With all these blustery snow storms blowing around the Northeast, there’s been plenty of cozy afternoons stuck inside for some Valentine’s Day crafting. During a recent snow-in I got to work updating a store-bought box of chocolates with a piñata-inspired look. It’s a simple DIY that took about 20 minutes, and took a blah-looking grocery-store find to the next level! Here’s how to make your own:
1) Gather varying colors of pink and tissue paper, a glue-stick or scrapbooking tape-runner, a pair of fringe scissors and a box of chocolates (and maybe get some extra chocolates to snack on while crafting so you don’t eat your Valentine’s present).
2) Cut the tissue paper into 1″ tall strips, and then use the fringe scissors to cut fringe 3/4 of the way up the strip of tissue paper.
3) Run a strip of the adhesive on the top of the box of chocolates — starting at the very bottom of the box (set the bottom and the chocolates aside to avoid crushing them) and press down one layer of the fringed tissue paper. It’s okay to let the strip of tissue paper hang over the sides — we’ll trim it later!
4) Repeat this process, adding each layer on top of the other until you reach the top of the heart-shaped box. Using regular scissors, trim the edges to reveal the original heart shape of the box.
5) Give this custom chocolate box to your Valentine!

As I’m sitting at home on this icy-cold snow day, I could not think of a better time to be sharing this recipe — a rich and hearty soup, chock-full of vegetables and a warm, flavorful broth. I’m still kind of baby when it comes to eating a lot of vegetables — it’s not that  I don’t like them, it’s just that pasta and chocolate and cheese are SO much tastier. So I’ve been attempting to sneak them into dishes (and let’s be honest — covering them with cheese does help — this recipe has both!). Sausage and white beans make the soup filling enough to have it as a dinner, the roasted garlic gives it tons of flavor, and the secret ingredient gives the broth a little extra oomph: a parmesan rind that breaks down partially as it simmers. Full recipe below:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset2015/01/img_5978.jpg

  • 2 Bulbs of Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Large Shallot
  • 1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (casing removed)
  • 5 oz Bag of Fresh Spinach
  • 2 cans of White Beans
  • 2 cups of Carrots (diced)
  • 4 cups of Chicken Stock
  • Parmesan Cheese Rind


  • Slice the top of each bulb of garlic off and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the bulbs in foil and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the garlic cloves become soft and caramelized. Remove cloves from bulb once cooled.
  • Dice onion and shallot and add to a large dutch oven or stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil. As they begin to soften, add sausage and begin to brown, breaking up into smaller pieces as it cooks.
  • Once sausage is browned, add spinach to the mixture and mix in to wilt.
  • Add white beans, carrots, roasted garlic, chicken stock and parmesan rind to the pot and bring to a slow-boil for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce soup and simmer for an hour; remove what remains of the parmesan rind.
  • Serve hot with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a side of crusty bread — enjoy!

My pre-work routine often looks a little something like a tornado rolling in on my apartment — I am really not a morning person. Breakfast is usually the last thing on my mind as I’m pulling on my shoe with one hand and putting on mascara with the other, so most days I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up a quick bite at the coffee shop near my office. It’s quick and easy, but it’s also expensive and not that healthy — why are bad habits the easiest ones to adopt? So in an effort to make a breakfast that’s easy for me to grab at home as I’m running out the door I experimented with making my own homemade granola. It’s silly I haven’t done it earlier — it’s just about the simplest thing to make! Full recipe below:


  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup of Honey
  • 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar
  • 4 tbsp of Melted Butter
  • 3 tbsp of Vegetable Oil
  • 4 cup of Oats
  • 3/4 cup of Chopped Almonts


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine vanilla extract, syrup, honey, brown sugar, better and oil in a bowl.
  • Pour the mixture over oats and combine until fully coated. Fold in almonds.
  • Spread the granola evenly across a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing the granola mid-way through.

