New Year, New Opportunities

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas filled with love, family, and laughter… I know I did! God has done some amazing things in my life this holiday season (and this year in general), and I can’t wait to see what the new year has in store!

With that in mind, there’s one thing I want to say:

2015. What. A. Year!  It has been a crazy amazing year, to say the least. There have been highs and lows; victories and disappointments; but through it all, God has provided so much and He has remained so faithful.

This year, I started Rustic Christian Signs, and it has proven to be a major success! I also did my first trade show in November; it was so fun meeting people (and realizing how many individuals were actually interested in my signs :) ), and the hard work really paid off in the end. I’m really shy, and I usually have a hard time talking to people, but the trade show increased my confidence.

In 2015, I experienced some setbacks as well, and there were times when I recall asking the Lord, “Why? Is this all apart of Your plan for my life?” … but everything started turning around for the best and kept going forward from there. :) Now that I think about it, everything that happened this year– both good and bad– was all because of His timing. :)

For the year ahead, I have some exciting things planned. I’m doing something that will be an amazing business opportunity– I don’t really want to say anything more until all the details are finalized, but this is going to be incredible for both Christian Signs and the people I’m working with 😉 Like previously mentioned, it’s all apart of God’s incredible plan, and I can’t wait to share more info in the coming months.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! God Bless!

Anna-Marie

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Reflecting on the True Meaning of Christmas

At last, Christmas has arrived! Spending time with family and friends… the lights and decorations… celebrating traditions… all the awesome Christmas music that’s playing right now… it certainly is the greatest time of year!

All those things are awesome; don’t get me wrong. But what happened to the real reason why we celebrate Christmas– the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord?

It seems like every year, this season gets more and more commercialized. The stores are bombarding us with advertising to buy the newest, trendiest thing this holiday season; people are literally getting into fights over sales; and the true Gift of Christmas is gradually being exchanged. It’s crazy!

Now, I understand that everyone has different beliefs– and, as expressed in some of my previous blog posts, I’m totally accepting of everyone no matter what. However, I think people are so busy with holiday shopping and all the traditions, that we are starting to forget the true meaning of Christmas.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed 1 Girl Nation’s Christmas EP, and the first song (“Joy“) was a nice reminder of why we celebrate this season. The song is loosely based on the message in John 3:16-17.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Whenever I read that verse, it reminds me that God became human in the Person of Jesus Christ, all because He loves us.  When you think about it, that’s pretty huge. He became human when Jesus was born, because we needed a Savior. Every time I read the book of Luke in the Bible, it’s a reminder of what God did for us, and I am amazed.

Earlier this week, my youth leader and I had a very thought-provoking discussion about the true meaning of Christmas. We talked about how it’s so easy to get carried away with the traditions of the holidays (i.e., visiting family, shopping for gifts, etc.), that we end up losing focus on what really matters; the birth of the Savior. And I believe that’s true.

For anyone who’s curious as to why we celebrate Christmas at this time, I could go into extreme detail, or I could condense it to four simple words: Because He is Love (as 1 John 4:8 says). Out of gratitude for what the Holy Spirit did for us, we remember Christ’s birth at this time by doing things like:

Giving each other gifts (although that shouldn’t be your main focus at the holidays). I personally didn’t know this until I became closer to God in the past 2 years, but one reason why we exchange gifts is to honor God’s gift to us. Just remember, the true meaning of Christmas is love upon all else.

Worshiping Him; carols such as “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night” (one of my favorites!) were written to praise Jesus’ coming into this world. These songs have been sung a million different times, by almost everyone (some music artists who have covered these songs include Aly & AJ, tobyMac, Kelly Clarkson, and the Jonas Brothers, for example), but the meaning is still the same.

Giving back to the community; when we help others in the community, we are sharing love– and basically being Jesus’ hands and feet. Whether you raise money to donate to your local food bank, or donate toys and clothes to charity… or even sing Christmas carols at a seniors centre, there’s just something so satisfying about helping the community. Not only is everyone grateful for what you did, but you also feel this amazing amount of joy when you do something nice for the people around you.

 

i hope you all have an amazing Christmas, and a safe and happy new year! Never forget what The Lord did for us this holiday season, and remember that He Is Love.

How to Make… Starbucks Peppermint Mocha

Am I the only one who’s excited for Christmas already?! There’s already frost on the ground, and the temps are getting cooler… there’s even supposed to be snow next week! I can’t wait to start celebrating Christmas; the decorations… the music…

…And, of course, this beauty right here:

starbucks peppermint mocha

That’s right, I’m talking about the Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks; one of my favorite holiday drinks. If you’ve never had a Peppermint Mocha, this (highly pixelated) picture doesn’t do it justice. It. Is. AMAZING.

And I actually found a recipe for it while I was looking through my mom’s blog from a few years ago. So I thought I’d share that recipe with you!

To make this drink filled with total awesomeness, you will need…

• 3 tablespoons Starbucks Mocha Powder (you could use regular mocha powder instead)

• 1 1/2 tablespoons Starbucks Peppermint Syrup (once again; if you can’t find Starbucks peppermint syrup, I’m pretty sure regular peppermint syrup will work 🙂 )

•  1/4 cup of double strength dark roast coffee

• 12 ounces steamed or heated milk

• Freshly Whipped Cream

• Red peppermint sprinkles (OPTIONAL!)

