Wednesday, January 25, 2012

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I borrowed this book from my friend while I was working at a summer camp and had some (a little actually) free time on my hands. While I didn’t read it until the fall, I really enjoyed this book. This book follows a girl as she travels through Europe on quests given to her in 13 little blue envelopes. Since I had been to half of the places she goes to, it was really neat to be able to visualize the places with the perspective of having been there. Anyways, this is a fun chick-lit book with a cute romance and a fun storyline.

Picture from

Sunday, January 22, 2012

St. Sebastians (Rome, Italy)

This is the first church we celebrated mass at while on our pilgrimage to Europe. I don’t have very many pictures of it, since I was going on twenty or thirty-something hours of being awake. St. Sebastian was a martyr, who was shot with six arrows and survived, and was later martyred by the same Emperor who had him shot. I believe there was as relic of him at the church, but everything was a bit fuzzy when I was there.

Here’s a picture of the little side chapel where we had mass. I’m fairly sure I half dreamed and half heard the readings of mass. The church is actually pretty small, but has catacombs underneath it, which we got to tour.

Here’s a picture of a crucifix that’s at the end of the catacomb tour. I literally fell asleep on my feet while standing here, which is terrifying, because it feels like all of your joints are giving out under you (you know the head-bob thing, but on a full-body scale).

Anyways, I guess this was a little more about me than the church, but it was a neat way to get started on our pilgrimage.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sippin' Saturday

Although it’s chilly outside (snowing at the moment, where I live) sometimes it is still nice to have a cool, refreshing drink.

Starbucks Frappachino Mocha
This is the kind that comes in a jar, not the icy stuff. I really like this flavor, especially when you shake it up and let it get all frothy. I definitely don’t drink this all the time, since it does have caffeine, but it is a nice refreshing treat when I need something perfectly cool and sugary, but not sickly sweet.

Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte

Blech! While I do love a good chai tea latte, I didn’t like it at all iced. In fact, I gave it away to a friend after a couple of sips, because it was just that bad. While the warm, rich spices are great in a warm drink, they don’t work very well when iced.

Salted Caramel Frappachino

One friend described this drink as tasting like “caramel corn”. While I don’t think it’s really that salty, I agree with the sentiment. It sounds like a gross drink, but it is actually quite delicious. Plus, the consistency of the frappachino helps the prevent the settling that happens in the warm version of this drink.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pink (All-You) Scarf

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite patterns. It is provided free thanks to lionbrand and All-You here.

This scarf is super cute and super easy to make – because it’s really only five rows of stitches. I made two in one day, one as a gift, and then one for me, because I couldn’t help myself. It was fun working with chunky yarn, and I love the color (although you could make it in other colors).

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I got a new betta fish yesterday, and I’m going to share with you how to take care of them, based on my one day of experience. =)

My fish’s name is “Firenze”, which is the Italian name for the city of Florence. It also looks like the English word “fire”, which is what my fish (sort-of) looks like.

Yeah, he's pretty awesome.

According to the guy at the pet store, a betta fishes natural habitat is muddy icky areas. So, a small bowl with (sometimes) poor water conditions actually mimics their natural habitat. This makes them the only fish that you can really get to live in a small bowl (less than 5 gallons). Apparently, their gills also don’t work like normal fish gills, and they actually get air from the atmosphere and not the water, which is why they don’t need a filter.

So here’s the basics if you’re gonna get a betta: You need a tank (mine is 1 gallon), rocks/decorations, water conditioner, a fish, and food. Make sure you rinse the tank and all decorations before using – then set up your tank as you wish, and let the temperature adjust to room temperature. Then, dechlorinate the water using the conditioner. Don’t just use normal tap water, or your fish will likely die. Then, add your fish! Voila! Also, feed it at least once a day. Bettas don’t eat very much. (At least, mine doesn’t. It mostly just plays with its food).

The whole setup
On a side note, happy birthday to my super-cool sister Emily! She's 19 on the 19th, which makes it her golden birthday. =P

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sketchy Behavior

Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum

This year, I hope to read one book a week, and I’m slowly chipping away at my “to read” list. This book is by Erynn Mangum, who wrote two fantastic Christian Chick-Lit Series, starting with Miss Match and Cool Beans, respectively. They’re both about chocoholics (something I can relate to) and have quirky, awesome characters.

