The Mad Hatters NYC Blog: Year Three in Review

Throughout the year, the pervasive mood in the country has been dour, an ominous shadow hanging over virtually everything else. And yet, we still put ourselves out there, traveling more this year than we had in the last two combined, which was simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. But 2018 was a challenging year for us personally, too. We both work full-time and there were some notable changes to our jobs, which upended the comfortable life we’d built. We were plagued with some health challenges, though fortunately nothing too serious. We had some unfortunate luck, like discovering our toilet was leaking the day before we were due to leave for a trip. And finally, in a real gut-punch, we lost a few friends unexpectedly–a fellow blogger to a freak accident and a longtime co-worker to cancer.

As for the blog, it’s hard to believe it’s been three years since its inception. Some days it feels like the time has flown by, while others it feels like a slow, steady, relentless grind. At this point, we could forgive you for assuming the blog is humming along like a well-oiled machine. But that hasn’t been the case. The curve balls have kept coming, so let’s talk about what the year brought us.

Wins and Losses

Street art featuring two fingers upheld and text reading Together We Can. We Will. in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Lynn and Justin in front of Giant Blue Rooster in Minneapolis Sculpture Garden via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Our biggest challenge this year has been finding balance. With so much upheaval in our personal lives, keeping all the balls in the air became a day-to-day challenge. We had trouble maintaining a schedule with our posts, and we disappeared from social media for protracted periods. So why did we still do it? Because this blog continues to be our connection with the world. It’s where we share, where we learn and where we grow.

We finally cleaned up our site a little. We streamlined our blog categories, separating our Adventures in New York City and our Escapes from New York City. We started writing our Mad Chatter posts, which allowed us to ruminate on some issues that were on our minds, and to see if you were thinking about them too. We also added a calendar to our website, which allows us to feature some of our favorite seasonal activities.

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Last year we mentioned that we’d met up with readers, fellow bloggers and social media buddies, and we’re happy to have continued that trend in 2018. But for those we haven’t been able to connect with in real life, our November project on Instagram proved the power of a virtual connection. With a few simple questions, comments turned into conversations. If you’re curious, this post kicked it off, and we have a summary in our Highlights on Instagram.

We were proud to have made the runner-up list on Lonely Planet’s Pathfinders site, and to have been featured on Vivant and INSIDER. We also had some fun collaborations, like the one with Vetexbart which translated our New York City Lower East Side recommendations into Dutch. And we would be remiss not to mention the death of Google+, a social platform that never really lived up to its lofty goals. Google+ was very good to us in our first year, featuring our blog early on and gaining us international readers. We’re sad to see it go.

It’s getting more and more difficult to pick favorite posts, so we’ll share a few of our popular ones:

27 Club mural by Kobra Street Art featuring Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

In Living Color: The 2018 Kobra Street Art Occupation of New York City

Pittaki Street in Psyrri neighborhood of Athens which features an alley with lamps and graffiti via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

5 Things to Do in Athens Besides the Acropolis

View of Mount Urgull and Concha Bay in San Sebastian via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

How to Experience the Best of San Sebastián, Spain in Two Days


2019 feels like a true refresh–a chance to get things back in balance. Though we’ll look to find more ways to highlight all the things we love about New York City, we also hope to travel as much or more than we did in 2018. We’re also planning to finally make a trip back to Malaysia to see friends and family, which will be our first trip home in six years. And we’re going to make a concerted effort to be more present. We need to spend more time connecting: with each other, with those around us, and with our experiences.

Moving Forward

Street Art with text reading Give Thanks in neon design in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Lynn and Justin with ice cream cone in Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We abandoned the idea of blog milestones a long time ago, choosing to make this about what felt right for us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. We want to craft more robust posts, engage in different ways, pick up new skills and reach wider audiences.

The thought of writing this year-end review gave us pause, but we realized that despite our challenges, we continue to have plenty to be grateful for. One of our favorite sayings is, “It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.” We believe that to be true, and we appreciate all the opportunities and friends this blog has brought our way.

Our biggest joy in this endeavor has been the dialogue. We love when someone tells us that they tried something we featured, or added something we did to an itinerary. We enjoy hearing from someone who shares our enthusiasm for a dish or a destination, as well as someone who disagrees with us completely. We’re especially grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to share their recommendations with us, giving us a wealth of new experiences. We’re honored when you mention us to someone else, and when you share something we’ve written. But more than anything, we’ve enjoyed the company. We’re thrilled to have you along on this journey. We love the thoughtful insights and the humorous comments. So we hope you’ll continue to share them.

Now it’s your turn: how was your 2018, and what would you like to do differently in 2019?

Lynn and Justin behind the La Huella digital (Finger Print) sculpture by Juan José Novellas on Artxanda in Bilbao via Mad Hatters NYC

– L. & J.

20 thoughts on “The Mad Hatters NYC Blog: Year Three in Review”

  1. Such a heartfelt and honest Post! Hugs.

    This year has been difficult! I agree there is a cloud hanging over almost everything. I am sorry about the difficulties you guys have faced and the losses you have had to deal with; not to mention yucky toilet issues. 🙂
    Hope 2019 is more peaceful and you continue to find the balance we all seek. Hope your trip to the Malaysia brings you comfort from being with family and friends.

    I plan to breath, trust the universe, keep my head calm and take small steps moving forward in 2019. Oh and to see you guys more.

    1. Yes to seeing you guys more!

      I love how you always have such a calm, serene approach to life, Tara. We really could learn so much from you! Here’s hoping 2019 brings us all more peace, joy, and happiness, no matter where we find them ❤️

      1. I’m not sure I agree with the serene approach to life but. But I’ve had some “mental cleaning,” which resulted in the above comment.
        I hope “It” stays on for a while.

