Happy Birthday To You. You Live in a Zoo!

Well it’s time to register my blog for kindergarten because it’s five this week!!

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My first post wasn’t to be published until March 5, 2010, but on March 4, 2010, I set up my blog, came up with my name – based on a history of people mispronouncing my name – and I wrote out my first little ditty. This was the first post out of 818:


I admit it – I’ve been a blog stalker for years. The source of the original blogs I stalked were LiveJournal friends and then friends of friends of friends. Another writer might comment on a journal I was currently reading, and then I’d latch desperately onto their life as well. And this went on. You see, I had some boring work days (and weeks and months – hi, SHI!) to get through and when I found a “blog treasure” – one was that was started years earlier and still going strong – I could read back and see how the authors’ lives changed. If these unknowing people added photos to the mix, what an added bonus! I especially loved blogs written by people in their 20’s and 30’s because I got to see how the pressures of the times played out – college dating and hooking up, graduation, a very bad job market, post-college dating and hooking up, late night drunken blog posts, weddings, wedding dating and hooking up, babies, and so much more. My biggest issue with blog stalking was that a lot of blogs start in the middle and don’t clarify much after. I was a lurker and a stranger and when authors comfortably name dropped or talked about the weather where they were, I still didn’t know who they were talking about or where they lived. I don’t want that kind of blog. I can only hope that one day I too will have lurkers. And if so, lurkers, this is for you:

My name is Tamara. I’m 29. I was born and raised in New Jersey in a blended Brady Bunch family of five kids and I escaped to San Francisco (for a guy!) in 2007 and I have never looked back…on New Jersey. I often look back at my family:


Apparently that leap of faith was a good thing and I wound up marrying my long distance lover, Cassidy. I will write a whole other post sometime detailing our long and magical “how we met” story. This is us at our wedding, me watching on as Cassidy breaks the glass, Jewish wedding style:

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We had a crazy life in San Francisco surrounded by fog, amazing energy bills, and a slew of drugs I’d never even heard of. However, the east coast seemed to be calling us back so we packed up our lives and our then 13-year-old husky, Stormy:

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And had a fun-filled 2 1/2 week cross country move in our Toyota Camry. After a very rough start on the right coast, we wound up in an awesome pop culture museum of a home in Northampton, MA. Soon after we moved, we learned we had brought home a souvenir from our long trip – she was born July 9, 2009 and we’ve been enamored ever since.

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Present Tamara back again. Can you believe that when I started blogging, even with this blogging name, I had no idea it would be a showcase of writing AND photography? I had no idea I’d meet so many friends and clients along the way. I had no idea of anything, except that my head had expanded and I had to release some of the pressure and some of the tension into this here blog. Five years. What did I learn after five years of blogging? What’s the best part of blogging? Is it the paychecks? The fame and fortune? The cookies? Answers: No. I wouldn’t know. And maybe. What’s the best part of blogging, really?

It’s YOU.

I could manually send each of you a shout-out, like I did last year. I could cry. I could let this day pass me by…but nah.

Instead I made a giveaway for YOU! And you and you and you. It’s not a long Rafflecopter, but you can tell I’m targeting my loved ones. $50 to Amazon, and if you live in the US or Canada, I’m throwing in a box of my favorite cookies from Greggory’s. I’m talking chocolate chip cookie sandwich ends. I’m talking buttercream. I’m talking white and milk chocolate dipped.

I’m talking THIS:

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So good luck! Enter! Don’t feel you have to share the giveaway link (or the cookies). And know that I adore you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Of all the things I experienced at BlogU14 – helping you is one of my Top 5 favorite moments. Seriously.

    Congratulations to you on all you’ve accomplished – you’re amazing and I adore you.

    1. It was so awesome! I just love the bizarre conversations we were all having in my dorm room. Felt like college.
      I adore you too. And I know that you might not make it to the conference this year. I feel the same way so that just means we have to make a plan. A New England plan!