Come football play-off season the pressure is really on for me. I’m not talking about being nervous or worked up about the actual games, I’m talking about intensely brainstorming game-day snack ideas. While everyone else is preparing their picks for the big game, I’m busy concocting up ideas for what I plan to stuff my face with. And good news: I have a buttery, carb-y, pepperoni-stuffed plan, my friends! When I hit a mental block thinking about what to bring to a football viewing party last weekend my husband offered me some sage advice. He said: ‘you usually do well by taking something big and tasty and turning it into a bite sized snack’ – of course! So I shrunk down my favorite flavors in pizzas and garlic breads into a super easy Pepperoni-Stuffed Garlic Knot bite. The full recipe is below for all of your Superbowl Party planning needs!  2015/01/img_5973.jpgGarlic Knot 1Garlic Knot 2Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


  • Store-bought pizza dough
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic


  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pull or cut 1″ round pieces of pizza dough and use your fingers to roll into a 1 to 2″ disc. Top the disc with a piece of pepperoni and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  • Roll the sides of the dough over the pepperoni and cheese filling and pinch the dough closed to seal it inside. Roll dough around in between your hands to round the shape and ensure the dough is fully sealed. Repeat until all of the dough is used up and arrange the dough balls into a pie dish.
  • In a food processor, combine butter, parsley and garlic. Spread the garlic herb butter over the dough, making sure that the mixture is evenly dispersed.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the garlic knots just begin to turn gold brown.  Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

The 30 before 30 list! Now that I’m officially a lady of her thirties, I’m looking back on the list I wrote over two years ago of thirty things I want to accomplish before I kicked off this new decade. It’s crazy to think what has changed in that time. I married my best friend, I changed jobs, I traveled to some pretty amazing places and had more fun writing this blog and planning events than I really ever dreamed possible. I think a lot of those great moments were supported in part by this list because I put a pen to paper and made a plan for the things I wanted to do, see, feel, and be. So I feel I owe this little list a bit of my attention and recap where I’ve been (26 completed!) and where I’m headed next (4 that I’m still making happen!). Some of them were silly, some of them were thoughtful, and some of them were big stuff! Let’s start-off with the ones I completed:

