Some Simple Christmas Gift Ideas

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and sometimes, it feels like gifts are hard to find! Here are a couple of simple, cheap, and always thoughtful Christmas gift ideas for the people in your lives:

  1. Self-care items. Ranging from a spa set to lotions, body washes, and soaps, there are so many options here. For those who are into bath bombs, that’s even an option. These gifts are great because you give someone the gift to pamper themselves and relax.
  2. Fuzzy socks. Some of you might be saying, “Socks? Really?” Actually, a cozy pair or two of nice fuzzy socks is a wonderful gift! They’re useful, comfortable, and perfect for a cold day to wear around the house or with a cute pair of boots.
  3. A box of sunshine. I recently found out about this and it’s a super cute idea! For this gift, all it takes is a variety of yellow items, ranging from candy to socks to candles and so on! Then you write “Box of Sunshine” on the box lid and whoever you’re giving the gift to has a wonderful and adorable little care package! This is sure to make them smile.
  4. A bullet journal starter kit. As far as I know, there isn’t an actual kit that can be bought but you can make one yourself! All you need for this gift is a journal, which doesn’t have to be freakishly expensive, some pens, and some stickers and washi tape! Journaling, and bullet journaling specifically, has exploded this year, and this would be a great gift for a friend that’s interested in it.
  5. Good smelling things. From candles to perfumes, this is always a great gift for someone. The options for scents are endless!
  6. Makeup or nail polish. For the makeup lovers and nail polish lovers in your life, this is always a good option. There are SO many options as far as colors and finishes go and you can rest assured that your gift will go to good use.

So there’s a couple of gift ideas. Keep in mind that it’s always the thought that counts. While expensive gifts can sometimes show a person how much you care about them, it’s the time you spend with them that matters above anything else. Have a wonderful week!


Some Wisdom for Wisdom Teeth Surgery

So this Thursday, I’m finally getting my wisdom teeth out… Yikes. My mom’s a dentist and works as a dental hygienist, so I’m accustomed to knowing about the mouth and teeth, but the idea of having surgery in my mouth scares me. Based off of what I’ve learned from my mom and some common sense, here’s some wisdom for before and after getting your wisdom teeth out. And quick side note: In no way am I saying that I am a doctor or professional on this subject, this is what I’ve learned from my surgeon-to-be, mom, and personal knowledge…

  1. Do not eat 6 hours prior to your surgery. Most people typically get their wisdom teeth extracted in the morning so dinner would be your last meal. You are also not allowed to drink water 6 hours prior to your surgery. This is just to ensure that the anesthesia and other medications they give in your IV are not messed with and your system is clean. You also have a less-likely chance of throwing up.
  2. Ice, ice, ice. There will for sure be inflammation and swelling from the surgery. Icing will bring down the swelling and help you feel a lot better quicker.
  3. Eat soft foods and drink a lot of liquid. For about a week, your diet should consist of smoothies, shakes, and other easy-to-swallow foods. You want to keep the surgery sites clean and prevent any infection or damage from occurring. On the bright side, know that you can still eat ice cream, so at least there’s that to look forward to!
  4. Stay on top of your pain medication. Pain killers and prescriptions may vary from oral surgeon to oral surgeon, but just take what they recommend. The doctors know best and they want you to heal quickly and properly.
  5. Listen to your oral surgeon. The oral surgeon is the expert and they know what it will take to heal. Like the last tip, just take their medications, ice, and rest to allow your body to heal and get back to normal.
  6. Take time off from work or school or activities. Your body will need time to heal and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be delirious and not-quite yourself for some time, so just give your body a rest. Sleeping often and doing very little will be something important you need to heal your mouth!

If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth out, it’ll probably happen and if you have, you’re a lucky person. Happy recovery to you, when you need it of course, and wish me luck with my surgery on Thursday!

Wisdom Teeth

Senioritis is Kicking in Hard and It’s Not Even Winter Break Yet

So finally Thanksgiving Break is upon us and I couldn’t be happier. School has been wonderful so far, I just always feel the desire to not do anything. Lately, I’ve really just been wanting to sleep and if I have homework that’s due but not due the next day, I typically don’t do it. I’m still working super hard in classes and my grades are the best they’ve ever been, it’s just that I’m pretty sure senioritis is upon me.

