What Worked for Me in 2017

Yesterday, I shared Anne’s post about evaluating what worked and didn’t work for her this year. And I love that method of reflection and so you better believe that’s what I’m here to share today.


What worked this year:

Sunday dinners – And the kicker of it all was that it was all my husband’s idea. Let’s invite a different family over every Sunday evening in the summer. We did it. It was wonderful. It’s tapered off with the onset of holidays and cold weather, but I have no doubt we’ll get it going again soon.

Trader Joe’s – No matter what I did in my previous, full-time working life, I couldn’t seem to fit in a good time to go to Trader Joe’s (which, if we’re being honest with ourselves, is one of the happiest places on earth). The one closest to me can be a zoo at times. Now, I’m lucky enough to have the 8 a.m. hour when it opens, free on my calendar almost every single day, and you’d better believe shopping there is part of our weekly lives.

ThredUp – Oh man, guys, I know. I know! I could go on and on. And I have. And I will continue to do so because ThredUp is my fave. I have sent 11 bags of clothes to ThredUp. Eleven bags of clothes that I was holding onto because I thought I would be small again soon, or because I thought I was a blogger and needed a new outfit every day, or because the item was a gift and maybe I’d wear it next time I saw the person who gave it to me. Who am I? Not that person anymore because the clothes are gone, I got over $500 in credit, and now I don’t buy clothes from anywhere else. (I’d give you my tips for shopping ThredUp, but Janssen has almost all of them here and here.)

Working – I decided that I’m going to officially say I have a part-time job. I’ve pieced together about 12 hours of paid work every week, and that’s part-time job status. It’s so great to get out of the house 3 afternoons a week, and have someone take over for me on the mom-side of things. It’s not seamless, and I could be so much better organized about it, but in general, working just a little bit is working for me.

Blogging about towels – I’m only sort of joking here, dear readers, because when I said that we needed new towels, you all were quick to text me, comment, or let me know in whatever way worked for you, that you either needed new ones yourself, or you love the ones you have. I’ll see if I can come up with a few more ideas that seem mundane, but strike a chord with so many of you.


What didn’t:

Keeping my resolution – My New Year’s resolution last year was to take a trip as a family of 3 and for many reasons, that didn’t happen. I can’t decide if I want to hang onto it this year, or let it go.

Making decisions that are right for me – Lately, I find myself regretting saying yes or no to any number of commitments. This year, when I’ve had to RSVP, whether formally to an invitation, or with a simple verbal yay or nay to something small, I’ve often regretted my choice. This has 100% happened due to my excellence at over-analyzing (and agonizing) when it comes to decisions. I hate letting people down, and I feel like I’d rather say yes and truck through something, than hurt someone on the receiving end of a no. But I’m realizing that playing the mom card sometimes means saying no when you’d rather say yes, or perhaps more accurately, when it’s easier to say yes, because you have to be the voice of what’s best for your kid. And it sure does stink when that disappoints people, but that has to just be too bad. Does that even make sense?

What about you, dear readers? What worked for you this year? What didn’t?

My Take on Emotional Work

Confession time. When I ran yesterday’s post with my favorite links, there was one I didn’t share. It’s this, via Shutterbean (best lists on the Internet, IMO), about emotional (or mental) work.


Ah, there it is again. We’ve seen it before in this post, and this book (which I wrote about here and Everyday Reading just posted about here). Lemon Stripes just ran a post on emotional work today, too, which I found just before I posted this! Everyone is talking about it. What many women have been feeling bogged down by for so long finally has a NAME. And if it has a name then it helps us start having more productive conversations with the people we need to talk to about it. We do a lot of emotional work. Here is some of mine. (Please read this as a statement of facts, not as complaints.)



