Tuesday, January 3, 2017

38 IHeart Favorites From 2016!

Hello! And Happy 2017! It's a whole new year and I find that to be extremely exciting and motivating for quite a few reasons. I am loosely setting some goals, and can't help but also reflect on the past year. In the same breath, I am taking my time with my goals and have decided not to jump in with two feet just because the calendar year turned over. "Good things come slow - especially in distance running." -Bill Dellinger, Oregon coach. I have learned lately that those words couldn't be truer!

In fact, I learned that the hard way. A little over a year ago, I was so close to throwing in the blogging towel. I struggled with finding the balance between projects, blogging, website updates, running and growing my Etsy shop, and pairing all of those work tasks with being a wife, mom, and friend. Rushing content to stay relevant caused a few negative downstream impacts as well. And although I didn't completely quit (because I just can't quite you), I did take a few steps back and slow down. I gave myself some grace and allowed myself to get a little more sleep, spend a little more time with the people I love, and be OK with not keeping up 100% with the wild world of blogging and social media. I let myself go to bed with project piles, unfinished rooms, dirty windows and a full heart. Is it scary to take a step back? Absolutely! Is it risky? You bet! Did I learn something last year? I did. I learned that I still have a passion for all things home and organizing and printable creating and photography and most importantly, connecting with all of you. And that I am happy I stuck with it, even if it meant I couldn't post every day. And that a little step back actually will help me leap forward with new vigor and excitement.


So first and foremost, THANK YOU! I appreciate you sticking with me even when I would go silent for a few days or when things slowed down around the house. I am an avid blog reader, so I know first hand how invested you can become in one's story. 2016 was a big year for me and re-finding myself and my style and learning from the past. In 2015 I made too many rush decisions that were costly and quite frankly, a bit embarrassing. And we also dealt with some unforeseen renovation setbacks that left us feeling frustrated, discouraged and defeated. I have always been one to keep it real and I shared those feelings with you all a couple of different times. Instead of giving up and moving to a new home completely (believe me, it crossed my mind a few times), we decided to live with things, learn, discover, and plan even more. It was really good for me. Like refreshingly good. And going into the end of the year, I felt like the old me again. But a better version of the old me.

But that approach did impact the blog. We didn't pump out as many projects, we only revealed one room and slowly began transitioning a few other spaces based on how our lives were changing. Speaking of, funny how one thing leads to another right? As we waited on some new cabinets for our kitchen, we decided to start on a few other spaces as well. I swapped my office with the boy's playroom, and the playroom update was going to happen in conjunction with a laundry room update. Just before school, we also decided to move our youngest into his own room so all boys would have their own personal spaces. Suddenly there were five different spaces demanding our attention! 2017 is looking like it will be a good and busy year!

So what did we do last year? Let's take a look at the top Organizing Projects, DIY Projects, Labeling Tips, General Organizing Tips and Room Updates from 2016!



Reflecting on our home updates, projects and ideas is a huge part of my goal setting progress. But our home wasn't the only thing that made 2016 great! I also had some really amazing iHeart opportunities and experiences!

  • 2016 started with a bang when we were nominated and voted into the Top 10 for the Better Homes & Gardens top DIY/Decorating blog! THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was an incredible honor and I was in such good company. What an amazing way to begin the new year!

  • We were also featured in the 2016 BHG Secrets of Getting Organized Magazine.


  • I was invited to speak at another Bloom Bash workshop, which is always a highlight of my year. I have now walked away from two workshops feeling invigorated, equipped to grow and tackle new things, and have made valuable, long-lasting friendships and connections.

  • I also attended the 2016 Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker event in NYC. The one day workshop is a mix of business and pleasure, and I love meeting up with many of my favorite bloggers. We learn so much about what is happening in the land of print, while also finding new ways to tap into our own personal style. My dear friend Grace and I have made it an annual tradition to tack on a couple of extra days to catch a show, eat amazing food and stroll the streets of the city while chatting and window shopping. I look forward to this event (and seeing her) all year long.

