Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter all! I hope you are spending your day rejoicing with those who love you - and don't forget who loves you most! He rose from the dead today. =)

Resurrection Day by Matt Maher
(Note - I haven't actually seen any of these videos, so I apologize for this one, since it was the only one I could find.)

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Alive Again by Matt Maher

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Crown of Thorns by Danielle Rose

Another song to share for you today. I head it first at World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 - it's an eerie, heart-twisting song that will remind you of the reason for Christ's passion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

You Were on the Cross by Matt Maher

An appropriate song for Good Friday:

You Were on the Cross by Matt Maher

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Awesome Lent Songs

There are two classic songs that my church has been singing during lent, and for some reason, they just hit me. They are embedded below, but I did not pre-watch them ahead of time (since my only internet connection is at the local McDonalds...).

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

What Wondrous Love is This?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review - Jesus Calling

I'll be honest, I've tried devotionals before, and they just don't do it for me. The one's I tried were never quite targeted towards me and my walk with God, or just told sad (supposedly inspiring) stories and never really taught me much about Jesus and the Bible.

A couple of months ago, I knew I needed to do some sort of reading about Jesus, so I asked my bible study for a recommendation for a devotional. (I was neglecting to read the Bible too... which the Olive Tree app, has thankfully corrected.) My friends recommended this book - and they just happened to have an extra one too. I love this devotional! Each day is a short passage, written as if it is God speaking to you. It applies to many life situations and many people, and I know many people who use it or its companions. The passage is followed by the bible verses used to write the passage - so if you don't have a lot of time, you can just read/pray the passage, but if you want to delve deeper, you can look up the bible verses that go with it.

So I just went to get the picture/link on Amazon... and it's number 34 in books! Wow!

Anyone else find an awesome devotional?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review - Iron Fey Series

After reading Divergent and Insurgent (don't spoil it... I haven't read Allegiant yet!), I didn't think I could find a book I loved so much. Boy, was I wrong. This series sucked me in. I couldn't stop reading and I had to purposefully avoid reading the last book since I was moving and job searching at the time and I knew that I wouldn't get anything done once I started the book.

This series contains four books that follow a girl named Meghan. She finds out (in like the first two chapters, I promise) that she is half-fairy. Plus, her little brother gets kidnapped and taken to the fairy world - so she finds her way into the world to get her brother back.

The author crafts a wonderful world that adds modern elements to traditional settings. Familiar characters include King Oberon, Puck, and Queen Titiana, famous mostly from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. (Which is another fantastic book, by the way). New characters include Meghan - a confident half-human, half-fairy who fights for her family even when she's weaker than the rest of the fairy world. It also includes Ash, a cold ice prince from the Unseelie court, and the Iron King, who seeks to destroy the fairy world as it stands.

The books in order are Iron King, Iron Daughter, Iron Queen, Iron Knight. The Lost Prince is the beginning of a new series that relates to the first four books, but isn't directly connected. I still have to read that one!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Local Haunts - Cornish Pasty

My friend introduced me to a wonderful little (whole in the wall?) place in the Phoenix, Arizona area. I know there is one restaurant in Tempe and one in Mesa, but I'm not sure if they're anywhere else.

The first time I went, the atmosphere intimidated me a little bit - it is a bar, and their employees don't have a strict dress code, they just have to wear black. It was also pretty dark - not much lighting. (This is at the Tempe location). But my trepidation was soon assuaged - the staff is incredibly friendly and the food is amazing!

Almost everything this restaurant serves is in a pasty - think of it as a big, delicious hot-pocket that's perfectly warm and crispy and not too heavy. I've had the shepherd's pie (or cottage pie? whichever one is with ground beef and not lamb) and the chicken Greek pasties. The Greek one was my favorite - chicken, artichokes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes all in one delicious pastry, served with a mint yogurt sauce. Speaking of which, their sauces are amazing as well - I had one friend eat the sauce with a spoon and lick the ramikin clean... according to the waitress, everything but the ranch and ketchup are homemade at this restaurant. They have a pasty for basically every taste - there's a tiki masala one my friends swear by, there are fish and lamb and more traditional ones too.

Their dessert is the reason I went back though - they have homemade 12-hour caramel. They have a pie (really, a 6 inch by 6 inch square) called the banoffee pie - graham cracker crust, thick layer of caramel, bananas and handmade whipped cream, all drizzled with caramel. Mmmmm.

So if you're in the area - give it a try! I wish I had pictures to share... but I ate the food before I remembered too. It's just that good.

Check out their website and drool over their food here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pin Share - Resurrection Rolls

This isn't really an original idea, nor is it mine, so I'm just going to leave the link to this pin below - I encourage you to visit the pin's source, because it's pretty awesome!

