Themes for a new year

Resolutions and goals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, which I can understand. It is daunting to sit and write a list of things you want to accomplish (and will probably forget about before January is over and life after the holidays sets in). One thing I have seen people doing instead is choosing words, phrases, or themes to represent how they want to approach the new year. Even though I love goals, the writer in me loves the idea of using words to set the tone for my life in the year ahead.

Here are the themes I have chosen for 2012:

  • Be passionate. I am a passionate person by nature. When I love something, I throw myself into it headlong. I have noticed that in the past few years, I haven’t been as deeply invested in the things I love as I used to be. I got burned out by life and am probably still recovering a bit, but I want to reclaim the passion I know is still inside me. That will translate into real creative accomplishments for 2012.
  • Be kind. Even though I feel like I am inherently a nice person, I have a quick temper. I judge too quickly and probably too harshly. I notice that I sometimes keep score when I should do things regardless of someone else owing me in return. I need to slow down and make sure that kindness is always my first response. I also need to be kinder to myself. I am overly critical of my own shortcomings, and I have a tendency to ignore my own needs. It isn’t a selfish thing to take good care of yourself, and I need to remember that.
  • Be present. My mind often works overtime and doesn’t let me just be still. I feel like the year passes me by in a whirlwind. I want to enjoy every moment. I need to slow down, experience, and savor instead of looking ahead to see what’s coming. Sometimes it is nice to pull back out of the details and enjoy looking at the big picture. I also want to capture the moments that I experience so I have a record of wonderful memories.

What do you want your year to look like? Do you have any themes for 2012?

12 Things in 2012

I feel like 2012 has the potential to be a great year. I ended 2011 on an uptick, with my amazing new job and a great time with family for the holidays. That positivity at the end of the year makes me really look forward to accomplishing a lot and really enjoying life in 2012.

I don’t like to make resolutions as much as I like to set goals for myself. For 2012, there are 12 things that I want to do:

  • Get organized. One of the reasons I am so excited about moving to a house is that we will have PLENTY of space to organize our life and our possessions. I feel completely unorganized with everything at home these days, and I think that utilizing all our new space and taking the opportunity to get super organized will make my life so much better. It will make our house so much easier to keep clean, too.
  • Create things. I can’t wait to have my own dedicated space in our new house. I have a lot of craft supplies that I really want to use but don’t have the space for now. This year I want to take advantage of that. I want to knit more, start sewing again, and make more jewelry. If all things go to plan I might even make some handmade gifts for Christmas. I also want to start refinishing thrift store finds to furnish my home on the cheap.
  • Make a beautiful home. I have gone a little crazy on Pinterest saving pictures of the things I would like to do in the various rooms of our house. I am looking forward to choosing paint colors, buying new furniture, hanging the artwork I have been collecting, and making the place our own. I want our house to be a place I am proud of and enjoy coming home to every day.
  • Learn. When we went to France this year, I realized how much of my knowledge of the language I have lost over the last 10 years. I want to brush up on my French skills and possibly even start learning Italian. I am a member of the site Livemocha, which offers tons of different languages to learn, and they were running a special on their yearly Gold membership that I could not refuse. I also want to focus on learning at my job, because the constantly changing marketing world always has something new to offer me. Another thing I embraced in 2011 was the podcast, and I subscribe to some really interesting educational podcasts that teach me new things in every episode. My favorite is Stuff You Missed in History Class…check it out!
  • Read. I managed to meet my 2011 Goodreads reading goal of 100 books (I clocked in at 108 total) and I want to up the ante. I read a lot of fun books last year, and there are plenty out there that I am looking forward to tackling in 2012. But I also want to read more nonfiction…specifically history, biographies, and random subjects that interest me.
  • Cook more (and try new things). I love to cook but I haven’t expanded my cooking horizons in quite a while. I want to cook more, so that we spend less money on restaurants, and I want to master new recipes and cooking techniques. I know this will make my food-loving husband very happy!
  • Be more intentional and goal-focused with money. I want to start saving in earnest…for a down payment on our house should we decide to buy it in a few years, for a new laptop, for a vacation, for a new car for Shawn. We have been better with money in the last year, but I want to get us on an even stricter budget so that we can save as much as possible towards the things we need and want. However, I also want to leave us room to do things like have a date night once a week and go out to a really nice dinner once a month.
  • Make music. I miss singing on a regular basis. I want to pick the guitar back up, start recording with my awesome MIDI keyboard setup, and maybe even find a band to be in. I am also thinking about possibly auditioning for a local arts chorale, which means I will have to brush up on sight-reading and vocal work. Music was a huge part of my life for a long time, and I am starting to feel the void where it used to be.
  • Be more healthy. I feel best when I exercise on a regular basis. I am terrible about exercising on a regular basis. I walk more during the day, but that is only going to supplement an exercise routine. I have mapped out the routes to the new gyms (near the house and the office) and I intend to start making working out a habit. I also plan on taking my lunch to work as much as possible and, of course, riding my bike more!
  • Spend more time with my husband. It’s hard to get quality time in when he is in school in the mornings and working until late every night. We need to be intentional about taking time to be together. I want to try to have a date night once a week that is something more than sitting on the couch together.
  • Go somewhere new. I met my goal in 2011 of going to three places I had never been before. I went to France, a place I had dreamed of going for more than half my life. I went to Nashville for a business trip. I went to Round Top, Texas for the bi-annual antiques and junk fair. This year I want to go to at least one more place that I have never been before. Three seems like it is probably too much for this year, so I will leave it at one.
  • Write. Complete. I have already set specific writing goals for the year, but my overall goals are 1) creating a writing habit and 2) completing a project. I have a number of writing projects that I have been working on for quite some time, and I just want to finish them. The goal of building a habit will help me attain the goal of completion. My writing follow-through in 2011 sucked. Time to change that.

