Peace Out, Project Food Blog!

Last Friday, my 25 little 6th graders shuffled to school in slacks and ties and skirts and ruffles. They climbed into the warm, waiting cars of parent volunteers and we all carpooled to High Point, a city over an hour away. After arriving right on time at the High Point Theater, we settled into our seats in the balcony and waited eagerly for Ebeneezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim to appear. This 6th grade trip to see A Christmas Carol is an annual tradition designed to introduce students to the Industrial Revolution and the theater — but it’s more than that, as well. It’s a chance for us to bond as a class with an inspiring experience right before winter break.

This year, the excitement in the cool air was even more palpable than usual. My students and I knew that in a few short hours, I’d find out whether or not I was one of the three finalists in Project Food Blog, the competition to find the next food blog star. Many of them had signed up to vote, left me sweet comments, and cheered along with me each Friday when I heard good news. This time around, I warned them not to be sad if we found out I wasn’t moving on; after all, 75% of the 12 competitors left in Round 9 were about to be eliminated. Regardless, we were anxious to find out the news as soon as we returned from the play.

During the intermission, one of my students — Charlotte, an effervescent and multitalented 12-year-old — turned to me with a smile. “Ms. Ruble,” she began, “I know this is going to sound weird.” I prepared myself for a bizarre observation about the cast of characters in front of us, or perhaps a bit of 6th grade humor — a beast I’m (for better or worse) quite familiar with. As it turns out, though, Charlotte had something entirely different to say: “I know this is going to sound weird, but I’m so proud of you.”

That sounded a lot of things (precious, thoughtful, and characteristic of Charlotte, to name a few), but it didn’t sound weird to me at all, and I told her so. In fact, that moment was a gift, wrapped up and handed to me by one of my students to put in my pocket for later. When 3 pm rolled around and I found out that I was not one of the three Project Food Blog finalists, I mentally took out that gift, unwrapped it, and remembered with satisfaction that in every way that mattered, I’d already won the competition. My efforts in Project Food Blog were successful.

– I was successful because I did things I didn’t realize I could do. Part of my mission in writing Willow Bird Baking is to tackle challenging new things and to encourage you to do the same — and Project Food Blog was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

– I was successful because I got to share my journey with my students, some of whom went on a journey of their own at the same time. For the first time ever, I taught a cooking class this past trimester called “Desserts at Home,” wherein 8 high school students became food bloggers on our Woodlawn Kitchen Blog, and chefs in both our school kitchen and their own home kitchens!

Two of my Desserts at Home students pose proudly with their creations.

– I was successful because I met other people who care about the things I care about: food, friends, community, innovation.

– I was successful because I had experiences that I’ll never forget, and that I wouldn’t have had otherwise: my parents’ anniversary dinner party, the picnic by the mill, the conversation with lovely Dorothea.

– I was successful because I realized that I am part of a loving community. I was stunned that so many people joined together to support me. Winning Readers’ Choice in Round 8 of Project Food Blog was one of my proudest moments.

Finally, I was successful because every Project Food Blog challenge became a personal exploration for me, and enhanced both my life and my blog.

In short, I just want to say — to Foodbuzz, to the judges, to my students, to my friends and family, to YOU — thank you so very much. I will never forget this crazy, magical experience.

Here’s a reminder of the places I’ve been, things I’ve done, and dishes I’ve cooked along the way:

Want to read others’ fun Project Food Blog reflections? Here are some of my favorites: 1, 2.

P.S. Congratulations to Leisal and Peggy, winners of the Oh! Nuts gift certificates giveaway! Stay tuned for another giveaway within the next few days.

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23 responses to “Peace Out, Project Food Blog!

  1. Aw Julie. Thank you for the shout-out, but I just wanted to reiterate what you already know (and what Linda stated in her post): YOU ARE A WINNER. You’ve won a heck of a lot more, and you should be sooo proud of yourself. I’m proud of you!

    You’re awesome. I eagerly await the day we get to meet and you can sing ‘Fly Like A G6’ at me for real, and I can say, “TWENTY-SEVEN CHEESECAKES, JULIE!!!” – it’s going to be awesome.

    Keep blogging, you’re wonderful.

