The best of 2016 and moving forward.

January 5, 2017

I wanted to jump into a new fresh start on the blog this week, and not even take the time to look over and evaluate the past year. I realized, however, that I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the highs and lows of the year in order to move forward in the right direction. Each of you readers that visit IHOD are the reason I am able to keep going this year, and it is important to me that I keep an honest dialogue with you because if you are going to invest time in IHOD, I want that time to be an uplifting part of your day. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, but these things need to be addressed!

I ended the year pretty burnt out as I do almost every year, and welcomed the extra time with my children and husband at home. I could have used two more weeks, but I decided the number one rule/resolution/goal whatever you want to call it, is not to force anything. This will apply in all areas of my life. Regret, bad moods, stressed relationships, missed moments….all of those things are a result of forcing good to happen. I just want to BE this year, and allow myself the ability to experience each day as it comes without self imposed expectations. Still with me? Okay good.




Let’s start with a look back on your favorite posts from last year shall we? Some of these surprised me, but others I quite agree with you on ;)….

Top 10 posts of 2016 in no particular order:

1. Leave room in your heart for the unimaginable
2. Introducing Azelie Jane
3. If you bring a mom a muffin: ways to help a new mother
4. Meeting Little Flower
5. Dining room makeover reveal
6. Three dutch braid hairstyles
7. Packing organization tips for family travel
8. Indoor + Outdoor plant guide
9. Closing time: committing to the right home
10. Three Mother’s Day looks

What this told me is that you still like home and family related content (good because that is my favorite to blog about!), you want more relatable style (also great because I am over heels), and you appreciate travel tips over travel content. My kind of readers! Moving forward, I might be doing a survey to help fine tune more of the type of posts I do here, and I will also be making some site navigation improvements!

Current thoughts that need to be addressed:
A little honesty…. one of my biggest struggles this year was debating whether or not to continue sharing personal posts. It is much easier to blog about fluffy things like paint colors, pink chairs, and favorite jackets than it is blogging about learned experiences and raw motherhood. The vulnerable posts are emotionally taxing to write as well as most subject to judgement. I also have the privacy of my children to consider, and I second guess every photo or story I share about them here or on social media. What I have come to conclude, however, is that since they are my whole heart, soul, and motivation in all I do, it would be strange to leave them out of the story. I am learning that I can share here and there without invading their privacy, and also offer a word to other mothers from time to time in a desire to build community and encouragement among us without laying my personal life on the table.

I’ve come to a good place of wanting to share honestly and openly while also sharing good imagery. This blog and social media will always be a creative work for me as well as a job that supports my family, and I am coming to accept I shouldn’t feel guilty just because the images are nice, or explain why I am sharing a clean version of my home versus a messy one. I hope I have made it clear by now, that my life is actually pretty darn messy. There are days I feel like my main job is picking up toys, changing diapers, and feeding five people (oh wait, it is my main job!). It is actually the majority of my life, and it is my most challenging work, but I am so thankful for it. If someone gets angry I have a clean home from time to time or did my hair and got dressed for a style post, that is quite alright. Since this space is my work, and I address it professionally, I am hoping the majority of you will understand that without having to see the mess behind the scenes.  I can be the first to admit I don’t have my shit together….ever really, but I am thankful for a job that allows me to exercise that “never quiet” creative side of my brain. I only hope it can bring you some good as a result.


Highlights for IHOD:
While 2016 was one of the more challenging years personally, it was one of the better years on the blog front. That’s usually how the teeter totter rises, huh? Here were some highlights:

1. IHOD was nominated as Best home decor blog by Bloglovin! I couldn’t attend the awards because having a baby was kind of more important ;), and I didn’t win, but I sure felt honored to be considered. We also were given the award of Best design blog by Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. My head has a hard time wrapping my mind around these things! 

2. Somehow IHOD landed in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, Garden and Gun, and Atlanta Home Improvement in print this year. Oh how funny and ironic life can be considering I have a phobia of fame, and I tend to want to run and hide from media attention.

3. We were able to travel as a family. Considering a car ride with Max is equivalent to the intensity of American Gladiator, I would call this a feat. Rocco and I started the year in L.A., we fell in love with Seaside, Veronica and I had our very first trip together to Brooklyn, and Gabe and I experienced the southern city of Birmingham.

