Thursday, December 27, 2012

Double the Christmas Fun

After Victor's graduation from his marine training, we loaded up the car, sat in DC metro traffic for the last time for a good long while, and made our way up to Victor's family's to see them for a few days. We loved seeing them and celebrating an early Christmas with them.

We battled INSANE crowds to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. It was beautiful and all, but crazy. We also had our own little Christmas program at home and then got to open a few presents. My in-laws spoiled me, as they usually tend to do. I love them!
We had to really fight to get these shots right in front! 

 Then we got to travel all day on Christmas Eve to make it to Utah just in time for Christmas Eve festivities. My family usually does a big recital with all of our instruments and then we read the Christmas Story. It wasn't as full blown as it usually is, due to our flight being late and also because of the fact that my sister/accompanist was at her in-laws, but it was still a nice evening.

Christmas morning post gifts. I always love the big pile of gift wrapping. All these pictures were taken by my dad.
I got Victor a his and hers set of snorkeling gear. We are ready for Okinawa now!
 We got my mom a platter when we were in Williamsburg a few weeks ago, which she loved. I dare say it was her favorite gift. My sibs said I have an unfair advantage to get her something from Williamsburg since she loves that place so much. Too bad for you guys!
We had a wonderful Christmas with both our families this year, and now we are just enjoying the Utah snow for a few weeks until we take off.

Do you want to hang out?? Text me!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Things I Want to Remember About Handel's Messiah

The first experience I had with the complete work of Handel's Messiah wasn't until I was a freshman in college and had the chance to play it with the Southwest Symphony in St. George, Utah. We took our performance on the road one evening: to Mesquite, Nevada, a small city of mostly retired snowbirds. After the performance, an old retired gentleman approached me and raved about the performance (and also how pretty I looked onstage, but that's besides the point :) ). " I am a retired blue collar worker," he said, "and I never had the chance to go to such beautiful events before. Thank you so much for your performance. Can I have your autograph?" I will never forget that moment. I was so happy that I was able to affect someone with the joy of music. 
After the winter semester ended, I returned come for Christmas, and was invited once more to perform with a small group in the historical Kaysville tabernacle, the one architectural wonder of the city (as deemed by my high school art history teacher). It was a beautiful experience.

Fast forward to seven months ago, as I was wandering around Westminster Abbey in London, with my touristy audio guide. I was guided to the burial place of George Friedrich Handel, and as I did, the audio guide began playing the beautiful soprano aria from Messiah, "I know that my Redeemer Liveth." It was extremely moving, and I knew that I was standing by the tomb of an inspired man.
Handel wrote his masterpiece in just 24 days. He rarely emerged from his room, with few breaks for food and water. He said to his servant as he finished, "I did think I did see Heaven before me and the great God himself!"
Just a few nights ago, we had the chance to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform Handel's Messiah on our last evening in Virginia, and I can't think of a better way to get in the Christmas spirit. We were extremely stressed because of moving, we were stuck in traffic, and Victor still hadn't received his official orders even though we were leaving in the morning, which naturally was stressful as well. We made it in the knick of time, and immediately as the music started, all of that stress just went away. It was incredibly beautiful, and I shed quite a few tears, as I tend to do a lot lately. I love how music has the ability to uplift you, and in the case of Messiah, help you feel closer to God. 
And, as one last memory, I'm glad I still live in a world where people stand when they hear the Hallelujah chorus. 

And, this is my favorite piece to listen to for Christmas time:

And this is my favorite for Easter:

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and Happy Sunday. 
Love, Annie

Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Christmas Card, 2012

I was so on top of cards this year! Not like last year, where I put something together in like five minutes and called it good. My friend Austin Johnson designed these--the same guy who designed my wedding invitations.  Thanks Austin! And thanks again to Holli for taking the pictures. I have talented friends. 
But I forgot to say one thing on the card, and that is that we hope you all have a beautiful Christmas season celebrating what matters most. We are so grateful for all that we have been blessed with, and the wonderful people in our lives.