  2. Happy Birthday to your blog today!! Seriously not sure what my life would be without having met you through blogging and don’t ever want to find out. It is truly my honor and pleasure to call you my friend! Oh an we will so meet, I paid for my BlogHer ticket this weekend and you so better be there now!! Love you πŸ˜‰ <3

    1. I still have to pay for mine!
      I know we will meet.
      And I just got my happy anniversary email from wordpress. It really was today!!

  3. Moose! Cookies! He was your client in your job…or something like that! Should I go look it up?

  4. Happy birthday, Tamara! I’m so glad we found one another a few years into your blogging journey. If I don’t win the giveaway, can I send you money to mail me some cookies anyway?

    1. Of course! Although you don’t need to send money. I’m at that bakery as much as possible anyway.
      Really glad I met you. And I know I will see you again!

  5. Moose

    tie: Talenti / ice cream / Hippie Chick Granola / Cookies from the best bakery in the world / drawers of candy.

    He dressed in drag on the internet, sorta. I remember you were working and he was a client you initially thought was a female.

  6. Moose and Huskies- but Moose more!

    Cookies from Gregory’s, salted caramel anything, Talenti, See’s Candy.

    He was your client!

  7. Happy Blog Day!!! I love that you started your blog on a leap and yet it has remained a consistent voice. You write what you feel, when you feel it. And the photos are freaking amazing!

    1. That’s exactly what I do! What I feel and when I feel it. I’ve so enjoyed writing on my own terms, with occasional dalliances with editors.
      Really wish you could all win!

  8. Your first post was way better than mine! You were a natural blogger from the beginning! Someday, we will eat cookies (your favorite ones) together and maybe, we will even see a moose!

    1. Ha! It was short and sweet.
      I definitely know that we will eat cookies together. And we can look for moose in either of our states!

  9. Happy Blogversary Tamara! I loved reading your initial post and I am not sure how many years I have been with you, but i love that I “know” you!

    1. And I know you too! I feel like it’s been more than a year, for sure. I’ve only been blogging with blogging friends for two years, so somewhere along the line we found each other!

  10. Happy 5 years! One of these days, I’ll actually put my blogiversary together. I was a blog stalker too. It’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s life. I’m so entering your contest!

    1. I very much wish you luck!
      I think it’s very interesting to read people’s lives. What really used to get me was to start reading a blog that had been around for years, so I could start in the beginning and see continuity. And to see where they ended up! Like a soap opera!

  11. I believe it’s a moose and those cookies that you’re giving away. You met Cassidy through work. πŸ™‚

  12. Yay for you! And I spontaneously started reading your blog last night from the very first post, so funny! Your early stories about Scarlet are adorable. Moose! Cookies! Over email through work!

    1. That makes me so happy! I haven’t gone back and read my first posts since I wrote them!
      It’s certainly been an up-and-down journey.

  13. Happy 5th Blogiversary, Tamara! I loved the flashback of where you were and now knowing and seeing what you’ve become. You had as much magic to your writing and immediate connection to a reader then as you do today. As I was reading your first post I reflected back on where I was “at” with my blog when I first started to where I am today. I could never, ever have predicted that I would be “here” in the blogging world. Meaning the people I’ve met, the virtual trips around the world, becoming immensely interested and vested in folks personal lives through their posts. Most of all, I could have never fathomed the friendships I have today. Truly a blessing. I’m still a Brady Bunch fan to this day and Stormy was absolutely beautiful! I’m so very proud of you for your immense success, how you touch so many people every day in enriching their/our lives through your writing, stories and photography…and for the amazing friend you are. Thank you always for that, my dear πŸ™‚

    1. I think that has always been my definition of success and my end game. To connect with readers.
      So it means a lot that you saw it in the beginning. I don’t think it occurred to me until three years in!
      I love this blogging world so very much.

