Best year yet

31 Dec


Seriously, how is 2013 almost over already? Waaahh! I love this time of year because the holidays change up my normal routine and I get to see more family than usual, take some extra days off of work, and look back on all the things that happened over the past year.

Last year, I sat down and made a list of 25 things I wanted to accomplish in 2013. Looking back over that list, I’m quite surprised that I did indeed complete quite a few of them even though, like most people out there, I haven’t looked at that list since January. That’s the problem with resolutions–we quickly think of a few because it’s the thing to do, but then forget all about them after a week.

The number one resolution I had in 2013 was to start a blog, which I did manage to pull off. And check out the new blog design! I am so excited to show it to you. It took a ton of Googling and a lot of tutorial watching, but here it is. There’s still some things I’m playing around with, but eventually I had to tell my perfectionist self it was ready to show the world since social media is always a work in progress. While giving the blog a makeover, I also created official Small Stuff Counts profiles on facebook, twitterand pinterest, and I could really use some followers on them (hint, hint). I’ll give you a full tour of the new design soon (yeah, I know your life would go on if I didn’t, but I’m going to anyway :) )

Anyways, back to resolutions. Most people get excited and rush into setting a few new year’s resolutions just because it’s the thing to do. But what good are they if you don’t put some real thought into them? Why not spend some time reflecting on what you REALLY need and want to accomplish in the coming year.

This year, I’m not making a huge list of resolutions. When I looked back at last year’s list, I realized it was mostly bucket list items like be in a studio audience, learn to play guitar, become a Zumba instructor, etc. So I’m now using the iWish app to track all of those bucket list items instead of scribbling them down year after year.

This year, I’m making a 2014 action plan that focuses on five areas of my life: personal growth, relationships, health and wellbeing, financial goals and career development. I had a little extra time on my hands over the weekend and an itch to design, so I created a worksheet to help focus my thoughts in each of these areas, and I thought I’d share it with you to use. goal printable and use your favorite sharpie to fill it in. It helped me reflect on 2013, and set goals for 2014.

2014 goal worksheet

Now I’m concentrating on breaking each goal up into a couple actionable steps that I can add to my regular routine to help me stay on track. For instance, I want to spend more time traveling in 2014. But David and I don’t have a lot of vacation time and we’re also trying to build our savings, so we’re going to start by challenging ourselves to visit all 99 Iowa counties. Some of our free weekends will be spent road tripping to parts of the state we haven’t spent much time in before. Another goal I have, like I’m sure many of you do, is to eat healthier and exercise more. So I’m breaking that down by setting a specific amount of minutes I need to exercise each week. That sounds manageable to me, and hopefully I’ll end up losing a few pounds by sticking to that weekly goal.

All in all, 2013 has been a year full of blessings. It was our first full year of marriage and we’ve been blessed with great jobs, wonderful friends, healthy lives, and so much more. We’re hoping to make 2014 the year we start a business together and it’s torture not to be able to share the details yet. I really hope things will pan out and I can share some good news with you on the business front in 2014.

Lastly, thank you to you, my readers, for being absolutely amazing. In the couple months that I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a lot about myself and learned a lot from you. Thanks for reading, and know that your comments and messages mean the world to me. Here’s to 2014, the best year yet!



High Five For Friday! ~ Christmas, Family, Gifts and The Farm

27 Dec

High Five For Friday! via The Small Stuff Counts Blog

Wow, Christmas falling in the middle of the week makes for some very short work weeks, but man it’s throwing me off. Can’t complain though!

1. Here are David and I in front of my parents’ tree on Christmas Eve. It was really nice to be home and spend time with family for a couple days. I’m already looking forward to heading back in a week to see them again and open all the gifts under the tree that we didn’t have time for this week.

2. Here are a bunch of my crazy cousins at Grandma’s house on Christmas day. We had so much delicious food! We do a grab bag gift exchange every year, and this year I ended up with a really nifty salt and pepper grinder. I’m actually quite excited to put it to use! It was fun to catch up with everyone for a few hours.

3. I got in on chores while at home on the farm. I busted out this awesome coat because it’s important to stay fashionable while feeding calves. Check it out. My sister, Amy, and I have matching ones from high school FFA. The back says ‘Dairy Foods Team State Champions 2006′. How many people can say they have a coat with a big picture of cheese on the back of it? It’s a great random fact. It’s been an exciting week on my parents’ farm because they installed a robotic calf feeding system. Each baby calf has a chip on their ear and the machine tracks how much milk they’ve drank during the day and cuts them off when they’ve had their share. It was really slick.

4. Behold my new iPad mini. I didn’t take a picture of myself turning it on because I may have been drooling in awe. Haha, anyway it’s been on my wish list for a long time and I’m so excited about it! Thanks to David and our parents for chipping in for it together.

