2019: A Year in Review

Hello everyone!

Wow. It’s the last day of 2019, and the year is actually about to end. I know, I know- it’s obvious. That doesn’t mean it’s not crazy though! This past year absolutely flew by, and I can’t believe we’re about to say hello to a new decade. I completely grew up and matured through the 2010s… in 2010 I turned 6, so obviously in 2020 I’ll be turning 16. As the title says, this is a year in review, not a decade; however, it’s still crazy for me to think of how fast the past ten years have flown by as well. If you want to hear about my journey through 2019, keep on reading!

January: When the year began, I honestly still wasn’t completely adjusted to freshman year. Winter break was a nice escape from high school, but as soon as I came back it was back to cheer and craziness (similar to this year!). I felt like my life was boring yet too busy, which is why I started to think about what else I would rather be doing with my time. I was still actually kind of into cheer at this point though, and I remember constantly stretching and going to tumbling classes. I feel like it was really too busy of a month to be significant, considering I don’t have any pictures from January in my camera roll and only a few with friends in my Snapchat memories. I had my first round of high school finals… I guess that took the most out of me.

February: Always a short but sweet month, this month was mainly marked by my freshman year cheer season ending. I had to be switched into offseason PE for 2nd semester which was a huge source of my angst at the time. I remember it being a pretty cold month by Southern CA standards at least, so I pretty much lived in hoodies and sweatpants. Now that cheer wasn’t taking up any of my time (unfortunately, PE was), I started to research extracurriculars and opportunities for next (this) year. This is kind of when I got on top of my game as far as planning for the future and realizing what it takes to get into college…aka stumbling upon College Confidential for the first time. Because of these things, my self-esteem took a little hit. To deal with that and to fill my time, I started volunteering at the local animal shelter which I still do and love today.

March: I volunteered a LOT this month to fulfill all my hours for Key Club. I did Rotary events with my dad, I went to the animal shelter every week, I volunteered at the YMCA, and more. It was honestly a great experience since I met so many new people at each place and got to do “normal jobs” that I hadn’t before, and I was so proud of myself when I fulfilled most of my fifty-hour requirement during this month. I had volunteered on and off before, but this is when I really started to get into it and realized how good it made me feel. Before I knew it, cheer was also (sort of) back in my life- tryout meetings and sign ups were upon us. I had a major breakthrough in strength in my tumbling classes though, so my self-esteem and happiness had increased quite a bit in this month.

April: Spring break offered another escape from the craziness of school. It was the peak of studying for my AP Human Geo test (a major feat at the time) and cheer tryouts were coming up quickly. Palm Springs with my friend was super fun though, and it stopped me from stressing too much over the break. I kept volunteering and finally finished my Key Club requirements as well. I also had a little phase of being into hiking and photography- I still enjoy both things, but I noticed when scrolling through my camera roll I did a lot of those things in April. Maybe it’s because the sun finally started coming out again.

May: Cheer tryouts time! The end of the school year came fast, and cheer took over my life (again). Everyone made the JV team and we immediately started two-hour practices after school everyday again. Between that and studying for finals, I don’t really remember anything else. I was just counting down the days until the beginning of summer and my Europe trip. I dissected a pig in biology and that was kind of the hot topic among my grade at the time.

June: SUMMER BEGINS!! After my second-ever round of high school finals, I could finally say I had survived my first year of high school. As soon as the school year ended, my family left for our first out-of-the country trip ever, to Europe. We spent most of the rest of the month there, and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life- we went to Paris, and all over Italy. In fact, when I embarked on the trip, I started my blog! I had wanted to start a blog for so long, and having an exciting trip to cover encouraged me to finally do it. I’ve blogged extensively about the whole trip in the past, so I recommend checking out my first posts if you haven’t before. It was amazing and I felt almost like a different person when I returned; I definitely saw some of the most beautiful places I think I’ll ever see.

July: My grandparents stayed with us for a couple weeks at the beginning of the month, and while they were here I spent a lot of time taking my online AP Psych course and researching extracurriculars for sophomore year. I also started editing submissions at the literary magazine I still work with, and I got into writing a lot more. I also found out that I poem I submitted in spring to a contest had gotten selected for publication! It was a fun month though as I celebrated three of my good friends’ birthdays. We had a couple beach days and other celebrations. However, the second half of the month was crazy! I went to yearbook camp and got my first taste of being on the yearbook staff at Chapman University; it was actually SO much fun and I felt so independent living a mini and relaxed version of the college life. Right after returning, it was back to summer cheer practices and conditioning, and the last couple days of the month I left for cheer camp at Knott’s Berry Farm.