I did this project/story/recipe with my first grade religious education class last year - they loved it. And so did a lot of the other catechists -I got a lot of requests for the recipe and directions, and I know at least one other person tried it. Because there was no kitchen where I taught, I pre-made a batch and left them in the common area, then I had the kiddos "make" the rolls, and I switched them out with the ones that I had already baked. (Someone the first graders in the classroom so I could go switch them out.) The first graders were amazed - and isn't that what Jesus' resurrection is all about? I ended up baking the first grader's rolls when I got home and *cough* perhaps ate all of them. =)

It's not quite Easter yet - but it's nice to plan ahead, and it's a great way to teach young ones the resurrection story.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Some Tech Things that are Pretty Cool

Logitech Keyboard. This keyboard is awesome. It is easy to use, and it makes a fun clacking noise (not annoying, it just makes it sounds like you can type really fast). I have one at work and liked it so much I wanted to buy it for us with my laptop (which already has a keyboard, isn't that silly?), but they I Googled it, and it costs more than I'm willing to invest, for now. It will go on my "when I become a millionaire list". =P

Logitech Mouse. I'm just getting used to using this, but it is cordless, which means it doesn't get tangled up all the time. It also is super responsive, which takes a bit to get used to, but is awesome when you do. It can just zoom across the screen with a flick. Also, it seems pretty ergonomic (I haven't noticed any wrist pain or anything, and I spend 40 hours a week on a computer, just for my job.) And, it has buttons on the left side of the mouse (by the thumb) which you can click to go back or forward a page. Which is really helpful when browsing the internet, working through file explorer, working in Microsoft OneNote, etc.

Apple Pi. I'll be honest, I don't know very much about this one. But one of my coworkers brought this in and was pretty excited about it. And it has a cool name. It is basically the world's smallest computer - it has everything your big tower has, but in itty bitty proportions. (It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's about the size of a deck of cards.

I'm still edging my way into the tech world, so there's not much here... any suggestions?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Kayaking Day 1

I'm taking a four-class kayaking course because although I've done a lot of kayaking in my life (well, relatively, considering I live in Arizona), I've never officially learned the proper strokes and methods to kayaking. My first class was on Tuesday. It was suuuuper windy that day (about 15-20 mph winds), so kayaking was much more difficult than usual - especially when trying to learn new strokes! All the same, here's what I learned.

The first thing we did was learn the different parts of the kayak. I found a wonderful diagram from that basically covers what we went over.

The next thing we learned was the parts of the paddle - which the instructor taught us to the tune of "head, shoulders, knees and toes". I found a lovely image from

Then... we got in the water. We snuck into the area where the boats dock (the marina) because it was too windy to practice out on the lake. (Curious about where I'm taking this class? Tempe Town Lake - a man made lake in the middle of the Phoenix area.) We learned three different strokes.
1. The front stroke - your paddle should be more vertical than horizontal, and your torso should turn with each stroke - this indicates you are using your core and not your wrists/arms/shoulders, which can get painful quickly. The paddle starts near the front of the boat and moves backwards.
2. The low brace - basically, if you start falling out/over, use this. The only reason we learned it the first class was just in case - the wind was pretty crazy. Anyways, you use your paddle to push down on the water (on the side you are falling towards, this will push you back up). Move your lower body to help guide the boat up, and move your head back in position last. It's a bit difficult to explain, since it seems pretty instinctual.
3. Stop - to stop, dip your paddle fully in on each side, quickly alternating between sides.

Then, we braved the lake a little bit - but we didn't make it that far. I'll update you on class two-four as they come! Any kayaking tips from you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

6 Things Not to Do on a First Date

That's right! Call her up! Take her out! Just don't do the following...

So, I don't have a whole ton of experiences in first dates, but from the experiences I have had, I've created this list of six things you should never do on a first date.

  1. Call your date's religion old-fashioned. (Even if you think this, if you want to get a second date, you probably shouldn't mention it.)
  2. Describe in detail the joy and rush of power you felt when you used to kill kittens as a child. (Actually, you should probably do this never  - both killing kittens and describing it to people.)
  1. Spend the whole date complaining about coworkers that you dislike, but your date is friends with. (Or… just not complain at all - go for being a positive person.)
  2. Ask if they are a virgin (maybe it's just me… but this seems like an awkward first date question).
  1. Ever use the phrase "when I was your age" (self explanatory)
  1. Show your date your (incredibly messy) bedroom (The bedroom thing could be okay in the right context, but at least clean it up first!)