PROCEDURE:

1. Combine equal parts Starbucks mocha powder and warm water to create a wonderfully rich chocolate syrup. (What in the world? I never knew mocha powder turns into chocolate syrup when you combine it with water!)

2. Pour the mocha syrup into a 12 oz mug.

3. Add a shot of  espresso and peppermint syrup.

4. Fill the remainder of the cup with steamed milk.

5. Top it all off with freshly whipped cream and red sprinkles (optional).  

ENJOY!

Fall Photoshoot

I’ve been so busy with school that I haven’t gotten around to posting anything on my blogs lately! It’s funny how blogging and social media works; you don’t post anything for about two weeks, and people automatically think you’ve fallen off the face of the earth (LOL!) There’s more to life than blogging, isn’t there?! (Especially as a high school student. The past few weeks, I have literally been spending all my time on schoolwork!)

I’m really happy that I finally have an opportunity to write a few posts, because it means that I can share my Fall 2015 photos with you guys!

Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time trying to upload the pictures directly to this post, but here’s a link to the photo album on Facebook. If I manage to get the photos uploaded here, I will remove the link. Photoshoot Fall 2015

Golden Girl retelling

I was cleaning out my bedroom closet yesterday, and found this English project that I wrote in Grade 9. We had to read an awesome short story, and then each of us had to rewrite the story in another character’s perspective. Without further ado, here’s my retelling of the short story, Golden Girl by Gillian Chan.

If my retelling of the story were a movie, the actors/actresses that would represent the main characters are:

Chelsea Kane (Jonas L.A.) as Anna Murphy

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Donna

Matthew Morrison (Glee, Finding Neverland the Musical) as Mr. Iain McCallum

Susan Sarandon (Enchanted) as Miss Grainger

Zayn Malik (former member of One Direction) as Michael

Cody Simpson as Doug

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I can’t help being popular. I just can’t. The long, blond, Taylor Swift-like curls; the big brown eyes; the designer outfits; everything. It’s all a part of who I am. Let’s face it: I, Anna Murphy, am the best looking girl in the school. I am popular.

My dad is loaded, and according to him, nothing’s too good for me. Boys fight over me– like, actually fight. And my mom drives a pink Corvette. (A/N: I got the Corvette reference from “Miss Popularity” by Jordan Pruitt. I thought that line would fit with the story) I’m basically the archetype of a popular tenth grade girl. Although I’m much prettier, of course!

I’m also a natural-born flirt, and when I see a cute guy, I don’t give up. The latest encounter happened one Wednesday afternoon. My best friend, Donna, and I walked into English class and Miss Grainger had this guy with her. He was literally, drop-dead GORGEOUS, like one of those hunks we drool over in those teen music magazines we don’t admit reading because they’re not cool. He was about six foot two with these AMAZING shoulders. At first, I couldn’t really see his face because he was bent over, reading some random list on Miss Grainger’s desk. Then, he looked up, and… WOW! This hunk had green eyes with long, thick lashes. Tanned skin without a zit in sight. He even had a slightly crooked nose that saved him from being a TOTAL pretty boy, although he was pretty freaking gorgeous to me!

I gasped. “Donna, WHO IS HE?!”

She didn’t reply for a moment, although after a few minutes, she finally came back with, “I don’t know, but he’s cute!”

“I know, right?” I replied, totally oblivious to the fact that Grainger was looking at him too. “Aha! Even Grainger’s making eyes at him, the dirty old lady.” I’ve had it in for Miss G. since last year. She just hadn’t heard the news that I was Miss Popularity, and she had made the mistake of telling me it was a shame that I did just enough to get a decent grade. She told me that if I worked hard, I could be absolutely brilliant at English. That’s a real no-no. I mean, the rest of the world has been telling me how wonderful I am, my entire life!

“Come on, settle down. We’ve got a lot to do today.” Grainger gave some latecomers the death stare as they stumbled into the room. “This is Mr. McCallum from the university. He’s going to be with us for the next two months. At first, he’ll be sitting in on some classes, and later he’ll be teaching.”

I gasped and buried my face in my arms. “Oh no, he’s a student teacher. Let’s hope he’s a keeper, I’d really like to get to know him.” The last bit came out in my breathy voice I use to sound sexy. “I hope that creep Lowther doesn’t screw things up again.”

My friends had always told me that I have a selective memory. They’re totally right. Bob Lowther started the trouble with the last student teacher. Honestly, she was so stupid. She told us to express ourselves any way we liked. So he did. For Bob, jumping from desk to desk hooting like a chimp expressed exactly how he felt about her dorky ideas, and the rest of us weren’t far behind. Donna and I sat on our desks screeching as loudly as we could. A couple kids at the back lit up cigarettes. Even Dennis Mason was winging paper planes around. You should’ve seen the look on his face when one of them hit the teacher smack-dab between the eyes and she started to cry. He rushed up to her, apologizing like crazy. I was laughing hysterically, as usual. And I couldn’t help giving Elly Kovacs a hard time for about a week afterward for helping Dennis get the stupid cow out of the room.

