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. kimb says

    Not to stress you out but once that book is done; you will probably have a very nice book tour to do. With loads of interviews, I bet you any amount that we will see you on Good Morning America, and all those shows. I don’t know if this terrifies you or if you are looking forward to it, but I know I’m looking forward to it.
    After seeing the post of a day in the life I am so impressed by your ability to stay sane and married. lol Well done!

  2. Jocelyn says

    I’m happy we (readers) make you so happy. If my reading your blog w/ a morning cup of joe helps you out…I’m happy to do my part! And if you really want feed-back…if our comments weren’t personally answered/checked by you guys…it probably wouldn’t kill us either. Stop working so hard!
    To quote the post ahead of mine:
    “Greeting from Germany,”

  3. Bonnie Chatterjee says

    Hi Sherry & John –

    I have been reading your blog every day (and I mean every single day) for 3 years or so. I am so in love with your blog that I almost dont mind returning from vacation, since I know I will have 5 or 8 posts to read when I get back! (Is that bad?)

    Congratulations on 4 amazing years! And there are some of us, who actually do read every one of your 2000 words per post, it brightens up our day :)


  4. Katrina says

    We’ve been working on the grateful thing too, so every night as we crawl into bed my hubby and I tell each other 3 things we’re thankful for that happened during the day. Often they are little things that might have gone overlooked. It’s a great way to end each day and to reconnect with each other. I’m so happy he suggested we start doing it!

    (BTW – Sherry, nice legs!)

  5. Elisa says

    Why on earth are you “wearing” Flames jerseys!? If you had to pick a Canadian team, at least it could have been the Canucks ;)

    • Tamara says

      This was going to be my comment too! As a former Vancouverite – I agree that it should have been Canucks :) Just bugging. I love how you are subconsiously supporting your 5% Canadian reader fan base, Eh? hehe… I personally love LOVE your blog and read it every morning before work. It’s a refreshing break from the rest of my crazy life. I personally wish I could work from home however my work (protein cancer research) just simply does not allow me to bring my work home). But I think everyone deals with very similar issues – work life balance is tricky!

    • Monika says

      I’m from Calgary too! Go Flames! :)

      Also, I’m really looking forward to reader redesigns coming back!

  6. Jackie says

    Sounds like good goals for the coming year!

    In terms of more balance, have you considered taking Clara to a Mother’s day out program or something else like that a couple mornings a week? This could provide her with some time away from you to interact with other kids and some time for you and John to get some hard work done at home. Just a thought. Feel free to ignore me! :)

    • says

      Yes, we think when she’s two we’ll do two mornings and then three when she’s three- you know, building up to when she’s five and off to five days of kintergarten. In the meantime John’s mom watches her for around 3 hours a week, so that helps us both jump on projects/post stuff and be super efficient during that time!


  7. Jody says

    Love the Calgary Flames pic! My hubby is a huge Flames fan so I had to send him the link.

    I love your blog, the shot and long posts, the diversity of topics, and your general enthusiasm for life that is so apparent in every post. I’ve been reading your story for over a year now and I love the way it has lightened up a bit and become less formal, which has made me look forward to your posts even more.

  8. says

    Hi John, Sherry, Clara, and Burger!
    I love reading your blog it always brightens my day seeing the cool improvments and stuff you all get up to:) I’m 18yrs old living in Toronto and currently staying in a tiny university dorm…but i usually make it back to my parents place on weekends for the free laundry service and a chance to see my pet bunny bugsy. My Idea of an awesome saturday afternoon is to just hangout with friends, go for a walk outside, and scrapbook for a bit. My fav. shows right now are 90210 (the new one), Pretty Little Liars, Big Bang Theory, Survivor, and Heartland cbc (I watch way too mush t.v.). Anywho, have an awesome day !

  9. says

    Yay for bringing back reader redesigns!!

    I would totally submit one but honestly I haven’t even started decorating the home we’ve lived in for four years. redesigns to speak of yet.

    Unless you count FINALLY getting rid of my husband’s giant ridiculous college era beanbag chair. Because I could totally send you a picture of the very large now empty space in which it used to reside. It’s my favorite space in the house right now.

  10. Dara Jarvis says

    I agree on the goal to not drone in on every post. I feel bad for you guys because sometimes I feel like you have to justify every design detail you do because there will be some loser out there telling you to do it different. Who cares, you can always change it down the road if you don’t like it, and it is YOUR house! Keep up the great work!! And thank you for the daily inspiration!

  11. Lauren says

    “So we know everyone at home probably doesn’t read every word of every post that we write either.”

    Um, no, ahem, of course not. I mean, I have a life of my own …

  12. Kasia says

    I’ve been following your guys’ blog for a little while now and decided to pipe in. You guys are awesome, you have such a beautiful family, and it is such an inspiration to see people so happy in what they do and who they’re with. Thanks for brightening up my days (and for feeding my interior design addiction) with your posts!

  13. KatyB says

    It is so funny, about the time you started to talk about people not reading a whole post, I stopped. This is no insult to you. I would say I never read a full post on a blog…I am a picture kind of gal.
    I think bringing back reader redesign would be a good thing. It’s free for you and helps someone else promote their blog.
    Have you ever considered bringing on some fellow bloggers? Like say… Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge did. Maybe this would bring some of the pressure down and keep things fresh. This way it is something that can continue once you 2 are too worn out to take on another “young house”. Just a thought, or perhaps a “burning question”. I know, that was so cute it made me gag as well.

    • says

      We have thought about bringing on contributors or an intern but we’re just shameless DIYers. So we stubbornly like to do it ourselves. Haha. I think we like keeping this simple and grass-roots and not becoming a bigger operation. YHL has always been sort of an online diary about our lives, so we definitely would love to keep it personal and in the family. Once Clara’s old enough to blog though… look out! Haha.


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