Archive for September, 2012
As our fifth blogiversary week comes to a close, we must first dole out a giant thank you to everyone for the sweetness (oh the humanity) and the laughs (oh the hilarity) and – well – for taking our little annual poll that we dropped into Monday’s post. This year we had over 30,000 entries. Wowza. Thank goodness Google helped me crunch the numbers (a stark contrast to our first blogiversary poll where I copied and pasted all 199 comment responses into a spreadsheet by hand).
Obviously it wasn’t a scientific study, but we did come out with some fun facts and figures that we thought would be fun to share here courtesy of some fun little graphics we whipped up. I’m hoping if I say “fun” enough you guys will forget this is a post about statistics. Did it work? If not, and you refuse to scroll further, I’ll summarize it for you: most of you are pretty much like us (well, Sherry to be exact): married American moms who own a house and a dog. Although for the first time we’re older than a majority of our readers. So maybe we should throw some quotation marks around the “young” in our name (or check up on the availability of “Thirty-Something House Love”). Anyways, here goes nothing…
We had so much fun reading all of the stats on you guys. Seriously, the math-nerd in me had a field day. And although 2% of our readers being guys doesn’t sound like a lot, that means at least 600 dudes hang out around here (and I’d be willing to bet we have a few male lurkers – murkers? – who didn’t take the survey). I’m downright psyched about that. Did anything surprise you? Is there anything you’d love to know next year? Oh yeah, and speaking of yesterday’s goal post, this post is under 375 words (not counting the text in the graphics). Small yet satisfying. Like popping a dense little truffle over a heavy ol’ hunk of pound cake. Take that resolution!
Psst- Clara’s doing her best pop-star impersonation yet over on Young House Life. Soon she’s going to be demanding that someone else holds her umbrella for her and wearing sunglasses 24/7.
It’s time for some annual goal declaring (because nothing lights a fire under your keister like a big ol’ public proclamation). Let’s do this thang.
Goal #1: Embrace The Crazy (aka Be Flexible): After five years of blogging and over two years of both of us doing it full time, we’ve learned that no two days are ever the same. But this upcoming year is about to get crazier than anything we’ve ever experienced. Between the release of our book on Nov 6th and a 15 city+ book tour along with some secret side projects that we can’t wait to reveal to you guys (no mom, that’s not a we’re pregnant euphemism) the next 365 days are guaranteed to be like no other. So our goal is just to be flexible and resist the futile attempt to cling to any sense of “normal.” We figure the less we stress about it, the more we’ll be able to enjoy what’s in store for us. And you know we’ll share every last crazy detail as it all goes down. Woot.
Goal #2: Smorgasbord it up. Looking back in our archives – especially as demonstrated in this morning’s post – we realize there used to be more variety in our posts (we blame the change on our Type A personalities, which make us quick to fall into a routine). So somehow we’ve lost that sense of mixing it up and a smidge of the spur of the moment randomness that we had in the beginning of the little ol’ blog of ours. So in addition to our usual routine of projects, giveaways, and reader redesigns, we’re hoping to add more of these ingredients to the proverbial YHL pot:
- House Crashings
- Window Shopping
- Budget Blooms
- Fast and Free Upgrades
- Advice-Seeking (from you guys for ourselves or even for other readers)
- Table Setting
- Holiday Decorating
- Mood Boards
- Using/Tweaking What We Have
- Round-Ups & Top Ten Lists
- Road Trips (or other travel-related adventures)
- Random Off-Topic Chitchat (looking back, these usually end up being some of our favorites)
We feel like this mix will be a truer reflection of our real life (since we’re definitely not doing projects 24/7 around here). Sharing two or three projects a week has always been a pace that works best for us (it’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you look back, as seen in our monthly recaps) and that pace also helps us avoid burn-out and keeps us from busting our budget. So we’re recommitting to bringing back some old stuff, trying new things, and generally smorgasbording it up along with those two to three project-related posts per week – which is definitely what got us here in the first place.
Goal #3: Less Typey-Typey, More Lifey-Lifey: Finding balance and not writing such wordy posts probably go hand in hand, and both have been goals from past years that we haven’t quite mastered. So while we’ll still probably work a few nights and weekends and ramble on from time to time, some of our favorite posts in our archives don’t have 2,000 words, and many other blogs that we love are less long-winded. So this is our commitment to keep working on it. Here’s hoping the third time’s the charm, and that you guys are down with short & sweet along with the long juicy stuff that we serve up on the regular.