I was able to work with some incredible companies, and found myself pinching myself more than once. When you see a sponsored post, it is only because I genuinely love the company or content. I actually turn down 90% of offers! Of course these opportunities  and experiences have all been wonderful and good, but the best part of my year was bringing home our newest little one Azelie Jane, followed by some quiet days with my children. This is my most enriching experience in life, and I feel humbled to be their mother….even if they make me question my sanity from time to time;)

Moving onward and upward (hopefully).
Whew! Now onto what lies ahead. I don’t want to do any major changes to the blog, but again I will be fine tuning the content and most likely doing more home content, motherhood and family, and relatable style and beauty posts. I am cutting out recipes and business tips. I love these topics, but I feel like you can get better content on these topics elsewhere since they aren’t my specialty. 

I have new ideas brewing for the expansion of IHOD and am really taking time to think things through, ask advice from my most trusted family and friends, and double and triple check the motivations behind these ideas. I must be growing up guys. Impulsive decisions are diminishing. Gabe continues to be my go to sound board, behind the scenes ideas and encouragement, part- time photographer, and the brains behind the home improvement posts. All in addition to his full time job and full-time father role. I always say he is the real reason this space exists. 

I have always loved your emails, comments, and feedback so please keep them coming. They fuel me on the tough days! 

Cheers to making the most of the life we have been given~


Leave a Comment

  • I always enjoy coming here for the uplifting, honest and inspiring content. You’ve created such a beautiful space. Looking forward to what 2017 brings!

  • Your openness is refreshing and you’re a beautiful woman, inside and out! You are a gift to your family and a wonderful witness to the feminine genius!

  • Dearest Anna – you should never need to apologize to any reader! I love coming to your space. From one mother to another you motivate me and inspire me! I love how you find the beauty in life while keeping things real. I have never left your site with the assumption that you have it all together and figured out, because you are humbly honest.

    Words can’t express how much I appreciate what you share with your audience. THANK YOU!

    I am looking forward to all you have coming 🙂

  • Dear Anna,
    You have a talent for beauty. You are stunning, the content you pick to show, write & post is really lovely. I love looking at the photos you post as well, whether images of home improvement, style, family life or travel because they are just so stunning. Thank you for being such a sign post of beauty here at IHOD. I really enjoy your blog and I hope that you continue to be inspired by Him who is all beauty so you can catch the rest of us and lift us right up there with Him.

  • Dear Anna,
    Your blog posts (+ instagram, Snapchat, etc) are my absolute favorite! I love seeing your family, your home, your style, and more. Your content is refreshing, beautiful, and very inspiring. I think you have struck a wonderful balance, and I can’t wait to see more! Happy New Year!

    P.S. We took a trip to Rosemary Beach this summer (based on your recommendation) and loved it!

    • Oh that is so encouraging to hear. Balance is something so hard to find, but it makes me so happy to know you can find something uplifting here. Thank you.

  • Love this post! I think you’re on point. If the comparison temptation is too strong for some who are self-conscious about their homes, it’s literally not something you can control.

  • I love the beauty and honesty of this space, Anna! It’s so refreshing, and you have a beautiful family. 🙂

  • I LOVED reading this Anna! And you are right, one of the things I love the most about IHOD is that your personal being is always present, in every single line you write- truly, I do not know how you manage to achieve such a tone of voice but it is incredibly authentic and hard to find!
    I am honestly happy that your blog is finaly getting the recognition it deserves!
    All the best in 2017!

  • Loved this post, Anna! I think you have such a good balance of pretty photos without being “staged” all the time and still honest.
    I don’t read many blogs anymore but I always find myself back at yours. Happy New Year! Xxx

  • Girl… you have five kids and have managed to find a way to help support your family while working mostly from home and getting to try on cool clothes and share fun house design projects! It’s a gift from God and you are blessed! As far presenting a professional look to your home and family, if it makes ppl feel bad then they should probably not follow lifestyle blogs or read home decor magazines. And I’m not judging that because life can be tough and not as beautiful as you’d like and everyone can be vulnerable to envy.. but you are always honest about what you are doing and I love visiting your blog for inspiration!

    • Kath,
      You make a good point! I never want to be a point of comparison especially since my hope is only to inspire and idea or uplift. But I have had to remind myself that there can’t always be the same interpretation from every viewpoint, and that’s ok! Thankfully, I have such a wonderful crew of readers. Most everyone is so kind.
      Thanks for being here! x

  • Maggie W.

    I love your posts and glad that you’re taking the time to just be with your family. Looking forward to another year of IHOD.

  • Beautiful, honest post. I’m still trying to figure out this whole blogging world and it was helpful to read this. I loved when you said you’re double and triple checking your motivations behind your ideas. And it’s interesting to think about how much of your personal life to share – I think about that too. What I always go back to is if the information is helpful and can serve others, it’s probably ok to share.

    Looking forward to keeping up with your posts in 2017!


    • Maria, I agree! That is such a good filter to run things through. Can it be of help to others? Does it contribute to the purpose of your work? Thank you for the note!

