Lists My Life

Revisiting the 30 Before Thirty List

Yesterday, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. I’m truly looking forward to this next decade, and I think my thirties will be the best years yet! So now that my birthday has come and gone, it’s time to see how I did with my 30 Before Thirty list. I had given myself six and a half months to do everything.

I finished all of these…

  • 1. Visit the Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago. (Done!)
  • 2. Dye my hair red. (Done!)
  • 5. Stop drinking soda. (Done!)
  • 6. Lose 20 pounds. (Not drinking soda should help.) (Done!)
  • 8. Sew a dress for Eleanor. (Done!)
  • 10. Donate some of our books to the library. (Done!)
  • 11. Cook Pad Thai from scratch. (Done!)
  • 12. Organize the catch-all closet in my office. (Done!)
  • 13. Get good at applying liquid eyeliner. (Done!)
  • 14. Print the bajillion photos I have stored on my computer and put them in albums. (Done!)
  • 15. Alphabetize our CDs and finish putting them into sleeves. (Done!)
  • 16. Landscape the front of the house. (Done!)
  • 17. Make an origami paper crane. (Done!)
  • 18. Visit the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. (Done!)
  • 19. Learn how to use my camera in manual mode. (Done!)
  • 20. Find my perfect shade of lipstick. (Done!)
  • 21. Decide for good whether I want a tattoo or not. (Done!)
  • 22. Pay off my credit card. (Done!)
  • 23. Make a video montage of Eleanor’s first year. (Done!)
  • 24. Have a date night with Brandon at least twice a month. (Done!)
  • 25. Grow tomatoes. (Done!)
  • 26. Have an adorable family photo taken. (Done!)
  • 27. Sing along perfectly to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. (Done!)
  • 28. Take Eleanor to the Shedd Aquarium. (Done!)
  • 29. Reduce (or eliminate) my reliance on paper towels. (Done!)

I didn’t finish these…

  • 3. Finish redesigning my Smart & Lovely portfolio. (It’s in progress.)
  • 4. Launch my design service. (I need to finish the portfolio first.)
  • 7. Repaint my office. (I’m going to wait and see how the white trim looks first.)
    * 08.16.11: Done!)
  • 9. Clean out the basement. (It’s getting scary down there, but we’ll get it done.)
    * 11.02.10: Done!
  • 30. Paint all of the trim in our house. (I made progress, but the dining room took forever.)

But here are a few things that I did finish in addition to the items on my list…

Along the way, many of you made 30 Before Thirty lists of your own (and many variations thereof, including a 30 Before Seventy list by a 67 year old woman). That just makes me incredibly happy. After a weekend spent concentrating on achieving dreams and goals, it seems fitting to wrap things up today. Next, I’m going to have to get going on my life list!

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  • Frank
    September 23, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Happy Birthday and well done on the list! You’ve inspired me to one of my own for my 30th next August. Life list sounds INCREDIBLY depressing in a way but exciting in another!!

  • PositivelyAnna
    September 23, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I’m new to your blog and I love it! Happy Birthday and congrats on completing so many things on your list. I think growing a human life trumps all.

  • Briana
    September 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Wow, you’ve made some awesome progress on your list! Happy birthday! We share September – my birthday was just last week.

  • Two Lovely Spaces
    September 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Congrats on your accomplishments. Your motivation inspires me. :) I’m about to turn 29 this year and I would love to make a similar list. 30’s will be great! Happy Birthday.


  • Linda
    September 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Happy Birthday! Congrats on your 30 before 30 list, quite impressive. You’ve inspired me to start my own list.

  • Brigitte
    September 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    That is a lot of progress in one year! Happy birthday!

  • Amanda
    September 23, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday! I meant to message you yesterday, but the day was crazy! My brother celebrated his 18th birthday yesterday! It’s a great day!

    So, what was the decision on the tattoo? :-)

    • Making it Lovely
      September 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      I want one. I won’t be able to do it for a while though, being pregnant and planning to breastfeed means I’ll have to wait.

      • lauren
        September 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

        i was going to ask the exact same thing (about #21). i can’t wait to see what you will choose, when you are finally able to get one <3 happy belated birthday!

  • Jess
    September 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Great Job!!! I love your “growing a human life” accomplishment, and what an accomplishment that is!!!! Thanks for the inspiration, I’m slowly but surly working on my 30 before 30 list…I have almost exactly 6 months left. :)

  • Caitlin
    September 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Way to go!!
    I really need to make my own list. 8 months ’till I’m 30 too!

    I’m also curious about what your decision was for the tattoo question.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      Make your list!

