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A Look Back at 2012

Brandon lost his job while I was out of town for Alt Summit last year. We were nervous and worried, and it threw our family dynamic out of whack. After several months, we decided that Brandon would become a stay-at-home dad, and I would try to support the family through my blog and other writing opportunities.

Throwing myself into the blog, full-force, brought about amazing things, but it was scary too. I was the sole breadwinner — realizing a dream of mine to support the family — but I had plenty of fears and doubts. I questioned my past academic failures and non-traditional career path. I was afraid, but I forged ahead. Now, as I look back on the year, all seems right and we’re in a good place.

I worked hard on the business aspect of my life, but I also actively sought opportunities to cross off a few of my Lovely Life List items. I put aside my fear of water and took the Chicago architecture tour by boat. I’ve never considered myself to be athletic, but I did the Color Run 5K. I helped break a world record on roller skates with some of my roller derby ladies. I learned that maybe I don’t have such a black thumb after all. I gave a keynote speech (and visited Canada). I met and interviewed Martha Stewart.

Next up on the list to cross off? Sequins. Watch out, 2013.

This past year, I also experimented with something new for the blog: working with a contributor. I had watched as other blogs have grown (sometimes rapidly) by adding more content and expanding from just the original author’s voice, and I thought it would be a good model to follow. I had been wanting to bring more craft content to the blog (like my handpainted clothespin dolls or my colorblock Christmas trees), and I felt like it was a good time to bring on a contributor to share more of these types of posts.

Andrea Howe was a fantastic addition, bringing us posts like this neon table setting and tutorials like how to make a statement necklace (which has been pinned over 27,000 times to date!). I love Andrea and was grateful to have such a wonderful experience with a contributor, but ultimately I decided that I felt best keeping this space 100% my own. I may be missing out on potential growth by not being able to produce more than one post per day right now, but it feels like the right decision.

Playing with Daddy

And of course, throughout all of the professional and personal highs and lows, I decorated my house and doted on my kids. As Eleanor and August continue to grow into their own little persons, I feel myself becoming more protective of their individuality. Their stories are theirs to share one day, when and if they choose to do so. They aren’t gone from my blog and I’m sure I’ll always share my life with them here to some extent, but I want to respect their privacy too.

Pink Christmas Tree

I’m still working on my house to-do list, but I’ve already changed out my coffee table, painted my vintage nesting tables, made progress on the bathroom, and switched up the dining room. My home office was featured in a magazine, and my home was photographed for a Christmas magazine issue to come out next year. I also went to New York and did three apartment makeovers in three days, which was amazing and exhausting.

I think that last phrase sums up all of 2012 for me quite nicely. Amazing and exhausting. Here’s to what’s next.

Pink Christmas Tree with Pailettes

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Aimee
    December 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I respect you so much for protecting your kids’ privacy. They are so adorable and are lucky to have a mom like you. Wishing you and your family the best in 2013.

  • susie
    December 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    sounds like 2012 opened tons of new doors for you! happy new year, nicole – wishing you even more great things in 2013!

  • Lily
    December 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Well done, lady! I never comment but I’ve been following your story for some time now. Looking forward to following you in the new year too. :)

  • Heidi
    December 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    You’re an inspiration! Congrats on an amazing year! I discovered you thru Holly’s BYW Bootcamp class and have enjoyed following you ever since! I look forward to following you in 2013!

  • Lauren Bee
    December 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I love your blog so much! Thank you for keeping it real!!

  • Deb
    December 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I don’t read a lot of blogs, but yours is definately worth the time. I was hooked from the start! I Love your style and look forward to reading it in 2013. Best wishes for 2013! Congrats!

  • Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms
    December 31, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I love how you write! This post really made me feel your life this year. Thanks for sharing your life online. You are an inspiration for all!!

  • Diana
    December 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Congrats Nicole! Your blog has been such an inspiration. I started reading just before Eleanor was born. I’ve loved seeing your site, your family, and you grow over these last few years.

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators
    December 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    What a wonderful and transformative year. So glad we had the chance to meet. You’re always an inspiration, personally and professionally. Wishing you a wonderful 2013.

  • Anja
    January 1, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Loved hearing some more about your life, and I think it is a very wise decision to protect your kids’ privacy at the same time. It’s great that you can follow your dreams like that!

  • Carla
    January 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Wow! You have accomplished so much! Congrats! I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings to making it lovely, happy new year to you and yours!

  • Catherine
    January 1, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Such a great post! I found you last year via Apartment Therapy, then took the BYW 2.0 class because you were teaching part of it. You are so inspiring and I really admire your honesty and willingness to share so much of your life with your readers. I’m going to Alt next month, and I’m hoping I won’t be too shy to say Hi! Happy New Year!

  • AnnW
    January 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for writing a high quality blog with useful information, fun, and proper grammar. I appreciate everything you do. I think I might make a set of clothespin dolls for a little friend of mine. Still love to see your basement.

  • jbhat
    January 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    What in the world have I been doing with my time? Just reading your recap makes me feel amazed and exhausted! But amazed and exhausted in a happy for you way. Watch out, 2013: get ready for more of Nicole’s loveliness.


  • Kristín
    January 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Happy new year Nicole! Thanks for sharing your life, brilliant ideas and all the fun stuff you do with us. I always enjoy your blog. :)
    All the best in 2013.