August: The month began while I was still at cheer camp, which was sadly less than pleasant, but luckily August 1st was our last day there! Before I knew it, it was time to go back-to-school-shopping. My birthday is August 14th, so I also celebrated my 15th birthday- a VERY low-key affair. I also happened to get my braces off, so that was great. The next week, sophomore year started, and I had no idea what was about to hit me. Football season kicking off was a nice start to the year though. I kept volunteering, I began tutoring in my school’s history center, and I joined Youth and Government. Between all my new hard classes, yearbook, and all the other new activities I had joined, my schedule was absolutely loaded.

September: I felt pressured to overload my schedule even more, so I tried out a bunch of different clubs and activities and settled on a few more. I joined Spanish National Honors Society (making me a tutor in our school’s language center!) and English National Honors Society, as well as a couple leadership programs outside of school that I applied for. The first few tests in each of my classes were trying, but I was (kind of) getting the hang of my new busy schedule. I had my first in-class English essay, which was a very over-hyped experience. Honestly, the thing sucking the most energy out of me was cheer practice and football games, and I was beginning to fall out of love with it more and more. I had a lot of breakthroughs in tumbling class, which was weird since I wasn’t even enjoying it as much- something I learned I needed to let go of.

October: Homecoming month!! The first couple weeks of the month were all just hype leading up to homecoming week. Our homecoming game was actually quite fun, and the dance was much better than last year. I think it’s just a lot less overwhelming of an experience as a sophomore. I also got way more into Youth and Government during this month, as we had our first mini-conference/bonding experience. I was definitely still overwhelmed and felt like the year had just begun, but I was having a lot more fun of a time.

November: November was an absolutely insane month filled with fun and crazy experiences. I had my first official Youth and Government conference in Fresno, which was absolutely surreal. It made me fall in love with the program and realize what an amazing thing I was now apart of- I definitely could see myself pursuing a government career someday. I also got sick, which unfortunately coincided with my Post Malone concert that I got tickets for in August. The concert was still a cool experience though since I’ve loved his music for so long. I’ve saved the best for last though: my Thanksgiving break trip to Seattle with my mom. We spent almost the full week in the city and I absolutely fell in love. I could see myself living there someday for sure, and now I can’t wait to explore more places in the U.S. currently unknown to me. School stuff was definitely still stressful, but it finally took a backseat in my life for this month.

December: This month absolutely flew by. I didn’t even get to decorate much or go ice skating before break started. I had SO much schoolwork bogging me down, but now that I’m on break I’m relieved to have another escape. It was super stressful but luckily I barely had cheer so I could focus on other things. I’ve had a lot more fun with friends and family than I did in the past couple months though. However, there was also a lot of prep leading up to what will be a crazy January with basketball season and finals!!

I know I went through the months as if they were a list, but it’s only for ease of clarification. In my mind, this year went by so quickly that I barely even remember most of it. The main thing I know is that it was one huge learning experience- I figured out lots of things I do and don’t like, and I explored so many interests I didn’t even fully realize I had. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunities to travel more and experience things I never thought I would before- thank you 2019.

If you made it to the end, I appreciate you and thank you for sticking with me. I would love to hear about your 2019 journeys and realizations as well, so feel free to share them with me! 2019 was a year of growth for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings- bring it on! It’s crazy to think the new year’s here, but it’s even crazier to think I’m going to become an adult, go to college, and grow up ~for real~ in this decade. I know, I know- I’m getting ahead of myself. But hey, the roaring 20s are here šŸ™‚

Happy New Year,

Brooke

How to Learn From Your Mistakes – High School Edition

Welcome back everyone!

I know we’re all still on break, but I figured before the new year and semester start, I would throw out some advice for you freshmen. Honestly, anyone in high school (or middle school!) could use this advice; I just figure that kids my age or older would already have learned similar lessons. If you’ve had a rough first semester or rough 2019, here’s some advice on how to use your past to enhance your future! Trust me, it’s not as hard or ~deep~ as it sounds.