Goal #4: More Of You. We’re not fully sure how we plan to do this, but we want more of you guys on our blog. So from crashing more of your houses to getting your take on how you like to live in your home, and just working harder to create a sweet little community over here, we’d love to work you guys in even more. Our casa is su casa. Come on in and get cozy. I might be found inside posing like this, but it’s all good.
So there they are. Four probably-won’t-all-be-accomplished-but-we’ll-try-our-darndest goals for year six 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 to evaluate our progress:
Last Year’s Goal #1: Find Balance: As we mentioned above, we’ve been working on this goal for a few years (we actually mentioned it during this 2011 resolutions post). We said we wanted to avoid 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 doesn’t see the light of day. Since the internet is 24/7, we’re still plugged in on nights, weekends, vacations, and even holidays. So one reason that we started Young House Life was to remind ourselves to take a minute to have fun, be spontaneous, and step. away. from. the. laptop. The verdict: Blerg, still working on it (see Goal #3 of this year), but we’re getting a little better I think. After all, we did take our first ever break from blogging this year.
Goal #2: Not drone on in every post. We noted that this actually might be the key to accomplishing more of the balance that we craved in our first goal, which is why we worked it in again this year. The verdict: Oops, still working on this too.
Goal #3: Bring back before & after inspiration. Back in 2010, we phased out our Reader Redesigns and invited folks to share their makeovers on our Facebook page instead. But after a year of missing them dearly, we decided to bring them back. There’s just too much amazing stuff that can leave us all inspired/encouraged and you know we love to share the love. The verdict: Wahoo, mission accomplished! So glad they’re back.
Goal #4: Be Secure In Our Own Bloghood. This was about how we’d love for every single person to love every single post, but we’d also love a
goose chihuahua that lays golden eggs. The truth is we just have to be ok with not everyone loving everything, or even anything. And in turn everyone reading will hopefully understand that projects, decor choices, and post-writing is as subjective as favorite foods and hairstyles. We vowed to remember that and blog more fearlessly and confidently. The verdict: We’re finally in a just-doing-our-thang groove these days (it only took five years, haha). And there’s a little more on this topic in this post and this post if you’re a fellow blogger who is struggling with it.
Goal #5: Be Grateful. This goal was about how sometimes the stress of a project or a long blog to-do list can make us momentarily forget that this is a dream job. So this goal was more of a mental shift than anything else. In those oh-crap-we’re-stressing moments we just wanted to stop, breathe, and remember how geeky giddy we are over this amazing opportunity. The verdict: We definitely took this to heart, and whenever we felt crazy-overwhelmed by book stuff, life stuff, and all of that project/blog stuff, we tried to take a breath and smile. Life is good, even when it’s full of chaos.
Goal #6: Try New Things. We wanted to have an open mind about some weird half-baked decorating idea that might pop into our heads or some other new adventure, like what writing a book might have in store for us. So we just wanted to be open to those new things – and try not to dread them or turn into a big ol’ ball of stress. The verdict: We wrote a few awesomely random and spontaneous posts, we shot book photography for three solid weeks in our house without killing each other, and we have just generally tried to be more open when it comes to spontaneous post/life/project ideas. Hopefully there’s even more of that to come this year!
Now it’s time for us to change out of our hockey uniforms and slip on some grass skirts to do a little love hula for you. Oh yeah, these swaying hips mean that we love you more than words can say. Without you guys our goal would be: get back into advertising because we’d be out of a job. Haha. So just know how much we appreciate you. Not in that “thanks for holding the door for me” way that you toss out five times a day to strangers. More in that genuine “thanks for making our life possible” way. And speaking of meeting you guys, we just heard that next week we’ll have all of our book tour dates nailed down, so we can finally announce them! Here’s hoping we can meet some of you and sincerely thank you for dropping in on our life. You guys are not only the reason we can do this for a living, but you’re also the reason that we love doing this (you encourage us and make us laugh in ways you’ll never know). In short: you guys make our day every day. How’s that for a lovefest?
