Friday, June 28, 2013

High Five For Friday (+ Bloglovin')

I've never posted a "high five for Friday" post before, so I'm excited to share one now. 

First things first, though: Google Reader is shutting down on MONDAY... yes, in three days! Are you following me on there? It looks like 101 of you are! If you would like to keep following me, you must do so through Bloglovin', which is an amazing website that lets you subscribe to all of the blogs you'd like and read through them when you want. Even better? They send you an email each night with all of the blogs you're subscribed to, so you won't miss any of them! 

You can follow my blog on Bloglovin' by clicking on the icon on the right of my page (just under the info about my handsome fiancé, Dan) or by going to my Bloglovin' profile by CLICKING HERE and following me. PLEASE don't forget to do so! I will always follow you right back if you're on Bloglovin' as well. Thanks! :) 


My top five for this week are:

1. I went running on a regular basis all week, and that includes getting up early and everything!

2. I've had a lot of time to work on some crafty projects, and I can't wait to share them soon! I've made a few new photo collages on canvas, and I'm working on a super top-secret project as well.

3. Brie Macaroni and Cheese. Yep. When I went to Las Vegas earlier this month, there was mac & cheese made with Brie (my favorite cheese) at one of the casino buffets. It had bacon in it, though, and as a vegetarian, I could not eat it. (I have always disliked bacon anyway, so I likely wouldn't have anyway). I have been craving it since I saw the idea, though, so last night, I made a Brie Macaroni and Cheese with Onion and Apple Compote. AMAZING.

4. I got to spend lots of time with my little furballs, and they seem to have enjoyed that fact as well!

5. I am having a girls' night tonight with Ellen and Maddi, a couple other USAFA girlfriends, and I can't wait!

And now, a few pictures, just for funsies!

Isn't Gilligan just adorable?! I love this little guy.

Stormy is adorable too, but she is ALWAYS trying to get herself into trouble... 

I can't call my kitties adorable without posting my favorite adorable man! My fiancé has been in the military for seven years now, and as the class of 2017 enters USAFA this week, I am reminiscing to Dan's inprocessing to the Academy in 2010 when he completed his third and final basic training. These pictures all come from WebGuy, a wonderful group of photographers who capture the USAFA basic training for friends and family to see. 
Well, that's all, folks! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Things I Live For (52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose)

Last week, I began a weekly link-up with From Mrs. to Mama. It's a 52 week series of blogging with a purpose. You can check out my Who I Am post by CLICKING HERE (warning: there are a LOT of pictures).

This week's prompt is: "10 Things I Live For", and it was a lot tougher to think of what to write than I'd previously thought it would be. It wasn't difficult to come up with things, but I did not want to repeat many things from my Who I Am post last week... so I tried my best to vary it.

1. Quality Time With Dan

Being in a relationship with someone in the military is oftentimes similar to being in a relationship while in middle school. You don't get much time together, and there are all kinds of rules. As much as it sucks not having Dan around all the time, we have certainly learned how to spend our time together and to not take that time for granted. When we have the opportunity to hang out, we try to make the most of it!

We have a lot of fun together! :) 
2. Making Memories

Like I just mentioned, Dan and I always use our time together to do really fun and exciting things (okay, so maybe not always, but we sure try). Naturally, doing those fun and exciting things leads to many amazing memories. I love looking back on all of the cool things we've done!

This photo is from the Air Force Academy Ring Dance that was a month ago exactly! That night/weekend will remain one of my favorite memories for a long, long time. 
3. Learning

Yes, I know I'm a teacher, but I would love to be a lifelong student. Learning is a passion of mine, and I am always trying to learn new things. I recently started re-learning French on a great website (, which is free and fun!

I bought a new notebook and a new pack of my favorite pens before attending a writing conference in February -- I wish I could go to more events like that to learn new things!
4. Making a Difference

One thing I am always trying to do is to make a difference in others' lives. Naturally, that happens in the classroom, but I do like to extend that goal to other areas of my life as well. I love reaching out to people who need help, and if there's nothing else I can do, I aspire to be that person who can give a pep-talk. Dan says mine are great, and he has been a frequent recipient of them.

A couple of my sweet students from this past school year :) 
5. Fur Babies

My two cats, who I still adoringly refer to as kittens (though they are definitely not), are my life. That may make me sound a bit crazy, but I am always thinking about Stormy and Gilligan when I am away from them. I try to love on them as much as I can, and they follow me around everywhere. I love my little sidekicks!

