2019 had A LOT going on. Truly it had so much going on that – sometimes I had NO IDEA what was, in fact, going on. Often, the last words out of my mouth before my head hit the pillow were I DON’T KNOW, because honestly 2019 I DO NOT KNOW! It’s funny because I look back at my 2018 and I had feelings of exhaustion, being overwhelmed and astonishment but 2018 has nothing on what this year brought. Yet the only difference is while I was over 2018, I have such respect for 2019 and what it did. For me, it was a year of true personal growth, it was the year I found a new purpose, the year I moved into my first home and the year I got to go into business with my father.
While this year was hard and certainly odd, it was also a year filled with life lessons for almost everyone I know. Some lessons were heart-breaking and some were eye-opening but all the emotions, good and bad I felt in 2019, have left me feeling humbled, content and grounded for 2020; which mind you are words I certainly would not have used in the 2010’s decade.
Simply put I feel like 2019 was an epic prequel needed to set up an even grandiose trilogy around the corner. So without further ado here’s my year in review!
In January, Matt and I really ramped up the renovation on our little New England fixer upper. We initially started the renovation and demolition in November of 2018, but by the time January hit we were just about done with demolition and on to actually framing out the house, and putting the pieces back together. During this time I decided to branch out with our content and invest our time in building our Youtube channel by creating unique content for that platform. While I certainly was not able to stay consistent with Youtube, looking back I’m so glad I did it just for Matt and I’s sake. Getting to see our home renovation via video is so much more personal than just pictures from a blog post. If you missed our home renovation videos I’ve listed all of them below!
Our House, The Story Of A New England Fixer Upper
The blog was quite quiet in February. This month usually flies by, first and foremost because it’s a short month but also because it includes Matt’s birthday! We decided to head up to New Hampshire a few weekends in New Hampshire to visit Matt’s sister and her fiance CJ! Beyond that in February, Matt and I spent the majority of the time painting our New England fixer upper. From the woodwork to the ceiling, the whole thing had to be painted, as the drywall process was wrapping up. In a blink of an eye, February was gone and both Matt and I were eager to get a move on moving in.
By March our little fixer-upper was ready for windows and it’s finishing touches! This month had a lot of moving parts behind the scenes as Matt and I had more painting to do between new trim and doors being installed within our home. Thankfully even during this hectic time, we were able to make it up north for one quick trip to Vermont, where we highlighted a few of our favorite towns Vermont has to offer – Queeche and Woodstock! For our full itinerary for these Vermont, towns check out this blog post! Now, this is March after all, so our crew felt like it was about time we covered Maple Season in New England! So during our visit to Vermont, we stopped at the Richardson Family farm with New England Dairy to see the maple harvest process from soup to nuts while snuggling a few baby jersey cows along the way; working with the New England Diary team was certainly a highlight of 2019!
By April we were on to tiling our three newly renovated bathrooms, as we awaited our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry delivery. Honestly, by this point, both Matt and I were pretty spent with our home renovation process, for completely different reasons. We previously had April as a move-in date in mind, and with so much waiting to be installed or delivered I think the process felt like it was never going to end and a bit of a failure for taking so long. The length of this process especially upset Matt, who wanted nothing more than to move into the home we had almost bought five months ago.
On the other end, while I really enjoyed the process I wasn’t enjoying the design backlash or lack of participation I often got from Matt when it came to decision making and sourcing products. The backlash sometimes was especially negative, like when I pitched the idea of a beadboard backsplash – which was frustrating for me, as I was really set on a specific aesthetic for our home. So with light fixtures, cabinet colors and hardware to be picked; Matt gracefully let me make all the calls which was a humbling experience I enjoyed. The only downside of this arrangement was that it proceeded in Matt and I having a few spats over design choices I moved forward with, like a clawfoot tub for the upstairs bathroom – which actually made our 2019 Favorites List. All and all, once everything was installed, nailed up and painted – Matt loved the overall design, which made me glad that I stuck to my guns even when he was unsure.
Finally, in April, we were blessed with warm weather quite early and gorgeous spring blossoms. This was my first time in New England for spring in almost six years and I was so excited to capture the gorgeous spring blossoms in the historic streets of New England’s seaside.
In May, we wrapped up pretty much 90% of our home renovation. To be honest the last 10% is still in the works as we speak, truthfully we are almost done getting our home resided – fingers crossed it will be done next week. During this month we spent a majority of the time shooting home content for the blog to go live in June like our master bathroom reveal, which you can read here, and our upstairs colonial bathroom renovation with The Home Depot!
Truthfully May might have been one of our busiest months work-wise, as this was the first year I was being commissioned for content creation, outside of our blog. We worked with Nantucket Whaler and shot images all along the Connecticut shoreline for their newly launched site – along with getting the chance to work with brands on an on-going basis like The Christmas Tree Shop, Cape Cod Chips, and Poland Springs.
