injuries can't handle making even boxed mac & cheese anymore. One of our clients said she's scorched every pot and pan in her kitchen since her accident. (Don't know what you know about brain injury–highly recommend these books for further reading if you're interested: http://tinyurl.com/6kwcjd & http://tinyurl.com/ck72cu.)

  2. Happy Blogiversary!

    1. I’m in a better job and am in a healthier frame of mind than 4 years ago.
    2. I found your awesome blog through another site earlier this month.
    3. For my birthday, I’d probably opt for Chinese or Thai cuisine.
    4. Maybe publish a cookbook of all the recipes from your blog – but definitely keep the blog rolling!!!! Also enjoy retirement, whatever you decide to do.

  3. What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago? I read online instead of paper (still buy newspaper subscription and magazine subscriptions, but most of my reading time is via the internet).

    How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading? I believe I googled for South Beach Diet recipes or meals. Kept on reading because the content is enjoyable: the friendly tone, the pictures, the step-by-step instructions and the links to products I might want to try.

    I suppose I’ve been reading over a year but less than one year?
    This is one of the few food blogs I forward to recipe collectors.

    If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu? Migas Enchiladas with Chipotle sauce from Trudy’s Austin TX
    Bloody Mary, also at Trudy’s (very flavorful and they are generous with the garnishment)
    My Mom’s cheesecake with blueberry topping

    What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired? Let us know how it is, the good and the bad and any warnings for those of us contemplating it too.

    LOVE YOUR BLOG, THANK YOU
    KAREN
    AUSTIN, TX

  4. Happy Birthday! Love your blog and have tried many of your recipes.
    4 years ago we lived in AZ, now we live in KS. We also only had three boys, now we four!
    Found your blog most likely through Anna at Cookie Madness.
    Dinner–hmmm, almost anything I didn’t have to make myself!
    Once you’ve retired from teaching, definitely get in to the food world more and don’t leave us! 😉

  5. Happy Birthday Kalyn!

    1. I am 55 pounds lighter and much healthier thanks to South Beach Diet.

    2. I found your blog thru a South Beach Yahoo group

    3. A beautiful steak and King Crab Legs, baked sweet potatoe and baby portabello mushrooms

    4. Go on a Panama Canal Cruise! We did one for our 30th wedding anniversary and it was the best 2 weeks!

  6. Happy birthday!

    What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago? We bought a house three years ago so now my life is filled with all those “home-owner” things including gardening which I love.

    How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading? I do not remember how long I’ve been reading, but I remember Laura Black and Robin Frodge talking about it which is why I looked it up in the first place. Maybe three years?

    If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu? I am silly. My favorite bday dinner is what I would always ask my mom for: chicken divan casserole and a cake from Mrs. Backer’s.

    What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired? Keep on enjoying life, traveling, writing, reading….and be proud of your 30 years in the classroom – that is a huge accomplishment that has touched thousands of lives.

  7. Hi Kalyn,

    Happy Birthday and nice to meet you!

    Larissa

  8. Happy Blog Birthday! Don’t remember how I found your blog but I’m glad I did. I love it. Keep up the great work here.

    Paz

  9. Happy Blog Birthday!

    1. Four years ago, I was 25lbs heavier and not too happy with my life. Today I’m an avid runner and sports fanatic, and I have a great group of friends.

    2. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now… I think I linked to it… possibly from Cookie Madness.

    3. Sweet potato fries, your baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese, and my mom’s strawberry shortcake.

    4. Definitely travel. You HAVE to see how other cultures do food. I know it’s changed the way I cook. And work out in your garden. I bet you could grow some decent-sized vegetables and win some contests! Oh, and it seems you like taking pictures.. how about getting into food photography? Wouldn’t it be neat to see your picture (of your recipe) on the cover of Good Housekeeping?!

    Congrats again! -Rhapsody

  10. First, Happy Birthday! And thanks very much for your blog. It’s been very helpful to me. And now to your questions:

    1. Four years ago, I wasn’t diabetic; now I am, but with better blood sugar and lipid scores than I’ve ever had in my life (to my knowledge).

    2. I found this blog, oh, about two years ago, while searching for South Beach recipes!

    3. Strawberry cake made with, among other things, coconut flour, coconut milk, real strawberries (heck, throw in some raspberries, too!), and sweetened with some stevia and a little honey.

    4. Uh, don’t. Retire, I mean. At least not from blogging. 🙂

    I eat a mostly paleo diet, which of course tends to be low glycemic. Your blog has given me lots of food ideas, and so it’s helped to keep life interesting these last couple of years. Thanks very much!