Merry Christmas
Love, Annie and Victor

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sweet is the Peace

Here is a beautiful interview with the parents of one of the sweet children that passed on last week. I read a little more about them here, and they are members of my faith.

Such a powerful example to all of us. We can't help but ask "HOW?" How can they have such peace, even though they have been wronged, and their lives will never be the same?

The only answer is in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All I can think of are the words I read so many times in my missionary manual: "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

These last few days I have been feeling very discouraged. Discouraged that so many people still don't realize that our society's problems go so much deeper than gun control laws. I firmly believe that this nation was founded under divine guidance and blessing, and to see so many now trying to take that away and condemn it breaks my heart.

I believe whole-heartedly in the words of Ezra Taft Benson:

"Only the gospel [of Jesus Christ] will save the world
from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races
and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the
human family”

This is what I believe. I pray for our country. I pray for the world. And I pray for those who are currently suffering from all the tragedies taking place. There is still hope. There is still light in the world.  I hope we never forget that. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Quick Trip to Williamsburg

On Monday, Victor had the day off, so we took the opportunity to head down south to see a few friends and have a quick little getaway. After speaking in church on Sunday, we headed down and spent Sunday evening in Norfolk in order to visit and say goodbye to some good friends. And then on Monday we headed up to Williamsburg so I could have a little spa day! My dad gave me a gift card to the Spa at Colonial Williamsburg ages ago, but it's so easy to say "I'll use it's a long drive....blah blah blah." So I finally used it. Merry Christmas and happy moving to me!

It was heavenly. I wish I could do something like that more often. And before you feel sorry for Victor for not coming, he spent the morning at the outlets and was very happy to finally find a good pair of jeans for a good price. So, obviously it was a win win. And, he got some delicious chocolate covered strawberries: win win win!
While I was waiting for him to pick me up, I walked through Colonial Williamsburg and looked at the pretty Christmas decor. It's such a lovely place. Every time I'm there, I wish my mom could be there too, because I know how much she loves it. 
 It really was a fun little trip. After that is when we stopped at the VMFA on our way home, which was also a lot of fun. It's moments like these where it's really bittersweet to be moving.

You're Not All Bad, Richmond VA

The last time I spent any time in Richmond, Virginia was over a year ago, which I wrote about here. And I'm not going to lie, the city didn't really leave a good impression on me. But just last week I was remembering a painting that I really loved from my Garder's Art Through the Ages, and I looked it up and realized that it was on permanent display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. I really didn't want to leave VA without seeing it in person, and I was very pleasantly surprised with the VMFA! In fact, it had a really great collection. So, if you ever find yourself in Richmond and aren't really feeling it, go to the VMFA, because it will definitely make Richmond go up a few notches in what it has to offer. 

As soon as I walked into the museum, this Dale Chihuly beauty welcomed me:
The museum was having a Chihuly special exhibit that I kind of regret not going to, but it was $20 a person, and we just wanted to do the museum on the cheap, aka free side. But this piece was still sweet. It looks kind of like the Chihuly piece at Abravanel Hall in SLC, the first Chihuly glass masterpiece I ever saw. 

The museum had an awesome art deco and art noveau exhibit, which included Frank Lloyd Wright furniture and window pieces, and these beauties!!
A huge selection of Tiffany lamps and windows. Oh, it is love. If only one were in my living room. 
The painting I originally went to see was the Angelika Kauffman painting "Cornelia Presenting Her Children as Her Treasures."  
I have always loved the simplistic beauty of the painting and the message behind it. I don't have children, but when I do, I want to have a copy of this in my home as a reminder of what is truly important in life. 
And what would an art museum be without a Degas ballerina sculpture? Degas made so many of these, they're everywhere!

