Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and Cake

This week is my blog’s second birthday. I had previously committed to doing a full blog review and theme update on each blogiversary. But… with full-on holiday festivities, and my recent experience in Blogging Hell, January 1 came and went fairly quietly for this site.

Instead, I’d love it if we could chat over virtual cake…and the drink of your choice. As we watch the balloons fall, I can give you a quick update on how the ‘birthday child’ has grown.

• 667 monthly views in January 2016 to 3.3K monthly views currently.
• Readers in 111 countries (with the majority of readers in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore, Spain, China, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, and Thailand). * Significant to these stats: my youngest son, and several friends, currently live in Singapore…and I spent 14 years working at an international school in Beijing.
• 26 Guests Bloggers (and counting) have generously contributed posts.
• 11 Guest Posts have been written by me for others sites.
• 54,955 total words (60 posts and 27 Guest Posts) this year (158 posts in two years)
• 2 blogging awards (Top 30 International Retirement Blogs 2017 and Smart Living’s Top Positive Aging and Retirement Websites and Blogs 2017).
• 2393 comments, not including replies from me, have been kindly left on this site (I love comments)!

• But, as I have mentioned numerous times before, the connections made have been best of all!

In her interview with me last November, Debbie from Deb’s World asked me what future plans I had for this blog. The truth is, I did not know. Despite my experience in HELL, my creative side still yearns to experiment further with this site. Here’s where I need your help. What direction would you like to see this blog take? What changes would you suggest? Here are a few questions to help get you thinking. If you could answer even just one of them for me, I would be extremely grateful.

1. Why do you read this blog?
2. What do you like most about this site?
3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?
4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?
5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?
6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?
7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek).
8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?
9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google Analytics. (Insert shock and horror here). Should I? What will it tell me that WordPress Stats do not?

I very much value your opinion and insight. Whether you are a frequent commenter, have never commented on this site previously, or are somewhere in-between, I would love to hear from you in any form that works best for you. Here are a few options.

• Direct comments ( I can take it…she says with confidence)
• Private Contact Me Form
• Private Email
• Facebook Messenger

I look forward to your honest feedback.

Donna

58 Replies to “Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and Cake”

  1. Hi Donna! Congratulations and Happy Blogversary! It is quite an accomplishment for anyone and your stats are impressive. The only thing you forgot to mention was that you won TWO blogging awards this year…. You are one of the SMART Living 365 Best Blogs for Positive Aging & Retirement!!! 🙂 (see link below) I base my selection on blogs I enjoy reading and feel offer something special and unique so I hope you realize that you are in very elite company! Oh, and the only thing that I might suggest….she adds cautiously! Those floating things drive me crazy. They are cute for about two seconds but then become rather annoying. Other than that I love your blog for so many reasons. Please carry on! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…Top Websites & Blogs For Positive Aging & Retirement For 2017My Profile

  2. Hi, Kathy – Thank you so much for this feedback. This is very valuable. Thank you also for including me in Smart Living’s Top Positive Aging and Retirement Websites and Blogs for 2017. I am very honoured (and have updated my post to reflect this).
    About those pesky balloons…I agree…totally annoying! I will try to reduce their speed/frequency…and then promise to discontinue them at the end of this ‘birthday week’. 🙂
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and CakeMy Profile

  3. I am really in no position to provide any critique on your blog! I’ve been with you almost since the beginning and honestly, you have always been very transparent and authentic when writing tales about your life and family. That’s why your readers come back time and time again. Plus you’re supportive and encouraging of all others. So appreciated!
    Congratulations on your 2nd birthday!

  4. Happy blog anniversary to you Donna, I love your blog as you know, and I’m so thrilled to know my question prompted you to reflect on your blog this way. Great growth in your stats and I’m not in the least surprised. 😊 Thanks for having me over as a guest and I thoroughly enjoy my visits. Community is so very important to me as a blogger but it’s also good to post what you want to share without worrying about what others think. I’ve learned this lesson. Here’s my answers to your questions. ❤️
    1. Why do you read this blog?
    Because I enjoy your posts, learning about life in retirement, meeting other bloggers through you, and your generous support of others – just to list a few! Your bright and passionate personality shines through.
    2. What do you like most about this site?
    The personal touches you add.
    3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?
    None come to mind 😊
    4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?
    I wouldn’t be the one to advise you on this – even after 5years of blogging I’m still learning everyday!!
    5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?
    All good, easy to read, clear images and not too much clutter and no annoying pop ups!
    6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?
    I like the floating bits for a short while and understand they’re not there forever!!
    7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek).
    As I’m on the other side of the world I just read your posts when they pop into my email, so timing doesn’t bother me.
    8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?
    Your thoughts whenever you have them to post. I like your research that goes into some of your posts and how you organise your thoughts.
    9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google Analytics. (Insert shock and horror here). Should I? What will it tell me that WordPress Stats do not?
    I don’t check google analytics either, I just use my WordPress stats and that’s enough numbers for me to take on board!,
    Debbie recently posted…Come and join us at Blogger’s Pit Stop #105My Profile

