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. Jordan Turner says

    I think you guys have done an amazing job with balancing everything. I’m sure it’s not easy being stay-at-home-parents along with work-full-time-at-home-parents. But trust me, coming from a single parent home, having my mom home has been a blessing. When I was younger, she worked 60+ hour weeks at a hospital and I stayed with my grandmother a lot. But once she had my sister, she decided she didn’t want to miss out with her like she did with me, so she made the commitment to be a work at home mom. It was such a great transition to go from having my grandmother pick me up and take me to school, to my mom doing it. It’s something Clara will appreciate for years to come.

    Also, maybe you guys should consider taking a break Sunday afternoon and go do something as a family whether it’s going to a park, going outside or watching a movie and not worry about the computer. It’ll rejuvenate you and you’ll look forward to that time all week. When I was in college and feeling particularly stressed about something, I’d save what I was working for and go to a little coffee shop called TuTu’s and grab my favorite drink from there (their hot chocolate is to die for!) then give myself time to drink it before going back. It’s like meditating for a few minutes without procrastinating. It helped my keep my head on straight and get something warm in my belly!

    But seriously, great job on everything. You guys are truly an inspiration!

    • says

      Mmm, now I’m in the mood for hot chocolate. Love the take-a-break idea. It’s definitely key to recharge the ol’ batteries whenever you can! Sometimes we get our most inspired ideas on a road trip when we step away from the computer!


  2. Amanda says

    Very excited to hear about the redesigns – I LOVE before/afters.

    Also, do you find it a bit ironic that you started another blog to help you with your life-work balance? ;)

    • says

      HAHAHA, trust me, the irony wasn’t lost on us. We just always spent time posting pics on Flickr (of C & B) and always said it would be fun to make a little zone over here for them and other random life pics instead. Luckily we keep the word count down over there! And it’s really fun to get out and do stuff and say “this zoo trip could go on Young House Life” since it never would have made YHL.


  3. says

    I am so excited to have reader redesigns back!! I loved them and missed them!!
    I love that you picked an image of the Calgary flames to photoshop, although we live in Calgary now we are die hard Canuck fans from our roots in Vancouver but I laughed seeing you on the flames!

  4. says

    YAAAAYYYYYYY! I LOVE Reader Redesigns and I’ve missed them SO MUCH! I love your house but we always have to wait for you to actually do projects – which you do a lot of – but with the Reader Redesigns it’s such a nice instant gratification before and after BAM! There it is! You know what I mean? I love watching/reading about the whole process of projects in your house on your blog but sometimes a quick immediate before/after is so great.

    They are so fun and often so impressive and inspiring. I’ve been wishing and hoping you’d bring those back. Thanks :-) Plus hopefully those posts are a little less time consuming for you since it’s somebody else’s pictures and info? So maybe sprinkling in some RRs can help you meet your goal of having a more balanced life? Some RRs in exchange for a little R&R? haha :-)

  5. Marta says

    WOAH! This just blew my mind! I’m from Calgary so just wondering…are you guys Calgary Flames fans??? I didn’t even expect you to be hockey fans haha!

    Thanks for all the time and effort you guys put in! I love reading your blog :)

  6. Lesley says

    I love your blog but when you mentioned to be less wordy I had a huge happy grin. Don’t get me wrong I love that you explain everything and some of the tangents make you guys ‘real’ but I do find myself skipping some b/c I just don’t have the time to read all my favorite blogs. I only have about 8 that I MUST read as soon as they pop up in my reader but there are others I like that I can’t get to. As the old saying goes….Less is more. right?

  7. Karen J says

    Really enjoying your week of review. But, if I may, just laugh a bit. Goals #1 and #5 are soooo related, but maybe not in a way you realize. You should be grateful because you already have balance! OK, I’m sure you realize this, but you two are the luckiest (and, of course, most deserving and hardworking) people on earth. If you were both working full time and Clara was in daycare, THEN you would need balance. Nothing would get done at home decor-wise, you wouldn’t spend any time with Clare, your house would be a wreck organization-wise and you would have no time to spend with each other. You already have the most balanced life possible. And more vacations?!? I know your trips haven’t been “unplugged” but I think most “ordinaries” would take your life in a heartbeat. Sorry if this sounds cranky/mean because it’s really meant in a lighthearted way. And I can’t wait for your book!