This book is directed to a slightly younger audience (high schoolers instead of twenty-somethings). Although it was enjoyable to read, it didn’t impress me too much. The story is about a girl who loves drawing and art, and accidentally ends up drawing a murderer for the police. Although a cute story, there were some plot holes that bugged me, and it wasn’t as well done as previous books.

Link on

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pigs in a Blanket

Happy Tasty Tuesday! Unfortunately, I don’t have much for you this week, but keep an eye out for fun pork recipes in the future! I bought a whole pork loin, and that should last me for the entire semester.

This is more of a “tried and failed” type cooking but here goes. I tried making pigs in a blanket. But I bought the super puffy instant biscuits, and not the crescent rolls like you are supposed to. So my pigs in a blanket turned out to be more of pigs on a blanket. It still didn’t taste too bad though.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Fun Hairstyles!

Here are some fun hairstyles that I’ve been trying out.
One of my favorites is the braid “garland”. You just take a small chunk of hair near your forehead at the right side of your part and braid. Make sure you hold the braid in the direction you are going (behind your head) instead of braiding straight down – otherwise it will look weird. Do the same with the other side. Pin behind your head with bobby pins – I use four, one for each strand, and then an “X” where the two come together.

From the front

From the back
If you want to make a simple French braid using a larger chunk from the front and do the same thing, but only on one side, that works as well.

You can also just grab that same chunk of hair and twist and then pin back – and you can do that on both sides or just one side.

Since my hair is required to be up for holiday dinner (a fancy choir event), I got a lot of time to experiment with buns. My favorite bun is a bit hard to see in the picture, but it is my favorite way to wear a bun. You just put your hair in a pony tail, and then wrap the pony tail around itself, and secure with another ponytail. You can do this to the side a bit if you want as well. To give it a younger feel (instead of old-lady bun) you can add a flower clip to it.

The second way to make a bun is to first put it into a pony tail, but when pulling it through the last time, leave it in a loop. Then, pin down sections of it to create a donut-type shape. Wrap any extra strands around the base of the bun.

The last way I know how to make a bun is to put your hair into a ponytail, and then grab the end of the ponytail and twist until it twists upon itself multiple times. Then use another ponytail holder to secure this to your head. You may also need bobby pins.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

St. Peter’s Basillica (Vatican City)

There is no way to capture this church – it is so amazing and awesome and no picture or words can call it justice. And then, even imagine what this church is compared to God! Here are a couple of highlights (there are so many great things about this church!) with pictures.

This picture is a picture of the cool guards at the Vatican. They are specially trained Swiss guards who are among the highest military trained forces in the world. Which makes sense to me – they protect the pope! Their uniforms were designed by Michelangelo, which is why they look a bit unique. But could you imagine wearing a work of art? Or at least a design by such an influential artist.

Here’s what the Vatican looks like from the outside. It looks just the same in person, and it was so amazing to actually be there, at this iconic place that I’d seen plenty of pictures of. And see that little gold ball on top? That’s actually a little chapel that can hold twenty or so people with chairs. Isn’t that crazy?! That’s how big this church is.

This is the first glimpse of the Vatican when you walk in! (I don’t think I mentioned this, but the Vatican is the same thing as St. Peter’s Basilica. I know, it confused me too.) There is no way to capture how huge it is… there is another row like this filled with giant statues and tombs of saints and popes (who are sometimes both) to the right and left of what you can see in this picture. And then off of those are smaller chapels and rooms for adoration and baptisms and weddings and all kinds of wonderful churchy events. Oh, and see those letters up ahead? They’re six feet tall. That’s right… it totally blew my mind, but it just shows how huge this church is. (It’s actually the biggest in the world).

Here’s another picture of the words, from higher up in the dome of St. Peter’s, which you can climb up to, and then around until you pop out pretty high up on the dome, but that’s another picture. These words are all around the main dome that you can see from the outside and all around the edges of the church near the ceiling. They are the bible verse in which Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom, in Latin. Latin is actually the official language of Vatican City, which I thought was pretty cool. Also, fun fact, any time you see a shield with a pope’s hat at the top and keys at the bottom, it means that that pope commissioned that building or work of art or whatever it is. And if you see a saint with keys in his hand, you can bet that it’s most likely St. Peter.

