We live in a cozy Virginia farmhouse nestled in our small town of around 8,000. We bought this home in our first year of marriage. When we walked through it for the first time with our realtor, we fell in love. Sounds cliche, but it had so many qualities we were looking for. Original 100 year old wooden floors, farmhouse sink, cellar and attic, a detached 2-car garage, 2 bathrooms, a yard, space to possibly even add an addition. After leaving that first showing, we couldn’t stop thinking about it. We’d already filled the rooms and imagined our first meal in the dining (which ended up being at tray tables and it was magical). We viewed the house on a Saturday, and by the time we’d decided to make an offer, there had been 3 other offers made on the house and it was under contract twice before it was finally ours. I can’t help but feel as though we were meant to be here.
Our home is a cozy 1,100 square feet and it’s filled to the brim. Filled to the brim with our giggling little toddlers who just graduated to a bunk bed. Filled to the brim with memories from when my mom and siblings (and their spouses and children) visit from NJ and pack like sardines because we all want to sleep under one roof. Filled to the brim with memory boxes stowed away in the attic, waiting to be uncovered and given to our girls when they’re teenagers. Filled to the brim with treasures, trinkets, and trifles. Even a refrigerator filled to the brim with leftovers and possibly-expired condiments.
It’s 2017, a new year. I’ve never been one to set resolutions….I always thought it was rather silly. But the older I get, the more I realize there is profound beauty in the new year. Beauty that I would like to bottle up and sprinkle throughout the year. It’s a time where I feel so much energy to tackle life. It’s a time for starting over, for looking ahead, for planning, for dreaming. January is a funny time of year…the holidays are over and you pack up all the memories and warm cozy feelings surrounding the holidays. You feel as if spring is just around the corner. In reality, it’s not. There are still a few (at least) more months of cold, sweater-wearing, soup-making weather. But the days are already getting longer, and all the brightness lends itself to productivity and planning.
I have so many plans and hopes and dreams (or goals or resolutions…call them what you will) for this new year. I get so overwhelmed that sometimes I just sit, almost paralyzed, in front of my “new year planning notebook”. I sit, and I either aimlessly stare out the window or I make unrealistic lists that magically make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
Lots of my intentions for the new year involve tangible home related things: 1) keep house neat for 1 week straight; 2) discipline myself and dust and vacuum the house every week (I know, gross that I don’t already do this); 3) redo back porch/laundry room/back entryway; 4) renovate garage and turn it into my studio; 5) paint entire interior of house (we’ve been living in beige for 3 years and I can’t take it any more). Other intentions are blog/business related: keep business growing, be with kids & husband more but improve efficiency to make a little more money as well, etc.
Other intentions are a bit more difficult to measure progress. Learn how to live with less. As much as I love the idea of minimalism, and as minimalistic as my Pinterest may lead you to believe I am, I am not. I am a collector. I am a treasure hunter. I am a “curator” (to put it nicely). I love to fill my life with beauty and I love to have things at my finger tips. So much that our 1,100 square foot home is bursting at the seams. Despite the fact that we live a mere 2 minutes from a grocery store (and about 30 seconds from a few other convenient stores), despite our Amazon Prime account, and despite the fact that virtually (pun intended) anything is available to me online and if needed badly enough, I can have it on my doorstep within 1 day…despite all of that…I verge on hoarding. I really do.
I have a 15-pack of paper towels and a 24-pack of toilet paper, just in case. I have bandaids, bandaids, and more bandaids (and every other first aid related “necessities”). Just in case. We have a pantry full of baking supplies (most of which are partially used and likely now expired), just in case. I have shelves of props and kitchen gadgets in our kitchen and dining room and basement. And more out in the garage (the garage that I’m hoping to convert into a beautiful, spacious studio, if I can ever part with some of my things to make the room). (The props are a difficult subject, because they are needed for my work, but I still have a problem parting with props.) Our dressers and closest (and bed sometimes, if I’m honest) are overflowing with clothes. We wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time. But I hold on to things just in case. I have a problem with socks. Sometimes, they disappear (or, I simply don’t match them), and then I order a pack of new ones…because that’s easier than taking the time to find or match the socks. Wow, I can’t believe I actually just admitted that.
Part of my reasoning behind having lots of things on hand at all times: I like to be prepared. What if I suddenly need a butterfly bandaid? What if I clean out the attic and have an allergy attack and need allergy medicine? What if my family visits and I need bed linens for several people? I clearly need the 5+ extra blankets piled in my laundry room. What if I need to bake cupcakes for a large event? Gotta have 6 cupcake tins on hand. So I “like to be prepared”.
Be prepared. Yeah sure, but I also have a feeling I find my security in things. And in impressing anyone who walks through my doors with my “preparations.”
I need to let go of these ideas and cultivate a lifestyle of less. Needing less. Surviving on less. Not even with the security of knowing that I can get anything I need anywhere between 2 minutes and 24 hours of realizing my “need”. But truly coming to a realization that I don’t need all the things and finding my security elsewhere.
I want to be more intentional with time spent with my children. I don’t want to be barely hanging on to motherhood. I want to spend truly meaningful time with my girls. I know that perfection is impossible, and I want to be ok with that. I also know that in order to achieve my intentions, I will have to make some decisions. I will have to say no to some work opportunities. I will have to say no to checking my email every 5 minutes. I will have to make a plan and stick to it as best as I can. Zoe will be 4 this year, and our plan is to homeschool our children. So this year is a crucial year for planning and getting Zoe ready for more official schooling. Thinking about curriculum and developing our methods.
Figuring out how to live a slower life in the 21st century. Embracing speed when it’s appropriate, but learning how to live a slower life.
I want to take ownership of my health. My dad had his first heart attack at 32, and he died from his second at 47. I want to LIVE a healthful life. I want to get my body strong, and work towards repairing my separated stomach muscles (gross, sorry for TMI). I want to be active and have more energy and be more conscious of what we’re putting into our bodies. I don’t want my laziness to get in the way of us eating wholesomely. And I want my children to have active lives. This needs to start with me setting a good example and taking them outside every day.
I am committing to read my Bible and spend time in prayer every day. I’ve been an absolute failure in this area the past year. Together with a few friends, we’ve decided to help keep each other accountable! I’m excited, because it’s usually just laziness, busy-ness, and lack of discipline that results in my failure to read the Bible and spend time with the Lord. Praying that 2017 is the year of a deeper relationship with Him!
I’ll be writing more about each of these intentions throughout the year…updating you on my progresses and failures. Letting you know specifically how I’m living a less cluttered, slower, intentional life. What baby steps I’m taking in my every day living.
Why am I sharing all of this with you, dear friends? Because I want you to know more about me, more about what’s going on around here. If you’d like, I’d love for you to share your intentions for this new year. I want to help keep each other accountable. So please, tell me about your plans, intentions, goals (or lack thereof); we’re all in this together!
Photos by Paula Bartosiewicz
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