2014 was a big year! For me personally and for us as a blogging community. (Yes, I think of KOAB as a community. Is that dorky? So be it!)
The Big Move
If I had to give a title to my family’s year, it would definitely be “The Big Move”.
In May, my husband and I decided to move from Kansas City to Cleveland. In June, we put our house on the market. In July, I packed up all our worldly possessions and in August, we moved 12 hours north to the shores of Lake Erie. But the real story happened before and after these brief summer months.
You see, the first five months of 2014 were characterized by my and my husband’s agonized hand-wringing over our decision to move — and then, where to move. Once we made our decision and told our children, family and friends, we were able to transition into “action mode” — which for me, is a much more comfortable place than “mulling it over and trying to figure out what the heck to do” mode. Of course, action mode isn’t without its own challenges — especially when the house that you love has to be put on the market.
Selling and buying a house is not for the faint of heart, and those of you who have moved recently know exactly what I’m talking about! I’ve moved more than 20 times in my life, including when I made aliyah in 1997 (single) and when I moved back to the States in 2008 (married, with two kids). Those were big moves, for sure, but this past summer really gave me a run for my money. My kids asked me at one point in July, as I was knee deep in packing paper, “What if we don’t like Cleveland, Mom?” And I answered wryly, “We’re staying anyway. I’m never doing this again.”
We moved into our new home in mid-August, and so the last five months of 2014 have been all about adjusting. As a mom, my first concern was of course my kids’ adjustment – and thankfully they’ve done better than I ever could have hoped. They had a lot to adjust to — not just a new home, a new community, and making new friends, but also a new school. And specifically a “regular” school — not homeschool. After two wonderful (and also wonderfully trying) years of learning at home, they went off to day school — on a bus no less! — this August.
School has been great for them in a million and one ways, and we feel super fortunate to have found a place that matches us so well — both in terms of our hashkafah and in terms of our educational philosophy. The teachers and staff have gone above and beyond to make sure that our kids had a smooth transition — and it’s really paid off.
Seeing my kids settled is immensely satisfying – and it’s also a signal that it’s time for me to start focusing on my own life a bit more, too. (Not that our lives as moms can ever be separated from our lives as individuals – but there are times when the scales tip way in one direction — and then times when the scale needs to be a bit more balanced again.)
The fact that this “hey, I need to do some things for myself again!” realization is dawning now, at the end of December, is probably no coincidence. November and December are the busiest times of the year for Kosher on a Budget. I love what I do, but for six weeks every winter, this is pretty much all I do. I’m very lucky because my husband has been able to pick up a lot of slack around the house the last two months; no doubt, though, that my focus on getting the house decluttered and organized in January is also about my being ready — and needing — to reclaim some of my household responsibilities.
Since there is very little separation between personal and professional when you work at home — and write a blog! — I have no doubt that some of the tumult in my personal life this year has affected things here on Kosher on a Budget. I’ve tried not to let it spill over too much, but there hasn’t been as much time (or brain space) for some of my “blog goals” — like finishing that ebook about budgeting I’ve been working on for forever.
Thankfully there’s always next year! But before dive head first into 2015, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on some fun highlights from the year that was in 2014 for Kosher on a Budget.
KOAB: The Year in Review, 2014
Despite some of my distractions, it’s been a fantastic year of tremendous growth here on Kosher on a Budget. In 2013, KOAB had one million visits. In 2014, that number increased 50% to 1.5 million. There have been 687,000 unique visitors come to KOAB over the last 365 day. My brain can’t even grasp that number. In many ways, I still feel like I’m writing a blog for 60 of you, so that the reality is so much bigger is just craziness to me!
KOAB’s social media presence also took off this year. Our Facebook page has always been wonderful, but this July, we hit a big milestone: 10,000 fans. Today, we have just over 13,400 “fans” — and growing more every day.
I have you — each and everyone one of you reading this post — to thank for that growth. Your word of mouth — in person and on Facebook — has grown KOAB from Day One, and continues to work wonders four and a half years later.
