Hello, 2024! I am coming to the close of two weeks off work, and it has been glorious — I feel like I was able to spend quality time with friends and family, while still working on a ton of things from my personal to-do list. I love using my vacation for travel, but there’s also something to be said for taking the time off to enjoy your own home and daily life. I definitely wouldn’t complain if someone handed me another two weeks off work ;), but I am excited to get back into a routine.
SOME THOUGHTS ON BLOGGING —
One of the main things on my personal to-do list over my “adult winter break” was to work through a backlog of blogposts I have had on my to-do list for months. For instance, I wanted to write a recap post of my 4th of July trip to Charleston pretty much since I landed back at DCA after my trip — but week after week, month after month, I rolled it over on my to do list. I finally sat down to write it earlier this week (I backdated the publish date), and it truly felt like a weight had been lifted crossing that post off my to-do list. But then I got to thinking — do I even enjoy writing travel posts anymore? Or does it feel more like I have to write a book report after a trip? Am I just writing travel recap posts because I have for pretty much every vacation I’ve taken for the better part of the last decade?
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I’ll still keep posting recaps on my travels in 2024 here on the blog — I have no doubt I’ll continue to share my travels on Instagram, but this year, I really want to be better at prioritizing my creative projects and doing things because I really want to do them, not because I feel like I have to do them or have always done them.
And that’s exactly why I also came to the decision to sunset my quarterly book reviews here on the blog. I used to do these posts on a monthly basis, and had actually wanted to stop doing them in any way a while ago. But several readers asked me to keep posting them because it’s easier to read my reviews on the blog vs. on Instagram Stories where the text can be very small. So I kept doing them, and just changed the cadence from monthly to quarterly. But, I realized, I don’t like putting those posts together — and the time it takes for me to put those posts together is actually taking away my time from other things I am excited about doing as it relates to my creative projects. I have no plans to stop sharing my book reviews over on Instagram Stories and Goodreads, and want to continue sharing my top 10 books of the year every January.
I talked a little bit about my thoughts on blogging back in May, and some of these prioritization changes I am wanting to make at the top of the year stem from the thinking I’ve been doing since then about my creative projects. Over the years, I’ve realized that I really love sharing about my home decor — and this is something I’ve really leaned into and found resonates extremely well on TikTok. In 2024, I am hoping to have more time to dedicate to this vertical — continuing to share my apartment on TikTok and supplement that with long-form posts here on the blog as I continue to decorate, while also continuing to share my day-to-day life, travels, reads, and restaurant recommendations on Instagram.
I started my blog nearly ten years ago (!) in April 2014, and my life has changed so much since then, as has blogging and the influencer space around it. When I started my blog, I was barely a year into my career — and needless to say, the work or responsibility at my day job wasn’t as demanding. As such, I had more brain space — and the energy of a 23-year-old — after work to dedicate to my blog. And frankly, people just read blogs more back then, so it was very motivating to post often because you had a community of fellow bloggers and dedicated readers to cheer you on. (I love the popularity of Substack for that reason — it reminds me of the golden era of long-form blogging in the early 2010s!) Plus, it just wasn’t possible to share as much on your accompanying social channels — Instagram Stories literally didn’t exist when I started this blog — so your attention wasn’t pulled in all these disparate directions. Pretty much all of my content lived here on the blog, and was simply promoted via my Instagram or Twitter feeds. (Ah, simpler times.)
All this to say, I am not going anywhere — here, on Instagram, on TikTok — but I am re-prioritizing and re-strategizing for 2024, and I am really excited that I was able to free myself of some of the shoulds so I can focus on all the couds. And now that I’ve gotten through this preamble, I’m excited to share what’s been going on in my life lately.
“WE USE WHAT WE HAVE” —
On TikTok, I follow a creator who has a tagline that is, “we use what we have.” When she uses this tagline, she is primarily talking about ingredients in the kitchen as she highlights how to make budget-friendly meals with what she already has on hand, but I have been thinking a lot about the sentiment behind we use what we have for the past several weeks and how I can apply it to my own life.
If your credit card statement looks anything like mine after a busy holiday season, you’re on a fiscal diet in the month of January. And, as such, what better time to use what we have. I definitely fall victim to the rampant consumerism in our culture, always in search of the newest, best, or latest thing. And don’t even get me started on how many things I’ve bought after being influenced on Instagram. So over the past few weeks, before I add anything to my cart — whether online or in person — I have been asking myself if I already have something at home that will suffice? So whether that’s putting a new concealer back on the shelf at Target because I already have four in my makeup drawer or making do with what I already have in the fridge instead of immediately opting for takeout, repeating the mantra, we use what we have, has really helped me reign in some of my own consumerism.
One thing I’ve fallen in love with over the past year is shopping for things secondhand, especially items for my home — which is a great way to use what we have as a society as it gives new life to older objects and keeps things out of landfills. I used to think shopping secondhand meant that things couldn’t be beautiful — said another way, only focused on function — and I’ve found that is not the case at all. Over the past year, I’ve been able to add so many beautiful pieces that provide both form and function to my home, at a fraction of the cost compared to buying something brand new. And even though those items often cost less, I tend to value those objects more — I’ve enjoyed the thrill of the hunt tracking them down, they’re often one-of-a-kind pieces that not everyone else has, and they make for a great story when I bring them into my space and someone asks about them.
Given this newfound passion of thrifting and antiquing, I would love to start a small online shop where I resell second-hand home goods and decorative objects. I’ve started collecting inventory, but need to spend time thinking about how I want to operationalize it and what I would want the branding to be. I’m hoping this is something I can bring to life in 2024!