These two love lounging in the sun :) 
6. My Health

As difficult as it is sometimes, I try to make my health a priority. I have always been active and involved in sports, but it's a whole different ballgame as an adult. I don't want to end up with diabetes like my mom or have a heart attack like my dad, so I try my very best to eat well and exercise as much as possible. Of course I have my lazy days where I don't go for a run, and of course I eat my fair share of desserts and fried foods, but when I think about my future, it makes decision making much easier.

I juice almost every single day. The one pictures includes carrot, celery, cucumber, orange, lemon, and apple, but sometimes I add lettuce, kale, peach, lime, etc. 
7. Alone Time

I used to dread alone time. I didn't like when Dan had to be somewhere because I didn't know how to fill my time. Now, I almost look forward to it sometimes. I have gotten far more comfortable with being in my own company, and I even enjoy it much of the time now. I make things to put around the house, create things for our wedding, read, write, go out to eat alone, etc. I'm really glad I have grown into spending time with myself.

This is an incomplete craft that will be displayed at our wedding and in our future home; it is just one example of how I fill my time alone.
8. The Great Outdoors

You want to know what makes me feel free like nothing else? Spending time with Mother Nature. Colorado is the best for this (or at least it was before all of the fires), and I can't wait to go on more hikes this fall. It's a great feeling conquering an obstacle, and the beauty of the outdoors always leaves me breathless.

I felt like I was on top of the word after Dan and I hiked to the Pancake Rocks formation in Teller County, CO last fall.
9. Finding Happiness

I'm a happy, cheerful person. I've always been this way. I can't help it. Some would say I'm easy to please. Others would say I'm easily amused. I would say that I simply CHOOSE to be happy. Life is what you make it, and I am constantly searching for further happiness. Life has a lot to offer, and I am bound and determined to take advantage of that!

Sometimes all you need to be happy are a glass of wine, a good book, and a sunset over the mountains! 
10. Capturing Memories

If you've spent any amount of time with me at all, you know that I take a lot of pictures. No, I'm not a professional, and no, I don't have a nice camera. I am usually snapping photos with my iPhone. I just LOVE capturing memories. I have this irrational fear that I will lose my memory one day (thanks, The Notebook), and I want to be able to look back and see what I did with my life.

This is only a portion of the magnets I have made out of photos for my fridge. I have since added another three or four rows, and I'm running out of space! 
Well, that's it. You now know ten of the most important things in my life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

When a friend recommends a book to me, I almost always at least look into it. I normally don't turn them down, and when my friend Carly recommended The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to me in March, I was excited. I had heard of the novel before, and I'd even read a synopsis... but it wasn't quite enough to draw me in for some reason. Carly's suggestion pushed me over the edge, and I am so glad I decided to give the book a chance!

Goodreads gives a great synopsis of the book, as always:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Am I the only person out there who wonders what it would be like to be in a situation similar to the one Hazel is in? Yes? I'm just a weirdo? Okay then. 

But seriously, The Fault in Our Stars was BRILLIANTLY written. Green gives readers a look inside two teenage cancer patients' brains, and they are tough to forget. Not only did I not want the book to end, but I often think of Hazel and Augustus as if I knew them. 

No, this isn't the BEST book I've ever read... but it is way up there. If you're going to pick a book to read this summer, make The Fault in Our Stars it. After all, according to IMDB, it is coming out as a movie sometime soon (it's in pre-production now), and I personally cannot wait! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who I Am (52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose)

I recently came across a blog with a link-up for "52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose". While I won't be able to participate in the prompts every week (as some of them pertain to being a wife or mother, and I am neither of those), I still want to answer some of the prompts for fun. The link-up is found at From Mrs. to Mama, and she has provided 20 weeks of prompts already. Like I said, I'll do the ones I can, and hopefully this will be fun!

So, who am I?  Yes, I am Janelle, but who am I REALLY? Read on to find out!

I am a military fiancée.

I am lucky enough to be engaged to the love of my life, who just happens to be a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. We've been together for almost four and a half years, and he proposed to me in a hot air balloon in the summer of 2011. Our wedding is next May, and planning is stressful but fun. Since Dan is in the military, we don't get to spend all of our time together like many couples. We have dealt with long distance. We have dealt with being close, yet unable to see each other. We have written love letter after love letter, and we have never spent more than a few weeks (consecutively) together. Being in a military relationship is tough work, but the rewards are great.