  14. I love that both our girls have the same birth day number and birth year! I knew that were kindred spirits! Oh and Moose and you met your hubby through work πŸ˜‰

      1. I agree! We are too! I had a dream last night that we went there and I delivered a cow! So funny that you wrote that!!!! Although Des and Axel were missing. BTW-I totally love that van and the colors in the throw back picture you posted. I had borrowed a vintage VW bus for a summer with the same colors and I properly named her Baked Bean :0)

        1. Baked bean is perfect. I miss that van! After that we got a big red and gold suburban.
          Well we should go soon, but I don’t think you should deliver a cow unless you feel up to it!

  15. Happy Blogoversary! I haven’t been a fan for near that long (probably about a year now) – but I look forward to many more years. (And I LOVE that pic of Cassidy).

  16. Talk about a throwback? Could you have ever imagined where life would take you here? It’s like a Dr. Seuss story, really. I still remember the first day you came to my blog. If it were a restaurant, I’d have taken a picture holding your hand to hang up near the register.

  17. Ok this is my favorite giveaway, and not just because it’s cookie related. It was super easy, I already follow you everywhere! Also I knew the answer to your favorite dessert and favorite animal question too! Cookies and moose! Though you are like me, and super love all desserts. Happy anniversary!

    1. I didn’t want to say it outright, but I totally want someone I already know to win. So I made the questions things that long time readers would know. And I’m glad you follow me everywhere! Likewise!
      But thanks to you I’ve been thinking about sprinkled cake pops all day.

  18. Five years that is HUGE! Congratulations! Yes on the cookies! I have an admission to make. I actually read your blog for quite a while before I started JENerally Informed and then it took me a while to gear up to commenting. I was kind of bad at it and preferred to be a stalker/lurker. I am legit now and very happy about it!

    1. Oops sorry cookies and moose and you thought Cassidy was a chick before you actually talked to him πŸ™‚

      1. Truthfully I don’t even know how it happened, Probably when I joined the SITS girls back in 2012, maybe?

  19. Moose and cookies πŸ™‚ Maybe my favorite answer to any question ever posed, LOL. Also you met Cassidy through work! I <3 that pic of your wedding day and him jumping on the glass πŸ™‚

    Awwww, how lovely to see your first words ever and to be here to wish you a very happy blogiversary, my sweet. The blog world is so very much sweeter because your face is in it. Also! those cookies look delicious. You know the way to my heart πŸ™‚ The picture of you with your siblings… oh, my goodness. That's some adorable stuff right there!

    1. Thank you! The only thing I had to change with the code was that I used to keep my pictures in photobucket! I certainly don’t now.
      Life is just better with moose and cookies. I’m having one of the worst weeks of my life, and I just ate a Girl Scout cookie. It helped.

  20. Happy birthday, Tamara Camara Blog! Your intro post is awesome and such a sweet introduction. I’m so glad you started it we got to connect and meet in person through it! I look forward to hanging out more in 2015. Bad New England weather can’t hold us back!

    1. And illness! I was just thinking about how nice it was to hang out with you twice on warm days. I’m trying to think of warm thoughts. Good luck with the giveaway!

  21. Happy 5 years! Love the kindergarten comparison. And so cool to see that first post. AND, I had never made that connection about your blog name before. I thought it was about LIKING cameras. And now, I’m like DUH! And yeah, I want those cookies!

  22. Happy blog Birthday, Tamara! 5 Years! Wow. I think to answer your questions I must do it here; so, your favorite animal is a moose, your favorite dessert is chocolate cookies and you met Cassidy at College. Love this post and what a nice giveaway to celebrate. πŸ™‚

    1. I actually met him after college at my first serious job! He was my client but he lived in California. but you still got two right. And I wouldn’t have chosen someone else just for that. I want someone awesome to win!

  23. I loved reading your first post! I was such a lurker for a long time before I decided to blog myself. I really love being an actual blogger more than being a lurker!

    And I’m totally in it for the cookies.