This statue is in one of the alcoves on the right side of the church. It is called the ‘Pieta’ and is the only statue signed by Michelangelo. It is hard to capture in a picture, but this is truly an amazing statue – it really puts you into the emotions of Mary at the time of the crucifixion.

Here’s a picture of the dome from the inside. While I was in Vatican City, we got to tour the catacombs underneath the Vatican, which was fascinating. We were even feet away from the bones of St. Peter – a truly aweing and prayerful experience. If you were to drop a penny from the top of this dome, and hypothetically assuming it could go through objects, it would eventually land on the grave of St. Peter. He really is the rock our church is built upon.

This is the stained glass behind the secondary altar (behind the main altar) at St. Peter’s. It is surrounded by intricate gold statues and decorations, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of that. We celebrated mass while facing this, which was awesome. I really like the stained glass holy spirit – because that’s where the sun streams in, and it makes the holy spirit seem more ‘real’. It was a great experience to celebrate mass in the Vatican – even if it was in Italian.

This is a view from the top! You can take narrow, claustrophobic stairs very high up on the dome of St. Peter’s. It’s a great view when you finally get to the top. This is a view of the courtyard in front of the Vatican. The arcs have tons of statues of saints upon them, and the obelisk is said to be the last witness to the crucifixion of Peter, since it was supposedly there.

Another random fact that I thought was crazy about the Vatican is that every painting and decoration you see is a mosaic – not a fresco, as is popular in Italy. So this even, is a mosaic, which is crazy. If you look (pardon the dark photo), you can see Jesus’ feet through the water. I feel that would be hard even if it was a painting, but could you imagine creating this with tiny stones?

Going to St. Peter’s was an intensely amazing Catholic and tourist-y experience. It was amazing to see what people have created for our God, and weird to think how these majestic overwhelming creations don’t even come close to the majesty of our God.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sippin' Saturday

Happy Sippin Saturday! Since it’s so cold outside, this week will feature warm drinks from Starbucks.

Salted Caramel Macciato
This is a great drink with great flavor, but it settles quickly. I got it first in my re-usable mug, which is clear and sparkly, which meant that I could easily see the layers of milk, coffee and caramel. It also fortunately meant that I could shake my drink up. It taste great shaken, but not so much without. So go ahead and order it – just bring your travel mug!

Skinny Vanilla Latte
I’m a big fan of this one. I can’t tell the difference between the ‘skinny’ version and the normal version. It is still perfectly sweet with just the right amount of coffee.

Earl Gray with Vanilla
I’d never had earl gray before, and my roommate describes the flavor as ‘twiggy’. However, I ordered mine with vanilla, which for some reason, gave it a Froot Loops sort of taste. I wouldn’t order it again, just because it was so strange tasting, but I’m sure other people find pleasure in drinking this tea.

Sweetened Calm Tazo Tea with Milk
I ordered this while I had a cold and was trying to try something new. I don’t think I really let the tea bag sit long enough in my rush to drink the soothing hot water. It didn’t have very much flavor, but I’d probably give it another try before really judging.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amigurumi Funky Friday!

I missed posting these before Christmas, but they are still very winter-y, so you could still make them. Or get a head start on Christmas gifts and decorations for next year!
The Amigurimi Snowman

I made this little guy while waiting for my turn to perform at NAU’s Holiday Dinner. He’s super quick and easy to make, and is quite adorable, if I do say so myself. The only thing I couldn’t do was give him a proper nose – it just looked too weird. But he looks a bit weird without as well. All the same, he’s now a part of my Christmas amigurumi decoration collections. I didn’t use the homespun yarn for all of it – just his body. I used normal worsted weight for the rest. Although I did discover that I own the red stuff… next year, I’m going to make the santa!

