Happy New Year, Lifers! It’s a new year and a new decade.  2019 is now in the rear view mirror, and we seem to be accelerating right into 2020!  This is a new year, a new decade, and a new chance to start a chapter in the story of our Small Scale Lives.  Before we do, it is good to reflect on where we have been and what we have done.  

I am writing this 2019 Year in Review to wrap up the year, close this chapter in the history of the blog and podcast and start laying a foundation for the future. To do this, I am going to talk about three major topics of Small Scale Life in 2019: Health and Fitness Renew You, Financial Freedom and Gardening. I will also share 2019 Year in Review: Top 10 Podcast Episodes and Top 10 Blog Posts. I will finish this post by talking about what is on tap for 2020.

2019 Year in Review: Health and Fitness Renew You

I published the “2018 Year in Review: Building a Foundation” article on January 1, 2019.  As I look back a year ago, it was quite an exciting time at Small Scale Life!  A year ago, Julie and I were working feverishly on finishing the Health and Fitness Renew You Challenge, which was an intensive 7 day series of e-mails, articles, podcast episodes, YouTube videos and downloads to assist others to launch a healthy lifestyle in 2019.

Julie and I had set up a card table in the family room and were working away.  We just completed redesigning and implementing significant changes to the Small Scale Life website.  At the same time, we were working hard to create content for this launch. We spent a lot of time working on the message and the templates while working with our new e-mail list-building software to automate the process.  It was nerve-wracking and fun at the same time!

All in all, we had over 86 people sign up for the Health and Fitness Renew You effort in 2019 (judging from the e-mail list generated from folks downloading the 24 Hour Plan).  Some participants lost weight (including us), and we learned a lot about the technology and effort it takes to launch something of this magnitude.

A year later, the podcast episode continues to get hits, and a lot of people continue to download the 24 Hour Plan.  It is time to do some updating a year later, don’t you think?


Financial Freedom

budgeting, 9 steps to creating your budget, how to budget your way to financial freedom

As we move on in our Year in Review 2019, we need to discuss Financial Freedom.  In the second quarter of 2019, Julie and I launched the Financial Freedom podcast episodes and offered the Free Budget Bundle to our community. We completed 3 of the 7 Financial Freedom topics in 2019, and we will have to finish the series in 2020.

Overall, this is a very powerful series that will change your life.  Like developing a healthy lifestyle, our job managing money and putting it to work for us are never-ending quests and efforts.  That job, however, does get easier over time with practice and execution!  You will live a much healthier and less stressful life if you are managing your resources rather than scrambling with nothing left in your wallet or account.  Trust us; we know!  We have done both and we find managing our resources as a much better way to live.

Plus, if you manage your resources correctly, you might take that trip of a lifetime to Hawaii and pay for it in CASH!

Gardening: New Wicking Bed Garden

I have said it many times on the Small Scale Life Podcast, the blog and on social media:

Gardening is my passion.

I have been gardening my whole life, and I started writing and podcasting to document my experiences gardening. My idea was to leave a written and spoken word to my sons and their families to inspire them while explaining the crazy experiments I was doing in the backyard. I wanted to document my own experiences for that person who gets curious or excited about gardening some day in the future and needs a place to start. Far too often, the experience and lessons learn are lost to time when someone passes, and the hard learning process begins once again.

Julie and I were focused on the Health and Fitness Renew You and Financial Freedom efforts. In May and June, we were taking online training and classes. Work picked up, and I was on the road quite a bit in 2019.

I frankly did not post much gardening content on Small Scale Life in 2019. In fact, gardening at Small Scale Life took a backseat to other topics.

I recognized it grew concerned. I was so concerned about gardening content being buried under other posts and podcast episodes, I decided to go out on a limb and title gardening episodes as the “Small Scale Gardening Podcast.”  I wanted gardeners and homesteaders to know where the gardening content was and highlight that content in an ever growing list of articles and episodes.

While the published content dipped, the work on my New Wicking Bed Garden did not! Julie and I saved up cash and bought new watering troughs for the garden. I ripped out the old, worn out wooden square foot gardens, reclaimed the soil and started fresh.

I used these new metal watering troughs to test Wicking Bed concepts, which allow minimal watering during the hot summer months. The garden beds are self-watering, and the plants get as much water as they need.

I also built and tested two Hybid Rain Gutter Grow Systems in 2019 (as seen above in the video at the top of this section). These two systems featured grow bags, shallow basins with ½” of water and liner to keep the plants watered. While these were not automatic systems (meaning they did not fill with water automatically when the water evaporated), I simply filled the basin with a 5 gallon bucket. Letting the water evaporate cut down on mosquitoes, and the plants had a chance to dry out (and avoid root rot).

I had a great harvest and learned a lot. All of the vegetables I planted did very well this year, and I am a firm believer in Wicking Beds and Hybrid Rain Gutter Grow Systems. I will be expanding the garden in 2020 with a new bed to try potatoes or tomatoes in a new 2’x8’ Hybrid Rain Gutter Grow System. I have the root pouches/grow bags already, so let’s grow, baby, grow!

I am developing my 2020 Garden Plan based on the “Soup Garden” concept (click on the text to learn more about that), and Gardening content will be coming back as well.


