Blogiversary IV: Goal Tending

It’s time for some annual goal declaring (because nothing lights a fire under your arse like a big ol’ public proclamation). Let’s do this thang.

Goal #1: Find Balance- We mentioned that we were aiming for more balance in our lives during this 2011 resolutions post. We basically said that we’re going to try our darndest not to fall into the trap of putting all of our time, money, and energy into the house to the point that we have no life, no savings, and Clara is trapped in our casa for her entire childhood (we actually haven’t been on a big vacation since our honeymoon four and a half years ago other than some low key road trips and family beach weeks). Well, we’re bringing it up again because we need to be better about it.

We’ve had a very busy and exciting year (John came on full time, we moved, Clara is running and talking, we’re writing columns for BabyCenter and Do It Yourself magazine along with a 260+ page book, we’ve tackled tons of house projects, we redesigned the site, etc). But what has slipped to make room for all those amazing opportunities is recharging away-from-the-computer time. Since the internet is 24/7, we’re still plugged in on nights and weekends and even on vacations and over the holidays. Heck I had a baby last year and didn’t even miss a post. So one reason that we started Young House Life was to remind ourselves to take a minute to actually live and have fun and be spontaneous and step.away.from.the.laptop.

Goal #2: Not drone on in every post. This actually might be the key to accomplishing more of the balance that we crave above. See, some of our favorite posts don’t have 2,000 words and 20 pics. We even admit that we skim each other’s posts when they’re too long. So we know everyone at home probably doesn’t read every word of every post that we write either. The point is that sometimes short and sweet is a-ok. And not every post needs to be a novel. Sometimes an update is quick, or we buy something simple that we want to share, or something funny happens and we catch it on video and slap it up. That’s the joy of blogging. Not everything has to be super polished and verbose. Ooh, I just used the word verbose. Ten points? Anyone?

Goal #3: Bring back before & after inspiration. A year ago we used to share Reader Redesigns twice a week along with two weekly giveaway posts (one to announce the giveaway and a second one to announce the winner) and a little poll post on Fridays that we called a Burning Question (about something decor-related, like if you prefer painted cabinets or wood ones, or if you’re a wall-to-wall carpet person or into tile or hardwood floors). But at our last blogiversary we realized that five posts a week about not-our-house stuff was really taking our blog away from the good ol’ DIY diary feel (which is definitely how it started, and something that we wanted to maintain).

So during our last blogiversary we decided to turn the focus back to our house (since we had a big move ahead of us, and a lot to talk about). We eliminated those Friday Burning Questions, along with our weekly follow up giveaway winner post (we just post that info as a p.s. at the bottom of another post), and we bid a fond farewell to both of our weekly Reader Redesigns (we invited folks to share their before & afters on our Facebook page instead). We didn’t miss the giveaway winner post or our weekly Burning Question, but we definitely mourned the loss of Reader Redesigns since they’re so inspiring and full of eye candy and ideas. So we’ve decided to bring them back. Not two a week, and maybe not even once a week – but they’re going to be making regular appearances again. There’s just too much amazing stuff that can leave us all inspired/encouraged. So if you have any awesome transformations to submit for consideration (like the stunning card-catalog-turned-buffet seen below), just send them to

Goal #4: Be Secure In Our Own Bloghood. Sure, we’d love for every single person who drops by to love every single one of our 2,000+ posts, but we’d also love a goose chihuahua that lays golden eggs. The truth is that in putting our lives out there for everyone to see, we have to be ok with not everyone loving everything, or even anything. And in turn they’ll hopefully understand that projects, decor choices, and post-writing is as subjective as favorite foods and hairstyles. So there’s not really one right way to do it.

This is just our personal DIY diary of sorts (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the blissfully mundane). One day we’re gutting a bathroom & one day we’re organizing a junk drawer or even talking about breastfeeding (tangents definitely occur). Strangely enough, four years of that “blogging formula” is exactly what got us here. Over four million hits a month?! We’re humbled and so very thankful. My brain actually threatens to explode when I think about it (I pretend I’m writing to ten people to combat blog stage fright). So sure, some folks might do things differently if this were their blog, but that’s the beauty of blogging: everyone can do it in their own way.