  2. So wonderful to read your recap of life in 2018. I enjoy following your adventures and love the tips. We do one longer vacation each year and always consider where you have been and your posts from there. It has been a fortunate yeAr here good health and family intact and growing. Love to you both in 2019.

    1. We’re so happy to hear that, Ginger! We certainly wish that for all our friends and family ❤️ Here’s hoping that streak continues in 2019!

      And thank you so much for following along, we can’t wait to see where your travels take you next year! (Let us know if it takes you through NYC, of course )

  3. I feel that the challenging life events make me refocus and strive for more balance. I’m sorry to hear you have had some struggles but love that you two are appreciating more. I hope we can visit this year, we miss you both and NYC!

    1. Thank you so much, Cathy! We’re definitely hoping to make that a bigger priority in the new year, I think it’s so easy to get lost in the minutia. Taking a step back and reevaluating what’s important is long overdue.

      We really hope to see both of you again soon, whether on your turf or ours! ❤️

  4. You two do make it look effortless. This year was a total struggle for me, personally as well as blog-wise. I’m not good at resolutions so I’ll just say that I’ll do better next year. Both of you were so kind, funny (Justin I have blackmail photos), and gracious to me and it’s very much appreciated. Cheers to another year, friends.

    1. We’re so sorry to hear that, Trudy! We know misery is supposed to love company, but that’s definitely not the case here. If there’s any way we can be better friends and support systems for you, please let us know. We’ve counted on all of you time and time again, and we’re always happy to return the favor ❤️ Here’s hoping the dark clouds lift in 2019!

      P.S. Lynn here – you can send blackmail photos directly to me

  5. Enjoyed reading that, guys. Seems like a real roller-coaster year. Clicked on most links, including collaborations and that Insta post re which song makes you happy. The last couple shot is incredible, you guys got rock star qualities! Merry Xmas & Happy New Year, Stefan & Ellie

    1. Hey Stefan & Ellie! Thank you so much for dropping by, we always love hearing from you. We’re so glad we were able to meet up with both of you when you were in New York City, and we still owe you coffee and dessert the next time you’re in town (or we’re in London!). We are actually TERRIBLE at taking selfies, so we’ll take your comment about that pic as an act of charity 😉

      Wishing both of you a wonderful Christmas, and here’s to bigger and better in 2019! We can’t wait to see what you explore in the new year 🙂

  6. “It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.” This resonated with me SO much, and is essentially the core principal of one of the best books I’ve read all year – “The Gratitude Diaries.”

    Anyway…I loved reading this post and I love YOU guys so much! Your thoughtful, informative prose and consistent striving to learn, grow, and improve is inspiring. I am truly thankful for blogging because it brought us together, and I am so excited to see where you guys continue to go!

    1. Thank you so much, Lauren! We’re so grateful for your friendship and your support. You’re one of the many people we feel fortunate to have crossed paths with on this journey. We’ve enjoyed our many conversations, both through our respective blogs as well as in person. Here’s to many more!

      2018 was quite a year for you, we’re looking forward to seeing where this year leads you as well 😉

  7. Thank you, Lynn and Justin, for sharing your reflections on the past year of blogging and life. I am notoriously slow (ahem), so am still engaging in the year-end reflection process, but one of the things I have enjoyed most over my past year of blogging is connecting with the two of you. For me it’s been a year of relationships: getting closer to Bee and traveling a bit together, starting to develop our own traditions; my “relationship” with my writing self, and the huge amount of learning required to create and maintain a blog; and my relationships with people in the travel blogging community.

    In the year or so I’ve been following your blog, I’ve seen it become even more beautiful and smart (just like the two of you). I ALWAYS enjoy reading your posts, though I get very hungry, and have to continually add things to my travel wish list. I’ve had the good fortune to visit New York twice now and be able to try out a number of your recommendations, especially on this last visit. 🙂 I’ve loved the discussions in Mad Chatter, and have connected with a number of your readers and followers. You’ve done a lot to create community, through your blog, social media, and in person. I’m very grateful to you for that, and for setting a shining example: a gorgeous and intelligent blog, increasingly skilled photography, and, to my mind, a very regular posting schedule of content I want to read. If you think you’re a bit irregular, just compare yourself to me and you’ll feel way better. ;0

    My 2018 was actually pretty darn good (setting aside the state of the union, et al). This year I want to clear out some clutter from the past and move forward in a number of areas. I continually work toward balance, as well, and being truly there for my experiences and the people in my life. And the cats. Here’s to more travel and more connection in 2019.

    Much love,

    1. Hi Cynthia! Your comment is extremely generous, and we thank you for taking the time to write it.

      I think a year of building relationships is definitely one you can be proud of, but I particularly love that you included one about building a relationship with your writing self. There’s a vulnerability to blogging that we still grapple with, and I think too often we look outward for affirmation when we should be looking inward. That being said, here’s my unsolicited opinion: I think your posts are full of joy (even the ones on camping!) because you always find a way to find the humor in life. It’s no small feat, and as a writer you should be very proud.

      As far as community is concerned, we’re grateful for the wonderful, sincere, supportive people we’ve come across — your lovely self included. We’re so happy we were able to meet in person last year, though you felt like a friend long before then. We’re excited to see where 2019 takes you, and we’re so thrilled to be on this journey together!

  8. Isn’t it strange that so many people are looking to 2019 for a new fresh day! 2018 for us was an incredible year. Our best year since way back when….we would like for it to repeat. Thanks to both of you for helping make that happen.

    We hope that your 2019 brings you happiness and your travels are safe. We are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

    For us, what we would like to do for 2019 is to make a U-turn.

    1. Hey Tip! I think your and JAM’s experience with 2018 may have been the exception. 😀 I hope your 2019 is likewise filled with happiness and plenty of travel, especially to NYC.

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