Happy New Year’s Eve! I can hardly believe it’s that time again, but here I am, writing another Year In Review. Even though this year had more than its fair share ups and downs, it’s always fun to look back and reminisce and see how far we’ve come. So before we ring in the new year and bid adieu to 2021, let’s take a little walk down memory lane!
We all had such high hopes for 2021 on New Year’s Day, didn’t we? But we weren’t very far along into January when we could see that 2021 wasn’t going to be much of an improvement over 2020. This meme kind of says it all; I posted it in my January 10th Coffee Talk.
I did a series on 5 Ways to Wear a Camel Turtleneck, and I think my favorite brand collab was this sporty puffer jacket outfit with Nordstrom. By the way, this tee and joggers are still available and currently 20% off. I just ordered the tee in another color because it’s one of my favorites. It’s lightweight and stretchy and comfortable, and has a nice shape.
I also shared my State of the Blog Address. That’s a fun one to re-read, at least for me. I can see that I was looking forward to my new blog design (check!) and I was planning to focus more on quality than quantity, and I think I can check that box as well.
Here at home, Covid was still raging, and vaccines had yet to roll out yet, so we were still pretty much hunkered down. All three kids were doing school remotely from home, but Caroline was working part-time at Urban Air and babysitting, so she did get out a bit.
In February, I finally got my new blog design up and running. That was fun, but a bit frustrating. Eventually we got it all done.
I read through all my Coffee Talk posts from that month, and it doesn’t sound like much at all was happening except lots of snow, so let’s move on to March!
In March, Cyndi and I teamed up again for 23 Days of Spring Fashion. As usual, it was freezing when I was shooting lightweight outfits in February to prep for the series, but by the end of the month, it was getting milder. I had fun experimenting with the new spring styles.
One of my favorite “real life outfits” from the month that didn’t make my Top 30 was this neutral date night look. I wore this out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I recall that I went alone, so I think Paul was recovering from yet another bout with diverticulitis. That was a recurring theme throughout 2021.
But on a more positive note, March is also when things started opening up around here. I notice quite a few mentions of us going out to eat throughout the What I Wore posts that month, and Becca went back to school in person. That’s also when David started working at Dollar Tree, so everyone was getting out and about a bit more, which was good for the overall mood around here.
March also marked the 15th anniversary of starting this blog. Now, THAT is crazy to think about! I wanted to make a big to-do over it and get some pictures with balloons, but time got away from me, and I didn’t do much after all. I did purchase a “blogiversary” gift for myself — the taupe Gucci mules I’m wearing here.
Easter was the first weekend in April, and we took a much-needed warm weather getaway to Cape Coral, Florida! We rented a house on the canal through VRBO.
My niece joined us, and the girls had a blast together, while Paul and I spent a lot of time relaxing and soaking up the sun. We were nervous about traveling during Covid, but it worked out fine.
My parents came up for a visit later that month, and we spent a day together in Philly seeing some of the historic sites, and then another day in Lancaster County.
May was a pretty big month for several reasons. For one, Caroline wrapped up her high school career, which was no small feat. School was always a struggle for her, and she was beyond thrilled to be done.
It was also the month Philly opened up the stadiums to 50% capacity, and we were able to go to a Sixers game, which was a huge deal for the three people in this picture. These tickets had been Paul’s birthday present back in March of 2020.
I also hosted a Mother’s Day Tea for the ladies in our church in May. By “host” I mean, I straightened up my house and unlocked the door. They brought everything, and it was so nice.
On the blog, I shared my most worn spring closet staples, which I thought was a fun post.
Caroline’s high school graduation was in June, and Becca wrapped up her freshman year. We had a big graduation party for Caroline in our backyard.
On the blog, Cyndi and I teamed up for a Summer of Style Series. We invited a different blogger to join us each Monday to style an item for summer.
We had some good moments, though, like this dinner out with my parents to our favorite lobster pound… this was before Paul fell ill.
It’s kind of fun to look back now at my #NSale Preview to see what items jumped out at me online. I did end up purchasing most of these items, but I didn’t keep them all.
One of my best friends treated me to lunch for my birthday, and this is what I wore.
Paul and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary in August. I know I have pictures, but I can’t find them anywhere — not in my iPhone photos, not on the blog, not anywhere. So weird! Anyway, we had dinner at a French restaurant nearby.
Also in August, Paul and I saw Phil Phillips in concert… that was another milestone in our long and winding road back to some semblance of normalcy. We both love live music and missed it terribly during the lockdowns.
I’m a huge Phil Phillips fan and have been ever since his days on Idol, and Paul is a convert now that he’s seen him live a few times. He’s such a talented musician.
