This week my friend Ann over at Modern Mrs. Darcy posted a list of several things that worked for her in 2014, and it inspired me to come up with my own list. Since 2014 seemed challenging, especially with the frantic pace we were sometimes running at, I have really tried to be more optimistic in the last year, and focusing on what worked seemed like a good exercise in positivity. I have to say though that it was somewhat hard coming up with this list, my mind automatically wandering to “what didn’t work,” since there’s always ups and downs in a party of 5. Alas, I came up with several things; some minor and some big, and it was helpful to take note of good practices I’d like to keep going in 2015.

1. Investing in a new bed
2014 was the year of insomnia and backaches, and I was sure replacing our 10 year old mattress would cure all my problems. While it didn’t help my backaches, it has certainly helped my insomnia. I consistently woke up between 2-4 am and had trouble falling back asleep, not able to get comfortable. The new bed feels ridiculously good to sleep in and within a week I was no longer waking in the wee hours of the morning. We bought a Dormeo Octaspring bed by the way, a memory foam mattress that is made up of lots of memory foam springs, so it sleeps cooler than the older memory foam mattresses. IMG_5767

2. New bedtime routine
Since I was really hell bent on getting more sleep in 2014, I also switched up my bedtime routine. Either during the kid’s own bedtime routine, or right after they went to bed, I washed my face, took out my contacts and brushed my teeth, and then got into my jammies. I was then already set for bed when I got drowsy. My old routine involved flopping on the couch to watch TV as soon as the kids went to bed, and then putting off going to bed because I was feeling too lazy to do the whole routine. I then ended up falling asleep on the couch, only to drag myself to bed by midnight, barely having the energy to brush my teeth let alone wash my face. This new routine helped me get to bed by 10pm most nights, which in turn helped me sleep a lot better.

3. Moving the boys in together
Having the boys share a bedroom was always part of the plan, but when we finally made that happen this summer, it was glorious. By having them share a room, we got an office back which in turn meant we recaptured our own bedroom, as my desk and computer had sat 12 inches from my bed for the last two years. And for the most part, the boys love sharing, although Syd gets frustrated when it’s nap time and he can’t play in his room. Not the end of the world though, and all around a great move I’m so glad we did.

4. My Time Magazine & Cooks Illustrated subscriptions
My friend gifted me the CI subscription and after the first issue arrived I wondered how I had cooked without it for so long, and I signed up for Time in late Spring, sure I’d never get around to reading it but wanting to have something “smart” in the house to read if I had the time. Turns out, when each issue comes, for both Time and CI, I immediately sit down and read through cover to cover. They have helped me to not just “feel” smarter, but have genuinely helped me become more informed and become a better cook.IMG_7230

5. Our CSA’s
Having failed before in the community supported agriculture (CSA) way of life, I wasn’t sure how we’d fare this time around, but since changing the way we eat, it’s become one of the things I look forward to the most each month. We belong to a produce CSA and a beef CSA, and both have ensured we eat healthy, organic and locally grown food each and every month, and they’ve helped us save some money too!

6. Sirius subscription
We got a 1 year free Sirius XM subscription when we bought our car last year, and it’s about the only thing I listened to all year long. It expired on December 24th and I already miss it. I loved the alternative channel, and it helped me find tons of new-to-me bands this year, and I also loved the news channels for around the clock world news.

7. Going back to a paper planner
After several missed appointments and consistently failing at getting through the to-do lists scribbled on scraps of paper, I went back to a paper planner in September, and it’s made me wonder why I even abandoned the darn thing. Do you know you’re more likely to remember things if you *write* them down? No wonder I’ve been a bit more reliable the past couple of months. I bought this Kate Spade agenda and I LOVE it!IMG_5917

8. Pinning inspiring quotes
As silly as this sounds, I got a lot out of finding inspiring, positive and upbeat quotes to pin, and not so ironically, it’s one of my most highly followed boards. I should get a job doing it in fact. I attribute it to the power of positive thinking, and by immersing yourself in the world of positive thinking, you can’t help but let some of it seep into your own mindset. It sort of reminds me of the story that came out this year about the guy who changed his life with his computer password.

9. Forcing family alone time
A social creature by nature, I have a hard time *not* making plans with friends and family. I love being around others, but this year, I made a solid commitment to myself, to give the social commitments a bit of a rest, especially on the weekend when the kids and Art really need to wind down. At first it felt really weird to not have something social planned Saturday and Sunday of every weekend, but eventually it felt right. And I’m pretty sure we’re all better for it.IMG_6986

10. Changing out my hangers to slim-line ones
For months I saved up BB&B coupons, and finally completed my project over the summer; to switch out all our old mismatched plastic and wire hangers to the flocked covered slim-line ones, and it’s made putting clean clothes away less of a chore, and saved us a ton of room in our small closet.IMG_6114

11. Changing everything about the way I drink my coffee
I’ve switched from a Keurig to a Chemex, switched from CoffeeMate to half and half with maple syrup, now to straight up black, and switched from full-fueled coffee to 100% decaf. It feels ridiculous to look back on this past year of coffee drinking and call it a “journey”, but in fact it was, and now I enjoy the warm tasty beverage each morning, with none of the ill side effects, including an afternoon slump and occasional heartburn.

Anything in particular work for you in 2014? I’ll share what didn’t work later in the week, so I can try and not make the same mistakes next year.

  • I love this post! In fact, I love it so much, I was inspired to write my own version of it. What a great exercise in gratefulness! Happy New Year, Andrea!

  • LOVE your list. Also you’re reminding me that I’ve been toying with re-upping my Cooks Illustrated subscription (it’s been a few years) and that switching to 100% decaf definitely worked for me in 2014. I hate that I can’t handle caffeine anymore, but since that’s the way it is I feel sooo much better off it.

  • KateB

    Have you gotten yourself a new subscription to Sirius? Got one for Matt after his year was up and he just loves it. Not that expensive when you break it down by month and well worth it. Happy 2015, Howes!

  • Shoshana

    I really owe you an email to thank you because our journeys have mirrored each other in interesting ways. This post exemplifies how real you are and I’d like to thank you for that.

  • Sarah P

    I enjoyed your post. I’m tempted to try the fast but it would be tough with my family, I think. Can you recommend a good decaf coffee? Most of the ones I’ve tried just aren’t that good, or taste old. Thanks.

  • This is such a great idea! It’s so good to look back onto your year and see all the good that God has provided.