  11. 1- I'm happier than I was 4 years ago. With age comes wisdom. Oh, and acceptance of the things we can't change.

    2- I can't remember who's blog led me to yours, but when I enjoy someone's blog I'll check out the blogs that they follow. I check yours daily, tried some of your recipes & even checked out some of the blogs you follow.

    3- For my birthday dinner I would want a great grilled steak, grilled veggies, light spring(ish) salad. No cake please, just homemade ice cream with fresh fruit. (Cuz I would have given myself the ice-cream maker of my dreams for my bd!)

    4- Kalyn should do whatever makes Kalyn happy when she retires. She should also keep up her recipe blog, because it makes Val happy too!

    HAPPY B-DAY!!!!!

  12. Hi everyone,
    Very busy day cooking and taking photos today, but I’m enjoying all the comments as I publish them. Since a couple of people have mentioned it, just thought I’d clarify that I am not retiring from blogging, just from my teaching job. In fact, I’ll probably be blogging even more when I don’t have to teach school all day (ya think?)!

  13. Happy happy birthday and the selfish side of me wishes you many many more!!

    1) Taking care of my Type 2 Diabetes is now just continuing good habits instead of a constant deliberate battle.

    2) Several years ago via google I was hunting hard for some easy way to convert from 95% high fat drive through eating to an at home diet with at least 50% veges. (not to be vegetarian but to correct a deep fried meat only pattern)

    3) I hate my own birthdays but love celebrating others so you get to pick!

    4) What ever she wants 🙂 but I highly recommend asking “If I died tomorrow I would regret not . . .” If there are any answers – go for em! Even if you hate the thing, you will have tried it. My own list grows longer with the more things I try 🙂 It’s very fun.

  14. Here’s to four fabulous years! Congratulations, and thank you for all the recipes and more. All the best to you (and the blog) as you enter the next phase . . .

  15. Hi Kalyn…

    My mom just died about two weeks ago…so for the first time in my life I am without a mom on Mother’s Day…from the first card I ever made her to the giant floral bouquets and extravagant gifts most lately…I will have no mom to give a gift to this Mother’s Day…so that is how my life is unique…

    I found your blog quite accidentally when I stopped teaching…I taught 2nd grade for 24.61 years…and stopped a few years ago…

    You will love your new life…you will organize your house and lunch with your friends and have time to read and cook and share…you will have the opportunity to just sit and stare out the window for an hour if you want to…so enjoy…I love every minute…

  16. Patty, my own mom died in 1998, so I know how that feels, and I’m very sorry for your loss. It will get better, but I know this Mother’s day will be a hard day for you.

    Absolutely can not wait to be retired. Lunch with friends sounds like heaven right now.

  17. Happy, Happy Blog Day, Kalyn, albeit belated as I’m just seeing this in my reader.

    1. How has my life changed in the last 4 years? While it’s not exactly turned 180-degrees, my life has become richer due to being a food blogger, more so because I’m proud to call people like you friend.

    2. I think you left a comment on my blog, then I went to your site, the rest is history! 🙂

    3. Hmmm… grilled oysters, grilled fresh vegetables and home made ice cream. Wait! That’s what we’re having tonight!

    4. I think you should come out here and cook with Simona and me for at least a week. After that, I just know that whatever you do will be the right thing for you.

  18. 1. Healthy, happy. I'm a dogmom & an aunt now. 4 years ago I was unhappy with my spiritual path, now I am finding my way and much happier. No more blood sugar spikes & crashes. Today I'm wearing shorts that are the size I wore in junior high! Life is good, 4 years ago it just was.

    2. March, 2008. Found the taco salad recipe and fell in love! I had been on SB for 3 weeks and didn't know how I was going to do it. So taco salad made my day!

    3. "tea" the whole shebang. Probably the one thing I haven't been able to find a good replacement for

    4. Travel, enjoy life. We'll understand if you retire from blogging too, but you could re-post stuff & I'd be happy!

    Thank you for all that you have done for us!!

  19. Happy Belated Birthday, Kalyn. I am very glad your life took the turn it did four years ago. Here are my answers:

    1) My oldest son is graduating from high school next month and will be going off to college, so my life is in the process of changing quite a bit. I am also panicked about how we will pay for it, since our invested college savings is now pretty worthless.

    2) I found your blog while looking for more interesting SBD recipes. My husband needed to lose weight and I needed to eat healthier.

    3) On my next birthday, I would like an authentic Italian feast…in Italy.

    4)Do whatever you want during your retirement. That’s what retirement is all about.

