Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Back on 2015

It's the end of another year. I know these posts are really typical this time of year, but I think it is a good practice to look back and reflect periodically. I try to do so every month with more short term things, and as we get closer to January I'm looking back on the past year and thinking about where I want to go in the next year.

2015 has been a pretty good year for me. I taught Spanish to first graders for a practicum in the spring and got a job teaching an 8th grader Spanish this autumn. I moved into an apartment with my best friend at the beginning of summer and I still love living with her. I was able to see Idina Menzel perform with a good friend. I also turned 22 and began my last full year at my college campus.

Looking Back on 2015 | Reflecting on the past year and how I did with my new year's resolutions for 2015 from Courtney's Little Things

This year I've done a lot to be more creative. Outside of blogging, I started decorating my planners, took part in drawing and lettering challenges on Instagram over the summer, and I've done a lot of cute DIYs like painting canvases and crocheting. For me, finding the time to be creative makes me a happier person and I think it pushes me as well. I'm planning on keeping this a priority into the coming years.

As far as the goals I set for 2015, I'd say I did pretty well with most of them. The first was to focus on the positive. Over the past year I've gotten a lot better at staying positive and trying to look for good things in every situation. Another goal was to be content and spend less. I tracked my spending off and on throughout the year and tried looking at what I already have instead of constantly buying new things. I feel quite content and find it a lot easier to go to the store and not buy a bunch of things (most of the time).

I also made it a goal to stress less. Now, I'm still a worrier, but I'm better at stopping myself from worrying too much and know a few ways to calm down when I do start stressing out. Of course, I've still had moments/days/weeks of being stressed out, but I think I'm a lot better than I was last year.

Another goal for 2015 I've done pretty well with is writing daily in a diary. I'll be honest and tell you I haven't actually written in my diary for a while (over a month), but I've been writing little things about my day in my Happy Planner. To me, that's the same and just a sign that my diary writing has evolved.

There is one goal I've completely failed at: study French. I took a year of French in college and wanted to maintain that, but I gave up studying after a month. The only thing I've done with French the other 11 months is reading a few Facebook posts by a friend in Quebec and some French on packaging and such. The truth is this wasn't a real priority for me and I just wasn't interested enough in French to make it one, so I'm okay that this wasn't accomplished.

What did your year look like? How did you do on your goals for 2015?

Related Posts: Summer 2015 Recap, 2014 in Review, Goals for 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

3 Ways to Set New Year's Resolutions

Usually we all make our new year's resolutions the same way every year by listing some goals for the new year that we want to accomplish. They're usually the same - save money, lose weight, get healthier, and the like. But, that's not the only way to set goals and figure out a plan for the new year. Thinking about what my goals are for 2016 just wasn't getting me inspired for a new year, so I came up with 3 non-traditional ways to set new year's resolutions.

3 Ways to Set New Year's Resolutions

How do you want to feel this year?

I don't know about you, but this isn't a question I ask myself often enough. Thinking about how I want to feel in 2016 (or even just how I want to feel today) helps me to set goals and take actions that will help me to feel that way. Do you want to feel loved? Make it a point to spend time with friends and family this year. Try to talk to someone new each day. Do you want to feel happy? Take time to do something you love each day. Keep a gratitude journal. Adopt a more positive outlook.

What are your plans for the year?

Thinking about some of the big things I have lined up for the year helps me to set goals as well. For me 2016 includes the majority of my friends graduating from college in May, me living completely on my own (no more living with friends), student teaching, and graduating in December. So many big moments! This helps me to set goals because I can see what I need to do to have the life I want. With my friends graduating and me student teaching, we're all splitting up. I want to maintain these friendships so texting/calling and setting up a few get togethers are going to be a few goals this year.

Quotes to live by.

I'm a major quote collector. Before Pinterest I used to keep journals and fill them with quotes I loved. It might seem kind of corny to you at first, but picking out some inspirational quotes can be a great way to set some new year's resolutions. You can pick quotes that will inspire you to do certain things (like try new things or read more) or you can chose quotes that will remind you of how you want to feel (like quotes on positivity or being fearless). Either way these can inspire you to reach your goals!