  1. Buy a ‘grown up’ piece of furniture. What were the requirements for it ‘grown-up?’ …. basically just a single piece of furniture that wasn’t a hand-me-down or Craigslist score. I’m proud to say that Mike and I invested in a brand new couch  that greatly improved our living space — I love it! Another piece we added to our collection was a hot pink bar cart, more on that later in the list…
  2. Read 10 books. I definitely completed this task by the hitting the numbers but looking back I realize my goal was to read more consistently and I’m not sure I did that. I read most of these books in short bursts around vacations and really lost my rhythm for reading consistently on my commute and at night before bed. Note to self: Making it a 2015 goal to read at least one book a month and already quite the stack to work through (recommendations are welcome!)
  3. Host a dinner party. When I wrote this list, throwing a dinner party felt daunting because our apartment is pretty tiny. But a small apartment makes a great space for a small dinner party, and I made an effort to invite friends over in smaller batches when entertaining for a sit-down dinner. I also hosted some bigger events at home — like our annual New Year’s Eve celebrations and a baby shower for my blogger bestieav-baby-shower-4
  4. Hang a gallery wall. Why does that darn Domino Magazine always make this look so easy? Spoiler alert: It’s not. I think I added this to my list because it forced me to be intentional about what kind of things I wanted to surround myself with in our home. I just completed this recently after collecting the perfect pieces for my gallery wall over the past two years, and I’m so happy with how it turned out (see a picture on instagram!)
  5. Learn calligraphy. Done and done! I took an awesome calligraphy class with Lettering by Liz. The class was great and it gave me a huge appreciation for those that have the talent. I’m not sure it’s something I have the time to practice consistently but I’m really happy I tried it out.
  6. Catch up on the most ‘classic’ movies. I feel like I can mark this one off the list — I finally saw Casablanca, caught up on my Hitchcock movies, and even watched National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation (I know, how had I never seen that before?!). I do have one big movie on the list I didn’t get to — Gone with the Wind — so I’m keeping that in my back pocket for a snow-day this winter when I have a free 4-hours.
  7. Grow something from a seed. I think that a few of my friends laughed when I added this to me list — for all of my domestic-prowess in the kitchen and with a glue-gun, I fail hard at gardening. A black thumb is not even a strong-enough term for my lack of skills but last summer I hit the hardware store and picked out my seeds and set out to grow something (ANYTHING!) from a seed. The tomatoes died and the peppers never even sprouted but I did get some chives and basil to pop out of the dirt for a few weeks. The chives were the only thing that semi-lived all summer (I assume this means they are technically some kind of a weed?), but I did it!
  8. Go to more concerts. I love love love live music, but time and budgets always seem to get in  the way of grabbing concert tickets. I tried to plan out some big shows I knew I would remember forever (Jay Z and Beyonce were epic!). I was lucky to have a few impromptu concert experiences too — last-minute tickets to a Counting Crows show that we scored online the day of the show, and a weather-related detour on our road-trip Honeymoon itinerary lead to a surprise visit to Red Rocks where we were able to see the Alabama Shakes and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (which I can say was one of the most fun concerts and tailgating experiences ever). Note to self: this makes you really happy, do more of this. Screenshot 2015-01-14 20.36.16
  9. Get my 401ks in order. This was a pain-in-the-butt, but man did it make me feel like a grown-up to finally figure it all out, merge accounts from previous jobs, and sit down and talk with my husband about how we can save for our future. So not fun, but I’m lucky to have a smart guy like Mike in my life to help figure it all out.  
  10. Pay off (at least one of) my student loans. Ugh, this was another not-so-fun-one on the list — the pain of signing over bonus-checks and blogger-dollars to chip away at that looming stack of student loan bills. I’d like to say I felt really accomplished when I paid off one of my student loans, but the truth is I just started to think about the remaining ones that are left. I just tell myself that it was all worth it when I think of meeting my best friends and husband at college — they’re certainly worth every single penny (oh and I guess the education was pretty good too, ha!).
  11. Take a cooking class. I killed two birds with one stone here and took a cooking class where I learned to macarons from scratch. Ever think to yourself, why are these tiny little airy desserts so darn expensive? Because they are a pain in the butt to make! The best part of the class was taking it with my sister and her friend — baking is better with buddies!
  12. Bake macarons from scratch. See above! I took the class and even made them at home on my own afterwards (and thanks to my sister for gifting me all of the fancy tools to do so!). One batch came out terribly, another was pretty good — practice makes perfect. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  13. Enjoy a long stroll through an art museum. In my mind I had a trip to NYC planned for this item on the list, and planned to hop from museum to museum.  But every time I make a visit down to see my family in NY we usually get distracted by eating and shopping, oops! I did have a great afternoon at the MFA with my dear friend Taz where we took in the Mario Testino exhibit and relived our days of taking art history classes in the museum halls during college. Note to self: make  that NYC trip happen! You’ve never even been to the Guggenheim!  Who are you?
  14. Find and stock a bar cart for the apartment. My bar cart quest was always focused on a shiny brass vintage bar cart that I had hoped to find when antiquing with my mom. I never did find that vintage bar cart, but a brand new bar cart fell into my lap when I won an instagram contest held by Society Social. And just like that, my  hot pink bar cart found its way into our kitchen and has been fully stocked ever since. To say I adore this piece of furniture is an understatement.