      And I want a tattoo.

  • Kerri
    September 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Happy belated birthday!! I think you will love your 30s. My 20s were kind of an emotional rollercoaster, but I have to say that my 30s have been awesome so far (I’m 33).

  • Sheila H
    September 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Happy Birthday! What an awesome year. I enjoyed the story about you in the Wednesday Journal yesterday!

    • Making it Lovely
      September 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks! It was a nice piece. :)

  • Melissa M.
    September 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I was listening to the radio in the car the other day, and I decided that I need to learn all of the words to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” as well! Perhaps one day we can do a karaoke duet. :)

  • Grace
    September 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    You accomplished a lot! I’m doing a 101 in 1001 list and so far it’s a lot fun. Happy Birthday!!

  • christine
    September 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Belated happy birthday! The 30s are good, and you’ll rock ’em, I’m sure.

    I am continually amazed at how much you get done. With a toddler and a bun in the oven, no less. Impressive & inspiring, indeed.

  • shalini
    September 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Happy Birthday, Congrats and a really great list to have accomplished.

  • christine, just bella
    September 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Happy Birthday to you!! You did great! Those are some pretty amazing accomplishments, especially considering you’re “growing another human”. Congratulations!!

    Super inspiring, I just might have to make my own list.. luckily I have a couple more years till 30.


  • Beth-Anne Jones
    September 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Happy Birthday! I am turning 30 next week (gulp!) and you have inspired me to create a list of things thirty things to do in my thirtieth year.

    Love the blog!!

  • Erica
    September 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Congrats on all your accomplishments! Curious which albums you used for your printed photos? I’ve been wanting to do this project for awhile, but having trouble finding affordable and attractive photo albums that I can label.

  • Jody Pham
    September 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I’m so in awe of how meticulous you’ve been with keeping up with this list. I’m inspired to start my own. Happy Birthday!!

  • Clair
    September 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Congrats on your accomplishments and happy birthday!

  • Danielle
    September 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Welcome to the Club! You inspired me to do a list before my 30th as well, but mine was much smaller and I had some unexpected things come up that made me unable to complete mine. I am so inspired at all the things you were able to complish! Some were so small, yet you learned from them! Great job.

  • Lauren @ chezerbey
    September 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Congrats and happy birthday! I turned 30 on the 19th and so far, so good. Instead of a 30 before 30 list, my goal was to have our big remodel project done in time for a b-day bash at our house. Well, it’s not done, but it was done enough for a party. I actually used my 30th as a negotation tactic for getting our counters installed faster. Now *that* made me feel old. =)

  • Funnelcloud Rachel
    September 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Happy 30th, Nicole! Impressive work on the list, too – I make lists like this all the time and never get near to completing them!

  • Erin T.
    September 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Love it! Congrats!

  • Filomena
    September 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I was inspired by your list to make one of my own! Thanks for posting your list :) I’m excited to see what I check off :)

  • Carrie Hogan
    September 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This is the first I read about you being Prego again. I am so happy for you! DId I read that right? LOL!

  • marichucky
    September 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I wanted to do a 35 things before turning 35, but I turned 35 last 09/13 and haven’t done it. But I did a list of things to do in my holidays, and realized I did a lot of the things I had planned and several others I didn’t have planned. It’s a good thing to write things down and cross them, thanks for the suggestion!

  • Lindy Mint
    September 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I loved turning 30. For me, it was getting those awkward 20’s over with and starting to enjoy being a “grown up.”

    Congratulations on your list, and on entering into another great decade! And thank you for sharing your journey. It has been very inspiring.

  • Christina
    September 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    How did the Pad Thai turn out? I’m a Pad Thai nut, but that recipe looked rather daunting to this microwave cook.

  • Emily
    September 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Happy late birthday! Congrats on all those accomplishments. You’re inspiring!

  • Catherine
    September 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Wishing you a fabulous next thirty years! Congrats on knocking off so much from you list. You’re so inspiring!

  • Shelly P.
    September 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Amazing! What an inspiration you are. And you did it all with a baby:) I applaud you. I am starting my list now too, I guess it will have to be 35 before 35?! I’ll compile and let you know when I post it on my blog…

  • JacquiBee
    September 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    That is an impresive achievment well done. I really admire you and I find you such an inspireation. Shame we cant have a paint trim party for you to help you get that job done. I would if I could. New Zealands a bit far to come. Best wishes for the next year.