  • Be able to recognize your flaws – Being aware of your mistakes is the first step to learning from them. Think about the past few months: what went well, and what could’ve gone better? Why did the things that went wrong occur? What part did you have in them? These are the questions you should reflect on when you’re thinking about what you can change in the future.
  • Take responsibility- don’t blame others – Others may have had a part in your mistakes or shortcomings, but you can only worry about yourself. Own up to anything you’ve done wrong, and leave anyone else to do the same for themselves.
  • Apologize when you’ve done wrong – This goes along with taking responsibility, but it’s so important to apologize to anyone you may have hurt or impacted negatively. It goes a long way in showing you understand how your actions affect others- mustering the courage up to do this shows a lot of maturity.
  • Accept others for who they are – A big mistake a lot of people make (I definitely have quite a few times) is trying to change their friends or complain about their flaws and then expecting them to change. Sometimes people do change, but you’re not the one who’s going to change them. If you’re going to surround yourself with people, make sure you know they’re people that will lift you up and make you happy to be around. If that’s not the case, find new friends- it’s up to you to make those choices.
  • Stay open-minded to change – Sometimes we look around at all the things we wish we could change about other people, but it’s completely out of our control. So what is in your control? Well, you! If you’re able to recognize your mistakes and flaws now, you should see the things that you wish you could change about yourself. It’s completely up to you to make an effort to change these things- nobody’s perfect, but you can try to be a better you.
  • Think about your good characteristics/strengths – What are the best things about you? Your favorite parts, and/or the characteristics other people compliment you? These are the traits you should try to bring out in yourself most often, and reflect in your everyday life. Again, nobody’s perfect, but it’s best to show off your best self.
  • Be as kind and friendly as possible – This isn’t really about learning from your mistakes, but it helps you put your best foot forward in new situations/when meeting new people and sets you up for better outcomes and relationships in the future. Also, people who may have known you in the past when you weren’t as proud of yourself can see that you’re making an effort to be a better you and change.
  • Understand that you’re going to make a lot more mistakes – Everyone does. As I’ve said multiple times, nobody’s perfect. This advice can help you prevent some silly mistakes, but everyone gets themselves in tough spots from time to time. Build your internal “toolkit” and problem-solving skills, and you’ll be just fine working yourself out of future issues.

I know some of this advice is pretty generic, but I think that’s kind of the point. We’re all getting older, and we have to actually apply the typical advice and wisdom adults have always given to us. I know I’ve matured a ton in the past couple years, and I’m still definitely not a perfect kid. That being said, let’s be our best selves in 2020 and make it an amazing year.

Brooke

2020 Vision: My Goals For Next Year

Welcome back everyone!

There are only two more days left of 2019, and it’s that time again where everyone writes up their goals for the new year, me included. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions since they never end up getting kept and I like initiating change whenever a new goal strikes my mind. That being said, there are a lot of things I’d like to accomplish this upcoming year. If you’re looking for some inspiration or would just like to hear about another person’s goals, keep on reading.

  • Visit different regions of the U.S. (and California!) – There’s so much of this huge country that I haven’t seen, and I would love to explore more of it. It also makes sense to do so since I’ll probably be going on more college visits in the East Coast and other parts of the country.
  • Become conversationally proficient in Spanish – I’m in Spanish 3 this year and plan to be in Spanish 4/AP next year, so I’m hoping that I’ll really improve my skills. There’s a lot of Spanish speakers here in southern California so it’s a useful skill to have, and I’ve always wanted to be bilingual or close to it.
  • Attend a summer program/get an internship over summer – I want to have some sort of summer activity/independent project that I can be proud of. I’ll talk more about summer plans soon, but I definitely know I’ll be busy somehow.
  • Maintain a healthier lifestyle – I don’t mean a diet or anything too specific. I would just like to exercise a bit more and be more conscious of my eating choices, hopefully getting healthier as I go along. I feel better when I do these things, but sweets are so tempting.
  • Produce less waste – I’m also trying to be more sustainable- metal straws, reusable bags, and the like. I’m not perfect, but in 2020 I plan to mainly support more sustainable brands.
  • Improve my writing – I’m not exactly sure what this entails, but I’m hoping to pursue my interest in writing a lot more this year. Hopefully this means submitting to more journals and competitions, and just writing more in general.
  • Take initiative/be a leader in some way – Again, I’m not exactly sure how to approach this. I’ve been working on my self-confidence and leadership skills a lot in 2019, so I’m hoping I can put them into use in 2020. I want to start my own club or some sort of group at school, and we’ll see where that goes.

