The cutest video you'll ever see.

This is a video about a dog who has been trained to control the volume of his bark. It also happens to be the cutest video you'll ever see.


Wish List Wednesday!

Here are some the lovelies I've been lusting after this week...

I've become a recent Bobbi Brown fan, after learning about their most excellent concealers. This makeup palette, with its mix of gorgeous eye shadows and glittering lip glosses, has been calling my name. (Pretty loudly, too.)

 I am suddenly a fan of bib necklaces. Especially this one -- isn't it perfect for spring? Never mind that they may not be in style any more. Never mind that they're a bit faddish. *in my best Veruca Salt imitation* "I want it now!"

I never got around to seeing this film in the theaters, but I can't wait until it is released in stores -- I'm dying to see it, and Darcy -- I mean -- Colin Firth. ;)

I have been craving cupcakes from this store in Coral Gables called Buttercream. They make the most delicious cupcakes -- especially their red velvet flavor. Yummmm. Hm, I may have to pass by sometime soon...

What's on your wish list this Wednesday?


Giveaway!!! {Amazon $25 gift certificate}

***This contest is now closed -- please read comment #56. The deadline was April 5th, and a winner was selected on this date. For more information, please visit this post:***

I haven't done one of these in a while, so I figured it was time. And what better time to have a giveaway than now, when my blog's Facebook page has finally reached 100 "likes." Yay! Thank you to all of my readers for getting me there. :-)

This giveaway is extra special, because it's for one of my most favorite online stores: Amazon! The winner of this giveaway will get a $25 certificate, good for any purchase.

Here are the rules for my giveaway:

1.) Leave a comment telling me how you'd like to spend your certificate if you win. Don't forget to include your email address!
(1st entry -- mandatory!)

2.) Leave another comment if you are a follower of this blog. 
(2nd entry -- bonus entry!)

3.) Leave another comment if you tweet about this giveaway. Don't forget to "mention" me in your tweet -- my username is @AnnieCristina
(3rd entry -- bonus entry!)
4.) Leave another comment if you blog about this giveaway. Don't forget to include the link!
(4th entry -- bonus entry!)
5.) Leave another comment if you "like" my blog's Facebook page.
(5th entry -- bonus entry!)

Please remember that multiple entries means multiple comments! I will randomly select a winner next Tuesday, April 5th at 5:00 PM (EST). Good luck! :-)


Beauty Ritual: Makeup

This is probably my favorite Beauty Ritual post to write yet. I love makeup. I can't pass by a makeup counter anywhere without first taking a peek, and I can't leave the house without wearing at least a smidgen of makeup, even if I'm running late. (And if worse comes to worse, I'll even apply it in the car!) I'm forever trying new products and mixing and matching my tried and true favorites, and I've been doing it as long as I can remember.

Here are some of my very favorite makeup items. Any one of these products by itself is excellent, but when they are all combined, you get the perfect recipe for a camera-ready face.

Beauty Ritual: Makeup

1. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer To Go 0.5 oz Original                                                
After washing and moisturizing my face, I always like to apply this primer prior to putting on my makeup. It allows my makeup to glide on perfectly and stay on for hours. This is a must for special occasions.
I recently discovered this product thanks to Birchbox's blog, and now I don't go a day without it. I apply it  around my eyes right before adding concealer. It brightens up my entire eye area and beautifully camouflages under eye circles.