        1. Thanks, Debbie – With all of our recent travels, then three weeks straight of company in our home, I was not able to join any Link Parties. I am delighted to participate again and greatly enjoy Blogger’s Pit Stop.

    1. Hi, Cathi – Thank you so much for stopping by. I agree that settling down for virtual coffee and cake is a perfect way to enjoy a blog post. This idea has already been used quite successfully by other bloggers, especially Leanne at Cresting the Hill. I’m off to check out your site now.

  5. Hi Donna
    I enjoy your blog very much. The variety of topics that you write about are always interesting. I particularly enjoyed the piece you wrote about when you attended the conference on word press. I learned a lot about a topic there I didn’t even know existed! Just for the record, I didn’t mind the snowflakes but these red balloons are distracting. Carry on!

    1. Hi, Fran – Thank you so much for your kind words, and for your specific feedback. I agree that those balloon are distracting (although I did try to minimize them somewhat). It took me so long to find them that I wanted to keep them for the first couple days of this post. Last year, for New Year’s Eve (and my Blogiversary), I used a free WP plugin called ‘Rocket Fireworks’. It was super fun and festive. Sadly, that plugin has not been updated and is no longer compatible with my version of WP. This year, I searched and searched for something similar. When I finally gave up, I found a free plugin called ‘Weather Effect’….that offers, rain, snow, sun, Valentine’s Day Hearts….and New Year’s Balloons! It was simply too tempting to resist! I look forward to following your adventures for 2018!

    1. Hi, Cathy – Thanks so much for stopping by. The holidays are certainly a busy time. I now look forward to just chilling out and hibernating for a while. Congratulations on your two years of blogging. It certainly is an amazing ride!

  6. I enjoy your blog! That’s all I know. And I have no idea what “Google Analytics” is. Oops. Should I? I don’t care about the statistics – I just enjoy the connections we all make on our blogs, learning about each other, and our lives, and our stories.

  7. Well, balloons aside, Donna, I enjoy your blog for a variety of reasons, mainly the thought you put into your posts and the information you add, especially on your travel posts (how much stuff to bring, etc). Congrats on your blogoversary! So many bloggers fade away after a few months and one year is great for many, but two shows you have staying power! I enjoy your guest post series and appreciate the guests and their knowledge about their retirement and leisure. We are prepping to head to Hawaii for a week, leaving Sunday from a very warm San Diego, so I may be off the blog a few days. Cheers to a prosperous blog for 2018!

    1. Thanks, Anabel – People coming back is always a good measure! I do follow a couple of blogs where there are some very minor changes I would suggest if asked, but they are not significant enough to me to mention otherwise. Wishing you a great year ahead!

  8. Hi Donna, Happy 2nd blog birthday and congratulations on your impressive stats and awards! My feedback is as follows:
    1. Why do you read this blog? Content that I’m interested in, clear writing, constructive comments, and support that I received from you.
    2. What do you like most about this site? Your authenticity.
    3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog? a) Your blog header picture seems to take time to load on my computer, compared to when I access other sites. Perhaps you could consider to compress the picture file. b) If you could sort your bookmarks in alpha order, that would help, too.
    4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend? N/A as I’m not using WordPress.
    5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there? None at this time. Thank you for no ads!
    6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you? I know the snow flakes and balloons are time-specific so I can live with them, in harmony of course 😉
    7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek). Timing is fine for me.
    8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently? I enjoy your posts so keep blogging.
    9. I don’t check Google Analytics either.
    Thank you for the opportunity to give you my feedback.
    Natalie recently posted…18 FEASTs to enjoy in 2018My Profile

