What worked for me in 2015.

I love to do a little bit of reflection at year’s end, but I don’t make it complicated. Around my house we use two questions to help us take stock of the year gone by.

They are:

  1. What worked for me last year?
  2. What didn’t?

Today I’m sharing a few of the things (from significant to shallow) that worked for me in 2015. (I’ll share my list of what didn’t work in the newsletter, same as last year. Sign up here if you’re not on the list.)

post it notes office

1. Post-it notes. I’m a visual planner: I work best when I can see things. A white board is good, but this is better for organizing ideas. I spent $15 on a ridiculous number of post-it pads at Costco, committed myself to not hoarding them, and have been sticking them all over my office wall to track, sort, and sift my jottings.

dish towels

2. Kitchen towels. I loved Gabrielle Blair’s new-in-2015 book Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide. She says new dishtowels have a way of making the whole kitchen feel fresh and new. I took her tip to heart and started replacing my grungy old kitchen towels with cute new ones. Blair’s favorite places to get affordable, cute dishtowels are Etsy and World Market.

3. Tidying up. We thought we decluttered before we moved, but Marie Kondo convinced me we weren’t taking it seriously. This book was an exactly kick in the pants. We got rid of so much stuff in 2015, and that’s a good thing.

sofa 2

4. A little bit of hand holding. We moved in May 2014, and I was committed from the beginning to acting like we actually live here. I’ve learned from experience that if I wait until I feel “ready” to paint, or hang curtains, or nail up some art, it’s never going to happen. I signed up for the Nester’s short Cozy Minimalist ecourse to give me both a nudge and some needed guidance. Highly recommended.

5. Human maintenance. I have an old sports injury + a chronic case of too-much-typing disease, and this year I tried hard to do the things I know I need to do to take care of myself. When I do my stretches, use my resistance bands, and work my Thera Cane I feel so much better. Better enough that I actually remembered to do it, most of the time.

coffee, introverts, and extroverts

6. Decaf, all the way. I would like to start by saying this is SO SAD. But my caffeine tolerance is gone. I can reluctantly see that I feel a million times better when I lay off the caffeine.

tieks on the tracks

7. Great shoes. My gold glitter flats (the ones that worked for me in 2014) bit the dust early this year, and Will and Sarah had to stage an intervention to get me to trash them. I finally settled on these as a replacement. The price makes me cringe, but shoes are something I splurge on. Besides, I will wear my two pairs (in tangerine and starstruck) 300 out of 365 days this year, easy—including ten days walking 10 miles a day in NYC.

8. Kindergarten. We’ve been homeschooling for the past five years, but for reasons that make sense on paper but were largely intuitive, we enrolled Silas in “school school” this year. He’s attending a wonderful half-day kindergarten program in our neighborhood, and he is in heaven. He’s the youngest of four and my personal theory is he’s delighted to be in a world that revolves around five-year-olds (as opposed to his older siblings), at least for twenty hours each week. The carpool line is also totally working for me.

stitch fix september 2015 plus trunk club-4

9. Uniform dressing. I’ve been captivated by this idea for a long time but this summer and fall I started putting it into practice, at least more than I ever have before. This fall so far it’s been a black Everlane turtleneck, dark jeans (Kensie and DL, from Stitch Fix), and Tieks. I’ll switch to boots when it’s too cold for flats. I do mix it up a little bit, but on days when I’m in a rush this is what I reach for every time.

10. The postal service. I love not shopping—or at least, not going shopping, I’ve been a heavy user of the postal service this year. I especially loved using Stitch Fix. Apropos of the above: my profile says something like “send me stuff I can wear every stinking day without it getting old.” (Psst—they’re doing gift cards for Christmas.) Now if Trader Joe’s would only ship my groceries….

11. Rhythm and routine. I’m an INFP and routine doesn’t come easy. This year I’ve deliberate about putting extra time and thought into laying a good foundation for my daily rhythms and routines, and it has made my life so much more pleasant. (Bonus: it has also made life much more enjoyable for my child who craves routine.)