3. Benefit Cosmetics Confessions of a Concealaholic                                                                          
This is the best set of concealers I've found out there. It contains four types of concealer: one for under your eye, one for your eyelid and brow bone, and two more for your face (for zits and such), plus two brighteners: one for your eyes and one for your face. It also contains two useful little dual-sided brushes for easy, portable use. Best of all, its price tag won't break the bank -- at under $40, it's a steal.
I use this "play stick" mostly on especially stubborn zits that refused to be properly concealed. I love this product so much, I keep one in my makeup bag and one in my purse.
When my erstwhile clear face started breaking out a few years ago, I took to wearing liquid foundation on a daily basis. I was so desperate to cover up the acne that I didn't stop to think about the fact that this was only exacerbating the problem. Then I discovered bareMinerals. This powder foundation has been my saving grace. It provides even coverage that lasts, plus it doesn't clog my pores. I wear the matte foundation to keep my face shine-free, plus it just seems to last longer on my face than the original version.
Yep, it's yet another Benefit product. (Can you tell I love this brand?) This is my go-to blush. I apply it on the apples of my cheeks right after applying my powder foundation. It gives me that healthy just-got-back-from-a-run glow, even if I just rolled out of bed. 
I was lucky enough to pick this palette up last summer right before it became a cult classic and started selling out everywhere. And I'm still happy with it today, almost one year later. I use the lighter shades for day use, and the darker, smokier ones for nighttime. The shadows glide on like a dream, and the primer that comes with the palette helps them stay on all night. It also brings a dual-sided eyeliner in brown and black.
I am very, very picky with mascara. Most of them wind up running after just a few hours, making me look like a raccoon. Even the so-called "waterproof" versions don't work for me. This mascara is the best one I've found to date. It goes on smoothly and doesn't clump, and best of all, it lasts for ages. It won't come off until you want it to, plus it is a snap to remove -- if you run out of makeup remover, don't fret, because this mascara comes off with water alone. (A close runner-up for my favorite mascara is L'Oreal's Telescopic Explosion Waterproof Mascara. It's like a cheaper version of Fiberwig, only without the awesome staying power.)
I am a self-confessed lip gloss addict. I love them in all their shades and varieties, but this one has been my recent staple. The formula is long-lasting without being too sticky, like most other lip glosses (don't you hate when your hair gets stuck on your lip gloss? I know I do!). The "Eden" shade practically goes with every look, though all of their shades are gorgeous.

    What are your favorite makeup products? Let me know in the comments!

    P.S.) I'm thisclose to having 100 "likes" on my blog's Facebook page. When I reach 100, I just might host a giveaway. So make this gal's day -- go and "like" me! :D


    What I'm reading now...

    What I just finished reading...
    I've been a huge Diane Ackerman fan ever since I came across her book A Natural History of the Senses years ago in my college bookstore and decided to pick it up. I usually read more fiction than nonfiction, but Ackerman's books, nonfiction though they may be, are pure page-turners. Every chapter is a delight. Reading her books is like sitting in the best Science class in the world. You learn amazing things about yourself and the world you inhabit. I recently picked up the e-book for Dawn Light, a book all about dawn and the way animals (ourselves included) are affected by the push and pull of the sun and moon. I found myself appreciating dawn more (which is saying something because I'm a notorious night owl), listening for the first trills of birdsong as I started up my coffeemaker and reveling in the first watery rays of sunlight. This is a truly great book, whether you're a morning person or not.

    What I'm reading now...
    This is probably my third or fourth time rereading Jane Eyre -- I got inspired by the recent film adaptation. It's been so long since I read this book, I think over 10 years, so it's been a pleasure sinking back into the story. There is so much I forget, so many little details and nuances that I am appreciating for what feels like the first time. And perhaps I am appreciating these details for the first time -- that's the beauty of reading, the experience changes every time you pick up a book, even if it's the same book, years later. I can't wait to finish it so that I can drag my boyf to see the film. ;)

    What I want to read next...
    My faculty book club selected this to be our next book. I kept hearing about this book a few years back, but never got the chance to pick it up. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    What are you reading now?


    Update: In which I discuss my see-saw week, opera, and hair.

    This week started off on a (really, really, really) bad foot. Monday I went back to school after spring break and received some terrible news regarding a student. This was the same student who came to me just before spring break to tell me she had been abused by a relative. She told me this on the same day Japan was struck by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and let me tell you, receiving that news was like experiencing a little earthquake of my own. I did what teachers in Florida are legally obligated to do -- I reported the abuse. This was on the Friday right before spring break. I left school, had my week off, but thought about that student a lot during that time, hoping she was okay. Then on Monday I learned that my reporting that incident led to some serious consequences in that student's life. Some terrible, terrible consequences.

