A Look Back at 2021

Last year, my word of the year was together. It’s hard for me to choose just one word to sum up 2021…Surprise, we’re having a baby; pivot our plans; transition into a new life of four! There just doesn’t seem to be one word to describe the wild ride we had this year.

Even though I can’t pinpoint the perfect word to describe these past 12 months, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good year. A hell of a lot happened around our house and as a family. While I was pregnant the majority of this year, I was still able to complete a lot of DIY projects and that makes me really happy! I wasn’t going to let anything slow me down!

2021 Recap: A Year in Review

Heading out on maternity leave

Let’s take a closer look at my 2021 recap and all of the monumental moments and blog posts that were the highlights of this year.

Getting Organized (January)

Servingware pieces

Every January, I go on an organizing and cleaning frenzy. 2021 was no different. From organizing our pantry, to creating a charging drawer, getting Rory’s dresser in order, revamping our linen closets, and showing you a look inside every single cabinet and drawer in our kitchen – I did a lot of organizing.

My tips to organize digital files

Oh, and I can’t forget digital organization. Here’s how I organize photos on my phone and another post about organizing our digital files. With all of those posts, I started the year off on the right foot.

Giving the Main Bedroom Some TLC (February)

How to wallpaper a ceiling

In February, I kicked off our main bedroom makeover. This room hadn’t been touched since we moved in and it was lacking personality. I started by wallpapering the ceiling and that really added some fun to the space. I followed up by painting the walls a beautiful blue (Benjamin Moore “Boothbay Gray”), and we finally upgraded to a king-sized bed after seven years of marriage!

We even got new windows for the bedroom and I shared the process in the above video.

This winter video shows some behind-the-scenes of the main bedroom makeover, along with a look at our life as a family.

At the end of February, I found out I was pregnant which totally ROCKED OUR WORLD. It was the most shocking news of our lives because we didn’t think we could ever get pregnant without the help of science. It took me at least another month to really believe that I was going to have a baby and I didn’t share the news with anyone outside of our immediate family.

8 Years of Blogging (March)

8 years of blogging and sharing more about the business of blogging

In March, I celebrated eight years of blogging and I shared this blog post all about the business of running a blog. I answered all of your questions about the business side of things, including making money, working with sponsors, going full-time, etc. I also shared how I get organized for the workweek by using the Trello app, which has been such a gamechanger for me!

Working mom day in the life

Every year, I try to do “A Day In the Life” post, to give a glimpse into my daily life. I shared two of those posts – this one outlines a typical workday, while this one is a day where I’m with Rory.

Our new organized home office closet

As for DIYs, we tackled our office closet by installing our favorite IKEA closet system. It’s been a gamechanger and has kept my office much more organized.

Finn and I did a bit of outside work in March, prepping our lawn for spring. We’ll definitely be following these same steps in a few months!

Our New Main Bedroom (April)

Our main bedroom makeover

By April, our main bedroom makeover was complete! To finish things off, we added a Frame TV and brass sconces over our new nightstands. This post has all of the details about the big reveal.

The kitchen at night

And I completely forgot about this post, but I took photos of our home and night and shared them right here on the blog. I love looking back at these cozy pictures of each space in our house.

Baby #2 News! (May)

2021 recap sharing our baby announcement

In May, I decided to share the news with the world that we were expecting another baby. This is actually the most popular blog post I’ve ever written. It got over 120,000 pageviews that first day! Isn’t that wild? I think you all were just as shocked as we were!

Walking around town on our Scottsdale babymoon

Finn and I also escaped for a long weekend to Scottsdale, Arizona for our babymoon. It was delightful and I dream of the day we can enjoy another trip, just us two.

We also celebrated our two-year home anniversary. The video above does a walk-through of the entire home! It really has come a long way in such a short amount of time.

Kicking Off The Backyard (June)

Our Yardzen backyard design plan

In June, we kicked off our backyard renovation, thinking we would be done in about four weeks. (Ha! That did not happen!) If you remember, we partnered with Yardzen to create a gorgeous backyard design and then slightly altered their plans to make it work better for our family.

