15 from 15

It’s that irresistible round-up time of year, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon – taking the lead from Sadhbh of Where Wishes Come From, and joining her linky to round-up my favourite 15 blog-related things from 2015. Well, mostly blog-related – there’s a bit of slippage into real-life too.

1. My favourite post

The one that meant most to me was The Goodbye – I hesitated publishing it but was glad I did.

2. My most popular post

The most read post this year was First Child, on expecting too much from my eldest daughter. I hope it’s something I can show to her when she’s older (right now she’d hold it over me every time I ask her to do anything!)

3. The post nobody read

Gender quotas. See, you’ve switched off already. That’s OK. Anyway, in case you need something exciting to read this new year, here are what I think are reasonably objective pros and cons of gender quotas: Gender Quotas: Problem or Solution?

4. My favourite blog photo

This was taken during a day trip to Kia Ora Farm farm at the end of the summer – it rained non-stop and we thought about turning around and going home but the kids took the lead. They tried everything, ran around for three hours, and smiled non-stop, completely oblivious to the rain. I could learn something from these guys. Especially as it hasn’t stopped raining since October.

Kia Ora farm

5. My favourite blog moments

Winning Best Parent Blog at the Blog Awards Ireland in October was a huge highlight for me, as was getting Best Parent Blog at the Glenisk Parent Blog Awards in April – the latter was voted on by peers, and there’s something very lovely and special about that. I suspect I’ll never have a year like this again, so it’s nice to be able to mark it here.

6. My best move 

Leaving my office job of seventeen years (a bit on purpose, a lot not on purpose) to switch to working as a freelance writer was my biggest move this year, and so far, it’s been good. There have been ups and downs in quick succession, and one goal for 2016 is to accept that that’s how freelancing goes. For my husband’s sanity, I will try not to dissolve into a gibbering panicky mess during every minor blip.

7. Favourite guest post 

My favourite US parenting site is Scary Mommy, and I was delighted to guest post there three times this year, including this piece about a boy in the playground who is causing all kinds of trouble: That Boy

8. Most popular photo on the Office Mum Facebook page

My husband regularly goes to great lengths to freak out the kids, and telling them (via a letter supposedly from the school) that he had been hired as the new hip hop teacher worked very nicely.

Hip Hop letter

9. Favourite article for Her Family

I’ve been writing for Her Family for a full year now, sometimes on serious topics like the smacking ban, and sometimes on the lighter side of parenthood. The article that got the biggest reaction was this one – about the Facebook version of my holiday versus the real version. I guess lots of us are guilty of sharing only our favourite photos 🙂

Facebook photos

10. My biggest milestones

Turning 41 and being 11 years married weren’t quite as exciting as last year’s milestones. Instead of dinners and cocktails I hosted a birthday party for my six-year-old, and instead of an anniversary trip to Lisbon, we sat on the couch.


But I think I secretly enjoyed having a lower key year with less pressure to do amazing celebratory things.

11. My favourite freebies

The three things I loved the most were my Oh My Welly rainbow boots for the small boy, my two Povey bags, and my Orla Kiely bin. All currently getting lots of use, especially the wellies…

12. My biggest fail

After writing a first draft book in 2014, I did almost nothing with it during 2015. As I explained to Nicola in this interview, it’s on the shelf but unfortunately the metaphorical one, not the physical one. When the smallest goes to school next September, I hope to get my nights back for fiction writing. Or when they’re all in college. Maybe don’t watch this space (unless you’re an agent or publisher who wants to see a manuscript about odd comings-and-goings in the house next door – in which case I’m your woman.)

13. My favourite newspaper feature

I’ve loved working on every article I’ve written this year but only AFTER each one has been published – usually when I’m in the middle of it, there are moments of sheer panic. But one that I really enjoyed throughout was a feature on Free Range Parenting for the Examiner, with huge thanks to fab contributors – free range parent Joanne Byrne, author Stella O’Malley and founder of the Free Range Parenting movement Lenore Skenazy.

If I can have another one, a real high for me was having a feature published in Image magazine – on taking the leap from PAYE work to self-employment, appropriately enough.

Image feature - Andrea Mara

14. My favourite things I bought and never blogged about

Like last year, this a tenuous link to a post that’s supposed to be blog-related, but if I was a fashion, lifestyle or book review blogger, these things would have made my round-up:



  • Dress: I’m obsessed with finding long-sleeved dresses and I love this one from Zara
  • Bag: Yellow is my second favourite colour and my lap top fits in this shopper from Warehouse
  • Book: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was the book I enjoyed most this year
  • Shoes: My recently purchased Office shoeboots are just the right heel height for people who are 5’2″ and need all the help they can get
  • Perfume:  Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir makes me very happy

15. What I got out of blogging this year

A place to let off steam, somewhere to write about anything I want without set wordcounts or deadlines. Connections. Therapy. Friendships. Great company late at night at the end of a long day. More highs than lows. And a distraction from eating cheese.