    1. Oops, I do this EVERY TIME I use Rafflecopter. I forget to read what I’m supposed to write in the comment! Moose, cookies and over the phone at work. πŸ™‚

    2. I’d be in it for the cookies too!
      Have to say that I certainly love blogging more than just lurking. And I don’t even lurk anymore at all. If I read a blog, I comment on it. If it’s not a blog I will comment on, I don’t have time to read it!

  24. Easy answers – Moose. Those cookies. You met him via email for work! Congrats on your five year anniversary!!! Very happy to have met you and to call you a friend!

  25. Happy birthday, twin blogger! Moose and cookies, of course πŸ™‚ And you know what, we are so the same with all that Live Journal stuff back in the day. I had one on Blogger but I’d stalk friends, and yes friends of friends. All the entries would be so obscure. I wish I still had those links to see if they’re still up!

  26. Congratulations! You are a wonderful blogger, and I’m always amazed at how much writing flows out of you with such heart and openness. I loved reading the flashback and loved the pictures. Here’s to the next 5 years!

    1. Thank you so much! That means a lot. I love that I was able to read my first post and think that although a lot has changed, the original idea of the blog is intact.

  27. FIVE YEARS!!!!!!! I love the backstory to how you started, Tamara!!! What a sweet first post too…

    When I started, I had NO IDEA it was such a social thing… no idea!! i spent about a year, just hangin’ with a few blogger- Ashley was my first before she started Dose of Reality. Isn’t it amazing how much LOVE is in this virtual world? It’s simply MASSIVE.

    And keeps growing every day.

    I for one, am SO glad Ilene introduced you to me. You’ll always be one of my faves. <3

    (And that damn beautiful love story pops up again… causing me angst in wanting SO badly to read it!! Why do I keep having to put it off??? ACK!!!!)

    1. You’ll always be one of my favorites too. Nothing could ever change that. And one day we will all hang out.
      Ashley and Lisa were some of the first bloggers I read too!

  28. Wow – five years! Such an accomplishment. Loved reading your first post – and I could just see the awesomeness that was to come, way back then. Congratulations!!!

    1. Thank you! It makes me happy that five years in, my blog is still what I wanted it to be. And I mean just at the source. It’s still me writing want I want to write!

  29. The best giveaway would be to sit and eat cookies with you while I tour you around toronto to see all the moose (statues) we have dressed up around the city!!! Of course you would be snapping photos everywhere (and do a photoshoot of my family) while we discuss your amazing love story of meeting Cassidy through work:) Happy Birthday to one of the most amazing blogs out there and the best blogger!!!! Xo

    1. You seriously just made my day. I have been talking a lot about Toronto lately with a friend, because it’s still one of my favorite cities of all time. So this has to happen! It has to!

  30. Oh wow!! That’s so wonderful! πŸ™‚ Happy Blirthday to you!!! Oh check out this link http://www.buzzfeed.com/cylapanin/real-canadian-slang-and-what-they-mean?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.qsXvLjJnOQ and look at #7. I work with a keener and I’m happy I’m on my chesterfield for the day due to inclement weather. Government closings = AWESOMENESS!!! I want cookies πŸ™ OH wait I have butterscotch pralines in my kitchen, say whaaa! πŸ˜‰ Have a great one lovely!!! -Iva

  31. Congrats! I love how your very first post still sounds like you πŸ™‚

    I knew cookies was one answer, but as I read through the other comments (um cheating) I saw “moose cookies” and I didn’t see the comma and thought, wow, moose shaped cookies, that is original!

  32. You know what I love about your blog – I still learn something new about you each time I visit. It’s like putting together a big puzzle one post at a time. I also love that we first became parents within months of each other. I don’t think I’d ever seen that pic of your hubby jumping at your wedding either…that’s a framer!

    1. Isn’t that photo something?
      Scarlet turns six in July so they must be the same birth year!
      I love that you find all these puzzle pieces.

  33. Aww, happy happy happy birthday to your blog today!!! So happy we connected last year, love following along your daily adventures, and you always provide an uplifting dose of inspiration!