I’ve already applied to the four colleges I’m looking at and I’ve been accepted into three of the four (still waiting to hear back from the last one). So at this point, it’s just the scholarship applications, yay?! Those are honestly, so much more work than I expected, but that’s okay. I’ve already written so many college essays and additional essays and stories about my life and extracurricular activities, that this feels like nothing. But I just wanna be done! Done with all of the writing and the stress that comes with it. That’s senioritis for ya.

All I can think about is going off to college next year and what it will be like living without my family. I plan on only going to college about an hour’s drive away from my home, but the thought of living without Marty and Boo, my dogs, and my parents, and Allyson, my best friend and my sister is odd. Life will be so different. I think about what it will be like to live in a tiny room with another person that I’ve most likely never met and spend a whole year with them. I’m sure we’ll get to be great friends and it’ll be awesome. I think about what classes I might take and how that will get me into dental school so that I can eventually become an orthodontist.

I’ve truly stopped caring about what other people think of me and spend most of my school days in leggings with a comfy t-shirt from a tennis tournament on. Freshman year, I told myself, “Ana, you’re not going to be like those seniors that stopped trying to dress nice and cute senior year. You aren’t going to be the senior wearing leggings and a t-shirt almost every day.” I laugh thinking about that, because that’s exactly what I became. I still have my days where I wear a cute dress, display my array of Alex and Ani bracelets, or wear some cute jeans with a nice top and some boots. I also have an increasing amount of days where I just don’t care what I look like. Frizzy hair? It’s fine. Same pair of leggings in one week? Honestly, no one will notice. Wear that shirt too much? Not an issue any more. That’s senioritis.

I know I’m gonna miss the people I’ve made friends with and I’m going to miss the amazing school I’ve called home the past four years, but it will be great to spread my wings and see what the world has to offer. I think I’m ready for it.


Tips for Starting and Keeping a Bullet Journal

Diary meets planner meets to to-do list. Bullet journals have become quite popular recently. So many of the kids at school as well as my teachers have started using bullet journals to organize their thoughts and lives. I too, have started a bullet journal and it is one of the most fun things I do. Bullet journals make great planners and the possibilities are honestly endless as to what you can do with a bullet journal. Here’s a few tips for keeping a nice bullet journal.

  • Get a nice journal. You should pick a journal that reflects you and your personality. I recommend something smaller, that is easier to carry around.
  • Get a collection of pens, calligraphy pens, markers, colored pencils, etc. Having a variety of writing utensils to work with makes working on your journal so much fun. Color-coding things is a great way to stay organized too.
  • Keep a daily/weekly/monthly planner in your bullet journal. Currently, I use my bullet journal as more of a monthly planner because I’ve established a separate system for my planner. There’s a lot of people that use their bullet journal as their planner, and honestly, I think that’s the best way to go. This helps you stay super organized and on-top-of your schedule from a day to day basis. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to create each weekly and daily planner.
  • Create a key and stick to it. This adds to the organization aspect of the journal but also helps with consistency of it overall. With my journal, my key is set up that certain highlighted things represent different parts of my life like: tennis, work, school, and so on. Different symbols also mean different things, like a light bulb may represent an idea or a heart may represent a birthday or special occasion. For tasks, and this goes specifically with my to-do lists, I typically use boxes and when they are completed, they are checked off. If there’s an appointment, that typically gets a box as well, but then it receives a special additional symbol to remind me that it’s an appointment. There’s a lot you can do with a key, just stay consistent and actually use it.
  • Let your creativity run wild. Bullet journals are a fantastic way to express yourself and work on your artistic abilities. For those who aren’t quite art-oriented, Pinterest and the internet in general are great resources for inspiration. Some pages in your journal should be dedicated to doodling or coloring or drawing pretty pictures, and so let your mind do it’s thing.
  • Don’t stress over a bullet journal. Bullet journals are meant to be something you want to do and something you’re willing to spend time on. If you’re stressing about your bullet journal or freaking out about it, you might want to reconsider having a bullet journal.
  • Share bullet-journaling ideas with others. Several of my friends and I spend time weekly showing each other our bullet journals. This is a great way to bond and also a great way to see how others work through their bullet journal. I’ve gotten a bunch of creative and fun ideas from collaborating on my bullet journal. If none of your friends have a bullet journal, there’s Facebook groups for bullet journaling as well as plenty of ideas on Pinterest.