Are you setting any new year's resolutions for 2016? Do you have any non-traditional ways of making new year's resolutions?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up No. 23

I'm back! I took a week off, which is really not that long of a break, but for me and blogging, it is plenty of time. I didn't have time during finals week to create any posts and I wasn't going to push myself to do so during the week of Christmas. So instead I enjoyed my time at home with my family and going from gathering to gathering (and eating at each one). I also was able to enjoy quite a bit of down time - which was glorious. Having down time is really important to me and it's something that I had to cut back on last week with all the exams, papers, and projects due. So I definitely enjoyed a pajama day, a few naps, lots of Netflix, and some blog reading. All that made for a good week in my book!

Weekend Wrap Up No. 23 from Courtney's Little Things

Christmas Eve I spent the day with my immediate family just hanging out around the house and helped my mom get ready for my Grandpa and his girlfriend to come over for Christmas Eve dinner. My mom made these amazing peanut butter-chocolate bars for dessert which were my favorite part of the meal. After my Grandpa and his girlfriend left, we sat down to open our presents for each other. I got quite a few sets of pajamas, some movies, jewelry and I Am Malala which is a book I've been wanting to read for so long. I really admire Malala and I'm so excited to start reading about her.

Christmas Day we went to my Grandma's house to have Christmas with my mom's family. My favorite part was my cousin and his girlfriend bringing their Bichon Frise. I absolutely love those dogs and had so much fun cuddling that dog and dreaming about when I can get my own. I also had fun playing with my little cousins. 3 of them are under 4 so they are just the cutest little things. We played hide and seek which is always the best.

After all that craziness that is the holidays, I decided to sleep in on Saturday and enjoy a lazy day spent with family. We ordered pizza and just sat around and talked a lot. Honestly, that's my favorite thing to do with my family is to just sit around and talk about life and joke around.

In the afternoon I watched Ice Age for the first time with my mom (who ended up falling asleep) and sister. I loved Ice Age and can't believe it's taken me this long to get around to watching it! I'm a sucker for animated movies anyways, but this has such a sweet story line. You should definitely watch it this winter if you haven't already!

Sunday we ran a few errands in the morning and ate at Red Robin for lunch. I spent the afternoon taking blog photos, editing, and all that other fun stuff. I'm really feeling excited and refreshed after taking a week off. If you're feeling a little drained or low on ideas, don't be afraid to take a week or two off blogging because it's probably all you need to get inspired again.

And here are a few photos from the Christmas weekend!

Weekend Wrap Up No. 23 from Courtney's Little Things
Weekend Wrap Up No. 23 from Courtney's Little Things
Weekend Wrap Up No. 23 from Courtney's Little Things
Weekend Wrap Up No. 23 from Courtney's Little Things

How was your holiday weekend? 

Saturday, December 19, 2015


December 20 is a very important date for me and Courtney's Little Things - it's the day I started my blog! Honestly, I can't believe it's already been a full year.

Blogiversary | Reflecting on 1 year of blogging at Courtney's Little Things

So why did I start blogging? I kind of did it on a whim. I've always loved reading blogs and had wanted to have my own blog for awhile. I was also struggling a bit with boredom over Christmas break. So one day I just went for it and started a blog.

The first 5 months were really just me creating posts that no one read. They're not the best, but feel free to go through and read them. The posts are actually pretty similar to what I still create, it's just very rough and unpolished and I was trying to find my own voice.

My first big post happened when I started linking up to iHeart Organizing for a 4 week 1 room organization challenge in June. I desperately needed to organize my room at my family's home and I was honestly shocked that people were clicking on my posts, reading them, and leaving comments.

From then on I started taking my blog a lot more seriously and fell even more in love with the art of blogging and the wonderful community that surrounds it. 

I really can't imagine my life without this little space anymore. I love being able to share my creative projects, little things I've learned, and other little tidbits. Blogging's helped me to connect with some amazing people and I've become more confident and creative.

So thanks for reading my blog, leaving comments, following me, and being so wonderful in general!

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Winter Blog Post Ideas

I’ve seen a lot of posts floating around with lists of post ideas for Christmas, but for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, don’t enjoy it, or are trying to plan ahead for January - I’ve put together a list of 10 winter blog post ideas. I was brainstorming winter blog post ideas for myself anyways, and figured I’d help you guys out, too!

