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"Cherry Blossom Cake" pictured in "Betty Crocker's Frosting Secrets" (1958).
“Cherry Blossom Cake” from Betty Crocker’s Frosting Secrets (1958)

Today, April 27, 2021, marks the one-year anniversary of The New Leaf Journal. It is our humble online magazine’s first birthday, so to speak. For this, our 294th article, we will recap the year that was as we look forward to the year to come at The New Leaf Journal.

A New Leaf Journal Timeline

I decided to recap our first year with a brief and succinct timeline. For each month, I will list key events and site changes, notable articles, and list the most-read articles in each individual month.

Photo of the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botantic Garden taken by N.A. Ferrell on March 26, 2007.
I took this picture of flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on March 26, 2007, with my Nikon D40 camera. Edited by Victor V. Gurbo after it suffered a bit in Picasa/Google Photos storage for 14 years.

April 2020

April 2020 was our first month at The New Leaf Journal, although we were only live for four days.

Key Events

May 2020

We published 30 articles in May 2020, which still stands as the second-busiest month in terms of number of articles published here at The New Leaf Journal.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in May 2020

  1. The Quarantine Sessions: Love Henry. By V. Gurbo. May 6, 2020.
  2. Welcome to the Emu Café. By N.A. Ferrell. May 16, 2020.
  3. Previewing Bob Dylan’s False Prophet. By V. Gurbo. May 9, 2020.

June 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

June was a month of positive changes and trials that were overcome with some difficulty. Through it all, we published 21 articles.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in June 2020

  1. The New Leaf Journal Twitter. By N.A. Ferrell. June 10, 2020.
  2. The Quarantine Sessions: An Original Composition. By V. Gurbo. June 4, 2020.
  3. Some U.S. President Birthday Facts. By N.A. Ferrell. June 14, 2020.

July 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

With our caching problems behind us, we settled into our new layout in July 2020, publishing 20 articles during the month. July saw the birth of our official newsletter, The Newsletter Leaf Journal.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in July 2020

  1. Against Half-Way Yogurt Thievery. By N.A. Ferrell. May 2, 2020.
  2. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
  3. Matt Damon’s Brooklyn Heights Crane Game. By O. Misanthrope. July 17, 2020.

August 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

August was our slowest month in every respect. We only published 16 articles. I had an excuse, however. I was building a new computer, which ran into some hiccups that I noted contemporaneously here at The New Leaf Journal.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in August 2020

1 (tie). Building an Airline Res-O-Glas Guitar Copy. By V. Gurbo. August 26, 2020.
1 (tie). The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
3. Remembering Second Lieutenant Carleton Burr for Memorial Day. By N.A. Ferrell. May 25, 2020.

September 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

I committed to publishing at least one article every day in September. We did one better, publishing 31 articles in 30 days. September stands as the busiest New Leaf Journal month in terms of number of articles published. Because I no longer publish multiple articles on a single day, it will likely remain so.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in September 2020

  1. Reviewing the Great Suspender Extension. By N.A. Ferrell. August 28, 2020.
  2. Remembering Second Lieutenant Carleton Burr for Memorial Day. By N.A. Ferrell. May 25, 2020.
  3. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.

October 2020

We published 25 articles in October. Most significantly, I took the time from not having to post every day to work on improving the site’s search standing. Building off the hard work done in September, October proved to be the strongest month yet in terms of visits for The New Leaf Journal.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in October

  1. Setting Up SoloKeys with Peppermint OS. By N.A. Ferrell. October 1, 2020.
  2. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
  3. Halloween and the Pumpkin with a Mask. By N.A. Ferrell. October 23, 2020.

November 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

Although we published only 21 articles in November 2020, two of those articles currently rank among the four most-read articles all time at The New Leaf Journal. The site continued to grow in November, easily breaking the visitors record set in the previous month and setting a record for most visitors per day that would stand until January.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in November 2020

  1. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
  2. Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation. By N.A. Ferrell. November 25, 2020.
  3. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.