Miss Grainger showed Mr. McCallum to a chair and turned her attention back to us. “Get out your copies of Julius Caesar and let’s make a start.”

I was trying to check out the student teacher without being too obvious, so I hadn’t even THOUGHT about getting out my book. Donna nudged me in the ribs.

“All right, all right!” I whispered, hardly taking my eyes off him as I fumbled in my backpack.

I kept staring at him, all the while thinking how awesome it would be to actually get to know him

This act continued for about 20 minutes until THE DREADED MOMENT happened.

“Anna, just what is so fascinating at the back of the room?” The class burst out laughing, and Grainger couldn’t resist a small smirk. I glanced to the right, and I could tell Donna was trying not to laugh.

As for me, I just blushed and muttered.

I didn’t turn around again after that, but I wasn’t following the play either. I had a piece of paper half-hidden under my notebook, and I was doing an amazing sketch of McCallum.

“Well, Anna? We’re waiting. We don’t have all day here.”

Everyone silently turned to look at me. I stared Grainger down with this sneer on my face as if I had been interrupted at something seriously important. Honestly, what I was doing WAS seriously important!

“It’s your line, Anna.” Miss Grainger was sounding real snippy. “When you follow the text, it makes it run so much more smoothly for those who are listening.”

I wasn’t paying attention; I kept flouncing around in my seat and flicking the pages like the princess I am.

“Ugh! Someone show the girls where we are, for heaven’s sake.” Grainger rolled her eyes upwards, showing us how stupid she thinks we are. Dennis turned around, showing Donna and I the page and pointing to Portia’s speech.

I finally started reading. My face was bright red, and for the first few words my voice was shaky, but I eventually got it together. I didn’t even know what scene it was exactly, all I knew was that I had to read it. No exceptions.

“There, Anna. See what you can do when you concentrate?”

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When the class was over and Miss Grainger shepherded the student teacher out, I packed up my books and turned on Donna. “What’s the matter with you?” I spat, acting a lot like Sharpay from the High School Musical film series. “You made me look like an idiot back there.”

No comment. For the first time, my best friend had NOTHING to say about this whole scenario. Nothing at all. I was pretty ticked; I mean, my own best friend humiliated me in front of the whole English 10-1 class, AND the student teacher (also known as my crush!).

“He’ll think I’m a real ditz, being told off for turning around and then not following the text! You know, you could’ve just kept track of where we were meant to be. He’ll think we’re just a couple of little airheads.”

After I said all that, I waited a minute. I waited for Donna to say something. Finally, she spoke.

“Come on, Anna, he’s got to think you’re quite something after the way you read.”

That stopped me from continuing my little rant. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you read Portia like you really felt all those things, so you can’t be stupid, right? You must understand the play. And I saw him looking at you while you were reading, like he was impressed.”

I gasped. “Really?”

“Yeah, really, Anna.”

“Come on, let’s get some lunch.” I sauntered out of the room with a huge smile on my face.

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I couldn’t help talking about McCallum for the rest of the day. And on the way home with Donna and some others, I became obsessed.

“Wow! Is he good-looking–but mature, too.”

“Anna, he’s probably only 5 years older than we are,” said Michael, my boyfriend. “The same age as your brother Liam– and you’re always saying what a jerk he is.”

“Yeah, right. He’s nothing like Liam. You can tell this guy’s been around–he’s sophisticated. Very sophisticated.”

“Oh, knock it off, Anna. You’ve never even spoken to him, you’ve only seen him once and suddenly you think you know everything about him.” Michael said. He clearly wasn’t picking up the signals I was giving.

“His suit was one of those fancy designer ones– Boss or maybe even Armani,” Donna tossed in to back me up.

“So what!” Michael was getting steamed himself now. “Anna, that guy doesn’t even know you exist. And even if he does, he’s not going to be interested in a schoolgirl.”

I stopped dead and turned to face my boyfriend, who was going to be my ex-boyfriend really soon if he kept this up. “That’s what you think.” Giving everyone my biggest and brightest smile, I said, “You just wait and see.” My chin was up, daring Michael to  challenge me.

Instead, he hitched up his backpack. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe you’ll be in a better mood. Bye, guys.” Off he went, not looking back even once.

In a typical high-school love story, the girl would’ve run after the guy, But all I did was smile. “I’ll show him.”

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By the time Mr. McCallum started full-time at school, he had a real following. The girls were drooling over him, and the boys thought he was OK because he was involved with the sports programs. I kept dropping hints that I was going to make a play for him, and as expected, everyone believed me. Michael never really talked to me anymore, but he had this closed look on his face.

McCallum’s first lesson was OK, I guess. At least he tried to make things interesting. It was all about how language changes over the years. He started off by getting us to work in pairs, writing down as many slang words as we could think of. Then he assigned us some homework. He asked us to talk to someone older, like our parents or grandparents, and collect a list of the slang they used when they were our age. The idea was that we could see how words had changed, and maybe how some words had stayed the same, but had different meanings now.

