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In the words of Ashley Cooke, last year was “365 of record lows and record highs. Loving and losing, fun and confusing, praying and shifting gears… It’s been a year.” I have never been more ready and more excited for a new year and a fresh start than I am right now. But before we officially say GOODBYE to 2023… I thought it would be fun to reflect back on some of the things that happened this year. The good and the bad! We’re also gonna chat about my word of the year and how that played out in 2023… and I’ll share some of the highlights, the milestones, my top 5 lists, and more.
But be sure to stick around till the end of this post! I’m also sharing my new 2024 word of the year, some new goals, some plans for the blog, some projects I’ve been wanting to tackle around the farm / farmhouse, and more. If you love the fresh start feeling of a new year, and love behind the scenes content… this post is for you! If not, no worries. I’ll be back to sharing more of our home and style, diy’s, and antiquing adventures real soon!!
Reflecting on 2023
It’s hard to jump right into 2024 without taking a look back and reflecting on 2023! Let’s start with my 2023 word of the year…
My 2023 Word of the Year: FOCUS
My word for 2023 was FOCUS. I originally chose that word because I knew I needed to really buckle down and focus in order to take this little blog of mine from a passion and a hobby to a legit business. I wanted to focus more on the things that would move the needle forward. The things that would push me closer to making my goals and dreams a reality.
As the year went on, the word FOCUS took on a whole new meaning. My family faced some really difficult seasons. 2023 was full big changes and hard transitions behind the scenes. I found that I needed to shift my focus away from the blog, just for a season or so, to be able to pour more of myself into my family.
The surprising thing to me, was that the despite me having less time and less capacity to share here on the blog and on Instagram… my business continued to grow. In 2023, my blog’s pageviews tripled. My email community more than tripled. Our home was featured in 5 different magazines. And slowly but steadily, my income from the blog has grown as well. I attribute this success, at least in part, to the fact that I really just had to FOCUS on making the most of the limited time I did have!
Overall, I was doing less. But I was focused on doing more of the right things, rather than doing ALL THE THINGS… if that makes sense.
Now that things are calmer and more predictable behind the scenes… and now that my family is (dare I say) settling into our new normal, I’m ready to shift some of my FOCUS back onto the blog in the new year!
This was the first year that I ever chose a “word of the year” for myself, and I’m so glad I did because it gave me a really specific lens to view this year through. The word FOCUS ended up giving me a lot of perspective about this year and how it went. I can’t wait to share the word I’ve chosen for 2024! But first let’s look at some of the highlights from 2023. Because even though it was a hard year, there are so many things to celebrate and be grateful for as we reflect on the past 12 months.
The 2023 Top 5 Lists
Highlights from this year, and things I want to remember and celebrate!
Top 5 Blogging Wins
- The blog got a major facelift in the spring! It was something I had been wanting to do for a while… but I felt too intimidated to mess with the things on the back-end of the blog. It was a challenge for sure, but I love how it turned out and am so glad I tackled this in 2023!
- I got to work with some of my favorite brands like Red Land Cotton and Antique Candle Co!
- I celebrated my 3 year blog-iversary in October.
- White & Woodgrain’s pageviews more than tripled this year, allowing me to monetize with display ads. (This had been a goal of mine for so long!)
- My dream of having our home be featured in a magazine came true! (see below)
Top 5 Milestone moments for the blog
Our farmhouse was actually featured in 5 magazines this year! Never in my wildest dreams y’all… If you missed it, I blogged photos of the articles to celebrate each of these milestone moments. (Just click the links below to see them here on the blog.) I also shared lots of behind the scenes info about each feature and what was going on during the photoshoots… as well as a little insight into some of the challenges and things that were happening in our family’s life behind the scenes at the time that each of these issues came out.
- Landleben Magazine
- Better Home & Gardens Farmhouse Do It Yourself Magazine
- Modern Farmhouse Style Magazine
- Country Sampler Farmhouse Style Magazine
- American Farmhouse Style Magazine
The short version: 2023 was a rough year behind the scenes! I’m sure time will fade some of it away. But I think I’ll always remember this year as one of the hardest years of my life. On the worst days, and in the hardest moments… moments when I was struggling the most and felt like giving up, a magazine featuring our home would come out! It happened time and time again this year, and each one felt like the biggest “God-wink” to me. These magazines were honestly the encouragement I needed to keep going and to not give up on this blogging dream of mine!