Organization is key when it comes to bullet journals and I strongly believe that they are a great way to help organize your life. There’s so much you can track in a bullet journal too, from your sleep habits to your mood and even the books you read and the movies you love. If you want something fun to do and a great way to get your life together, try a bullet journal. If you’d like additional information on bullet journals and even more on how to get one started, click here. Happy journaling!

Bullet Journal

teenage girls, this one’s for you

dear teenage girls of today,
the clothes we wear do not define us as a person.
our weights and sizes should not cause us to hate ourselves.

our hair colors,
our eye colors,
our body types,
our money, do not determine whether we are perfect or worthy of society’s acceptance.
society says to “be ourselves” but then shuns us for being ourselves the wrong way.

there is no wrong way to be the beautiful girl you are.
there are no amount of likes or followers on social media that should dictate your self-confidence.
there is nothing that shouldn’t make you feel worthy, welcome, or beautiful in today’s society.

teenage girls of today, there is no reason to scramble for people to like you. there is no reason for you to compare yourselves to others. there is no reason to hide behind a fake person, a mask.
be who you want to be, don’t search for approval. you are an individual, you are beautiful, and you are amazing. 🙂

dear teenage girls of today...

Eighteen Lessons I’ve Learned So Far…

My eighteenth birthday just happened on Friday. Yay, adulthood! With the arrival of this wonderful occasion, it seemed like a good idea to reflect on my life so far. I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot with my time here on earth already, so here are eighteen lessons I’ve learned so far…

