DIY Year Jar

There are good moments and bad moments throughout the 365 days in a year. What we take away from those days can sometimes be tainted by time and research has shown that it is the general inclination for a person to remember more of the bad then the good.

But I want to change that pattern. For the last three years, I have made what I simply refer to as “my year jar.” I think it is a great way to take away the good lessons and memories at the end of the year, and leave the bad ones behind. So if you would like to make your own, follow along.



  • 1 mason jar/decorative container that you love(preferably that is resealable so you can’t loose anything.)
  • 1 pen in whatever color you want
  • Some tape
  • A Post-it note or small square piece of paper
  • A pad of post it notes or a deck of notecards

If you want to pretty it up somehow with glitter or stickers, go ahead. This is a reflection of you and your year, so make something you love!


Next, you want to take your Post-it note, or I have used half a notecard before, and write the year on it (in this case 2016, unless you are super cool and reading this in the future then go you). Then, tape it to the outside of the jar. I usually make like a frame around the outside with some scotch tape. You could also use decorative washi tape.


Decorate your year label however your little heart desires.

Now here comes the best part. Take another one of the Post-it notes or half a notecard and write one thing wonderful that has happened already this year. I like to date mine too so it can job my memory. Fold it in half and drop it in the jar. You just saved your first memory.

Put your jar (or container of choice) somewhere in your bedroom where you will see it. I put mind on the corner shelf. over the next year, it is your job to take any scrap of paper and put that good thing that happened. It does’t have to be huge. Even just a good day that happened and you want to remember. I like to put all kinds of things in mine like…

  • Concert tickets
  • The front page of a play program
  • A note that says when someone got married
  • A note about how you spent the day with your mom
  • The day you and your best friend ended up making a wrong turn that lead to the best adventure yet.

You can put any happy memory that you want in it. Just make it a little blip about the event that will jog your memory in the future.

At the end of the year, you can take that jar, and open it up. Think of it as a good times time capsule that you get to open at the end of every year. I like to open mine New Year’s day or the day after, and read through all the great memories you made. Then prepare to take on the new year ahead.


DIY year jar



How to Pick a Theme for 2016

Photo: Devon A. Aragona

The theme of 2016: Purposeful. The list of the things I want to do keeps growing. (Photo: Devon A. Aragona)

Wow…This first week in January has flown by, and to be honest, it was just stressful.

I was so excited for the new year! It meant new beginnings, new outlooks, and a great time to start some new things so naturally, a lot of new projects. It is a fresh start to do wonderful things.

But old habits die hard. My Not To-Do list had very quickly become my need to-do list. I was overwhelmed with all my ideas and trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done that I wanted to accomplish in 2016… and it was only like six days in. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated by everything.

In the midst of all this, I read a recent blog post that one of my best friend’s, Lauren , wrote about taking back your life in 2016 . In it, she talked about something I said to her in a recent conversation. It that went something along the lines of this: “But you have to find a way to look at life differently, in a more joyful and grateful way. Yeah, what you’re fighting is awful and scary, but you’re alive and you get to deal with it.”

As we talked to about how as bad as the bad stuff gets, I thought it was important to remember that we were still alive and had the opportunity to deal with all of the uncertainty and overwhelming parts of life. In her post, she talked about how much this statement She vowed that in 2016, she was going to change her mindset and take back her life.

I sat back and laughed at myself. I needed to take my own advice!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

It is time to start something new and wonderful.

I had learned so much in 2015. I had been faced with a lot of tough questions: What do I want to do with my life? What did I want to get out of life? What was I willing to sacrifice? What were my priorities? What can I not live without doing in life. What do I enjoy? I felt pulled in a lot of directions. There were also a lot of life lessons and tough realizations. So I decided it was time to start applying  my new found knowledge to 2016.

The two things I determined were the biggest lessons:

  • Not letting myself get overwhelmed: More specifically, not being overwhelmed y what I didn’t know, what I wanted to learn, and how much there was to know and grow. I was excited about it and needed to know it all. Right now. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • Being purposeful: I realized that everything I did, even the smallest things, had an impact on my time and on my life.

I have so many interests and ideas and things I want to see and do in life. It is hard to know where to begin sometimes and feel as if I am not accomplish anything fast enough. So I try and do everything at once. That doesn’t work.

In Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s post, he talks about a theme for the year. I really liked that idea.

So I decided that my theme of 2016 is purposefulness.

