Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Fifteen Years of Blogging


one of my blog headers from about 2013

It has been about 15 years ago this week that I created my first blog and began writing about my faith, family, hobbies, food, travel --whatever seemed to be good "blog fodder." Written primarily for women, some men read it, too, probably more out of self-defense (to see if I had besmirched their name than anything else). 

Blogging was gaining recognition and popularity 2009 as an easy (and inexpensive) form of expressing oneself, enabling writers to claim they were "published," albeit self-published. 

One of my nieces began a blog and since I have had an interest in writing since a teenager, my mother suggested I might like to try it. 

one of my first blog headers
(Internet source)

Using the Blogspot/Blogger platform, which is known for being both free and user-friendly, I liked it immediately. Coming up with a title and a header were great fun and I changed both often as I struggled to find exactly what would express ME the best.

At times I had more than one blog at the same time, each one devoted to one topic, such as quilting, food, home decor, spiritual, and so forth. 

The many titles I used included (but not limited to):

Aprons and Apples

My Journal Reflections

Grateful Grammy

Grammy's Place

Sweet Tea and Sandals

Cornerstone Cottage

Restful Retreat

The Brown Bungalow

and more that I no longer remember.

my kitchen 2013-2017

Eventually I realized that changing names and headers frequently confused many of my readers and settling down to just one blog with many topics within was the better choice for building a devoted readership.

a fresh salad with wood moose tongs

Writing about food was fun and got me into the habit of snapping pictures of dinner before taking the first bite. Lots of bloggers post recipes, some more artfully than others. 

baby quilt I made for grandchild #10

My quilts, and later cross stitched projects, occupied many of the blog posts. This quilt, above, was one of my more "artsy" designs, where I ventured from the more traditional, predictable patterns. 

For more years than not, I wrote about my imaginary staff who helped me with maintaining my home, and eventually my fictitious Bed and Breakfast -- freeing me up to "write the great American novel." 

"My Staff"

Identifying them in the photo above, from top eft to right:

Lily (in the teal scrubs): my Research Assistant

Mandy Sue (pink apron): my "gal Friday" full of mischief

Grammy (the be-speckled bear): was Me

Mrs Berniece Mertz (Kiss the Cook apron): my chef

Brown bear in yellow chair: Rent-a-Nurse, who appeared only when one of us were ill or recovering from surgery and home health care was needed

Smallest gal in the newspaper hat: Eaves Dropping was a reporter for the local newspaper.

Not shown was Grandad Bear, Rowdy (the bothersome neighbor kid), and Spud (Mr Potato Head who helped Grandad Bear with home maintenance and outdoor chores.)

blog header using the hot air balloon
at Disney Springs, Florida

Back in the early days of my blog, I was very concerned about personal security and privacy, so I would photoshop hats, sunglasses, and such over the faces of people to make easy identification hard. I also gave just about everyone a pseudonym, something that seemed appropriate for their personality or career, or station in  life. Some of the names used:

Surfer Girl and Surfer Boy

Web Designer and the Lil' Red-Haired Girl

Gray Beard and Blondie

The Cook on Fifth Street



There were many more names used but these appeared the most often. 

I seldom got into political issues, wanting to keep my writing clean, uplifting, and accurate. But at the same time, when COVID hit, I did acknowledge that.

Mandy Sue during the pandemic;
I sewed most of her wardrobe

It was about eight months into the pandemic when the tone and thrust of my blog writing turned from the frivolity and fantasy with my dolls' antics to real life, the hard stuff none of us could overlook or ignore. 

Challenge Hill aka "the incline"
Philip S. Miller Park
Castle Rock, Colorado

When COVID came to my house, fantasy faded and reality warped the fanciful stories I'd been composing for some nearly ten years. I found myself, as did so many of us, on a very steep incline with no handrails at an increasing altitude that took my breath away.

Literally. If you look closely at the above snapshot taken by Beloved, I am barely seen over half-way up the staircase, below the lime green shirt and close to a royal blue sweatshirt. This picture was taken years before we had heard of COVID, but when I came across it the other day, it perfectly illustrated how I felt when the pandemic grabbed and stole from me a particular peace I had enjoyed for all my life until then.

A quote from Goethe describes some of the reasons why I continued to blog in the new season of grief that was swallowing me up:

"The world is so empty 

if one thinks only of 

mountains, rivers, and cities; 

but to know someone who thinks

and feels with us, and who,

though distant, 

is close to us in spirit, 

this makes the earth for us

an inhabited garden."

As I shared my grief over losing Beloved to COVID, my readers responded with their sympathy and stories of how this evil was affecting them. The purpose for my writing transformed into more of a support group atmosphere and readership even grew. My attention and focus was (and continues to be) frequently directed to these two thoughts:

1) God has a purpose for our pain, a reason for our struggle, and a reward for our faithfulness. Don't give up!

2) Everyone is struggling with something. Be kind and give grace.

Over the years it has been my delight to meet several of my blogging friends in person (some, more than once!). Especially as we all were encouraged to limit in-person contact with the public, these blogging relationships have become very special and close.

Colorado Columbines

I have learned a lot about myself in this evolution of my writing a blog. One, to my embarrassment and regret, is that I had a lot to learn about extending grace, being kind, and giving more intentional thought to word choices and behaviors. 

kitchen chandelier decor
in Colorado
Before I close out this summation of my blogging journey over the past 15 years, I will say that along with the grief has been the advent of more new people and experiences in my life. The Lord, in His incredible mercy, has rescued me from profound grief to wonderful joy with the love of a man who has experienced similar grief in his life. Those who have been reading my blogs over the years have seen this turn come about on the heels of the hard stuff. 