  • Beautiful post, Anna! I have so many thoughts to share since I rarely comment. Since finding your blog through the Fountains of Carrots podcast, it has quickly become one of my favorite! Looking over the top posts of the year and your remarks, a few questions and remarks come to mind. First, I do not stop by your blog because it is a “mom blog”, although of course motherhood colors most of what you do. I love the design, the fashion, really, the beauty of it! So I would never criticize that your pics are of clean, designed spaces or that you look lovely in a fashion post. Maybe a way to balance this out would be to do a “day in the life” post? Those are my very favorites among bloggers! It shows how a writer would spend their time and how they fit blogging into all the business of motherhood. Also, I thank you for taking us on the journey of home ownership. I look forward to buying a home sometime soon and I am happy to hear your thoughts on it. How did you guys decide to buy a home far away from where your kids go to school? Now that you have been doing the commute for awhile, do you still feel good about the decision to build a long drive into yoru day every day? How did you guys prioritize what was important to you? I am asking myself as all these questions as we seek our forever home.

    • Leslie, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment! I have actually done a few day in the life posts, and definitely time for an updated one now that we are juggling 5 kids with two jobs!

      I will definitely be continuing to post on our home…it’s something I love putting effort into. We have not regretted moving further from school because the trade of a big yard, more privacy, and more space all around was worth it:) Having a list of top three priorities helped us when it came down to making the decision!

  • Your blog is a beauty and it’s always refreshing to visit your space. I love visiting your blog because it is so uplifting and isn’t full of “fluff”, I appreciate your personal posts so much, please don’t do away with them! I never feel like you overshadow or invade your children’s privacy. Thank you for being honest, thoughtful, creative and honoring, and continuing to share with us! Xox

  • Congrats to you on all of your success this last year! I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for you!


  • Hannah Johnson

    Hooray for a new year of IHOD! Your blog has become one of my favorite places to read and collect fresh and creative ideas, as well as be encouraged in mommy-hood. Keep it up!

  • Dude! Anyone who gets upset about your pictures of your clean house is resiculous. You have mentioned time and time again in your posts the realness behind it all! I especially enjoyed the story about the fair a while back about keeping track of all of them. That takes guts to share that your not a perfect mom – though you’ve fooled me many a time- thanks for sharing these humorous tales! And guess what – this is the Internet – and just like annoying heated political posts- you ain’t gotta explain or apologize for squat. Do yo thang guuuh! ?

    • Lindsey, please comment more…makes me laugh. Also, thanks for being supportive. I am learning all the time how to be in a public realm when I am naturally more of a private person. It’s been an experience! But I am grateful for it. x

  • Love reading your blog, friend!! You are inspiring.

  • This comment is to the readers, not you Anna (I’m Anna’s BFF from college). Anna’s blog is a reflection of the way she views the world. Yes she posts the clean part of her house, and her pictures look like they are out of a magazine. But her house is messy, I have witnessed it. But what I love about Anna, which is shown through her blog is her rose colored glasses. She wears all the time!!!! Anna is so positive and truly finds the joy and greatness in every up and down. It’s not fake… it’s the beauty of Anna. I hope you like her blog as much as I like her!

  • You are so genuine Anna…and can I just say that I love that you said sh!t in your post!!! Love you girl!

  • I understand the wrestling you do with wanting to keep things private and not share them, but what I like most about your blog is how the “fluffy stuff” (fashion, design, etc.) relates to your family. I love that your family is so important to you because I feel the same with mine — but you still create a beautiful home and look nice (okay, gorgeous). I also feel like I limped across the finish line of last year, but I’m glad you’re honest so I know that I’m not the only one! Sending you hugs from Korea!

    • Joy, thank you for taking the time to comment. You are so kind. I appreciate every word. Hope you have a refreshed January and a fulfilling new year!

  • Love your blog! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Looking forward to 2017! Don’t change a thing, I love your blog – would almost be tempted to create my own, now 🙂

  • Anna, I like the recap of your popular posts! You’re one of my favorite for style, interior spaces, table arrangements, and motherhood. I also love a look into your daily devotions – finding time for prayer – i was so excited to find Blessed Is She. Did you ever look into Coffee and Crumbs? Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Kathryn thank you so much. I am trying to get up before the babies to squeeze in ten minutes of prayer. It makes such a difference. But I could go for another ten at about 5 pm;) I love coffee and crumbs. I am currently reading Walking with Purpose. So good!

  • Through IG, I only just discovered your blog in late 2016 and it has quickly become one of my favorites! I appreciate your honesty and think you are beautiful inside and out! Thanks for sharing from your heart and inspiring us to live life to the best we can. Happy new year from Canada!