Hopefully this inspires you to make your own list of goals for the new year! I have no clue what 2020 has in store, but if it’s anything like 2019, it’s sure to be chock-full of crazy memories and new experiences that I can’t wait to see for myself. I’m trying to tell myself that all of these goals are definitely possible and I’ll be able to successfully complete them, so let’s hope for the best šŸ™‚

Happy almost new year,

Brooke

A Day in My Life – Winter Break Edition

Hello everyone!

I realized I’ve written lots of “Days in My Life” posts while I’ve been on trips or at camps and other events, but I’ve never talked about my daily routine on an average day. I’m currently on winter break so it’s a little different than a normal school day or weekend day, but I figured it would still be something you guys might be interested in. If you’re interested in reading a breakdown of a chill day at home during my break, keep on reading!

Between 7:30-8:30am: Wake up! Yes, I wake up pretty early, even on break/weekends. I usually stay in bed for quite a while though, checking up on social media, emails, and YouTube videos. When I’m finally ready to get out of bed, I usually have breakfast right away.

8:30am: Breakfast time. I almost always have scrambled eggs, a bagel, and some sort of fruit (usually blueberries and raspberries). My mom is the best ever and will often bring it to me in bed if she’s not busy.

9:00-9:30am: I get ready around this time, unless I have morning plans. I get out of bed and make my bed immediately, then I do all of my bathroom stuff (brush my hair, brush my teeth, wash my face, etc.). I then get dressed for the day and spritz some perfume.

9:45am: Start to do computer work. On the day I’m writing this, I wrote a few blog posts during this time and let my computer do its software update. I was also inspired to do kind of a clean-out on my phone and laptop since they are both running out of storage, so I deleted a bunch of old music I don’t listen to anymore. I also worked on editing a submission for the literary magazine I’m on staff for.

10:30am: Light cleaning. I usually just tidy up and fold whatever laundry I have, but today I actually did more of a deep clean. I vacuumed my room, dusted all my furniture, and cleaned my mirrors with Windex.

11:00am: Lunchtime. My mom brought home spaghetti from my favorite local restaurant. I sat and chatted with my mom a bit about our plans for the rest of break, and we just had a nice little talk at the table.

12:45pm: Walk to Starbucks. My mom always goes on an afternoon walk and I hadn’t been out of the house yet, so I asked if I could come and we could make a detour at the Starbucks near our house. I got a hot chocolate since it was actually fairly cold, and we walked back home the long way. I like walking around our neighborhood because there’s always a ton of people walking around with their dogs- it’s a pretty active community.

1:45pm: My mom and I returned home and watched TV for a bit before she had to go run errands. It was a nice break before I had to get back to work. She picked the show, so we watched Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

3:00pm: Back upstairs to my room to work. I didn’t get started on my winter break homework yet, but I did more decluttering on my electronics and writing for this blog.

4:30pm: My mom’s finished with making dinner. She usually makes some form of meat- usually chicken or hamburgers with a side. I know we eat really early, but my parents go to bed fairly early and I also have dessert and a snack before bed.

5:30pm: Showertime. The fact that it gets dark so early in the winter makes me feel like it’s nighttime early as well. This leads to me wanting to get into my pajamas and shower much earlier. I take fast showers and then wash my face, do all that normal stuff.

6:00pm: Snacktime and/or dessert. Sometimes I have dessert if there’s sweets in the house, but otherwise I usually have cereal for a snack. I usually have my TV on in the background at this time (Disney+ or Netflix, depending on my mood).

6:30pm: Again depending on my mood, this is when I’ll do self care. I like to light a candle in my room, and use a face mask if I have one. I recently got a charcoal one from the Yes to Tomatoes brand at Target that I really like.

7:00pm: This has been my primetime for getting work done over the break. It can be blog work, writing work, organizing/cleaning, or actual schoolwork- it just depends on what I need to get done before going to bed.