The springtime was busy with room reveals and baby news, but we also managed to have a lot of fun together as a family, as you can see in our spring video above.

Jan’s Bathroom Reveals (June)

Jan's gray and gold bathroom reveal

While our house was a construction zone in the backyard, I switched gears to help my mom with her two bathrooms.

Adding a chandelier over the bathtub

She renovated both of them at the same time and they turned out beautiful! (Here’s the guest reveal and the main bathroom reveal.) This was her first big renovation project and she learned a lot along the way.

Starting the Nursery (July)

How to wallpaper a nursery closet

By July, it was time to get a start on Ellis’ nursery. I painted this canvas for his room, wallpapered his closet, and designed and installed a custom organizer for his closet.

While working on the closet project, I shared my best tips to patch holes in drywall. (His closet had 17 holes to fill!) I got a lot of great feedback on that blog post and video and I think it’s because we all have drywall holes to fill every now and then.

Backyard Reveal (August)

Finn working to install the string lights between our house and garage

Our backyard renovation came with a slow timeline and lots of hiccups along the way. So while we waited on the pros to finish up the big stuff, Finn and I got to work on some smaller DIY projects. We hung string lights, sealed our outdoor furniture, painted the garage door blue, and added an outdoor TV.

Our backyard after

Finally, we were able to reveal the space and I truly am so happy with how it turned out but I did learn a lot along the way and there are a few things I would do differently if I had to do it over again.

Summer coming to an end was bittersweet as we soaked up our days, outside, as a family of three and looked forward to the arrival of our son.

Welcome Ellis! (September)

Come meet our son

Ellis surprised us all with a very early arrival at 35 weeks. He was born on September 12th and I had a c-section because he was breech.

Every week during my pregnancy, we danced, as a family, to countdown to his arrival. The sweet little man joins us in our final dance at 2 weeks old.

Ryan and Sarah's wedding
My brother, Ryan, and his new wife, Sarah
Ryan and Sarah's wedding
Ryan and Sarah's wedding
Me & My Siblings

My brother also got married in September. It was a gorgeous affair at Union Station, here in Chicago. I mean, do you see those flowers?! I was only two weeks post c-section, but I was able to make it for a few hours and then I quickly headed back home to my toddler and newborn!

Ellis’ Moody Nursery Reveal (October)

Ellis' nursery reveal

My maternity leave officially started in October, but before I said “goodbye”, I shared Ellis’ nursery reveal. The space is so cozy and we spend so much time in his room feeding and rocking him. I absolutely adore his sweet room.

6th Annual Holiday Gift Guide (November)

Our holiday gift guide 2021

I couldn’t let the holiday season go by without sharing my Holiday Gift Guide! I made sure to include a variety of retailers this year too – women-owned businesses, BIPOC owned businesses, and many products which benefit global artisans or wonderful charities.

2021 Recap

Casey and Ellis our 2021 recap

Wow, what a year! We completed a lot of projects, big and small, and grew into a family of four. It wasn’t at all what I thought 2021 would bring, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I hope 2022 is a little less eventful and not quite so full of surprises! Ha, we will see what happens!

2021 Reader Survey

2021 recap and reader survey

But before I officially say goodbye to 2021, here on The DIY Playbook, I want to hear from all of you! Your daily support is what makes this blog possible, so I want to make sure I am creating content that you love and are inspired by. If you have time today, or over the next few weeks, I’d love to read your input. I will use this valuable feedback to prepare the editorial calendar for 2022, making sure I fill it with all types of content that you love and want to read.

Below is the anonymous survey that you can click through, type into, and then SUBMIT. And even though it is anonymous, I ask that you submit constructive criticism only. I’m so grateful for constructive feedback, and I welcome it, but I won’t tolerate anything hateful.

Most importantly, I want to wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday and new year. Thanks for your unconditional support today and every day. I can’t wait to see you right back here on January 10th, 2021.