Things have been quiet here on the blog lately. The reason is that things have been very, very far from quiet in our house. We’ve had my family staying and, while it was wonderful to spend four whole days together, I know now that stopping at three was the right decision for me. Seven children in one house is just too much for my ears. My mind was too addled to even think about writing.
Just as I was beginning to fear that I had mislaid my blogging mojo in the mess of wrapping paper, pine needles and Lego that adorns our sitting room floor, I spotted that Where Wishes Come From‘s annual linky is open. Sadhbh has been running this linky on bloggers’ favourite moments and achievements from the year since 2013 but I only discovered it last year. I joined in with a post on my best moment of 2015 and loved writing the post, so I was determined to be part of it again this year.
- Most Popular Blog Post
A thing I enjoy about this linky is that is gives me an excuse to analyse my blog statistics, something I try to ignore for the rest of the year. I was surprised to find that my most popular post of 2016 was How to Make a Pavlova and Save a Fail. It is very much of the it does exactly what it says on the tin type post, but the photos are mouth-watering, even if I say so myself.
2. Favourite Blog Post
My own favourite blog post to write was this one, a quick capture of five minutes of my life, written hastily before I forgot it. At the time of writing, in late September, I was on the verge of returning to work and to me everything had a doomsday feel to it. But this post is happy and reflective.
3. Favourite Photo
Choosing a favourite photo is tricky. Do I go with the one I find most aesthetically pleasing? Or with the best memory captured? Or the best composition? I decided on this one, taken by me in our garden this summer. I’ve chosen it because I love the colour and the subject but also because it sums up many of my favourite things – our free-range chickens, our home-grown vegetables, the trug basket which is one of my salavaged finds. In a nutshell, the photo says to me “You’ve done it. You have the life you want”. Which leads me on to no. 4.
4. Best Adventure
We’ve been to Ireland and Italy and The Black Forest on holiday this year, but our best adventure was right here at home – our adventure in keeping animals. Back in the Spring we set about building a hen house and invested in four chickens. Then in late August we made The Bavarian’s lifelong dream come true by giving a dog a new home. Yes, it is more work and yes, it limits some of the things we can do on a whim. But we’ve learned a lot and are probably a better, happier family for it. (I wrote this post for HerFamily.ie about it.)
5. Most Common Theme
2016 saw me feature a least one interiors or craft post per week, so those would be the most consistent themes on the blog this year. We’ve renovated the bathroom, ripped up the hall floor, given weaving a go, tried gravel art, done papercrafts, worked with clay and re-discovered crochet to name just a few of the posts that fall into this theme.
6. Favourite Craft
This is a bit like choosing a favourite food. There are so many I enjoy. I think though, for this year, my favourite craft featured on the blog would have to be weaving. Here you can see my first attempt at a woven wall-hanging. Anpther craft I tried but haven’t blogged about yet is fabric printing. Addictive is all I can say for me.
7 .Most Commented-On Blogpost
Another surprise for me in looking at my stats today was to see that my most commented-on blogpost was this one on upcycling an orange crate into a shelf. It is one of this simple but effective makeovers that anyone can do.
8. Favourite Comment
It is a bit of a cliche but I get a real buzz out of reading comments from my blog readers. I love hearing their reaction to my writing and reading their tips and experience. One of the most memorable comments was this one from an Irish lady in New Zealand who knows adn loves the wonderful bookshop in Westport I mentioned in my post of toddler-friendly books in Irish.
9. Favourite Celebration
Of all the birthdays, anniversaries, feast days and weddings of the year, I think my favourite celebration was Easter Sunday in Italy. We usually spend Easter at home and I do really enjoy all the egg painting and the Easter Bunny’s visit. Last Easter was particularly special though because we spent it on holiday in eastern Italy, not far from Venice. After the cathedral mass in the town of Chioggia, we went back to our holiday home for an al fresco lunch and an egg hunt in the garden. It was our first family holiday in Italy and I doubt it will be our last.
10. Favourite Blog Series
Over the course of year I have run several series – my reading challenge, #ClearOutAndEat and my German Holidays series – but my favoutite was the final one, my Advent Craft Swap. Run mainly on Instagram (you can follow me @three_sons_later), the idea of the swap was to set 24 craft-loving people up with a partner to send a homemade gift to. It was such a thrill each day during Advent to see who got what. I was astounded at the range of crafts and the level of skill. You can see all the photos here.
P.S. Apologies to the last few participants. I’ll be sharing your photos soon.
11. Best Move
My best move of 2016 was getting up the nerve to pitch articles. While in 2015 I wrote several articles for The Irish Times Generation Emigration section, in 2016 I wanted to expand my writing and not focus solely on diaspora issues. On Easter Saturday one of my biggest dreams came true when The Irish Times Magazine featured a full page article along with my photos of dyed eggs. Then in June and September I featured as guest blogger on HerFamily.ie, which I was delighted with.
11. Favourite Freebie
We got some lovely review opportunities this year, but my favourite has to be my stay at the Athlone Springs Hotel with my best friends. The combination of a night away with the girls and being able to try out all the hotel facilities without being hindered by the children was just perfect.
13. Worst Blog Moment
My worst blog moment of 2016 was the realisation after returning to work in October that blogging is a bit of a luxury. With work four days a week, three children to look after, my volunteer work and the usual household chores, finding the time and the energy to keep the blog going has been tough at times.
14. Best Blog Moment
Hands down my best blog moment was winning the award for Best Diaspora Blogger in the Bllog Awards Ireland in September. I had been hoping to attend the ceremony, but couldn’t for various reasons. I still owe Sadhbh a large G&T for picking up the award for me that night and Naomi from the brilliant sciencewows.ie will always have a special place in my heart for being the one to tweet to tell me I’d won.
15. What I learned in 2016
Partly through blogging and partly through life in general, 2016 taught me to think about myself a bit more, treat myself to the thinks I like and indulge in my hobbies. As far as I can see no-one else has suffered through my doing so and I am definitely feeling better for it.
16. What my blog did for me in 2016
What my blog has done for me is to introduce me to a lot of new friends who have similar interests. It has made me move outside of my comfort zone in terms of shyness and openness. It has also increased my confidence in what I do. Dreams have come true and joy has been spread because of this blog of mine and that makes me very happy.