Very Pinteresting…and lots of projects

When the site Pinterest first started up, I thought it was a really cool idea. I signed up when I could get an invite, and I started using it. Then it got released to a wider audience and I wasn’t the only one hooked–I started getting friends addicted too. Now tons of people I know are on the site, and I use it almost every day.

For a while I was pinning ideas for when we got a house someday, things I wanted to remember or just thought were pretty. I pinned some things I wanted to do now, but the majority was inspiration that I knew I could draw from when my time came to outfit a house just as I want it to look. I didn’t realize that I would be doing that so soon, and my Pinterest pinning has gotten out of control lately as I seek to figure out a color palette and a style for each of the rooms in our new house.

I have to say, the site is immensely helpful. Just pulling up my Home Decor board and scrolling through it has helped inspire me for our living room, the hardest room for me to decorate. I have our kitchen set, our bedroom set, my office set, but the living room is killing me. The bathrooms are also posing a challenge for me, especially the master bath.

The task list ahead, inspired or not, is turning out to be quite daunting. We have to have an estate sale to clear things out before we can really go gung-ho with our plans. There is a lot more in the house than I had realized. But my mother-in-law thinks we will be able to meet a move-in date of end of January, so that is good. We just have a LOT to do before then…estate sale, cleaning, lots of wallpaper scraping, priming, and painting. The light fixture in the master bath has got to go, as does the chandelier in the bedroom–I much prefer a ceiling fan. We have to decide on paint colors and new furniture. We have to budget for our move. We have to pack. I am trying not to stress.

The good news is that my company is closed starting December 23 through the week after Christmas, so I am going to try to take off the remaining four days of the week of Christmas. That will give me 17 consecutive days off of work to enjoy the holidays with our families AND bust my butt on house stuff. I would like to have all the painting done by then so we can give the house a VERY thorough cleaning prior to our move. Looking forward to that time off helps cut the stress a little bit. I know I don’t *have* to have everything done before we move in, but it will be so much easier if things are already scraped/primed/painted and all we have to do is move our stuff in and decorate.

In the meantime, I will just stalk Pinterest for more ideas…

Is It October Yet?

This has been a rough month for the Velo house. We had some surprise expenses, including a very pricey car repair, so money stress has been through the roof. Mr. Velo is still getting used to his grueling new work/school schedule, and I have been trying to de-stress by cleaning out my closet and doing more laundry than a laundromat.