  15. Visit Nantucket for the day. I guess somewhere around my 28th year on this planet I realized I hadn’t been to Nantucket — which is basically blasphemy for a preppy New England gal like myself. I added this to my list and brought it up with friends at dinner one night over the summer and we made an impromptu decision right there at the table to make a trip to the island the very next morning. I jokingly refer to this as the “best day of my life” — because it was perfect (see below for notes on my actual best day ever).  It was spontaneous, it was gorgeous day with perfect summer weather, and it was filled with music and drinks and great seafood and my very best friends. It was one of those days where I had to pinch myself to believe it had all worked out so perfectly and been so very fun. Note to self: you’re due for another trip and a cold Cisco Brewery beer this summer. 
  16. Get wedding photos published in a magazine. I will admit, this was a lofty goal to put on here, but I had confidence that with the hard work and heart (and amazing wedding vendors!) put into creating a unique experience for our friends and family at our wedding that we’d end up with a magazine-worthy affair. I’m so grateful that Bliss Celebrations felt the same way — it was such an honor to get to relive the best day of my life when I opened up their magazine.capture22
  17. Chop hair off for Locks for Love. I really wanted to do this knowing that my mom had gone through the struggle of losing her hair when she had skin cancer. While it can be a little scary to do that giant-chop, it is extremely gratifying to know that it’s going to make an impact on someone who is going through that struggle — it’s more than just hair, it’s your self-confidence. Having seen cancer impact other amazing women in my life, it seems like such a small, simple thing to do to help. I’ll definitely do it again when my hair gets long enough.
  18. Go on a fabulous picnic. This item gets a funny little short story about my picnic #fail.  As we have no backyard in our city apartment, I conjured up a grand plan last summer to cook a big picnic meal for my friends and cart the food, dishes, table decor, and drinks around the block to our neighborhood park. There is a big picnic table and a bocce court at this park and it is always empty — I’ve never seen anyone use it! I packed up several tote bags and boxes to bring my supplies and my husband walked ahead of me to bring the first box over before our friends arrived — only to find a massive children’s birthday party that had taken over every.single.picnic.table in the park. So we didn’t get our park-picnic, but we did eat the meal picnic-style squished onto our tiny apartment balcony with all of our friends, that counts, right? (Also, we did finally get a real picnic in later that summer).
  19. Go to a movie in the park. Our neighborhood hosts an outdoor movie series every summer, and each year I make it a point to print out the schedule, note the dates on my calendar, and make it a point to go to the showings. I finally made it to a showing on the very last week of the series this summer (we watched Mystic Pizza, I mean, how cute?). It was so much fun and I instantly regretted not going every single week. Note to self: try again this summer, clear your schedule, and do this more often with you girlfriends! 
  20. Bake an amazing birthday cake for someone. Guys, I baked my own donuts and put them on a birthday cake. If a donut-covered birthday cake doesn’t warrant a big giant check mark next to this item on the list, I don’t know what does.mini-donut-cake-5
  21. Establish a gym routine that works. Holy moly I hate working out sooooo much. Shedding for the wedding kicked my butt into high gear and I really did establish a routine for the very first time in my life that involved me going to the gym more routinely. I hired a trainer to help me out and it was totally worth the investment — she taught me how to exercise properly — something I never really knew how to do before (I was a card-carrying indoor kid when I was growing up). I also owe my newfound interest in being healthy to my very dedicated husband that started his own very regimented routine of working out every.single.morning. and eating well — he has rubbed off on me (a little bit) and I really appreciate that.  Note to self: keep this up, you’re in your thirties now, health matters! 
  22. Send someone a surprise in the mail. I would argue the person who most often is the recipient of surprise mail is my little sister, because I know like me she really appreciates a good surprise treat. I took it one step further over the holidays this year and sent a little note and some confetti poppers as a New Year’s wish to several of my close friends and inspiring creatives that I’ve been lucky to meet through instagram and this blog over the past year. It feels so good to send a little unexpected cheer someones way. Note to self: keep this up, you’re in your thirties now, unexpected cheer matters! 
  23. Learn to shuck oysters. This just seemed like something a New England girl should know how to do, right? I love to eat oysters so very much, so I should know how to open them! If you’re going to learn, it might as well be from the best. I was super lucky to get invited to tour the Island Creek Oyster Farm in Duxbury, MA (I mean,  these guys are like the rock stars of oysters) and learned all about oyster farming and how to shuck ’em. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  24. Get a blog feature in a magazine. I get all kinds of warm and fuzzy thinking that this goal was achieved, because it seemed so far off and unrealistic when I first wrote it down. But this little ‘ol blog graced the pages of Family Circle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, The Boston Globe, and Mingle Magazine.
  25. Collaborate with a national brand. That same prideful feeling falls right into #25 on this list too when I think about how much of a stretch it felt like when I first wrote this list that I would get to work on events with some of my favorite brands like West Elm, Wayfair, and Jonathan Adler.
  26. Establish Domestikatedlife as an LLC. A real life company, can you believe it? I put this on the list because I wanted to this blog to a place where I could grow it into a business and hopefully someday a full-time career. Big steps can make things feel a little scary, but I know it’s the right step in the direction I want to be headed. Fist bump! westelm34

