Ten Years of Blogging

Today is a very special day and one full of love for more than the obvious hallmark holiday reasons.

Today I celebrate TEN years of blogging!

If I could paint a picture for you to illustrate where I was exactly ten years ago today, I was sitting in a small Chicago apartment, at a bar-height kitchen table, exploring blogger.com for the first time. I was 22 years old and engaged to the man who is now my husband, interning for free at a small online magazine downtown, and feeling that odd mix of exhilaration and anxiousness that perhaps other 2008 college graduates felt in the midst of the economic turmoil. I had many dreams and ambitions then! Such a specific picture of what I wanted life to look like. And while my reality now is a little different than those visions a decade ago, it is in fact much better.

In celebration of the last decade, and how time surely helps sharpen and shape many parts of our lives, I want to highlight ten of my favorite memories. I also want to celebrate you, my dear readers, because without you this blogging journey, and path in my life, would look quite different. Whether you’re a new reader or one who joined the adventure in the midst of cupcakes and Pink Sugar, I toast to you today. You were a part of the dream that started in that Chicago apartment. You still are. Please join me in reading this celebratory post!

10. When I first launched the blog, Andrew and I were engaged and as such I started to dabble in the wedding planning process. In fact, what ended up being an outlet here to share my plans and progress, led to the start of what is now my business as a wedding planner and floral designer. From sharing handmade projects for our budget-friendly wedding, documenting emotional journeys between Toronto and Chicago when we had a long-distance chapter in our relationship, and blogging about our vows, this platform was like a dear friend. It still is.

9. We got married! On a rainy September day where many things went wrong but the things that mattered went right. And to date, we’ve celebrated eight anniversaries. I’m excited about what year ten will hopefully look like.

8. I finally moved back to Chicago after living in my parent’s basement for almost a year. Driving from my home in Canada to my new home in Chicago as a wife, was one of the most exciting and fulfilling road trips for me to make; next to the two times we’ve trekked to the hospital to meet our babies of course. And while we didn’t stay in Chicago for long, we made our little space ours and I’ll remember it with fondness.

7. We built a beautiful home. It’s become the home base, the common denominator, of our most treasured traditions and memories. Our home is a place for celebration, growth, and love, all of which we’ve experienced in profound ways. While I know it’s not our forever home I do dread the day we drive away from it for the last time.

6. On the way to the farmer’s market one summer Saturday almost seven years ago, we stopped into Petsmart to look at puppies. It was just to get a feeler for a pet of our own someday. And if we are ever in person together please ask to hear the whole story because it’s best told face to face, but someday became THAT day much to our shared delight. Zoe Francine has been a constant source of cuteness, joy, and laughter in our family.

5. Consistent comments on the blog from strangers allowed friendships to blossom, many of those friendships leading to offline meetings, opportunities, and both personal and professional fulfillment. From speaking at and attending dozens of conferences around the country, freelancing with mentors and colleagues, organizing editorial shoots, and more personally, having dinner parties, sleepovers, and watching our kiddos play with kids-of-the-friends-we-met-online, this may be one of my favorite blog-related highlights from the last decade.

4. This space has held countless announcements and celebrations! Three of my favorites professionally were the time Vogue Magazine selected my company as a top planning firm world wide, that time BRIDES magazine did the same, and then in 2016 after having Lachlan, being selected as a Grand Rapids Business Journal Forty Under 40 award recipient. Being able to share highs here and know they are welcomed with eagerness and high fives is hard to describe, especially to anyone not familiar with the blogging sphere and community.

3. This space has also been a place where I’ve celebrated lows. And I use the word ‘celebrated’ carefully and intentionally because for as many GOOD and joyful things I’ve encountered over the last decade there have been hard ones. And those hard ones have been just as refining and appreciated. I’m so grateful for the gift of transparency and discernment, both of which I’ve been able to exercise here in rewarding ways.

2. We welcomed two sweet little boys to the world and to our family. From sharing pregnancy announcements, preparations for birth, birth stories, adjusting to life as a mother, and all of the heart-wrenchingly beautiful, hard, and messy in between, by far this has been one of the best parts in having my blog as an outlet. Not only did my dive into motherhood inspire both a rebrand in 2017 and new approach on better streamlining the unique way I do business, but it gave me a fresh and admittedly sobering perspective on time, priorities, and legacy. I am a better woman because of my sons. And I hope one day they will say the same about me and their dad.

And finally, 1.