  • Speaking of print and magazines, I received the opportunity of a lifetime in 2016 when I joined Redbook Magazine's Team Red as their home contributor. I still pinch myself each month when I flip to the front of the magazine to see a full page sprinkled with my tips and ideas. They have been a dream team to collaborate and work with, and I hope you are enjoying the organizing filled page as much as I am.

  • Jet setting off to Georgia for an action packed two days was a great way to cap off this amazing year. As a long time HGTV Dream Home viewer and fan, it was one of those bucket list trips that I will always cherish and appreciate. In the end, the home wasn't for me, but just having the experience to see the home first hand and learn all about the transformation process was incredibly fascinating.


And because it is fun to get a little personal from time to time, 2016 was such a fulfilling and fun year for our family. My husband coached his first year of High School baseball, which was a really rewarding experience for both him and our son. We celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary in July, I don't even know where the time has gone and I can't wait to see where we end up. That also means we celebrated our 15-year housiversary this year too! Our boys are now in three different schools which keeps us running wild with activities and sports, and our oldest is only days away from getting his driving permit (someone hold me and tell me everything will be OK). I became an auntie again and spent so many fun days and weekends with my darling little nieces. The boys think having baby "sisters" around is fun as long as they can be sent back home after a couple of days of playing. We did a little traveling in 2016; a family vacation to Florida to my in-law's place and to hang with our dear friends, and I also explored Chicago with my very best gal pal. Of course we had our share of struggles and heartache throughout the year as well. I said goodbye to my last two living grandparents, which was ridiculously challenging, although they both lived incredibly long and inspirational lives and they both will live on forever in my heart.



A supersized cheers to 2017 everyone! It has been so much fun looking back on 2016 today, but I am majorly ready for the new year and all that comes with it! I plan to spend some more time this week nailing down my personal, work and family specific goals, and then tracking down a few closets and drawers to declutter. And one more THANK YOU for good measure, as I really feel so lucky that you all stop by and stay in touch throughout the year. I can't wait to continue on this fun journey with all of you, I have a such a great feeling about this year!

Oh! And if there are any organizational topics or projects you are wanting to see in 2017, feel free to let me know below!  xo!

38 comments:

  1. Thank you for the ideas for the fridge. We just downsized from a huge house to a duplex and to a fridge that is counter size ( I had a huge sub zero before). Now I have always been an OCD neat freak so you cannot even imagine my frustration trying to organize a much smaller capacity fridge with the family around a lot for the holidays. I literally was shopping every day just to keep the interior neat and not "overloaded". I will be going to target today to get some of the room essentials containers too. You have a great blog thanks for sharing your time and helpful information :)

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    1. I can definitely understand the fridge downsizing challenge! Sometimes I am not sure we would be able to smile through it without the help of our garage fridge/freezer. I hope those narrow bins help you out!

      Happy New Year and thank you so much for stopping by! I wish you all of the best during your downsizing journey!

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  2. I know you've touched it before, but i for one would love to see posta about organizing your time! I know you use the planner, but with all this past years experience in juggling i figure maybe you have fresh tips for how to balance without dropping anything (or at least, not dropping things unintentionally). Id also love to see about chore management, maybe with different ranges of kids or work schedules. Also i cannot WAIT for your new studio reveal, or any mini reveals for that matter. Im sure that is the heart of your 'make it happen' and i love getting ideas for smoothing the flow and inspiring satisfaction. I had forgotten how much had happened only this year! Congrats on your successes! Looking forward eagerly to this years posts. :)

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions Hannah! I will see what I can pull together. :)

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  3. Dear Jen!!
    I think it is just great that you cut back last year and looked out for yourself and your loved ones.
    Your blog will always be an inspiration because you already DID so incredibly many cool things!!!
    If I'm in need for a good solution I ALWAYS look at your blog first because there seems to be a solution for everything in the organizational, labeling, printing area!!
    I am so thankful that I found your blog 2 years ago because of YOUR IDEAS our home has become more beautiful over this two years and I am really really thankful for that!!!
    Do just what you feel like and it will be the right thing!!!
    Hugs and kisses from Germany:o)
    Kirsten

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    1. And jumbo sized hugs right back at you! Thank you for the sweet encouragement and words today! Wishing you an incredibly happy 2017!!!