    I can't help but feel guilty, like I am somehow to blame. But I know in my heart that I did the right thing. I wasn't just legally obligated to report the abuse, I was morally obligated. But still... It breaks my heart all the same.

    I was so affected by this news on Monday, that it literally made me sick to my stomach, so much so, I wound up having to take Tuesday off. I think I just needed a "mental health" day. A little bit of time off. My emotions are hardwired to my stomach, you see. Thank God for Ricky -- he was there for me the whole time, listening to me ramble incoherently, letting me cry on him, and comforting me when it seemed like nothing and no one could ever comfort me again. (Yes, I know I have a flair for the dramatic. Sue me.) I was so depressed this week, I even considered looking for another job. And I freaking love my job. But Ricky talked me down from the ledge, and going back to work on Wednesday and teaching again got me back on my feet. It reminded me how much I love my job and encouraged me to stick it out.

    But I sincerely hope nothing like that ever happens again. Of course I want my students to know I am there for them, no matter what. But if I must be honest, a small part of me wishes that student had chosen to tell someone else, preferably a family member. As if that would somehow change the end result -- who knows, maybe it wouldn't have. But still... I think I will always wonder. It makes me think of that quote: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." *sigh*

    So that was the beginning of my see-saw week. I'm happy to report the remainder of my week was much, much, much better. My students were sweet and pretty well behaved (for 9th graders). Ricky surprised me with tickets to the opera -- we're seeing Mozart's Don Giovanni next month. To get us inspired, we've been watching some of Mozart's operas on YouTube. And to my very great surprise, I've discovered I adore opera. Like a lot. I can't wait for April to get here!

    Today so far has been an awesome day. I had a good day with my students, then a coffee date with an old friend, and a salon appointment after work. I had bitten off all of my nails earlier this week, I was so stressed, so I was badly in need of a manicure. I chose a sparkly silver shade for my nails, wanting a little pick-me-up. And then I decided to cut my hair on a whim.

    It had been bugging me lately that my hair didn't have much of a style. It was just kind of long and blah and boring. So I decided to cut more layers in the front and go for some side bangs. And I loooooved the end result. I finally have an actual hairstyle! I also colored it a slightly darker shade of brown -- I wasn't much digging the reddish brown I had. Here is the end result:

    Ricky and I don't have much plans for this weekend, just a lot of rest and relaxation. Just the way I like it. :-) What are your plans for this weekend? Whatever you do, I hope you have an amazing time!


    "Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow." - Elizabeth Taylor

    Ask most people what they know about Elizabeth Taylor and they might say she's the only person they know who had violet eyes. And it's true. She really did have violet eyes.

    She was also incredibly beautiful. So beautiful, she was chosen to play Cleopatra. And she would star in many, many other films that showcased her talent as well as her beauty.

    Something else most people seem to know about Elizabeth Taylor? That she was married. And not just once, or twice, or even three times, but eight times. (Granted, two of of those times were to the same man, Richard Burton. But still... eight times.) It's sad to say this is what I most often would hear about Elizabeth Taylor, whenever I heard about her at all.

    But something you don't hear a lot -- enough, really -- about Elizabeth Taylor is that she wasn't just incredibly beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well. So beautiful, she stubbornly stood by the side of her friend when very few others would.

    She was so beautiful, that she donated much of her time and efforts to causes she believed in, like AIDS awareness. As Elizabeth Taylor herself once wrote: "Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow."

    And if that's not beautiful, then I don't know what is.

    Elizabeth Taylor
    (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011)

    [Photos via/Quote via]


    Beauty Ritual: Face

    When I was in high school and college, I was often complimented for my "porcelain doll" complexion. I rarely got breakouts (usually just during that "time of the month") and my only complaint was that it took me forever to tan -- first I had to burn, and then I would only get that perfect golden goddess glow after the lobster red shell peeled off.