I could talk about this all day. I would LOVE to hear what worked for YOU in 2015, and what didn’t. Tell us about it in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Jess Townes says:

    Love the uniform!
    Here’s what worked for me in 2015:
    1. Challenges/courses that have Facebook groups. I did Tsh Oxenreider’s Upstream Field Guide, then the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, the the PiBoIDMo Challenge (picture book idea a day in November) and completed them all, thanks to a combination of group support and a structured goal. I’m an ENFP, a big ideas person and not a natural goal setter and was really motivated by these groups. Next year I’m doing the 12 x 12 Challenge (again, picture books) and cannot wait!
    2. Lotion bars. It looks like soap, but it’s lotion that adheres to a wood block. I use it after every shower, no goopy hands and a moisturized body.
    3. Sleeping. When I prioritize getting a full night’s sleep everything else falls into place.

  2. Ashley says:

    Love this! Can’t wait to see the don’t list as well. Is the cozy minimalist course something you sign up for and is offered live, or is it material you purchase to peruse at your leisure?? Thanks!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I’d say the following three things:

    1. I’ve always been an avid exerciser, but I don’t like gyms. So this year I gave up the idea that I “should” like gyms (I’m a weight lifter, it feels like I should love it there;) and I’ve invested in a couple of dvd workout series that I enjoy doing.

    2. I’m relegating what I call my “social media blasting” to the early morning hour my kids aren’t awake. It’s necessary for me to do it (I’m an artist who sells on etsy, social media is key) but if I keep at it the entire day I’ve noticed I get so very cranky.

    3. I haven’t weighed myself at all this year. I’m a recovered ED/Compulsive Exerciser, so in my head I still have that “perfect weight” envisioned, but it’s no longer a practical thing to achieve. Instead I’m focusing on enjoying life (I wasted so many years focusing on weight it astounds me) and being mindful about eating and exercising. I am probably in the best overall shape of my life, even if I do weigh a few extra pounds.

    And that’s it!

  4. Suzanne says:

    Hello, I love your lists. The shoes and decaf struck me. I can’t do caffeine like I used to or I become a mama who roars. That’s not the mama I want to be. I am teetering on the shoes. Boy, do I want a pair. (Santa, do you hear that?)

  5. Misty says:

    Please, pretty please, share if you have found a good tasting decaf! I have also given up caffeine and feel much better, finally, after several weeks. I sure miss the taste of coffee though, and I have yet to find a decaf I can stand.

    • Anne says:

      I usually get my coffee locally so I’m not sure that will help. (When we travel, I usually pick up a bag of whole bean decaf from whatever local coffee shops we visit.) I do know I much prefer medium and light roasts for decaf, but it’s tricky because there are so few decaf options available!

      Stores like Lucky’s, Whole Foods, and Fresh Market often carry an assortment of good coffee sourced from roasters within a hundred miles and premium roasters nationwide. Amazon also has a few whole bean options available. I’ve also tried Modest Coffee, I thought their decaf wasn’t bad. http://www.modest.coffee/

  6. KC says:

    I love that you love Tieks! I have been wanting a pair for about a year but am having a hard time taking the plunge. Because of you (seriously :)) I decided to go ahead and splurge on them. So in 2016 I hope Tieks work for me.

  7. I frustratingly blew out my calf on Friday…while stretching! I’m not as good as foam rolling as I should be, but man, I am doing EVERYTHING I can to treat this recovery time as necessary and good. I took a bit of humorous comfort in learning this is typically a middle aged injury, especially since I hit 42 today.

    And yes to Post-its! They’re huge for me in drafting picture books.

  8. Megan says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask about your youngest being in school since I knew you homeschooled. I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. 5 year old is in preK and I’ve loved having him out of the house for a few hours a day. He comes back happy and full of information! Next year I want to keep him home for Kindergarten and give homeschooling a try, but I will plan on sending my 3 year old to PreK. In most families, it seems to be all homeschooling, all the kids. So I am interested in your perspective on sending the littles to school and then homeschooling as they grow.

    • Anne says:

      This year my older three are hybrid homeschooling (they attend a cottage school/university school one day a week and come home with assignments for the other days). We are currently evaluating options for next year; I’m not sure yet what our home and school life will look like in 2016-17.