    • Janice, well thank you so much for following along, for taking the time to comment, and being so supportive. i am lucky to have readers like you! x

  • Anna,

    I am new-ish to your blog. I came upon it after hearing you on the fountain of carrots, and it was love at first sight! It’s been very inspiring. And something I appreciated very soon were your interjections of honesty and transparency to keep us from falling into the trap of over idealization and unrealistic expectations. For a while now, I’ve been toying around with the idea of starting a blog but I wrestle with the things you have mentioned. I too love the process of creating, creating beauty, editing images before posting … and yet I know that there is a big impact on our collective psyche when all we see are “perfect” pictures through social media, day in and day out. Combined with celebrities sharing their lavish lifestyles all over IG and these constant images flooding us, our American Dream have reached an all new hight and we sometimes don’t realize we’re reaching for a distorted reality. So how do we take that in without taking on too much responsibility? Thoughts? Studies have shown that Facebook causes depression and anxiety, when people are only showing the good stuff (It’s interesting how vulnerable we are to perceptions). I think another challenge is that if you’re sharing your life, vs just your work or product, i guess when your life does become your product, how do you balance keeping it real, sharing the struggle as a reminder, with maybe before and after pics, but not feeling guilty, like you said, when you don’t and you need to maintain some self-preservation ,.. and not taking on too much responsibility for others. I guess I’m mostly referring to the part you shared about what pictures are shared, messy rooms etc. Anyways, I think we have to experiment, see what unfolds, check back in, and not take it all too seriously so that we don’t end up not taking the risk – that’s what I’ve come to recently 🙂 Thanks for sharing your process. You clearly have a gift and are called to this and are working’ it out as we all are. I look forward to what’s ahead.

    • Hi Natalie,
      So much good food for thought here, thank you for writing! I agree….we live in an image reliant culture and it is all too easy to get swept up over chasing the illusion of perfection in all areas of our life. I do think there is a difference however in the way we share our images and the content and context of which they are shared. I battle the line often but I try to keep loyal to my main motto which is making the most of the life you have been given. This is really where we each can find our own happiness…within our own lives if we choose to see it. Probably wouldn’t hurt to show more behind the scenes photos though so I will throw those in this year:)
      Anyways, keep up the good convo I appreciate it! xx

  • I’m so excited to see what you do with your blog in 2017!! I love your blog and your sweet personality. Your blog is such a positive place!! Have a great day!

  • You’re rocking it! Keep up the good work because it matters and your family and stories always inspire me.

  • Hi Anna,

    What a thoughtful post! Thank you. I’ve been following you for about two years now, watching with joy (mixed with twinge of pain) as your family grew and we struggled through the trials of infertility. We are now pregnant with a little one due in June (yay!) and I have referred to your past posts on a few key pregnancy clothing items (jeans and tank tops) which I requested for Christmas and absolutely love! Thank you for the beauty, honesty, joy and love that comes through in all you write and photograph.

  • Pat Schwab

    Hi Anna, I wanted to wish you and your loved ones a blesses New Year. Pat S

  • Truthfully, I don’t click over to your blog (or any blog) often these days. But I always love the posts that I do click over and catch of yours! I love your honesty here, and your style and clean house photos always inspire me. Keep being you, it’s refreshing! And best of luck going into this new year 🙂

  • Anna, you are and always have been since I first started blogging, one of my most favorites. Keep doing what you’re doing and I feel proud and inspired at your clean home! I value that too, and miss it on the super crazy days! Thank you for continuing to blog and be an uplifting voice. Love you friend!

  • Thank you for sharing your talents, Anna! I love your blog for your sunny (yet honest) take on life and beautiful photos and home and fashion ideas. I love seeing glimpses of life with 5 little ones! Your blog constantly reminds me to appreciate my own family, and to seek the good and the beautiful in life and in other people. I love how you talk about faith, too. I look forward to IHOD in 2017!

  • Happy New Year! Looking forward to your 2017 posts 🙂

    Allie |

  • Anna, thank you so much for sharing your awesomeness with us! One of my favorite parts about your blog is that you captivate us with beauty. Whether it’s photos or stories of your family’s adventures, a fantastic style post, or home design advice, you show us that beauty is important. I think that sometimes, big families can fall into the rut of thinking that their homes will always be super messy, so why even try to make it a beautiful living space? I appreciate that you show us that beautiful, tidy homes and big families are not polar opposites. I know that you have plenty of messes “behind the scenes,” but honestly, seeing how you seek to make your house full of beauty-through the love, people, and physical aspects of your decorating-is so very inspiring to me, and it encourages me to create more beauty in my own home.


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