We have also still been having issues with our AT&T Internet, which has been a pain in my side since June. I regret ever switching from their DSL to the U-Verse service just based on the customer service alone. Internet is sadly a necessity for me, over and above things like cable TV, and having unreliable service makes me a little crazy.

There is good stuff on the horizon though. It is almost October, which means it is a fresh month and the start of my very favorite time of year. Temperatures are cooling in Dallas finally and we have had some beautiful weather. I am looking forward to getting down out of the 90s completely and wearing jackets, sweaters and boots again. Mr. Velo is acing his classes so far, which I never doubted but I know relieves him greatly. I have been productive if not less stressed. And we might have some really awesome news after today.

I just have to keep reminding myself to breathe, and to enjoy what I can even when it feels like the whole month is plotting to break me down.

Jolie Maison

Internets, I am about to make a confession. One of my biggest shortcomings is that I am a horrible housekeeper.

I love having a clean house but I hate cleaning. I work hard and when I come home, the last thing I really want to do is clean. On the weekends I would usually rather relax or hang out with my husband and our friends, not spend my time scrubbing toilets and doing chores. I leave laundry until everything I own is dirty, then I dress out of the dryer. I don’t cook often because the kitchen is disorganized or messy or both. I am embarrassed to have people come in our door. I clean for special occasions and wonder why I don’t do it all time. It’s a vicious cycle. One day when I am able, I will have a housekeeper once a month at least. But until then, I am pretty much on my own.

My husband is very helpful if I ask him to do things, but left to his own devices he is maybe worse than me. His old room at his mom’s house still attests to that. If I thought I was a slobby packrat that man has me beat thousandfold! We are a matched pair, mostly in good ways, but this is definitely not a good way.

Our three cats don’t help much around the house, plus they shed like crazy shedding things. They also like to claw, and as a result our almost five-year-old IKEA couch and chair (along with our not-so-old luggage, grrr) are toast. This makes it hard to keep our place looking as nice as I’d like when it IS clean. I tell them frequently that they are why Mommy can’t have nice things.

I would love to move into a bigger space, maybe even a house of our own, but with my husband about to go back to school for a new degree (SO proud of him!!) that isn’t the best idea. We have a cute place with lots of potential, it just needs to get whipped into shape. I want a blog-worthy home that is comfortable, reflects us and our tastes (well, my taste mostly, as he doesn’t really care much as long as it looks nice), and that I don’t let get cluttered and slobby because I am proud of it. Right now we have no organization for things, no art on the walls, little decor elsewhere, too much unneeded clutter and not enough of the right furniture. I feel like I fail at being a real grownup with my own grownup place, and I want to change that. I feel like I can’t truly relax or dedicate time to what I want to do–write, craft, cook, learn–without feeling guilty until I get my house in order and learn to keep it that way.

I’m going to transform my apartment into une jolie maison. I’m going to go one room at a time and get it in good working order, then go the extra mile to make it pretty.

My starting point is our kitchen. We have a great kitchen with lots of cabinets, granite, and a built-in wine rack, but not much counter space. Organization and decluttering is key to managing my cooking and enjoying my time in the kitchen. Last weekend I cleaned out our cabinets and threw out expired canned goods and stale crackers. I did the massive pile of dishes in the sink and cleaned all the surfaces. The husband also reorganized the giant corner lazy susan cabinet that houses our pots, pans and casseroles. It was small progress but it has made a huge difference this week. I am going to continue the progress by cleaning out the fridge, cleaning the oven and moving the non-essential appliances off the counter (bye bye, Foreman grill and breadmaker) to make the most of the space we have.

After that, I want to add some fun touches to the kitchen…a lamp by the sink, a nice soap dispenser and sponge holder, some new potholders and towels, a rug and some framed art. I’d love to add a small rolling kitchen cart for extra counter space.

I’m writing about this here for two reasons: one, I want to document my progress, and two, I want to stay accountable. So many blogs show the pretty side of things…fun DIY, crafty and thrifty decorating, beautifully styled rooms. I want to get there, and it will be a bumpy road for me to become an organized grownup. But I know I can do it. My happiness depends on it!