Friday, November 30, 2018

2018 Gift Guide : Littles

Today I'm sharing a variety of goodies to provoke your gift ideas for the littles in your life. Personally, I gravitate towards gifts that are somewhat educational, practical, or, lets be honest here, undyingly adorable. Needless to say, there's a decent variety here. In all seriousness, gifts that encourage tinkering, exploring, or creating are always a great option. For more ideas, check out last year's gift guide

apron | suitcase | terrarium kit | bonfire set | remote control car | weaving loom | book

The Joy of Giving by Jan Berenstain was recommended to me by a friend this year and I happily added it to my gift list for every kiddo on my list. I love a book with a lesson that isn't too in your face but hints at the kind way to live.

Blue Remote Control Phantom Racer Trike is a great pricepoint for a remote control car, making it an excellent option for a babe that's too little for a fancy remote control with lots of buttons. This simplified version also comes in red and goes 7 mph. Don't forget the batteries!

The Craft Weaving Loom is an excellent choice for the child a little older and into creating. The 20" loom looks like it is substantial quality and comes with 4 colors of string. A gift like this could spark a hobby to last for years to come.

This star-printed apron and the bonfire set are perfect for kiddos with an imagination. I love these options as side gifts to a kitchen playhouse or a teepee. Let's be real, the accessories always make an ensemble better! The apron can also be used in the real kitchen if your child is an inspired sous chef.

This suitcase is the most functional of all gifts and we all know how much kids like to be as grown up as possible. A suitcase will give them the perfect storage for going to visit grandma or a friend, whether it's packed with clothes or their favorite Barbies, which is how I usually packed my suitcase. The durable case would also make great room storage that is super attractive.

Grow N Glow Terrarium is the perfect STEAM activity combining science and art. This is perfect for the child that loves to the outdoors. The plastic jar makes it super kid-friendly and the glow in the dark stars make it extra fun.

*I clearly love the terrarium because someone kindly pointed out it was in last years gift guide. That's how good it is people! I promise to find a different option next  year. Insert shrug emoji.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

2018 Gift Guide : Her

Tis the season to gift, gift, gift (falalalala, lalalala)! Truth about me: I love to shop for other people. Searching out gifts that match their personality, their interests, and especially looking for things that are unique and lux that they likely wouldn't buy for themselves. Each special person in my life gets their own little place in my planner where I dream up ideas to show them how much I love them. That's what I do: gifting is my love language. While I sometimes feel bad about it because it can definitely come across greedy, I shove those feelings off this time of year and OWN IT. Saying that, I also realize that not everyone's love language is gifting so for those people in your life, I have a special blog post coming out next week with some great ideas (if I do say so myself).

Now, let's get to it! Make her holiday extra bright this year by pampering her with goodies. All of these ideas are under $100 and most of them are under $60. But I really love to use gift guides as inspiration. Maybe these exact measuring spoons aren't her style, although they are so fun and fab, but it could spark an idea or lead you on a search for a different design or pattern. I hope you find this to be helpful and in case you need more ideas, here is my guide from last year which consists of mostly current items as well with a few updated links for you!

pajamas | pillowcase | lip mask | facial roller | mug | necklace | mascara set | beanie | scarf | measuring spoons

Friday, November 23, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Holiday Collection and Printable Freebie

The holidays are here! Thanksgiving is this week and I would say that makes us officially in the holiday season. In celebration of this time, I've released five new art prints over at Splendid Actually The Shop and those prints are available in over 80 products. Let's get right on with the introductions...

deck the halls & holiday cup season

Deck the Halls | The holiday version of my fall fireplace scene, this time all dolled up for Christmas. The chalkboard greeting is my favorite part of this piece, but I'm also a huge fan of the potted greenery flanking the sign. Decorating the mantel has become one of my favorite parts of preparing for the holiday season. Maybe that's because there's nothing more romantic than curling up with a holiday novel next to the fireplace when it's cold outside!

Holiday Cup Season | If you're a basic girl (raises hand) you anxiously await the release of the red cup from our Starbucks store. I especially love this version of a travel tumbler: cream and green bows on a dark red background. Let's petition this to become a real cup, shall we?!

 the holiday village & season scent

The Holiday Village | Inspired by my Pop's mini Christmas town which has now grown into a four table display taking up half of the living room, these adorable little houses are snowy and ready for the holidays. This picturesque village has color coordinated houses and shops which makes my little heart happy. Not to play favorites, but the village is my favorite.

Season Scent | A new scent every season, starting now! I really love the idea of these painted candles on a mini canvas as a collection. This holiday scent, Cranberry Frost has inspired the idea, making it the original!

NYC in December

NYC in December | It's a madhouse-magical place to visit at Christmas and my trip there last year will stick with me for years to come. There's nothing like the view of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, sparkling with colorful lights, with someone who appreciates it just as much as you! 

When I release new art, I love to come up with fun ways to use it my my planner. Visit this link to download your own village scene digital paper and digital die cuts. Or use the diecut sheet to make your own stickers! Tag me on instagram @mrs_cbellplans so I can see how you use these goodies in your planner!

