Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With I

I Celebrate the Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day from Rudolph

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns

I Like a Sleigh Ride (Jingle Bells)

I Must Stop Christmas from the Grinch

I Saw Three Ships

I Tan't Wait Till Quithmuth Day

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

I'll Be Home for Christmas by Josh Groban

I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas

In Like a Lion (Always Winter) by Relient K

In the Bleak Midwinter by Loreena McKennitt

Indiana Christmas by Straight No Chaser

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by MercyMe

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas Songs That Start With H

Hallelujah [Light Has Come] by Barlowgirl

Handel's Messiah

The Happy Reindeer

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Matt Maher

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Pentatonix

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

He Has Come for Us by Meredith Andrews

He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

Here Come's Santa Claus

Here We Come A-wassailing

Holly Jolly Christmas from Rudolph

Holly and the Ivy

Home for the Holidays

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With G


The Gift by Aselin Debison

Go Tell It on the Mountain

God Is With Us by Casting Crowns

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Pentatonix

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies

Good King Wenceslas


Grown-up Christmas List

Christmas Songs That Start With F


Feliz Navidad

Finale from the Grinch

The First Noel

Frosty the Snowman

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Awesome Christmas Albums

So... I don't have any Christmas songs that start with E. So here are some of my favorite Christmas albums. You've probably already seen their songs on my list already!

(Images below are affiliate links)

Adore by Chris Tomlin

This is a newer find. The music is slower and, in my opinion, beautiful. However, if you're more a fan of peppy Christmas songs, you may not enjoy this one as much.

Christmas Cheers by Straight No Chaser

This is an acapella group. They have some new, unique Christmas songs, as well as twists on old Christmas classics. This album always makes me smile.

Let It Snow Baby... Let it Reindeer by Relient K

This is Christmas music with a bit of an edge. For example, they have a song called "Santa Claus is Thumbin' to Town" where everything goes wrong at the north pole and he has to hitchhike to get his presents delivered.

Merry Christmas with Love by Clay Aiken

All the classics. Before there was Michael Buble, there was Clay Aiken. You can't beat this CD if you just want good old fashioned Christmas music.

Noel by Josh Groban

I'm a huge fan of Josh Groban's music, and his Christmas CD is one of my favorites. I remember listening to it and singing along as a friend and I drove home for the holidays.

Peace on Earth by Casting Crowns

I want to learn piano just so I can play this music! Seriously, some of them are so beautiful they bring me to tears. *sigh*

A Pentatonix Christmas by Pentatonix

An acappella Christmas CD by the ever talented group, Pentatonix.

That's Christmas to Me by Pentatonix

Can you tell that I like Pentatonix' Christmas music? (According to the fourth graders I teach every week, Pentatonix and Michael Buble make the best Christmas music, if that tells you anything :))

Let me know which Christmas albums are your favorite!

Christmas Songs That Start With D

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy by Pentatonix

Deck the Halls

Deep Peace

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Do They Know It's Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear

Don't Save It All For Christmas Day by Clay Aiken

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With C

Candelight Carol

Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix

Carol of the Bells by Straight No Chaser

Carol of the Bells/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Piano Guys

Charlie Brown

Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Bells by NAU Choral Union

Christmas Bells from Family Holiday - Timeless Transitions (find on YouTube)

Christmas Can Can by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas Offering by Casting Crowns

Chrismtas/Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas Song by Josh Groban

Christmas Song by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Song by Clay Aiken

Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Christmas Wish by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Songs That Start With B

Sorry about the gap in posts! I'll catch up, I promise! Life just gets a little crazy around the holidays. :)

Look, here's me playing bells at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix :)
And now for the songs!

Bells of Christmas by Loreen McKennitt

Bethlehem arranged by J Edmund Hughes

Born in Bethlehem by Third Day

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

***Bonus! Boxing Day Song***

Boxing Day by Relient K

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With A

Welcome to the first day of 26 Days of Christmas Music! Today I'm featuring songs that start with the letter A.

Some of these are classics that will hopefully jog your memory that they exist. If I list an artist it is either the artist who I consider has the "classic" version of the song OR a song/version that I absolutely love. You'll see a couple of repeating artists throughout the days, just because I love their Christmas CDs so much

Adestes Fideles

All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) by Nat King Cole

Angels We Have Heard on High by Josh Groban Feat Brian McKnight

Angels We Have Heard on High by Relient K

Ave Maria by Josh Groban

Away in a Manger by Casting Crowns

Ave Maria by Josh Groban

Away in a Manger by Casting Crowns

**Bonus! New Year's Song**
Auld Lang Syne by Straight No Chaser

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

26 Days of Christmas Music

I love Christmas music! But my local radio station plays the same songs over and over and over again, and that gets old pretty fast. So this year, I want to share with you a variety of my favorite Christmas songs. I'm going to aim for a letter a day for twenty six days - so songs that start with A for the first day, start with B for the second day, and so on. Some of the days might not have songs, so I'll just do a special music-related post on those days. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Welcome to Schnoodle Sunday!