Now, let’s talk about those pesky four items that I just didn’t quite yet finish:

  1. Ride a horse. This is silly.  It was a childhood dream to learn to ride a horse and now that I’m a grown up and can do what I want, I should do it, right? Why didn’t I work on this one? One: I was a little scared! I’m super clumsy and uncoordinated — risk of falling down is a real thing for me every day. Two: I got too busy and didn’t prioritize it as something to do for myself. I’m adding this one to my next list and hope to tackle it in the spring (friends who ride horses, bring me with you! Make me stick to it!)
  2. See a movie by myself. Oh gosh this one is silly too. I’m so freaked out by the idea of doing something social while alone (confessional moment: I never ate alone in the cafeteria through all of my college years — and high school too! — I would wait and wait and wait for someone to go with me before I would go in alone. I just prefer being around people!).  I plan to mark this one off my list in the next few weeks though. I’m currently reading Wild and can’t wait to see the movie, so I’m going to be brave and see it by myself in the theaters once I finish the book.
  3. Organize blog with categories & write a new about page. I’m working on it! I started to make some small updates here and there but I’ve just outgrown this design and site layout. So a full blog redesign is in my future and these updates will be part of it — I’m so darn excited to get started on it and feel like it’s going to bring things here to the next level.
  4. Open a shop. Speaking of the next level, this was always my ‘stage 2’ goal for the blog — to open an online shop that featured entertaining goods that I would design and sell and use in my content here on the site. Time is a pain in the butt, man. There’s just not enough of it! With a full-time job, planning events and managing the community for Boston Bloggers, and creating content here for the blog — this idea just hasn’t been given the energy to get off the ground yet. But hey, there’s always next year!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading my 3000 word essay about a little bit of everything from the last few years since I first thought up this list. It feels really good to look back and reflect on accomplishments and good memories — it has energized me for what is coming next. Thirties, you ain’t looking’ so bad. Bring it on.

I kicked off my birthday weekend with a feel-good hair freshening at SalonCapri on Newbury Street. This airy spot was the perfect place for a little bit of relaxation and pampering (I was obsessed with the fact that the hair-washing chairs had built-in massagers!) Owner and Lead Stylist, Nicholas Penna, cut my hair and gave me a fresh new look while I quizzed him on all of his expert tips for keeping my salon-look going long after I left his chair.
I love the feeling of getting a fresh haircut and leaving the salon with perfect hair — any advice for how to keep the ‘just-left-the-salon’ look going after you leave? 

NP: Right before you leave the salon, don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit of hairspray to keep your new cut in place. Hairspray gets a bad reputation for making your hair look stiff, but there are products now that will give you hold without weighing you down. Dry shampoo is a great way to extend the life your blow-out the day after you leave the salon, but it also help later in the day after the cut to add some volume back into your hair. And remember that your hair is going to change — it’ll look different the second day but with a little restyling it can be a whole new look.
I can never seem to recreate a salon-level blow-out at home! What are some common mistakes that people make? 

NP: Spend some time blow-drying your hair, I think people sometimes forget that at the salon you have a professionally trainer stylist blow-drying your hair for around 30-minutes to get your hair to look great, most people only spend 5-10 minutes blow-drying at home. So take your time, and use some of the techniques that the you see in the salon: use clips and section off your hair, and focus on  smaller sections.
Do you have any advice for ladies coming into the salon and how they can get the look they want? 

NP: Bring pictures! I think sometimes people are afraid to bring pictures because they think a stylist will be offended, or they think they don’t have the type of hair that’s photographed in the image. But a good stylist will be able to use the pictures as a springboard to interpret the best style for you and translate the look to your hair type.
You look out on one of the most fashionable and bustling sections of Newbury Street, any trends you’re seeing on the streets of Boston? 

NP: We’ve been seeing a lot of fur-trimmed winter coats with this cold weather! Winter is in full force and it can really do a number on your hair. There is nothing better than a good professional moisturizing treatment for your hair to real condition it and keep it in great health during this rough Boston weather.

Thanks so much for having me to the salon and teaching me your ways Nicholas!

Please note: I received a complimentary hair cut from SalonCapri, all opinions and interview questions are my own. 

I was super lucky to be invited to a sneak-preview tour of this year’s HGTV Dream Home back in December and in all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m just getting around to sharing some photos from the day (taken by my co-pilot on our adventure to Martha’s Vineyard, Taz of Bring to Light Photography). I’ve been entering the Dream Home sweepstakes for years and was so excited to not only get to tour the 2015 home in Edgartown but also to get to meet the planners and designers that have been working on these Dream Homes for the past 19 years.

aHGTV1Tell me a little bit about how Martha’s Vineyard influenced the design of this year’s Dream Home, how did you use the island for inspiration?