  1. Chairs that aren’t rocking chairs shouldn’t be rocked. Rocking an unrockable chair may result in you or a loved one saying hello to the edge of the fireplace and cracking their head open.
  2. Tennis rackets should not be used to hit people in the face. Not trying to call anyone out on this one, but there was a girl at a tennis camp my sister and I went to back when I was maybe seven or eight. This girl wasn’t paying any attention and she hit my sister in the lip with her tennis racket and my poor, sweet little sister had to get stitches in her lip.
  3. Gum does not make a cute or pretty headband. It gets in your hair that way and then your grandma has to cut off a solid chunk of hair.
  4. You can get Coke to reach the top of a car if you shake the bottle hard enough. There’s a nice stain on the inside roof of my dad’s car to prove that I did that, if anyone wants to see!
  5. Grasshoppers make great pets, just know that they don’t live incredibly long. RIP Sensei Bobby.
  6. Climbing trees is quite fun. If you ever decide to try this, be careful, have a good grip on whatever you’re climbing, and watch out for weak branches. My sister and I used to (and rarely, but sometimes still) climb our grandpa’s peach trees in his backyard. SO FUN!
  7. Be careful when picking pictures off of the internet for PowerPoints. One time, I was making a PowerPoint off of Microsoft and I went to select a picture. When I clicked on the picture, it downloaded a whole bunch of viruses onto my laptop and that was the end of that laptop… Just be careful on the internet.
  8. Sisters make the best of friends. It might be evident after that last post, but my sister is actually my bestest friend ever. Whether you have a brother, or a step-sibling, it’s really important to establish a great relationship with them, so please do. It makes life so much more wonderful and enjoyable.
  9. Try so many things. This might sound kinda vague, but it really isn’t. My parents have done a wonderful job teaching me to be open to trying a wide variety of activities and hobbies. This has helped me become the well-rounded (at least I hope I am) person I am.
  10. Know that change is okay. When my parents surprised me with the fact that I was switching schools for high school. I thought my life would be over. I thought a new school would be awful and I wouldn’t make any friends and that I would always be miserable. Wow, was I wrong. Going to the school I’m about to graduate from changed my life for the better. I’m out of the drama that built up at my old school and I’ve learned so much more about myself and life in general. Whenever you get the chance to try something new or if something like a new school is thrust upon you, know that you will be okay. Everything that happens, happens for a reason.
  11. Patience is key. For those of you who have been around my blog for a while, you know I went through the wringer for about two years with my foot and ankle. For stuff like that, you have to know that healing and recovery takes time. And not relating to injuries, things like learning new material in school or trying a new sport or hobby will also take time. You can’t master something right off the bat and the beautiful but messy process of trying and becoming better is what truly helps you in the end.
  12. Help your community. I have been extremely involved at my high school and through various non-profits in my area. It feels amazing to know that doing something is helping others live a better and safer life. I find satisfaction in volunteering especially in knowing that my hard work will make someone else’s job or life easier. Being selfless is one of the best feelings.
  13. Dogs are great creatures to talk to. Honestly, Marty and Boo have been the best little dogs I think I’ll ever know. They are both so loyal and so understanding. Even if they can’t understand a lot of the things I say, dogs can definitely pick up on emotions and they are amazing creatures for the support and happiness they bring to us. Talking to my dogs has given me a lot of comfort and if there’s ever a secret I need to spill, I share with them because how could a dog ever share it? And even if Marty is pretty sure, considering he is a dachshund, he gives the best hugs. Boo gives the greatest little kisses and his wagging tail is always a pick-me-up.
  14. Let go of the past. I almost feel like I live by “Let it Go” from Frozen. I dealt with a lot transitioning from middle school to high school and with my freshman and sophomore year as well. Something that has become very important to me is the idea that you should forget what hurt you in the past but never forget what it taught you.
  15. Work hard in school. Now that I’m wrapping up my grade school career, I’ve really seen how hard work can take you places. Being a straight-A student all the way up until sophomore year of high school, I’ve done a lot to put myself ahead of my peers by taking advanced classes, asking questions, and taking responsibility for my work and actions. Working hard in school will prepare me for college and then a job after college.
  16. Bullet journals are fun and a great way to organize your life. At the beginning of this month, I decided to start a bullet journal and they are honestly so much fun! They’re a great way to keep track of your goals and plans and homework as well as track your lifestyle habits and mood. I’ve also found that working on a bullet journal is a great stress reliever too.
  17. Little kids make life so much fun. After acquiring a childcare staff position at my church, I realized how happy little kids make me! They’re so goofy and innocent and happy all the time and that has aspired me to be more silly and think more positive. Something I also admire about little kids is how creative they are and how honest they can be. Sometimes the truth hurts but its a good kick in the right direction, so sometimes you need the truth.
  18. Have courage. When I switched schools, I had no idea who anybody was and vice versa. I feel like I went from the confident, social butterfly I was to a shy, awkward new girl. Freshman and part way through sophomore year I was pretty afraid to speak up or do what I wanted because I didn’t know anyone. Regardless of that, it’s important to not be afraid of what others think of you and it’s important to have courage and say what you want to say. I’ve gained back the more outgoing side of myself and I’m so glad I did. There have been a lot more opportunities and I’ve enjoyed my life so much more because I’m not afraid.

Wow, that was a lot of writing and a fairly deep reflection on my life. There’s plenty more things that have made my life the life it is and that have made me the person I am today. Have a good week! 🙂

My Sister, My Best Friend

My sister, my best friend. From the minute she was welcomed to the world, our friendship and bond would sprout from the earth, growing bigger and more beautiful each day. We’d run into our boulders and steep mountains, but we knew that life was meant to be conquered together.

I vaguely remember having my sister sit on my tiny almost two year old body and bite my thumb. Who knew that little sisters could be painful! I remember the day I told her that regular chairs served the same function as rocking chairs and this caused my sister to crack her head open on our fireplace, oops. I remember the year at Halloween when we dressed up as a pair of princesses from our favorite Barbie movie and pranced around our living room singing with sheer joy. I remember playing with dolls and stuffed animals and pretending to be fairies and different animals for hours and hours in our backyard and really just anywhere we traveled.