Top 5 Most Read Blog Posts:
- How to Find Free Art for the Samsung Frame TV
- How to Clean Vintage Glass Jars & Bottles
- 3 Christmas Simmer Pot Recipes that Will Make Your Whole House Smell Like Christmas
- Simple Country Farmhouse Landscaping Ideas with Stone Flower Bed Edging
- 4 Tips for Identifying Vintage China and Antique Dishes
top 5 purchases of 2023
- This wingback arm chair slipcover – I tried using our carpet shampooer’s upholstery attachment, but I never could get our old nursery rocker clean and white again. So I found this slipcover on Amazon and it fits the rocker / glider in our living room perfectly. It made it look like a brand new chair! So glad I bought this on a whim!
- All cotton bedding from Red Land Cotton – We upgraded our bedding this year, and it’s been one of my husband and I’s favorite purchases of 2023, and maybe even in the last 5 years! Our Red Land Cotton sheets are soft, but durable. The quilts and bed blankets from them are breathable, but they have a good weight to them. It’s honestly like nothing we’ve ever slept on. Red Land Cotton designed their sheets after an heirloom, hand-me-down 1920’s bedsheet. They’re built to last, and made like the good old stuff of your grandparents’ time. Once you go RLC, you’ll never want to go back! I especially love that RLC is a small, family run business… and their cotton bedding is 100% grown, sewn, and manufactured right here in the US. Check out this post to see more photos of this space, our bedding, and for more info about Red Land Cotton.
- This new vacuum with a hepa filter and a true seal debris canister – After we found mold in our home and crawlspace this year, we did a major deep clean of our farmhouse. During that time, we decided to replace our vacuum. Our old vacuum was about the cheapest one we could find at the time we bought it. I didn’t realize just how little suction it had, until we got our new Shark vacuum. I chose this one in part because it has a hepa filter, and the canister has a tight seal. I didn’t want anything that would blow dust, dirt, or mold spores back into the air. (And for those of you who follow me on IG and have seen me share our Bissell Spinwave Robot Vacuum / Mop… yes we still have it! We use it almost daily to keep down on the crumbs, dust bunnies, and dog hair. But I love having an upright vacuum too for rugs and upholstery.)
- This air purifier – Another post mold purchase… Air quality has been a huge concern here lately, thanks to the mold scare! We did a lot of research and decided to give this air purifier a try. It also has a true hepa filter which is supposed to capture mold spores from the air. We love how the display screen on the top shows your air quality reading in real time!
- These delicious smelling candles from Antique Candle Co. – I love burning candles in our home, and these candles are ones that I can feel good about enjoying daily! They are all natural soy candles, so they are clean burning and non-toxic. They are pretty to look at, and come in a clear mason jar, which I love because they blend into my decor seamlessly! The scents are amazing, and I know it can be hard to buy candles online without smelling them. But no need to worry because Antique Candle Co. has a 100% candle happiness guarantee. So if you don’t love a scent, they’ll send you another one that you do love!
Top 5 Favorite Memories
- I became an Aunt this year! I got to watch my brother and sister in law become parents as we welcomed my nephew into the family!
- The kids and I worked together to tackle a big outdoor project! We installed a DIY pea gravel walkway from the front porch to our gravel driveway. No more trudging through the mud when it rains! I’m grateful for this project every time it storms. Never underestimate little helpers! They can do big things and this project is proof of that.
- Beach days… We made more time for beach days this summer and that filled my cup and theirs too.
- I got to go to Liberty Antiques Festival for the first time!
- My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary!
Looking Forward to 2024
What a year y’all. WHAT A YEAR! 2023 was a tough one for sure, but there was also so much beauty and love and light that I got to experience this year, and I’m grateful for all of it.
But I’m also so pumped for a new year and a fresh start. Hello 2024!! Let’s take a look forward and chat about my new word of the year, some projects I’m dreaming of, and some of my plans and goals for 2024…
My 2024 Word of the Year: Season
This past year was a roller coaster of a year to say the least! There was a lot of good that happened. And I think it’s important to celebrate the highlights of the year in posts like this! But in many ways 2023 was one of the hardest years of my life… so I can’t say I’m sad to see this year come to an end.
I do however believe there is a reason for every season y’all. And now that 2023 has come to an end, I have come to see a new perspective on this past year and all the hard seasons we went through behind the scenes.
I can see now that all the hard things I experienced this year have changed me, and molded me into the person I am today… and the person I need to be to move into 2024. The hard parts of 2023 forced me to make tough decisions, to change plans, to grow, to adapt. They helped increase my capacity to be able to handle so much more than I ever thought I was capable of. I think it’s because of all the hard seasons of this past year that I feel prepared and ready to take on this new year’s challenges.
I’m so ready to enter into the new year, and into a new season… and I honestly couldn’t think of a better word for my 2024 than SEASON.
The word SEASON can convey so many different meanings, and it’s a word I’ve enjoyed reflecting on as I think about how I want my 2024 to look and feel. There are seasons in nature, seasons in life, seasons in motherhood, and even seasons as a business owner.