I decided this was my moment to get noticed. My friends waited for me when the bell went, but I just  dismissed them with a wave of my hand. I went over to McCallum’s desk while he packed up his stuff.

“Mr. McCallum. does it have to be a parent we ask?” I was smiling full blast.

Without looking up, he replied, “Well, no, anyone older will do.”

“See, I thought I’d ask my great-grandmother. She’s really old, but she’s still all there. I visit her every week in the retirement home, and she tells really interesting stories about when she was a girl. She was a suffragette in England.” To be completely honest, I didn’t like visiting her. Every time, I complained to my friends about how my grandmother had whiskers and slopped her food. But I didn’t even care I was lying. The whole time, I was thinking, please notice me, McCallum. PLEASE!

“That may be a bit too far back, you know. The other kids might find it difficult to relate it to their own experiences and their own lives.”

I didn’t miss a beat this time. “Exactly. That’s why I thought if I interviewed her daughter–my gran–and my own mother, then maybe I could sort of map THEIR experiences, showing how circumstances affected the way they talked and all that.” Oh yeah, I TOTALLY got him this time! “It would take a long time, but it could be really interesting, trust me!”

Closing his briefcase, McCallum looked at me for the first time (or, what felt like the first time). “You’re…?”

“Anna. Anna Murphy.” I glowed positively. Got him this time and there’s no turning back now. I am so freaking awesome!

“Well, Anna, if everyone’s as enthusiastic as you are, the next month is going to be fun.” He smiled in my direction and swept out of the room.

“OH MY GOSH!” I screamed. “Donna, you were right! He really likes me! He was really keen on my idea about the homework, and he even made a point of asking my name! This is going to easier than I thought. You should have seen the way he looked at me. I swear, he looked me in the eyes… and if he hadn’t had to leave so quickly, I think he almost told me that he loved me!” (A/N: Yes, that was a subtle reference to the Jonas Brothers song, “When You Look Me In The Eyes.” I was a huge fan of them at the time I wrote this story. LOL!)

As we passed the glass trophy case, I stopped and checked out my reflection.

My attempts didn’t stop there. Every time I saw McCallum, I gushed away. He always made time to talk to me about some assignment or my slang-in-the-family project. And I had actually done the thing, just like I promised. I was kind of… sucking up, to the teacher, to get him to notice me. Once I’d even spun him this line about how English was my favorite subject (it wasn’t; my favorite subject is actually drama) and how I wanted to be an English teacher. He actually believed me, and he started talking about how he’d decided on English because he wanted to share his love of literature with kids (KIDS?! We’re teenagers, for crying out loud!).

To add to the excitement, there was a big dance coming up! The big news, was that McCallum was going to be there. He’d told some guys on the football team that student teachers were encouraged to get involved in the school’s extracurricular activities. So, he and the nerdy science type were going to help the regular teachers chaperone the event.

“This is my chance, Donna. I know he really likes me but I’ve got to show him I’m not a kid. We aren’t kids, after all; we’re teenagers.”

“He knows that already, doesn’t he? I mean, the way you say he talks to you when you’re alone. You said he just couldn’t act on how he felt, that’s all.”

“Yeah, well, that’s true, but I really want to show how different I am from those girls who have crushes on him.”

I saw McCallum walking towards a red sports car, and went on this spiel about how he was assigned to the school because he was Warren Pelletier’s nephew. Apart from my dad, Pelletier is about the richest man in town. Anyways, Donna didn’t believe me.

When there was no reply, I changed the subject. “So, I’m going to Lexington this Saturday to look for a dress. You want to come?”

“Nah, I’ve got one already. What are you looking for?”

“Just you wait and see.” I smiled knowingly and headed off.

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On the night of the dance, I decided I wasn’t showing anyone my dress until the last minute, when we actually got there. Not even Michael. Donna and Doug were going to the dance with us, so we drove by to pick them both up. He didn’t ring the doorbell, just honked from the driveway.

When Donna and Doug got into the back seat, I turned around. “Hey guys. All set?”

“Put your seat belt on, Anna.” Michael’s voice was tight. He was sitting up real straight, glaring out the windshield.

“Alright, give me a break!” Instead of doing what Michael asked me to do, I stayed twisted, facing the couple. “He’s such a grouch tonight.” A giggle managed to escape, choked off as Michael slammed the car into reverse and backed out onto the the street. I was thrown off balance, then finally turned around and sat facing the front, my seat belt still hanging loose.

The gym was already packed by the time we got there. They’d tried to decorate it with clusters of balloons and paper streamers, but it still looked like a hole. Donna and I went to the cloakroom to take off our coats.

I slowly took off my jacket, revealing the dress. It was a deep crimson jersey number that clung to every line and curve of my body. It had an off-the-shoulder neckline, and nothing was keeping it up, which was the whole point.

“Anna!”

I spun around to give my BFF the full effect. It was extremely tight, so tight that I couldn’t have been wearing any underwear (don’t worry, I was wearing underwear). “Michael doesn’t like it,” I remarked smugly.

“It’s… different. What did your parents say?”

“They didn’t even notice it. My mom just made a crack about borrowing it for the Lions Club dance.”

No comment. I decided to ask the question of the night. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

Donna just shrugged and said, “Hey, what guy wouldn’t?”