    1. Hi, Natalie – Thank you for taking the time, and the thought, to give such detailed and honest feedback. I appreciate it greatly. I had not thought about putting the bookmarks in alphabetical order and have now done this (and updated my bookmarks — a task which was long overdue)!. Fixing the title image may be a more complicated task. I remember reading somewhere that other WP users also found the feature photo on the WP 2017 Theme slow to load. If I cannot compress the file, it may be time to update my theme. Thank you again for these very helpful suggestions.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and CakeMy Profile

  9. Hi Donna happy blogging anniversary! I love your blog so here is my feedback:
    1. Why do you read this blog?
    I enjoy your guest series but also learning about how you and your husband are adjusting to retirement. This is such a big phase of our lives and sometimes it can be helpful seeing how others cope with this new and exciting time of life.
    2. What do you like most about this site?
    I get a warm and welcoming feeling whenever I visit, Donna. I love the friendship we have made even though we are on opposite sides of the world.
    3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?
    I think it is fine the way it is. Clean and clear! Although in saying that I’m always changing mine LOL😊
    4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?
    I probably go overboard with plug-ins and I don’t really have one that I think is a MUST HAVE.

    5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?
    Love the clean and clear lines.
    6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?
    I’m not a fan of the snowflakes etc as I find them distracting, however, if it is only occasionally I don’t mind.
    7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek).
    Being in Australia, I just try to check out my favourite bloggers each day so timing doesn’t really matter to me.
    8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?
    Nothing comes to mind at the moment.
    9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google Analytics. (Insert shock and horror here). Should I? What will it tell me that WordPress Stats do not?
    I’ve been blogging for 3 years in January and have found that once I start looking at GA I fall into the comparing phase. Then I see others doing better with pageviews and it can bring me down. I do check them but now I really just want to connect with others and keep building relationships.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop 105My Profile

  10. Happy blogversary! Once again, leave it to an educator to get me to do more work than I’m ever willing to do for anyone else. You’re awfully sneaky in this way, Donna!

    1. Why do you read this blog?

    Because it was assigned reading. No! (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Because I like to read as many blogs devoted to retirement as possible. You come from a different perspective than my own, and also a Canadian one, which makes what you have to say very interesting. If we all wrote the same things it’d be boring, and I appreciate the differences we all bring to the blogosphere.

    2. What do you like most about this site?

    I like how much you really work HARD at your craft. I tend to be lazy, and the same can not be said about you!

    3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?

    Enough with the animated balloons and holiday snowflakes already! (Note to self: You just killed any chance of an invitation to Donna’s home someday).

    4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?

    Unfortunately no. But what I do like is that the free templates really take the pain out of the process. You pick a few colors, enable or disable a smattering widgets, and presto! You’ve got a new look. Easy peasy.

    5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?

    Whenever I redesign my own site (see lazy above), I probably will use more white space and less color so that the eye can scan easily. I really think color should be used sparingly. That said, your site is currently designed with the reader’s ease in mind.

    6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?

    Ah-ha! How *did* you know????!!

    7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek)

    Nah, I’m almost always a day behind in reading others’ blog posts. I say write when you’re most comfortable.

    8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?

    More pictures of food! I can never get enough of those family meals of yours. Everyone looks so happy! It’s heartwarming to see.

    9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google
    Analytics. (Insert shock and horror here). Should I? What will it tell me that WordPress Stats do not?

    Eh, life’s too short. I look at my own statistics and usually have a good laugh. Just write and don’t sweat the metrics!

    1. Hi, Marty – Apart from being very talented at making me laugh…you are also a glutton for punishment. Not only did you answer ALL of the questions (not necessary…but thank you) you also wrote a longer comment on this post than anyone else so far! Perhaps you are not as lazy as you think! 🙂
      Funny you should mention pictures of food. I have just been asked to write a Guest Post for a recipe site. So food pics will be coming soon.
      Okay, I’ve killed the balloons…and you and Gorgeous are still invited to visit us on Vancouver Island anytime!
      Your feedback has been extremely helpful!