Together we discovered that hair doesn’t grow back on Barbies and that gum doesn’t make a good headband and that a bottle of Coke makes a good explosion if it’s shaken up enough. We’ve learned that tables make good hiding spots from heel-nipping dogs and that I’m a good hairstylist when it comes to chopping off bangs. We’ve seen that tennis rackets can cause major damage to the face and that becoming good at roadtripping is crucial if eight-hour car trips come as a perquisite of being in the Horvath family.

Allyson and I learned to treasure our time together when I moved to a new school as a high school freshman. We learned to be thankful for our health and good fortune when I hurt my ankle and couldn’t play tennis for almost two years. Allyson and I learned to fearlessly navigate the rough waters of high school and life together. We learned that being each other’s best friend is the most wondrous part of our lives.

Sometimes, people ask my sister and me how is it possible that we get along so well. They share stories of how they tease and fight with their siblings, and even hate them. Some people yearn to be away from their brothers or sisters and some wish they were not related. It should never be this way. I tell people that it takes time. It takes time to get to know our brothers and sisters. Siblings should support, love, and care for each other. They act as the cheerleader, the coach, the tutor, the Devil’s advocate, and one of the closest people a person knows in life.

Regardless of where I go and what I do in life, my sister will always be with me. She may not always be right beside me or just down the hall, but she’ll be in my heart. Her goofiness and curiosity and outgoing personality have left a permanent mark on me like the mark we inscribed on the giant peach tree in my grandpa’s backyard. We will forever be tennis doubles partners, dish-washing partners, traveling companions, video directors, best friends, and most importantly sisters.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova. Tennis superstar, fashion icon, and successful businesswoman. At seventeen, Sharapova wowed the world with a victory over Serena Williams in the finals at Wimbledon and since then, has claimed several Grand Slam titles and claimed number one in the world multiple times. Had it not been for the hard work and positive influences of her parents, Maria Sharapova might not be the iconic, outgoing, and wonderful person that she is today.

At the age of 5, Maria and her father moved to the United States. Her family did not have a TV and Maria played very little tennis during her childhood. Because of this, she spent a majority of her time with friends from school and with her parents. When she did pick tennis up, her coaches influenced her character and preached the importance of dedication and hard work to her. These fundamentals remain clear in Sharapova’s character today as she is a resilient and mentally-strong woman who has bounced back from a multitude of injuries and a-little-over-a-year long suspension from tennis. Maria Sharapova demonstrates hard work and dedication off of the tennis court through her highly successful candy business, Sugarpova, and work on her recently released book titled Unstoppable: My Life So Far.

Sharapova’s parents have had a strong influence on the tennis star in that they promoted education, being well-rounded, and positive thinking. Maria often shares stories about her mother and the impact and influence her mother has had on her. When Sharapova came to the United States with her father, her mother was very much still with her. Sharapova reports that her mother was always very keen on keeping her educated in her English studies and Russian studies. Yelena Sharapova also inspired and pushed Maria to spend time away from TV and tennis and visit places of art, music, and history like museums and performing arts centers for musicals and symphony performances. Sharapova has learned that education is important to succeed and recently decided to further her education at Harvard Business School. Not only is she working to improve her education but she promotes education for all and the idea of having a well-rounded life. The tennis star frequently shares her love for fashion and shopping and music concerts and art museums on social media. Several years ago, Sharapova founded the Maria Sharapova Foundation which sends scholarships to students in Belarus and her hometown in Russia to attend the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and the Belarusian State University.

Sharapova’s parents and wonderful coaches have helped make her the independent, strong, beautiful, intelligent and hardworking woman she is today. Her parents’ drive to excel in everything and their desire to be educated have surely influenced their daughter to help spread her love of art and fashion. They have helped Sharapova be a sports role model for children and teens. Most importantly, they have helped the tennis superstar inspire many to be educated and be an advocate for themselves.

