Well today is the day…five years of blogging as of May 20th. Absolutely CRAZY!!

This is the longest I’ve stayed at one job – which is hilarious to me. I mean, back in the day I was at one company for longer than five years, but I moved around to different locations.

For the first time in my adult life, I am perfectly, completely happy where I’m at and have no desire to do anything else.

Contentedness in a career is a wonderful feeling and so highly underrated.

It all started with this post back on May 20th, 2008:

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 9.26.10 AM

I started this DIY blog back in the day of (mostly) only family blogs, as far as I knew. Many of my friends were starting them up to keep friends and family up-to-date on their kids. One day I got a wild idea – why not make a blog showing my friends and family how I do what I do?

That’s what it was for initially, just friends and family. I had NO clue there were other DIY/decorating blogs out there. I’d even get an occasional comment from a blogger but still didn’t really put it together.

Smarty, I am. I still marvel that I’m able to write a blog, seriously.

Funny that five years seems SOOOO much longer than that. When you’re documenting so very much of what you do it seems more like ten years. Five years sounds like yesterday!

In honor of my anniversary I figured I’d to a top five post – a few of my favorites and my best advice of course, after doing it this long.

My house has changed SO MUCH in five years. More than the average house I’m sure, but as I say, this is my gig folks. The best gig ever, so change is kind of expected up in here.

Here are my five all time favorite projects we’ve done to our house, in no particular order:

1. The stairs:

taking carpet off stairs

I recapped that project recently here – and you can see how they’ve transformed bit by bit over the years here. BIG impact for very little money!

2. The Book Nook:

book nook closet

I still absolutely adore it!! We have plenty of storage space so making what had become an unused closet into something fun and quirky just makes me happy.

You can see more pics here and the how-to here.

3. My office:

board and batten on walls

You have to see the before and afters to get the full effect here. What’s funny is when I finished the room I wasn’t using it a ton – and then the Bub went off to kindergarten this year and now I use it every day. (Before I blogged at night and would sit on the couch.) I love being in this bright, happy room. LOVE. It is so calming, so me and I am surrounded by so many faces and things I love.

4. The basement:

built in cubby organization

It’s been about a year now since the basement was (mostly) finished. It took about six months to take it from all cement to a really livable space because we hired out most of it and did it with cash, so we just did what we could as we could afford it.

At least once a week my husband and I will look at each other while we’re down there, sigh and say, “I love our basement.” Still…a year after being done. We spend so much time down there and truly enjoy it.

You can see more about those cubbies here and the whole basement transformation here. (And how we used to use it before it was finished!)

5. The patio: 

outdoor patio with fireplace

It was our first real, BIG project and yes, we hired out. (Lordy!) This is another one of those things that we’ve done that we are truly humbled by. Every night we are out there we talk about how blessed we are to have been able to do something like this. Our backyard is an oasis for us and it’s because of this addition.

You can see more of this area and our deck here and other outdoor spaces here.

Every few months I’ll freak out a little because I wonder if I’ll have enough “content” in this house. Like, is there enough to do to keep blogging about it? What I if I run out of projects? What will I do??

And then I LAUGH.

Blogging has been a blessing, and I don’t say that lightly. TRULY. I have met some of my closest friends through blogging, been on some amazing trips, met so many cool people – it is overwhelming and makes me emotional when I think about it.

Here are the top five COOLEST things that have happened since I’ve started blogging, again in no order cause they’re all just that cool:

1. Being on the Nate Berkus Show:

nate berkus thrifty decor chick

OK, I never actually got on the show in person (I did get a chance to go see him live!), but he did highlight my blog. I know many of you found me that way. :) He did such a great service to so many bloggers, it was such a thrill.

I was supposed to be on the show numerous times – I think I was contacted about ten times. Once I got everything ready, they got my travel booked, and then Nate had appendicitis and it was cancelled.

It was fine with me though – it was an honor to just be highlighted. :) You can see the segment here.

2. Paying off our debt:

dave ramsey thrifty decor chick

Other than the kids, this is the best thing, hands down, that we’ve done in our lives. My husband and I paid off $125,000 worth of debt years ago and haven’t looked back once.

I’ve been completely and totally thrilled to have worked with the Dave Ramsey folks a few times since then, it’s been an honor.

You can read more about our debt story here.

3. Being published:

cottages and bungalows thrifty decor chick

I didn’t talk about it much (I mentioned it here), but it was SO cool! One of my outdoor projects was in the April issue of Cottages and Bungalows this year.

Thing is, I didn’t think my stuff would ever be in a magazine, and I’m not being aloof or just saying that. I know mags are including bloggers more and more and I am SO happy about that. I just think my house is too “normal” for a magazine. Does that make any sense? I mean, I think it’s beautiful and I’m so proud of it, but I don’t see it being different enough to be in one.

So that’s why that spread was really special to me – so exciting!

4. The Haven Conference:

haven conference

I partner with some lovely, amazing ladies to put on this conference (coming up in August). It is a lot of work but being there last year was one of the highlights of my life – overwhelming and humbling and so. much. fun. It was hard to put into words and still is. :)

5. Working with dream brands:

The first time a “big” name contacted me I thought it was a joke, or spam, or anything other than them being serious. ME? Part of me still feels that way every time I get an email.

I often think about what my resume would look like now, after blogging for five years. If I put it down on paper it would be pretty awesome, you know? Like all, yeah, I’ve worked with Home Depot and Target and cutie Nate kind of liked my projects and blah blah…holy CATS.

WEIRD people. Totally weird!!

And finally, I’ve covered lots of blogging advice before, but as a little recap, here’s my top five nuggets of blogging tips – take them or leave them:

1. Don’t do things for free.

Unless you’re just starting out. Early on, do it for free and show how well you can represent. After that, if you are established, you blog regularly, you work every day at it – it becomes a job (a fun job, no doubt). You are representing a brand and should be paid for it.

2. Don’t take every paid offer that comes to you.

Write your blog as you like to read others – you don’t have to take every opportunity if it’s not a good fit. (If you need the money to make ends meet, this does not apply to you.) I turn down partnerships often because I don’t think it works for my blog or my readers.

3. Make friends.

I covered this more in depth here. I would not be where I am today without blog friends to go to for advice, partnering with bloggers and sharing the love. You can’t blog in a vacuum peeps.

Well you can, but it would get awfully lonely in there. And dirty.

4. Keep some of your life for you.

I’ve talked about this a few times too but I am SO passionate about this. It’s OK if you don’t share every aspect of your life on your blog. Keep some stuff just for you and your family. Otherwise it’s easy to live your life as you would blog about it. Does that make sense? Early on in blogging I’d be doing random things with my family and the “this would make a great post” thought would come into my head ALL the time. I was obsessed.

Share your family, of course!! Your trips, your big events, your proud moments. It’s just OK if you keep some of it just for you. Really! It is!

5. Turn it off.

Four and half years ago if someone said that to me I would have looked them with crazy bloggy eyes and cackled at them all freaky-like.

Take a break. The more you blog, the more you take on, the more it will feel like work. And it is. So now I turn off emails on the weekends, I shut down the computer Friday afternoon. (I still surf and do fun stuff on it on the weekends.)

The longer I do this the more I’ve realized I HAVE to disconnect. It’s good for the soul. At least mine. ;)

Well there you go. Now here I am getting all teary eyed. And I said I wouldn’t cry. ;)

It’s been an amazing journey and I have all of you to thank. Some of you have been here for years, some for just a few days. I’m so grateful you come back. :) I’m looking forward to the future to find out what else is in store and so hope you will come along for the ride!

From the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!!