    Then I hit 30 and all of a sudden I had acne. Me, the so-called "porcelain doll," with acne?! Well, I was fit to be tied. My old standby, Noxzema, wasn't helping, and I was desperate to find a way to clear my skin.

    Three years later, I have finally found the perfect cocktail of products for my face. Some of them are tried and true items, while others are recent finds. I recommend them all very highly.
    I've become a huge fan of Philosophy's products, particularly this face wash. It's gentle enough not to irritate my skin, but strong enough to get rid of dirt and makeup. (Why do I suddenly feel as if I've stepped into a deodorant commercial?)

    2. Pangea Organics Nigerian Ginger, Sweet Lavender & Thyme Facial Cream
    This is the best moisturizer I've tried for my face. It provides just enough moisture for my combination skin and allows my makeup to glide on seamlessly. 

    3. Pangea Organics Italian Red mandarin with Rose Lipcare 0.25 oz
    ChapStick should be afraid of this lip moisturizer. Very afraid. 

    4. Philosophy Hope In A Tube Eye & Lip Cream 0.5 oz 
    Another great product from Philosophy -- I mostly use it around my eyes to ward off wrinkles and puffiness. Because a little preventive care is necessary for us gals, especially if you're in your 30s like me (sob). 

    5. Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage
    Speaking of puffiness, this product is the best cure for puffy eyes. Whether your eyes are puffy due to lack of sleep, allergies, or a random sobfest after watcing that Hallmarks commercial again, this will get you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again. (Okay, maybe not so much bushy-tailed. Because that would be weird.) 

    6. SAMPAR Prodigal Pen
    When "that time of the month" hits and I'm sporting a zit (or five), this helps zap them. I swear since I started using this product, my zits are starting to heal faster. I've even used it on the boyf (much to his bemusement). 

    7. Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System 
    I kept reading rave reviews of this product, both in magazines and on websites like Sephora. I decided to bite the bullet in January, thinking I could always return it if it didn't work for me (Sephora has a ridiculously awesome return-policy). It's now been two months since I started using my Mia on a daily basis and my skin has improved drastically. I am getting fewer and fewer breakouts and my skin feels tighter, healthier. I use this every night in the shower with the Purity face wash. I recommend getting the Mia Cleansing System because it's a.) cheaper and b.) more portable than the original Clarisonic, which makes it especially great for trips.

    What products do you use on your face? Let me know in the comments!


    Things making me happy right now

    Harry Potter Marathon Weekend on ABC Family? With brand new scenes from "The Deathly Hallows, Part 2"? Yes, please.

    There are few nicer things than getting packages in the mail. Especially when they are filled with lovely trinkets from Sephora.

    Thank you, Daylight Saving, for giving me longer days. I'm enjoying the extended sunshine veddy, veddy much.

    The movie marathon Ricky and I had this week. We saw a ton of movies, everything from "Amadeus" to "Mary Poppins" to "Singing in the Rain." (Thank God my boyfriend likes musicals and is straight! ;-D)  Good times.

    The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair is in town! I can taste the elephant ears already.

    Spring is almost here! And so is my summer vacation! YAYAYAYAY!

    What's making you happy right now?


    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    I'm off to put on something green and blast U2 and drink Guinness. (Or something.)

    Just as a quick FYI, I will not be blogging tomorrow out of respect to the Bloggers Day of Silence for Japan. For more information and to donate/participate, click here.


    Wish List Wednesday!

    Here are the lovelies I'm lusting after this week...

    Yes, I already own FOUR PAIRS. But hey, it's for a good cause -- for every pair you buy, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. And just think how cute these shoes would look with a little summer dress...