HGTV Design Team: We tried to bring in as many local elements as we could — we worked with local builders and architects on the build and collaborated with local artists and artisans for some of the accent pieces in the decor. It was important for us to meet with artists and learn the stories of the pieces and how they related to the island. The space itself also has an island feel — we used a lot of traditional New England and Cape Cod architectural elements but kept the concept modernized with an open layout. aHGTV2 aHGTV3 You definitely can feel that island vibe in the home, but it doesn’t feel too ‘theme-y’ — any decorating tips for how to get the beachy-feel without being overtly nautical? 

HGTV Design Team: Editing is a big component of what gives the space that clean, airy feel. Sometimes taking something away is just as an important part of the design process as does adding something in, so we were very conscious about keeping things simple and not having too much ‘stuff.’ We also kept the common spaces a little more neutral and then brought in the more obviously nautical pieces into the guest rooms where you can have a bit more fun — like with the oversized anchor and painted oars on the wall. 
aHGTV4 aHGTV5 The great room is one of my favorite spaces in the Dream Home — what was the concept behind having on large open living space? 

HGTV Design Team: The main living space was all about celebrating natural light, even on a gray rainy day on the island this room really feels bright and airy. The floor plan also gives a lot of flexibility for any type of family size, and we always the Dream Home to be adaptable to the family that wins it. We thought about how you would use this house if you were here for vacation with friends and family — that’s a big reason behind having the kitchen open to the rest of the living space. The kitchen is usually where people gather and are part of making meals together, so it’s nice that everyone can be part of the action. And a lot of the materials that were used also keep it flexible and family friendly — like using durable Sunbrella fabrics on the upholstery to stand up to lots of use. aHGTV6 aHGTV7 aHGTV8 aHGTV9 aHGTV10A big thanks to the HGTV team to inviting us to visit the island and the Dream Home, and an extra special thanks to Bring to Light Photography for these images. 


There are few things I adore more than styling up a pretty table for a gathering — so I jumped at the chance to borrow vintage jadeite and milk glass pieces from the new Pop and Circumstance rentals collection and pull together a festive New Year’s Brunch. Jadeite was probably one of the first vintage items that I started to collect when tagging along with my mom and aunt to estate sales and flea markets. I’m drawn to the rich cool colors and all of the variety in how the material was used for kitchenwares. This collection has grown to include quite the comparable set of milk glass as well, and Becky — the owner of Pop and Circumstance— and I have bonded over our mutual love for the pieces. I used a few pieces from my collection as inspiration and Becky filled in the rest with vintage linen napkins, milk glass tumblers that were used to hold flatware, and even a nesting set of jadeite bowls for me to mix up my mini-pancakes in. These tiny pancakes were the focal point of the brunch — mini-stacks topped with berries make for an easy grab off the buffet table when guests are mingling (and isn’t everything cuter when we make it bite-sized?).

Pancake Stacker 1 Pancake Stacker 2 Pancake Stacker 3Pancake Stacker 4 Pancake Stacker 6 Pancake Stacker 7 Pancake Stacker 8 Pancake Stacker 9

Thoughtful_2015Oh resolutions, how I love/hate you. In past years I’ve gone all-out with resolutions and usually fall a little bit short in living up to them. Last year I had just one simple resolution: be better at keeping in touch with my family, particularly my grandparents. I think I did a fairly good job with that one, this blog, email and social media helped me a lot with that goal (and if you’re reading — Hi Gram!). This year I heard a piece of advice about picking a ‘word of the year’ to embody how you want to live your next 365 days as a more productive way to set goals than the typical bulleted list of tactical resolutions people make. Thinking about some of the things I wanted to achieve this year I found one word that ties all of my intentions for 2015 together… my word of the year is thoughtful. And now for a bulleted, tactical list of how I plan to be more thoughtful in 2015 (hey, Type-A or bust, right?):