Dan proposed in a hot air balloon on July 7, 2011

this is my handsome fiancé, and I am so lucky to call him mine

we take way too many pictures together
I am a daughter.

I was born on July 22, 1987. I grew up in Raytown, Missouri, a suburb of greater Kansas City. My family was pretty close. We went out to dinner, watched movies, played games at home, and swam a lot. I hope my future family is as close as mine was growing up.

at Cave of the Winds on a trip to Colorado Springs in 1996. It was on this trip that I knew I wanted to live there, and now my dream is a reality.

my mom and brother visited me in the summer of 2012 for my 25th birthday, and this was taken at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs
I am a sister.

On July 16, 1991, almost four years exactly after I was born, my brother entered the world. Derek and I haven't always gotten along. We were siblings, after all. We fought and argued ALL THE TIME. We have a pretty decent relationship now, though, and it is getting better all the time. We've outgrown the days of chasing each other around the backyard with plastic baseball bats, and now we enjoy going to baseball games together instead. :)

we may look nothing alike, but we share the Vannice temper for sure ;)
I am a kitty mama. 

I have had cats my entire life. No, seriously. My parents had one when I was born, and I don't think a day passed without at least one furry feline in the house with me. When I moved away to college (less than an hour away but in my own place nonetheless), it was empty without a furry friend. After living in the dorms for one year, I moved into an apartment and promptly adopted my little black and white guy, Gilligan. I brought him home from the animal hospital I was working at on July 31, 2007, and he was a tiny little thing. I thought he needed a friend, so I adopted Stormy in November of 2011. They are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. The fight like real siblings, but they always cuddle together afterward to make up. These two always make me smile.

my big butted boy and tiny little girl

love them to pieces
I am a teacher.

When I graduated from high school, I thought I wanted to be either a news anchor or a veterinarian. Both of those fell to the wayside, and I pursued my real dream of reading and writing and changed my major to English. When I realized how impractical it was to get a degree with no uses, I tacked on education and decided I could be a teacher. I'm so glad that I did. Working with teenagers is something that will never get old because each day is vastly different from the last. Building relationships and guiding teenagers to a better future is something that I definitely enjoy.

the amazing school I teach at :)

part of my classroom -- well, old classroom. We have moved a couple times. 

writing stuff :)

I love all the quotes I keep up everywhere
I always enjoy making things for my students, like these pencil tags I made for Valentine's Day
I am a Christian.

Growing up, I didn't go to church. I wasn't religious. I didn't even believe in God. But now I do, and I enjoy going to an amazing Methodist church in Colorado Springs with Dan. We also recently did a Bible study with Dan's sponsor parents, Mike and Ellen, which was really great. Over the past semester, we also attended a marriage class through our church, and we learned a lot.

the Community Bible Experience is AMAZING and well worth your time

this is the book Dan and I used for our marriage class at church

these are on canvases; I made them to hang on the wall
I am a runner. 

I started running early in life, but I didn't do it competitively until middle school when I joined the cross country team. Just because I raced on a team does not mean I was good. I wasn't. I'm still not. I'm slower than a turtle, but running is fun for me. It's something I dread doing until I'm actually doing it. It's something the takes my stress levels way down. Without running, I don't know what  would do.

Aaron and I before and after the Color Run in August of 2012

Dan and I before and after the Dirty Dash in September of 2012

Dan and I after the Glow run in April of 2013
I am a reader.

I always have been a bookworm. I don't even remember learning to read I was so young. I remember volunteering to read aloud in Kindergarten, and I LOVED talking, so it was great. I was always the girl with her nose in a book. Although I loved playing outside as a child, some of my best memories are curled up on the couch with a good book. My mom bought me books ALL THE TIME. She never said no to reading. I was a regular at the library, and I always participated in the summer reading contests for free books. I'm glad that I still enjoy reading just as much. My goal for the year is to read 36 books by December 31st. I am currently at 23 for the year, so I am well on track to reach that goal!

I rarely by hard copies of books anymore because my Nook is so easy to order books on, but when Jodi Picoult books come out, I always buy them hardcover and read them right away. Gilligan is the best reading buddy out there.