December 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

We closed 2020 with 25 articles in December. The site’s performance in December nearly matched that of November – setting a new record for most total visitors in a month, but falling just short of November in terms of average daily visitors (owing to the fact December is one day longer). December saw a dramatic uptick in search engine traffic late in the month, which set the stage for growth in 2021.

My Pixelfed Review set two records in December. First, it broke the record set by my Great Suspender review in September for most views in a month. Second, it became the first article to be the most-read post for a month more than once, doing what my Constantine XI article came close to accomplishing in July and October.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in December 2020

  1. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
  2. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
  3. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.

January 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

The New Leaf Journal began 2021 by reaping the benefits of all of our work in 2020. The site saw more visitors on every day than it averaged in November and December, owed to an improved search engine presence. We published 30 articles in January, tying May 2020 for our second most-prolific publishing month. Furthermore, we made some key improvements to the site structure.

My Pixelfed review topped the most-viewed chart for the third month in a row, breaking record for most views for a single article in a month in the process.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in January 2020

  1. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
  2. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
  3. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N.A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.

February 2020 at The New Leaf Journal

We published 26 articles in 28 days in February. I had not expected to break our monthly visitor record from January in February, allowing for the fact that February is 3 days shorter. To my surprise, we shattered the mark in February, owed to another significant increase in search engine traffic. While the same three articles that led the way in December and January did so again in February, their positions shifted. Pixelfed fell to third, and both Victor’s mask article and my Persona 4 Golden artbook review broke the previous record for most monthly article views.

I also took the time to make some site improvements in February that had been on my idea list for a while.

Key Events

  • February 7: N.A. Ferrell revamps Around the Web series to focus on single topics every Sunday with a variety of external links. First post covered issues involving hair color in Japanese schools.
  • February 11: N.A. Ferrell adds microblog to the site sidebar. Why not?
  • February 12: It occurred to N.A. Ferrell that no one could find the Guestbook. Added a field beneath every article with a link to the Guestbook. Shockingly, people began to use it.
  • February 12: Changed time-frame for most-read article widget from 28 days to 14 in order to introduce more volatility, while still rewarding articles for consistent performance over an extended period.
  • February 21: N.A. Ferrell publishes Around the Web piece on RSS as a Facebook alternative. That would prove to be a defining moment, but not in February.
  • February 23: V. Gurbo publishes article on his original song, Mondrian. It was a rousing success, and also our first article to use a video embed from LBRY.
  • February 28: Month in Review Post.

Most-Read Articles in February 2021

  1. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
  2. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N.A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
  3. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.

March 2021 at The New Leaf Journal

March started much like February ended. Then, on March 8, my friend shared my article advocating for RSS as a Facebook alternative on Hacker News. It did well, achieving about half of the all-time views for The New Leaf Journal in a couple of days. The aftereffects boosted the entire site, creating a large number of back links and lifting other articles in search results.

Aside from the unexpected Hacker News success, I made several other important improvements to the site in March. All the while, I published all 26 of our March articles.

Key Events

Most-Read Articles in March 2021

  1. Around the Web 〜 RSS as a Facebook Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. February 21, 2020.
  2. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
  3. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N.A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.

April 2021 at The New Leaf Journal

Cherry blossoms on 4th Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, photographed by N.A. Ferrell in April 2021.
Photo of the cherry blossoms on 4th Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I took this photo with the Open Camera App on my Motorola Moto e6 phone camera on April 24, 2021. Victor V. Gurbo edited the photo for publication.

Because I will write an April month in review post in three days, I will reserve my April recap until then. I will also going forward begin noting the five most-read articles each month in my month in review posts.

Most-Read Articles In Our First Year

On January 1, I published the list of our 25 most-read articles in 2020. To commemorate our twelfth month online, I will list our twelve most-read articles from April 27, 2020 through 8:00 PM on April 26, 2021, below. In so doing, I will note the change in position from our January 1 list.