So, there's only six (thank goodness!). How about you? Any additions to this list?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Olive Tree App

I have a fantastic app to share with you today. A friend of mine was using it at bible study, and it proved to be very helpful, so I decided to check it out on my own - and I'm glad I did!

What it is:
Olive tree is an awesome bible study app. It comes with two versions free (NAV and King James) and has the option for other versions.

What's awesome about it:
  1. You can highlight in multiple colors (yay!).
  1. You can add notes, which are easy to use and don't distract from reading. Plus, it's easy to go back to them.
  1. You can bookmark verses, and tag them with categories if you want. For example, I've created a tag called "light" that I link to all verses I find that have to do with light (salt and light, light in the darkness, etc.) This also makes it easy to go back to verses you found cool or interesting or you wanted to do more research on.
  1. You can easily cross-reference different sections of the bible. You know those little lettered footnote references that are everywhere? Now you can easily have the reference pop up in the same screen - no flipping back and forth.
  2. It's red-lettered.
  3. There are reading plans. For example, I'm trying the 90-day-reading plan, where you read the entire new testament in 90 days. You just read until you reach the "done" button - which gives you a sense of accomplishment and easily breaks it down for you to spend time in the Word.
  4. You can have split screens - two different bible screens up at once.
  1. It's available off-line, so once you download it, you don't need internet connection to use it.

Things that could be better:
  1. I can't find a Catholic version of the Bible in this app yet, but that doesn’t neccesarily mean it's not there.
  1. I wish you could add notes to bookmarks - I don't want to tag all of them, I just want a short summary of why I bookmarked it.

So that's it! I highly recommend you check this out. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

10 Perspectives that Have Changed Since Becoming a Tech

This is my nephew a couple of months ago - he's into technology already!
If you don't know, I recently got a job (about two months or so ago) in tech support. Here are ten perspectives that I had before becoming a technician that have now changed.

  1. "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?" As cliché as this phrase is, it solves a lot of problems. I got praise on my first day for recommending "take the battery pack out and put it back in again" - which worked. If you have restarted your computer - then you can call tech support. =)
  2. "Are you sure it's plugged in?" Another stupid question. Silly, but I have definitely spent two hours trying to troubleshoot why a client's printer wasn't working when it turns out it was just not plugged in. And  a co-worker of mine had a client and a bank representative on the phone at the same time to troubleshoot a check scanner (and hours of work had gone in before this point too), when it was simply unplugged. (When my co-worker had asked if it was plugged in, the customer responded with "yes, of course it is" without actually checking. The bank technician was smart and asked "have you tried it in another power outlet?", at which point the client had to go make sure the cord was plugged in.)
  3. Windows 8 is not as bad as I thought it was. After given the opportunity to poke around with it, and being forced to use it on a daily basis, it's actually a pretty decent operating system. It just takes a little bit to get used to.
  4. Windows 8.1 is worse than I thought it was. I have both regular (non IT) friends who have had trouble with it, and experienced IT professionals who have trouble with it too -just don’t upgrade! To be fair, I haven't upgraded yet, and some of my coworkers have no problem with 8.1, but I've heard enough to be warned against it.
  1. Windows XP is awful. I'm sure it was great for its time, but if you are still running a computer with XP, it is probably time to replace it. Especially if you want it to be compatible with a lot of today's programs and features. Or if you want it to run at a decent speed.
  2. Outlook is actually a pretty cool email program. I always hated it because it never worked out for me or wouldn't set up correctly for me, but it is a good program for business environments. From the server/administrator side, it is relatively easy to manage as well, and pretty flexible to different accommodations.
  1. Macs are annoying. Don' t get me wrong, they're great for personal use and for creative fields, but they don't support a business environment very well. They have many random glitches and incompatibilities with many programs.
  2. Google Chrome has disappointed me. I'm pretty loyal to Google and their services, especially since I discovered Chrome, but it sometimes fails on me while working IT - and I have to default to Firefox.
  1. Internet Explorer isn't very reliable. As soon as any customer (or co-worker, for that matter) has an internet issue on Internet Explorer, we ask if they still have the problem on Firefox or Chrome. And sometimes that fixes the issue. Which is sad, but true. (Then again, sometimes Internet Explorer works when Chrome fails so…)
  1. Tech support wait times are (usually) justified. Sometimes you just can't get to a problem in a decent amount of time. Or, more likely, the problem is actually much more complex than it appears and it takes a decent amount of troubleshooting to get the problem resolved.

I hope that's not super negative! I love my job and I love working with computers. I'm not super skilled yet, but I can't wait to grow and learn. As far as this blog goes, I'd love to try to answer your tech questions. Or, make a tutorial for something you're confused about. Leave a comment below. =D

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

10 Great Baby Toys

I've worked with children for years now and I am proud to say I now have a bachelor degree in Elementary Education. I currently work in a child center and I get to work with babies and toddlers a lot, which I absolutely love! Here are ten toys that young ones actually use.

1. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stac

This is a classic. I had one when I was a child, and I remember loving it. While it doesn't make noise (which is useful if you are trying to distract or comfort a child), it is still a great toy. The rings are easy to grasp and I have had more than one baby fall asleep clutching one in his/her hand. Around 10 to 12 months, a baby can start to stack the rings on the post, learning order later on. My nephew loves chewing on the end of the post (it's probably great for teething). Newer versions even come with a "rattle" version of the red ring. This toy teaches hand-eye coordination and motor skills, ordinal numbers (first, second, third), colors, superlatives and so much more.

2. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table

This toy is great because the legs are removable so it is accessible to babies who can't yet stand as well. It has three or four different sound settings, each of which teach different things. Babies seem to love this toy and you can have more than one playing with it at once. The laptop is by far the favorite piece of this toy - babies will sit there for a long time opening and closing it over and over again (with a fun blinging noise each time). This table is at a good height for those learning to stand, but beware because the legs aren't super strong and can slide or tip-over if not properly secured.

3. Melissa and Doug Cutting Fruit Set - Wooden Play Food

The child center I work at doesn't have these, but I had these as a child and I loooved them. It is fun to mimic cutting and slicing fruits when you aren't allowed to actually do it. Plus, it makes a satisfying crunchy noise when the plastic "knife" goes through the Velcro. This is fantastic for children who love playing house or who have a wide imagination.

4. Fisher-Price Link-a-Doos 20 Link Pack

These links are adorable and much loved by babies. You can attach taggies, some stuffed animals and so much more to these links - they also add varieties to mobiles above baby swings or play blankets. Sometimes, all you have to do is shake these in front of a distraught child and they will cheer up. They make a great clacking noise, are sturdy, easy to clean, have multiple uses and easy for babies to pick up.

5. Infantino Tag Along Dog (and Frog and Cow)

These are adorable and wonderful. I've nicknamed this toy "Jingle Dog" and he cheers up almost any sad little one. He is bright color and he jingles! This is another toy that can easily distract an infant. Plus, infants love gnawing on the stretchy part by the tail. That stretchy part also allows it to be attached to car-seats and play blankets for extra entertainment.

6. Melissa and Doug Construction Wooden Chunky Puzzle

This is a great puzzle for toddlers. It is large and chunky, great for little hands, and the shapes are distinct enough that it is a great way for toddlers to practice problems solving (and motor) skills. Plus, it is bright and colorful and attracts the attention of both boys and girls. Be careful though - babies like to gnaw on the pieces and the color can come off.

7. Kid-O Go Car

This car is adorable. Absolutely adorable. My nephew, who is now 11 months old, loves this car too. It is easy to grasp and use and it's sturdy too - it can survive many falls from a high chair. He sometimes loves playing with others with it - pushing it back and forth, listening to "vroom, beep-beep" sounds, but other times he wants to keep it all to himself. I would recommend this one to anyone expecting a baby boy.

8. Fisher-Price Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

I'm not sure how popular this would be in a household, but it is super popular at the child care center. There are two main tracks the balls can go down. They bounce of a platform, go around corners, and spin propellers. It is large enough to support a child who is learning to stand (although they don't have to stand to play with it) but not too large that it is cumbersome. It makes noise (thankfully not an annoying song, and it doesn't play when not played with) and lights up, but still has entertainment qualities when it has run out of batteries. Kids from ages one up enjoy playing with this - even older grade school kids. I admit, sometimes even I enjoy playing with it. =)

9. Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit

I'll admit, I don't fully understand this toy. There's even a mirror under that big red nose. Nonetheless, it works - it is even in a "Baby Einstein" video (is it sad that I know that?). It is easy to grab, it is soft and (if I remember right) it makes noise, which is a big "yes for any baby toy. I little bit kooky? Yes. But it's bright and colorful and includes the classic black-and-white for baby's sight development.

10. Oball Oball

I love this toy! I think it was accidentally left behind by a parent one day because it suddenly appeared amongst our child center toys and there is nothing to match it, nor did other toys arrive at the same time. Nonetheless, I love it. Babies of almost all ages (even 3 and 4 months) can grasp this ball because it works well with little fingers. They also love exploring it with their mouth and it's funny to watch their little tongue stick through the openings. Older babies like to crawl after it when it rolls away. It is also flexible, which means it doesn't hurt a baby at all. You could sit on it and it'd probably bounce back to shape, which is awesome.

Well, that's all I got! What are your/your baby's favorite toys?

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