10:00pm-11:30pm: Depending on how tired I am/if I have plans the next morning, this is when I brush my teeth, put my retainer, turn my lights off, and turn my TV timer on. I’ll go on my phone for a little bit and watch whatever show I have on, but eventually fall asleep within this window.

11:30pm: Bedtime. I should be asleep by this time, midnight at the latest.

I hope you enjoyed reading the play-by-play of a typical day in my life. I know it’s not the most exciting, but this is just a standard/chill day- there’s definitely days where I’m super busy. I’ll probably do another one of these once I get back to school, in case you want to hear about a typical day at my public high school.

Happy relaxing!

Brooke

Calligraphy for Beginners – How To Get Started

Welcome back everyone!

I’ve always been amazing by the beautiful calligraphy and handwriting of bullet-journalers and otherwise artistically talented friends/people/Instagrammers, but I’ve never really made an effort to try and learn myself. That is, until recently. Over the past month or so, I’ve on-and-off worked on teaching myself the basics of calligraphy. I already had decently-okay cursive, so I just needed to watch a couple of YouTube videos and practice. Trust me- if I can do it, you can too. That being said, I know it’s intimidating (that’s the reason I held off on even trying for so long), so I figured I would make this little guide for people in similar situations.

  1. Improve your normal cursive – You’ll want to have pretty neat/legible cursive before you embark on your calligraphy journey. You don’t have to have perfect writing by any means- just be confident enough in your cursive that you can take the next step.
  2. Watch YouTube videos – This is how I figured out most of the basics- the main point being making your downstrokes on all your letters thicker. There are also lots of books available for purchase that teach the basics of calligraphy, but I think videos are more helpful because you can see the way the “professionals” do it in real time, and watch it over and over as many times as necessary while you follow along. I guess it depends what kind of learner you are though, so if you think the books will be worth it for you, totally go for it!
  3. Start with fauxligraphy – Most videos/books/guides will explain this in more detail, but it’s basically where you’ll write in normal cursive and then outline and color in/thicken the downstrokes of the letters. It can take a while (which is why actual calligraphy is more efficient) but it helps so much in the long run and I think it’s an important step before you attempt the real deal. Also, it still looks great- if you don’t have “professional” calligraphy supplies, you may even prefer fauxligraphy until you’re willing to invest in brush pens and the like. I’ve been sticking to fauxligraphy for the most part since it works fine for my purposes and I haven’t gotten a chance to buy supplies that would make actual calligraphy easy to do.
  4. Transition into doing actual calligraphy – As you get more comfortable with fauxligraphy, start doing the thickened downstrokes as you write in cursive, rather than outlining and coloring in afterwards. You’ve made it to the real deal! It should get easier, quicker, and more natural as you keep practicing.
  5. Practice a lot!!!! – I found the best way to practice was to look up examples of words/sentences in calligraphy and try to copy them. You can just look up calligraphy on Google Images, or you can even make a Pinterest board full of inspiration. You might also come across practice worksheets, which can be helpful as well.
  6. Experiment with styles – Everyone’s handwriting is a little bit different, therefore everyone’s calligraphy and lettering will be unique as well. If there’s one particular style of writing you like, I suggest finding as many inspiration pictures as possible and copying it. Otherwise, just keep practicing and along the way you’ll find what’s most natural for you.
Step 1- practice cursive!
Step 3- before coloring in, outline the downstrokes of each letter for fauxligraphy!
Step 3- result! It looks a little messy since I used two different mediums (pen and Crayola skinny marker) but I wanted to do that to show the effect. I think it still looks pretty cool šŸ™‚
Step 4- I am nowhere near perfect and I would like to get actual calligraphy pens, but Iā€™m proud of my improvement so far!

I hope this inspires you to improve your own handwriting and give calligraphy a try. I’m definitely not claiming to be an expert or an incredible teacher, but I wanted to show you guys it’s definitely possible to do without being super artsy. Another disclaimer: you totally don’t need to buy all the official calligraphy supplies such as brush pens and the like right away! I just use highlighters, markers, and pens- it does make it a bit harder and sometimes I have to resort to fauxligraphy, but it has a similar end result and is still fun to practice. If you end up being really into it, then totally go buy all of the supplies; I just wanted to put it out there that it’s not something you have to spend money on in order to do.

Happy writing!