  • HollowSquirrel
    January 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I have no doubt you will find even more success in 2013! You’re so talented! Best wishes!!

  • Amber
    January 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I very much enjoy your blog and look forward to all kinds of fab things from you in this upcoming year!

    Also, in light of your Christmas-trees-on-cars post I wanted to share with you the picture my husband and I took of our boys for our Christmas card this year:

    A mini-tree on their little tikes cozy coupe! It was so fun.

  • Chloe Moon
    January 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Happy New Year!! Your blog is such a delight and I’m glad you overcame obstacles in 2012 and grew this beautiful place I love to check in on! Best wishes for the year to come and your future projects!! =)

    btw…those apartment buildings in Chicago are my absolute favorite. I wish I lived there. Maybe one day! =)


  • Sara @ Zahara Dessert
    January 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Happy 2013 and best wishes to you and your lovely family.

    It has been truly inspiring seeing you tick things off your Lovely Life List during the year.

    I also wanted to thank you again for getting me to start my own Life List and blog. I can’t wait to tackle all the Life List adventures in 2013. All the best.

  • Aurora
    January 2, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I just wanted to write to you and say that as someone who “discovered” your blog in 2012, I am in awe and inspired by you. I have followed your ups and downs as they seem to have occurred in coincidence with things in my own life. I really enjoy the blog and try to get here daily- all the way from Australia! I read your work often and am not one to usually comment on individual posts but I just had to write this once and say well done and I look forward to more.
    Best wishes to you and your family,

  • Andrea Howe
    January 2, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Nicole, it was a pleasure to work with you in 2012. I learned so much from you, and continue to learn from you and appreciate all the help and advice you give. Thank you. While there is a part of me that is sad I’m no longer contributing, a bigger part of me respects you so much for your decision to trust your gut and stay true to your voice. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks!

  • Miss B.
    January 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Congrats Nicole! Very inspiring and I am sure 2013 will be ANOTHER amazing year for you! Happy New Year!

  • Wendy Townley
    January 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for the great post! Doesn’t it feel good to review your past year and savor all that you have accomplished? I did the same and was quickly motivated to draft my list of personal promises for 2013. Blogging about them makes them even more real … and achievable :-)

  • Holly
    January 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    You are the best Nicole – and I mean that. Your posts are always written so well and your content is superior. Keep rockin’ it girl – I really enjoy reading your blog and wish you the best.

  • Molly
    January 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Loved this post! I’m the sole breadwinner in my household too, and though it can be terrifying, it’s also rewarding. Best of luck in 2013 and beyond! :)

  • Callie
    January 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Congrats on a great year, Nicole! It’s really refreshing and inspiring to read about your highs and lows of the year. Looking forward to following along in 2013 :)

  • Jill Browning
    January 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I’m glad to hear that you are keeping the blog 100% you (no disrespect to Andrea!!!). I appreciate that you are keeping it real and keeping it you. I’ve stopped reading blogs before because they lost that special quality that only the blog creator can contribute.

    Good luck with everything in the New Year!! :)

  • Joy
    January 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I think this is my favorite of your posts so far. It’s always great to learn more about you, and since I haven’t been around in the blogosphere for that long, I hadn’t had a chance to read your “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” post. In truth, it’s plain as day that you’re really, really smart, but I had no idea that you were mathy too — what a wonderful thing! As someone who’s always leaned heavily on the artistic/creative/language part of my brain, I can tell you how much I envy your ability to straddle both. Nothing is a waste. Your success with this blog has every bit as much to do with your braininess as it does with your warmth and genuine nature. Cheers to you for inspiring so many of us, and for continuing to do so!

  • Rose Catron
    January 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I love your blog. Thanks for sharing your decor, ideas, and family with me. You’re an inspiration.

  • Zsuzsi
    January 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I love the way you think about your kids and blogging. I live in a rather small country, write a daily blog in hungarina. Due to my blog and webshop branded by my name, it is hard to be invisible, unrecognised (even sometimes I would like to)!

    After my fourth child was born I was considering making monthly photo of her. I know it would even increase traffic. It was a hard decision not to make it. My reason was just like yours. It is their life!
    Thanks for sharing. It is good to know there are other bloggers out there with the same thought!

  • Elyse Crawford
    January 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Is your son wearing your daughter’s old jammies in that picture? I thought I was the only one who did that! LOVE that he is wearing Pink Owl Jammies! And love the blog!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Yep! Hand-me-down pink jammies. I don’t put him in the super girly ones (puffed sleeves, for example), but pink owls? Why not?

  • Aoife Wall
    January 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I loved reading this post. I’m only starting out as a blogger and have just sat down and written a list of what I want and where I want to go, and being the bread-winner is certainly up there.
    I love your blog, and this post has only made me love you more! You’re living my dream so I’m just going to keep reading and hopefully a bit of you will rub off on me! Aoife

  • Erin @ The Great Indoors
    February 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    What a crazy year you went through. I also had a memorable 2012 (in the sense that I wouldn’t mind forgetting it!). A quote I’ve lived with in the last year: “We make the path by walking” (Robert Bly). Good to keep in mind that you can move past anything by just walking toward your goals.