    • says

      Oh yeah, there’s no doubt that to some folks our life would be the perfect balance! We’re more just referring to the whole working until 1 or 2 in the morning thing (after Clara goes to bed we burn the midnight oil when it comes to projects and posts) so I think we miss the days when we worked in advertising and got to sit on the sofa after dinner and just unwind for a few hours (and spend weekends and vacays without being glued to the ol’ laptop)! The grass is always greener I guess! But there’s got to be a way to get back to a little less laptop time and a little more family time- just because we know it makes us better bloggers and better parents too!


  8. Jennifer C. says

    Love the new goals and good luck to accomplishing them! I second, third, fourth, fifth the comments above about you all taking a vacation once in awhile. I will miss your posts dreadfully (first thing every morning I scroll all the way down to the bottom of my blog list in google reader to see if there’s a post from you all and I read it first!) but EVERYONE needs a break! Keep doing what you do cause I love it all!

  9. says

    I love how humble you are that you get “blog fright” when writing particular posts. I experience that all the time (and have none of the fame or support to get me through it!).
    You always connect with us because of your sense of humor and humility. I was actually lying awake at 3 am last night (ugh.) and thinking, “how can I be more like Sherry? She’s so relateable”. (so sorry if it creeps you out that I think of you at 3 am. I think about lots of other things too, promise!)
    Oh, and wordy and verbous- right up my alley!
    Keep doing what you do, it works (but do take some time to breath-ya’ll deserve it. Might I suggest a Charleston getaway??)

  10. says

    I am excited about the reader redesigns! Really looking forward to that. I, too, like that you guys put yourselves out there and sometimes go off on tangents. Ir’s what makes your blog so real and so much fun to read; it makes you relataeble (a made up word :)).

  11. says

    These are great goals. You guys are rockin’ it. I love the idea of more off-the-cuff less fleshed out posts. I loved that one you linked about painting the ceiling- that stuff is great! One carefully placed joke and a few photos, and we are sold. Especially since you post twice a day. I think we (the royal we, ahem) just like “being” with you guys. So if it’s a quick check in to say how &$%*ed up this project is so far- thats hilarious and wonderful.

    Hey- about the intern thing. I totally get the in-the-family grass roots thing. But say later, you find yourselves hating that you ever made that “sweeping declaration” (did you see Mondays How I Met Your Mother? Love that show)… maybe an intern could do less personal stuff- maybe JUST editing photos and setting up tripods and doing photoshoots. Anyway. Just highlighting an “out” if you ever want more time to approve comments. LOL.

  12. says

    Congratulations on an amazing 4 years! You are at the very top of my Google Reader list!

    Love that you are bringing back the reader redesigns! And less wordy is great too if it makes less work for you. I do have to admit that I *sometimes* just skim the REALLY long posts, but I always look at all the photos!

    I personally would love to see the mood boards return, or at least an update on the ones that you did. I know you said they are very time consuming, but charge appropriately for your time! If they were selling out in 2 minutes at $250, charge $350-$500 for them! People will buy and you need to be compensated for your time! Have you ever figured out your hourly rate? It may surprise you! Now that this is your livelihood, you need to treat it as such and charge accordingly :) I am a professional photographer and when I did a day of mentoring with a very successful photographer, this was the best advice she gave me. My hourly rate with what I was previously charging was less than $10 per hour – pathetic! Now I charge what I am worth and I am SO much happier! And you guys are DEFINITELY worth it!!

    Best of luck to you guys!!!

    • says

      Aw thanks Cindi! We actually never killed Mood Boards (the service went away because we just don’t have time for it, but we still liked doing them for fun and sharing those along the way for general inspiration). Sometimes we just get tunnel vision and do a bunch of projects and forget all about them! But then I remember and we pop one up! So those are still on the agenda!


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