Exactly one year ago today I welcomed the first few readers to MEL: HOT OR NOT. Since then, the site has grown and grown and grown, with many new people reading, commenting, agreeing and disagreeing over the past 12 months.

If you weren’t here for MEL: HOT OR NOT’s modest beginnings, join me for a journey down memory lane:

Lost and Found Market 12 Smith St CollingwoodMarch. I return to Melbourne after two years in London. The city feels the same, yet different. I wonder where I’ll live, where I’ll work and whether I’ll be able to make new friends. I eat at Becco, horrified by the prices, and Mess Hall, horrified with what they’ve done to their muesli recipe.

April. I get engaged via Kitchenaid. I make the most out of being unemployed by acting as a lady of leisure – going to my hairdresser Steliosgetting Aesop facials and setting up house with items from Chapel Street Bazaar and Lost and Found Market. Unemployment also forces me to try out various gyms for free on a trial basis.

May. Still unemployed and now residing in Collingwood, I discover the joys of twice-a-week yoga classes at Action School of Yoga. I also do a little day-trip to foodie-heaven North Fitzroy, visiting in one go Natural Tucker BakeryCanals Seafood Appreciation CentreMaria’s PastaMilawa Cheese ShopDench BakersLoafer Breadand Corner Store Cafe. Phew.action yoga

June. Third month of unemployment and I join up as a NGV Member so I can sip tea and read magazines in the Members Lounge. I drink more tea at the Strangers Corridor of Parliament House, along with some scones and crustless sandwiches. The first play I see since returning to Melbourne is the excellent Melbourne Theatre Company production of August: Osage County.

July. In a marathon effort, I see fourteen films at the Melbourne International Film Festival. I am supposed to be on a shopping hiatus due to my unemployed status, but can’t resist a visit to Scanlan & Theodore’s Clearance Store and Zomp Shoez. I win some ugly crap at bingo at Madame Brussels and take a soak at the Japanese Bath House.

August. It’s Melbourne Writers Festival and I get to see Chris TsiolkasQ&A and First Tuesday Book Club. I learn some new skills too – how to grow my own vegesuse a sewing machine and activate my core muscles.

Eco Fashionista fashion trunk show the aviary 271 victoria street richmondSeptember. It’s all about fashion and fringe, and I discover the Social Media Club and The Hive. I’m now back in the workforce so I can fund my eating and socialising but feel a little sad that my time is now no longer my own.

October. I’m trying not to let my new job get in the way of blogging. On the weekends I conduct my first HOT Chat with Alex Hume from Eco Fashionista, go on a cooking and eating tour of Sydney Road and discover Shocolate, a new chocolate shop in my neighbourhood.

November. The blog grows and as a result (a) I take a basic photography course at CAE; (b) I get invited to my first food bloggers dinner at Church St Enoteca; and (c) the Melbourne Theatre Company asks to use my photos of the MTC Garage Sale for their subscriber newsletter. I love this blogging caper so much I start my second blog, BNE: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Brisbane.

Marche Rouge, Christmas Shopping Event, Salon 205, Level 2, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St, MelbourneDecember. Christmas means it’s time to go shopping! I do the rounds at Marche RougeMelbourne Design MarketMelbourne Op Shop Tours and the Eco Innovators Showcase. I get some party dresses at Nicolangela, just in time for the Nuffnang Christmas party. Oh, and I go in search of the perfect mince pies.

January. January accidentally becomes Japanese Food Month, with visits to Tempura Hajime,ShoyaIzakaya Den and Cibi. It also becomes way too hot for my liking.

February. Writing a blog is also about being part of a community, and I have many opportunities to hang out with other bloggers – at Charcoal LaneRamen Ya, the Nuffnang Food Bloggers dinner and the Gastronomica Food Quiz. I also launch the MEL: Heat Map, an epic piece of blog work second only to the Hair-raising Big Blog Design Change II of 2009.

Finally, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to you all – especially to my loyal readers, the people who’ve written to tell me how much they enjoy reading it, the readers who’ve taken the time to comment, correct me or offer suggestions and the new friends and like-minded people I’ve met, both online and offline, through the blog. Look out for a birthday giveaway that’s coming up….

Cheers to a second year!