I need to be conscious of being purposeful about things in my life: the people I see, the decisions I make, and what I do in my everyday life.  The biggest  battle of all is I have to make decisions about my time. I have become more aware of that than ever. It is so easy to simply blink, and my day is gone. Having become aware of how much I wanted to accomplish in life was a fact that was quite overwhelming once I started trying to make time for it all. Prioritizing rather than fantasizing and becoming overwhelmed is an important skill to develop if I want to put my ideas into action.

I started making a list of what I wanted to accomplish or work on in 2016. I also started mind mapping what I wanted both short term and long term in life. It helped seeing everything; even getting the scrawniest of ideas or dreams out so I could start doing something wonderful to work towards learning and doing all these things.

So I ask you now: what is your theme this year? What is the intention behind what you are doing right now?

I encourage you to take some time this weekend, make make a list, mind map, journal, and figure out what it is that you want to accomplish this year and in life. Now, is what you are doing getting you to were you think you want to go? Figure out what you need to do to accomplish those things. How can you be more purposeful about what you are doing in your life? Don’t just promise yourself you are going to do something, start figuring out how you are going to do it.

It’s only week one, you still have plenty of time to start something wonderful.

If you would like to share how you are changing in 2016, want to share your theme of the year, or want to share however you may be taking back your life, feel free to use the hashtag Lauren at Making Life Sweet started for the year: #ABrighter2016. Who knows, maybe you will help someone else find their theme too.

My Not-To-Do List

T’was the Monday before Christmas and all through my mind, nothing  was stirring, but a panicked need to scream.

I was sitting at my desk, staring at a mess of post-it notes, a computer screen full of open tabs, a blank look and this oncoming feeling of anxiety.

I had a jumbled list of projects that I wanted to work on in my head, each one trying to yell louder than the other for attention. I was working on developing a calendar for social media at work, I had helpful blog articles to read, coding lessons waiting, an inbox to clean out. There were photos to edit, new photography equipment to test out. The list goes on and on. All I could see were all of these projects, accomplishments, and ideas that I wanted to get done in 2015, but how was I going to get everything done?Where had my year gone?!?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so many ideas and goals that I loose track of everything and don’t even know where to begin.

My internet browser was suddenly a scary representation of my head and I was so overwhelmed that I just wanted to run away from it screaming. It isn’t that I wanted to give up and not accomplish anything, it was more of a need to not feel overwhelmed.

That is when I stopped and grabbed a piece of paper.

I began writing about everything that was going on in my head. My ideas, my frustrations about not knowing where to begin, a broad list of areas that I had projects in. Suddenly, that piece of paper was my best friend, and I was having a vent fest to it. I got a majority of my frustrations out. I sat back and was like ok… that helped me feel better, but now what am I going to do about it all?

Realistically, I have maybe four more days this year where I can plan to get much of anything, besides wrapping my Christmas gifts, accomplished; The rest is going to be family and travel filled. So I took a moment to be disappointed in myself for not being more diligent about certain things, and to recognize the areas I needed to work on. I recognized that I need to focus less on being scared about what I am doing with my life and more focused on just getting certain things accomplished.  Then I forgave myself and thought “you will do better next time.”


Next, I made a list of things that I was not going to accomplish this year. A list of things I’m going to set aside until 2016:NotToDo

  • Coding: Yes, I have been slowly trying to teach myself to code. Nothing fancy, just a basic understanding so that I can do more with designing blogs and website. I want to be able to make them look exactly how I want them to. (There are actually quite a few tools out there if you want to learn.) I had started this awesome class called CS50 from Harvard through but had failed to keep up with it as I had planned.I thought I had let this great opportunity slip through my fingers but that was my own fault. I knew I couldn’t teach myself to code in four days so, I promise I would put that aside coding for now. To my happy surprise, I found out that the class started January 1st again.
  • My Blog Redesign: Yes! I have been itching to do this! As much as I love my blog now, I built it when I was first learning about blogs, web design, and I was younger. I have grown up a lot and with that my taste has changed. I got a bee in my bonnet some months back to do something different but for anyone who knows what it is like trying to do a redesign, it can be hard. Picking colors, fonts, deciding on a new theme, should I go Genesis frame work, what host to use, the list goes on! I had really wanted to start off 2016 with a new look, new post-college me. But at this point, I could either get it done, or wait and really do it right. Also on that list, figuring out how to make a mood board.
  • My car getting cleaned: Yes, I am going to get my shoes out, but the vacuuming and detail work, that just isn’t happening before next year. I am traveling and going to be all over of the next couple weeks. Sorry pumpkin.*
  • Some Christmas gifts: I’m not a terrible person I swear, but some people I won’t see till after New Year’s anyway. So for those of you who I don’t see till January, you will get it when I see you and not a moment sooner. My apologies now.
  • Various projects: Whether it is photos I want to edit, or ideas for other projects I want to try, some of them I am simply going to have to sketch for now and make later.

