What 2014 Taught Me

December 31st, 2014

I don’t share too many deep thoughts here on the ol’ blog, I like to keep the content more on the surface about inspiring DIY projects, design, and home improvement.

The last day of the year gives me pause and an opportunity to think about the past year before starting a new one. Rather than a Best Of roundup, I wanted to write about what I learned this year. This is one of those reflective posts looking back at 2014 but not at projects, instead it’s a look at what I achieved beyond and behind the blog.

winter walk through snow

Take Time for Other Interests. I learned this year how revitalizing it is to spend time on something unrelated to your job. One thing I’ve longed to do for years is be a better student of history. I had my share of classes in college but it was more about survival and a good grades back then, my mindset now is so different, my focus is on the richness of the writings and the lessons from amazing stories and people. Presently, I’m deep into a study of the Civil War, absorbing everything on the North and South, on Lincoln, his advisors, his assassin, and podcasting a Yale University course. I feel enriched thinking about things other than design.

Lesson: take up a hobby or interest that you’ve longed to pursue!

Get Healthy. This year I learned how important (and good) it feels to take charge of my health. At the beginning of the year I realized I had gained almost 20 pounds in two years and was feeling very fatigued. I took control and made a huge dietary changes. I eliminating processed, fried, and fast food from my diet and opted for clean eating instead. I relearned how to exercise with the help of a personal trainer. I started lifting weights and sculpting my body. I lost 15 pounds, almost all the weight I gained and feel more energized and stronger than ever. In another month or two I’ll have reached my weight loss goal and intend to keep myself strong and healthy for life!

Lesson: discipline and consistency with diet and exercise is hard work but the benefits are life changing. What a gift to have a strong healthy body again!

Just Say No. Feeling a sense of emotional fatigue in the beginning of 2014 I made a deliberate choice to practice the art of saying no to things that threw me off balance and focused instead on the things that I deemed essential. I read a wonderful book on the subject Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, highly recommended if you’re feeling overwhelmed. This deliberate practice of saying no occurred for me on two levels, the first was turning down several professional opportunities and the second was taking significant breaks from the internet and social media. The practice brought a peace, balance, and contentment that I haven’t felt in years.

Many opportunities came my way this year, I consider myself fortunate to receive many offers but I had to stay true to the principle that partnerships must be mutually beneficial and so I turned many of those offers down because they weren’t a good fit. Being conscious of what is or is not a good fit makes that yes or no decision so much easier. It had to feel real, it had to be authentic, or I wasn’t willing to write about it.

I stopped worrying about statistics or pageviews. I took long breaks and set aside large blocks of time for relaxation or creativity. I resisted and restricted distraction. I released any fear of losing readers or advertisers. I stopped paying attention to the likes and followers or what I “should” be doing according to the blogging experts, and chose to be true to myself, come what may. Those choices are liberating.

I learned in 2014 to stay sane in a world of constant distraction I had to pinpoint when enough was enough and clock out. There is a stream of constant unending information coming at us from our screens. It will always be there, you can’t see, watch, or absorb it all. To survive and thrive we must shut down the barrage of information and tune it out as a daily habit.

Lesson: the practice embracing the essential and rejecting the nonessential leads to a stronger sense of balance and contentment.

What I will continue to value as essential on a professional level are the two things that fulfill me most. The first is the creative process, whether it’s a home remodel or textile design, the expression of my style and the process of combining color and pattern bring me joy so I’ll continue in those pursuits. The second is the conversation that happens here on the blog and among so many friends about how to improve our homes so that they’re not only stylish but functional and places that serve the lifestyle of the residents. 2015 will bring more of both, I’m excited to jump in.

As we enter 2015, I encourage you to let go of your fear, relax more – embrace what you value, say no to the rest. Don’t let anything (a job, a relationship, a blog) suck the life out of you. Do the things that make you smile, the things that fill your heart and feed your soul. Take care of yourself, you’re worth it!

Happy New Year my friends… cheers to 2015 and learning something new!

Entertaining with Keurig + Giveaway

December 29th, 2014

Hello friends! This past week has been so very relaxing, reconnecting with family and finally finishing a few wonderful books that have sat on my nightstand for months. I’ve stayed up until midnight savoring each text while tucked under the covers with no deadlines to fret about and then I sleep in past 8 a.m, it’s such a luxury! Taking time off makes me feel so refreshed and excited for the new year.

I’ve always been old school in my approach to my morning cup of coffee. I drink 1-2 cups each morning and sometimes I indulge in the occasional afternoon cappuccino with a friend. For me it’s always been either brew a big pot at home or swing by the coffee shop in the afternoon.

I started noticing the Keurig popping up everywhere, my sister has one, I spied one in a friend’s craft studio, I see them in retail shops or small offices and I wondered what the big deal was. How convenient that Keurig contacted me and offered to send me one to try it out for all the holiday entertaining we were doing, so I was grateful to accept.

After two weeks of making coffee and other beverages with the new Keurig 2.0, I’m loving it. I rearranged my baker’s rack and set up a little breakfast/beverage station for guests to grab whenever they wish – it really is such a fabulous appliance for single beverage hospitality.

keurig breakfast station

We’ve been living without a kitchen during our stay here since we’re renovating so we’ve been making all sorts of hot concoctions with it. Coffee obvs but so much more!

keurig coffee station

 

The Keurig 2.0 has a 80 oz. water reservoir and hot water function so we can heat instant oatmeal, yes!

hot oatmeal keurig

My children love the hot cocoa function: set the dial, press the button, boom, it’s ready. The little Swiss Miss pods make fab hot chocolate, incomplete without whipped cream.

hot chocolate with keurig

I’m not embarrassed to say – I was a big Star Trek The Next Generation fan when I was in college, I watched it daily with fellow Trekkies and always loved when Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard ordered “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” from the replicator and it appeared in 5 seconds. With the Keurig it takes 45 seconds but it reminds me of those scenes. And yes you can make any hot tea with it too!

Read the rest of this entry »