This art is for personal use only. If you want to get one for a friend, that's cool, just please don't distribute my art without checking with me first. This art cannot be sold or altered without permission from the artist. xo, courtney

Friday, November 16, 2018


Every few months I like to do an update on the things currently going on in my life. Here's an update since my last CURRENTLY, in August.


I've been reading one book for months now and that's Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. I'm really enjoying it, but MAN. It's been hard for me to get through. So instead of reading books, I've been reading a lot of four different newsletters.

Girls' Night In is the spot for a weekly dose of articles, recommendations, interviews, and more for the woman that prefers staying cozy inside instead of out and about.

Four Good Things is a newsletter by one of my favorite planner YouTubers, Holly. She shares her YouTube rabbit holes, recipes she's tried, and whatever random thing she's become obsessed with for the week.

Alyson Haley is probably my favorite fashion and travel blogger. But even better than her blog is her newsletter (sign up near the bottom of her main page). She answers questions sent in by her followers and it's password protected - so it's always the really good stuff. Each week you're sent a password to a locked page on her blog. She shares more personal information that just allows her readers to get to know her a little more.

Mary Graham is the writer I go to when I need some reality. She blogs about her real life - mountains and valleys and her writing is raw and emotional. Not only do I love her blog but her Monday Business Meeting newsletter (sign up right at the top of her main page) is a great recap of her posts for the week, an update on what she's been doing the past week - whether it's podcasting or cleaning, and most importantly an encouraging scripture and devotion for the week.


We had a pretty busy fall when it came to traveling. In addition to multiple trips to Indianapolis for social events we also...

...drove three hours North to cheer on my alma mater in a match up against Notre Dame. The Notre Dame campus is beautiful, we had perfect weather, and the game was actually entertaining.

...flew down to South America for an 8-day mission trip in Ecuador. I pretty much fell in love with the country and I've been slowly sharing that trip on my Instagram page.

...flew to Kansas for a work conference for 5 days. Lawrence, KS is a delightful town with a thriving city center full of boutique/mom and pop shops and restaurants. The University of Kansas campus was beautiful, sprawling, and so. dang. hilly. I for sure got in my cardio that week. We also spent some time in Kansas City at their stunning theater and a furniture manufacturers factory.

...drove 7 hours west to our favorite little church in West Virginia, where we helped them host their annual fall festival. The weather was a little chilly, but we played games, decorated pumpkins and scarfed down bowl after bowl of chili.


Last week I made a big announcement on Instagram about something I've been "doing" for awhile. A dear friend of mine has a serious disease affecting his kidney and is in need of a kidney transplant. I did not hesitate to offer to be a living donor. The process has been quite intense, lots of poking and prodding, but through my meetings I've discovered how few living donors there are. Many people are put on a waiting list to receive one from a deceased donor and they wait for years. This option drastically affects the recipients quality of life while waiting and often requires them to need another transplant in their life. In sharing a bit about my personal journey, I hope to raise awareness about living donations and how amazing the opportunity can be for the recipient and the donor. I have learned so much about myself and strengthened my relationship with God. Head to my InstaStories highlights to follow the process.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

NYC for the Holidays

NYC in December... sounds like a dozen romantic holiday movies waiting to that's already happened. For years I've wanted to visit the city during the Christmas season so I could experience the hustle and bustle, the lights, the festive shows, and, of course, the holiday shopping! Just one time I wanted to travel to Manhattan in December and I was finally able to check off this bucket list item. Last December, we boarded a plane with lots of plans and excitement in tow, for a whopping 64 hour trip.

Because planning a weekend trip like this is tough when you're on a budget, wanting to see everything, and only have a few days to do it, I thought I would share the trip with you and give some pointers of how we saved money here and there but still had an amazing trip.

First, I wanted to pack light - carry on only, so we could share a checked bag home (not included in our airfare price) with the shopping we were doing. I was able to narrow down my clothing to 12 items, plus my winter coat, which I wore, and my jewelry, which I also kept minimal. I opted for a delicate necklace (this one that I wear every day), three pair of statement earrings and a pair of studs, and a single bangle bracelet. I've curated my clothing below along with how I mixed and matched items each day and night to make it appropriate for the activity. My bag was a crossbody with a removable strap to make it a clutch for nice dinners out and it was the only bag I brought!

Our plane landed early afternoon on Day 1 which gave us plenty of time to get to Manhattan without the early morning or evening commuter traffic. We stashed our bag at the hotel then went off in search of a late lunch/snack. We opted for a hotel in Midtown because we were seeing multiple shows and wanted to be able to walk to the theaters. It also made it convenient to walk to Rockefeller Center and do a tour of all the department store windows.

Speaking of tours, that first night we spent doing a walking tour of the window displays and seeing the Rockefeller Tree. We used this walking tour, starting at Macy's because we had dinner at Stella 34, inside Macy's. Now, I don't really recommend this, as I'm sure there's way better food elsewhere in the city, BUT this ended up being super convenient, the food was satisfying, and it had an incredible view of the Empire State Building. Anyway, the walking tour was a bit of a hike if you're not used to walking much, but it was fine for us and we ooh'd and ahh'd at all the windows, lights, and trees. And of course, we had to stop in Bouchon Bakery by the Rockefeller Plaza for some a sweet treat and hot drinks.