    I've always had huge under eye circles. I inherited them from my mom's side of the family. (Thanks, mom!) So I am always hunting after the perfect concealer, the perfect cover-up to hide my unsightly circles. Recently, I discovered this eye cream. The price tag ($165.00) is a wee bit steep for my modest teacher's salary, but I'm considering taking the plunge. This eye cream is reputed to help disguise under eye circles for good. That sounds like heaven in a bottle to me!

    I love how old fashioned and romantic this bangle looks.

     I've been looking for a new camera and I really like this model. It has neat features like Miniature Effect and Fisheye Effect, plus I really like its sleek design.

    What's on your wish list this Wednesday?


    Beauty Ritual: Hair

    "Hair is the richest ornament of women." - Martin Luther

    I may not agree with Martin Luther on a lot of things, but he was right about women's hair -- it is our richest ornament. Think about it -- when you're having a good hair day, it's like the heavens have decided to personally bestow upon you a bounty of benedictions (how's that for alliteration?). Good hair days can make even the dullest outfit seem brilliant by comparison. But when you're having a bad hair day... Well, it doesn't bear mentioning.

    I have fine, do-nothing hair that frizzes easily. It was straight, once upon a time, but puberty wreaked havoc on my once pin-straight tresses and now I have to resort to my blow dryer and iron to tame my unruly waves. My hair is currently recovering from a few bouts of keratin straightening treatments, along with the usual damage caused by hair dye, so I try my best to baby it -- allowing it to air-dry at least once every two weeks, and regularly using a deep conditioning treatment. In addition to this, I have an arsenal of hair products that help keep my hair looking healthy and lustrous. I love trying out new hair products, but I have five that are my standard go-to items.

    Here are my top five hair products that help turn my bad hair days into good ones. Because even beauty goddesses need a little extra help every now and then!

    1. Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray 1.4 oz 
    My #1 favorite hair product is this dry shampoo. Why? Because, to be quite honest, I am lazy and do not enjoy having to wash and blow dry my hair (which can be very oily) every other day. This little baby keeps the oiliness at bay and allows me to extend my blow-out by one and sometimes even two extra days. It's also great at adding volume, too.

    2. Solano Supersolano 232K 1875 Watt Ceramic Tourmaline Hair Dryer

    I've been through my fair share of blow dryers, everything from high-end $200+ models to your cheapie drugstore brands. This is one of the best ones I've tried. It has effectively cut my blow dry time in half, from 1 hour to just 30 minutes, and it is both lightweight and sturdy.

    3. Phyto Phytopolleine Universal Elixer - Scalp Stimulant
    I use this about 2-3 times a month to help keep my scalp healthy and clean. It's also great for stimulating hair growth.

    4. One'n Only Argan Oil Leave-In Treatment
    I apply this to the ends of my hair immediately after blow drying. It keeps my hair frizz-free and smelling great.

    5. metallic lace head wrap |
    I've become a huge fan of headbands. A pretty headband can spruce up even the most boring ponytail and add a pop of color to an otherwise blah outfit. I'm in love with this brand in particular. They make the softest headbands and are quite durable, too.

    What are your top five hair products? Let me know in the comments!


    Take the bitter with the sweet.

    So I'm on spring break (finally). I've got a lot of plans for the week ahead. I want to file my taxes, maybe schedule a doctor's visit, and clean out my closet. But for today, I'm just going to relax. I'm feeling a little under the weather, so I've been drinking lots of this:

    And if that picture didn't give you a clue of what I'm currently suffering from, then read this post.

    So yes, I'm feeling less than stellar at the moment, but at least it's Saturday, and at least I get to spend it with my love, curled up in bed with a good book. (It's all about taking the bitter with the sweet.)

    Have you helped Japan yet? Click here to find out what you can do.


    little earthquakes

    Today a massive earthquake struck Japan, resulting in much devastation and loss.

    Today a student came to tell me that she had been molested by her uncle.

    Today I learned that sometimes the little earthquakes can be just as devastating and earth shattering in their own way.

    Today you can do something to help the earthquake victims in Japan -- just text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Visit American Red Cross for more information. And you can also do something today to help victims of child abuse -- just call 1-800-4-A-CHILD. Visit Child Help for more information.


