I have officially been blogging for 10 years. And according to WordPress, I’ve published almost 1900 blog posts in that time.
It’s hard to believe that I was only 24 and newly dating Anel when I started “Lemons & Loafers” with a post, Greens Galore, about my very first CSA haul in the city and what I made with it. I wrote the post (on Blogger at the time) for my health coaching clients who wanted recipe ideas. I’ve told this story 100 times but I never thought a stranger would read my blog, let alone thousands of them.
I would share my posts on Facebook for my friends (these were the pre-Instagram days) and my friends shared them with their friends and it kept growing and growing. If you’re interested, I shared more about my growth and blogging trajectory here.
Looking through my old posts yesterday, I found some great recipes that I had forgotten about. The photography is terrible but this kale and farro salad and spicy harissa spaghetti with spinach are fantastic recipes.
While it started as a nutrition/recipe site, I added in fashion content and then started posting outfits. Oof. This one is just… no. Oh my and these purple pants. And I was clearly a fan of eyeliner. I thought talking about both fashion and food on one blog was the most innovative thing in the world.
The first post that went viral for me was this peek inside my carry on. The original photo is the one pictured at the bottom. It crushed on Pinterest and until recently, it was one of the most popular posts on my site year after year.
Then I started dabbling in decor and travel and when Instagram became popular in 2013, I was able to grow a lot faster. I was an early Instagram user so I was easily growing at a rate of 1000 followers/week for a long time. Those were the days…
But I never really got deeper than surface level in any of my content. I don’t know when I started writing about the personal and important topics (I can’t find the first post), but when I did, I finally felt like this space had more of a purpose.
When I first started, I would watch the metrics and readers felt like numbers on a chart. I’d hit publish without thinking much about it. But as I grew and started talking to readers online and in-person when I met you, it hit me that my words mattered. Whether it’s 5 people or 500,000 people reading my words, what I put out there matters. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last decade is that if you have a voice that people listen to, it is your responsibility to use it for good.
In 2013 I quit my job for the first time to start an online store. We spent a big chunk of our savings on inventory and I fulfilled orders from a tiny one-bedroom 5th-floor walk-up. It only took about six months for us to realize that we couldn’t afford for me to run the store anymore. It was sad but also a relief. I went back to work until 2016 when I was finally making enough money on my blog to quit my job in marketing.
The last four years have been exciting, intense, frustrating, and beautiful. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could learn from people I’ve never met. You guys call me out on my sh*t when I need to be called out. You hold me accountable when I need to be held accountable. And your encouragement keeps me going.
I have made countless mistakes and will make countless more (#crocs…although I lost them in our move and wish I had them for the garden now haha). But learning and growing alongside many of you, has been an experience that I’ll never take for granted.
Last year, when I did a post with Walmart and got schooled on fast fashion, it totally changed my viewpoint on the fashion industry. And over the last two weeks, I’ve had some incredibly meaningful conversations with you about race and the role I’ve played in perpetuating white privilege here and on Instagram. You push me to do better and be better and spread a better message.
I’m grateful for those who call me out. I’m grateful for those who have supported me from the beginning. I’m grateful for the new followers. I’m grateful for the mothers who share helpful tips. I’m grateful to all of you. If it weren’t for you, there would be no Lemon Stripes.
One important lesson I’ve learned in the last few weeks is that there are people who have felt excluded from my content. By showcasing mostly brands run by white people and featuring white friends and not sharing pretty much any diversity on Lemon Stripes, I’ve done exactly what I try to teach my daughter to never do: Leave people out. I can and will do better.
Most popular posts: 2015-2020
1. Surviving Miscarriage: It’s funny that this is my most popular post because when I wrote it originally, it was an exercise to help with the grief. It wasn’t meant to be posted anywhere and to this day it’s my most popular blog post of all time. I had sent it to Anel so that he could better understand what I was going through and he was the one who encouraged me to post it. He said that even if one other woman read it and felt less alone, it would be worth it. So I tweaked it a little, pressed post, and had no idea what to expect.
The amount of love and support and people telling me their own stories far exceeded my expectations. Today I get messages at least once a week from women all over the world who have somehow found the post and found comfort in it because of their own miscarriages. Whenever I feel down on blogging, this post brings me back to why it can be important.
2. Amalia’s Birth Story: Everyone loves a good birth story. I read every blogger’s birth story, even if I don’t follow them closely. It’s fascinating to hear about how babies come into this world. I love this post because although postpartum was rough, my birth was really quite beautiful. When I was pregnant, everyone wanted to tell me their horrifying birth stories and I clung on to the positive ones for dear life. I like to hope that it brings some comfort to first-time moms reading that post.
3. Medicated: I was terrified to hit publish on this one. I really thought people were going to give me shit about taking drugs for a mental health issue. It truly shocked me that people were supportive of my decision. What’s better is that, similar to my miscarriage post, I’ve received dozens of emails and DMs from you guys that said this post helped you to ask for help too. Which, again, makes what I do so so so worth it.
4. We Bought a New House: I have been talking to many of you about this post lately. In it, I listed the reasons we moved. Two of them were the beaches and the school system. I’m embarrassed to admit that although both of those reasons suggest incredible white privilege, diversity was not something we discussed in this process. As soon as I can speak to this with a little more knowledge and self-reflection, I will. But for now, know that I see and have learned from my mistake here.
5. What to Buy at Trader Joe’s: I think maybe I finally got SEO right on this one because there are a ton of posts like this on the internet. It was also when I used to do a lot of grocery hauls on IG stories (need to bring those back).
6. Big Sister: When I announced that my little brother Nico was on his way.
7. My Fertility Journey: After my miscarriage story and this fertility update, I think that readers wanted to know what I did to end up getting pregnant. By the way, after I posted that update, I got pregnant the month after. Basically the second we stopped trying, we got pregnant. Go figure.
8. Our Baby Announcement: I mean, obviously! I had really teased this one up too.
9. A Peek Inside My Carry On: As I said before, Pinterest really blew this one up for whatever reason.
10. How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night: Last night I re-read this post and I truly sound like a lunatic. But I was going through some major anxiety at the time and our strict schedule was one of the few things that I felt like was in my control back then. Next time I would probably be a little more chill. But this did work so who knows. Amalia is still a great sleeper… even if she doesn’t nap.
I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I look forward to finding out. A few months ago I wrote about moving towards my marketing consulting business and away from full time blogging. But with COVID and being at home with Amalia, I haven’t been able to do that as quickly as I would have liked. It’s still my goal, but realistically it’s going to take longer than I thought.
But one thing I do know is that this community has become a family to me. We’ve grown up together in many ways. And I hope we can grow together, even more, going forward.