A look back at the food, projects, and memories shared in 2016 on This Pilgrim Life.
If you are like me, you find it hard to remember what happened last week, never mind what happened six or ten months ago.
Which is why I LOVE doing these year in review posts at the end of the year. This is my third year writing a review post, and I am excited to reminisce with you about all the has happened this year! Our family grew, the blog grew, and all along there were heaps of good food and a good smattering of DIY projects and real life tales from the trenches.
Whether you are a new reader or have been a friend here for a while, I hope you enjoy this quick look back over 2016. Check out the recipes shared each month (I shared 40 new recipes this year!) and maybe find a new favorite post!
Year in Review- 2016
Surprisingly (especially to me!), January is becoming one of my favorite months. I really love the simplicity of the month after the fullness of Christmas. Open spaces in our home and openness in our schedules. Minimalism and a home-orientation are my goals for the first month of the year.
January is also the month we celebrate my only daughter’s birthday. This year she turned two and we had a simple, yet fun and pretty tea party for her and a handful of little girl friends. She continues to love her baby dolls and was incredibly cute using the toddler baby carrier I made her.
My Favorite Post: The One Resolution I’m Making This Year >>>> Walking through loss and grief in 2015, and then facing a high-risk pregnancy in 2016, learning to trust God and not live in fear have been huge parts of my story.
February is another birthday month for us– in this month alone, there are five birthdays in our (small) extended family. I threw a Star Wars birthday party for my middle son that will likely be one of my favorite parties ever. Like always, I tried to focus on fun activities over making cute decorations. There were light saber battles on a balance beam, blaster gun shooting competitions, droid building, and more! I also managed to make a death star cake, which was hands-down the most difficult cake I have ever put together.
Aside from putting together a birthday party or two, I am pretty sure all we did the rest of the month was sit in front of the fire and read books. At least that is what my Instagram tells me.
My Favorite Post: Hospitality that Doesn’t Make You Pull Your Hair Out >>>> I am passionate about helping people overcome obstacles keeping them from welcoming people into their homes, and I hoped that these tips for low-stress hospitality would be encouragement to get started (or keep on!).
We had some really beautiful days in March and began to spend more time outdoors again. We hosted an Easter party, (one of the first parties I hosted this year with plywood counters and an unfinished kitchen). I wrote about five ways to use a turtle sandbox, about how I want to listen and engage with my kids more, and shared a GREAT list of resources for anyone interested in a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling (one of the most popular posts of the year).
I also had the opportunity to share about loss and the goodness of God with two MOPS groups, and had two posts published on other sites this month. A very from-my-heart post on friendship was published on Intentional By Grace. And MOPS International shared a post I wrote on their blog, as well: Her Success is Not My Failure.
New Recipes this Month: Three Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Breadsticks >>>> Pie for Everyone! Recipes to Help You Celebrate Pie Day
My Favorite Post: Open Hearted Friendship >>>> Reading through this post I wrote for Intentional By Grace makes me really excited for our annual girls weekend, and makes me want to be a better friend to the women I see on a weekly basis.
I only wrote a total of three posts this month because I was knee-deep in new baby prep mode, knowing that change was right around the corner.
I was also having check-ups on baby twice a week due to my high-risk condition, which made for an even busier, and at times, more anxious month. I was still learning that God can be trusted and we can be settled as I faced an early induction and earnestly prayed for the safety of our son.
There were no new recipes this month. But as I change our mantle and select pieces of decor seasonally, I shared about how I decorate intentionally so that even the walls and decorations in our home are a source of hope and encouragement.
My baby was born the second day of May, after what was undoubtedly the most difficult labor I have experienced. But joy comes in the morning, and after over 24 hours of labor, our son was born healthy and happy early on Monday morning.
I took a couple weeks off from blogging before taking the time to share pictures of our new son and a few details from the birth and current life.
Putting together a list of postpartum essentials for the whole family was a lot of fun, as was figuring out how to change my daughter’s room into a room fit for a little girl and baby boy. (I LOVE how it turned out!)
New Recipes the Month: Nutty Blueberry Muffins (a family favorite!)
We celebrated our oldest child’s birthday in June with a mega field day style water party. It was a blast and really easy to put together. I set up stations and focused on simple decorations and easy food. I plan to share more party details, but didn’t get around to it in the summer and then sharing a water party in the fall didn’t seem fitting. So be looking for it next spring!
I was also exhausted in June. The transition to four kids at home was by far the hardest for me. So. Hard. But I was clinging to hope that we would make it through (mostly) unscathed. And striving to put habits in place that completely changed how I felt about our days.
New Recipes this Month: Quick and Easy Real Food Meals (This list was a lifesaver over the summer and is still one I reference all the time!)
My Favorite Post: Summer Reading List >>>> Confession: I am still finishing books from my summer reading list. I am working my way through a couple of paper books, but reading books on my Kindle is a MUST and listening to a couple on Audible has also been so helpful! Whatever it takes, right?