  11. Hi, Sue – Thank you so much for your detailed feedback, and your kind words. I am totally with you on using blogging to connect with others and build relationships. I am relieved to hear that I am not the only one not checking Google Analytics (sshhh, don’t tell Google).
    I promise everyone I will end the balloons shortly — although I may try to find something fun but less distracting.
    I look forward to featuring your Guest Post soon (and being featured on your site as well). See you there!
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and CakeMy Profile

  12. Donna, I read your blog because if feel like YOU make me a better blogger! Your blog is always insightful and well written. Oh yeah, I’m a complete nerd for quality writing! I credit you for making me want to take up the “pen” again after my brief hiatus. As for the look of your blog, I’m with the others – it’s clean and easy to look at. Like the others, I find extraneous snowflakes, etc. to be a bit distracting (although I must admit, I liked Santa’s sleigh for about a day!) Most important, in the brief time I’ve been blogging, it feels like I have a friend in Vancouver. Like a real life friend, you are consistently warm and sincere! ~ Lynn
    Lynn ~ Encore Voyage recently posted…Encore Quotes – The Day’s ResolutionsMy Profile

    1. Wow, Lynn – Thank you for your kindness. I am very touched. I love having a friend in Boise, and welcome you to Vancouver Island if you are ever out this way. I do get it about the balloons (they distracted me too). Being a bit of a trouble maker (and because they are fun to play with) I am looking for something much more subtle. Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and CakeMy Profile

  13. I’m late to the commenting Donna, but didn’t want to be totally absent from this party.
    First, congratulations on your two year blogversary and the great statistics that offer ready confirmation of what everyone has been telling you – you have an engaging, friendly voice that people want to connect with and hear from.

    I appreciate the great job you do of responding thoughtfully to every single comment. That can be a challenge when you get so many comments. It can be tempting to write the same response to several, just like a teacher putting the same comment on several kids’ report cards! But you don’t do that. You finding something to say that maintains and strengthens that personal connection.

    The only suggestion I would offer is that it be clear at the start of a post if that post is being authored by a guest. I’ve had a number of times where I’ve read thinking it’s you and, in my mind, connecting what I’m reading to what I know of you – and then find out at the end through your thank you that it wasn’t you after all.

    Other than that, I have nothing to offer other than admiration, congratulations, and happiness about continuing to follow you in 2018.

    1. Hi, Karen – Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Great point about the Guest Posts. I always have the label ‘Guest Post’ on the feature photo or the title (usually the photo) but failed to realize that those reading from email (and possibly some devices) wouldn’t see the feature photo so would miss the part about the ‘Guest Post.’ This is a great point that I will definitely address for future posts. Thank you for being a regular follower and commenter on this site – I appreciate it greatly.

  14. Happy 2nd blogiversary, Donna! I enjoy your blog just the way it is, though I could definitely do without the floating things. They make me feel as if I’m developing an eye condition (floaters, etc) and should see the doctor! 😀 I love that you don’t have any pop-ups. (And I don’t check Google Analytics either.)

    PS I love reading about BC.
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com recently posted…How to Make Croissants – A TutorialMy Profile

    1. Hi, Jean – Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate your kind words. So you spied the little raindrop cluster! I simply couldn’t help myself (it is currently raining quite heavily on the island). I just came back from visiting your site. Why do I desperately crave croissants?!

  15. Happy blog anniversary Donna. I’m somewhat new to your blog, but I enjoy it because you write about things to which I can relate. I love retirement related blogs, makes me feel like I’m in good company. So keep on blogging and I will keep on reading!
    Karen recently posted…First Day HikeMy Profile

  16. Congratulations on two years of blogging. It is amazing how we network with bloggers. I first met you through posts you wrote on Sue’s blog. Then I started to see you popping up everywhere being generous and commenting on other’s sites.
    I like your easy natural style and there is nothing to change there.

    It is fun to alter the appearance of our websites but it certainly is not a necessity. Website fashions come and go, so be yourself. Your raindrops are fun and they don’t overwhelm, although I sympathize with Jean who thought it was a floater in her eye.

    The readers on the Blogger’s Pit Stop have enjoyed this post so we will Feature it this week. Congratulations on a quality post.

      1. Hi, Kathleen- I use ‘CommentLuv’ and ‘Comment Approved Notifier Extended’. If you have a recommendation for a plugin that sends an email notificaition to commenters when there has been a reply to their comment (without having to check the box and receive email reminders of replies to ALL comments), I would love for you to share it.

    1. Hi, Kathleen – Thank you for your kind words, and for the feature, I greatly appreciate both! I’m glad that you spied the raindrops (it has been rainy heavily here for days)! I wondered if anyone would notice them. I greatly enjoy Blogger’s Pit Stop and look forward to joining in again. Thank you for all of the work you put into hosting it.