Psst – We announced this week’s big giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you.
With over 2,300 posts under our belts, it’s becoming a Herculean task to read all the way back through our archives (although several of you deserve an “I survived the YHL archives and all I got was this lousy bumper sticker” bumper sticker). So we’re using our fifth blogiversary as an excuse to pull out some highlights from those 260 weeks of content. Sit back and enjoy this somewhat weird trip down memory lane full of firsts, favorites, and fun times.
First Makeover Reveal: Even before the kitchen reno that started this whole site, our first before and after was actually our laundry nook in November 2007 (since the kitchen was still very much a work in progress). And clearly we hadn’t gotten the before thing down yet, since it’s actually a mid-demo pic instead. That was a valuable lesson in remembering to photograph things before breaking out the sledgehammer…
Weirdest Wardrobe (both human and canine): In this December 2007 post about how long our first kitchen’s cabinet installation was taking, we included this photo to demonstrate how surprisingly cabinet-sized Sherry is… especially when wearing coordinating Christmas pajamas with a then 1-year-old Burger.
Most Ridiculous Styling: It was 2007. We were still finding our decorating groove. Sherry was only a year or so removed from her time in New York / New Jersey. So when we “revealed” these pictures of our guest bedroom (a room that later became Clara’s nursery) we managed to sneak fuzzy leopard slippers into it. Not sure what kind of guests we were expecting…
The Most Never
Before Seen Video: Part of the prize from winning a blogging contest in 2007 was a video interview on Ask The Decorator. It was our first video interview so we were over-prepared (Sherry even wore non-black!) and were probably a bucket of nerves and stutters on camera. We’ll never know because the site went on hiatus shortly after the interview (for a few years actually!) and the footage never saw the light of day… which might have been for the best.
First Ikea Hack: Just as the calendar rolled around to 2008, we took on our first adaptation of Ikea furniture by creating the built-in closets around our bed with doorless wardrobes, some curtains, and a wood header to make it all look built-in.
First Burning Question: Anyone remember when we used to do these posts? Every Friday we’d pose a decor or home improvement related question like: “What’s your favorite countertop surface?” “What’s your ideal view from your house?” “To paint or not to paint your switch plates and wall registers?” – you know, heavy hitting stuff. But our first question in May 2008 was whether or not you should have your table perpetually set. It garnered a whopping 18 responses.
First Press Mention: Our local paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch featured us in their new “I Did It Myself” section on May 15, 2008. What had we done? Made a pedestal table out of a thrift store base and a stock round top from the home improvement store. Our parents were so proud.
Favorite Little Craft: We’ve taken on a lot of little projects and crafts around here (hello “Dude Get On That Already” challenge) but one of our all-time faves is still the vacation memory jars that we did way back in the summer of 2008.
First House Crashing: Before we worked up the nerve to ask strangers if we could come over, we kept House Crashings in the family by photographing my sister’s recently constructed home here in Richmond. That was 2008 and she’s done lots of painting, decorating and landscaping, so a Re-House Crashing is actually on the agenda!
First Reader Redesign: In addition to busting out the House Crashings in 2008, we also featured our first Reader Redesign – which for some reason compelled me to make a Grey Poupon reference in the post title.
First Design Dilemma That Was Solved: Admittedly we made a lot more mood boards over the years than we ever received after photos for. So when we did, it was always a special treat. Our first person to provide them was Stacie, a local friend who sent us pics of her lovely bedroom that was based on a little YHL mood board that we whipped up for her. It actually ended up spawning a House Crashing… or two… or three.
First Wedding Week: It shouldn’t be any surprise that our first “Wedding Week” (a week dedicated to our wedding as well as lovey-dovey stuff in general) started on our first anniversary: July 7, 2008. And the content from that first week is pretty much what lives currently on the Wedding tab at the top of our page.
The Biggest Turning Point: You’ve heard us say before that the main reason we decided to turn this hobby into something more was randomly and completely unexpectedly winning a contest that gave us a little let’s-keep-at-this confidence boost. We were barely two months into blogging, which may be why we celebrated the win by Photoshopping this pageant-esque image. I like my Queen Elizabeth wave.