Hello! And welcome to Schnoodle Sunday! Moving forward I want to try to post about doggie-related adventures on random Sundays. Today I'm going to introduce you to  my dog, Daisy.

She looks angry, but she's really not. :)

Daisy is almost two years old and is 75% miniature schnauzer and 25% poodle. (Therefore, she's a schnoodle. 😊) She looks mostly schnauzer, but has lots of curly hair like a poodle. Just look at her eyebrows! Her favorite thing do to is chew (dog toys, fortunately) and she has a tooon of energy. She's a sweetheart and learns very quickly, but she doesn't have a lot of training, so we're starting with the basics.

My friends took this picture. Isn't she just the cutest?

I'm a brand new dog owner, so I don't know much about having a dog - Daisy and I are learning together. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Playing Pokemon Go in Arizona (Part 1)

It's unfortunate, but it seems like Pokemon Go releases their coolest updates in the summertime. Great for all the snowy areas, but not so great for Arizona. (For those of you who don't live here, our high in Phoenix this week was 120 degrees Fahrenheit!)

This post, part 1, is going to go over some tips and tricks if you decide you want to Pokemon Go outside in the summer heat. The next post, part 2, will go over ways to play Pokemon Go without having to brave the triple-digit temperatures.

  • Plan your route so that you are able to stop into a cooler place every once in a while. Downtowns and universities are great choices for this. (Even if you don't need to stop and cool off, your phone likely does. Last time I went Pokemon-Going outside in the summer, two out of three of our phones shut off due to overheating.)
  • Dress appropriately. Light clothes with short sleeves are usually best.
  • Prepare for the sun. Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Choose a good day to go. Sometimes, it's just not worth it. Check for heat advisories or warnings.
  • Bring water!
  • Bring a portable charger, if you have one.
What other tips do you have? Keep an eye out for my second post, so you can avoid the heat entirely.

Monday, August 7, 2017

9 Band Teacher-isms

If you don't know me (first of all, welcome!) I'm a band geek. I still play in a community band over the summer even though I'm not in school any more. Below are eight phrases/words of wisdom I learned from my band teachers throughout the years. Some of them are applicable to everybody, and some will only apply to those in music arts. Regardless, I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Don't be stupid
    This one is pretty self explanatory. It's an important piece of advice for junior high and high school students. :)
  2. Don't miss the bus
    This is a music specific one. If you were trying to catch a moving bus or train, you'd start to jog along side it before you leapt for the door. Similarly, if you're coming into a musical phrase after a rest, you better mentally be at the same tempo as the rest of the band.
  3. Don't drop the baby
    Another music specific one. Often in a piece of music a phrase is passed from one instrument or section to another. And just like a baby passed from one relative to another, you want to make sure that nothing is dropped!
  4. Long notes and repeated phrases...
    "Go somewhere!" Our band teacher would say the beginning part of the phrase, we would say the rest. For anyone in music, this is HUGE. If you want to take a song from robotic to musical, take long notes and repeated phrases somewhere with their dynamics.
  5. Who loves band?
    "I love band!" This is another call and response. It was often used to boost our energy after a long marching practice or to get us pumped right before a big competition. And this phrase really resonated with me... after all, I'm still in band!
  6. Don't say sorry, fix it!
    This one sounds harsh, but it emphasized that action means more than words.
  7. Don't go riding any llamas
    This stemmed from what was either an actual story or maybe just an urban legend among the band. Apparently on the day before a big competition, one of the soloists decided it would be a great idea to ride a llama - and subsequently broke his arm. Needless to say, it's pretty difficult to play an instrument with a broken arm. So this cautionary phrase was given to us before any big band trip.
  8. Crescendo means...Start softer. Which is a lot harder than it sounds, apparently. :P
  9. Potential is like fertilizer...
    It's capable of growing beautiful plants and flowers, but until you do something with it, it just sits there and stinks.
So what do you think? Did your band teacher (or orchestra teacher, or anyone really) have any sayings?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I Have a Book Blog!