2014 was also the year of Pinterest for Kosher on a Budget. There were a few posts that seemed to get caught up in a stream somewhere in Pinterest-ville and drove a tremendous amount of new readers to KOAB. (Are you following KOAB on Pinterest yet?) In fact, when I went to compile the list of Top 5 Most Read Posts for 2014, I realized that every single one of them received some major Pinterest love this year.
(Which truthfully makes sense. The deals are short-lived — here today, gone tomorrow; the articles that get re-pinned on Pinterest are “evergreen”, and can bring new readers to the site any time of day, any day of the year.)
Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2014
#1. Easy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts – This recipe is so simple, I don’t even know that I can legitimately call it a “recipe”. But simple or not, it’s amazingly delicious. This “recipe” has converted many a brussels sprouts hater into a lover. Has it done the same for you?
#2. 25 Vegetarian Passover Recipes — This round-up was actually written back in 2013, but I think this will end up being a perennial favorite. I know I personally took a lot of my Pesach menu planning inspiration from the list — what about you?
#3. 101 Mishloach Manot Ideas — This is another post from back in 2013, which continued to get some significant traffic this year. I’m glad for it, too — as man, did this list take me a long time to write! 😉
#4. The 7 Things I Only Buy at Costco – Wow, this oldie but goodie is making a resurgence! I wrote this post back in 2011, but you know what? The list still hold true to this day. In fact, I’m heading to Costco later this afternoon and most of these items are on my list. (And full disclosure on the popularity on this post in 2014: Money Saving Mom linked to this post from her Facebook page back in September. In one day, this post got almost 20,000 page views. In.one.day. From that one little link on her Facebook page. Her popularity and traffic is mind-blowing!)
#5. How to Use Sink Funds to Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle — I’m so gratified to see this post in the Top 5, since I believe in this approach with all my heart. Saving money at the grocery store or online will shave money off your budget, no doubt. But if you really want to break out of that month-to-month cycle, setting aside a little money each month for the big expenses is life-changing. Life. changing.
My Favorite Posts of 2014
While I have an abundance of love for each of the posts above, some of my very favorite posts and discussions didn’t make the Google cut. Here are six of them:
- 7 Things I Wish I’d Know About Marriage Before I Got Married — And it’s not just one of my favorites because I love the wedding picture of me and Frankie! 😉
- The Repeating Menu Plan — This was a hair-brained idea I had, which ended up being AWE.SOME. We loved it in November, and continued it in December. I actually need to sit down today and figure out what we’re eating in January, so I can get a jump-start on the grocery shopping. Some of you might find this “system” too boring or predictable, but we seriously loved it!
- My Whole30 Series — Speaking of food, I love all the posts in this series. I never believed I could do something so “drastic” – I’ve always felt controlled by food to some degree. Sticking to the Whole30 for a month — and feeling so great about it (physically and emotionally) was really eye-opening for me. Though I think I need a refresher course after several months of stress eating.
- Before You Spend Money This Black Friday Season… — Black Friday sales are behind us for this year, but I think the “advice” in this post is pretty apt year-round.
- Let’s Go Royals — Baseball fans of underdog teams everywhere will appreciate this tribute to my Boys in Blue. Even if they didn’t win the World Series…
- A Tour of Our Homeschool Classroom – Sigh. No, we’re not homeschooling anymore (though I will say that I firmly believe that education happens at home for all families – regardless of where their kids go to school!) And no, I don’t even live in this house anymore. But this room? This room was my happy place. I loved the learning, the relationship building, the laughter and even the hair-pulling frustration that happened in this room. And yeah, I loved how it was set-up. It just made me happy!
In 2015, I’m looking forward to a slightly calmer year for me and my family personally – but an even more exciting year for KOAB. Thank you so much for being an integral part of Kosher on a Budget — and of my and my family’s life.
I’d love to chat with you in the comments about years in review, moving, new beginnings and your favorite KOAB posts! What are you looking forward to in the new year? Are you closing the books on a great year – or a trying one? Here at KOAB, what would you like me to post about more in 2015? What have been the posts that you enjoyed the most in 2014? Lay it on me!