This time of year can be stressful. We feel this need to accomplish all of these things, and we look back and see what we didn’t do.


What are some things that you could really say, “I’m going to accomplish these next year and that is ok.” Make a list somewhere and then put it away until 2016. If that doesn’t sound appealing, make a list of things that you have accomplished in 2015.

However you choose to do it, give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the rest of 2015.

*My car is fondly referred to as pumpkin.

Quote of the Week

Quote Coner

During the holiday season,  it is easy to feel like a kid again. That isn’t a bad thing. Always keep your inner child alive.

Tis the season where age doesn’t matter, and traditions remind us of years past. Go ice skating, build a snow fort, bake a pie, do something that you enjoy and is an outlet for you to express yourself and have a little fun!

Handling the Holidays

I like to make my Christmas list fun, that way I get excited about using it.

I like to make my Christmas list fun, that way I get excited about using it.

We got our first couple of inches of snow this weekend and that solidified it: that most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us again!

With all of the beautiful snow, the twinkling lights, and the celebrations comes the crowds, the shopping, and the wrapping. All done with love, but none the less a little stressful.

This is my first Christmas as a “full-blown adult” without the excuse of being a poor college student, paired with an expanding Christmas list, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed. (I may not be a student anymore, but now I have student loans coming due…Happy New Year).

Luckily, this year my family helped me out by doing a name draw. We draw names out of a hat and do presents for that person (I got my sister, woot woot!). So that helped take some of the pressure off. But there were still plenty of others, and there is still much to be done in the next month! Oh where to begin?

  1. Make a list! This sounds simple enough but quickly gets complicated. You may randomly remember someone who you need to add while grocery shopping, or you suddenly realize you need to buy a co-worker something. It is easy to get multiple lists going at once. Stop it. Put it in a planner, make it a list on your phone, or a google document. Keep your list centralized though. I like to make mine pretty so I get excited to add to it. This is also a great place to put ideas of what you want to buy for people, so space out accordingly.
  2. Make a budget. This is so important. Figure out how much money to spend, preferably exactly, but even an idea is a good.
  3. Track your gift. No, I don’t mean make sure you know the tracking number of your latest shipment from Amazon (though that is important). I mean, as you start to actually buy gifts, put how much it costs next to that person on your list. You see what you have spent so far and keep track of where you are at overall. And if you are anything like me, you remember what you bought for who when it comes time to wrap.
  4. Get creative. Now that you have a budget, you know what you won’t be able to buy for people (sorry sis, that Kate Spade purse will come at another time). You may have to get creative. That gives you the perfect excuse scour Pinterest.
      • Make a homemade recipe book
      • Make a “movie night” basket that has a movie and popcorn and some candy.
      • Get a couple in the family a restaurant gift card that says they have to use it on a date night (bonus: add in that you will babysit.)
      • Find a beautiful quote or poem, print or hand write it, and frame it.

    Also check out Etsy for some creative gifts that would be unique. Watch for sales that are happening all over the place. If you are really brave there is this thing called Black Friday coming up-may the odds be ever in your favor!For those people who are just hard to buy for, ask them. I get the whole surprise thing but you want to make sure they like what they are getting. Maybe there is something they need.

  5. Speaking of asking people what they want…if you are annoyed by that question from family and friends, or really dig the surprise element, make a Pinterest board. I made a secret Pinterest board and invited my immediate family to view it. I try to add things that I would really like, that would be appropriate gifts, to it throughout the year. That way, when my Nana asks my mom what I want for Christmas, she can just check the board. Even click on a link that will lead them right to the gift. Simpler for everyone.
  6. Plan. I know… I’m not great at planning ahead either, but try have some short-term goals, like getting one present done a week. If you have to order something, try to do that first. If you are going to make something, remember that paint has to dry, and it takes time to get pictures printed. And all of this has to be wrapped, sometimes mailed.


Remember to stop and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. Take in the lights, the smells, and the time with people. It is not so much about gifts as the thoughts behind them. And…

Acts of kindness go a long way.