Gary is not given to the fantasies that captured me in the past, although he has a sense of humor that has me laughing every single day. When I tried to give him a pseudonym in my blog at the start of our love, he asked that he be referred to as "just Gary." And so he is.

I hasten to add that Gary is very involved with this blog, not only as frequent subject matter, but also as my editor and proofreader!

We have some particularly engrossing things on our calendar over the next couple months, so even with all the benefits blogging has done for me and others, I will not be writing as often. As the calendar allows, I intend to resume posting, but for the time being blogging will be on the back burner, so to speak.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, and regarding the Super Bowl this weekend, this is me:

Until next time, grace and peace.



Pamela M. Steiner said...

Happy 15th Blogaversary! You have truly come a long way in this journey...and it is amazing to see how each of us has grown through the years of our blogging experience. I am so glad that we somehow managed to meet here in blogland...I need to go back retrace that to see when it was and how we actually "met", and then to be so blesse that we actually have really met in person not just once but several times, is really special indeed. I count you as a very dear friend and am so thankful to be one of your blogging friends as well as a real friend in person! May God continue to bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace!! (based on Numbers 6:24-26). Amen.

Mandy said...

I was delighted to come across your blog and that your doll was named Mandy Sue! (my name) You have certainly had a long blogging journey!

Mari said...

Happy 15 years! I've been following you for quite a few years and remember the pseudonyms, the staff and of course the days of Covid and Beloved passing into glory. I'm thankful you've kept at it and have shared your heartaches and joys, and God's leading through it all!
I used to have several blogs too, but one is enough to manage! :)
I'm with Maxine, rooting for the Clydesdales.

Terri D said...

I'm with you on the Clydesdales!! Whatever you have on you calendar, I hope it is FUN and that you can tell us all about it at some point!! I'm glad we got to meet in person and that it has happened many times, with many more to come (I hope!)!! Love ya!

Martha Jane Orlando said...

Barbara, I'm so glad that I connected with you, dear one, in this blogosphere we share. When we are honest with others about our shortcomings, our concerns and our cares, so many honest friendships can be made. We can have countless ways to inspire others as we journey with the Lord. What better platform is there? In spite of the separations Covid inflicted, we could all stay close and connected. Congrats on 15 years!

Debby said...

I hope everything is good and the engrossing things on your calendar won’t take you away for too long. I always enjoy reading your beautiful words.
Take Care and May God continue to bless you and Gary.

Sandy said...

I enjoyed your little trip down memory lane with blogging. I said when I chose to not quit last February that I wouldn't put any pressure on myself to a deadline. If I have time and the notion strikes I would blog. IT is kind of a crazy thing we do, but like you I really do like writing. You go have fun and we will leave the light on for you.

ellen b. said...

That was good to read the recap of your blogging over the last 15 years! Congrats on 15. A very happy Valentine's day to you and Gary. Hope the things have planned are fun things! Happy Thursday to you.

Carol said...

Congratulations on 15 years, Barbara! I think that's so neat that we began blogging within two weeks of each other :) I think I only found you five or six years ago through Sandy's blog, but I'm glad I did. You've certainly had some adventures in life and lived so many places! And, the inevitable sadness as well. I'm so glad your life is in a happy place again and I hope you continue blogging for many years to come!

Sam - Ocala said...

Although I may be new to reading your blog it is all of what you hoped for - fun, uplifting, interesting and entertaining and lovely!! You're a great writer and I'd like to read your first book! 😘 I love you dear sister.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Congratulations on 15 years of Blogging. Please continue. We never know who visits our Blogs and not comment. So anything we say about our Faith may well encourage someone to search for God in their lives.

God bless.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Are my comments going astray? I have commented here before and they never appear. Perhaps they're in the junk folder.

God bless.

Robin in Virginia said...

First, congratulations on your 15 years of blogging! I always smile when I see a new blog entry. The two thoughts you shared above the picture of the columbines is very spot on. I really like the Maxine graphic. I heard they were bringing the Clydesdales back this year. Woohoo! Have a wonderful weekend!

Barbara said...

Hello Mandy Sue! My doll's official name was Amanda Suzanna, but my sister shortened it to Mandy Sue. I love your name!

Barbara said...

And I've been following you, too, Mari, for several years. Thank you for all the funnies and food ideas you post on your blog. You make me hungry every time!!!

Barbara said...

Thanks for theses Martha Jane. The friendships we have built through our blogs really are a blessing!

Barbara said...

Thanks for "leaving the light on for me." What a cute way to put it. I expect to be back after the dust settles. You know how it is...

Barbara said...

I sure do appreciate your comments here, "Sam - Ocala" (you know I know exactly who you are!!).

Jennifer said...

My first visit to your blog (by way of some other blog and a blog reading trail!) but how encouraging to see how long you have blogged and just a glimpse of what God has done through the blog and through blogging. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to continue blogging...but this post has been a blessing! Thanks for sharing -

Becki said...

This was a lovely post, Barbara. From the cute and artsy baby blanket, to the Goethe quote - beautiful. I discovered you (via Sandy's blog), you had just lost your Beloved, and were in the process of retiring all your "staff". I always enjoy the pseudonyms you give to your people. Every time you use them, I wish I was so clever. It was only this year that I let go of "Hub" as my husband's moniker and decided to just reveal to the world that his name is Greg. What a relief. I hope you have some enjoyable things in the mix of what is taking you away from blogging for a while. We all will look forward to your return.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

I have responded on my Blog to your comment about moderation.

God bless.

Barbara said...

Just running a little test here.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Hi Barbara,

Just checking if this comment publishes or not.

God bless you.


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