10 Blog Post Ideas for Winter

  1. Winter Wonderland Photo Diary. Take a walk after it snows and post photos of all the perfect winteryness that surrounds you.
  2. Winter DIY. Share a cute and easy art print, decor piece, how to crochet your own blanket, or whatever other DIY idea you have!
  3. New Year’s Eve Party Ideas. Share some fun activities to do, a cute tablescape, ways to decorate, or food ideas to create the best New Year’s Eve party ever.
  4. How to Have the Best New Year’s Night In. Alternatively, you could share a few things to do for those planning on staying in New Year’s Eve.
  5. New Year Plans. Share all of the big things you have planned for this year - a trip, graduating, moving, getting a new job, a big birthday, or adopting a puppy.
  6. New Year Resolutions. Share some of your goals for 2016. I gave updates on mine throughout 2015 and found it helped to keep more accountable and made me reflect on how I was doing.
  7. Why I Love/Hate Winter. Tell us all about why you love (or hate) this time of year. I loved reading these in autumn, so I can’t wait to read some about winter!
  8. Ways to Spend a Snow Day. We all love winter because of the excuses it gives us to stay in, but after a while it can get a bit boring. Help your readers beat cabin fever by giving them some ideas of how to spend a snowy day indoors.
  9. Your Winter Playlist. Maybe it’s just me, but I listen to different music throughout the year. I like listening to more pop and feel good music during summer, but during winter I prefer listening to more alternative and quiet music.
  10. Winters Past Photo Diary. I would love to see some cute photos from when you were little playing in the snow, all bundled up like the kid from A Christmas Story. This could be a fun way to let your readers get to know you better and a good excuse to look through old photo albums.

Do you have any winter blog post ideas? Are these ideas helpful? If you use them, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2016 Planners

As we've discussed multiple times, I LOVE PLANNERS. I've been using a planner for the past 10 years. I love being organized and knowing what's coming up. I keep track of important dates with school, family, friends, appointments, TV, blogging, general to dos - all sorts of things!

 Recently I started decorating mine as well which has turned it into a real hobby. I've always had an affinity for cute stationary and now I have an excuse too keep an inordinate amount of stickers, sticky notes, notepads, pens, and notebooks. It just brightens up my day to see a cute little spread in my planner and I really enjoy decorating it.

 Even if you're not hopping on this whole planner girl bandwagon, you probably still need a planner for the day to day planning (or week to week planning). I went ahead and bought 2 planners for 2016 (Yes, I know. It's sad). One is a simple planner I've been using forever. The other is a bit more detailed and I just started using it in the past few months.

2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things

So first up, the simple planner. This is great if you are interested in just keeping track of big dates, appointments, and a few to-dos. It's a medium sized planner from Blue Sky. You can get these at just about any store, including Target. It costs about $8 for a 12 month planner and includes weekly and monthly spreads.

2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things

You can choose from quite a few different styles and sizes. I've been using this planner since high school and it is a great, functional planner. 

The second planner I have for 2016 and the one I'm using as my main planner is the Happy Planner. I wanted to get my hands on a vertical planner similar to an Erin Condren, but I just wasn't wanting to spend $50+ on a planner. So when I just happened to have a coupon to use at Michael's, I couldn't resist getting a Happy Planner. They cost $25 for an 18 month calendar with monthly and weekly spreads. They also have some cute illustrated pages at the beginning of every month.

2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things

This planner is designed more for decorating, or someone with a crazy schedule. The weekly layout is vertical and split into 3 sections for each day (morning, afternoon, evening) and has a little section for notes.

I love the little reflection page they have for each month with space to write about what you're up to that month, birthdays, big dates, and a little list of what you're grateful for. It's a great way to look back on your month and plan ahead.

2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things
2016 Planners | 2 excellent planners to help you get organized for the new year. From Courtney's Little Things

There's also a lot of extra goodies you can buy for the Happy Planner including additional planner covers, stickers designed specifically for it, extension packs, note paper and notepads you can add into the planner, and some super cute sticky notes.

So that's what I'm using to plan 2016 and make it the best year yet (fingers crossed). Do you use a planner? Do you decorate it? Are you interested in using one of these to plan your year? Let me know in the comments!

Related Posts: Planner Haul: Etsy Edition,  How I Journal

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**This is not a sponsored post in any way. I purchased both of these planners and just happen to like them and wanted to share them here. I was not compensated in any way.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up No. 22

This week has been crazy busy and fun. Monday I had a big presentation and it went really well. Tuesday my friends and I finally got to see Mockingjay together so I've now officially seen the movie twice. It is soo good! I absolutely loved reading the books and I felt like the movies are true to the books for the most part. Wednesday I had a great chat on the phone with my brother and a friend. I really cherish those moments where you're really able to connect with people who are far away. 