Brooke

My 10 Life Essentials I Can’t Leave Home Without

Welcome back everyone!

Whether you lug around a large purse or you keep your essentials floating around somewhere in your pockets or car, you probably have certain things you can’t leave the house without. These can vary greatly depending on what your interests are and what your day-to-day routine looks like. As a high school student, my essentials range from very silly to very practical; they’re pretty typical for a girl my age, but I still thought I’d share. I know the holiday season’s pretty much over, but if you’re still in the market for a gift for a teen girl, all of these are practical items she’d love to have if she doesn’t already.

  1. Hydro Flask/water bottle – I bring water with me everywhere. It’s good to stay hydrated, and you never know when you’ll need it. Hydro Flasks are the most popular brand at the moment, but any reusable bottle that prevents you from using single-use plastic bottles and constantly having to buy water when you’re out should work great.
  2. Portable phone charger – I’ve had a Mophie powerbank portable charger since middle school, and it still works perfectly and charges my phone super quickly. It takes a while to charge the portable charger itself, but it’s worth it since it holds up to four charges worth of battery power. I recommend splurging on a high quality portable charger because it will last you a long time and they usually really do charge more efficiently.
  3. Chapstick – I always have at least two forms of chapstick around me at all times. My two favorites are plain ol’ Carmex (cheaper option!) and Glossier’s balm.com in any of the untinted flavors (a bit more pricey). I have super chapped lips so these are a must, and it’s always nice to keep your lips in good shape with a nice scented product.
  4. Hand sanitizer or some form of wipes – When you’re at school or out all day, you’re bound to encounter a lot of germs. I have hand sanitizer and/or wipes in my backpack for before I eat or for when cold and flu season hits. It’s no substitute for washing your hands, but school bathrooms are so disgusting that it’s still a better option during class. Bonus points for a cute/scented hand sanitizer!
  5. Scissors – This is probably the most random one, but I’m always the girl with scissors. Whether it’s to cut a string off of someone’s shirt, to put together school projects, or to wrap gifts, scissors are actually pretty useful in a typical day. It’s one of my odd things, but I’m pretty particular about it- my favorite are Fiskars non-stick scissors since you can cut tape with them.

I hope you enjoyed discovering more about the things I use everyday- I think it says a lot about me and my daily life. I am currently on winter break as I write this and as it will be posted, so hopefully you all are on break and enjoying yourselves as well. Happy end of December!

-Brooke

5 Holiday Reminders You May Need Right Now

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays everyone!

First off, if you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family doing something fun. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day in general. That being said, at the peak of the holiday season, I think there’s a few things we all need to remember. It’s easy to get swept up in the wintery wonder of picture-perfect holiday cards, lavish gifts, and adorable light displays, but it’s important to remember the real meaning of the holidays: spending time with family and friends, giving back, and being thankful for the life and opportunities you have. That being said, here are five things you may want to be conscious of today (and everyday!)/during the holiday season.

  1. You are so lucky to be here in this moment – No matter how hectic your day happens to be and whatever else is going on in your life, take a moment to breathe and appreciate that you have made it through another year and another holiday season. Not everyone is able to say that. Whether it’s a holiday or not, it’s another day that we are blessed enough to experience.
  2. Your holiday doesn’t have to be perfect – The commercialized expectation of Christmas and the holidays can make us think our holidays aren’t grand enough if we don’t have a huge, fancy dinner or get showered in luxurious gifts, but that is far from the truth. If you’re lucky enough to have that experience, that’s great! Just remember that’s not what the holidays are truly about. For others, don’t compare your experience to those around you- it’s all about the spirit you bring to the day.
  3. It’s okay to not want to spend time with some of your family members – I know I’ve put a lot of emphasis on spending time with your loved ones. That being said, I know some people have a lot of struggles in dealing with their family, whether it’s rooted in toxic relationships, abuse, or something else. If this is the case, don’t feel pressured or guilted into spending time with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. If anything, seek comfort in those who love and accept you for who you are.
  4. A lot of people (strangers, anyone!) would be so grateful to experience some Christmas cheer and generosity – If you are able to, it would be amazing if you could donate some time or money this holiday season. My family always donates gifts to Toys for Tots and sometimes canned goods to a local food drive. If you’re unable to donate money/items, donate your time and serve holiday meals at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or find other opportunities to help out.
  5. Today, like any day, is what you make of it – More than anything, the holidays are just an excuse to celebrate all of the good things you have been given in life (people, etc.). It’s not actually different than any other day, and it’s up to you how you approach it or spend the time. If you’re not a fan of the holidays, you don’t have to spend them watching movies and decorating. Make your own traditions and go on a hike! That’s just one example- you can literally do anything.