  20. Happy Birthday – so many good recipes

    1)- my life has changed more than I can say over 4 years but 2) it is only almost 2 years that I have been reading your blog – I discovered it very soon after I started blogging. 3) Chocolate cake is a must for birthdays in my life. 4) when you retire the one thing I think you should make sure of is some time to relax – I imagine you will be a busy ‘retiree’ like my mum who seems even busier now than when she was working – and if you haven’t been to Australia I would highly recommend it!

  21. Happy Blog Birthdayyyyyyyyy!!!

    – What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago?

    Not so much except for cooking which is improving day after day thanks to all blogs I meet!

    – How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading?

    I came along for WHB, one of my favorite event but can’t remember which blog led me to.

    – If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu?

    Fish, spicey bread and a wonderful fresh raspberries dessert, and above all sparkling wine!

    – What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired?

    Who knows? She is so active and eclectic she might do more than she has done by now! For sure she will be happy she had a great time!

  22. Oh happy, happy blog birthday!

    What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago?
    I’m fitter as I have gone back to gym – with enthusiasm! Who knew…! Oh yes, and I will soon be living in my own house again – we are buying after 9 years of renting in London.

    How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading?
    Can’t rememebr any more – probably via other blogs I was reading at the time. Have been reading for at least 3 of the 4 years 🙂

    If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu?
    A plate of Spanish acorn-fed ham to start; an excellent grilled salmon caesar salad for mains; and a strawberry pavlova with heavily brandied cream for dessert.

    What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired?
    Blog! And travel – we have a BIG spare bedroom in our new house in London… 🙂

  23. Still really enjoying reading these answers as they come in. It’s fun finding out a bit more about who’s reading. And of course, I’m taking notes of people to have lunch with and/or visit when I’m retired!

  24. Happy Birthday!!! Wishing you all the best.
    If it was my birthday, oh how i wish it was already haha. I’d include in the menu all my favorites: mozzarella sticks, chicken parmigiana, and some really moist, delicious, over-the-top chocolate cake, yum!!!

  25. Happy Birthday! My life is much the same, except for the blog and several friends on the Internet. I think I found your blog through WHB mentions. I would like lots of crisp salads and cheesecake. Travel, meet people (and sample different foods) from around the world if you have the interest – I’d like to do that now but am nowhere near retiring.

  26. Hi Kalyn!
    Happy Blog Birthday! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog.

    #1. Four years ago, I had a lot more spare time. Now, I work full time for my husbands company and work hard to try and maintain daily posts on our blog. My son is now in high school and in several activities,that he stills needs driven to and from.

    #2 I think I found your blog through Cookie Madness just about a year ago. Have been a subscriber ever since!

    #3 Champagne and seafood!

    #4 Travel, cook, and blog.

  27. Happy Belated Birthday! What a fun idea!

    Four years ago…my baby was almost 6 months old. I was living in a tiny apartment in NY and had no idea what blogging even was!

    I found your blog three years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember how. But I was hooked–even more so when I found out you were from Utah. 🙂

    If today was my birthday, I’d want a juicy hamburger, thick fries, and a shake.

    You should take it easy and enjoy more gardening when you retire. Thirty years is such a great accomplishment. Congrats on your retirement. I hope the last few weeks of school go well.

  28. Late again, but I have an excuse this time as I’ve just finished moving home and only just connected back on the web.

    1. What’s one way your life is different than it was four years ago?Incomparable. Exactly four years ago I’d just finished my first ever work experience in a local café. Now I’m working in the kitchens of Spain’s Chef of the Year.
    2. How did you find the blog and how long have you been reading?I’ve been reading this blog since I started blogging myself in 2006 and you were one of the very first people to offer me help and support.
    3. If today was your birthday, what would you want on the menu?Sashimi with a saki, wild mushroom and truffle risotto with a Telmo Rodríguez and Catalan chocolate, olive oil & Maldon salt dessert with a Pedro Ximénez. And my best friends at the table.
    4. What should Kalyn be sure to do once she’s retired?Keep on cooking, eating and blogging.

  29. I can’t believe I missed this post Kalyn! Anyway many happy returns for a belated blog day!

    My life is very different than 4 years ago as I no longer have a terrible two year old toddler, and I’m eating better for it! haha

    I think you found me and that’s how I found the lovely you!

    Garlic prawns/shrimp and some baguette with a glass of Chardonnay would be just great on my birthday.

    I think Kalyn better come visit me in NZ when she is retired 😉 if only for a big fat bear hug! xxx

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