Thursday my mom came down to visit me and we had so much fun together!  I always love when she comes to visit. We had time to just sit and talk, eat lunch together, and do a bit of shopping. My mom also spent about 10 minutes taking photos of Burt. It was just so funny watching her trying to get a good photo of him because he's rarely still! The stereotype might be that turtles are slow, but Burt is a feisty little guy and he's always swimming. 

Anyways, it was a week that despite being filled with work had a lot of good moments with friends and family. I guess it just goes to show how important it is to spend time with those you love!

Weekend Wrap Up No. 22 | Courtney's Little Things

Friday I got my weekend started with some planning. I did a bit of journaling for this week since I had extra space and filled up next week with all of the finals that are coming (ah!). I also made a list of all the things I need to do to prep for finals and although the list is a bit long, it just makes me feel better to see it all listed out and to see that there is indeed an end in sight!

In the evening my friends and I went out to eat and celebrate Christmas. We weren't supposed to get each other gifts, but I just couldn't help myself! So I gave everyone a little gift box with candy and a little holiday scented candle.

Saturday I went with my friend to visit her family. We had a nice time with them and got to eat at Quizno's - one of our favorites. When we got back home to our apartment we invited another friend over and watched Fast & Furious 7. What else would 3 girls do on a Saturday night?

Sunday I enjoyed sleeping in all morning. When I finally got up though, it was straight to work. I spent a few hours working on a paper and then studied for my 7:30 am final Monday morning.

How did you spend your weekend? Are you in college with finals coming up?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Self-Care Ideas

One of my goals for this month is to take care of myself. Taking care of yourself, also known as self-care, is important because you can’t run on empty. I can definitely tell when I haven’t taken care of myself because I get stressed and overwhelmed super easily. I also feel drained and just want to lay around and watch TV as soon as I’m done with classes and homework.

Putting aside the time to take care of yourself can feel hard to do when you have a lot to get done and feel behind, but it will really help you so much and be well worth it. Self-care is a way to value yourself and stay healthy. It also helps you to be more self aware, have better relationships, feel happier and more positive, and to be more creative.

Take Care of Yourself | 30 Self Care Ideas from Courtney's Little Things

So now that we've talked a bit about self-care and why it’s important, here’s are some different things you can do to take care of yourself.

  1. Get a full 8 hours of sleep.
  2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  3. Eat 1 cup of vegetables with each meal.
  4. Meditate for 15 minutes.
  5. Go for a walk.
  6. Spend time outside.
  7. Read a book.
  8. Paint or draw.
  9. Play a game with a friend.
  10. Try out a new recipe.
  11. Spend some quality time with your pet.
  12. Take a bubble bath.
  13. Put on lotion.
  14. Paint your nails.
  15. Listen to your favorite music.
  16. Watch a funny show or video.
  17. Watch a TED talk.
  18. Call your favorite person.
  19. Write in a journal.
  20. Practice yoga.
  21. Go to the gym.
  22. Work on a DIY project.
  23. Take a nap.
  24. Do an adult coloring page.
  25. Be kind to yourself.
  26. Light a candle.
  27. Turn off electronics.
  28. Write a list of things your thankful for.
  29. Straighten up a room or area in your house.
  30. Doodle.

How do you take care of yourself? Do you make it a point to do something each day to take care of yourself?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

DIY Holiday Art

Who doesn't love decorating for the holidays? I made a cute and simple DIY holiday art print to hang up this season. It's all centered around one of my favorite phrases this time of year "Be Merry and Bright." Since "bright" is right in the phrase, I figured it was the perfect excuse to break out of  the traditional holiday colors and go for something a bit more quirky - like bright pink!

DIY Holiday Art | A cute and fun holiday print you can make yourself from Courtney's Little Things

For this DIY holiday art print you need...
  • A canvas
  • Bright green paint another bright colored paint (I used pink)
  • Paint brushes or sponges
  • A pencil
  • A black paint pen
Once you have all your stuff together, draw the outline of a Christmas tree on your canvas. If you're not confident in your abilities to do that, all you really have to do is draw a triangle.

Next I painted the background a bright pink. I did 2 coats to make sure the color was even. With that done, it was time to paint my tree the bright green. Again, I did 2 coats.

DIY Holiday Art | A cute and fun holiday print you can make yourself from Courtney's Little Things
DIY Holiday Art | A cute and fun holiday print you can make yourself from Courtney's Little Things
DIY Holiday Art | A cute and fun holiday print you can make yourself from Courtney's Little Things

Once all the paint dried, I used my black paint pen to outline the shape of the tree. This is a great way to hide any little mistakes where you painted outside the lines (but don't tell anyone). Then I wrote "Be Merry & Bright" at the top of the canvas. I chose to just do my regular handwriting, but you could make this a fancy or fun font - be creative!