    Jax x

  2. I’m glad that you enjoyed the experience! What your student said was SO very sweet, and I’m not at all surprised that you’re reflecting on it in this way. Congratulations on all of your hard work and all that you’ve done!

  3. Congrats on making it round 9! I enjoyed all of your PFB posts and am glad to have discovered another fellow online baker 🙂 And I don’t know if I ever actually commented on the post, but your croquemcake was amazing!

  4. Charlie

    Julie, we are so proud of you and you have always been a winner in our book. Love you and God bless.

  5. You still are a winner you inspire the kids every day and that alone makes you a winner. Plus I would have never found you if you never did PFB

  6. Oh Julie I was so sad when you didn’t make it to the next round! I had a lot of issues with PFB but it definitely made me much more confident in my blogging and cooking abilities and for that I am eternally grateful. You did so amazingly well and should be SO proud!

  7. I’m so glad to have found your blog! Although as a celiac, I can’t eat much here, your recipes and writing are an inspiration to me, and encourage me to stretch myself in gluten-free baking! Three cheers and happy holidays!

  8. your PFB entries were among my Very Favorites… congrats on a job So Very Well Done !

  9. I’m glad to have met you along the way Julie! I love your kind spirit! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

  10. What a beautiful post. I loved it. I also think you sound like a terrific teacher and your students are lucky to have you.

  11. Susi Matthews

    What an amazing girl Charlotte must be and how lucky she is to have you for a teacher! That made me tear up (ok, most everything is making me dear up just now, durned hormones!) but that was just lovely.

    Your students learned much more than about blogging and cooking; through you, they learned how to compete and win and then how to lose but not be a loser. That makes you such a tremendous winner in my book. It’s not only been fun keeping up with your journey here but also seeing how a great teacher can have a wonderful influence on youngsters’ lives. THAT is the most important thing, I think.

  12. I thought you were awesome, not only for making it so far, but also coming up with the things that you did–the pizza cupcakes looked so neat!

    I, for one, enjoy your blog and every post is like a little bubble of pure happiness. So keep up the good work, and have a Merry Christmas!

  13. Congrats on making it as far as you did. I’m super proud of you too! Loved following your journey through your blog. You truly are successful.

  14. I agree, your students are so VERY LUCKY to have you! It was great discovering your blog through this contest. Of course I loved the croquem-cake, and also the cupfakes! Great job on this entire competition!

  15. You did a great job and I really enjoyed following your posts! And now we’re blog friends.

  16. I discovered your blog through PFB, and enjoyed every one of your posts -voted for them, too. I was sorry you didn’t advance, but I agree I think it was a great experience for all who participated. And, I grew up in High Point!

  17. You were amazing, girl! I am so impressed that you are a teacher AND managed to do such an amazing job at Project Food Blog–very impressive. (I work in a school and know how hard our teachers work.) Isn’t it amazing how kids always say the right things at the most surprising times?

  18. I think that PFB, for ANYONE, is an excellent learning experience, even if you get eliminated early on – I’m hoping to enter next year, after being introduced to so many blogs through PFB! I think you did a great job, and I think your croissant post was especially well done 😉

  19. You did a fantastic job and I am so happy to have met you personally in San Fran. Stay as sweet as you are and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  20. Awwwwwwww I’m proud of you too, but it’s so much cuter coming from a tiny little student!

  21. And I am so pround of you too darling!


  22. I was just thinking: you had something Very Keen planned for your last post. You should go ahead and do it anyway!

    Great job in the competition. I really enjoyed your review of The King’s Kitchen, especially:) I know you’ll be around for a long, long time, and from a former teacher to a current one, I know how special Charlotte’s comment is/was to you! Congratulations!

  23. I have not been on the computer much over the past month or so but I wanted you to know that I’m proud of you too. I think you are an absolutely amazing and talented woman. I am so lucky to have been able to “meet” you and follow along on your journey to greatness. No…you may not have won that competition, but I know you are the type of person to truly believe you won what you needed. Congratulations on all the recipes and the fun times you had. I’m sure this was an awesome experience for you…one that you will not forget any time soon. You are a food blog start in my book!!! I just wish I had that kind of cash to give to you!!! xoxoxoxoxo

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