  1. Around the Web 〜 RSS as a Facebook Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. February 21, 2020. Change: NEW
  2. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020. Change: +16
  3. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020. Change: -2
  4. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N.A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020. Change: +2
  5. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020. Change: -3
  6. Why Vintage Guitars Sound Better. By V. Gurbo. January 4, 2020. Change: NEW
  7. Reviewing the Great Suspender Extension. By N.A. Ferrell. August 28, 2020. Change: -4
  8. An Essay on Productivity, Production, and Productive Leisure. By N.A. Ferrell. March 24, 2021. Change: NEW
  9. ATW 〜 The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei. By N.A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021. Change: NEW
  10. Follow The New Leaf Journal Atom Feed. By N.A. Ferrell. January 18, 2021. Change: NEW
  11. Mondrian” – Victor V. Gurbo on his Original Song. By V. Gurbo. February 25, 2021. Change: NEW
  12. Review of Wutsearch, a Search Engine Launchpad. By N.A. Ferrell. March 22, 2021.

Justin & Justina Dialogue: Recommending Unsung Articles

In this anniversary celebration, I noted, and linked to, our most-read articles every month. Combined with our current list of 12 most-read articles all time, we covered the most popular content at The New Leaf Journal. But what of the rest? I do not think that our most-read list is any sort of ranking of our best content. For that reason, I invited my fictional dialogue duo of Justin and Justina to recommend articles that we have not noted thus far. I now yield the floor (in a sense – I mean I do write these dialogues, after all).

The Ground Rules

Justina: What are we doing again?
Justin: Listing twelve articles that New Leaf Journal readers may have missed over the past year.
Justina: I’m still tired from what you people made me do for New Years.
Justin: We need to deliver. One year anniversary. Special stuff. That’s why we’re back in The Emu Café.
Justina: I still don’t get this bird.
Emu: …
Justin: Never mind that. Nick gave us several rules. First, no articles that were already mentioned in this article. Second, no articles that we discussed in our January 1 review. Third, no articles from April 2021. Fourth, no articles that he is featuring on the site’s current About Page. Fifth, he asked us to start with newer articles and work back, since older articles are noted in many weekly and monthly review posts already.
Justina: This is complicated.
Emu: …
Justin: You’ll get the hang of it. I’ll lead us off.

“Calvin Coolidge Describes His Mother, Victoria”

Article Link.

Justin: I first recommend Nick’s March 13, 2021 article on Calvin Coolidge’s describing his mother, Victoria Josephine Coolidge, who he lost as a child. Coolidge wrote: “There was a touch of mysticism and poetry in her nature which made her love to gaze at the purple sunsets and watch the evening stars.”
Justina: That’s very pretty, but also sad.
Justin: Indeed, melancholy people with aesthetic sensibilities can write quite beautifully.

“How the Forget-Me-Not Flower Found Its Name”

Article Link.

Justina: I liked this one about the flower. It had a nice poem and neat history about how the forget-me-not flower was named.
Justin: That was cool. But history doesn’t seem like you, Justina.
Justina: That’s true. I’m also thanking Nick for writing a short article. His other histories are too long.

“The Pine Tree Lovers of Takasago”

Article Link.

Justin: Nick insisted that I choose this one. The Pine Tree Lovers of Takasago was one of his four articles written for Valentine’s Day. It covered two exceptionally beautiful nineteenth century English accounts of the classic Noh drama, Takasago.
Justina: I preferred his actual Valentine’s Day article about his photo of a squirrel kiss.
Justin: That was a lucky shot… well, you can read both.
Justina: And our White Day dialogue!
Emu: …

“Bird in Review 〜 The Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock”

Article Link.

Justina: Look at that bird’s face.
Justin: It is a magnificent bird. Maybe the best Nick covered.
Justina: I think so.
Justin: I was partial to the Resplendent Trogon myself.
Justina: This guy’s face though…

“Iroha Isshiki’s Hair is Brown, as Expected?”

Article Link.

Justin: Nick wrote two articles about hair color in the anime and lite novel series, My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, as I Expected. The second one, on a side character, was not far off from making the top 12 most-read articles list, and may still yet. But the first, the better article about the better character, has fallen through the cracks.
Justina: The better character? This Iroha girl? What’s so special about her?
Justin: Her endearing focus on appearances reminds me of someone.
Justina: Really? That’s weird.
Justin: Less neurotic though.
Justina: I’m trying to think, who do you know?
Justin: She’s dead serious. I want you to know Justina is being serious.
Emu: …
Justina: Huh?