  • Anja
    September 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    wow! this is not so bad- well done, nicole. i wish i could get off my duff like that (get off my duff? is this right? please don´t laugh…)
    and: happy birthday! the thirty scared me a lot. fourty was way better…

  • yvette
    September 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    congratulations! that’s wonderful. i need to make my own – i am 30 next july. you know what, i think i’ll start a blog to cover it!

  • Kathy
    September 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I have 1.5 years til I’m 30…I think I may need to make a list too!

  • Hanna
    September 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday! I just made a list (I have a year a couple weeks to work on it)

  • katyrenee
    September 23, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Happy Birthday!

  • Kathy Z
    September 23, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Happy birthday!! I loved your list. I’m only a few years into my 30’s, but I love it. :)

  • Jane
    September 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Nicole Congrats on turning 30 and achieving so many goals on your list. That’s most impressive. I just turned forty (you can read about it at and have a list of my own of things I want to learn to do. I also want to start a bucket list – but that’s on my to-do list at the moment! J x

  • kimma
    September 23, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Happy birthday! Congratulations on achieving not only the things from your list but also all the everyday things like running a successful business, being an inspiring blogger and most importantly raising a happy, healthy child(ren).

  • Kinga
    September 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Happy Birthday!!! We share the same Birthday and I turn 30 too. I hope you had an amazing day! My gift to myself was starting a blog, and I believe like you that this upcoming decade will be the best yet!

  • Megan Elizabeth
    September 23, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Happy Birthday and thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    You’ve inspired me and I just blogged about a 20 before twenty list of my own.

  • Margaret
    September 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I love your list.
    It gave me so much inspiration. I even composed a Forty Before Forty version (no fair … this gave me ten more things to do than you).
    I loved reading your list and following along … reading why you losted these items and how you were progressing. I found/find it very motivating.
    I hope you will continue with “+30 list” update posts. However, I am sure you will provide a better name.
    You did so well on your list but I am no less curious to see how the “leftovers” turn out.

  • melissa
    September 24, 2010 at 12:26 am

    i have 9 months to go- and working on my list that i created- thanks to you. awesome job- i only hope i can finish as many on my list

  • lisa
    September 24, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Congrats! The thirties are sooo much better than the twenties it’s not even funny. You’re in for a good time.

    Also, two kids are so much more fun than one kid! But also so much more work:( Give yourself permission to be loopy for the next couple of years and everything will work out fine. (Mine are just turning 2 and 4, and I’m just starting to feel like I’m waking up from a really trippy fever-dream).

  • amyks
    September 24, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Happy Belated Birthday…and you accomplished a lot more in 6 months than some people do in a decade. So congrats to a job well done, now take a well deserved nap!!

  • Valerie
    September 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Great job on your list! I hope I can knock out that many from mine. I only have 3.5 months until I turn 30! You can watch mine here: Now that you are done with yours and can sit back and relax!

  • Nicole
    September 24, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Happy belated birthday!

    Such a great, inspiring list – thank you so much for sharing it & your progress along the way with us! I just started on my ’32 before 32′ list & have 6 months… its amazing how creating list like that (kinda long/ kinda limiting) really is helping me to dial in on what is most important. :)

  • jbhat
    September 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Well done! Just reading your list of accomplishments filled me with pleasure….I can only imagine how you must be feeling to have made these things happen. I am looking forward to your sharing your thoughts and plans from your weekend at Mighty Summit.

    And of course–Happy Birthday!


  • Katie*Belle
    September 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Happy birthday! Your list is so inspiring. Today is my thirtieth birthday and I totally agree — let’s make these the best years yet!

  • Mandy
    September 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Happy Birthday and congratulations! I linked to your list and the part about the Steve Ward diet on my blog.

    Thanks for the hook up!

  • Kim
    September 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’ve got my own list going now!
    Happy Birthday!
    :) Cheers

  • Shelley
    September 26, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Happy Birthday, Nicole! I loved my thirties, and my forties are even better (a little something to look forward to for you!)

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  • Kristin
    October 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I love your list! Look at all the things you accomplished! It gives me all kinds of motivation to do my own list. Maybe I’ll make a list today. :)

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  • ChrysalisDC
    November 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Please please PLEASE Nichole, tell me how you do it. An amazing house, businesses, a baby & one on the way, a husband *and* this gorgeous web site! I am in awe.

    How do you keep track of your day and schedule your time? Please share your secrets for time management, etc! Do you use online planners / schedulers and do you have any assistants to help you with work?

    Love your site, so inspiring! :)

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    November 27, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I just came across your site, and I too have been inspired to make a 30 before 30 list. I’ll be ‘stealing’ several of your list items too! I have exactly six months from Christmas Day….better get crackin!

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