Overall this year, was the first year I actually reached my finance goals with my blog which was liberating. Reaching this goal meant in June I could finally outsource pieces of my business that either Matt or my youngest sister Tessa had done for me previously, to more passionate creators in my area. This growth in my business was not only beneficial to our content but also to my overall happiness. Now there were certainly growing pains, as I had to learn to delegate and teach others which truthfully I’m not good at; but getting to share my blog with other creatives and now having co-workers worthy of calling friends was certainly a highlight of 2019.
Oh, and at the end of May Matt’s sister, Jessica got engaged which means we’ll have a Craig wedding in 2020!!!
Basically three things happened in June!
First and foremost, as you might guess from the images, Matt and I went to Nantucket! This was Matt’s first time in Nantucket and kind of my first as well. I’d been there once before on a one-day brand trip however I had always wanted to experience the island with Matt and was so grateful for the experience. You can see images from our trip along with our full itinerary here.
Secondly, Tessa, my youngest sister graduated from high school, AH! Now if you’re a long-time reader here you certainly know all about Tessa. She’s been a part of the blog from the very beginning, in fact for a while she had her own column called Tessa Tip Tuesdays on the blog. Anyway, she graduated and was off to college in Rochester, NY.
Finally, on June 1st I turned 25 and it marked a very important date for Matt and I; the day we moved into our fixer-upper. While you think this moment would be filled with happiness moving in was actually a difficult experience for me. I think I had been working on our home renovation for so long, that the home was more like a job, a to-do list and distant than a home. For almost the whole month I was in a funk as I adjusted to living in our home. Truthfully, going from working on the home to having to work from this home, was another hurdle. I often felt like I just wanted to leave; as I’m really OCD about completing tasks and wrapping up projects; that sitting in a home with still so many things to be done caused me to feel anxious or angry. Fast forward to today, I still have those moments where I spot a baseboard we forgot to nail in or a chip in our kitchen cabinetry that drives/sends me into a tailspin. I don’t know, I love things to look a certain way, it’s kind of my job, so leaving a room undone or like our green room still unpacked it’s frustrating – but at the same time sticking to a budget was important so some rooms have to wait.
July in New England is always one of my favorite times of the year. From spending evenings on the boat to heading north for Red Sox games in Boston; the month just zooms by filled with images of me with American Flags and often in navy. This month we headed up to Lake Winnipesaukee for 4th of July weekend but besides that, we stuck by home and started our landscaping renovation as we took a break from the inside. I have to give Matt credit where credit is due because he did a stunning job at clearing out our old landscaping, burying drains, planting hydrangeas, relaying our brick walkway and setting down mulch. Matt and my Dad spent almost every hour after work on these projects and I can’t wait to report back in the summer with how our hydrangeas are doing! If you want to see our landscaping design, head over to this blog post.
During this month we also had a loss in our family as my grandmother passed away peacefully at age 87 at her home. With a very large family, the week of her passing was spent reconnecting with family and soon it was August.
In August, I started to prepare for my busiest work season fall and holiday wishlist while enjoying the limited time left I had with my sisters Tessa and Sarah before they headed to college. Yet soon my family and I packed up two cars and drove to Rochester, NY to drop Tessa off at RIT for her freshman year. It was an exciting experience of watching my youngest sister embrace the change and challenges of college. & for anyone wondering Tessa is thriving – loving college, her new home and we couldn’t be happier!
September was a very busy month for us! We ended up taking three work trips during this month, and a few trips to Gillette Stadium, which kept us on our toes.
First and foremost my cousin, copyeditor and confidant Lauren and I headed to Palm Beach for 48 Hours to work with The Palm Beach outlets! Neither of us had been to Palm Beach so it was an exciting experience, to say the least but such a whirlwind. The next trip was with Matt as we headed to Chestnut Hill to celebrate the launch of Serena & Lily in Boston and to design our guest bedroom! I absolutely adore Serena & Lily so this was a dream trip of mine, and getting to experience their design center was another highlight of this year. One thing this year taught me was that I really enjoy interior design so any chance I have to soak in knowledge from brand experts feels fulfilling. & to wrap up the month Matt and I drove up to Manchester, New Hampshire for a collaboration with Simon’s Mall of New Hampshire.
One theme you’ll see in 2019 was all work and no play. Really and transparently I’ve never ended a year feeling so tired, and this feeling has left me with the knowledge that I need to make changes heading into 2020. A lot of what I have to report is work-related and while my work is so fulfilling; I’ve certainly not been fair to myself, my friends or Matt.