I kind of glided through the crowd, acknowledging them with smiles and waves, like I was royalty.

Michael and Doug had bagged one of the tables arranged around the walls of the gym. When he saw me, Doug went bright red and didn’t say anything, which was super awkward since Michael was sitting there stone-faced and silent. Donna and I kept badmouthing everyone around us, why they shouldn’t have worn what they did, how badly they’d done their hair–you know, the usual. We didn’t really mean anything by it. Besides, I was a little bit distracted. I kept glancing around, trying to spot McCallum in the crowd.

“How about dancing?” I stood up and looked at Michael.

He didn’t move his eyes in my direction, just shook his head.

Doug spoke up. “I’ll dance with you, Anna.”

I noticed that he completely ignored Donna, and stepped on her foot stumbling out onto the dance floor. We danced for a few minutes, before I spotted McCallum in the crowd.

“Wow, does he ever look good!” I exclaimed. “I’m going over there to talk to him, guys. Is that OK?”

Without waiting for a response, I made my way to where he was standing, leaving Doug by himself. Nor surprisingly, a whole group of girls were clustered around McCallum. I grabbed his hand and started pulling him onto the floor. He glanced back at Miss Grainger, who just shrugged.

My brother, Liam, was playing a fast number. I looked up at him, and suddenly the CD stuck. With hardly a pause, Liam had his second player going. His voice came on over the loudspeaker. “Sorry about that, everyone. But never fear, Liam’s here. Let’s slow the tempo down a bit, get into a romantic mood.” He reached for a switch and dimmed the lights. Just like that, Taylor Swift’s song, “Today Was a Fairytale” started playing. It was the perfect chance for me to make a move.

In the gloom, I threw my hands around McCallum’s neck and pressed up against him. His back was rigid and his hands on my waist seemed less holding me than trying to push me away. Even in the dark, we were the centre of attention.

“That’s it, I’m out of here.” I saw Michael stalk off the dance floor.

When the song ended and the lights came back up, I still had hold of McCallum’s hand and he looked real uncomfortable. The dance floor was clearing, and I heard a couple of snickers as McCallum finally pulled his hand free. He muttered something and headed back to Miss Grainger.

For a few seconds, I just awkwardly stood there, unsure of what to do. Then I lit up a smile and kept it burning all the way back to the table.

“He’s the smoothest dancer. Did you see us?” I watched closely for Donna’s reaction to my next statement. “It’s real hard for Iain. He has to play things so carefully until his teaching practice is over. That’s why he couldn’t dance with me again.” I smiled again. Prior to the dance, I had found out McCallum’s first name from my father.

“Yeah, you looked great together,” she replied.

“Hey, where are the boys?” I asked, suddenly realizing that Donna was the only one at the table.

“Michael left, and Doug’s gone to look for him.”

“Oh my gosh! He can be SO IMMATURE at times! I mean, how are we going to get home?” I exclaimed, before storming out of the gym.

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On Monday, I came to school wearing black jeans and boots and a white shirt with a black suede vest over it. My hair tumbled around my face in the usual way you know it takes hours to get right. Over the weekend, I had planned my look. This was McCallum’s last week at school and I wanted everything to be perfect!

Strangely, McCallum ignored me for the whole period. When the class was over, I went into my usual routine of packing my things slowly. I was so intent on approaching Iain that I didn’t even notice Miss Grainger coming up behind me.

“Was there something you wanted, Anna?” Grainger had to move back to avoid getting stepped on, because I literally jumped in surprise when she spoke.

“Er, I wasn’t really clear about the assignment, that’s all.” I stuttered. “And I, uh, just wanted Mr. McCallum to go over it with me.”

Putting her hand on the small of my back, Grainger guided me toward the door. “Ask one of the others. I’m sure they’ll have it written down.

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For the rest of the week, McCallum continued ignoring me. Every time he saw me, he just hurriedly rushed away. I guess dancing with him had kind of shocked him. So on Friday, I tried again, for the last time.

I wrote him this really romantic letter, asking him to meet me at the coffee shop on Saturday at 11 am. When he saw it, he made a face and crumpled it up.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. McCallum never showed up, and I just sat there drinking the coffee I hated, and trying not to cry. Even worse, I got a text from Michael saying, “We’re through.

I laid my head down on the table and cried. I cried over not one, but two relationships I had lost in one day.

What “Confident” really means.

I was inspired to write this post after seeing the cover artwork for Demi Lovato’s new album, Confident, which will be released sometime in October. I’ve been a fan of Demi for a long time, and I have all four of her previous albums. In my opinion, her new single, “Cool For The Summer“, was mediocre… but I decided to give her new album a chance. After all, there’s bound to be some inspirational messages about confidence, I thought.

And then I saw the cover artwork.

Cover artwork for Demi Lovato’s new album, Confident. The album has a confirmed release date of October 16th.

I read the lyrics for the title track, “Confident“, prior to writing this post. If the song is about feeling confident in who you are… can someone please tell me why in the world there’s so much Photoshop in the picture?