I get asked often what I credit my successes most to. And in 2019 I can confidently say hard work, the grace of God, staying in my own lane, and finally, my blog. Perhaps this could be its own blog post one day so I could better explain the ways this space has created joyous opportunities not obvious to you as a reader, but without it I wouldn’t be living the life I have now. Ten years of nurturing this space has allowed me to become more creative, professionally savvy, less judgemental, acutely aware, joyful in my circumstances, less apologetic, comfortable in my own skin, open to change, and best of all, content.

I’ve teamed up with Teak & Twine to celebrate today with a giveaway! To enter please sign up for my mail list and then leave a comment below. You can share about your favorite perks to blogging or perhaps when you started reading mine but I’d love to hear from you. I’ll select a recipient and reach out to them personally by the end of next week. Not only did the Teak & Twine team graciously partner with me by providing this thoughtful gift but they let me add in one of my own RB Soap Co bars and it sure looks pretty in there.

Oh! And I will also pick three other readers and subscribers to receive one of my favorite soap bars, Pink Petals, a soft pink-hued bar scented with a variety of floral essential oils. It’s about time I finally started sharing my soaps with the world and I cannot think of a better day to do just that before I launch an online soap later this summer.

Finally, thank you. Simply and fully. To the next ten years, friends!

Psst: Will we see you today at Rowster Coffee on Wealthy? We’ll be there from 2:00 to 7:00 pm popping up with fresh flowers, soaps, and handmade gifts from Lark on a Limb. Our supplies are limited so don’t miss out!

Photography by Samantha James Photography

Things I Don’t Do

Inspired by both my life coach Diana and my treasured friend Emily, I wanted to share a list of the things I don’t do. How many times we marvel over the things others seem to effortlessly pack into their lives only to lose sight of the many things they probably don’t to make room for what matters. So here we are, a list of things I just don’t do.

1. I don’t cook dinner.

There’s odd occasions when I handle dinner, and I obviously handle my own meals throughout the day when Andrew is at work. But 99% of the time, Andrew handles prep and cooking for our family. He enjoys it and it really quite talented in the kitchen so perhaps I lucked out in the mate department! I clean up after for good measure.

2. I don’t deep clean our house.

I prefer tidy over clean so while I do lots of picking up and light organizing at the end of every day, I don’t break out cleaning supplies and the vacuum before bed. Most of the time, about every other month, we outsource deep cleaning to a wonderful women who earns every single penny we pay her to make our home really sparkle.

3. I don’t frequent the salon.

I remember being Shakira-blonde in my late teens and high school years. My hair was so long and thick, and the whole operation took more than 2 hours at the salon each month (and cost so much money my part-time job was to help fund my hair updates). Now I am lucky if I can sneak away for a 30 minute trim on my naturally dark, shorter, thinner locks. Same goes for pedicures, massages, eyebrow and lash treatments. Those are once in a blue moon treats versus consistent maintenance sort of things. I’m turning into a Simple Sally and it’s a-Ok.

4. I don’t overly organize.

I’ve defaulted to being less organized now that we have two kiddos and time feels a little more precious, but I try to keep things simple when organizing. My clothes might not be organized by color but they are all hung up. The kids toys might not be organized by type, but they are put away. Done is better than perfect, right?

5. I don’t grocery shop.

Andrew and I were just talking about how grocery store visits with a three-year-old and a colicky and frequent nursing baby, in the dead of Michigan winter mind you, are literally two hour (usually exhausting / frustrating) adventures. And while I love a good adventure I think there are better ones outside of Meijer. We now have our groceries delivered to us 75% of the time and I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty or boujee about it.

6. I don’t wash my hair everyday.

I know many women don’t wash their hair daily and swear by dry shampoo so I’m sure this isn’t very surprising. I wear my hair up in a pony almost all of the time so I just don’t find it necessary to keep it squeaky clean. I only use dry shampoo in cases where washing my hair was put on the back burner and it needs to look fresh.

7. I don’t overcomplicate my personal style.

This is probably another post-kids thing but I realized my personal style and uniform since becoming a mother is pretty simple. I wear stud earrings, my two wedding bands (which never come off), usually leggings and socks, a nursing bra, and fuss-free shirt. No bracelets, watches, or accessories that get in the way, complicated outfits I’m afraid to get dirty or sweat in, or impractical footwear. While I’m sure a lot of my style preferences these days has to do with having a small baby, I love the current ease of getting dressed and undressed every day.