My Nook goes EVERYWHERE with me. No, really... it does. 

This picture may be my favorite one of myself EVER. It sums me up so well. It was taken on the way to senior prom in 2006. For some reason, we all stopped at Barnes & Noble to kill time, and hey, I'm glad we did! 
I am a writer.

Writing is what makes me feel my very best. I have always been proficient at it. I learned before Kindergarten, and I haven't stopped since. Sometimes I write for fun; sometimes I write for work. I ALWAYS enjoy it, though. One of my biggest accomplishments is writing an entire novel. I wrote it in 2010 as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I am so happy with it. I have been editing is slowly but surely (editing is not nearly as enjoyable as writing), and I hope to try to publish it in the future. Instead of just writing fiction, though, I also enjoy blogging about events that have happened in my life and just jotting down random notes. It's a passion for me.

My favorite place to work on my writing is at La Baguette in downtown Colorado Springs. They have the best cheese and fruit plate, and their café lattés are exceptional. 

My Macbook Pro is amazing. I couldn't be as efficient without it, and I am thankful that I have it. 
I am a crafter.

Now, this isn't something I'm amazing at. I just enjoy creating things in my spare time (wait -- spare time? I don't have any of that. I make time for relaxing activities to chill out in the evenings during the school year). My work isn't great, but I enjoy it. I am eventually going to open up an Etsy shop (maybe sooner rather than later -- I'm working on it). In the meantime, I will just decorate my own house with fun projects, and that's good enough for me.

I love painting on canvases. I wish my handwriting was a little better, but it will do!

I have several of these canvases with motivational quotes, and I keep them in my basement where I work on my writing. I love the colorful inspiration! 
I am a super-fan. 

You know those girls who don't want anything to do with football, mud, dirt, running around, etc? Yeah, I'm NOT one of them. Football is in my blood. I bleed red and yellow for the Kansas City Chiefs. When I was growing up, my parents had season tickets to Chiefs games. I often went along, and I had a BLAST tailgating in the parking lot and watching some good fun football. As with football, I also grew up with baseball. The Royals have never been fantastic, but their games are so much fun. Now that I live in Colorado, I REFUSE to be a Broncos fan. I mean, let's get real. They are one of the biggest rivals to my beloved Chiefs. However, Rockies games are fun, and so are Sky Sox games, the minor league team based in Colorado Springs. I also can't leave out the Air Force Falcons. Those games are always a good time!

Dan's first Chiefs game in December of 2012 -- it was a lot of fun showing him around Arrowhead Stadium!

Royals game with some of my best friends in June of 2012

Sky Sox game with my mom and brother in July of 2012 -- Sox the Fox looks pretty great! ;)

Rockies game in July of 2012 with Dan; we had a blast! Oh, and I think that dark green tank top was my "baseball shirt" last year because I am wearing it in all three game photos... oops.

Air Force football -- I don't go for good college ball (I'll leave that to Mizzou), but the games are always a blast, even when it's freezing cold. 
I am a vegetarian.

As soon as I found out where meat comes from, I was disgusted. I had pet cats at home and was told to treat them nicely but then also told it was okay to eat a cow. That is completely backwards to me, as they are both animals. Psychologically, I just can't do it. As a child, I tried several times to be a vegetarian. It wasn't easy in a house full of meat-eaters who BBQed ALL THE TIME. When I went to college, however, I realized I wasn't eating meat anyway (because I would NEVER tough raw meat to cook it, so I only had it when I ate at restaurants), so I gave it up cold turkey (not funny? okay). It's now been over five years since I've eaten meat, and I feel great about that choice!

This is my normal loot from the grocery store each week. No, I don't eat all of that produce on my own; I make juice with a lot of it, which is delicious and nutritious! 

Vegetarian chili is so good. Seriously. I hated chili when I ate meat, but beans and veggies are a winning combo! 

Who says being a vegetarian is boring? Upper left: veggie/fruit sushi and edamame; upper right: grilled squash filled with  creamy garlic/herb cheese; bottom left: vegan black bean soup (so good!) and a French baguette; bottom right: homemade macaroni and cheese with sautéed onions and garlic

... and now all of my faithful readers know a little bit more about me. I know that was a LOT of information to take in. Hopefully next week's prompt won't be QUITE as long. I hope you weren't too terribly bored. ;)