Just a week later, we saw the Hooters perform in Allentown. Paul is a longtime fan of this Philadelphia-based 80s rock band. We’ve seen them in concert several times, and they never disappoint. They put on a great show.
Then I blinked, and it was time to take Caroline to college. It was a long road to get here there, literally and metaphorically. When we left her standing in front of her dorm on that sunny day in August, we had no idea how things were going to go, but I’m pleased to report that she’s found a home there and is very happy.
While Caroline was spreading her wings and getting used to being more independent, Becca and David were getting back to into more of a “normal” routine here at home.
David started back with college classes in August (in person!) and Becca started back with marching band practice. At the end of the month, she went back to school 5 days a week, like old times. This is her first day of school picture. David was not so inclined to participate in this tradition, so I don’t have one of him.
September brought with it the return of high school Friday night football games and a somewhat normal school year schedule.
With David working and going to school, Caroline away at college, and Becca back in school full-time and busy with marching band activities and an active social life, Paul and I became empty nesters almost overnight.
Our kids are three years apart in age, so major milestones are usually spaced out nicely, but when Covid happened, everyone came back home to roost for a year and a half. Then suddenly, they all left… or at least they got so busy that they were hardly here. It was weird, but it also seemed very right. It was time.
That was also the month of Paul’s long-awaited surgery to fix his diverticulosis. It took him a while to recover, but he’s been very happy with the results.
In the midst of all that, I got a new car. I traded my MDX for an RDX, and for the first time in 20 years, I don’t have a third row. I thought I’d miss it, but so far, I haven’t needed it once.
My favorite post from that month was the His and Hers Game Day Outfits. That was fun to shoot, and I thought the pictures turned out really good.
Paul is a good sport; he’s always up for doing these posts with me. Even though he was still recovering from his surgery, he got all into it.
Alison was coaching us to pretend like we were watching a game.
We all ended up laughing hysterically at how ridiculous we felt. And Paul with that dumb chip in his hand the whole time… It still cracks me up to look at these.
Becca turned 16 in October, and we had a party for her at a local roller skating rink. The kids all seemed to have a blast, and it was fun to see them enjoying some good, old-fashioned fun. I don’t have any pictures from that night that don’t have her friends in them, so I won’t put them out on the Web, but we took this one when we got home.
She also got her permit and started driving that month, so that’s been a bit of an adventure, but she’s doing well.
This was one of my favorite photos/outfits from October, and I don’t know why I never actually wore that striped top. I guess the weather never seemed quite right for the t-shirt/vest pairing. I tend to grab for puffer vests when I’m wearing a heavier sweater.
I started my Holiday Gift Guides in October this year, and I had lots of positive feedback on that. I noticed my traffic wasn’t as high during October and November as it was last year, though. I wonder if that’s because people would rather see outfits than gift guides.
Although I still felt like I posted a lot of outfits, so yeah. Blog traffic is a funny thing. There are so many factors affecting it, and sometimes it’s more about what is going on in the world than the actual content. Plus, Google and Pinterest change their algorithms on a whim, and that’s a factor as well.
Paul and I took a quick weekend trip to the Boston area to be with Caroline for an appointment in early November. We also did some sightseeing and got together for dinner with my aunt and cousin, so that was fun. I went to college and Paul went to seminary in that area, so it was fun to revisit.
David turned 22 in November, and I don’t have a single picture. He’s not a big fan of pictures, and I hate to be a nag. His present was Sixers tickets, so he was a happy camper.
We hosted some of Paul’s family for Thanksgiving, and it was good to have Caroline home again. She made some of her delicious pies and dinner rolls for our feast.
We rounded out the holiday weekend at a local tree farm, where we cut down our live Christmas tree. David had plans with friends and didn’t join us, but the girls were all about it. I only got a few terrible selfies of the four of us, and this. But look at those blue skies! It was cold, but a beautiful day.
We didn’t get it set up until later in the week, but it turned out pretty nice. This is the tree we keep in our family room, and it holds all our family ornaments from over the years. I only have this one picture with an Instagram filter, but it will do.
The top string of lights went out at some point, and we never replaced it. Seems sort of fitting for 2021, does it not?
And here’s a picture of my living room tree. I love how it turned out this year. I finally got rid of our old one that fit better in my last house, and splurged on an 8′ Balsam Hill Biltmore Spruce when it was on sale at Nordstrom. It’s such a pretty shape, and the branches are spaced out in such a way that it displays the larger ornaments nicely.
And the next thing we knew, it was December! It’s been a pretty quiet month, actually. We didn’t have a ton of weekend plans, and there were no holiday parties, other than the ladies’ Christmas Tea at church. That was fun, though.