Quote of the week 


“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing” -Herman Melville-


A Graduates Not-So Freak Out Moment

Graduation may be coming, but I am going to enjoy each day as it comes and try not to rush anything.

So as I sit here, trying to study for one of the last two finals I have remaining in my undergraduate career, I was sitting in a quiet house, all by myself, and couldn’t help but start to reflect… on the last four years, on my friends, on the future, on what Saturday (when I walk for graduation) would be like.

My life is far from what I thought it would be like when I graduated college. But as I look back at the friends I have, the lesson’s I have learned, and the experiences that I have had, I realize that there are very few things that I would change. I also realized something else: this was the last Wednesday afternoon I would be sitting here, in my house, with it decorated with all of our college photos and memories and knick knacks. I sat back and took it all in for a moment. I also promised myself something:

That I would ENJOY the last few days that I had here, with these people, at this time in my life.

Yes, I am freaking out about jobs, and the future, and my finals, but at this point, that isn’t going to get me anywhere. I could run away so that I began to sever the ties that I will miss. But I have plenty of time to miss them.

Right now, everyone is here, and I have plenty of time to be an adult. I am going to enjoy the last few days of being a college student.

Happy Easter! 

He has risen!  

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day

Everyone could use a little more love in their lives.

What 2014 Taught Me (A.K.A. A lot)


2014 went by in a blink. I accomplished a lot of things on my bucket list this year-never thought I would say that at 22. With all of these adventures came a lot of memories and even more learning. About myself. About people. About the world. About life.

1) The world has a lot of good in it.

This was never made more clear to me than when I traveled abroad. It is easy to be scared of a lot of unknown places. There is a lot of bad in the world that is easily viewed-the news, social media, movies, tv shows, our own personal experiences. But there are a lot of kind, wonderful people in the world.

2) Your friends don’t have to be just like you.

Some of the best friends that I made from abroad were people who were totally different from me. Personality, lifestyle, disposition, even belief systems. But those are some of the people who I have become the closest to and learned the most from. Not all of your friends have to be just like you-have some diversity. Just learn to respect each other.

3) Life is not about finding out what you want to do, it is about finding out what you don’t want to do.

As a 20-something women-in-training, I am constantly being asked what I want to do with my life after graduation. Honestly, I could come up with two dozen answers, they would be sorry they asked. But in this last year, I have seen so much, and had a lot of experiences that I never could have planned on. Things I thought I wanted it turned out weren’t really for me. I like learning and I don’t want to tie myself down with some idea that will probably change more rapidly than I can come up with alternatives. So I throw my hands up. There isn’t an answer. Life is about figuring out what I want to do by learning what I don’t want to be doing.

4) Embrace life while you are young.

I promise this is the only statement of a single-dome I will make. I see people I know getting engaged everyday. And that is great! I am so happy for them! But I am young, single, and the sky is the limit in a totally different way for me. I am so excited about that. Sometimes I feel like there is a lot of pressure put on girls who are young and single. Somehow they begin to think that their lives don’t start until they are married. So we spend  a lot of  time dwelling on finding “Mr.Right”. But I want to live my life and find someone along the way. When I meet the right person, I will have a lot of stories to share.

5) Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.

If you had asked me where I would be or what I would have done by now 5 years ago, my answer would be very different than what has actually happened. And I have come to appreciate that. I’m not saying it was always easy. It was heartbreaking sometimes. But it taught me a lot. I wouldn’t be who I am today if everything hadn’t happened exactly how it did. I have come to appreciate that and like who I am (within reason). God is good and he has brought a lot into my life that I could never have dreamed possible. I am very thankful for that.

6) Acknowledging a problem is the first step. Especially a personal one.

Sometimes it is easy to blame circumstances, settings, or even other people for our actions, fears, and other things in our lives. It is easy to just not think about bad habits sometimes, then hate the consequences. I have bad habits, or have ended up in situations where I would find myself saying “why didn’t I write that or do that” or “how did I end up here”.

While abroad I found myself in a different setting, and it made me examine some of my own patterns and habits that I had settled into that weren’t good for me or things that I needed to work on. But first, I had to accept that there were problems that I needed to work on. And that was harder than I thought.

7) If acknowledgement is the first step, then doing something is the second.

Once I did realize there were things I needed to work on, I had to remember to make a conscious effort to work on those things. To work on myself, not just push the problem aside. I would still find myself falling into old habits, but the difference was that I noticed them now.