  • I’d like to be a bit more thoughtful with my words. I can actually name more instances than I care to admit in the last few months where I have really put my foot in my mouth. I hate that feeling in my stomach that happens a few moments after leaving a conversation when I wonder if what I said was too harsh or maybe a bit too sassy or perhaps more honest than people were bargaining for? I do think speaking your mind and being honest is a good quality but I hope this year I can pause even a few milliseconds before I blurt out my thoughts and make sure they’re a bit more kind and valuable. (Full disclosure: this will be quite a challenge for me, I’ve been a big-mouth for almost 30 years now.)
  • I hope to be more thoughtful with how I spend my time. I have no intention of hosting a pity party here but 2014 was BUSY for me. I have a great job that I enjoy, and I also have a side-hustle here with this blog that I adore, and I also love investing time and energy into the Boston Bloggers community. I’ve juggled all of these fairly well in the past, but I am guilty of two things that I think I could get better at to make my time more productive. One: I love to mark the easy stuff off my to-do-list which means the weekly blog posts always get published before any BIG IDEA projects get my time. Two: I multi-task and get distracted very easily. No excuses here, I think this is something a lot of people I know are struggling with… you take a quick break to scroll through instagram and then all of a sudden you’ve wasted 30 minutes, or you look up from your computer and suddenly get sucked into a terrible TV show that you wished you hadn’t wasted your time on. So, I’m going to be more thoughtful in 2015 about (attempting to) focus on the task at hand and be more thoughtful about prioritizing projects/events/BIG-ideas that worthy of my time. (And hey, I’m already working on this! I just tried really hard not to check Facebook mid-writing this post!)
  • I would like to be more thoughtful about how I spend my money. What is it about the beginning of year that makes you look around your home and say — how did all of this crap get in here? Here is my problem: I love a good dig into the dollar-bin at Target, I love an extra 40% off sale at J.Crew and gosh I love a useless vintage knick-knack.  These things tend to result in: spending money on things I don’t need, followed by things I don’t need cluttering my apartment, and then ending in me feeling stressed about money and not having enough space. This isn’t something I think I’ll fix entirely in 2015 but I’d at least like to implement the same practice with my words that I do with my purchases… just a short pause before I hit ‘order’ or pull out my wallet to ask — do I really need this? Do I have a place for this? Is this something that is of high-quality or supports a great local-business? I hope being a bit more thoughtful about what I’m spending my money on will help me save (space and dollars!) in the long run.
  • I’d also like to be a bit more thoughtful about where I place my energy. Isn’t it just so easy to let jealousy or negativity or frustration slip into your daily life? I know I have gotten much better about focusing my energy on good-vibes and pushing out some of the bad — but it’s a work in-progress. So in 2015 I’d like to continue to be thoughtful about where I spend my energy. If looking at someone’s instagram pictures of an amazing vacation makes me a little jealous, I hope I can take a break from the iPhone and focus my energy on something that betters me. If I get frustrated at work with a situation that’s out of my control, I hope I can focus on my gratitude for having employment that allows me the time to pursue these awesome side projects. If I feel negativity creeping in for not yet reaching certain goals with this blog or playing the comparison game with others that have achieved something I want, I hope I can focus on all of the great things that I’ve already accomplished and let that fuel some positive energy to get me where I want to go. Easier said than done, right?

It’s easy to feel all jazzed and energized in January about these resolutions. Writing them out here always makes me feel more accountable and to help keep that feeling going I’m going to pop a couple of random reminders in my calendar throughout the year with a link to this post and I’m also going to print out this illustration of the definitions of thoughtful to keep these all top of mind.

I owe a very big thanks to Posh & Prep for hand-lettering my ‘word of the year’ into this lovely print, and an extra special thanks for her allowing me to share it with you! Happy New Year!

Download your own copy of the print here. 

Here’s the thing — those glitzy crowns and party horns that we all buy for New Year’s — they’re super corny, but so very necessary. I like the annual challenge of finding new ways to update these simple party-store  finds into something a little bit more special. Last year I used glitter letter stickers to write out messages on simple paper party horns — and this year I took the same concept and revamped it. With some metallic Sharpie markers and a little bit of patience I carefully hand-wrote silly New Year’s resolutions on a set of big party horns. I plan to pop them all in a vase for some table-decor, and let my guests pick a resolution that matches their personality (and sense of humor!).

NYE Party Horn 3 NYE Party Horn 2 NYE Party Horn 1

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