In our household, I

  • Respond to invitations
  • Make sure we visit each of our families
  • Make the travel arrangements to make that happen
  • Order all supplies for the house (cleaning products, diapers, lightbulbs, lawn bags, batteries, etc. And there is so much etc.)
  • Meal plan
  • Grocery shop
  • Go through the mail and pay all the bills
  • Pick up and dropping off the dry cleaning
  • Do the laundry when the hamper is full, when the towels start to smell, or when I can’t remember that last time I changed the sheets
  • Schedule doctors appointments (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Buy clothes (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Make sure our cars have their oil changed, and get serviced when need be

Here is one thing. I am no one’s paid employee. I am a stay at home mom, and often the one closest in proximity to all these tasks. That doesn’t make any of them any more fun or exciting, but it does often make me the default person when it comes to executing.

But here is the other thing. I do a LOT of these tasks because I’d rather do them my way. I read and loved this from Erin Loechner earlier in the year.  Erin’s post is about what we’re doing for ourselves and ourselves alone. Because here’s where this all gets tricky. You or I could absolutely delegate some of our mental work. But we’d have to be a billion percent willing to let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door. The tasks we delegate would not be done the same way we would do them. Nor would they be done on our timelines. Because if we’re truly giving them up, we’re no longer talking about ourselves anymore.

Dear readers, this feels like a lot of rambling. I guess what I’m saying is that I do like the subject matter these posts have brought to light. But I don’t like all these blog posts being like, hey ladies, isn’t THIS exactly how you feel? Are YOU managing all the mental work in your house? You should probably yell at your spouse tonight. (Okay, that last part is more implied.) Read the posts for yourselves. Think deeply and critically about the way your household runs. And then make choices for yourself.

IMPORTANT PS – The very first person who ever introduced me to glimmers of this concept was Gretchen Rubin, in a book I love beyond most others, The Happiness Project. Gretchen is vehemently against nagging. She’s got lots to say about the topic here, here, and here.

A Closet Re-Post

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you know I’ve been doing another closet overhaul. According to the blog it’s been 2.5 years since my last one. And so much of my thinking from that post remains true. So I leave you this post again, and the promise of just a few additional thoughts to come soon.

Dear readers, I’ve recently completed a closet overhaul of sorts, and have inadvertently created a capsule wardrobe.  All the grey sweaters!

Here are my thoughts on cleaning out my closet (can anyone say that without thinking of this?)

Best Walk-in Closets - 13 Enviable Closets From Pinterest - Elle

(and here is a closet that is amazing, and for some reason, blurry)

You will have clothes to give away:

My husband marvels at the amount of items I can scrounge up for donation EVERY TIME I clean out my closet.  This has always been my number one red flag that I have way too many clothes.  There are always pieces I can part with easily.  Lately, I’ve been picking up each piece with my own two hands and asking, “Does it spark joy?”  No doubt you think I’m crazy, unless you’ve read Marie Kondo’s book.  Regardless, the answer, more often than not, is no, and so into the giveaway pile go the things you only wear when everything else is in the wash.

You will give away clothes you have never worn:

These can hurt the most when you’re paring down.  The tags are a physical reminder of not just the energy, but the MONEY you invested in your closet.  But guess what?  You haven’t worn them in three months/six months/one year.  So, goodbye, random things from Stitch Fix I thought I would love.  Guess what?  I don’t love you at all.

You will give away clothes that don’t fit anymore:

Ugh, and this can be a heartbreaker.  Those corduroys you bought while you were at your skinniest right before you got married are a symbol that it can be done.  You can be that thin.  But you are not right now, and so, alas, those too must go.  Cleaning out your closet is not about sentimentality.  It’s about ruthlessness.

You will have (lots of) clothes to try on again:

Bring your patience.

You will have clothes that you know you should get ride of, and yet you can’t get rid of:

Hello, Maryland Basketball Hoodie circa 2001.  When I was in high school, as soon as you decided where you were going to college, you bought an aptly designed hoodie and wore it to school what felt like every day, and I hope wasn’t actually every day.  Maryland had just won the national title after I decided to go there, so my hoodie said more than “Maryland,” it said “Maryland Basketball.”  I love it with all of my heart and all of my soul.  It saw me through my senior year, 4 years of college, and the next 8 after.  It has a questionable stain.  I love it anyway.  It is worn thin, and I don’t care.  I will keep it forever.