In today’s society, we are often influenced by the media. Models in magazines (and other mass media) are often Photoshopped– to the point where they don’t even look like themselves. Although I’ve noticed this trend in all forms of media, it appears to be especially prominent in magazines that are targeted towards girls and women (such as Seventeen Magazine). These forms of media often remove the models/cover girls’ imperfections, making them look absolutely flawless.

The problem with this? Young girls might see these pictures and immediately think, this is how I have to look in order to fit in. They’ll start thinking that they’re not beautiful the way they are… and, in most cases, they will resort to extremes just to change their appearance and achieve that unrealistic goal of perfection. Issues like eating disorders have become a rising trend over the years– it’s really sad, if you think about it, that the media has put pressure on young people, for them to look a certain way in order to fit in.

Even celebrities have that constant pressure to look like the perfect Hollywood star. For example, Demi went through self-esteem issues when she was a teen, to the point where she pulled out of the Jonas Brothers’ 2010 World Tour to seek help. Since then, she’s been an advocate for self-acceptance, and an inspiration to many people around the world. It makes me wonder why the cover for her new album is edited to this extent. A little bit of Photoshop is alright, but this just seems like too much, in my opinion.

I’d also like to point out the revealing outfit Demi is wearing in the photo. In regards to the topic of this editorial (confidence): if she feels confident wearing an outfit like this for a photo-shoot, that’s all that matters… however, I wouldn’t want young girls to see this picture and think they have to dress this way in order to be beautiful. A word of advice (from first-hand experience): Confidence isn’t all about wearing see-through clothing or mini-skirts… it’s about wearing what makes you happy; what makes YOU feel beautiful.

Girls (and guys… really, anyone who’s reading this), I want you to remember one thing: the models on the covers of those fashion magazines/album covers/other forms of media, probably don’t look like that in real life. In most cases, the photos have been drastically edited. Everyone has imperfections (even models), and those imperfections are what makes you special. God created you in His perfect image, and He loves you… very much. (Yes, I know I basically quoted VeggieTales there. But it’s true!)

There will be days when you don’t feel like you’re beautiful; when you don’t feel like you’re good enough. You’ll look at those fashion magazines and think, “I wish I looked like *insert celebrity’s name here*.” Well, let me tell you something: celebrities have imperfections, too; the media just edits out those flaws

We, as a society, need to start accepting ourselves for who we are. We need to stop tearing ourselves (and others) down, and start building each other up. If you’re influenced by the media, and you start to tell yourself that you’re not worth it, not pretty enough– any comments like that… eventually, you’ll start to believe those things you’re saying.

Outer beauty doesn’t really matter that much. Your personality is really the only thing that matters. When you meet people, they like you the most because of your personality. I may not know all of you who are reading this editorial today, but let me encourage you by telling you this:

You are smart; you are talented; you have the ability to make a difference, even if it’s just a small impact on someone’s life; you are loved by so many people; and you are perfect the way you are.

Never let anyone tell you any different.

An Interview with Sarah Hamilton of LockerStyler

Over the past few months, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with some amazing bloggers and writers. One of these bloggers is Sarah Hamilton of LockerStyler.

Along with writing on LockerStyler, Sarah is also an incredible author, photographer, filmmaker, and actress! She’s one of my role models in the writing industry, so I was beyond excited when she told me she wanted to do a collaboration with me! We decided to interview each other.

Keep reading to learn how Sarah started writing, who her inspirations are, etc. 🙂

A.M.: What is your site about?

S.H.: is a teen lifestyle site which focuses on DIY’s, celebrity interviews, advice, recipes, school, and all things that teens and young adults can relate to.

A.M.: When did you start blogging?

S.H.: I started Locker Styler four years ago as an incoming freshman into high school. Ever since I was really young, I had always wanted to have my own website and it has become a great creative outlet that I love working on every week.

A.M.: What inspired you to start blogging?

S.H.: When I was really young, I became fascinated with websites on the Internet and wanted to have one of my own. Starting in middle school, I had obsessively loved decorating my locker to the max and decided to start a site dedicated to locker decor. As time moved on, the main theme may have shifted into teen lifestyle altogether, but I am so glad that I still got that start to make it what it is.

A.M.: What has been your favorite post so far?

S.H.: How can I just choose one!?!? Well, my favorite themed posts would have to be interviews with really cool professional actors, authors, etc and travel journal posts from trips. Both are really fun to put together and I look forward to making them both happen.

A.M.: Who inspires you?

S.H.: I am so inspired by so many people! From family, to friends and so many others, I find that I get inspired very often from many different people.

A.M.: In several years, what do you see yourself doing?

S.H.: In several years, I hope to still be blogging, writing books, and making films. (Hopefully, even starring in some as well!) But overall, I just hope that whatever I am up to, I will be happy and successful while still being surrounded by the wonderful people in my life.

A.M.: What kind of posts do you love the most?

S.H.: As stated before, I really love interviews. Being able to connect to others through the Internet is so wild and I love it so much. Everybody who I interview, I love what they do so it’s amazing to connect with others for a common purpose.

A.M.: What blogs do you follow?

S.H.: I have a tendancy to follow a lot of blogs but my go-to right now is Ashley Tisdale’s …it literally has everything!

