It’s been over three months since I’ve shared anything in this space, which is probably one of the longest hiatuses I’ve taken since starting my blog in 2010. I spent a lot of 2017 focusing on (read: overthinking) my purpose and my why for everything I do. That being said, I know I want to continue writing and sharing my life in this little corner of the internet but I know I want it to feel different. I’m still trying to figure out what it’s going look like, but right now there’s no pressure. So instead of trying to backfill posts (like I’m tempted to do) I’m just going to dump lots of photos here and let you see what I’ve been up to recently.
I went to California in October and I snagged this shot out of my car window before heading to St. Louis to catch my flight. Chloe looks out the window at me every time I leave the house, and I loved having Kevin in this photo too.
My trip to California was a surprise that only my mom and I were in on, so it was fun to show up and catch everyone off guard. I love a good secret and it was so fun to be there for my cousin’s birthday. We got to do a lot of normal stuff – soccer games, bake cakes, and sit on the patio in the nice weather.
Kevin and I aren’t huge fans of costumes, so we normally put off deciding on one until the last minute. This year we went for something super easy that we could wear over our normal clothes. Best. Decision. Ever.
We were gifted a DNA test for Chloe and it turns out that all of her recent ancestors are labrador retrievers. Not sure where she got her height, weight and personality from, but we love joking about her being a purebred.
The California fam was in town the weekend before Thanksgiving, so we opted not to head home again for Thanksgiving day. I worked both Wednesday and Friday so it made sense not to drive to St. Louis for less than 24 hours. It was the first Thanksgiving that we didn’t spend with family, but we were lucky enough to be invited to Thanksgiving with our sweet friends. These pies? All handmade by Claire.
The following weekend, Taylor and I spent the weekend in Wisconsin for Brittany’s birthday. We had a blast meeting Evan, shopping, eating and breaking out of escape rooms. I knew I had found a new favorite city when I found my way into a bookstore that had a collectors edition of Gone with the Wind and a complete copy of the Chronicles of Narnia before we even left the airport.
To celebrate Kevin’s birthday and some job changes, we ate dinner at our favorite steak house. This place is right around the corner from us, and gosh darn it, we can smell it every. single. night. We love a good meal and this is the best place on the planet, especially when it’s all decorated for Christmas.
This photo was from our small group Christmas party. We joined the small group and met all these lovely folks (pictured below) in September and became fast friends. I can’t get over how thankful I am for this group.
Kevin finally let me put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (for the record, he was the one who put the outside Christmas lights up on November 21st last year (Instagram Evidence) . I purchased this tree for $6 three years ago when I was working at Walgreens. Since we moved into our house, I’ve been looking for a taller replacement but haven’t found anything that fits the space. This was the first year I included the Hallmark ornaments my parents have bought for me over the last 26 years as well as Kevin’s childhood ornaments. I have to admit, the sweet memories made me like the tree a little bit more.
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Project Life has been a main staple in my creative process for the past four and a half years. Many things have changed in the way that I’ve completed it between then and now, but one thing remains the same – this project helps me get photos out of my camera and into physical albums. This is the primary way that I document our lives – all of the travelers notebooks and journals are gravy. Documenting my life in this way has followed me through some of the most exciting times of my life – graduating college, getting engaged, our wedding, the honeymoon, adopting our dog, buying a home and lots of daily life in between. We love cracking those albums open to take a peek at our memories and how much has changed in just a couple years.
I was originally introduced to Project Life by my Aunt who encouraged me to try out some of her supplies for an album of a trip to California. As soon as I started, I was hooked. For Christmas, I asked for all of the supplies – an album, pocket pages, and even Elise’s Seafoam Edition of the cards – so that I could get started on January 1st of 2013.
The way that Becky Higgins intended it and the way that many of her creative team members use the system, is on a weekly basis. While there are a lot of options when it comes to the sizes of pocket pages, the main pages are 12 x 12 and have spaces for 8 – 4×6 inch photos or journaling cards and 8 – 2×3 inch photos or journaling cards. Many people use a card a day in the middle row and then a coordinating 4×6 photo but I was just finding that it wasn’t working for me. There were three major things that were holding me back: 1) my life isn’t that exciting, 2) printing photos is expensive, and 3) space is limited.
The other two points aside, space and clutter are issues for me as I tend to be more of a minimalist than most scrapbookers. The idea of having multiple albums for a year terrifies me, so I had to find a way that worked for me that still documented my life in a way that was meaningful yet, more realistic for me. As you will notice in the pages below, instead of doing it on a weekly basis, I just do one spread for each month and then if we go on vacation or there are extra photos, I’ll simply add another page. This has allowed me to fit about two years in each album which is a significant win in my option.
Since I use a month format, I have a lot more photos to choose from than I would if I were just working with a week at a time. I try to include photos that go well together, but also ones that tell full stories. I use a piece of scrap paper to plan my layouts so that I’m only printing the photos that I need. From there I grab a bunch of supplies in similar color families and then use each pocket opening as if it were it’s very own scrapbook layout. As a more visual person, I tend to hide a lot of my writing. I generally use a card to write “highlights” for the month and then include specifics, such as names of friends, places, and events, on the back of the photos.
At the beginning of this year (my 5th doing Project Life), I started considering alternate ways to document our lives – possibly something online. Obviously, I decided to keep going but my thought process changed a couple months ago when I plugged in my external hard drive to back up my iPhone photos, only to discover a blank folder where all of my files once were. All of a sudden, well over 50,000 photos were gone. I couldn’t help but feel SO thankful that I had a few Project Life albums full of our memories.
I’m not sure how long it was later (it felt like hours), but we finally were able to get the files to show up. I virtually thumbed through my photos feeling reassured that, indeed, the best ones were printed. It was a good reminder, that photos are a priority to me and that I cherish documenting my stories and my life. I care about it so much that even now when I’m at my parent’s or grandparent’s homes, I’ll look through family photo albums that include everything from travel to family history and everything in between. I can’t imagine not having my own stories to share with… well, basically anyone who’s interested.
Needless to say, I’m not giving up on Project Life anytime soon and I might even share it here more frequently.
How do you document your story?
baking: in my circle of friends it seems that I often get put on dessert duty, which I’m 100% happy about. My recent faves are brownies (with ice cream), my Nana’s banana bread muffins, and trifles (which I guess aren’t technically baked).
Even though we’ve been in the new year for a while now, it’s always a good feeling to look back through the previous year to be able to count up the many blessings and opportunities for gratitude. Last year was tough – I experienced a lot of changes, a spiritually dry season, and I spent a lot of time uncomfortable due to food sensitivity issues I was experiencing. That being said, I look back at my blog posts, photos, and met goals and feel overwhelmingly positive about the year as a whole. Here are some of the highlights:
- I kicked off the year with Thrive and my goals to focus on self care, work toward financial freedom, create boundaries for phone time, grow my faith and community, and focus on mental and physical health in 2017.
- We celebrated Chloe’s 3rd birthday by giving her a huge treat with “Happy Birthday” written in icing.
- Dad and I made STL Kolache “a thing” when I was in St. Louis after his knee surgery.
- We played lots of games – some of the favorites were Joking Hazard, Pandemic, and QuipLash.
- Kevin and I started watching This is Us and The Young Pope.
- Brittany, Taylor and I had a girl’s weekend in Columbia – I’m so glad we are making this a yearly thing.
- Books Read: The Magnolia Story, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us, That Hideous Strength, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
- I learned all about the surprise lilies that were growing in my backyard – they come up in February and then again later in the season.
- I started my second journaling bible for journaling through the Psalms, even though I only made it through the first couple weeks.
- I did my first ever no spend month – and loved it!
- Books Read: The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love, and Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis
- Denise and Scott got married and they asked me to photograph their wedding
- Kevin and I celebrated our 2nd Anniversary at (what we found out was) the worst restaurant in town but I wrote a post about 50 reasons I’m thankful for him.
- I went social media free for lent and it led to a lot of changes in the way I interact online.
- Books Read: The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, The Silkworm, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Career of Evil
- We met Tricia and Kyle at Les Bourgeois and then hiked around town – I loved catching up with them.
- Kevin and I paid off one of my student loans and I did a happy dance.
- Sarah and I planted our first garden in their backyard. I started a gardening journal to commemorate the whole experience.
- The first rose bloom opened at the #highridgeranch.
- Book Read: Under our Skin: Getting Real about Race – And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us
- I got a new camera – the Pentax KP!
- After a lot of debate, I tried (and loved) essential oils for the first time.
- The fam took a road trip to Omaha for some quality time and it was a blast.
- Books Read: All the Words are Yours: Haiku on Love, Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose.
- We celebrated the wedding of Adam and Kaylin’s in Southeast Missouri
- After a couple months of feeling terrible, I visited a doctor and started using the Low FODMAP diet which significantly improved how I was feeling.
- Books Read: Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
- I went to my first Royals game and had absolutely zero blue things to wear.
- Kevin and I did some damage on an IKEA shopping trip and we ended up with a new desk for Kevin’s office, a new rug and an end table. Good thing we only go once a year.
- I started watching the first season of The Great British Bakeoff.
- Book Read: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
- I TURNED 26 YEARS OLD!
- Now that we each have a camera, Kevin and I went on one of my favorite dates ever – a photowalk
- I finally finished the garden journal I had been working on all summer.
- Danielle and I formed a Bible Study that focused on digging into the book of Matthew.
- Book Read: The Artist’s Way
- I took photographs at our annual family golf tournament during Labor Day Weekend.
- We went to lots and lots of Mizzou football games
- Kevin and I celebrated eight years together.
- We joined a couples small group at church and we made lots of newly married friends.
- Books Read: Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World, How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Mom and I surprised my Grandma and our family by hopping on a plane to visit them in California.
- Kevin and I dressed up as Peanut Butter and Jelly for Halloween and it was my favorite costume to date.
- Books Read: Scarlett, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
- I made a long, yet non-comprehensive list of some things I’m thankful for.
- We celebrated Thanksgiving in Columbia for the first time – our friend Claire made these beautiful pies
- Our Black Friday traditions of shopping late into the night on Thursday was upheld, even if I did have to work the next day.
- I documented the entire month by completing a December Daily album.
- Kevin got a promotion at work and we celebrated the best way we know how – yummy food!
- My family spent Christmas Eve shredding at the outdoor ice skating rink.
- I started watching Friends for the first time – don’t judge me!
- Books Read: Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
And there you have it! A full year wrapped up into 12 photos and a couple words. It’s hard to believe we’re already well into another year, but I’m full of anticipation for what is to come in 2018.
Happy 2018, Happy Monday, and Happy New Goal Setting Season!
This time of year is so inspiring and a teeny tiny bit overwhelming. I’m always excited for the week after Christmas when I get to celebrate victories of the previous year and uncover new goals for the next. Over the last week, I’ve been mulling over it slowly and praying the Lord’s guidance over the next year of my life. Just like last year, I coupled this reflection and prayer with Lara Casey’s Powersheets and I couldn’t have been more pleased with how things are looking for 2018.
I’m taking action on what matters.
I evaluated my life in terms of a couple different categories – Health/Wellness, Personal Growth, Spirituality, Self-care, Romance/Significant Other, Friends/Family, Finances and Career – rating them on a satisfaction scale from 1-10. It can be difficult when using this strategy because a lot of the areas over lap, but doing this exercise helped me to narrow down places of strength and places of weakness. Of these sections, I choose the three with the lowest scores to focus on next year. As I was reflecting on the numbers, I made a huge discovery: my goals last year resulted in those areas being the highest rated! I felt so validated about making progress even though my efforts and the outcomes weren’t perfect.
On the other hand, last year I struggled with in my goal setting last year is that I added a lot of “fluff” to my monthly, weekly, and daily goals – things like reading a certain number of books, completing Project Life, or taking a photo every single day. These things are all valuable, but setting specific numbers and timeframes for things like these won’t have a positive impact on my life right now even though I like doing them! I found that by adding these things and being able to check them off, I was less likely to spend time focusing on things that were more challenging or new to my routine.
As the goals began to unfold, I considered how these goals would impact me and the people around me and what measures I would use to determine if the goals had been met or not. This really helps me when it comes to motivation.
As I considered these categories and wrapped up my journey with the word thrive, I considered a myriad of new words to choose from. For the longest time, I thought it was going to be whole or brave, but I think those are going to end up being companion words to the one I eventually settled on – connect.
Connect | verb
to bring together, associate or relate
to form a relationships or feel an affinity
synonyms: unite, attach, join, secure, combine
So here we are, my goals for 2018:
- This year I’m prioritizing my connection with God. I want to do a deep study in prayer and intercession as well as read the Bible in a year.
- This year I’m connecting with my body by focusing on the foods I eat and investing in time moving. I also want to explore more natural household and beauty products.
- This year I’m connecting more intentionally online, in friendships and in my marriage. I want to be silly and spontaneous and flexible to trying new things
- This year I want to do a better job of connecting with myself. I want to consider my need for simplifying and perfection. I want to create space for vulnerability and being open. I want to explore new ways of saving money and reducing the temptation of the shopping high.
For each of these goals, I’ve created smaller action items that I’m going to be working on throughout the year in hopes of overcoming burnout and the typical slow down that I start feeling halfway through the year.
I don’t plan on participating in the official One Little Word project like I have in the past, but I am going to keep a journal and follow some of the prompts Ali Edwards has provided through the class in the past. I know that showing up to my word is really going to be the pinnacle on whether or not connect makes a difference in my life.
As a first practice, made this vision board for my planner so that each day I can remind myself what I want to come out of this year and why. There are feelings of cozy, pups, simplicity and body love – all good things for 2018!
Are you choosing a word or making goals this year?