And in the end, when everything is cleaned out, and you’re left with less than you ever thought you could function on…

You will spend two or three weeks wearing your “new” things, and be shocked and amazed that everything everyone ever told you about cleaning out your closet is true.  You will wear things you haven’t worn in a long time.  You won’t stare at your closet and wonder what to wear, because it’s easier to make choices when you don’t have as many options.  And perhaps, most important of all, if you wear something more often than usual, no one besides you will care at all.


A Fresh Start Brain Dump

Who’s ready for some rambling?

Yesterday, dear readers, I told you I didn’t have any resolutions, but my brain just kept spinning and spinning when it came to the idea.  Whether or not I’ve made specific resolutions each January, I’ve always had some sort of plan in mind; something I wanted to do. And this year, when it comes to the nitty gritty, I just don’t.

front hall.:
(hello, gorgeous)

I am not going to say I should eat better (of course I should, I’m guessing a whole lot of us should), or try to put down my phone (I love my phone for books and podcasts and way too much Instagram, and I’m okay with that).  And for some reason, I can’t get into picking a word for the year.  Maybe because my life changes pretty quickly these days.

ben and birdy: Yay, It's Wednesday Cake! Cake:

(found this one via Dinner, A Love Story)

But I do have a couple of big picture items I want.  A vision?  I just rolled my eyes at myself for even typing that word.  Despite my inability to make a resolution, I still want a great year.  And with that, here are some fresh-start-for-a-new-year ideas I found online.

From Cup of Jo (who found them from Dolly Alderton):

  • Always carry a book in your bag. Trains will be delayed, post office queues will be long; you’ll be able to rattle through a book a week if you fill dead time with reading rather than scrolling through Instagram.
  • Switch from black to navy. Black is chic, but navy is soft. (Oh wait, this is how I’ve always lived my life except for like, two years in high school, when I tried really hard to be into black because it was cool.)
  • Send your best friend a bunch of flowers to celebrate her achievements, from as big as getting a promotion to as small as standing up to a difficult boss. We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our dearest and oldest friends as much as we do to our partners and lovers.

And from Kelle, at Enjoying the Small Things:

  • Clean one kitchen cabinet. If you feel inspired to keep going, that’s fine, but go for one. (I love the idea of committing to one small step.  Do more if you want, but just do a little bit.  That’s about all I can handle with someone pawing at my ankle all day.)
  • Make sure you have a desk drawer stocked with pretty stationery so you can send lots of snail mail this year. Buy new stamps. I got these pretty botanical ones for the new year, but these Wonder Woman ones are a powerful way to celebrate your woman power as you go in to the new year.
  • Visit the Valentine’s section at Target and smile.

Tracy wrote this post about getting organized for the New Year, and you have to follow her Instagram stories sharing her steps.

Becky posted a list of affirmations and while I kinda roll my eyes at that word too, a whole bunch of them lined up with how I want to live my life.  Here are the highlights (but so many that I didn’t post are how I want my family life to play out over the years, so click over and read them all if you love a bulleted list as much as I do.):

  • I honor my role as a mother and my children know and feel this whole-heartedly. They never have to wonder if they’re more important than work / friends / hobbies / etc.
  • I recognize that traditions are grounding and special and significant in our lives and I do my part to carry out and create traditions in our family.
  • I support my husband and children in the hobbies and interests they pursue because I know what my own hobbies and interests mean to me.
  • I am a loyal friend who avoids gossip. I take a sincere interest in others and find value in learning from different people — regardless of how well or how little I know them.
  • Our home is a place of refuge, peace, joy, comfort, and happy memories — for the five of us and also for our guests.
  • When it comes to material things, we only have things that we USE or that we LOVE. Clutter is a thing of the past. In our home we have pictures and decor that remind us of what’s important.