I hope this finds the eyes of people who needed to read it. Happy holidays everyone- remember you are loved. I’m here to talk to any of you always, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and/or Hanukkah (if you celebrate!).

Brooke

Fun Holiday Activities For Friends & Family Gatherings

Hello everyone!

Merry Christmas Eve! Christmas is almost here and Hanukkah has begun, so what better time than now to do something fun with the people you love? Whether you’re bored over the break and wanting to make plans or searching for an activity to do with your family at your Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner festivities, you’ve come to the right place. My family likes to keep busy and we’ve implemented many different types of things into our holiday celebrations over the years, so here are a few of my favorites.

  • Ice skating – A winter classic, everyone can enjoy going ice skating at least once during the holiday season. My local rink even decorates for Christmas with a fake snow mound in the center and fake trees for photo-ops, coupled with Christmas music playing and hot cocoa served. If you want to do something more active, this is perfect.
  • Going to the movies – Another somewhat basic activity that most of the family or group will enjoy. I think my family plans on going to the movies Christmas afternoon- we did last year, and it was a pleasant time.
  • Post-Christmas shopping – If you end up getting a lot of gift cards or money, you can go shopping and pick out some nice things for yourself. It’s a good time to shop with all the post-holiday sales; I recall there were a lot of good deals last year.
  • Holiday movie binging or movie binging in general – Sometimes you just don’t want to leave the house, and why would you? Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, the streaming options are endless. I’m personally not that into holiday movies, but curling up on the couch and watching any movie feels festive to me. Bonus points for hot chocolate!
  • Craft night – My family has done this every Christmas Eve since I can remember. My mom gets supplies to make some sort of festive craft (often an ornament or something similar) and everyone can customize it to their liking. It’s perfect because it’s lighthearted and fun- people can get super into it if they want and make it a masterpiece, or they can make it silly and mess around. It also makes a good gift for little kids to give to their parents!
  • Baking something sweet for everyone to enjoy – My mom likes to bake cookies and cakes around the holiday season, and it’s something everyone can benefit from. If you’re the person who likes to bake, make something to bring over to whatever holiday party you may attend. If you’re the person who wants someone else to bake, organize the ingredients and find someone in your family who would like to do most of the work, with you being their trusty assistant.
  • Secret Santa/white elephant exchange – It’s a little late in the game to organize one of these, but I can’t leave it off of this list. I participate in at least one Secret Santa or white elephant gift exchange every year, and it’s such a fun thing to do with friends to get in the holiday spirit. I love seeing people open their gifts and guessing who got it for them.
  • Potluck – Another way to reduce the cost and effort in hosting/organizing a holiday gathering is having everyone bring their favorite recipe or dish. There’s usually more than enough food if everyone follows through, and who doesn’t love a good buffet?
  • Drive to the snow – This is pretty dependent on where you live, but I think it would be really fun to take a mini-trip to the snow. If you live in Southern CA like me, snow is hours away, but if you live in a snowy place already, all you have to do is walk outside! I’ve actually never seen real snow in my life besides the last remnants of snow melting on the ground when I visited Washington D.C. at the beginning of spring in eighth grade, so it would be really fun to go to the snow.

I hope these ideas inspired you to add a little flair to your holiday celebrations and helped you figure out what to do with any company you may be having these next couple of days. Personally, I will be celebrating Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house with most of my mom’s side of the family, and Christmas will be a smaller affair with just me, my mom, my dad, and my brother. Our celebrations have definitely scaled-down as I’ve gotten older, but I’m always excited to see everyone and fulfill our holiday traditions during this time of year.

Happy Holidays!

Brooke

5 Fun and Productive Ways to Spend Winter Break

Welcome back everyone!

Winter break is upon us, and it’s finally a good, long, hard-earned break from the craziness of school. It’s time to indulge in all the things I love about the holiday season- especially hot chocolate and movies. That being said, there’s a lot of other fun ways to spend your break that are also productive! In case you’re searching for another activity to supplement your Netflix-bingeing, keep reading.