Hardest Post For Sherry To Write: This is probably a tie between two more recent events – Clara’s birth in 2010 and the death of her Aunt Kay Kay this summer. Both were deeply personal, but almost equally therapeutic for her to write (even though it took nearly a full year for Sherry to muster the words to describe Clara’s entry into to the world).
Hardest Post For John To Write: While not nearly as emotional as Sherry’s picks, owning up to my failed deck inspection this summer was a tough one for me. The failure was a big blow to my confidence about the project as a whole, so it took just about all that I had to keep moving forward on it – let alone having to write about it for all to see.
Most Random: We definitely stray off topic every now and then around here… parenting, running, breastfeeding, haircuts. You know, the usual. But perhaps our most random, yet much commented tangent was this January 2011 post about what other names our parents considered for each of us when we were born.
Most Embarrassing: It should come as no surprise that the most blush-inducing post was Sherry’s admission earlier this year that back in high school she met Eminem… on MTV… and there’s a YouTube video to prove it. Not only does she freestyle rap and say the word “phat” during the episode, now that I’ve mentioned it again, she’s hiding under her desk.
Least Wordy: We don’t have an easy way of double-checking this, but we’re pretty sure this post about readying ourselves for some door widening (our 8th post ever) clocks in at our shortest. At just under 125 words, the entire thing can be viewed without ever touching your scroll bar. Three cheers for someday getting back to short & sweet posts like this among our chatty longer ones.
Most Wordy: Again, don’t quote us on this – but we know last year’s blogiversary post about how we make money and how we spend our time clocked in at nearly 4,000 words, which we believe is our longest. It could also take the cake for “most pie charts” (or should I say take the pie?).
Weirdest: The title of this “Purloined” post should be a clue that Sherry’s was in a weird mood – which she owns up to several times during the post itself. It just a quick little ditty about pillows, but it spawned a hilarious string of comments where people rallied around the phrase “No Ham, No Fowl.” You’ll just have to read it to understand… if it can be understood. (PS: Runner up for this award goes to this post about Sherry’s dream that involved elephants and Donald Trump).
Most Unusual Format: If you browse our early posts, you can tell we’re open to being experimental when it comes to their format, like this post that was written entirely as a dialogue between the two of us. We actually loved looking back at it, so here’s hoping more random convos like this pop up from time to time…
Biggest Dud: We like taking bets on who’s gonna win whatever reality TV show we’re watching. So we figured everyone would love joining in our guesses as to who would win 2008′s Top Design on Bravo (the one with Eddie Ross). Well, it wasn’t so hot of an idea. A whopping five people played along, and one of them didn’t event get the channel. Womp womp.
Biggest Reveal: Perhaps our biggest house-related revelation on the blog was the news that we were moving in 2010, but we decided to give this title to some other big news: Clara’s birth. Even though it was something everyone knew was coming, Clara’s early arrival (by about a week) and the fact that we didn’t miss a beat posting (she conveniently timed her arrival on a Friday night, and we had some pre-written posts ready for right after she came) made the casual Tuesday morning announcement a pretty big surprise.
Most Commented: Continuing the Clara’s birth theme, the non-giveaway post with the most comments goes to Sherry’s story of her labor and subsequent emergency C-section with Clara. It garnered over 2,200 words of comfort, congrats, and encouragement. You guys are the best.
Least Commented: This is actually a 14-way tie between several posts that got the big goose egg in the comments category. From this post about a wind storm that threw a tree on my sister’s rental house to this unfortunately titled post about a local white elephant sale, there are still more than a dozen opportunities for one of you to be the first commenter on one of our posts.
Most Active Comments Over Time: New comments on any given post usually dry up within a few weeks of it being posted. But the comments section on three posts in particular are still very much alive and kicking: this one about curtain-hanging 101, this one about picking the perfect paint color, and this one about painting furniture. They all went up around three years ago but tend to receive at least a few fresh comments each week or two.
Whiniest: We generally try to keep things upbeat around here (this is our happy place) but we do get our sourpuss on every now and then. Perhaps our finest moment of that would be in 2008′s dramatically titled “You Know What Sucks?” post that’s all about painting the grody ceiling in our first house’s den.
Biggest Budget Breakdown: Coming in at $17,500 – our most expensive project (by far!) to date was the one that kicked off this blog: our first kitchen remodel. Since that job was largely hired out, it was over ten grand more than our second kitchen reno.