From Emily Henderson:

Survive while smiling – So easy. Our christmas “vacation” was riddled with small things that went wrong (car broken into, basement flooded, HFMD, sick toddlers, SO MANY DROPS OF WATER FROM THE SKY THAT WE AREN’T USED TO IN LA, etc.). But we survived and really, really tried to stay positive (thank God for grandparents). I’m pretty good at keeping things in perspective, but it’s always nice to remember that no one has ever died of a blog failing or an instagram post being ‘unliked’. No one has ever died of being an insecure parent, watching too much reality TV (GAH TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT!!! #bachelornation), or forgetting to provide socks for their baby. In fact no parent has ever died of crawling into their toddler’s crib and cuddling with him (many mornings in a row) because he is scared and just needs his mama even though I know that when he begs for cuddling in the middle of the night and I acquiesce, that I am creating quite the (cuddle) monster. I don’t care anymore. I’ll be cognizant of my decisions, but i’ll do whatever I want to to make our kids the happiest they can be (especially during a big change like a move) and keep Brian and me in a healthy and happy marriage.

And I’m always inspired by Elise and Ali’s chat about their words to kick off the new year.  I’ve listened since their first one, three years ago.

Thursday Check In – On Being Full

Whenever I watch someone blast their life all over Facebook and Twitter, declaring their happiness each step of the way, I always stop and wonder,

“If you need to announce your happiness to everyone, are you really that happy?”

Happiness just is.  It doesn’t need to be announced.  It’s a feeling that takes over every part of you and makes you feel full inside.

I want to feel full.


And for once, that has nothing to do with food.

When I feel full, I don’t check my phone compulsively.  I don’t worry about what everyone else is doing rightthissecond.

When I feel full, I make time for friends.

When I feel full, I’m not afraid to say no to something, if it means more quality time spent on something else.

When I feel full, it feels like my priorities are in line with my actions.

When I feel full, it means I’m happy to sit on the floor with Gooplet and watch him try to figure life out.

It’s the best feeling.  And I’m making it happen more.

Starting now!



This post has been a long time in the making.  But this post goes back beyond the date I started writing it.  It goes back years.

As of right now (pressing publish, right now), I am a homemaker.  I left my job.  The job that was the only one I ever wanted since I was 5.  The job that I trained for for years.  The job that was the first one I interviewed for and exactly where I wanted it to be.  The job I got.  The job in which I worked so hard to grow.  The job that paid my first rent check.  The job that had its ups and downs, but for the most part, gave me energy and motivation and life for 10 years.  The job I believed in.  The job I loved.  Love?  I left it.

DEAR STELLA. Sketch, illustration, fashion.:

It was, to date, the hardest decision I’ve ever made about anything before in my life.

Pretty cushy life, huh?

Shiseido is committed to creating products that support holistic well-being and enhance natural beauty. After 20 years of research, we launched Ultimune, the first immunity-boosting concentrate that enriches a wellness routine, effortlessly! #LightMyStory  Like Shiseido on Facebook and share the moments that define you for a chance to win a Shiseido prize!  Illustration by Inslee by Design:

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, nor was it one I made quickly.

But it was one, after several months of agonizing (no, seriously, ask my husband or Wooden Nickels, agonizing), I knew was right for me right now.

Unlike a lot of people who leave their jobs, I left mine without too much direction.  A wing and a prayer, and the words I read from Ina Garten that said something along the lines of, you can’t know what you want to do next when you’re still deeply rooted in what you’re doing now.

Huggies, Mom Trends and Inslee | The Sketch Book – Inslee Haynes:

And so right now, with nothing else on the horizon, I am a homemaker.  Remember how I said this post was years in the making?

This is how I picture myself.  Reality is a little bit different.- how true!:

I have always loved and been fascinated by the idea of home.

You’re not supposed to say you want to get married and stop working.  You’re not supposed to say you’re okay without bringing in a paycheck.  You’re not supposed to say that you’re perfectly happy to plan meals, go to the grocery store, and cook everything.  You’re not supposed to say that doing the laundry is satisfying.  That folding clothes and setting them in just the right place brings with it a sense of order.  That you manage to derive a bit of joy from making the bed each morning.  That these little routines you’ve carved into each day are comforting, and worthwhile.  You’re not supposed to be a woman who thinks these things in 2016.