Goal #5: Be Grateful. Sometimes the stress of a harder-than-we-thought project or 150 pending comments to respond to can make us momentarily forget that this is a dream job. Because as much as we love what we do, at the end of a day it’s still a job. We do it because we love it (heck, it was born from pure never-thought-we’d-make-a-dime passion), but we also currently rely on it to feed our family – so there’s definitely pressure sometimes (as anyone who runs their own business will tell ya). So this goal is more of a mental shift than anything else. Whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed by looming projects or mounting comments or magazine assignments and book chapters to complete, we just want to remember to stop, breathe, and remind ourselves that we’re living the dream (corny but true). So in those oh-crap-I’m-stressing moments we just have to think about how geeky giddy we are over this amazing opportunity that has somehow materialized (no one is more surprised about where we have ended up than we are – and we lay awake in bed at night perma-smiling and excitedly chattering about our next project). Life is good. Even when it’s busy and full of chaos. We are oh so grateful.

Goal #6: Try New Things. Whatever they are. Maybe it’s just having an open mind about some weird half-baked decorating idea that pops into our heads. Or embarking on some other new adventure like House Crashing or Window Shopping (who the heck knows what that could be). With our book coming out next fall we imagine that will open up a ton of new (aka: potentially scary) experiences for us (starting with a bunch of photoshoots in the next few months for hundreds of secret projects that will be photographed). So we just want to be open to those new (aka: potentially scary) experiences. And try not to fear them or dread them or turn into a big ol’ ball of stress. I guess this goes hand in hand with being grateful. We want to remember to try new things and take chances and be spontaneous (all of which are what got us here in the first place).

So there they are. Six probably-won’t-all-be-accomplished-but-we’ll-try-our-darndest goals for year five of blogging our pants off (figuratively speaking). While we’re on the goal tending topic, we also like to annually revisit the prior year’s goals to see how we did.

You can read them a bit more in depth right here, but we thought we’d just summarize the ones from last year in bullets to evaluate our progress:

Last Year’s Goal #1: Move On This goal was all about moving into a new house and enjoying it and documenting our adventures and projects and tribulations, which we definitely did. Yay. The verdict: Mission accomplished.

Last Year’s Goal #2: Loosen Up This goal was about feeling less machine-like and blogging in a looser more real-time format (we were doing projects so far in advance that things sat in the hopper for up to two weeks before we could share them) so we could get back to posting things as they happened. Now things usually go up a day or two after they’re done (just because editing pics and post writing takes some time). So we definitely accomplished the less-lag-time thing. Score! But we also mentioned getting back to the balance of long meaty posts interspersed with quick updates and small real-life details that weren’t 2,000 words long (sometimes short and sweet beats heavy and wordy, so we wanted to get back to a nice balance of both). The verdict: Still gotta work on that. Hence goal #2 this year.

Last Year’s Goal #3: Get Real – In the first year of blogging we shared ordinary in-progress and spur-of-the-moment stuff all the time (like this, this, this, this and this), but somehow we fell off. So we couldn’t wait to get back to chronicling those real & random moments between before & after (you know, the stuff that you don’t get to see on 30 minute makeover shows). This year we definitely kept it real (sharing messy house tours, fridge before & afters, and even a cloth diaper update) but a lot of the fun off-the-cuff posts that we linked to as inspiration were quick and random (everything doesn’t have to be 20 photos long and full of wordy breakdowns). The verdict: 50% accomplished. Still gotta work on tossing things up that are light and spur-of-the-moment like the good ol’ days.

Now we’re turning the love train in your direction. We appreciate you all so much and thank you violently profusely for dropping in on us. Without you guys our goal would be: get back into the advertising thing because we’d be out of a job. Haha. All in all we can’t believe where we are four years after starting a tiny blog for friends and family members to watch our little kitchen makeover back in 2007. Life is crazy like that. But I better stop waxing poetic about the whole who-woulda-thought-we’d-be-here thing. We could talk about how shockingly random our little blog’s evolution has been for days, but this post is already 1,819 words. Looks like we’ll have to keep working on the old “short and sweet” aspiration. Is anyone really surprised?

Psst- First image found here and last image found here (without our heads on them of course, we added those). Oh and that cute photo of the bean was taken by Katie B.

Psssst- We announced this week’s big $500 West Elm gift card winner. Click here to see if it’s you.


  1. says

    For what it’s worth, I actually really like your asides, tangents, and 2,000+ word novels. Plus, pictures are pretty-pretty. But you’re right; the spur of the moment type posts sometimes come out the best, if only because they so fully distill the joy or whatever emotion of that moment.