5. And lastly, I am still obsessing over peppermint hot cocoa (and peppermint ice cream). I’m telling you, it’s Christmas in my mouth! (By the way, Lilly says that same quote on an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’. I’m pretty sure I coined that phrase because I’ve never seen the show until recently, but I guess I will share the limelight with her).

Have a fantastic Friday! Are you celebrating more Christmases this weekend? What did Santa bring you?

A touch festiveness

24 Dec

Merry Christmas Eve to all you wonderful readers! I thought I’d give you a quick tour of some of the simple holiday touches I’ve added to our apartment this year. I have been working with retailers on holiday shopping promotions since September, so it seems crazy to me that Christmas hasn’t actually happened yet! I put up my decorations a couple weeks before Thanksgiving and have been jamming out to holiday music for well over a month now. I’ve also had my share of peppermint hot cocoas and a ridiculous amount of peppermint ice cream.

Here’s a peak into the Counts holiday decor. We don’t have the space or money for elaborate decorations, but I love added hints of holiday colors and festiveness (that might be a new word) to our apartment.

Holiday decor for small apartments Continue reading

Everyone Knows Everyone

22 Dec

small towns quote via The Smalll Stuff Counts

Part of my job at our chamber of commerce includes leading community orientations with new employees at our companies, and during each orientation we ask them to jot down challenges they faced when considering working and/or living in our small town. Most people list things like finding a decent apartment or wanting more shopping options, but a couple in the latest stack of comments listed “lack of privacy” as a challenge they faced when moving here.

At first, the comments actually made me laugh a little inside because, to me, that is just something standard with small town living. But to a few of these new hires who had moved here from huge cities, it actually freaked them out. Let’s face it: in a small town, everyone know everyone AND everything. I like to think of it as a lack of anonymity, not necessarily a lack of privacy. But whatever you call it, small town newbies can find it very overwhelming and intrusive.

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High Five For Friday! 12.20.13

20 Dec

High five for Friday everyone! Wow, this week has gone by incredibly fast–so fast that I ran out of time to publish a post since last Friday. Sorry about that, I’ve been trying to finish a post about how everyone knows everyone in small towns. I’ll be posting it on Sunday or Monday, so stay tuned! I also have a post coming with a tour of our Christmas decorations next week.

High Five For Friday via The Smalll Stuff Counts

1. I am feeling great this year because I had most of my gifts wrapped last weekend. It’s nice not to be stressing about it! Just one more thing to go pick up today and I’ll be all set for Christmas. I have had so much fun exploring all of the shops here in town and successfully completed my 100% local gift challenge. I can’t wait to share pictures of all my awesome finds with you, but you’ll have to wait another couple weeks so we don’t ruin any surprises. This is the most excited I’ve ever been to see everyone open their presents because I found so many neat things.

2. Inspired by this post from Life {Sweet} Life that I found on Pinterest, I started leaving 12 Days of Christmas notes for my husband. Continue reading

High Five For Friday! 12.13.13

13 Dec

Happy Friday the 13th! My week has been crazy busy, how about yours? I am definitely ready for a weekend of hot cocoa, peppermint ice cream and wrapping lots of presents.

High Five For Friday! 12.13.13

1. We spent last Saturday with some great friends and cheered on the Grinnell College basketball team. The game went into overtime 99-99, and Grinnell ended up losing by 6 points in the end (it was a nail biter!). You may have heard about their player, Jack Taylor, who scored a record-setting 138 points in just one game last season. He made it over 100 points in a game earlier this year, but their opponents on Saturday did a great job of shutting him down and he ended up with 40. They are a fun team to watch. I love living in a college town where there are always games and concerts and things going on. And it’s all free!

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Tips For Hassle-Free Gift Wrapping

10 Dec

Tips for hassle-free wrapping via The Small Stuff Counts BlogGift wrapping is seriously a work of art. Who doesn’t love a beautifully-wrapped gift that is color coordinated with crisp folds and perfect bows? We all spend a lot of time hunting for great gifts, and each one deserves to be wrapped in beautiful packaging with tender loving care. The key to wrapping gifts like the pros and avoiding a few headaches is to have all your supplies organized in one place. Create a Gift Wrapping Supply Box to transform the gifts under your tree into masterpieces!

Tips for hassle-free wrapping via The Small Stuff Counts BlogIn the past, I have always just grabbed a roll of festive Christmas paper and covered everything in it. But what do you do with all that leftover paper? Where do you store all those leftover rolls when you live in a small place? We don’t have a lot of storage space, so I decided to simplify my wrapping this year by creating a Gift Wrapping Box that holds the basic supplies I need to wrap gifts for EVERY occasion, not just Christmas.

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