Sunday, September 4, 2011

7 Links Project

I usually have little time to participate in blog awards, surveys, etc. But when Jenn of Jenn Cuisine asked if I'd be willing to participate in the My 7 Links Project, I thought "sure, why not?" It sounded pretty interesting, and I figured it would be a nice way to reflect on some of the highlights of the past 2 plus years of blogging! These designations are of course very subjective, and I'd love to hear about your picks in the comments if they differ from mine. I hope this encourages newer readers to explore my older work =).

My Most Beautiful Post

1 Most Beautiful Post
It's impossible to pick this one without feeling like I'm being self-congratulatory hehe. But considering what a huge passion I have for food photography and styling, I can't say that a few favorites didn't immediately come to mind. I chose these s'mores cupcakes for a number of reasons. It was a really fun shoot on a tight schedule that was totally unplanned and fell together magically and organically. The branches and leaves you see came from right outside my apartment building. The photo to the right holds a special place in my heart since it earned me my first blog photography award. To top it all off, these are without a doubt the best cupcakes I have ever made. If you make only one cupcake from my site, I hope it's this one!

My Most Popular Post

Spaghetti with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce
It's been almost a year since I posted this spiked spaghetti with tomato vodka cream sauce, yet its popularity continues to surprise and delight me. Can you believe that this pasta is the 18th most favorited post of all time on Foodgawker? If any of you reading this are among the 2,216 who've starred this recipe, thank you for blowing my mind =D!

I was especially pleased with the success of this post because it was one savory recipe among many dessert recipes. The positive reader response really gave me confidence to continue sharing a wide variety of content here. And of course it's also pleased me to hear from all of you who've tried and loved this recipe. It's my boyfriend P's favorite pasta, so this recipe definitely stays close at hand.

My Most Controversial Post

Like Jenn, I'm interpreting this as "most discussion" and the winner is without a doubt my pignoli (pine nut) almond cookies post. I was quite fired up when I wrote this post. It was after my mother (who lives nearby) had stopped by to visit, got offended that I was baking instead of giving her my total attention, and then accused me of sabotaging the health of my coworkers by bringing them my sweets. The unintended but positive side effect of this fight was that it pushed me to finally face the tension I'd always felt between my love of baking and my desire to help others improve their diet by becoming a dietitian. If you're interested in what I wrote on this topic, you can read it here.

My Most Helpful Post

Composition Example 5
My take on food photography and styling was my longest post, as well as the hardest one to write. Considering that my goal was to organize and cram all the critical things I'd learned in 2 years about food photography/styling into a single post, I'm actually surprised it wasn't a more painstaking process =p. The singular goal of this post was to help other budding food bloggers and photographers the same way I'd been guided by those before me. The emails and comments indicate that many of you found the post useful, and that is the best possible outcome I could hope for!

A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

Boston Cream Pie Cake Pops...
I'm not sure if it's the inherent cuteness of cake pops or a widespread love of Boston cream pie...or their powers combined? But these Boston cream pie cake pops garnered a greater response than I ever imagined with 86 comments to date. The ironic thing, as I explain in that post, is that I never gave a darn about cake pops until I had a really gross one at Starbucks. Guess I just really love a challenge...and this one turned out beautifully. In fact, cake pops (these cookies and cream ones in particular) are now my most popular treat. Does that mean I owe Starbucks my thanks?! =x

A Post I Feel Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved

Strawberry N' Cream Cupcakes
I have to tell ya...I expected these strawberry and cream cupcakes to be a big hit. Summer weather + fresh berries + cream + cupcakes + cute styling. Isn't that the tried n' true formula for a popular post?! What actually did bug me a little, though, was that these scrumptious bites of summer heaven weren't immediately made and devoured throughout the world ;p. They did finally get their chance to shine this summer, when they were one of my most popular flavors.

The Post That I Am Most Proud Of

Composition Example 3
I have to pick my post on food photography and styling again for this because I really did pour everything I knew or could find out into this post. I really hope you find it useful. And please feel free to email me if you have any follow-up questions!

I hope you guys enjoyed that blast from the past. To keep the fun going, I've nominated 5 food bloggers to share their links next. To those whom I've nominated, please don't worry if you don't have time to participate. But I do hope you'll give it a try if you can =D.

Soma of eCurry
Jennifer of Le Delicieux
Sneh of Cook Republic
Pickyin of Life is Great
Amee of Rabbit Food Rocks


  1. Good to read about your thoughts on some of your posts and the hits and misses! I love reading stuff like this .. backstage stuff! Thanks for drawing me in to play! I look forward to doing my own 7 links shortly :-)

  2. xiaolu , i am touched by this post,to be honest you are such an inspirations
    your points are brave, honest and encouraging

  3. I loved reading this! For me, the s'mores cupcakes and the Nutella hearts are your most beautiful posts, but I can see how the spaghetti makes people want to jump up and make it immediately. Your post on food styling has been helpful, I've picked up quite a few tips!

  4. What a fabulous post! Your links are all amazing. Keep up with the awesome work! I really love your creations and style.



  5. Your photography posts have inspired me to try and improve my photography. I found them easy to understand and so admire your creativity. I like the links you chose as well. I look forward to reading your posts very much. Thank you.

  6. I remember all of these posts! That's why I love your blog so much. I find it helpful, fun, and has tons on info. Keep up the good work. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  7. I love the 7 links project! Such a great way to look back and see how your blog has grown. Yours are ALL beautiful! I have learned a lot from you along the way.

    I think I'll do this every year or so, just to track progress :)

  8. Love those cupcake shots and the post!

  9. Un bellissimo post, con delle foto splendide.
    Ciao Daniela.

  10. Wonderful choices for your links. I'm looking forward to reading more about your photography and styling!

  11. your photos never fail to astound me and I loved reading about why you chose each post for each category. Wonderful post!

  12. I love your 7 links! And I adore those cupcakes :)

  13. There are some fantastic memories there Xiaolu! Your s'mores cupcakes post is without doubt my absolute favourite. It's just stunning and I still think of how beautiful it was, so I'm glad to hear it's your favourite too.

    Thanks for nominating me. I'll have fun coming up with my 7 links.

  14. You are amazing, my dear, and I would have a hard time picking favorites from your site~all your posts are winners to me!

  15. The last time I was tagged in a meme was when my blog was not a food blog. Thanks for bringing back memories and giving me some muscles to flex friend. Love your work, as always. ;)

  16. Your most beautiful post is indeed beautiful! I love your photography Xiaolu and I can't believe how much you have accomplished in just two years. Congrats!

  17. I love your photos. I picked up a camera for the first time about 8 months ago & I'm learning as I go.
    I'm always looking for sites that inspire me & which I can learn from. Thank you for being my new inspiration. Just fabulous!!

  18. all my favorites are here :) and thanks for the tag.. will do it soon!

  19. I still need to try that pasta! Those s'more cupcake photos are indeed beautiful, but all your posts are. :)


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu