The past year was one of great milestones, celebrations, new opportunities and cherished memories. We celebrated our 10th anniversary of being together. We made new adventures with frequent trips to New York, and traveled through North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida and Mexico. We celebrated Stephanie's college graduation and welcomed the chance for her to live with us this year post-graduation. We were excited to see Brandon declare his major in ISAT (Integrated Science and Technology) and get accepted to the Fraternity he'd been hoping to get into at JMU. Basil turned 4 years old and we welcomed the new addition of our niece, Chelsea-Rose, into the family. We kicked off a regular project series featured on eHow's home blog, started an ongoing renovation series for a 1976 Airstream camper and in general, continue to be able to do what we love for a living.
Let's start out with a little progress report on how we stacked up against our 2014 goals (find the full post here):
2014 Goal: Making our House a Home
After getting through a house move, wedding, Tim's career change and other big life events in 2013, we were determined to put more focus onto the house, working to make it more "ours" in 2014.
I'm thrilled to say we made solid progress in this department — we did transform the front parlor into a functioning office that we love, we did paint the upstairs hallway, we did swap out the lighting for the ceiling fan in our dressing and bedroom spaces, then updated the pendant light in our hallway.
On top of those original goals, we took care of some major home repairs (roof, brick pointing and a leaky ceiling), then were able to completely update Brandon and Stephanie's rooms with fresh paint, smooth walls and an exposed brick chimney. We also knocked out a front porch update, built out the empty wall in our kitchen above the locker console, making the kitchen feel so much more complete and created a much more inviting entryway at the front of our home. We didn't get to updating the outdated track lighting in our upstairs hall, but have it at the top of our list this year.
2014 Goal: Get in the Garden
For the past 2 years straight we've declared project goals to make a rain barrel, bee houses and a hive for our small patio garden — and each year we never do it. So! In the spirit of cutting ourselves some slack, I'm officially wiping these 2 projects off the list, then if they actually get done we'll just call it a pleasant surprise. We did plant and nurture a fruit bush (blackberries!), even though it didn't seem to survive and we did plant the start to an established rosemary bush out front — something I've been wanting for a long time and the goods news is, this guy is flourishing!
While we didn't go crazy in the garden this year, we did get closer to cultivating a more permanent and established landscape by planting perennial bulbs, herbs and even made a makeshift outdoor grilling station. We had failed attempts at planting the start of a climbing rose bush and espaliered blackberry vine. The rose bush has failed in the shade (they need lots of sun) and we're just not sure what happened with the blackberry bush since it was doing so well in the beginning — we'll see if there are any signs of life with this guy in the spring before calling it a complete failure. Over the spring and summer we successfully grew edible container herbs, vegetables and greens — and our grapevines continue to flourish and spread each year. Indoors we added a few new house plants to the collection (along with our surviving money tree and avocado plant), learned how to regrow succulents and saw success after a second try with regrowing a pineapple plant from the top of a store-bought fruit.
2014 Goal: Sustainability & Personal Goals
Last year we mentioned interest in walking the Monument Avenue 10K — something we missed due to work travel, but tried to make up for by tackling the long route in the Anthem Moonlight Ride. We also made it a priority to continue volunteering at our local food bank, Feedmore, and participate in sustainable events that align with our values — all things we'll make a priority again this year.
2014 Goal: Blogging
It's always been important to us to make this ongoing archive a priority so we have something look back on over the years.
Outside of our more regular posts, this past year we introduced a semi-regular roundup series, Fancy That, which allowed us to share little bits and pieces that make us smile, think or look twice. We continued to work with companies, blogging networks and independent businesses to offer giveaways and experiment with new ways to monetize the blog without compromising our values. It's an ongoing learning process but we're humbled to say that we're making it work for us. The blog has helped kickstart exciting opportunities like our ongoing project series with eHow, guest writing for Richmond Brides Magazine, Etsy and Ledbury — and much more. When all put together, we're able to say that we make a living doing what we love, which when it comes down to it is more than we could ask for.
So! That's how we shaped up against our 2014 goals and aspirations. It's interesting to look back, seeing how we faired with the projected goals we set for the year, laughing at all the things we still put on the back burner right along with the things we accomplished above and beyond what we'd set out to do.
Now, how about 2015? This year we've made a couple simple personal resolutions and a few loftier home project goals that would be amazing to say we tackled and completed this time next year. We're tossing them out here since putting similar ones in writing on the blog seemed to add a little motivating fuel to the fire.