  17. Judging from all the comments (how did I miss this post??!!) you are doing fine and I know I love reading your blog. Congrats on two years and I know you’ll be blogging for many more to come. I can’t recommend any changes (I’m on Blogger so can’t help with that at all) but I will say that your blog is easy to read and always interesting so it ticks my boxes. And I believe there’s a great linky starting soon that you’ll love being a part of (wink wink!) xx
    Leanne recently posted…DISCOVERING THE FINE ART OF DETACHMENTMy Profile

  18. Happy second blogging anniversary, Donna. I read your blog before, but haven’t left a comment, it appears like. Huh… I have a lot to catch up on, in time… Today is our first “day off”, more like 1/2 day off, of caring for my in-laws. 🙂

    Some answers to your questions:

    1. Why do you read this blog?
    I’m interested in the topics and curious about what you are up to. Your positivism makes me smile.

    2. What do you like most about this site?
    The diversity of topics. I like the layout, banner and font as well. You quick and thoughtful replies to comments.

    3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?
    Nothing I can think of off the top of my head.

    4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?
    I’m not up-to-date with them. Your site works fine for me. You have made some positive changes over the last year.

    5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?
    All very satisfying.

    6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?
    I did think there was too much “Christmassy” stuff moving about the screen last month. The flakes and the gift were cute. The reindeer had me distracted.

    7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek).
    Nope. I read your blogs as they arrive in my inbox and as I have a moment to relax.

    8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?
    Your blog is your blog and whatever you want to do with it is fine by me! 🙂

    9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google Analytics.
    I never check Google Analytics, nor WordPress Analytics. Maybe, one day, when my focus goes more to my blog than other things in life, I will pay some attention to it and attempt to grow my blog. Right now, it is what it is, and that should be fine.
    Liesbet recently posted…Monthly Expenses – December 2017My Profile

  19. Hi Donna,

    Many congratulations on two years of blogging. I’m so pleased to see how your blog has developed but, most importantly of all, you’re still blogging. In my experience, those that make it to two years normally do not then suffer from ‘blog burnout’ and cease blogging. It’s something I learnt very early on in my blogging journey.

    Your blog is bright, refreshing and very good on the eye. It’s easy to read, no ghastly colours that get people running for the hills, the font is the right size to read (not too small that I have to squint to read it) and you always respond to comments in a timely manner. I’ll admit that I don’t get to read all of your posts but I always thoroughly enjoy reading those posts that I do read.

    It’s already been mentioned, but the falling snowflakes can be off-putting. In fact, wasn’t it you that told Terri that the WordPress adverts at the bottom of her blog posts were distracting when you met up in November? Or was it somebody else? I followed that advice and also removed them from my blog. As with gifs, I find anything like that districting and can sometimes end up not continuing to read a post because my eyes are distracted elsewhere.

    I hope that helps? I’d like to wish you continued success with your blog and with your writing. I hope, one day, we can meet up at a blogging gettogether.
    Hugh Roberts recently posted…How To Instantly Get More Traffic To Your WordPress Blog #throwbackthursdayMy Profile

    1. Hi, Hugh –
      We’ve just experienced another round of ‘synchronized blogging’. I was commenting on your post at the exact same time that you were commenting on mine — that has happened to us before!
      Thank you for your detailed comments. They are very, very helpful to me.
      I totally get about the distraction of the falling graphics. As I was decorating my home for Christmas….and celebrating New Years….it was too tempting not to also ‘dress up my blog’ a bit. I will now try to behave myself (she says earnestly). 🙂
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

      1. Donna, I had the falling snowflakes on my blog. To begin with, I turned them off. Then, as December unfolded, I wanted to dress up my blog as well. I felt happy at seeing them so decided to keep them. I say to go with whatever you feel happy with. Feedback is brilliant, but is it always, right? That’s probably an idea for a whole new blog post. 😀
        Hugh Roberts recently posted…How To Instantly Get More Traffic To Your WordPress Blog #throwbackthursdayMy Profile

        1. Hi, Hugh – You have effectively highlighted the hazards of being a blogger. Every new stimulus prompts us to think ‘I should totally blog about this’! Thank you for your wise feedback on feedback. I agree that advice from others can be vital in helping us to make the best decision that is right for us — not to simply do what others suggest (which would be impossible in the face of opposing suggestions).

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