    And, just like any job, making an effort to not let it take over your life is exceptionally admirable. I’m sure all of us commentors will do our best to keep you guys beholden to these goals! ;)

    I love your Goal #5. I think it’s part of why I started reading your blog in the first place so regularly. That’s something I appreciate as a reader, and I’m glad to see that it’s a priority for both of you.

    • says

      I agree!

      I totally support your goal of short-n-sweet spur-of-the-moment posts, but I also really love your picture-filled novels (wow-that-was-a-lot-of-hyphens).

      You two are so adorable (well, you FOUR are so adorable), and your blog always brings a smile to my face. Keep on keepin’ on! :)

  2. says

    First – I love those photoshopped images of you and John. They always crack me up.

    Now that that’s covered… I really like that you’re going to start taking submissions of reader re-designs. It’s so much fun seeing & being inspired by other people’s projects but the internet is so big that it’s hard to find them all. I think all of those goals are great things to work for (it already feels like the blog has matured in the last 2 years I’ve been reading…okay, it may be more than 2 years… I can’t remember anymore) so I think you’ll accomplish them all!

  3. Meghan, UK says

    Woo to the Hoo for welcoming in year 5 with some great goals. I am definitely one of your readers who *loves* the 5-days-a-week posts, but wouldn’t mind if you took a break once in a while! It’s a privilege for me to be able to have a look at your decoration / renovation projects and get inspired at the same time. So THANK YOU for being a huge ongoing source of inspiration and keep being you :)

  4. Sunnie says

    I think shorter and even fewer blogs is a good goal – to keep your sanity! And it won’t take away from your great blog at all.

  5. says

    I am really, really glad you are bringing Reader Redesigns back! I love you guys but I’m a sucker for before & afters too. Great call!

  6. Pip says

    I love to set goals at birthdays & job anniversaries – and work life balance is always on the list. You know us readers would let you have a little holiday don’t you? Sure we’d pine and miss you, but we’d be right back on board when you got back! maybe a vacay after your book tour?? :)

  7. Jamie M says

    Hey guys! Just wanted to stop by and say I love your blog, and I like your new goals. I love the idea of you posting smaller, less “scripted” posts. Like the one time you posted a hint/preview of the blue back to the dinning room built ins. That made me so excited to come back and see the final project, and made me feel like you were real time blogging. I’d loe to see more things like that! But anyway, you blog is my favorite to read each day, so thank you for sharing with us!

  8. Meredith says

    Love the goals and love the reality that not all goals are reached all the time. :) Also excited to see the return of reader redesigns and I don’t miss the “here’s who won” or “burning questions” posts, so perfect! I’ve been reading for 3 years now and have definitely gotten others hooked…it seems like you guys just keep getting better and better!

  9. bridget b. says

    yay for reader redesigns coming back! maybe the occasional mood board will sneak in there as well :){batting eyelashes and crossing fingers}.

    you guys do a really great job, love your blog! you definitely deserve a vacation, or at least some time unplugged from technology.

    i’m sure your readers will understand. maybe just schedule some of your favorite throwback posts to keep us occupied for a week or so while you take some time off.

    p.s. i thought it was sweet to hear (during the video post yesterday) that you guys consider time apart from each other to be each of you in separate rooms of the house. just being at the house at the same time during waking hours is a feat for me and my hubby :)

    keep up the great work, can’t wait to see what you will try next!

    • says

      Oh yeah, we love mood boards too! I have a terrible “oops I fell off” relationship with them (we get so busy and they slip my mind and four weeks later I realize we haven’t done one in so long) but those are on the agenda too!


  10. says

    There are two that really stuck out to me (paraphrasing) – shortening posts and growing a thick(er) skin. It’s hard sometimes to put yourself out there knowing someone is bound to dislike what you’ve done, or said – but that’s the point of a blog. As far as I see it, no one forces anyone to read it so if they don’t like it *shrug* sorry. On the topic of short posts, I *love* writing them, not because I don’t like writing, but because they tend to be the more spontaneous ones. The ones where I just came back from the farm and was so in love with how beautiful it was I had to put it up – like this one:

    I feel like they are the purest posts, the ones you’re most excited to get up and the ones where you’re really feeling what’s behind it. Technical posts are awesome, but I love the idea of shorter ones that come from a place of pure excitement just to share.

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