I decided that I like writing about books so much that I wanted to have an entire blog dedicated to it! From here on forward you can find my book reviews (and so much more) at my new site, www.AKBookworm.com.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Nestle Lemon Splash

This is a lemon flavored water that was actually much better than I expected. It's quite sweet, which surprised me. It tastes like I would imagine a lemonade flavored Propel would.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Mistaken Kiss by Kathleen Baldwin

This is book two in the Regency Trilogy. While I found the premise sort of interesting, the book itself was sort of bland. The book follows Willa, who is incredibly nearsighted. When someone sort of boring proposes to her, she creates a plan to kiss him to find out if their marriage could ever work... but she ends up kissing the wrong guy. A series of events follow which involve a duel, a near-drowning, and possibly more proposals.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Learning Spanish

Spanish is the first foreign language that I've learned. I know it a lot better than a lot of the other ones I've dabbled with. I want to share with you some ways that I reinforce what I know.


I already shared this app with you in my post Learning French, but I wanted to mention it again, because it's awesome! While I learned most of the Spanish I know through school, this app is great for keeping me in practice. It now has bots, where you can "chat" with different characters. I love this because it gives you practice speaking conversationally, and not just in an informational way.

Watching Movies/TV Shows in Spanish

This is a great way to learn new vocabulary, and to practice listening to Spanish - which I find more difficult than reading. I tend to choose to watch children's movies/shows that I have seen before, so I'll understand the story even if I get a little lost with the Spanish. :) Netflix has Spanish language options for different Disney and Dreamworks movies. I like watching Home, Barbie's Life in the Dreamhouse, and The Emperor's New Groove. I watch without subtitles, otherwise I find I'm just reading the whole time.

Pop Music
There is a lot of great Spanish music out there! Some of my favorite songs include:

* Quien Le Va a Decir by Luis Fonsi
* Danza Kuduro by Don Omar
* Wavin' Flag by K'Naan
* A Dios Le Pido by Juanes
* La Gozadera by Gente de Zona
* Bailando by Enrique Iglesias
* Ai Se Eu Te Pego by Michel Telo
* La Copa de Vida by Ricky Martin
* La Vide Es Bella by Ana Isabelle
* Moviendo Caderas by Yandel
* Vivir Mi Vida (Version Pop) by Marc Anthony


I also practice my Spanish by reading different books. I find that picture books are (surprisingly) harder for me to understand than early reader/chapter books, just because they lack surrounding/supporting text for words I don't know. I've found that the Magic Treehouse series and Scooby-Doo novels in Spanish are about at my level. ;)

💗 Annette

1 year ago: Learning French

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Caramel Cappuchino from Mike and Rhonda's The Place

There is a wonderful breakfast restaurant up in Flagstaff, Arizona called "The Place". I recently went there while on a road trip and it was definitely a good choice! The food was amazing (and filling, and reasonably priced, and did I mention delicious?). I also got a caramel cappuccino there (I believe that's what it was...) and it was delicious. It had a stronger coffee taste than something you'd get from Starbucks, but after adding a tad of sugar it was a great drink! It fueled me for the hike (and drive back to Phoenix) we had planned for the day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Save the Cupcake! by Papademitriou

This is a middle grade novel about a girl named Hayley. Thanks to her parent's recent divorce and her Mom's job loss, she now lives with her grandmother and spends many afternoons at her grandmother's bakery. She has two best friends, but thanks to the fact that they are seventh graders and are all discovering themselves, they run into some problems along the way. She transfers her troubles into unique cupcakes recipes, which are included in the book as well!

After I fell into it, I sort of liked the pacing and voice in this story. The first couple of chapters were really weird and unnatural, but after that things started to click. There are also a couple of time jumps in the first couple of chapters. It took me a little bit to figure it out, but for the novel she's in seventh grade. I thought this was a super cute book and I've already ordered the next one on Amazon. :)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Starbucks Pink Ombre Drink

This drink is Starbucks' Lime Cooler, Coconut Milk, and Berry Hibiscus Tea all mixed in one. It tastes exactly like those three flavors. Which is to say, not very good. Lime and milk and hibiscus just do not go together. To be fair, I'm not a big fan of their lime cooler in the first place, so you might still want to try this drink if you're a big fan of the lime cooler.