TV SHOWS I’VE BEEN LOVING LATELY —
I am, admittedly, not the biggest television junkie — while my coworkers were watching Succession and The White Lotus, I was rewatching The Golden Girls and Suits. But, since I live alone, I do love to have the television on at night for background noise, and every now and then, I do actually sit down and watch a show — but usually with my laptop or phone in hand! That all being said, there are a few shows that have held my attention as of late.
The first show I wanted to call out is The Golden Bachelor. I hadn’t watched the franchise in years, but since they were mixing up the format and showcasing love in your golden years, I decided to watch. Even if you don’t like the normal Bachelor or Bachelorette, I can’t recommend watching it enough — it’s so heartwarming and the season is relatively short, so nothing gets dragged out the way I felt like some seasons had. Gerry, the lead, finds love, and they just had a live television wedding this week. My sister, Lindsey, also watched, and it was so fun to recap it with her every week. I really hope they do a golden bachelorette!
The second show I wanted to call out is Paris in Love. I read Paris Hilton’s memoir earlier this year, and as a teenager of the aughts, she is someone that has always been on my radar. I decided to watch her reality television show over the winter break when I just wanted a show that would allow me to fully put my brain on a self — and what better than a celebrity reality show?! Exclusively on Peacock, there are two seasons. The first focuses on her wedding planning journey, and the second follows her path to parenthood and the first few months with her son, Phoenix. I have a lot of thoughts on the Hilton family — namely that I am really glad Kathy isn’t my mother, hah! — but they do make great reality television.
Lastly, after watching Full Swing on Netflix earlier this year — a great eight-part documentary on the PGA tour and it’s golfers before the merger with LIV — I wanted to find another sports documentary to watch. My sister has been singing the praises of Quarterback, also on Netflix, which is an eight-part series that follows Kirk Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, and Marcus Mariota — and their families — over the course of a season. I don’t watch a ton of professional football, but I am really enjoying this show!
Also, a huge honorable mention goes to this season of Southern Charm. I started watching during the pandemic and got caught up to what was going on in real-time in the series, and have been watching the seasons as they air ever since. I have been loving this season — and am sad that the reunion is next week because that means the season is over.
MY 2024 GOALS —
In 2023, I did a whole post on my goals for the year — to travel less (if I were to re-write this goal now, I would say, “travel more intentionally”), to “finish” decorating my apartment, to continue to set myself up for success financially, and to continue my journey to becoming the healthiest version of myself. I think I made great strides in all of these areas last year — but also think there is still more I want to do in all of these categories in 2024, so I am keeping these goals the same this year, but expanding on them:
- Travel more intentionally: the older I get, the more of a homebody I become! I love to travel, but I no longer enjoy being on trips for back-to-back-to-back weekends because it just leaves me feeling drained. I was much better about pacing out my travels last year than I was in 2022 or 2021, and would love to continue to do so this year. Quality over quantity!
- “Finish” decorating my apartment: I am so proud of all the work I did on my apartment in 2023! It’s almost “finished” — I say that in quotes because I will always be changing something. But, I have all the furniture I need, and all but one wall is complete — a gallery wall I am working to curate to hang over a sideboard in my living area. This is my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in, and have had the best time decorating it over the last three years!
- Continue to set myself up for success financially: this past year, my doctor told me to get a good financial planner because he anticipates I’ll live a long life — LOL! Knowing that I have expensive taste, I try to save a lot for retirement so I can maintain my quality of life even when I stop working — and so I want to continue to do that this year by taking advantage of the new 401(k) and Roth IRA limits.
- In 2023, I also set up “sinking funds” for travel, Christmas/gifts throughout the year (e.g. wedding gifts), and annual subscriptions (e.g. property taxes on my car, credit card annual fees) in a high-yield saving accounts so that I set aside money for those things with each paycheck to help spread out the cost of those things throughout the year. I also set up an “oh shit” fund with ~$2K in it that I can pull from when those “oh shit” moments happen in life — for instance, last year, I unexpectedly needed to replace my windshield after it randomly cracked and I also unexpectedly needed to get a new phone. Adding these elements to my financial system helped me so much!
- Continue to become the healthiest version of myself: in 2024, one thing I want to do as it relates to my health is really focus on my sleep — both the amount and the quality. Since getting an Oura ring — more on this soon! — I’ve had great insights into my sleep habits, and while I generally get enough sleep on the weekend, I need to be more consistent during the week. Since I am in a hybrid role, I haven’t been super strict with myself about a consistent wakeup time across the days I go into the office and the days I am at home — but after seeing the data, I think that is a change I need to implement when I head back to work this week. Additionally, I love to stay up late to read, and so while I generally get in bed at a decent hour, I often don’t actually go to sleep until late. Even though I generally can fall asleep and stay asleep easily, I recently started taking magnesium before bed to see if it helps increase the amount of REM and deep sleep I get every night — data I can see on my Oura ring — and will report back on if it helps me at all!
I’m excited to work towards all of the above in 2024, and am sure I’ll give updates on how things are going throughout these monthly life lately posts that I really enjoy pulling together.
I hope your 2024 is off to a great start! Last winter, we didn’t have any accumulating snow here in the DC area, so I am hoping that we have a really good snowstorm soon! But, preferably, one that does not interfere with my trips to Jamaica and Jackson Hole, and one that happens on a weekend so I can truly enjoy it! x