And true to Annie luck in going to museums, I was very excited to hear that the VMFA had an extensive Faberge collection, but naturally when we got there, we found out the exhibit is on tour, so I still have yet to see an original Faberge egg. Life isn't fair sometimes. But overall, this is a first rate museum with a great collection of art. One of the best things Richmond has going for it! Make a visit if you're in the area. reached out to me to include this awesome page about Dale Chihuly and his history/art works. Check it out if you're wanting more information about this amazing artist! Click here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Books in 2012: Return and Report part 2

I felt like I hadn't read much since my last post about what I've been reading. But thanks to Goodreads, I was able to look back and remember these books that I have read since August. Are you on Goodreads? I love it so much. You can find me here

So, here we go! This summer, I went on a kick of reading Mormon memoirs (seen below). Each one was completely different and captured completely different Mormon/life experiences, which is to be expected. I still have a blog post draft talking about my views of all these books. Maybe some day I will publish it. 
 Heaven Up Here by John K. Williams: a mission memoir of a young man who served in Bolivia in the late 80s. I liked this book mostly because I had so many experiences that were almost identical to his, and he was very honest about the LDS mission experience.

Yearning for the Living God by F. Enzio Busche: autobiography about Enzio Busche, who grew up in Nazi Germany and was a German POW in WW2. He reflects on what that was like, and why he eventually converted to Mormonism. I thought it was good.

Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks: I read this and then had the chance to meet Ms. Brooks, which I wrote about here. Overall, I was left disappointed by this book. Joanna Brooks is usually a great writer (I like her blog), but her book was a disorganized mess. And just kind of annoying.

These are the books that I read for my Book Club this fall:
 Finding Alice by Melody Carlson: This book was meh. Not bad, but not great. An interesting book if you're into understanding mental illness. Like I said, just ok.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel: We read this before the movie came out, and I really liked this book! A great story with religious undertones that really get you thinking. I thought the movie was beautiful, but I liked the book a lot better.

Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes: I'm just about to finish this one, so I figured I would just include it. This is a pretty good book: an interesting insight into Mary and Joseph, parents of Jesus. It's historical fiction, so I assume the writer is assuming a lot, but I liked this book.

And for some others:
Ok For Now by Gary Schmidt: this is kind of a sequel to the book The Wednesday Wars, but you don't have to read that first before reading Ok For Now. I liked this book better. In fact, I really liked this book. Highly recommend it. 

Son by Lois Lowry: The final book in The Giver series. Lois Lowry is a great writer, and this book was interesting, but it still wasn't as good as The Giver. I really like the cover art though!

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson: The sequel to Chains, and I wasn't crazy about it. 

And now for a random one to throw into the mix... The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I saw this at the book store for like $3 and a friend recommended that I read it. I thought it had some very valuable information about relationships in general, and not just between a husband and wife/ boyfriend and girlfriend. I would recommend it. 

The most recent book I read was Young House Love by John and Sherry Petersik. I love their blog, so I guess it makes sense that I would love their book. If you are looking for some great DIY and decorating ideas for your house, I would suggest it. Or you can borrow my copy. It got me really excited to do some decorating!
My good friend Holli and I picked this book up when we went to their social/book signing they had in D.C. last week. It was so much fun, and we loved getting to meet John and Sherry. Super nice, super cool people. They even agreed to a hammy picture with us, per Holli's request. 
So, there you go! 
I also feel the need to say that most of these books were "actual books," because my Kindle suffered an early and tragic death back in October. I miss it so much.   cough Christmas Hint cough!!

Feel free to share your suggestions, please! I need some good recommendations. 
Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My favorite tubes of 2012

Thanks to my bestie Kelsy for reminding me to do this again! You can find my 2011 favorites of youtube here. It's crazy how the years just mush together, so I had to wrack my brain for my favorites and check to make sure they are from this year! I hope you enjoy.