Here’s the link to this guy: ( )

The Amigurumi Snow Mouse

Although I’m usually a huge fan of mice (I collect anything and everything mice, if it’s cute), I’m not a fan of this little guy. He looks sort of like Dumbledore in Harry Potter Puppet Pals. His hat is huge, and his smile turned out a bit creepy looking. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

His link: (

Amigurumi Reindeer

This is probably my favorite amigurumi I’ve made yet. He’s adorable!! I edited the colors a bit, since I didn’t have the sparkly yarn required. He took a lot of sewing to put together (so many different parts!) but it was totally worth it. I even had a friend of mine request that I make one for her. =) He sits perched atop my TV to bring constant Christmas cheer.

Here’s the link for this one: (

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fun Video

This is just a random video a friend shared that I quite enjoyed. It’s a group of percussionists who go into a house and create rythms with ordinary household objects – sort of like Stomp. (Which is also awesome, by the way).

Here’s the link to the video:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stuff Christians Like

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

Happy Reading Wednesday! I have a lot of books I'll be sharing with you over the weeks. I read this book a while back, but I’ve been a bit behind on my “Reading Wednesdays”. This book is a hilarious Christian book that pokes fun at a lot of Christian things. (If you’ve ever been to any church, or even if you haven’t, it was pretty funny). I was flipping though it at my church, and a couple of diagrams caught my eye – so I decided to take it home and read it. I was laughing before the first chapter ended. Although the humor gets old after a while (it’s hard to read a whole book that is humorous), it was still a fun read, and it was definitely what I needed at that point in my life.

Here's the amazon link.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup in a Crock-Pot

This is delicious and easy! I made it this week with my mom.

3 cooked chicken breasts (cook the day before in the crock-pot, with onions if desired)
2 large cans cubed tomatoes
2 cans chicken broth
1 can green chilies

Cube/shred chicken and put in crock-pot with onions from previous day. Add contents of cans. Cook on low for four hours, or until you’re ready to eat! Yum! Serve on tortilla chips if desired, with sour cream and shredded cheese on top.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

I think I might have to change the title of “Tasty Tuesdays” to “Annette’s Adventures with Cooking” – I don’t actually cook much, and when I do, it rarely turns out. =P

Anyways, today’s share is from a boxed mix – Krusteaz lemon bars. It’s pretty easy to make. It tastes good, but mine turned out to be really gooey – not as firm as lemon bars are usually. This is probably because I was cooking at a high altitude though. It was nice – I didn’t have to gather all the ingredients to make a nice treat (for a college student).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Music Monday

So this week I bought three new tunes that I want to share with you. (Apparently Miscellaneous Monday is also now Music Monday =))

Your Hands by JJ Heller

This is just a great Christian song. A friend first shared it on facebook, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, a couple of girls sang it on our pilgrimage, where we met in hotel in Switzerland, to share our spiritual journeys while there. It is just a beautiful “you are loved” type of song. It makes me happy

Something in the Water by Brooke Fraser

This is the happiest song I’ve heard in a long time. It was introduced to me while riding a bus through Europe – there’s not much else to do besides listen to music. (A couple of friends tried to introduce me to metal music on the same trip). If you need a pick-me-up song, this is the one.

Crown of Thorns by Danielle Rose

This song gives me chills every time I hear it. I first heard it at World Youth Day, in a stadium in Madrid, Spain. The song depicts the passion of Christ from the point of view of the rose that made the crown of thorns. It is sung accapella, which gives it a beautifully eerie tone. Danielle Rose, who sings it, has an amazingly gorgeous voice that sounds just as amazing in person (the whole stadium was silent as she sung). She’s also a super nice, happy, upbeat person. This is a great song to meditate upon, perhaps while praying the rosary. Anyways, you should give it a listen.
Here’s a picture of Palacio de Deportes, where I first heard Crown of Thorns

Sunday, January 1, 2012

St. Anne's

Happy New Year! It’s Sunday, which means I’ll be sharing a church with you. It’s also the Solemnity of Mary today, so honor your mother and get to mass! =P

St. Anne’s

This is my “home parish”, when I’m not at NAU. I’ve attended this church since I was in 5th grade (10 years!). Since it is quite large there are plenty of ways to get involved here. The church itself is pretty, with three arches framing the altar, and plenty of murals throughout the church. The community center is across the hall – the old church. This is where a lot of events happen, such as ice cream socials, high school youth group, vacation bible school and sorting gifts for the needy.

Here’s a picture of me as a vacation bible school teacher – the theme that year was Egyptian.

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