Also, love my pic? :P I didn't have time to get a fancy picture, so here's the drink on top of my car. :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Happily Ever After by Kelly Oram

I. Loved. This. Book. After reading a lot of cheesy, stereotypical romances, it was great to read a book where the characters have actual challenges to work through. I loooooved the first book and this book definitely lived up to expectations. If you haven't read the first book, Cinder & Ella, go read it! Not only because it's awesome, but because otherwise this post contains spoilers. :)

Okay, so now that "Cinder" and Ella are together, they've got quite a bit to work through before they get to their happily ever after. Together (!) they work through the different problems facing them - how his fame affects their relationship, how she still struggles with self-image after the accident, how even though they are meant for each other, they might have different ideas on how fast they want the relationship to move, among many more. In my paltry words it might not sound so exciting or dramatic, by Kelly Oram brings the story to life. I don't know how many more ways to say that this book was fantastic - go read it already! 💗

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Starbucks White Iced Tea

If you're looking for something refreshing and not too sweet, this is a great option. It's a pretty classic iced tea, which is sometimes just what you need on a hot Arizona day!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Starbucks Mango Black Tea Lemonade

This drink is super refreshing and is the perfect drink to go with Arizona's crazy summer heat. It's sweet but not crazily so. The mango tea flavor blends nicely with the lemonade. The lemonade isn't overdominant in the flavor profile either. It may be a new favorite. :)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Only His by Susan Mallery

I think this is the book that will finally end my streak of reading romances. Because it was just that dull. The characters in the last three books all claimed to be different - but then reacted to situations in the exact same way. You could simply substitute out different jobs for the characters and these books would be nearly identical. Not only did the characters all react similarly, they didn't react in a way at all conductive to real life. How many awkward conversations have you actually just walked out on? Yeah, me neither.

This book follows Nevada, a construction manager who is starting a new job... with a boss who happens to be someone she knows from the past who has recently come back to town. And if you've ever read a romance novel, I'm sure you can guess pretty much the rest of the book.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sippin' Saturday - Sonic Cherry Limeade

I love this drink, especially in the summer times. It's basically Sprite with cherry flavoring and limes. It's quite refreshing. :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

This is book five in the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer. This series follows a group of brothers (and their friends) who are able to control different elements - air, wind, earth, fire, etc. This book follows my favorite character of the series, Michael Merrick. He's been raising his younger brothers since his parent's accident while he was still a teenager. Different groups have been after their family for their potential to cause destruction, but this time the stakes are even higher. The people after them aren't teenagers messing around - these people are now causing large, deadly explosions to get the Merricks's attentions.

This book gets five out of five stars, and I can't describe how I feel about it any way other than !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go read it for yourself. :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Things to do with Arizona Guests

We recently had a guest from Michigan (hi Matthias!) come stay with us for a couple of weeks. Below is a list of activities for guests to Arizona. I live in Phoenix so most of the list is based on that. Our guest was also an adult, which is part of the reason I'm making this list - most of the ones I could find online were for kids. You'll notice that super popular attractions (like museums and the botanical gardens) are missing from this list, simply because you can only do so much of those. :) These ideas aim to be more unique.

I'm also noting for which season(s) the activities are appropriate - you don't want to do crazy outdoor activities when there's a heat warning in effect!

Local Outings

Walk along Tempe Town Lake
Cost - free, Seasons - not summer :D

I'm sure other states have more impressive water features, but if you want a quick walk around a beautiful and cultural area, this is a great place! Plus, if your guest plays video games and/or plays Pokemon Go, walk along the south bank to hit a bunch of PokeStops in a row.

View from north of the lake

Pokemon go!

Go Swimming
Cost - free(ish), All year round

This is more of an activity, but I want to put it on your radar. It's one of a few activities you can do regardless of the time of year. Plus, if you or your apartment complex have a pool, it's free! Put together some sandwiches, grab some lemonade, and make a day of it.

Organ Stop Pizza
Cost - $6+, all year round

This one would also fall under the "local eats" category. I feel like this place is often forgotten about - but it's awesome! This pizza restaurant is home to a giant organ. You eat your pizza at cafeteria-style tables all facing the organ player. You can put in requests, or just sit and enjoy the music. There's a bunch of other random additions to the organ as well - lights, bubbles, puppets, and more! If you sit there long enough I can pretty much guarantee that you will hear Phantom of the Opera and quite a few Disney hits. You can check out their website here.

Feed My Starving Children
Cost - free, all year round

I'm not sure I've met anyone who went to Feed My Starving Children and didn't love the experience. If you're not familiar with it, this is an organization that packs meals to be sent to those who need it. You work as an assembly line to pack vitamins, veggies, soy, and rice into a rice-a-roni sort of mixture. You have to sign up ahead of time (see their website here), and it takes about two hours. It's upbeat and high-energy. It is free, but donations are always appreciated.

Changing Hands Bookstore
Cost- free, all year round

This is a great local bookstore that always has a lot of events going on. Check out their website for their upcoming events - maybe you'll find one that's perfect for your guest!