8) If something was a bad experience, sometimes its a good idea to give it another shot.

I don’t write about this a lot yet, but I ride horses. Not just I have a horse in my backyard that I hop on. I grew up showing and then went to college for it to earn my associates degree in Western Equestrian Studies. I learned a lot, and it definitely challenged me. It challenged me so much that it made me question my abilities as a rider and as a person. It was a dark road that I still have to work on coming out of.

After my sophomore year, I gave up my bachelors degree to study abroad and it was the best thing I could have done. I had the chance to miss my horses. I realized I still wanted to learn more. So my senior year, I took a risk (based on encouragement from a friend) and asked to do something unusual for my program-audit the barn. I would be there not for a grade but just because I wanted to learn and take another shot at it. And it was the best thing I could have ever done. Though at times it was stressful, giving it another shot showed me that I wasn’t a terrible horse trainer. I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t a complete failure. All I needed to do was give it another shot, this time with a little faith.

9) Sometimes things are complicated…it is just that simple.

Sometimes things are complicated and thats the way it is. Your could talk about it for hours and you are still left with things messy and no good answer. Learn to leave it alone sometimes. Time is the best thing for it.

10) Life will keep teaching you until you get it.

I don’t think there will ever be an end to the things I learned about myself by going overseas. I realized that there were a lot of decision I had made that kept putting me in mindsets that weren’t good for me, or that would leave me with a stunned not this again, I have been here before feeling. I found myself looking upwards and saying aloud “alright God, I got it. Again. Thanks for that” on more than one occasion.

11) Simplify.

Having to pack for four months in one suitcase is one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do in my life. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you with a shake of the head that I am a bit of a pack mule. Don’t get me wrong, I went shopping, but I learned that I could live with a lot less than what I usually did. Now, this doesn’t mean that I went home and threw all of my clothes out. I’m too much of a fashion junky. But it has made me step back and look at a lot of things. I realized that I needed to go through a lot of old and get rid of a lot. Something easier said than done, but a work in progress.

12) Your actions reflect your priorities. Be conscious.

This is something that I never really thought about. I would just go about things doing what needed to be done. I never thought about what my actions meant. I am a rather sensitive person but sometimes I didn’t think about how my actions affected other people. I have never been very good at prioritizing, but I realized that when I chose one thing over another, that meant something. When I bought something, I was choosing not to save for a long term goal that I had been planning on. This applied to so many areas of my life.

13) It is ok to be different.

There are no two people exactly alike in this world. I am loud, I am at time scatter brained, I am creative, I have some weird habits, and even weirder moments of randomness. Not everyone is always going to like me, applaud me, or agree with me even. I have to make my own decisions and not feel guilty about it. I have to love the parts of myself that make me, me, and work on the parts that need some tending too. And you should too.

14) How well do I really know yourself?

A lot of the things I learned about myself came from being put into a lot of new situations. Sometimes I was shocked how I reacted. I hardly recognized this timid, quiet, awkward person that took over my body all of a sudden. I found my beliefs challenged, I was forced to question things that I had never even thought about. While living in Italy, I found myself with more quiet time than I ever really let myself have at home. And I found myself really thinking about me, my life, how I felt about things. Why I keep battling the same battles.

It is easy to get caught up walking through life. Stop. Don’t feel guilty for taking a few quiet moments to think or do things that feed your soul.

15) Follow your yellow brick road.

Life is moving forward whether we like it or not. Do you like the direction that your feet are headed?

16) Being aware of surroundings.

I’m not talking about the physical aspects, I’m talking about socially. What is happening in the country? Who is running for president? What are the events in your own community? If someone asked you a great place to eat, could you answer? Learn what is happening in the world around you, not just in your own.

17) Keep making new goals for yourself. 

A lot of what I learned this year was about learning-about myself, the world, life. And one of the biggest things I learned was that life needs goals. They don’t have to be big. They can be simply starting to work on a project that you have been meaning to, or finally trying that restaurant you pass by everyday. Sometimes the silliest are the best. And they don’t always need to be shared.

I have decided that there are improvements that I would like to make in my life. I have set some goals for 2015 that are things I can constantly work towards even amidst the chaos of all the changes that I know will come with ringing in the new year. And I look forward to seeing how much progress I get to write about this time next year.

Thanks for the great year 2014. I’ll remember you forever.


Bring it.

I have a lot to look forward to.

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