2019 Year in Review: Top 10 Podcast Episodes

Small Scale Life Podcast

I am VERY pleased with 2019!  The numbers show that we expanded our reach in 2019.  We added iHeartRadio, and I will be adding Pandora in the near future. I want this podcast to be available where ever people are listening to podcasts.

One of my goals is to have a podcast each week.  I did not hit 52 podcast episodes this year even though I reached that goal in 2018.  Unfortunately, life happened, and that goal was missed.

I would take Quality over Quantity, and I suspect you would as well.  There were some momentous episodes in 2019 where we shattered old records for the number of downloads per episode.  We had more than 32,400 downloads in 2019, and our audience increased by 100 listeners per episode.

The Top Podcast Episode of 2019 and NEW All Time Record-Holder for Downloads on Small Scale Life:

Day 1: How to Complete the 24 Hour Plan

Amazing!  I am really thrilled that our podcast episode touched so many people this year.  This was the episode that really kicked off the Health and Fitness Renew You Project, and it continues to get downloads each week!

The 2019 Year in Review rest of the Top 10 Podcast Episodes are listed below:


  1. Tipping Points with Nicole Sauce from Living Free in Tennesse
  2. How to Overcome Self-Sabotage with Danny Domres
  3. Leaving a Legacy – Tribute to Larry Hall
  4. Day 6: Meal Planning and Food Preparation for Success
  5. Grow Easy with GrowOya at Dallas Half Acre Farms
  6. How to Dream Big, Set Goals and Take Steps to Achieve Them
  7. Our Journey towards Financial Freedom
  8. Health and Fitness Renew You with Karen Mangieri
  9. SSG: How to Grow 1 Million Meals with Drew Demler
  10. How to Prepare for the Polar Vortex

2019 Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts

 blogpost, articles, post, Small Scale Life

Small Scale Life started as a blog in 2015, and I enjoy writing articles for this audience.  While it is easy to use my third party hosting service to capture data for the podcast, it is a little more difficult to gather annual data for blog articles.

Still, I have pulled some interesting statistics for the blog including:

  • 95,728 words
  • 97 posts
  • 11,326 visitors to Small Scale Life

That is an increase in every metric except the number of visitors to Small Scale Life.  The number of visitors was down a couple hundred people compared to 2018; however, the number of views was higher.  That tells me that visitors are hitting more than one article, which is what I want!

The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019 are a mix of articles that rank well with Google (SEO) and have popular podcast episodes associated with the article.  What I notice is that none of the News from Around the Bend articles made the list!  I might make a change with how I deliver that content in 2020, and I will be writing more articles in the coming year.

Here are the 2019 Year in Review Top 10 Blog Posts:


  1. Introduction to Rain Gutter Grow Systems
  2. Day 1: The 24 Hour Plan – Part 1
  3. Leaving a Legacy – Tribute to Larry Hall
  4. Vertical Gardening with the Plant Charmer – Part 1
  5. How to Build Vertical Garden
  6. Homesteading in Ohio with Daniel Bokros
  7. How to Prune Tomatoes to Improve Production and Plant Health
  8. How to Make Cranberry-Jalapeno Jelly
  9. Day 1: The 24 Hour Plan – Part 2
  10. Hybrid Rain Gutter Grow System Update

The Future is Now

Dombucha Kombucha, 2019 Year in Review 

While it is fun to look back and complete a 2019 Year in Review, we are now in 2020.  It is a new decade, and I am charting the course of this platform for the future.

Julie and I burned a lot of midnight oil in 2019 putting content together!  Julie is taking a break from the blog and podcast to focus on some other important things. Since her departure as my regular cohost, I have been thinking about what I am working on here at Small Scale Life.  I have run through these questions over and over since May of 2019:

  • What is this blog and podcast all about?
  • What does the Lifer Community want? 
  • What is the data telling me (downloads, popular articles, interests)?
  • What is going to make the biggest impact going forward?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What brings me the most joy?
  • What is fun and entertaining? 

These are the right questions that need to be answered before any effort starts in 2020.  I have done an incredible amount of thinking in 2019 about the direction of Small Scale Life.  Like much in life:

It all comes back to starting with the why.

I cannot serve everyone.  I will end up chasing my tail endlessly until I drop from exhaustion.  That doesn’t sound like fun to me!

I have had dreams and goals, and I am charting that course forward to accomplish them. I am making some tweaks and adjustments to respond to this great and growing audience, and I want to serve this audience by provide meaningful content that inspires you to learn, do, grow and be a little better everyday. 

Our 2019 Year in Review is over.  The Future is now. 

Ready or not, here we come!

Here we go, Lifers!

Listen to this Episode!

 2019 Year in Review: Top 10 Podcast Episodes and Blog Posts

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Special Thanks

For Small Scale Life Podcasts, I would like to thank Sean at Osi and the Jupiter for the intro song "Harvest."  Sean wrote this specifically for us, and I really enjoy all of his work.  You can find more Osi and the Jupiter at their Bandcamp site: https://osifolk.bandcamp.com/

I would also like to thank Austin Quinn at Vlog Vibes for the intro and outro music. For more information abut Austin and Vlog Vibes, please see the Vlog Vibes YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY80LeqtJf-YBzJy2TWKpDw