Summer Update & Survey Results

The results from my very first Joyfully Thriving reader survey are in! Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond and share your feedback with me.

Some of you may remember that I’m in the midst of a blogging class called Elite Blog Academy. It’s stretched and challenged me more than I expected – and I’m loving it! You see, I would love to be a full time blogger who earns an income from blogging while staying at home with our precious son. EBA is helping me figure out how to make that dream a reality.

The survey helped me gain some good insights as to what you all love and don’t care for quite as much. I’m excited about some of the blog changes I’m planning. I hope to answer many of your financial concerns and questions in blog posts in the very near future.

As I shared on Sunday, I will no longer be posting the weekly Frugal in Fort Wayne feature. When I started blogging, coupon blogs were a big deal but I want to be more than just a coupon blog. I want to provide real, frugal living encouragement. I’m still going to post an occasional deal if I discover a good one but my focus is going to be on more substantial content that is applicable to everyone.

Starting next week, I’m going to change to a three times a week posting schedule, so you can expect to see something from me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’ll still be here occasionally with deals and posts on other days but expect those three days for sure. I realize that is less than I’ve posted in the past but I believe the depth of content will more than make up for it.

Grocery posts are going to continue on Fridays for now. I know it’s not the favorite of some, but I have just as many who absolutely love it and requested I continue. Those weekly posts help hold me accountable to my grocery budget so I appreciate them as well.

I found it interesting that the two top favorite post areas (as the survey said) were frugal living advice and money saving tips. I also noticed that while most people had one or two areas that weren’t their particular favorite, no one disliked the recipes or real life stories. Expect to see more of all the above!

Some of you may have noticed how I changed the home page layout so you can scan through more articles quickly. If not, check out the home page here and you’ll see what I mean. I’m in the process of updating old posts and images because I know many of you weren’t reading back when I began this blog of mine.

I’ve also streamlined categories so it is easier to find articles. For example, under the category of food, you can look at slow cooker recipes or chocolate recipes – or you can view all recipes.

For now, my newsletter will continue as is. If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive an email whenever something new is posted so you don’t miss a thing. If I don’t post anything for that day, you won’t hear from me. Otherwise, keep visiting the blog regularly to see what I’m sharing.

You can also follow me on Facebook to receive notifications of new blog posts. If you don’t want to miss anything I share there, be sure to click get notifications because Facebook can be selective about to whom it shows the posts.

As always, I’d be honored and absolutely love it if you share this blog with your sisters, Moms, friends and anyone else you think would enjoy what I share here. Thank you for being such a faithful reader because I wouldn’t be where I am without you!

Now that we’ve talked professionally about the blog, let’s get personal with a bit of my summer update so far.

We just returned from a wonderful family vacation to North Carolina, where we spent a week with all 15 members of my extended family in a rented house near Ashville. It was good to be together especially since my family is so spread out (Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan and Indiana) that we don’t get to see one another as often as we’d like.

Nathan was a great traveler for over 17 hours in the car…not including our day trips. We did a lot of singing and dancing games (see picture below), napping and yes, reading.

Nathan - traveling in the car

One of the first big sites we visited was the Biltmore. It was a bit pricey but we figured it was a once in a lifetime experience we didn’t want to miss. Nathan was a trooper riding throughout the house in his Ergo. It was amazing to see all that this house contained for being built in the 1890s!

Whirretts at the Biltmore

Our other big adventure was riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad with my whole family. All 15 of us boarded the train (kids were free) for a 4 hour ride up through the mountains. Nathan loved looking out the windows and splashing in the afternoon rain that came through our windows.

Great Smokey Mountain Train Ride

The rest of the week was more low-key. We went for walks, played in the backyard, browsed small town shops and went for a bit of a hike. I love how Nathan looks up to his big girl cousins! The river water was a little cold but we all braved it to wade in by a waterfall.

Nathan and His Big Girl Cousins

It was good to be together. Here I am with my two sisters (brother Joel not pictured) and our three little boys, who were all born within 7 months of each other. I’m the oldest sister and Nathan is the oldest of these 3 Musketeers. They were already chasing after each other and attempting to share pacifiers most of the trip!

Barz Sisters and their Babies

Finally, we celebrated Father’s Day by worshipping at a small Lutheran church nearby (where our family filled 3 rows) and taking naps in the afternoon before a delicious dinner of ribs. We all took turns preparing meals so that saved money while allowing the babies to head to bed when it was their bedtime.

Father's Day 2015

It was a wonderful time away but it’s always good to come home again. We arrived home just in time for my husband’s extended family to arrive for their annual Fort Wayne get together. Thankfully, we can sleep in our own beds every night and don’t have to pack suitcases for these visits!

Have you been anywhere on summer travels yet?

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6 Comments

  1. I really like the new layout on the home page for scanning articles. I noticed it awhile back, and thought it was a great change. Kudos to you for all the work you are putting into your blog. I had no idea how much work a blog took until I started blogging regularly! Looking forward to learning more from you here. Your trip sounded like a lot of fun. Family time is great, especially in the beautiful mountains! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Emily! I’m glad you like the new layout design. Blogging is hard work. I love it, and the flexibility it gives me to work from home, but it really is hard work. Family time is always wonderful! Do you have any special family plans soon?

      1. Yes, we are meeting my parents and older brother this month in Tennessee. We haven’t seen them since January so it will be fun to see them. I know they are really eager to see Caleb!

        1. Yay for family vacations! I hope you have a great time – and that Caleb travels well. I’m sure your parents will be thrilled to see Caleb. What grandparents aren’t? 🙂

  2. So glad you had a good time here in our (current) home state of NC! The Asheville area has so much cool stuff to see and do, and we love to go over there when we can. Looking forward to the upcoming changes on the blog, although I really enjoy it as is!

    1. Awww, thank you, Addy! It’s so nice to know that I have such devoted readers! We enjoyed our day in Ashville…as well as exploring all the shops around Waynesville where we ended up staying.

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