Monday, July 29, 2013

Top 15 (All Time) Favorite Books

I tried really hard to cut this list. At first, I wanted to make it a top five. Then I realized that was impossible. I listed all the books I wanted to include, and I had 18. I decided 18 was too many but that 15 would be okay... so here you have it: Janelle's 15 Favorite Books of All Time.

Without further adieu, I present you with, in ALPHABETICAL order (because honestly, do you *THINK* I could actually rank them? It was difficult enough to narrow this list down to only 15):

**Please note that as you browse through, you may click on the image of the book to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book. All books are linked, so if you're interested, click away!

So tell me:

What is your #1 FAVORITE book ever?
Do you have a favorite author?
Which is your favorite from my list?
What book should I read next?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maid of Honor Craft: Asking With a Bottle of Wine

Bear with me if you've already seen this post (on my old blog, Always Write 2012). I am slowly but surely trying to transfer all of my DIY projects to THIS blog so people don't keep finding by crafts on my OLD blog. I want them reading over here!

When I went home to Kansas City for Thanksgiving break in 2011 (about four months after getting engaged), I had one major goal: ask my best friend since Kindergarten, Megan, to be my Maid of Honor. Megan and I have known each other since we were six years old, so let's face it: I wanted to make it special. I found an amazing idea on Pinterest, and the way I decided to ask her came about.

I bought a bottle of my absolutely favorite wine that is made in Manitou Springs, CO and cannot be purchased anywhere else. It's called Summer Sunset by D'Vine Wine, and it is a sweet grapefruit wine. Delicious. Then, I made a cover with a poem on it that asked Megan to be my Maid of Honor. Of course, I used the colors we plan to use in our wedding. I thought it turned out really cute, and when I gave it to her at dinner at Jack Stack on the Plaza, she of course said: YES!

I wanted to share the pictures of the wine bottle craft I made:

How did YOU ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding?
What is YOUR favorite wine? 

Also, this week I am participating in my first blog hop, which I am pretty excited about! Check it out here: 

Her & Nicole

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If I Were To Win the Lottery... (52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose)

If you'v been following my blog, you will know that I've been participating in a weekly link-up with From Mrs. to Mama. This post is about a week late (oops), but forgive me. This topic is a fun one, and I'm excited to write it all out!

If I Were To Win the Lottery, Five Things I'd Buy

1. Donate (significantly) to Serenity Springs Wildlife Center. 

Serenity Springs is a wonderful organization in Calhan, Colorado, just thirty minutes from Colorado Springs. They take in mostly large cats, but they have bears and a few others animals as well.

Their mission states: "Through educational programs and community outreach, we strive to raise public awareness of the existence of the large numbers of captive wildlife and the continuing need for sanctuary from exploitation, abuse and neglect. Through introduction to, and education about these magnificent creatures, we promote compassion and respect for all animals while fostering recovery for endangered species."

It is SUCH an amazing place. They do so much for the animals, and the entire staff is so friendly. If you'd like to look into them more or donate, check them out at their website:

Serenity Springs Wildlife Center

I have been twice, and I got to hold a baby tiger each time! If you're ever in the area, seriously check them out. They are WONDERFUL, and it's pretty cool getting to play with the cute little babies! 

2. Buy a home. 

I don't know where exactly this home would be. Ideally, I would like to own a place in Colorado... close to Colorado Springs (either in the city, in Black Forest, or in Woodland Park). Being a (soon-to-be) military spouse, I probably own't have the opportunity to own a home for many, many years. When we can own one, though, it will definitely have a cupula for me to read in, like the house pictures below.

I love everything about this house! So cute! 
3. Buy a new car.

I love my 2006 Ford Escape. It's like my baby. That said, I would upgrade to something newer and bigger if I had the money. I think I'd go with a Ford Explorer (I will always buy Ford). It's big enough for all of our outdoor needs and trips with the cats, and it's also so nice looking and not TOO big.

I really like how sporty these look! This is the 2014 Explorer. 
4. Invest in a cleaning service. 

You all know: I HATE CLEANING. No, it's more than that. I loathe it. I NEVER want to do it. It is NOT enjoyable AT ALL... in ANY WAY. I really really really passionately HATE it. I always have, and I likely always will. I DREAD cleaning... no matter what it is. Dan has to practically beg me to clean my own house. It's awful. Yes, I do feel a little better when my house is clean, but... it's not THAT big of a worry to me. I hate the thought of even thinking of cleaning. Ick.

I would probably need two cleaners. I am a pretty messy person, after all. 
5. Buy an airplane for Dan -- a PINK one!