8. I don’t wash my clothes after every single wear.

Why would I do this when I have three males in my house that go through outfits in minutes? LOL. All jokes aside, unless something is visually dirty, smelly, or considered underwear, I wear it multiple times before washing. I take everything off at the end of the day and dirty stuff goes directly into the washing machine and clean stuff gets folded and put in the bathroom for the next morning when I get out of my morning bath.

9. I don’t let laundry pile up.

As I type this I can hear the dryer tossing and turning clothes (most of them belonging to the three males in our home but that’s besides the point). While it’s a big perk to work from home and be able to tackle a few home tasks in between work calls and meetings, I commit to doing a load or two of laundry every single day to avoid it being a dreaded piled up task once a week (like on Sundays). You can read more about my system here.

10. I don’t do my own bookkeeping or taxes.

This would be a professional disaster and makes my hands sweat just thinking about it. I outsourcing my bookkeeping and accounting to two wonderful professionals who help me free up precious time to do what I do really well; like create beautiful things, help my clients plan their weddings, and fiercely love my family.

11. I don’t go to the movies.

I hate surprises (well, I love giving them to others) so movies are usually hard for me to enjoy. And sitting still for about two hours is something I’d prefer to do with a book or a person in conversation. Also, I am a compulsive wikipedia-plot-checker so my husband will tell you I am the worst movie date regardless. I also don’t watch TV.

12. I don’t go out late or drink.

Rarely that is. And again this is partially because of the season I am in where I haven’t slept a full night in over a year so rest time is precious but this girl LOVES her sleep and I believe it makes my days better. Going out late or even enjoying a glass of wine always toys with my sleep and makes me feel pretty awful in the morning. So I try to manage social activity at reasonable times and when necessary. And I always ask for ginger ale in a wine glass.

13. I don’t commit to things that I cannot handle or that don’t matter.

I’m trying this new approach in 2019 where I keep everything as manageable and simple as possible, and ultimately it involves saying ‘no’ a lot more than usual. It feels a little sacrificial at times but I know it’s so I can give my best to the people and things that matter right now. Lots of networking events, friend’s parties, business trips and even personal outings, etc, those things just aren’t on the list right now given our season.

14. I don’t wait until the last hour to do things.

This point is probably more about how I am wired and less about easy choices I make without intentional thought, but I am a firm believer that being well prepared always saves time and stress in most situations. I put out my clothes every night, have my daily to-do list next to me at night for quick jot notes and thoughts, order holiday cards and birthday gifts well in advance, confirm RSVPs the minute I know we can (or cannot) make an event, initiate conversations about things others consider too far out (like trips and family holidays), and renew accounts and subscriptions before I get notifications they’ve expired.

15. I don’t text back right away or engage in long text chats.

Perhaps this is my achilles heel as a friend but I don’t respond back to texts right away because I am usually with my hands full or away from my phone. And I prefer to be focused on the things usually taking up my time like my husband or kids. I also feel like texting just takes up SO much time to convey messages that ultimately can be conveyed in a call or over coffee (tea, wine, whatever) so I try to encourage calls and dates when possible.

16. I don’t mindlessly scroll social media.

This is also a new approach for me in 2019 and while it’s been hard ti implement it’s been really refreshing. With the exception of one day a week when I put in my time online to share and encourage, I have greatly reduced the time I spend just scrolling away online on Instagram (my biggest weakness). I’ve also cut down on the time spent lost in Pinterest or the time I might spend on Facebook.

17. I don’t iron clothing. Both mine and my husband’s.

This task makes me cringe just thinking about it. Maybe it’s all the things I’ve ironed for clients over the last almost decade but it’s not a task I enjoy and not one that is quick or kid-friendly either. So I wash my husband’s shirts and he irons them. In the weeks where he gets too busy to stay on top of the ironing I take them down to the cleaner and they get pressed for a few dollars a piece. Money well spent in my opinion!

18. I don’t over decorate.

This is probably similar to my personal style point above but our home style has slightly evolved over the last few years. Part of this is because our two kids have required us to change and remove (and add!) certain things but another part is less is simply more for our family. Less stuff everywhere means less maintenance and tidying. And less updating and changing as seasons and styles change. Less dusting. While I don’t consider us to be minimalistic, I do like to think we are simply decorated around here.

And there you have it! Seems like a pretty fuss-free way to live huh? If you’re interested in the things I DO make time for, that list is here.

I’d love to hear what tasks you say no to in your home and family. Do any of the above resonate with or surprise you? Do we share similarities? I’d love to know in the comments below! Xoxo

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