  34. Oh what a happy day here on Tamara Camera. You are one of my favorite bloggers and I am so grateful you made the decision to start a blog! Happy Birthday to your blog and here’s to many more amazing blogging years!

  35. Gaaahhhhh, I love me some cookies!!! But I’m so far away. LOL. Happy happy 5 years of blogging! It’s so nostalgic to go back to our first ever post. I may have deleted some posts I wrote before but I never deleted the first one because it’s memorable no matter how crappy it was. Heck. Cheers to more blogging years ahead! So happy to meet you in the blogging world.

    1. Really happy to have met you! And I’m so sorry I can’t ship cookies to you. I feel like they wouldn’t be good by the time they got to you!

  36. Happy Happy Blog Birthday!! Wow, your first blog post was waaaaayyy better than like my first 50 blog posts. I was so awkward. Congrats of five years, that’s incredible!
    Thanks for the chance to win cookies (your favorite and mine). And moose. πŸ˜€

    1. Good luck on winning! And I’m glad you liked my first post. I had no idea what I was doing with it.
      And I had no idea how amazing the blogging world would be.

  37. Happy 5 years of blogging!!!
    Before I started blogging I was a huge blog lurker – I didn’t really know the value of comments at the time. I think I spent about 2 years reading lots of blogs but never commenting.

  38. Could there be anything more fitting than you giving away cookies for your anniversary? Love it and love you. Miss reading your words every week. xo

  39. I feel like we should throw your blog a preschool graduation party…complete with pomp & circumstance. And since you already brought cookies with sprinkles, there’s no need for cake. I think a lot of us started blogs after long-time lurking. It draws you in, you know? Congratulations on five spectacular years of blogging!

  40. Happy blogiversary! Congratulations. 5 years of handwork and dedication. You kick ass, girl! I love going through your posts and looking at pics of your family. You take gorgeous photos. I don’t always comment, and as a fellow blogger, I’m a bit ashamed, but I do read! And I stalk your pics on IG too. πŸ˜‰

  41. Happy 5th blogging anniversary!!!! I think it is so neat how blogging has changed since it’s early days. When I first heard of people writing online diaries (early 2000s) it thought it was so weird. Then I actually started reading more around the mid-2000s and I loved them.
    Favorite animal…Moose. Favorite treat….cookies.

    1. I thought it was really weird too! I can’t believe how much I love it now. I wonder how it will change in the future.
      Correct answers!

  42. I always forget my blog birthday – it’s timeless just like me – too bad my wrinkles and gray hair and saggy boobs didn’t get that memo. Such jerks.
    Congrats on 5 years. I think it’s amazing this community that you’ve grown. You are an amazing writer and photographer and friend. Cheers to many more years of spilling the beans on the internets xoxo

  43. 5 years!!! Happy Birthday…. or JrK I guess. So, I have only discovered you for about a year now? You’re telling me I have missed about 4 years of Awesome!? not acceptable.
    here’s to another years of getting to know amazing you…. and not missing a thing this time! πŸ™‚

    1. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was four years of awesome. I definitely met some awesome people along the way!
      Let’s not miss a thing!

  44. Happy Belated Birthday to you! Five years incredible! Look at what you have built! I am doing the Birthday Dance over here…what song I am dancing to??? “They say it’s your birthday!” by the Beatles.
    “They say it’s your birthday
    We’re gonna have a good time
    I’m glad it’s your birthday
    Happy birthday to you!”

  45. Wah! I suck! I missed your big 5!? And best giveaway!!!!! Ugh. At least I got to read your very first blog post…you read livejournals!? Memories…I almost forgot about the days before everyone included pictures in posts. Happy five years to Tamara like camera and happy forever to the writer and photographer behind it all!!

    1. I get it because I have a soul sucking job right now, and it’s causing me to miss things. I’m sorry you didn’t get to enter the giveaway before it ended! I’ll send you cookies anyway.

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