DIY Holiday Art | A cute and fun holiday print you can make yourself from Courtney's Little Things

Do you like to make your own Christmas decorations? Does this look like something you'll make?

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Tag

I was tagged by the oh-so-lovely Sara who blogs at About Little Thiings to do the Christmas Tag. This is pretty exciting as it's always fun to be tagged and I was wanting to do a similar post about some of my favorite parts of Christmas, anyways. So settle in and we'll chat about a few of my favorite things about Christmas!

Christmas Tag | Courtney's Little Things

What's your favorite thing about Christmas?

I really like the twinkle lights everywhere, the bulb ornaments, all the food, and spending time with people I love. 

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

I really like watching Elf. It's just so silly and I always love a good comedy. I also have to watch A Christmas Story every year. It feels like such an iconic Christmas movie and again it's so funny with so many great lines and scenes.

Real tree or fake tree?

I've grown up with fake trees and I can't imagine buying a real tree to have up in my home for one month. I don't set up a tree at my apartment though. I just put up other decorations (like cute little snowmen) and head to my family's home to enjoy a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

Giving presents or receiving them?

I loved receiving presents when I was young (read the first 20 years of my life), but this year I've been struggling to even think of anything to add to my Christmas wishlist! Crazy, I know. Now I kind of prefer finding little things to give to friends and family. It's exciting to find something you know your friend will like and watch them open it.

Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?

We open the majority of our presents Christmas Eve. We all exchange gifts and take turns opening. Then Christmas morning Santa always comes to give us a few presents in our stockings.

Christmas Tag | Courtney's Little Things

What tops your tree?

We currently have a flower on top of our tree at home.

As a kid, what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

Not to sound spoiled, but I think I got everything I asked for. I'm sure there were a few things I didn't get, but they weren't anything I can remember. Some of my favorite gifts though were a miracle moves baby doll and an American Girl doll (Felicity). As you can tell, I was big into playing dolls as a child.

Handmade Christmas cards or bought?

Handmade. I've gotten into making cards for birthdays and Christmas the past few years. I love any excuse to play with pretty scrapbook paper, stickers, and washi tape.

What's your favorite Christmas food?

I love all the Christmas cookies. I like baking and decorating sugar cookies for me and my friends.

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

My family always goes over to my Grandma's house and we have Christmas dinner and exchange gifts with my mom's side of the family. When we get back home my family (parents and siblings) open the presents we got for each other.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me and some of my Christmas favorites. I tag Jasmine, Amy, and Meghan.

What are some of your favorite things at Christmas time? 

Related Posts: A Very Merry Planner, DIY Christmas Cards

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up No. 21

Can you believe December is here? As a student this is an especially crazy time because of classes, finals, holiday parties, and heading back home for Christmas with family. Currently, I'm a bit overwhelmed with it all. I have a project due today, a paper due at the end of the week and finals to study for next week. It'll all get done though!

Some of my favorite moments from this week included doing DIY projects (always my favorite), cuddling up in bed with Netflix (so relaxing), and putting some goodie bag/presents together for my friends.

On the blog this week I shared my November favorites, goals for December, and one of the projects I did - making my own holiday cards.

Weekend Wrap Up No. 21

Friday my weekend began with a good nap. In the evening my roommate and I watched Divergent and a ordered pizza. I know it may sound a bit boring, but that is really my ideal way to spend a Friday and I loved having a relaxing start to the weekend.

Saturday I did a bit of studying, watched a long House marathon with my roommate, and also did a lot of time wasting on the internet. In the evening I had my first little gift exchange with friends and got to see a friend who lives a few hours away, which is always good.

Sunday it was time to get to work so I spent most of the day working on homework assignments and finishing up a final project that was due the next day. It's so hard to keep going at finals time, but I know it will all be worth it when I walk out of here with my degree. 

Luckily all my hard-work was rewarded with a girls' night with another group of friends. We went out to dinner and saw Mockingjay...or part of it. 40 minutes into the movie there was a giant power outage and so we had to leave. It was pretty crazy, but what can you do? Luckily we got free passes to come and watch the whole movie.

How was your weekend? Is your December looking like a crazy month for you, too? If you're a student, how are you feeling about your finals and other assignments?