  9. Theresa Reed says:

    I’m almost at the uniform. I have two pairs of jeans, same style from Lane Bryant because I LOVE them. I asked for another for Christmas. Drat! Another couple of reasons to go back to Pinterest lol (but I’ve forgotten how to use it) -to follow you -some friends evidently found me and started following me since I’ve been on, and because I want to develop a board that I will eventually use for Stitch Fix too. I thought for sure that their site wasn’t for me because I don’t have a lot of money for clothing, but then I realized after reading the FAQ about pricing and boxes that I had control of most of that.. I went to the style profile determined to set up an account and.. drat! They don’t do larger than size 14/XL Time to get real about dropping some weight.. lol

  10. melissa says:

    Love this post. Gold ballet flats are my favorite too. They have been my go to for the past few years. I always wear them out, and it was probably a good thing my dog got a hold of a recent pair and chewed them up. I am getting a new pair for Christmas, hooray! The ones you bought look VERY comfortable. I think I will have to try those in the future.

    Merry Christmas and I love your blog.

  11. Cassie says:

    I don’t know what I would do without routines! I love them! I just had my first baby, and the lack of routine is killing me. Please tell me she’ll settle into one at some point!

    • Anne says:

      It always took me four months, minimum. Naps and feeding times would continue to shift, but at four months I felt like we had a start. I have no idea if that is slow or fast compared to other moms and babies.

  12. Julie says:

    I’ve been frustrated at my inability to fit in exercise while homeschooling 6 kids who are very early risers. Now that there’s not a nursing baby (and the older ones can be trusted) I discovered I could fit in a walk/run during nap time (killing two birds, so to speak – exercise and quiet). It’s been monumental and I hope to continue this in the new year.

  13. Ana says:

    Loving the gold glitter flats! Why not have a little sparkle in every day? I really can’t splurge on Tieks right now but I’m on the hunt for glittery ballet flats for next spring!

  14. Corby says:

    What’s worked for me
    1. Having a personal trainer 2xs per week keeps me honest about my exercising and food intake.
    2. Setting goals and having someone keep me accountable… goal this past year run four 5k races. Mind you I have not run in 20 some years and never more than a mile but on Nov 14 I finished my fourth one.
    3. Having a go to menu for weeknight dinners. I put together 4 weeks and rotate through them. Saves me time and $$$.
    4. Weekly wine tasting date with my girlfriends very Wednesday. A treat for all of us and a chance to regroup.

  15. Mandie says:

    I’ve had to say farewell (again) to caffeine, at least during pregnancy. I get too anxious and my sleep suffers, so off it goes! I, too, could really use a Trader Joe’s delivery service. Or any grocery delivery, for that matter.

  16. I really love this idea, and I appreciate the invitation to introspection so much that I may even have to do my own little post about it!
    Meanwhile, what worked for me in 2015:
    Buying a house below our budget and having a contingency fund
    Quitting my job
    Having a smaller-than average fridge AND a small chest freezer
    Beginning a home food store
    Train Travel
    “Weak ties,” meaning acquaintances and friends-of-friends

    Thanks again for the idea, and for sharing what worked for you!

  17. Cake says:

    For grocery delivery we’ve been using instacart.com which has been a gamechanger since we live in the city and don’t own a car. Sadly no Trader Joe’s and they’re only in a few areas but worth checking out!

    • Anne says:

      I hear you. The blessing/curse of having gigantic and wide feet is that very few brands actually fit, so when I find a pair that does fit I buy it and wear it practically every day until it falls apart. One pair of nice shoes costs less than twenty pairs of cheap shoes. 🙂

  18. Andi says:

    Can I start by saying that one of the biggest things that has worked for me this year is Modern Mrs. Darcy!! As a crazy busy mom of little boys, I look forward to your posts EVERY day- it’s like having a best friend that can hang out for a little bit over a cup of tea- whenever it’s convenient 🙂
    Bullet journals (hello, where have you been all my life, wonderful things) since I’m a total list addict.
    Home birth – we had our ‘latest’ boy at home in the Spring, and it was every bit as epic as I’d hoped.
    Homemade Chai – because ditto on the caffeine thing.
    Developing a personal uniform and then investing in it, with your delightful self as an inspiration and encouragement.
    Throwing everything away. Ok, not everything everything, but lots of things. It was freeing and wonderful.
    Daily Kindle Deals- my husband bought me a Kindle for Mothers Day and I’ve actually been reading again. It was my favorite thing to do before I got married, but I haven’t made time for it in years. I’m glad I starter against, it give me a little of myself back at the end of the day.
    Started school! I’m going to become a homeopath- woot woot!
    Looking forward to 2016!!
    Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us out in the etherweb…

  19. Danae says:

    Our local grocery store just started a pilot program for curbside pickup. It is a total game changer – not only a time-saver but by ordering online the night before, I avoid impulse purchases and stick to my menu.

