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Oops. I Meant to Do That.

I just got back from a weekend away in San Francisco with an inspiring group of fellow bloggers. While at dinner, a few of us were talking frankly about living with so much of our lives online. “Is it difficult to know where to draw the line?” someone asked us. “To know what’s suitable for sharing?”

The other women (whom I know and admire, and whose blogs I love reading) both answered immediately. Yes. It’s hard. There has to be a balance of being aspirational and approachable. They talked about consciously adding in a few ‘oops’ moments to some of their posts, to counter the possible air of perfection. And they get it — I get it. Nobody wants to read the blog that makes someone feel bad about themselves, and nobody wants to be the person causing those feelings.

“I probably include too many ‘oops’ moments,” I joked. “Maybe I’m not aspirational enough!” I mean, that rug? I don’t know about it. I’m having second thoughts, which is probably annoying to you guys. It’s annoying to myself. But I do something, I get excited, and I share. The layout of the library? It’s tricky. Incorporating all of our home’s oak and fir? I’m doing my best to do it justice. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m going with the design of this house and sometimes I’m figuring it out along the way, and perhaps I share it too soon before I’ve got it all sorted. But that’s what’s fun about having this space. That’s what I love writing about, and that’s what keeps me happy day after day and excited about blogging here.

For a long time, I thought I was doing it wrong. I watched people grow their businesses by taking on contributors and assistants, by posting more frequently, by analyzing results. More. Bigger. Better. I thought I needed to follow suit, and I learned that it wasn’t for me. There are so many rules and tricks to blogging with the intent to grow, often as quickly as possible (it is literally my job to teach them). Remain relatable. Include photos of yourself X% of the time. Work Pinterest with tutorials and the right image formats. And you know, the formulas work! But they also lead to burnout (and I do include that caveat in class as well, lest I lead my twenty-year-olds astray). Other bloggers do what’s right for them and I love to watch and learn, but ultimately I need to do what works for me even if it isn’t ‘the right way’ to do things. This blog is dear to me and incredibly important to our family as it’s our income, but I want it to succeed in a way that feels true.

I think about spaces. I think about our home, and the fictional fifteen other homes I would decorate if time and money and locations were unlimited. I think about style and the easy reinvention of a wardrobe that comes with a great new pair of shoes or a killer dress. I think about turning out amazing meals and mixing the perfect drink and having children that will eat quinoa as easily as they will Coco Wheats. I have an idea of where I’m going but I make mistakes and I share as I go because that’s life, not a business strategy. I’m so appreciative of having people alongside me, even as I waffle, rethink, redo, and correct. That’s life, and that’s part of the fun.

Plants by Lila B. Design at Stable Café, San Francisco
Photo taken over the weekend at the beautiful Stable Café in San Francisco. Note the burned out light bulb. ‘Oops.’

That’s a Wrap

This has been an excellent week for Calvin to go through sleep regression! You’d think a baby could get his act together by now, am I right?

Anyway, we’re on the other side of our big photo shoot. The house looked amazing, and I can’t wait to share the details and show everything to you! The photos are for a Christmas issue, so the good stuff will have to wait until it’s out, but here’s the tiniest of sneak peeks.

Christmas Wreath

There was garland everywhere, wreaths in the windows, a fresh tree in the library (complete with tons and tons of wrapped empty boxes beneath), and a cute little tree in the play room. Christmas just seems to come earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it? Right after Easter, in this case.

Shoot!

Things are a little crazy here, in the best way. I’m styling a photo shoot here for a magazine on Thursday, which should be a fun feature that we can knock out in a day. Then in two weeks, our house is being taken over for a few days for a much bigger whole-house shoot for another magazine. Good stuff! Our last house had been photographed over the years, but each publication always relied on my styling. This upcoming shoot will be for a holiday issue, so they’ll be bringing in props and holiday decorations that a stylist will mix with our own things. (The neighbors should enjoy the Christmas tree that will be visible from the front window. The kids are going to be so excited though! Excited, and confused!)

Besides the frenzied rush of trying to get the house photo-ready and keep it that way with the kids about, I’ve been gathering props for this week’s shoot. We’re doing three looks which will be fun, but it’s three times the work and running around. I’ve also been working on three big posts that will be published elsewhere soon (and I can’t wait to share them with you because they were so much fun to work on!), an in-person event or two, and then I’ve got my workload for the class I’m teaching at Columbia. Add in a baby that is still nursing every 2-3 hours, a blog (this blog!) that I love writing but that takes more work than it seems on the surface, and email that seems to multiply as I answer it, and it starts to feel a little nutso. Lucky for me I kinda like that energy, but I am looking forward to it letting up a little.

Plus I was all excited about it finally being spring, and then we got another layer of snow. Dammit, Chicago. Although it worked out for the upcoming holiday feature — they needed a good snowy exterior shot!

So hey, here’s a random picture of me and Calvin from a few days ago because it’s weird to have a post without a picture. And scene.

Nicole Balch and Calvin

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