  • Volunteer for a good cause – The holidays are a great time to give back to your community since there’s so many people in need. You can serve a holiday dinner at a soup kitchen, help collect donations for a toy drive, work with charities that help veterans and foster kids get presents- the possibilities are endless, and there’s so many worthy causes.
  • Spruce up your room for the new year – This might not be fun depending on who you are, but I plan on doing a deep clean and some reorganizing of my room over the break. If there’s decorations you get as presents or something you’ve been wanting to change in your room, now’s the time to put that all together!
  • Make plans for the summer – You can get a head start on planning summer trips, or applying to summer programs since applications open soon. I’m personally trying to figure out what I’m going to do over the summer, especially since there’s so many options and things I’m interested in doing. This is the perfect time to figure it out and do research if you’re not sure where to start.
  • Exercise and get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions – We all get busy and end up cutting exercise out when we’re short on time, but we also all make “be healthy!” and “exercise more!” our New Year’s resolutions every year. While I have the time, I’ll try and have a more consistent workout routine over these couple weeks. It’s probably a good idea with all the holiday food I’ll be eating anyways, right?
  • Start a passion project – Do whatever that thing is that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time to. Read a book series, write something, make art, start a mini-business, start a blog! The hardest and most time-consuming part is getting started, so this is the time to do it so you can keep it up easily once break is over.

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to spend your break. Remember to keep a balance and spend lots of time with family and friends, enjoying the holiday season and celebrating each other’s presence. Personally, I have to study for finals, so I am going to have quite a busy break! Happy holidays šŸ™‚

-Brooke

10 Festive Things That Remind Me of Christmas

Welcome back everyone!

As Christmas quickly approaches, I’ve been trying to get myself more into the holiday spirit. With the last week of school before winter break coming to an end, I can now fully appreciate all the things I love about winter and Christmas. Here in Southern California, it definitely doesn’t get super cold or snowy, so we kind of have to use our imagination and try extra hard to be festive.

  1. Driving around and looking at Christmas lights – My neighborhood has a couple streets that go all out, and it’s so magical to walk by and soak it all in. My family has never been the super festive type that goes all out with decorations, but I love to look at houses that do. My friend’s neighborhood has a bunch of great streets, so I usually drive around there.
  2. Drinking hot chocolate – I LOVE hot chocolate. Honestly, I’ll drink it from winter until summer as long as it’s not too hot. Whether it’s from Starbucks, my favorite local coffee shop, or the kind from a packet in one of my favorite mugs at home, it’s the perfect winter treat- especially with mini marshmallows.
  3. Watching Christmas movies, or any movies – I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas movies, but watching any movie on a cold day with hot chocolate gets me in the Christmas mood. It’s kind of a weird Christmas movie to watch so much, but I watch Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas every year, since it reminds me of my family.
  4. Eating a candy cane – I used to love candy canes even more when I was little, but I still love to eat one. I like swirling it around in my hot chocolate too. Bonus points if you get the end of the candy cane to a sharp point.
  5. Lighting candles – I’ve already mentioned this quite a few times, but I absolutely love lighting candles. It makes the atmosphere so peaceful and your house smell amazing.
  6. Ice skating with friends – I’m definitely not the best at ice skating, but it’s always fun to go to the local rink with friends or family. My local rink decorates for the winter season with fake snow and trees in the center- it almost feels like we live in a place with real winter!
  7. Wearing beanies and gloves – Being cozy is the best thing ever, and cute winter accessories add to the look!
  8. Wearing sweaters and sweatpants – I love being comfy year-round, but in winter it’s actually acceptable to wear sweatpants around. Actually, maybe it’s not- oh well.
  9. Wrapping presents – I’ve really improved my wrapping skills over the past couple years. I love picking out presents as well, so it’s even more fun to put them together and give them to the recipients.
  10. Baking cookies – There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh baked goods. I love making fresh chocolate-chip cookies, or those pre-made ones with the winter pictures on them (you know the ones).

I hope this inspired you to get in the Christmas/holiday spirit and enjoy your winter break. There’s so much to enjoy during this time of year, so let’s soak it up while it lasts.

-Brooke