Thanks for indulging me through this post and throughout 2015 – knowing that people are reading is what keeps bloggers going. Wishing you and yours the very best of everything for 2016!


This part of a linky on Where Wishes Come From – to check out that gorgeous blog and some the other participants, click the badge!

Linky Badge 2015


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22 thoughts on “15 from 15”

  1. I loved reading this, your writing makes a round up like this come alive. I liked the way you made the categories your own, as some are very hard to fit. I should do that rather than trying to shoehorn too, or maybe I’ll copy some of yours 🙂 Long sleeved dresses are impossible to find! I’m slightly worried about needing to do lots of big celebratory things for my own big birthday in May, but I’m hoping to rise to the occasion!
    Sinead @bumbles of rice recently posted…What’s on TV this Christmas? (2015)My Profile

    1. Long sleeved dresses are SO hard to find! I hate buying lovely dresses and then hiding them under obligatory cardigans. I’m always on the lookout for long sleeved tops too. You will enjoy doing celebratory things in May – it’s really good fun at the time. It’s just nice too when you don’t have to do it all again a year later. Like weddings!

  2. Andrea, thanks for this, enjoyed reminiscing with you (through the post, above;). Great blog, I really enjoyed it, and as I have said a few times today to different bloggers, I have a handful of blogs I actively look forward to reading and yours is one of them. Congrats on all of your achievements and I look forward to reading even more in 2016. xxxx
    Brmaycock recently posted…A Beginner’s Guide to Salad by Jennifer JoyceMy Profile

    1. Ah thanks Bernadette for your lovely words here and on Twitter – you are very kind. It was so good to meet you in real life this year and I hope we will in 2016 too xx

  3. Ah I hadn’t read your first child post before Andrea, it’s really lovely. A lot expected of our 7 yo here also, that is sometimes a bit unfair! Nice reminder and i enjoyed looking through some of the other posts ive read before too 🙂 Enjoy your new year celebrations!

    1. I think so many of us expect a lot from the eldest kids – as an eldest child myself, I don’t really remember it that way, so maybe we’re not scarring them too much. I do (vividly) remember never being allowed to do things that my friends were allowed to do – now that scarred me!
      Happy new year 🙂

  4. You have completely knocked it out of the ballpark this year in terms of writing (never mind the book; you’ll get back to it). I am in awe of your endless inspiration for great articles – and, if I’m honest, your ability to go out there and get paid for them. You deserve all the success you’ve had so far, and I wish you a ton more in 2016 and beyond. Go get ’em.
    Christine recently posted…15 from ’15My Profile

    1. Thank you – I suspect all the motivation is around avoiding having to go out and get an office job again for the foreseeable! The very best of luck to you in 2016 – with your book and with life. Happy new year.

  5. To reiterate what some of the others have said, above – you are amazing! I am always in awe of how you a. manage to write so much, about so many different topics, and b. how you have embraced your new role and made it look so effortless! I am constantly impressed by you. And will buy your book whenever it makes it onto the physical shelf (which I am sure it will eventually)

    Thanks so much for joining in the linky!

    P.S. I love how I (well, my boob) snuck into the picture of you with your IPB award 😉 !

    1. Thank YOU so much for having the idea for this linky – though how will we come up with enough categories when we get to 2020!

    1. The kids were utterly HORRIFIED. Actually, it’s a few months since he did it, maybe it’s time for a new version…

      1. You haven’t missed it! Sadhbh knows what we’re all like, so she’s keeping it open for 30 days 🙂
        Happy new year!

    1. Aw thanks, yes, I love that photo – there’s something about it that makes me think of my own childhood. Possibly the rain 🙂 Happy new year!

    1. Well, I’d say it keeps me off a seven-night-a-week cheese habit. It’s usually three to four nights a week. But cheese is protein, so it’s grand 🙂
      Happy new year to you and looking forward to reading so many more of your thought-provoking, smile-inducing posts in 2016 xx

  6. I’m nearly sure I read the unread post. And maybe even lost of the run of meself on it *hand up* It’s don’t mention it. Any time 🙂

    Congrats on making the transition from heels to flats and bringing home the gongs. Besta luck for 2016.
    dept of speculation recently posted…In the roundMy Profile

    1. You did – you were the one reader! And I remember you made lots of very good points that got me rethinking again.
      Best of luck for 2016 to you too, looking forward to reading more from the Department of Speculation 🙂

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