If I didn’t write much in June, I wrote a ton in July. I published some of my personal favorite posts of the year in this month. First and foremost, July was one year since our son James was born early at 22 weeks. We were not sure exactly how we wanted to remember his birthday, and in the end we just went with a family day and a quiet evening at home, complete with birthday cupcakes. It was a very difficult day, but I can look back and see God’s sustaining grace in it all, and for that I am thankful.
July was also the month I was able to share our favorite new album of the year, as well as give away a couple of copies. I am not exaggerating when I say that the Romans album is one of the best albums I have heard this decade. It is also the source of a lot of great discussions and questions with my kids.
My Favorite Post: 20+ Activity Tray Ideas >>>> Our activity trays continue to be one of the best organizational ideas in our home. So much so that I just recorded a Facebook Live video this morning about how we are using them now after Christmas.
August was my birthday (the big 33, whoop whoop), the opening of an awesome new park in town, and back to school. I reorganized and redecorated our homeschool space with the addition of some great benches my husband made, and tried to get back into a routine of kitchen prep days on the weekend.
New Recipes this Month: Ridiculously Easy Freezer Burritos >>>> Garlic Infused Olive Oil Pizza with Proscuitto & Bacon
My Favorite Post: What I’m Loving: Edition 6 >>>> I have continued to love writing these What I’m Loving posts. They are a fun way to share a handful of things making our life easier/prettier/funner/tastier, and a fun way to give a peek into our day to day.
While I typically think that life with a baby gets easier for us around month 3, months 4 and 5 with Josiah were a couple of the hardest. I was ready to start sleeping a little more, but I was continuing to get up every 3, sometimes 2, hours with Josiah. And when the baby wasn’t waking me up, another child almost invariably would wake me and keep me from getting more than 3 hours of sleep at a time.
I was starting to feel run down and discouraged. All the while homeschooling (with lots of grace) was pushing on. My one new post of the month was Don’t Let the Stretching Pull You Out of Joint, an honest look at how I was struggling and leaning into grace, with encouragement and printables for us all.
After taking a year off in 2015, I was SO EXCITED to get back to an annual family camping trip. We ended up camping at the beach for the first time. I was nervous about camping with four small children, but the trip went SO WELL! After the trip I shared details and tips, our menu plan, and had planned to share a packing list (but that post was put off until camping season 2017).
My Favorite Post: Why We Homeschool Has Nothing to Do with Common Core and All to Do with This >>>> A positive look at the most significant reason we choose to homeschool our kids.
Is it just me, or does it seem like November was a long time ago already? Whether or not your pick of candidate was elected, there are things we can all do to move forward after such a contentious and unpleasant election year. After the stress of election results settled down a bit, it was time to turn our attention to preparing for Thanksgiving and a season of hospitality. Right on the heels of Thanksgiving, of course, came online shopping weekend, and I shared a couple of posts to help you find the best gifts for everyone on your list: Unique Gift Ideas for the Person Who “Wants Nothing”, and Top Ten Best Toys for Young Siblings.
Cyber Monday was huge for the blog, too, when the post Top 15 Must-Have Instant Pot Recipes was published, shared, and viewed A TON. In fact, in just the month and a half since it was published, you have catapulted it to the top post of all time on the blog. THANK YOU.
My Favorite Post: What I’m Loving: Edition 7 >>>> Food, clothes, games, a two month long break from television, and more made our Fall months pretty fabulous.
Our December just flew by! Did yours? We were out of town for a week, and then just had a week to finish preparing for Christmas day. My toddler had croup the first week of December, and my baby had croup the third week, (and we were out of town the second week), so basically December was a whole lotta no sleep, cookies, and trying to be holly jolly more than busy and stressed. I got into a groove with Facebook live videos (check out an index here), and after making a couple dozen, I think I am finally starting to smile more and say “um” less. Thanks for hanging in with me while I figure it out.
With all of that going on, my Christmas planner was a lifesaver on so many occasions. I was also super relieved that we could listen to many of our Christmas favorites as audiobooks, since there was less time to spend reading overall.
My Favorite Post: This one! It’s been so much fun to look back through the year! There have been so many great moments, a lot of challenging ones, and a good amount of hard work. Things on the blog are starting to pick up, and I am so excited for all that next year holds!
And that’s it! 2016 is a wrap!
Thank you so much for joining me here and being a part of this community. Truly, I am so thankful for the opportunity to share and dialogue with you on this blog. This year has been a big year of growth on the blog and in the life of our family!
I am looking forward to 2017 and all that it holds. I have lots of great things planned for the blog– more delicious recipes, more easy to follow DIY projects, and more hope and help in motherhood, community, and making a home.
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Now I’d love to hear from you!
What was one of your most memorable moments of 2016?