Markette anne ve çocuk Huggies-Inslee-2:

I am.

I don’t wear aprons, though.  I do have some limits.

“This sketch was created for some pasta loving ladies and is a reminder that Christmas is coming and original art is the ultimate gift. Get your requests…”:

Stay with me on this next leg of the journey dear readers, I think it’s going to be a good one.

*All images by the insanely talented Inslee.  (I have no idea how to sew.)

On Eating

I’m one of those people who loves to eat.  I love the whole process, from start to (almost) finish.

I love sitting down on the weekends and planning out dinners for the week.

I love taking my time shopping at Whole Foods.

I love getting to know the vendors at our farmers’ market.

I love the Italian man who sells me pasta and tells me I’m his favorite customer (I mean, duh).

I love preparing dinner.

I love chopping garlic.

And mincing onions.

And browning meat.

And I love eating.

It’s a joyful process for me.

parmesan fries.

Is that too much?

Then know this.

I hate doing the dishes.

But I do love eating.

And it’s amazing how much my tastes have changed over the years.

I went from making one pot dinners from my mom’s issues of “Women’s Day” and “Family Circle,” to using ingredients like prosciutto and arugula.

It didn’t happen overnight.

on eating.

It largely happened because I started reading and watching pretty much anything that had to do with food.  After you’ve watched enough people make kale chips, you figure, it’s time to try them for yourself.

Yeah, I still don’t like kale chips.

But the more I watched food being made, the more interested I became.

And the more I had to try for myself.

When I make a dish with my own hands, I’m so much more likely to enjoy it.

I have a vested interest in the results because of all the preparation I did.

I think this is all just to say, don’t be afraid to try new things.

A Summer Check-In


No What I’m Reading this week, dear readers, because I’m reading more real books than Internet these days (it’s a great thing).  Instead, a little summer check in.  How’s yours going?alsi.

What I’ve Done:

Gone to the beach.

Walked a lot.

Visited 3 states I hadn’t before.


What I’m Doing:

Tackling some long-neglected at-home projects.

Reading a ton.

Trying new cocktails at night.

juice bar.

What Still I Want to Do:

Binge on all of these episodes.

Finish this book (It’s been a good one, but you can’t read 100 pages about soil as fast as you can an Emily Giffin novel.)

Make stuff with all the fruit that is finally (FINALLY!) available at the farmers market.

Take Back Your Sundays

While Justin worries about the night, my main concern for quite some time has been on taking back my Sundays.

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for several months now, and there was a little stretch where I was worried Sundays were slipping out of my grasp again.  But now I’m back in the game.

take back your sundays.

Sundays are for church and then nothing.

Unless you count throwing a large slab of meat in the oven for the remainder of the day something.

I don’t.

take back your sundays.

You see, I’m an over-scheduler.  I thrive on busy-ness.  But when I’m working full time and figuring out how to make cupcakes for AGOMYR’s wedding and traipsing all over creation to see some of my favorite tweens play soccer, I tend to get a little frazzled.

I also have FOMO.  It’s real.  I hate knowing something is going on without me.  More than just about anything.

take back your sundays.

But I like being a pleasant person.

I like getting sufficient sleep each night.

I like the way my face looks without splotches and dark circles under my eyes.

And I really like Netflix.

So I have to build in breaks.

Sundays are for breaks.  I clear my calendar and do whatever I feel like.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I binge on Netflix, and sometimes I do chores and errands.  And if my ex calls to see if I can run out to meet her for lunch, then I do that.
I change the sheets, and wash our towels on Sundays.  On good Sundays.  But I also don’t beat myself up if none of that happens.  Because going into Monday well-rested and fully recharged for the week ahead?  That’s a feeling that beats any number of items crossed off a to-do list.