- Tim and I have made a deal that I'll cook once a week on Wednesdays, using ingredients we have at home. I know this probably sounds outright crazy to many of you, ha. In our household, Tim is the food expert and cooks the majority of the time (one of the many reasons I'm so lucky to call him mine). Because he's cooking so often during the day for different writing and photography commitments, we oftentimes fall into the leftover or takeout trap for dinner. In an effort to keep things simplified and fresh, I'll plan ahead for one dinner each week, which will give him a mental break and help us use up any of the straggling ingredients we have around the house. We've already figured it would be about 52 meals (for 52 weeks), minus different trips or outings, so give or take 45 meals this year should be a fun challenge for me! If you're interested, I'm much more of a simple cook and have been compiling a Pinterest recipe board to keep ideas in one place for reference and collecting. So far I've been pinning ideas to use up the ingredients we most often have on hand like organic ground beef and boneless chicken — I'm all ears if you have a favorite I should take a crack at.
- Tim will try to eat breakfast every day. I know, another crazy one. He's a coffee drinker, but not a breakfast eater. We both know it's healthier and a good way to jump start the day, so he's going to make a better effort, even if it's a piece of fruit one morning or a full spread the next. We like to go by the age-old fable lesson of "slow and steady wins the race", so this is one of those slower, smaller goals to try and make a new habit out of.
- We'd love to introduce more recipes here on the blog. With all the cooking that's going on, we think it would be fun to share more of the recipes that Tim's developing if it's something you'd like to see too?
- Replace the outdated track lighting system in our upstairs hallway. This is one we've had on our minds since moving in — it's an eyesore and something we plan to tackle first thing here in the new year. You can get a pretty good look at it in the background of this post and this post.
- Build giant bookcases for our home office. Another one we plan to tackle early this year. These older homes lack significant storage space, so the addition of big bookcases will help us keep things a little more organized and should make our front room feel more complete.
- Bedroom & laundry overhaul. This is probably the loftiest of the goals we're listing out today. A dream of ours has been to redo our master bedroom. Wall repairs, fresh paint and new bedding will be simple enough, but we'd like to take it a step further by knocking down a couple walls and making a conjoined laundry/walk-in closet area. With no concrete plans or timeline in store, wish us luck on this one!
- Keep gardening! I won't give up on the idea of climbing roses or an established fruiting plant in this space of ours. We'd love to see the bulbs we planted this past early spring return and we've got plans to mulch the dirt beds around our back patio. Note to self — no pressure on the rain barrel, bee houses or hive :)
- As for Basil, he's resolved to try and add a few new styles to his growing collar collection. More on that to come.
While we didn't get to every last project, we're feeling pretty great about 2014 and have new motivation to tackle each of the new ideas we're thinking about for the year ahead. As always, we're most appreciative and continually amazed that you care to stop in to see what we're up to — even when we fall a little short :)
...And now for the bucket list!
Last year we started writing out a "pie in the sky" bucket list to keep track of over the years. These items are basically the inspirations and ambitions we'd love to do someday when we have all the time/money/inhibitions in the world to tackle them all.
The good news? We've started making concrete plans on the first one — Hungary with the family is happening in 2016!
- Budapest with the Family (Happening!). We'd like to go on another family trip back to Budapest, Hungary with both sides of our Hungarian families. Tim and I share Hungarian heritage and made the trip with his parents early in our relationship. Now that Stephanie and Brandon are both adults, we'd love to introduce them to all the sights and memories we've made, and have Tim's dad show them where he grew up. It's beyond incredible to be able to visit with him since he's still fluent in the language and has such raw memories he's able to recall everywhere we go.
- Machu Picchu. Ever since I took a Pre-Columbian art history course at VCU, I've been convinced we need to see this hidden city among the clouds in Peru. Taking a shorter trail to get there where we could actually camp along the way would be amazing.
- The Greek Isles (New!). Tim and I originally thought it could be fun to honeymoon in the Greek Isles. Our honeymoon week near Hatteras turned out to be exactly what we needed and we wouldn't trade it for anything, though we've decided that one of these days we'll take that extended trip to Greece together. Someday.
- The Ghia. My first car was a 1973 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia — you read that right. I still have it, though it's in rough shape and not running. We often talk about how fun it would be to repair over time and have as a garaged car to pull out on nice days.