I think sometimes we make things harder on ourselves by not paying more attention to the season we’re in. It’s so easy to do that these days. Especially with social media! It’s so easy to compare our lives, our appearances, our relationships, our homes, etc.
Often for me it’s the productivity comparison that I struggle with the most. Anyone else struggle with this too? I’m talking about the day to day feeling of not getting enough done… not checking off more “to do’s” from my to do list… not juggling ALL THE THINGS that others seem to juggle so effortlessly in their season. But I always feel better when I take a step back, and look the things I have been able to accomplish in this season, in my season.
There are a number of ways you could interpret this… but it’s something I’ve noticed in my own life, and I know it can’t just be me that feels this way.
So in 2024 I want pay more attention to the seasons. I want to enjoy each season of the year as they come, instead of rushing from one to the next. In 2024, I want to approach each day, each opportunity, each challenge, each to do list that I write… seeing them through the lens of my unique season in life, in motherhood, and as an entrepreneur.
I think SEASON is going to be a really impactful word of the year for me, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the course of the next 12 months.
Planning in 2024
January is going to be a season of planning for me as a blogger! The first week of this year I took some time to do a big planning session with myself. I set some goals, and got really clear on what I want to accomplish this year and how I want to make it all happen. I am big on goals, I love making lists, and yes I still use a paper planner! What about you?
Last year I used this Day Designer planner, and I loved it because it had a daily / hourly layout with a full page for each day of the year. I like having a lot of room to write to do’s, notes, reminders, etc. So this planner worked great, but I found myself always eyeing other planners in store and online just to see what else was out there with a daily layout.
This year I’m using the Dailee Planner and I am so excited to try it out! It has sections for blogging related tasks on each daily page, which is great because I found myself adding those in for myself in the other planner. But it also has a lot of fillable sheets for content planning and it even has goal trackers too! Such a good find!! If you happen to blog or use social media for your business, it might be a planner worth checking out.
Blogging Goals for 2024
I have some pretty big goals for this little blog in 2024! Numbers wise – I am aiming to 4x where I am right now. That feels crazy to type, but also so exciting to think about and to share.
One lesson I learned in 2023 is that I can’t juggle all the things without dropping a ball or two, at least in my current season. And I know that if I want to hit those big goals, I need to concentrate my efforts, and not spread myself too thin. I need to focus on a few things, rather than ALL the things.
So right now, in this season of life and motherhood and business, that means the blog has to take priority over social media. You may have noticed that I’ve taken a step back from sharing over on my Instagram and social media these days, other than sharing in my IG stories from time to time.
The goal, and my hope, is to add more social media shares back into my day to day later in the year. Stepping back wasn’t an easy thing to do, because I love sharing there, especially on IG. I miss the community and conversations. I have major FOMO about not showing up and sharing like I used to. But I know that it’s not forever, and I know it’s what I need to do in this season.
That being said… you might be wondering what you can expect to see from White and Woodgrain this year? More blog posts! More thrifting and antiquing, more DIY’s, and more projects right here on the blog!
I’m going to be better about documenting and sharing all the things with you here on the blog… which is basically my little online home. I’ll still be sharing in my IG stories from time to time, but if you’re missing all the behind the scenes updates I used to share on social media… I’d love to invite you to join my email community for weekly updates on all those things!
5 Home Projects I’d Love to Tackle in 2024
I’m not sure if I’ll actually get to all of these projects this year, but these are a few that I can’t stop thinking about right now… What projects are you planning for 2024?
- build raised garden beds
- add more of the old house wood back into our farmhouse kitchen
- build a fire pit area overlooking the fields
- finish the coffee bar shelf – I started this one months ago and never got around to finishing it! It’s technically a usable shelf as it is, and we’ve been using it in the meantime… but it’s definitely not done. I plan to make a few changes and probably give it a fresh coat of paint too!
- get all the “project pieces” off the porch so I can finally clean it – Technically this involves a few projects in one. Currently on the porch, there’s an old wooden trunk I want to repair and paint, a sewing cabinet that needs cleaning up, a window frame that I need to make a decision on, and a plate rack I want to clean up and hang… just to name a few!
- paint the stairs! (Ok so maybe that’s 6 projects. More if you take into account the pile of projects on the porch right now. Either way, cheers to a year full of DIY’s and projects!)
If you’ve made it this far, bless ya! Thanks for stopping by the blog and hanging out with me today!! I enjoyed catching up with ya and can’t wait to do it again. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope your new year is going smoothly so far. It was fun to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from last year. Doing that today got me even more excited for all that’s to come in 2024! I hope you enjoyed looking back with me and I can’t wait to share more with you throughout the year. Until next time…