Riparian Preserve
Cost - free, not during the summer days

This is another mini-hike/walk in the Gilbert area. There's a small lake, a couple of trails, and lots of birds! It's a great bit of nature in the middle of the city.

Diamondbacks Game
Cost - $25+, spring-fall (baseball season)

I love going to Diamonbacks games! It's a unique experience, even if your guest has been to baseball games at other stadiums. It's fun to share the ketchup/mustard/relish dash or the giant bobble heads or the taste of a DBacks dog with your guest.

Hot dog and a beer - a baseball classic!

One of the aforementioned giant bobble heads

It has a retractable roof!

Local Eats

Joe's BBQ

This is one of my favorite local restaurants. They make amazing pulled pork with exceptional sides like mac and cheese and baked beans, with lots of other options. They even have home-made root beer. They have indoor and outdoor seating available. If you decide to go you might have better luck going on a weekday - on weekends their line is out the door!

Fractured Prune

This is a unique donut chain that does exist across the US, but of which your guest may not have heard. They make the donuts in front of you, which is always fun. Plus, you know, they're delicious! Their donuts are mostly cake donuts, with fun combinations like OC Sand (honey glaze and cinnamon sugar), strawberry shortcake (strawberry glaze, graham crackers and powdered sugar), and s'mores (marshmallow glaze, graham crackers, chocolate chips).


This is another chain that is great for guests who have never tried Baja Mexican food, like a fish taco or street taco. Pretty much everything on their menu is delicious.

Food Trucks
(Such as Burgers Amore, DGP Fry Bread, more!)
If you manage to track them down, this is another unique-to-the area experience! During the school year they are on ASU's campus on Thursdays from 10:30am-2pm.

Day or Weekend Trips

This is a great day-trip to take and see the red-rocks of Sedona. What you do while there is up to you - there's great hiking, but it's sometimes also fun just to roam the town.

Rock Springs Cafe
This is a crazy delicious pie place about an hour, hour-and-a-half from Phoenix. (They also have great food, like a pulled pork Reuben, but people mostly go there for the pies.) You can pair this outing with a hike at Fossil Springs (use Google to help with this one...) or an evening of stargazing.

Mmmm. Peach crumble a la mode

This is a great day trip with lots of different sights to see. The University of Arizona is there if you want to wander campus or take a tour or try to catch a sports game. There's also a lot of great food in the area. Suggested day trip is below.

Suggested day trip:
Drive to Tucson in the morning, go to The Fix (a Mac and Cheese place)
                           Wander UofA campus
                           Drive up Mount Lemon, get giant cookies The Cookie Cabin
                           Drive down to  Guadalajara Grill for Dinner
                           Go home

The Fix has the best mac and cheese - with lots of gourmet options.

Driving up Mount Lemon

The view from Mount Lemon

The cookies are the size of the plate!!! (at Cookie Cabin)

Grand Canyon
This is a must do for anyone from anywhere. (And if you live in Arizona and haven't been, Go!) My family prefers to approach it from the South Rim, so you get the full "oh-my-gosh-it-looks-like-a-screensaver" experience. Don't hike it if you're out of shape, and be aware of altitude sickness. This one is great to see even just from the top.

From the Grand Canyon it is great to head towards Cameron, if you have time. There's great views of the Grand Canyon from a different angle, and once you get to Cameron you can get a Navajo Taco (and then Indian Fry Bread) at the Trading Post.

En route back from Cameron you can also visit Sunset Crater and other cool historical/geographic sites.

No - pictures cannot do it justice.

Navajo taco!

Fry bread!

Sunset crater

Flagstaff/Northern Arizona
I love Flagstaff - in part because I went to college there. :) Here you can check out the local eats (my favorites are Fratelli's Pizza and The Place) or take a tour of Northern Arizona University's campus. There's also a Lava Tube hike just outside of the city, which is a pretty neat experience.

The food at The Place is soooo gooooood! (And good fuel if you're hiking later on :P)

Lava tubes are best during the summer. This picture was in April, and you can see how much ice is still there! Also, headlamps highly recommended!

Suggested weekend outing:
Friday night, drive up to Dead Horse Ranch state park
Saturday morning, drive to Grand Canyon
                                Drive to Cameron Trading Post for Navajo Tacos for lunch
                                Hit Sunset Crater and different Native American sites on your way back.
                                Dinner at Fratelli's Pizza on Fourth Street
                                Stay the night in Flagstaff
Sunday morning, church at the NAU Newman center
                              Breakfast at Mike and Rhonda's The Place
                              Hike at Lava Tubes
                              Drive home

💗 Annette

6 years ago: Ponderosa Pines
6 years ago: Constellations
6 years ago: Parachutes

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