Maria Sharapova

Did You Know: Bees

Funny story, so I was walking Marty and Boo this past week a little after dinner and we passed these flower bushes we always pass by toward the end of our long walk and all of the sudden, something flew at my face. I immediately closed my eyes, thinking that whatever it was flew into my eye and felt this little creature on my face. I opened my eyes, threw whatever it was off of my face, and freaked out. Thank goodness my mom was with me and she pulled out the stinger that the little bugger had left right below my left eye. We aren’t even sure it was a bee because I recall the evil little flying creature being black and my mom pulled out a black and green stinger. That was definitely a painful experience and I hope I’m never stung by anything again. Honestly, I’m not even sure I did anything that would’ve appeared threatening to a bee, so why did it sting me in the first place??? My sister and I did some research and think it was a bee of some sort and for that reason, today you all are going to learn some things about bees.

-Bees’ brains defy time. When aging bees do work that is typically reserved for younger bees, their brains stop aging and actually the aging process reverses. HOW DOES THAT WORK?!

-Bees can recognize human faces. They put faces together the same way that we humans do, through configular processing.

-The queen bee is the only bee that lays eggs and can produce up to 1,500 eggs a day!

-Bees have been on earth for over 30 million years! There honey was even found in the tombs of mummies in Egypt and was still good.

-Honey produced by bees comes in many different colors. The different colors are a result of the different nectar gathered from flowers.

-A bee has an oval-shaped brain and its brain is only the size of a sesame seed. This is amazing because bees have the ability learn, remember things, make distance and travel calculations, and be extremely efficient in foraging.

-Each honey bee colony has a different and special odor for members’ identification.

-Honeybees are very clean creatures. If something dirties their hive, they freak out and do whatever they can to immediately clean the hive.

-Bees are responsible for 80% of the pollination that occurs. Even though many people hate bees, we actually need them to have all of the wonderful fruits and vegetables we have!

So whether this information is new or not, now you know a few things about bees. They’re actually pretty amazing creatures!

Did You Know: Bees

How to Hit a Slice Shot in Tennis

In the tennis world, we have a variety of shots to change up the pace on the ball and mix up things for our opponents. There’s lobs, regular groundstrokes, flat shots, shots with a lot of topspin, dropshots, tweeners (which are impossible for me to master, haha), slice shots, and the list could go on forever. Hitting with slice can be challenging, and I know that I struggled to get it at first but with time and practice, I think my slice shots are pretty effective. Here’s how to hit a slice shot.

When you hit with slice, you are putting backspin on the ball and your goal is to keep the ball low and out of reach for your opponent. Nowadays, a lot of people play with a big Western grip which allows for them to get great topspin on the ball. However, when the ball is hit lower, they struggle to keep the ball in play because their racket face is almost parallel to the court and it’s difficult to stay in the point.

  1. When you want to hit a slice shot, either an Eastern grip or continental grip will do just fine. I am successful hitting forehand slice with an Eastern grip and on my backhand slice, I find positive results with the continental grip, which is also what I use for my regular backhand. Hitting with these grips maximizes the underspin or backspin you get on the ball.
  2. As you prepare to hit your slice shot, it’s crucial to get a good shoulder turn. You’ll want your upper body turned with your chest facing one of the sidelines. As with all other shots in tennis, use your non-dominant arm to guide and track the ball into your racket.
  3. You’ll also want to make sure your knees are bent. This will allow for you to hit through the ball and get a good swing at the ball as your racket comes under the ball.
  4. Finally, you’ve made contact with the ball and your swing begins. Take a nice, relaxed, and long swing. A slice shot is a pretty and smooth shot and is not meant to be hacked or chopped at. Even if a slice shot is a more delicate tennis shot, you should still be accelerating through the ball. On slices, you’ll also want to start high and finish low and as you come through the ball, transfer your weight forward.

Another thing to remember with slice is that it often is NOT used as a winning shot or put-away shot. Many players, especially those on the tour, like Federer, Murray, and Nadal use their slice shots to move their opponents off the court and create openings for winning shots. Be smart with your slice shots and they will do great things for you.

How to Hit a Slice Shot in Tennis
Here is a guide to understanding the different grips and hand positions on the racket in tennis.

And here is a video on how to hit an effective backhand slice shot. There are plenty of other great videos on how to hit slice and there are plenty that focus on the forehand slice if you’re interested.