A.M.: What would you say to inspiring bloggers?

S.H.: I would say, keep writing, photographing, and making those dreams (and posts) happen! Blogging is really fun and it puts a whole new perspective on life but it’s a really great way to create something and share it with others. Make the most out of it! 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Sarah! It was really fun interviewing you!

(My answers to the interview questions are here: http://www.lockerstyler.com/an-interview-with-anna-marie-teen-blogger/)

 

Back-To-School / Fall 2015 Haul

Most teenage girls these days would post haul videos on YouTube, but– as I mentioned in my first blog– I’m not really much of a YouTuber. I tried it, but posting such videos on YouTube isn’t really my style. So I’m just going to share my “back-to-school haul” in a blog post, because that’s how I roll 🙂

I went to four different clothing stores to buy my BTS clothes: Stitches, Ardene, Mark’s, and Aeropostale.


At Stitches, I bought three shirts. The first one is red and white, has 3/4 length sleeves, and is probably my favorite. It says “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger… except cowgirls. Cowgirls will kill you.”  I bought it because I absolutely love the “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” quote… and then I read the last part.IMG_6168

IMG_6170I also bought 2 short-sleeved t-shirts; the first IMG_6169one is grey and says “Today’s good mood is brought to you by COFFEE,” which is kinda true! LOL! 🙂 The other one is black-and-white striped and says “Embrace messy hair” in a fancy script font.


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About 2 weeks ago, I went to Ardene… and surprisingly, I only bought one thing. A white, short-sleeved t-shirt that says “HUG ME“. Also, it has 4-leaf-clovers… and Olaf. 🙂 It’s more of a St. Patrick’s Day shirt, so I probably won’t wear it often. But it’s really comfortable, so it will work for a pajama top.
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Some of my favorite fall clothing pieces were found at Mark’s. For a while, I’ve had my eye on this really cute purple fall jacket. It’s big enough that I can wear lots of layers underneath, and, oh my goodness, it’s so soft inside. I love it!
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I also bought these really cute, black, high-heeled booties. I wore them for the first time on Wednesday (when I went to the city to finish my back-to-school shopping), and I must admit, walking in them was a challenge, haha! But I got used to walking in high heels after a while. 🙂
TIMG_6164o finish my back-to-school shopping, I went to one of my favorite clothing stores, Aeropostale. Oh my goodness, I found some of the cutest clothes and accessories there!

IMG_6162IMG_6163Aero has these cool new jeggings; they’re called “Seriously Stretchy Jeans.” I think these jeans are my new favorite clothing pieces. Oh my gosh, they’re so comfortable! I bought 3 different pairs: teal (yes, teal-colored jeggings are a thing 🙂 ), grey, and dark blue distressed.

IMG_6165IMG_6167I also bought three camis, with 3 different patterns on them. One is grey, with lace on the front. Then there’s a bright pink one which has the same pattern– it will be nice to add a pop of color to my fall outfits this year. And finally, I bought an off-white cami with a black/grey (I’m not sure exactly which color) star pattern throughout.IMG_6166IMG_6159

I bought a pink hoodie with lace on the sleeves. The material is very light, so it will be perfect for the autumn days that aren’t too cold (Then again, I could always wear my fall jacket from Mark’s over-top of my outfit if it’s fairly cold or raining 🙂 ). Looking ahead to the fall and winter months, I bought a red waffle-henley shirt. It’s hard to describe, so I’m including the link to the product on Aero’s website. IMG_6161

IMG_6173Now, for the accessories! The accessories were probably my favorite part of the whole shopping trip. I bought this really cute floral tassel scarf that will add the perfect boho touch to any outfit!

IMG_6174Even though I had been eyeing the Aeropostale backpacks for the longest time, I had already decided on a backpack for school before going to the city. The Aero backpacks were cute, but most of them were too small. However, when I got to the store and was looking at the new Bethany Mota collection, my mom surprised me with a new backpack. I was so happy… but then I started to think, It won’t be the right size for all my school books. I ended up being totally wrong about that– the bag is huge; just the right size for all my books. (My mom talked to one of the employees at Aero, who said that Grade 11 has the lightest work-load out of all the grades. So maybe I won’t get too much homework after all! 🙂 )

IMG_6175Oh my gosh, I think I found my new favorite backpack! It’s quilted faux-leather, has two extra side-pockets and a front pocket– AND has magnetic closure! Plus, it matches my black leather jacket that I bought from Aero last year!

Those are all the clothes and accessories I bought for back-to-school this year. I have a feeling this school year is going to be so awesome!

A few of my favorite things

I can’t believe we’re halfway through the month of August already! Fall is almost here… and then, before we know it, winter and CHRISTMAS will arrive!! I’m so excited about the next few months!

So I thought I’d write this post to share some of the things I’m loving this fall (even though it’s only August 18th. In my mind, Fall has started already)

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powder

Makeup: One of my favorite pressed powders for the fall is MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powder (in the lightest shade, NC15). This powder is amazing, and I always find myself returning to it every fall.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil (in the shade Perversion)

For the past few months, I have been alternating between two eyeliners: MAC Eye Kohl (in the shade Costa Riche) and Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil (in the shade Perversion). Both of these eyeliners are really good quality, but I like wearing the MAC eyeliner if I want a more natural makeup look.