Worst Photos: Looking through our archives reveals plenty of less-than-steller demonstrations of our photography skills, especially in our early days of uploading tiny photos taken with our little point-and-shoot. But Sherry and I both agreed that this post (about how our open shelves looked when they suddenly had to house items from our then-demolished kitchen) took the cake for ugliest. Please accept our heartfelt apology.
Favorite Punny Post Title: We’ll be the first to admit that our pun-tastic post titles are cheesy, but we’re oddly entertained by just how weird they can be. A few all time favorites are “Oh My Gourd” (about a gourd lamp purchase), “What’s The Commode-tion?” (about matters of the toilet kind), “Hosta La Vista” (about digging up some hostas in the yard), “There’s A New Chair-riff In Town” (about getting a new chair), and “What Up, Succa” (about repotting succulents).
Favorite Hip-Hop Title: We also have a tendency to let song lyrics – often of the hip hop variety – sneak into our post titles as well. So we have to give the gold to last November’s “Wanna Be A Baller, Shot Caller, Drywaller…” (about putting drywall around our new kitchen opening) and the silver to “I Like Big Globes And I Cannot Lie” (about hanging some globe pendants in the kitchen). Lil’ Troy and Sir Mix A Lot would be so proud.
Most Over-Used Post Title: This goes to “Light My Fire” which actually only appears on two posts – this one about a light fixture and this one about actually lighting a fire. Two may not seem like over-use, but note that these posts came within just weeks of each other back in October 2007. And to this day Sherry still has to fight the urge to break it out again (probably because I give her so much grief about running out of fire-related puns less than two months into blogging).
Giddiest Video: It’s pretty much a guarantee that when Katie Bower and Sherry get together to make a video, the giggles are gonna be on high. But the fun thing about this particular video (the first one that they made together) is that you can practically feel them develop their giddy rapport as the taping progresses. So don’t be fooled by their Matt & Savannah vibe at the beginning. They’re well on their way to Hoda & Kathie Lee by the end. To the point that the original post with this video needed seven disclaimers.
Sexiest Video: You know that moment when you finish a project and you’re so proud of it you just wanna make a sultry video of it? What? Just me? Well, that’s what we did in the midst of another weird mood following the completion of our living room console last year. Forgive us if this gets you all hot and bothered…
Favorite Video: It’s not decor related (though there is a stylish wedding about halfway in!), but Sherry and I still love watching this road trip video of our 41-hour drive to Texas back in 2009. It may be 17 minutes long, but it just makes us smile every time we play it. Oh to be able to take a road trip again and not have to worry about a certain restless toddler in the backseat…
John’s All-Time Favorite Project: It’s gotta be our hallway frame wall that we completed in 2011. It was right at the sweet spot of not-too-difficult, but not-too-simple and to this day we still love the impact and personality that it has. I dunno, it just feels like us. The only thing missing is a ceramic dog. Oops, my bad.
Sherry’s All-Time Favorite Project: That’s easy, it’s the time we painted the back of our built-ins a dark teal color (one of the first things we tackled after we moved in). It only took an evening and a quart of paint, and it was such a room-changer.
John’s All-Time Favorite Post: This is a weird answer, but this post about our first day in our current house has a special place in my heart. It was such an exciting moment for us – full of promise, ideas, and a little stress for good measure. It was even more thrilling to start from scratch knowing that we’d get to take you guys with us every step of the way. Not to mention how crazy it is to look back and realize how much has changed since then.
Sherry’s All-Time Favorite Post: Sherry’s answer is full of sentiment – and decor: it’s the reveal of Clara’s nursery in our old house. Of course we love the transformation that took place in the room, but we think it’s the much greater change in our lives that the post symbolizes which earns it the prize. Look how naive we look – especially in that before picture – so happily clueless about what was ahead.
Now that we’ve outlined our favorites, firsts, and a fair amount of general post-writing weirdness, what about you? Do you have a favorite entry on your own blog (or in your diary)? Was there a moment where you were particularly wacky and random? Or something that you look back on and cringe?
Psst- Speaking of posts about everything and anything, we’re over here chatting about color theory (who knew certain colors can supposedly raise IQ points and even help with digestion?).