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  4. Hi! I love the paint color in your kitchen, what is it?

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    1. Hi Sunday! The color is Benjamin Moore's Quiet Moments.

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  5. Wow! What a year! We all go through tough times and it can be hard to stick with projects. Thank you for not throwing in the towel. When will your 2017 Year-At-A-Glance Calendar be ready? I love to have it as my main calendar at my desk.

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    1. I will try to get it uploaded by end of day today! :D

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  6. Thank you for your IHeart Favorites From 2016 post! I have been reading your blog for a few years. It is always inspiring and color filled!! You are wise as you have reassessed life with family, friends and work. The changes that you have made and as you continue to reevaluate priorities will make you and your family stronger.
    At the end of this post, you asked for feedback of any organizational project that your readers would like to see in 2017. The one project that I'd like to see is for my office/(occasional)guest room to become the inspiring, beautiful and functional space that I know it could be!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas, home and time with so many!
    Happy 2017!
    Lisa in MN

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa! It looks like the home office is a popular topic! I will definitely keep that in mind. :)

      I appreciate that you have been reading for years now. Cheers to you and 2017!

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    2. Thank you! If you need a home office to bring from chaos to calm and beauty from ashes, mine is available!!

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    3. I might just take you up on that! I have been itching to work on a project outside of the home, feel free to email me a couple of photos and details! ☺

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  7. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandparents! I lost my last living grandparent in 2016 as well and even though he lived a wonderful 90 years it was still very hard to say goodbye. Non-creepy virtual hugs!

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    1. Thank you Diana. Here are some very non-creepy virtual hugs back. I am sorry to hear about your grandparent as well. 😘

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  8. I've loved your blog since I found it after seeing you on a special HGTV show a few years ago. I'm so glad that you took time for yourself last year and decided to continue to blog.

    One series I liked a few years ago was your 30 days of quick cleaning tips. It pushed me to be a better housekeeper and I'd love to see something similar again.

    Happy 2017!

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    1. Thank you Barbara! I am so happy you found me, that show was a blast to film!

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  9. I love the paper sorter/organizer! Also, your home looks incredible!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your struggles with balance. It is so human and relatable and makes your story that much more inspiring and admirable (as if that was even possible!).
    I love reading your posts!
    Happy 2017!

    Alex Phillips
    Streamline Organization

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  11. The changes you've made to the blog etc are fantastic and make it all the more 'real life'. Once you've been in a home for a while you're not realistically going to have 'room reveals' all the time as you'll get it more as you want it as time goes on, so the blog would always have had to evolve. The 'what would Jen do' posts are great as you're helping others with their organizing. I agree with a previous comment that posts on organizing your time would be great, you've got 3 boys and what seems like a full time (++++) job- how on earth do you keep it all going and have such an amazing home???

    So glad to hear you've got your mojo back and found better ballance.

    Excited to hear about organizing in 2017.
    😊

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    1. That is so true - we have been here for over 15 years now, so of course we will continue to tweak things and work on spaces, but it won't be as quick and massive as if it were a brand-new-to-us home.

      Thanks for the insight and the suggestions! Happy 2017 Heather!

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  12. Hi Jen! I just wanted to say that I love your blog, have been reading it for years (I am your neighbor in Minnesota!) and always turn to your ideas when I need inspiration. Your style charm and wit is what keeps me coming back every day looking for a new post! Looking forward to the new planner I got some very cute accessories at Michaels to go along with it :) So sorry about your grandparents as well.

    I've never commented before so I don't know how to show my name!
    Angie S

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    1. Thanks so much Angie! I love this year's planner (which was released a few weeks ago on Etsy - just finished photographing it for the FAQ page last week). Michaels really does have some great accessories and binding options this year!