October is hands down my favorite month! The stunning fall foliage makes my job, of capturing New England’s charms, easy and this fall was no exception. We started the month off with a trip to the Equinox in Vermont, which was more than I could have ever imagined! Neither Matt nor I had ever been to this historic New England hotel but we instantly fell in love with the town, and according to my analytics so did all of you! If you’re hoping to make it to New England for Fall 2020 make sure to check out our Guide To Leaf Peeping In Manchester Vermont, 5 Noteworthy Leaf Peeping Stops and our roundup of Low Budget Fall Themed Dates.
Beyond traveling to Vermont, Matt and I did all the typical fall festivities. From finally getting to visit B. F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic to apple picking and caramel dipping, we enjoyed the extra rainfall 2019 brought. While this fall was exceptionally busy it all felt manageable, as we were weren’t yet aware of what the final two months of 2020 would bring.
Some of you read the news in The Hartford Courant the morning of November 30th, but way before that on November 7th to be exact, my life changed completely. On November 7th my father and I went into business together with the purchase of Mr. Trophy – a trophy, engraving and award recognition manufacturing small business in Hartford, Connecticut. I feel like I can’t do the story justice because frankly, I hate talking about myself so if you want the long story head over to The Hartford Courant here!
Honestly, though, I do feel like my life changed forever this year. I saw a quote the other day that said the first half and second half of 2019 were two completely different years – and I couldn’t have summed 2019 up better.
The first half of 2019 was filled with non-stop home renovation work. In fact, both Matt and I felt really stressed this year. I’m sure anyone who’s purchased a home knows the feeling and anyone who’s tried to renovate anything can fully relate. We carried on though because we did feel SO grateful for our home’s location, the fact that we were back full time in Connecticut and so close to our families again; yet we still wished for quieter days and a cozy holiday season in our new home. When the dust started to settle though in June, I felt unsure and I ended the first half of 2019 feeling a little lost. In fact, if you refer to my birthday post on Turning 25 you can read how confused I was with what was next for me and truthfully waiting for something, anything, to bring a little more purpose into my day as the home renovation had.
I think the completion of our home renovation was part of the reason I had trouble adjusting to living in our little fixer upper at first. I felt a little lost filling my days with just blog work again – now I truly love blogging but I liked the action, logistics, and gratification that came from watching something being built out of nothing. So in July of 2019, on the way home from work my Dad gave me a call about this Trophy company in Hartford Connecticut up for sale. At first, I have to admit I had no idea what he was talking about, but as I looked further into the online market, Mr. Trophy’s local impact and the industry; I just had this gut feeling and I’ve never felt so strongly about anything.
I truly am a big believer in timing and destiny; and in November my father retired from his, once family-owned business and the next week purchased Mr. Trophy with me as co-owner. And just like that my father and I are in business together, which is fulfilling in ways I can’t even describe.
But I must admit, I’ve been running on empty since October and keeping it a secret has been so hard. I still have yet to find time to rebalance so I’m not going to share too many more details but I promise SO MANY MORE details to come. From a HUGE showroom renovation, an all-new computer system for supply chain and a website I’ve been working on after hours for the last two months non-stop, it’s been A LOT. I’ve had nights filled with tears of joys and more than one occasion of crying myself to Chipotle on the drive home – a frustrating wireless keyboard will do that to you. Those moments though, whether filled with tears of sadness or happiness, have not only been HUMBLING but also have really allowed me to let down my guard and get some external support from my beautiful friends like Lauren, Jennifer and of course Mr. Matt.
Truthfully it all happened so fast that I’m still processing, especially since this all happened during my busy season but with that in mind, I’ve gone ahead and left a glimpse at our rebranding above; and remember me for all your trophy, engraving and glass award needs!
In December, my Dad and I continued to lay the fondation for our new business. With no weekends off, computers crashing around us and so much to learn; each day is a blessing and a curse but you just don’t know which one until about 1PM – no I kid, I really am so grateful but just so tired. This experince has taught me so much and continues to give me such respect for all types of business owners.
In terms of the blog in December we were swamped which was such a blessing but also I really felt a lot of pressure. I was continuously divided into where I should be spending my time; and honestly, some photoshoots included a few tears but through all the emotions I realized that I just want a life filled with more than work – which is what 2019 was.
Moving forward as I said earlier I strongly feel like 2019 was an epic prequel to an even grandiose trilogy for this upcoming decade. And in terms of goals for 2020, we’ll be back in a few days to recap those but until then both Matt and I have an overall goal of STILLNESS for this upcoming year, and I’m looking forward to harvesting contentment in whatever the next six months bring me.
Overall 2019 has left humbled me in the best way possible and I can’t wait to enjoy my new purpose and sense of self in the upcoming decade. Wishing you all a Happy New Year!