MAC Extended Play Lash mascara

The MAC Extended Play Lash mascara is my favorite mascara for the fall and winter seasons.

EOS Sweet Mint lip balm

My favorite lip balm is probably EOS. They have so many awesome flavors/scents, and they come in the cutest packaging! The Sweet Mint flavor (light blue packaging) is my go-to lip balm for this season.

Maybelline BabyLips Dr. Rescue lip balm (in Just Peachy)

If I want to add some color to my lips, my Top 3 favorite products are: Maybelline BabyLips Dr. Rescue Lip Balm (in Just Peachy), CoverGirl LipPerfection Jumbo Gloss Balm (in the shade Scarlet Twist), and L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Last Lipcolor (in the shade Red Infallible).

Nail Polish:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in the shade “Game of Chromes”

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is amazing.I saw an advertisement for this polish in a magazine, and I wanted to buy it. It’s been about 4 days, and my nails haven’t chipped once– while with normal nail polish, it would already be chipped. My favorite shades are Game of Chromes (gold), Tidal Wave (deep blue), and Style Maker (dark green).

TV Shows:

One show I’ve always loved, is The Voice. The singers are all extremely talented, the judges actually seem excited to work with the contestants, and the competition is fun. And while all the other music competition shows have been canceled (or, in the case of American Idol, are ending soon), The Voice still remains.

Finding Carter, the only MTV show I really like, is still going strong. Season 3 is expected to premiere in October, and I seriously can’t wait!

I had never watched Kingdom before, but I saw the extended trailer for the show when it premiered last year. It looked kinda violent, so I wasn’t really interested. A few months later, I decided to write a review for the series– and with that, I saw a preview of the first episode when it was released on iTunes. Wow. Even though there’s lots of swearing and mature content, the series is extremely well-written, effectively acted, and even inspirational in a way. Season 2 is premiering on October 14th, and is returning for another season next fall.

Movies:

Do You Believe?
This movie is one of the best. I knew it would be amazing, because it’s from the creators of God’s Not Dead– another outstanding movie! I bought it on DVD the day it was released, and it totally lived up to my expectations! If you’re looking for an incredible Christian movie, I encourage you to watch Do You Believe and see what millions of people are talking about.  🙂

 Books:

I received Demi Lovato’s book, Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year, for Christmas in 2013, and have finally started reading it. It’s sort of like a devotional in a way, but it resonates with people of all beliefs.

The story behind Fighter is so inspirational. Canadian hip-hop artist Chris Greenwood (aka Manafest) wrote this book about his childhood and life before he became famous. I had the chance to meet Manafest at a Christian youth conference earlier this year, and I absolutely love his story about how he overcame all the challenges he went through. When I was finished my final exams and had nothing to do during the last few days of class last year, I brought the book to school and read it so many times. It’s seriously so good and I would recommend it for everyone!

Music:

“Here” by Alessia Cara
“Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)” by Macklemore featuring Ed Sheeran

I recently heard two new songs that I love; Here by Alessia Cara and Growing Up (Sloane’s Song) by Macklemore featuring Ed Sheeran. Both of these songs have incredible lyrics that were written from the heart about true experiences.

Unbreakable Smile by Tori Kelly

Speaking of artists who write songs about true experiences, Tori Kelly is another favorite artist I discovered recently. I saw her performance at the Billboard Music Awards in May… and immediately bought her album when it was released. While I love all the songs on Unbreakable Smile, one of my favorites is Dear No One. It describes my thoughts about relationships perfectly, in a way that no song has ever done before! I also like the live, acoustic version of Funny, that’s included on her debut album. Dang, that girl is talented!

“Low” by Kelly Clarkson

I’ve also been listening to a lot of music by Kelly Clarkson, because I’m seeing her in concert on October 14th. As much as I love her new Piece By Piece album, I really like her older music (i.e. her first two albums)… one song that stands out to me is Low, the second single from her debut album.

Other random songs I like at the moment are Levels” by Nick Jonas and Anywhere But Here by Christina Aguilera.

Apps:

Instagram

Pinterest (especially since I’m looking for Fall hair/makeup/fashion ideas!)

Food:

OMG Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Caramel Frappucino from Starbucks

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Especially now that it’s being made with real pumpkin. That makes the PSL somewhat healthier, right?

OMG Pumpkin Pie cupcakes. These cupcakes are INCREDIBLE. They taste exactly like pumpkin pie.

Clothing/Accessories:

Tokyo Darling by Aeropostale, red skinny jeans
Black high-heeled booties

Now that it’s fall, it’s all about sweaters, cardigans and booties! One of my favorite fall outfits is a nice cami with a long cardigan (or oversized sweater), some skinny jeans (or jeggings) and booties! I also like wearing graphic tees. To accessorize my outfit, I often wear a cute infinity scarf or a beanie.

Misc.:

My favorite fall scent is Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin from Bath & Body Works, which they just released again for the year! They announced it on Twitter this morning!

FINDING NEVERLAND (aka the best Broadway Musical ever!). It’s so inspiring.