5. Utah Names: HA HA HA. How many people I know who have these names! So funny.

4. Mormon Helping Hands: A great reminder of the beauty of service.

3. This slot is a tie between two extremely beautiful flash mobs, which was all the youtube rage this year. I just love these two videos. I encourage you to watch both!

Beethoven's 9th Symphony in Spain:

and Morning from "Peer Gynt" performed on the metro in Copenhagen. Love.

2. This HILARIOUS clip from Ellen. Not necessarily an exclusive "you tube video," but I just love it so much.

AND NUMBER ONE: Maybe this is my number one pick because it accurately reflects my stage in life right now of being dog hungry, but really, the fact is that this is such a sweet video of love and friendship. My favorite.

So there you go! I hope you enjoyed them. And like always, please share any of your favorites so I can watch!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving in New York

A New York first: experiencing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Very crowded but the balloons were cool. 
 After a Dominican style Thanksgiving dinner, we went and checked out the cityscapes. 
And later that weekend we took a stroll in Central Park. Check out those beautiful fall colors.

It was Sarah's first time ever in New York City, so we loved showing her all the sites.
I love New York City.

Aaand, let's check out some of the other stuff we did, according to Instagram:
So, there you go! Twas a great Thanksgiving. Hope yours was great as well.

more married conversations

Scene: talking about packing for the big move.

Me: So, just to make it easier for me, what should our weight limit on clothes be?

Victor: I think 200 pounds: 100 for you and 100 for me.

Me: Wait, do shoes count as clothes weight?

Victor: Fine, 150 pounds for you.

End scene.

He loves me, he really loves me!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Paintings of the Christ

I recently discovered the works of artist J. Kirk Richards who paints mostly religious paintings of the Savior. Maybe you have already seen his works, but he's new to me, and I just think they are absolutely beautiful, and I just had to share, especially at the beginning of the Christmas Season. If you know me, you know that I am very picky and particular about portrayals of Jesus Christ, especially with LDS artists. So, these works are ones I totally love because they are artistic and reverent, without being cheesy (read: Simon Dewey).

And, I loved this one so much, I bought a print of it to put in my home:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 
Philippians 2:10-11

It really is such a wonderful time of year to celebrate the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas season. 

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Finer Things Club: Black Friday Edition

The whole "Black Friday" thing is a phenomenon that I do not understand. And these days, it's not just Black Friday anymore: it's now "cut your thanksgiving short to go get in line for stores opening earlier than friday." Why?? What's the fun in that? The lines I saw at the stores were ridiculous! One of my husband's friends skipped out on seeing his fam so he could go get in line. That's not cool.

That being said, something I was willing to wait in line for on Black Friday was Broadway tickets. I have been wanting to see the production of "Once" for a while now, and they finally offer rush tickets for only $40. That's a steal when the average price of a ticket is $80-$100, and you automatically have to double that because you're married (honestly, that's the worst part about being married! ha ha).

So, while most people were battling crowds at Target and Best Buy, I was sitting on the cold pavement of 45th St., waiting for the Once box office to open.
It was cold. It was stressful, since there are limited tickets. And, we looked like street bums. But, we got our tickets! And I would have had that over a television or a gaming system any day--not sure my husband would say the same thing. But it was worth it.*
As far as the show goes, this is what I have to say about it:

I really wanted to see this show because I really liked the movie, particularly the music: duh. The focus of this show is the music. So if you're expecting it to be like any other big cast, big dance/musical numbers and glitzy costumes that are all typical of a Broadway musical, then you might be disappointed. This show is much more simplistic, but so different which makes it memorable. The story is simple: a nameless guy and girl who have their own personal struggles, but come together because of the love of making music.

The show is very down to earth. The stage is an Irish pub where you can go and mingle onstage with the actors/musicians who are warming up. All the actors are the musicians as well, which shows an enormous amount of talent in my opinion. How I would love to be one of the violinists up there, but alas, I am a terrible actor and dancer. That's why I play in the pit orchestra.