“Justin & Justina 〜 Existential Social Media Misery”

Article Link.

Justina: You just don’t get it! The point of social media is to make you miserable!
Justin: I see you called your own number.
Justina: Nick never said we couldn’t.
Justin: True. After reading Justina’s ridiculousness, see Nick’s spiritual follow-up essay on why social media is bad content.
Justina: That’s the point!
Emu: …

“The Found Parakeet of Brooklyn Bridge Park”

Article Link.

Justin: Here’s an article about when I found you in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Justina: I’m going to kill you.
Emu: …
Justin: It’s a very short article about a “FOUND PARAKEET” sign in Brooklyn Bridge Park with a picture of a pitiful looking parakeet. Couldn’t help but think of Justina.
Justina: …
Justin: Nick also wrote a more serious parakeet article. Alright back to business.

“Justin & Justina 〜 A Christmas Present Struggle”

Article Link.

Justina: Why couldn’t you just tell me what you wanted for Christmas?
Justin: Calling your number twice in a row…
Justina: I deserve this. You made me suffer.
Justin: To be sure, my recalcitrance about telling you what I wanted for Christmas probably put you in a situation that many readers would find relatable. You’re welcome, world. Not a big deal.
Emu: …
Justina: …

“On Children and Internet Sharing”

Article Link.

Justin: Nick explained succinctly why you shouldn’t share pictures of young children online.
Justina: I don’t get it.
Justin: Doing so precludes them from developing a sense of self and their own boundaries.
Justina: But if mothers don’t share idealized pictures of their kids and family life, how can people like me make ourselves feel inadequate?
Justin: Another reason. Consider that Justina spent most of her childhood without social media. She still turned out like this. Consider that.
Emu: The humanity…
Justina: Why are you talking, bird?
Emu: …

“The Wicked Car of the Gowanus – Car with Hat”

Article Link.

Justina: Look at the funny green car with the witch hat. That’s funny.
Justin: I can’t disagree.
Emu: Indeed.
Justina: …
Emu: …

“That Longest Year of School Finally Ends”

Article Link.

Justin: In this essay, Nick offered spoiler free thoughts on an observation by the author of My Youth Romantic Comedy Was as Wrong as I Expected on the end of his series. He stated that until he completed his series, he felt as if his second year in high school had never ended. But with the completion of the series and writing an end of the beginning for his characters, he could finally move on.
Justina: I still have nightmares about missing classes and getting an incomplete.
Justin: You should write a lite novel series.
Justina: Too lazy.
Emu: …

“Please Ring the Doorbell – A Delivery Story”

Article Link.

Justina: I agree with Victor. Why do delivery people do stuff like this?
Justin: Leave your expensive package on a stoop so anyone could steal it?
Justina: Yeah.
Justin: Hey, at least Victor got it. Nick told me USPS loses his stuff in the mail.
Justina: That’s terrible.
Justin: Do note the microphone that Victor had delivered was featured in his recent article on Seven Spanish Angels.
Justina: That was cool.
Emu: …

“I Don’t want your emu and I don’t have to feed it”

Article Link.

Emu: …Also
Justina: …
Justin: …
Justina: What is with this bird?
Emu: …

Thank You For Reading and Following The New Leaf Journal

Cherry blossoms on 4th Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, photographed by N.A. Ferrell in April 2021.
Photo of the cherry blossoms on 4th Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I took this photo with the Open Camera App on my Motorola Moto e6 phone camera on April 24, 2021. Victor V. Gurbo edited the photo for publication.

Thank you for reading and following The New Leaf Journal. It has been an exciting first year, and our small website has grown more than I expected it would have by this point when I started out barely knowing what I was doing in April 2020. With the foundation of our first year in place, we celebrate this New Leaf Journal birthday and look forward to our producing even better content in the year to come. I hope that you will join us for the journey.