Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Books I Want to Read in 2017

Last year I started reading again and I want to continue to read this year. In my 2017 Life Update and Goals I said one of my goals for this year is to read 8 books. I'm always looking for book recommendations or ideas of what to read next, so here's some ideas if you're looking for some new books to read, too. 

Books on my list to read in 2017

Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt

I like history and I also like (true) stories about women who broke the rules and did thing people thought women couldn't do. Bold Spirit captured my interest for both those reasons. It's about a woman, Helga, who immigrated to the United States, moved to the west coast when it was just being settled, and then walked across the United States in 1896 from Washington to New York with her daughter to win $10,000 to help her family. If that doesn't sound interesting, I don't know what does. I started reading this book and it's really interesting how the author found Helga's story and the obstacles Helga overcame in her life.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

I read Mindy Kaling first book Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and LOVED it. If you have seen her on The Office or The Mindy Project you already know she's hilarious. That book was the same. Since I loved it so much I know I need to read her newest book, Why Not Me. I can't wait to start reading it!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is another funny woman I love. I've had Yes Please sitting on my shelf for a while, I just haven't gotten to it yet. But it sounds like it will be a great read when I finally do get around to reading it.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo

A bit of a morbid title, but that's also what made it sound interesting. I've never read a book by Paulo Coehlo before, but I have heard all about how great of a writer he is. So I've decided to start with Veronika Decides to Die. This book is about Veronika who seems to have everything, but is deeply unhappy and decides to commit suicide. However she wakes up at a mental hospital where she discovers all sorts of things about herself and life.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

There's been a lot of hype about Big Magic in the blogging world, and I think that's because we're all creative in one way or another. Creativity is something that always makes me happier and makes a huge difference in my mental health (when I'm creative, my mental health is better). This book sounds super interesting and like it will help me be more creative and find more inspiration.

Americanah by Ngozi Adichie

Like many people, I first heard about Ngozi Adicie from Beyonce's song "Flawless" which has an audio clip from Ngozi's TED Talk on feminism. Since then I have heard so much about Ngozi Adichie's writing and I've really wanted to read something by her. Americanah is one of her books that I've heard lots of good things about. It's about love, race, and the challenges two people face as they leave Nigeria and eventually return home.  

In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

Unlike the rest of the world, I have not watched Orange is the New Black or Jane the Virgin. Diane Guerrero is an actress in both, but since I haven't seen them, that's not what caught my attention about that book. Instead what caught my interest was that In the Country We Love is a story about a successful woman who was 14 when her parents and brother were deported while she was at school. 

You may or may not know that I'm a Spanish teacher and one of the topics that come up when teaching Spanish is immigration (legal and illegal). In my class we had talked about how kids can stay in the US since they're legal citizens, but their parents can be deported if they're illegal - so what happens to the kids? Here's one person's story! Perfect! So this is partially a work-related read, but it also seems like a highly interesting story.

Other books on my bookshelf that I want to read:

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Catherine de Medici by Leonie Frieda
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (reread)
Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou

Hopefully I'm able to read 8 books plus a few extras this year! If you've read any of these before let me know if you liked them in the comments! Also let me know what books are on your to read list this year. I'm always curious what other people are reading!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Grand Canyon Photo Diary

I love travelling. My family usually goes on a trip every year and since planning usually falls on my mom, we tend to go to the same areas a lot. That's not bad, but I was read for something new, so all year I have been campaigning for a big trip to a place we've never been to before. My family kept putting off the vacation due to schedule issues but finally in December we were all able to go on a big trip to someplace totally different - the Grand Canyon!

Grand Canyon Photo Diary

I was so excited to go there and see this beautiful place in person. We had a little delay with a giant snow storm that came in (you'll see the snow in the pictures), but when we finally got there it was beautiful! Of course, I had to share some of the photos with you!

Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary

Looking at it, it can be hard to believe but many Native American tribes lived in and around the Grand Canyon. One of those tribes were the Hopi. Their origin story tells of coming into this world through a hole in the sky of the world below called the Sipapuni. They believe the Sipapuni is located deep within the Grand Canyon. I read that at one of the museums at the Grand Canyon (yes, they have a few museums along with all the nature) and thought it was such a great story.

Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary

It's really true that the canyon changes colors throughout the day. When we got there in the morning the canyon seemed more gray and brown, but by the end of the day it was read and rich brown tones. It's so beautiful to see how it changes throughout the day.

Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary

Can you believe how much snow there was? Honestly, I didn't think Arizona got snow before this trip. I was so wrong! I also didn't expect for there to be so many trees and plants around the Grand Canyon. My favorite plant was the yucca plant - I want one for my apartment!

Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary
Grand Canyon Photo Diary

That was my trip to the Grand Canyon! As beautiful as it looks in pictures, it is even more beautiful in person. It's such an expansive and unbelievable place to visit.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? Is it on your bucket list to visit someday? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Essential Apps

I know we all have those apps we can't live without. I'm no exception and have a few that I constantly use. Without further ado, these are my must have apps.

My must have apps for my phone


This is one of the most basic apps, but I use it everyday. I keep notes on my phone of post ideas and sometimes outline post ideas when I'm on the go to look back on later. I have a list of my links to social media to make it easier to promote them on Twitter, a list of hashtags I use on Instagram, and songs/artists to look up later. This app is a lifesaver in so many ways. I don't know what I would do without it!


Spotify is my favorite way to listen to music. I love that I can make my own playlists without having to download a million songs - I can just do it on the app - or I can listen to the Spotify playlists. They have the best playlists to listen to in the background while you're working - I love Peaceful Piano and Deep Focus


I take a ton of pictures on my phone and am always getting the lovely "Cannot Take Photo - Not Enough Storage" pop up. I know that Apple has the Cloud, but I prefer using Dropbox. It makes it so easy for me to download the pictures from my phone to my laptop so I can take even more photos. I also like how easy it is for me to take pictures on my camera, edit them on my laptop, and then send them over to my phone via Dropbox. It makes Instagram so much easier!

Google Maps

I have no idea how people got around without Google Maps. I use this whenever I'm travelling or unsure of exactly how to get to my destination. Since I recently moved, Google Maps has helped me find new places around where I live - like the closest pizza place and where the nearest Target is. I'd be lost without it (pun intended).


For me Instagram is a source of inspiration and of course where I share my photos. This is usually the first app I open in the morning. Seeing pretty pictures first thing in the morning gives me a happy start and lets me feel connected.


This is another app I'm using pretty early each day. I check Twitter every morning while I eat breakfast to catch up on what's happening in the lives of my friends, what new posts are out, and current events. Of course, then I go on to check it several times throughout the day.


I had heard that audiobooks are great to listen to on your commute and this advice is so true! Since joining the working world, I have "read" several books on here. Audible is connected to Amazon and you can buy books either with money or credits (I'm not really sure how you get credits). So far, I haven't actually purchased a book - I've gotten them all with credits! 


Of course, no list of favorite apps is complete without at least one game. I like the classic games and my favorite is Sudoku. I like this particular app because it's colorful and you can set the board so the grid has circles instead of squares - it just makes it more visually appealing.

What are your essential apps? Do you have any app recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 Life Update and Goals

Happy 2017! I hope the new year has been good to you so far. It has been very good to me and I'm hoping more good things will be happening this year. I thought I'd share how I ended 2016, how I've started the new year, and a few of my goals for 2017. I haven't done a chatty post in awhile, so hopefully you enjoy!

What's happening in 2017 and my goals for the new year

I ended 2016 with a great trip to Arizona with my family (photo diary post to come!). We went to the Grand Canyon, several places in the Flagstaff area, and Sedona. My favorite place we went to was Wupatki National Park. It has lots of Native American ruins and it's so cool to go and see these ruins and learn about how they lived hundreds of years ago and how their culture has changed over the years.

When we got back from the trip, I had my first big job interview and...I got it! I can't tell you how excited I am to have gotten a job right after graduating. It's pretty rare to get a teaching job at semester, but luckily for me, I was able to get one! 

Now I have my own classroom and I've been busy getting everything ready all week. That is the crazy part - from the time I got hired to the first day of classes I had five days! Still, I am so excited to be teaching in my own classroom! My first day teaching went really well and it seems like this will be a great semester.

Going forward into 2017 I'd love if this job works out - I've been hired for the semester, but I'm hoping that it is a good fit and I'm able to work there again for the next school year. Fingers crossed! 

You might have noticed that I also updated the look of Courtney's Little Things. I made a new header and I feel like it completely changed the look. I love it. With my blog this year I want to blog twice a week consistently (hopefully that can still happen with the craziness of starting a new job), post at least 3 times a week to Instagram, and get back into Twitter chats. I haven't joined a Twitter chat in so long which makes me sad since they are a great source of inspiration and to get to know other bloggers. If you have a favorite chat, let me know in the comments!

Other things I want to accomplish this year are to read 8 books, meet up with my college friends, and to start saving money.

What are your goals for this year? Any exciting changes in the works for you in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Related Posts: 16 Lessons I Learned in 2016, Getting My Spark Back2016 Favorites