There were are few things that I didn't like. The stage version was much longer than the movie, and yet there were a lot of songs in the movie that were not included in the stage version. And since this show is all about the music, I wish there would have been more of it. Also, if you have a problem with hearing "the f word," then you might not like it. I don't enjoy hearing the f word, but my husband works with Marines, so it's safe to say that any time we hang out with any of them, we hear our fair share of it, so it's just something I have learned to deal with.

That being said, I still loved this show. I just love what it says about music and the arts. Life isn't without its struggles, but music has the ability to express our joy or our frustrations and can just be so therapeutic.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
Victor Hugo

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
Friedrich Nietzsche

Here's a little excerpt of the show: this song gets me every time!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Things

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. As I get older, there is more and more to be grateful for.

Those things include:

The wonderful friends we have met here in Virginia. Remember how I whined about it a lot? Well, I'm pleased to report that things have indeed gotten much better. It makes me sad to leave.

Flight plans! We found out today we are headed to Japan on January 10. It is real, and we are so excited. A little anxious, naturally, but a good kind of anxious. I am so grateful for this chance to see more of this beautiful world. This is what I always wanted.

These last few weeks in D.C. I'm grateful for Christmas parties, and one last concert at the Kennedy Center: Handel's Messiah. I am grateful for Handel.

The chance to see family before we go overseas. I'm grateful that we have been given the time to see both of our families. I am so grateful for our families.

And, of course, I am grateful for my husband. My main man. My best friend.  My fellow adventurer. We have fun together, and I love him. He loves me unconditionally, and that's definitely something to be grateful for!
And we are grateful for this time we've had in this great area of the country. We love D.C. and Virginia. There are parts of it that we are really sad to say goodbye to. But then we get stuck in traffic for hours and forget about it. But let's not talk about that right now.

Anyway, have a happy happy Thanksgiving! And I'm grateful for you guys for reading this!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Club Party Ideas

I am going to miss my Book Club here so much! We've read a great variety of books, and while every single person doesn't always love certain books, we always all come with an open mind which leads to great discussions.

For the last couple of books we have read, we have tried to make our gathering themed along with the book, and it really helps make reading the book even more interactive.

Last month we read the book "Finding Alice" by Melody Carlson. The book is kind of a modern version of Alice in Wonderland, so our host dressed up as the Mad Hatter and hosted a tea party, complete with vintage tea cups, and a trifle bar. It was so cute.

This month it was my turn to host, and our book was "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. (loved this book by the way. read it) The main character is from India and he gets shipwrecked on his way to Canada. So, my inspiration was Pi's Indian heritage, and the fact that he lived on a lifeboat for months.

I made a curried chicken pasta salad which is absolutely delicious. (recipe from here). You know, curry, India: get it?

Had some fruit and cream...mostly just the bananas have anything to do with the book.

And as a little sweet treat: some swedish fish and lifesavers. You know, lifesavers, shipwreck: get it?  Oh, and then I saw some random little turtles at the Dollar Store and used those for decorations.
 Basically, I love being in a Book Club, and I love how food and decor can help bring the book to life for us. I hope I can quickly find a book club as good as this one has been when I get to Okinawa. And, if you have any other cute ideas to go along with book club suggestions, please share!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You're going to need to watch this.

It may not be the best editing, but this is hilarious

Mean Girls+ Downton Abbey= awesome.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, November 12, 2012

I went to Utah, and the only pictures I took are of a baby

Well, that's not quite true. I did take other pictures, but this little niece of mine is what I got camera happy with. She stole my heart! 

When my mom and Jenn picked me up from the airport, she was fast asleep and then she woke up and gave me this sly little smile that you see below. And then I proceeded to squeeze those chubby cheeks. She didn't seem to mind. 
BABY overload:
she almost started crawling!
And for your viewing pleasure:
Is there anything better than a giggling baby? I think not.