Everyone knows Dan wants to own his own plane. He's had his Private Pilot's License for longer than his Driver's License. It's his passion... and it would make travel much more efficient if we could fly instead of drive everywhere. I'm not a big fan of flying, but it would save us a lot of time... so I'd go with it. My one stipulation, though? It needs to be pink. Dan would complain and complain, but he would cave in because it would be a FREE airplane (and of course free fuel for life! Duh!). Who wouldn't want to be seen flying in this bad boy? :)

This looks way cooler than your average Cessna...
It's always fun thinking about what you would buy if you had all the money in the world! 

What would YOU choose to buy?

Monday, July 22, 2013

My 26th Birthday Today (and 30 Before 30 List)

Today is my birthday! I am 26. It feels weird, but this year has definitely been better leading up to my birthday than last year. When I turned 25, I panicked. It did NOT feel okay to hit that "milestone", and I had a small quarter-life crisis. 26 is different because THIS IS MY YEAR. This is the age I will finally marry my handsome fiancé. This is the year for all sorts of exciting things!

Just for funsies, here are two pictures of my on my REAL birth day and one from last year when I turned 25 (at my favorite restaurant in Colorado Springs, Amanda's Fonda (superb Mexican, EXCELLENT margaritas, and fantastic rum cake):

In honor of my birthday, I decided to compile a 30 Before 30 List. Basically, these are 30 things I want to accomplish BEFORE I turn 30. Get it? I've got four years to achieve the following.

30 BEFORE 30 List

1. Get Married (less than a year!)
2. Travel to Europe
3. Get something published somewhere
4. Take a photography class
5. Finish writing a second novel
6. Skydive
7. Paint walls inside a house
8. Travel to South America
9. Sell *more* items on Etsy
10. See a movie alone in a theater
11. Have a baby
12. Run a marathon
13. Learn how to sew (simple things)
14. Host a Christmas dinner for more than three people
15. Travel to Africa
16. Create a cookbook of my favorite recipes
17. Visit 10 states I haven’t been to
18. Become fluent in French
19. Start learning German
20. Go out to dinner (at a real restaurant) alone
21. Swim with fish (terrified)
22. Try going vegan for a month (already vegetarian)
23. Pay for a stranger’s meal
24. Participate in a Bible study with other women
25. Go on (another) hot air balloon flight
26. Ski a “blue” run
27. Adopt a dog (hopefully a high-energy large breed)
28. Travel somewhere alone
29. Teach in a state other than Colorado
30. Live in (at least) three different states

So, what do you think of my list? 
Would you have anything similar on yours? 
Have you done any of these things?
Do you have any advice for me? 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: Matched Trilogy

Recently, I found a series on Goodreads that sounded fabulous. I bought the first book, and as I devoured it, I knew I would have to buy the other two in the trilogy. Matched, Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condie were great, fun books that kept me interested the whole way through.


These weren't the best written novels I've ever read. No, they weren't bad, but they just don't stand up to the caliber of a couple other books I've read recently. The stories were superb, though, and that's what matters.

Goodreads provides an excellent synopsis of book one, Matched, saying:

"Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow."

Doesn't that just draw you in right away? I don't know about you, but I'm totally a sucker for all of these dystopian novels that have been coming out lately. I love the stories, and it's really cool to think about alternate ways our world COULD be going.

If you're looking for a fun little series, check out the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Name Display For My Classroom

Note: Bear with me if you've already seen this post (on my old blog, Always Write 2012). I am slowly but surely trying to transfer all of my DIY projects to THIS blog so people don't keep finding my crafts on my OLD blog. I want them reading over here!

The original idea I found for this on Pinterest is one that someone posted for a baby's room, but I fell in love with the idea and knew immediately that I HAD to have it in my classroom. (Note: I made these in the summer of 2012 and have already had them hanging in my classroom for one year!)

WARNING: WAY too many pictures were taken in this process, and I am sharing them all. Enjoy! :)

Basically, I wanted a sign that has my name on it to hang over my desk. When I saw this canvas idea, I was hooked. I bought 11 blank canvases (okay, I bought 12 because they came in packs of two... and it's always good to have an extra just in case something goes wrong, ya know). The canvases are 8x10 in size. I bought the same number of pieces of scrapbooking paper in the same pattern in 12x12 (so they are big enough to wrap around the canvases to give it the "real" canvas look. I bought wooden letters to spell out: "MISS VANNICE" to be glued onto the scrapbooking paper after it was glued onto the canvases. I also purchased metallic pink and teal acrylic paint to make the wooden letters pretty. (You will see all of this in the pictures below). I used Mod Podge to stick the paper to the canvases, and I used hot glue to stick the letters to the paper afterward. I think they turned out extremely cute, and I can't wait to hang them up in my new classroom! :)

(in context with the rest of the room... oh, how I miss this classroom! Moving sucks.)

So, what do you think? 
Would you use something like this in your classroom/office/house?
Have you ever made anything similar?