I actually didn’t mind that we didn’t have a lot of holiday activities. My work keeps me super busy this time of year, plus taxiing Becca around to all of her practices, performances, and social activities. And I also drove up to Massachusetts in the middle of the month to bring Caroline home for her winter break.
Our most festive events this year were Becca’s holiday concert, where Paul’s mom was able to join us, and our girls’ outing to the Nutcracker in Philly. We love music, so both events were really enjoyable.
We celebrated Caroline’s 19th birthday at The Melting Pot on Christmas Eve, which was a lot of fun, and then it was Christmas morning! David was actually the first one up this year, which is unprecedented. Everyone was in good moods and got along well, which is always a blessing.
We had our presents, and Caroline made sweet rolls for breakfast, and then Paul’s mom joined us for Christmas dinner. I tried to get a selfie at the table, but it didn’t work out very well. Next year, I’m using a tripod and a timer!
The day after Christmas was when we celebrated with extended family, and some of them stayed with us for a few days, which was a lot of fun. It’s been pretty quiet around here since they left, and Becca’s been feeling under the weather, so we’re just laying low. She’s negative for the big C, but we don’t want to take any chances, so we will be here by ourselves tonight.
And honestly, that is fine with me. This pandemic has made me more of a hermit than ever, I’m afraid. As much as I enjoy a good party, I would rather just chill alone at home. We will try to make it festive with champagne and chocolate fondue… if I can find what I need. I need to get to the store sooner rather than later, I guess.
Who’s with me on this? 🤪
Last year, as I wrapped up my Year In Review, I said I was weary… emotionally and mentally weary. We had a lot of personal losses in 2020, but I had no idea how much more wearying 2021 would be.
While we didn’t lose people and pets this year, and we weren’t as locked down as we were in 2020, there were a lot of other stressful situations to deal with… personal things that I really can’t share in this public forum, and the polarizing issues that plague our country and our world. I prefer to keep this blog neutral territory when it comes to all of that.
I also realize that many are reading this who have experienced personal losses this year, and who have been a lot more locked down than we are here in Pennsylvania. I have so much to be thankful for, and I’m aware of that. I am very thankful, but also a little bit wary of what the future might hold.
While I knew we had a long road ahead of us with this pandemic, even I didn’t expect the road to be this long. I know that Covid will always be with us to some degree, but I’m hoping and praying that this Omicron variant is the last big wave. Only time will tell, of course, and I’m certainly not going to make any wagers. If nothing else, the last two years have taught me to take one day at a time. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, and all that… but I’m hopeful.
State of the Blog Address
This year saw a new and much needed blog redesign. The process was a big painful, but I’m glad it’s done. I also moved to a new email provider this year, which is a lot less expensive than the last one, and so far it seems to be working out okay.
I also hired Sidney at Seeside Creative to help with planning and strategizing behind the scenes, and she’s been a great addition to my team. I really needed that type of help and had for some time.
Amy still works with me on the administrative side of things, and Kate comes to my house a few times a week to help with returns and other tasks here on the ground. And of course, Alison is my photographer extraordinaire. She is incredibly reliable and quick with the turnaround, and she makes photo shoots… which are not my favorite part of this job, actually fun.
So yeah, this is not a one woman show over here. I could not do this alone. As it is, I put in crazy hours, and there’s always more I want to do. That’s just the nature of this space. But having these ladies working along with me makes it manageable and a lot more fun!
My Facebook Group continues to thrive, and it’s a nice extension of this community. If you’re not a member yet, please consider joining us! And of course, I’m on Instagram, as well. I don’t post as consistently as I do here, but I do live try-on hauls on my Story from time to time. I also share everyday outfits and a slice of life behind the scenes when I feel inspired to do so… it’s hit or miss!
I don’t see much changing here on the blog for the new year. I plan to keep doing what I’m doing, for the most part. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel like I’ve found a happy compromise between being a resource to my audience and being true to myself and my personal tastes. I feel good about the content I’ve put out this year, and I hope to do more of the same in 2022.
I’m planning more 5 Ways to Wear posts as we kick off the new year, and I’ve got my best and worst purchases of 2021 still to post. I’ll continue with regular Try-On Hauls on Fridays and What I Wore Lately on Wednesdays… maybe not every week, but at least every other. I’m also excited about some of the brand collaborations I have coming up. There will be more with Evereve and Nordstrom, for sure, and other favorites as well.
I’m so grateful for those of you who have stuck around for many years, and I’m happy to welcome the new faces in the crowd as well. I love the conversation and encouragement that happens in the comments, and I know that I couldn’t do this without you.
Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll be back on Monday to kick off the new year with my Winter Wardrobe Essentials!