Day 2 started out with a trip to Drybar. I had to sacrifice my hair straightener to fit all my items into a carry-on, so I figured I'd use the opportunity to have a blowout. It made it so nice, because I didn't have to do anything with my hair the whole trip. If you have unruly, thick curls like me, you know the value of this. After the blowout, we purchased a two-day tour bus ticket. Knowing we wanted to visit SoHo, Chelsea, and Upper East Side, it was the best way to get from place to place, see the city, and a bus came every 15 minutes, so we would know exactly how long we had until the next stop. We could have done taxi's but that would have cost quite a bit more and we could have done the subway, but I honestly didn't want take the time to figure out the track route or spend time underground. We had amazing weather, cold but nice and sunny, so I wanted to enjoy it. We spend the entire day shopping in various neighborhoods, checking out coffee spots, and roaming the streets. I kept clothing comfy and simple with a red lip and gold hoop earrings.
That evening we were exhausted, but also excited for a night out. After dinner at Nino's 46, we walked to the Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular. It was an incredible show. The final number was a live nativity scene complete with camels and sheep, which was absolutely breath-taking. Our show was the latest show so afterwards, I really wanted to go to Top of the Rock but we could see the line inside from the street below and I was too exhausted to wait.

The next day we were seeing a matinee showing of Aladdin. I know it seems like a random selection during Christmas time, but I wanted to see something a little different, and honestly, the ticket price was right. I was completely in love with the show - anything Disney has my heart anyway - and the costumes were STUNNING. Gorgeous fabrics and so. many. jewels. I don't regret the choice at all. We also spent some time on the Upper East side at the MET because what kind of Gossip Girl fan would I be if I didn't. I also picked myself up a wool beret at a holiday market in Central Park to really tap into my Blair Waldorf side. I wanted to dress nice for the show and the museum so I duplicated my pants and shoes and swapped the blouse for this festive, green lace beauty.
That evening we were totally spent from going pretty much none stop. We decided a trip to Shake Shack was necessary, so I switched into some more comfortable shoes and used our tour bus ticket to take us down to Madison Square Park. We enjoyed our food while waiting on the next bus. Not gonna lie, when the sun is going down in Manhattan and you're drinking a shake, do not opt for the top seats on the double-decker bus. I definitely won't forget that bone-chilling ride. We hoped off at Times Square, to see it at night, and walked through the crowd back to our hotel.
The flight the next day was fairly early so we called for a taxi to pick us up at 5 AM. Unfortunately they mixed us up with another hotel guest headed to the airport who had not booked a taxi, so we ended up waiting almost an hour. Luckily, not many people are leaving Manhattan at 6AM on a Monday, so we had no trouble getting to the airport. I opted for cozy, probably because I was still cold from the bus the night before. And as a major bonus, we got upgraded to first class! In hindsight it was probably the worst thing ever because now I only want to fly first class. I crossed my legs in my seat, guys. It was glorious.

clothing items: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 (also here) | 5 | 6 (similar) | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Before leave you, I also want to add a disclaimer. While I had a blast visiting the city weeks before Christmas, I'm not sure I'll venture back this time of year. There are so many people. I've been to NYC several times, and I've never experienced it so touristy. We specifically made plans around town to get away from the crowds, but some of the things I was excited to see (Chelsea Market, Saks, Central Park holiday market, the Plaza) were absolutely swamped with people who wanted to experience the exact same things. So, yes, I've been there and enjoyed it, but I definitely am forewarning you: if you don't like crowds, this is not for you. If you can tolerate them, go! Have a blast and be sure to schedule some quite time away from the buzz during your stay. And now, a few pics I snapped (mostly shameless selfies) of the weekend adventure.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Feel-good sides

The past two months I've been working really hard to make better choices with my eating habits - more veg, less carbs, and so much more water it isn't funny. Literally, I now have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, something I've never had to do and it really isn't funny. But whatever, I know the extra water is doing me good so I stick with it. With the holiday's around the corner I've been a little nervous about healthy eating. So I found these six recipes I'm going to give a try in the hopes I love them (I've loved most low-carb options I've been trying). That way I'll have some carry-in options for the various holiday parties coming up soon. If you have a favorite healthy side dish, please send it to me! I would love to give it a go. Recipes below for these yummy-looking options!

Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin
Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Mash
Oven-Roasted Mushrooms
Catalan-Style Spinach
Low-carb, Cheddar Garlic Biscuit

Friday, November 2, 2018

Get the Look

This feminine little home office has me wanting to makeover my own! I also think it would look great in a college student's room, paired with a bed with blush sheets, colorful throw pillows and a white duvet. Doesn't that sound perfect?! Links to all the items I would use to recreate this look are below!

desk | rug | desk chair | pouf | wastebasket | shelves | letter | vase | pillow | print