    Things making me happy right now

    getting the random impulse to buy sunflowers from a street vendor (for $5 -- steal!)

    receiving surprise packages in the mail from a friend

    jamming to new albums (Adele! R.E.M.! Radiohead! P.J. Harvey!) 

    getting my students to laugh at my (lame) jokes

    having a good hair day even though I didn't do anything special to it

    finally finding a product that helps my face stay clear

    feeling the afternoon sunshine warm my skin

    being hugged for no reason at all by my boyfriend

    looking forward to having all of next week off from work

    What's making you happy right now?


    These are a few of my (current) favorite things...

    soundtrack for "amélie"
    If you've never seen the film "Amélie" before, you really, really should. It's quirky and funny and sweet all at once, and it will make you want to grab your lover and run away to Paris. I promise you it won't disappoint. I feel the same way about the soundtrack -- it's the perfect backdrop to this film, and great to listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon while you are sipping your cafe au lait and staring longingly into your lover's eyes. (Or your cat's. Cats need love, too.) You can preview and purchase the soundtrack here.
    barq's root beer
    I have been broadening my palate in the past few years, eating/drinking things I swore I'd never learn to like, such as beer and sushi and even root beer. Root beer always tasted slightly medicinal to me, like a sweeter version of cough syrup, but lately, I've been appreciating it more. Barq's makes a great version of the fizzy wonder and their diet flavor is surprisingly good. 
    The 2010-2011 school year will forever been known to me as the Year of Innumerable Colds and Flus. I've been a sickness magnet this school year, and it has not been fun getting sick literally every month (and the school year's not even over yet *shudder*). While I was recovering from a particularly nasty bout of flu in January, my aunt suggested I try taking the vitamin Ester-C, which she swore helped her stay healthy during her career as an elementary school teacher (she recently retired after 30 years). So I decided to give it a try. It's now been over a month since I've been taking the vitamin and I have not gotten sick once, despite the fact that several of my students and co-teachers have been sick themselves. I've also felt like I have more energy, plus my nails and hair are looking healthier. Here's hoping it continues to provide health benefits for me (not to mention keep me cold- and flu-free).
    I first heard about NetGalley from Maureen Johnson's Twitter. She tweeted the link to a galley for her soon to be published book, The Last Little Blue Envelope. I pounced on this, as I am a huge Maureen Johnson fan. At the time, I didn't know what NetGalley was. I didn't even know what a galley was. After a few minutes fumbling in the dark and clicking through the website, I discovered that it's a site for educators, librarians, bloggers, and book reviewers to preview uncorrected proofs of unpublished books (galleys) for free. Let me repeat that: for free. The books are only available in digital format, so you can't really take advantage of the site unless you have an ereader (or don't mind reading books on your computer). You can register for free, but in order to read the galleys, you have to request them from the publisher -- which you can do on the site itself. All that the publishers ask is that you write reviews on the galleys -- which you can also do on the site itself. If you're a voracious reader like me and have an ereader, I highly recommend creating an account. Let me know if you have any questions! :)
    I downloaded this app for my iPhone after a friend recommended it to me and promptly forgot about it for months. I recently rediscovered it and have been having a blast snapping pictures and playing with the different filters. You can then post the pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, plus share them with friends. The best part? It's free! If you have an account, feel free to add me -- my user name is anniecristina.
    aLike places
    Another recent favorite app of mine is aLike Places. It's a great app to discover new restaurants, bars, and lounges. I really like that you can filter your search according to your current mood. I happen to be friends with the inventors of this app, the Z Company, and can vouch for their credibility and reliability -- two characteristics their app also shares. Right now the app is only available in the San Francisco Bay area, New York City and metro areas, and the state of Florida, but I've been told more cities will soon be available. You can download this free app for your iPhone or iPod here.

    What are your favorites this month?
    You can check out more of my favorites here.

    {all pictures credit of Google images}