      Cheers neighbor! ;)

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  13. Your blog is so an amazing help for me! I ask myself always "What Would Jen Do?" ;) Do only what makes your heart happy. Happy New Year!!

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  14. I hate that you were so close to burning out and I'm glad you were able to recalibrate and stay. As a blog fan yourself, you know the hunger and desire for new content from your favorite bloggers. I imagine at times that fan-frenzy comes off aggressive and overwhelming as the recipient. Please know it's coming from a good place and we just love all you do! Well wishes for all your goals in 2017 and we'll be cheering you along!

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  15. I am SO glad you're still here!! Yours is my favorite home blog :) I, for one, loved the smaller projects last year. I can't always take on a major home overhaul, but I frequently duplicate your smaller projects. Wishing you a wonderful 2017!!!

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  16. Hey Jen, I sent you an email about this topic, but will comment here as well since it's pertinent. I would love an update on your coat closet that you overhauled with your major renovation in 2015. Just wondering how the Ikea drawer system was working out for you and your family. Might be fun to have a general "update" post on how similar systems are or are not working for ya'll. (Such as your kitchen cabinet family charging station, your printer cart, etc.). Also, I loved your Quick Tip Tuesday series, and would love for you to continue that into the new year. Either way, your blog is a favorite of mine, and I always check here first when I have a task or project that I need to tackle. You have such great, thorough tips, and I'm so thankful for the vast array of resources available on this blog! Blessings to your in 2017!!!

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    1. That's so encouraging Michelle, thank you! I would love to bring back more Quick Tip Tuesdays, and I think your idea to share updates on existing systems is brilliant.

      Happy 2017!

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  17. Jen, thank you so much for sharing. I have been following your blog for a long time and love it all! Cutting back and taking time for yourself and family was the right thing and I have actually done something similar in 2016. I have 3 daughters and my oldest is now in high school and my twins are in middle school. It's inevitable that our lives have to catch up and reorganize. ;) Thank you so much for not giving up. You inspire me. As I start tackling 2017 I'm always heading to you for inspiration. ☺️ Happy New Year!!

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    1. Ahhh, we have kiddos near the same ages! I have been fascinated with how much busier life has become as they grow older, and then the thought of my oldest leaving the house in just a couple short years also makes me a bit sad inside. Time is so precious and kids are only young once. Congrats on your decision to cut back and focus on your family, I think that is a decision one never regrets. xoxo!

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    2. Omg Jen, I can't even think of my oldest leaving the house, I start to cry. Where did the time go?!?! For now I cherish the fact that they all still want time with me. I agree no regrets when it comes to focusing on family. :)

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  18. I enjoy reading your blog, one of my favorite take-sways was really oh so simple. The pouch post! Thank you for keeping it real.

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    1. Much love for that pouch post! I still use them every single day! ♥

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  19. I heartily second the 'we just love you, we dont mean to pressure you' comments above. Thinking of that led me to a few more potentially useful thoughts: 1. Maybe not every post has to have a conclusion in it. You started this with the 'just a few things' posts and i love it. Maybe posts that simply highlight a 'its not working, gonna have to think on it' with the solution later? I loved the post about your DIY basket bc it showed the process of figuring it out for real. 2. In blog land it may feel like 'what, again?!' But i really REALLY appreciate the 'how's it working' reviews!! After all, organizing is problem-solving, making things happier, smoother, simpler, saving time, money, stress. I have saved lots from checking your tried-and-true information, and posts to update regular use areas and systems always grab my attention. :D

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  20. i love your blog! it is the stuff of my dreams. i usually scour it every first of the year especially. one thing i wondered about is your linen closet, at least the post I'm seeing, doesn't have any linens, we have one linen closet for the whole house towels and extra sheets and blankets and pillows for guests, and I would love any tips on how to organize it! thanks!

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  21. I've followed your blog for a few years now and I'm not a "blog reader." Yours is literally the only one I check, and read, and it's my favorite thing to do every morning. And, honestly, not posting every day is great because it's like a surprise--WILL TODAY BE THE DAY!!? Keep it up!

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