    What worked for me in 2015: audiobooks! I am reading so much more now, and enjoying books that I abandoned in print versions.

    • Anne says:

      We have curbside pickup and delivery in our area but not at the grocery stores I actually like!

      I almost included audiobooks on my list, too. (I DID include them on my 2014 list!)

  20. Janene says:

    I’ve been wanting to try Everlane, and the turtleneck sounds/looks great (love that it’s black and fits loosely) — but dry cleaning? Do you dry clean it once a week? Do you have more than one, because it’s a uniform?

    • Anne says:

      I hope this doesn’t sound icky but I only dry clean it every 5-7 times I wear it. I ALWAYS wear something underneath it, and those garments get washed with each wearing. Unless I dump coffee on myself it just doesn’t get dirty if it’s worn as an outer layer.

      I thought about hand washing it like I do so many of my dry clean garments but I haven’t been brave enough to try that yet.

      • Janene says:

        My brain doesn’t work some days, or I would have totally guessed that’s what you do — I do the exact same thing with a sweater I have. Thank you for taking the time to reply!

  21. Kim A. Hazel says:

    I tweaked my life at the beginning, middle, and (near) end of this year…and that worked for me. I started with a three week hormone-balancing detox by replenishpdx.com. Right around my birthday in May, I started the three week O-course, Thrive (based on Arianna Huffington’s book) and went to a yoga retreat during that same time. And last, I took my solo vacation for three weeks in Europe: Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. (I noticed just now that everything came in threes!)

  22. Kelly says:

    I love your list!!! I stuck to 10 because I can’t think of a list without thinking of a Top Ten!

    Margin, Family First!, Living Lightly, Embracing Me, Letting Go, Adopting a Second Dog, Getting some *skin* in the game, 3 Planners, Indulging the Bibliophile within, Writing

    I added mine to my blog — with more details — thank you so much for all your inspiration! I adore your blog and ponderings!!

  23. Angela Drozdowski says:

    Have you read Jen Hatmaker’s “Seven?” I think it would complement your lifestyle goals. Vi did it a few years ago but need a tweak.

    Things that worked for me in 2015: 1. Turkish towels for traveling. They are perfect to use as a light blanket, shawl, or towel. They dry out so quickly. Can find them on

    2. Sanuk flip flops made out of recycled yoga mats. Like supportive pillows for my feet. I wear the wedges from April to October.
    3. Kavu bag again for traveling. Small like a purse but organized so well I can use it like a carry on.
    4. Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream is now the only ice cream I will buy. It really is natural without all the guar gum etc that all the others now contain. After switching to this ice cream you will remember what ice cream is supposed to taste like…like Breyers used to taste!

    Thanks so much for your list!!!

    • Anne says:

      Yes, I did read Seven! I really enjoyed that a few years back.

      Laughing at Turkey Hill: “what Breyers used to taste like.” Ha! I thought the name was weird when it entered my grocery but it sure is good. 🙂

  24. Katherine says:

    I just cranked out my own list on an outdated and slow iPad. It is a real testimony to how badly I wanted to write- my iPad is miserable:)
    I love the end of the year reflections!

  25. Mae Lorette says:

    Your website is the best one I’ve ever come across, for me, a reader and creative pantster. Your post on “Planning” hit me in that way things do when you’ve become aware of something and not sure how to go about altering it to allow realization of intentions. I, not knowing exactly why, have recently brought a good Post-it supply. So, for the New Year, blocks of time will assist me in moving forward with my projects. Thank you! And a fulfilling New Year to you! BTW – reading five books at once, one of them: “Presence” Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy. Revealing…answering questions I’ve always had.

  26. Rebekah Mc says:

    I too cleared a lot of stuff with Marie Kondo.
    I second the turtleneck as part of my uniform.
    Things that worked for me:
    – Batch cooking–I eat the AIP version of paleo, so I cook all my food from scratch. I got really good at chopping up vegetables, using a slow cooker or two, and
    – A one year Bible…I really didn’t want to get behind, so I just kept going.
    – Old Navy dark jeans every day & cutting my own hair
    – Keeping a box at the front door as an “inbox” for newly acquired things that I’m not sure have homes or that bring me joy. Keeps me from having to make decisions about the stuff whenever I’m tired.

    Great post!

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