New Year's Eve menu

If I had organized my life (and blog) a little better, I'd have posted a year-end round up or new year's resolution-type post.

Instead, I'm sharing what we're making to gorge ourselves on for New Year's Eve.  My sister and I decided to go with appetizers and chocolate fondue.  Fun finger food.

We're doing edamame, a spinach artichoke dip, smoked salmon dip, stuffed mushrooms, and french bread pizza.

I also made some hot buttered rum batter, which we're serving up with very fancy rum (or the cheap stuff) and hot cider.  The batter is so delicious that I'm dreaming other ways to use it.

Also, we went for healthy.  Obviously.  At this point in the holiday season, I stop worrying about calories all together.

That's a problem for next year. :)

Have fun celebrating and happy new year!!!


Ten on Tuesday, take 6

It's been a whole week again.  Time for Ten on Tuesday.  Feel free to join in or go check out what other people said.

The nice thing about ToT is that it guarantees that I post at least once a week.

1. What was the number one item on your Christmas wishlist?
I really wanted an iPod nano.  I had an iPod already, but I wanted something compact and more conducive to working out.  Now I can just clip it on and go, plus it has a pedometer.

2. Did you get the number one item on your Christmas wishlist?
Yes I did.  It was quite the surprise (SF*).

3. How long has it been since you've had a pedicure?
September, when I was in TN.  I don't really think it's worth it in the winter to get pedicures.  I am wearing boots 90% of the time anyways.

4. How cold is it in your city today?
I think it's supposed to get into the mid 40s.  I'm not sure.  We had a white Thanksgiving, but December has been really mild.  We might get some snow tomorrow though.

5. How many pillows do you sleep with?
I have about 5 on my bed, but I only use 2.

6. Can you roll your tongue?
Yes and I can roll my Rs most of the time.  Also, I can make a shamrock-looking shape with my tongue. I am very talented.

7. Do you always buy the same mascara or do you try new ones each tube?
I have one standard mascara, but I also like to try out new types.  Since I go with drug store mascara, I don't mind spending a few extra bucks here and there to experiment.  I use Maybelline Colossal in glam brown.

8. What's your favorite cookbook?
I use Allrecipes online a lot, but I have a few cookbooks I really love, too.  I'm working on building up my cookbook collection.  I also follow a few food blogs for ideas (and yummy pictures).

9. What was your first pet?
The first pet my family had was a cocker spaniel named Toby Jackson.  He did not live with us long.  My first pet was my black cat named Shadow.  She was a member of the family until the dogs caused her to have a nervous breakdown.

10. Do you wear jewelry on a daily basis?
This year I started wearing a watch regularly.  Otherwise, no jewelry is for sure.  It's not something I really think about.

SF stands for sarcasm font.  My sister and I came up with it to use in texts since you can't actually change font for emphasis.


Tree Hunting

Yes, this happened a week ago, but I wanted to share a few pictures anyways.  Also, I realize that we got our tree less than a week before Christmas.  It happens.

The tree is a lovely Noble Fir and we got it the old-fashioned way--at the u-cut tree farm.  (Side note: I was freezing my butt off and maybe complaining a lot about it.)

 Hiding amid the trees.
 The cute little pond.
The winning tree.
 Our ridiculous method of transporting it.
The beautiful mountain.  At least it was nice out even if it was cold.


Very Merry

Feliz Navidad.
 Mele kalikimaka.
Merry Christmas.

Enjoy your time with family and friends!  I'll be back soon (probably after the weekend) as I have a lot to catch up on.  Mostly pictures.

I had hoped to do a larger post today (actually yesterday, now), but caught up with cookie decorating, time with family, the Christmas Eve service, and hanging with close friends.

And I don't feel guilty at all.  

Have a happy Saturday.


Ten on Tuesday and why I'm a slacker.

My Finnish cousin is still stranded in England.  She finally got out of Heathrow after 3 days and is hoping to get home soon.

The only way she'll be coming to the states is if the first flight she can make is her Christmas Day flight here (and not the two home before that).  We actually got to talk to her a couple nights ago and it was good to hear she was alive and kicking, if a little exhausted.

Now my sister and I are sitting around staring at each other because all the fun things we had planned for her have kind of gone out the window.

I have gotten presents wrapped, helped to chop down and decorate our tree, and taken part in three happy hours in a row.

And if my cousin makes it home (which we're all hoping for her sake), she's planning on coming back for a visit this summer.  Hopefully snow, ice and freezing wind won't be a problem then.

Without further ado, here's my Ten on Tuesday:

1. Do you do any volunteer work?
This year I helped with a 5k benefitting pediatric brain tumor research.  I would love to find other ways to volunteer.  I think it's really important to give back however you can and I need to do a better job.

2. Do you have a night or morning ritual?
Right now, not so much since I haven't really worked in a while.  I almost always read before I got to bed.  In the morning I usually hit snooze at least twice, but I give myself time for that.  I can get ready in 10 minutes if need be.

3. Would you rather exercise or diet? Why?
Exercise, hands down.  There are a couple reasons for that.  First of all, I really love food.  I can't imagine limiting myself to certain things.  I try to eat healthy, but I'm not super anal about diet.  I like things like mac n' cheese, donuts, and cookie dough too much.  It's all about moderation.  Second, I really, really like to exercise, especially weight lifting.  It helps relieve stress, makes me feel better physically and mentally, and always lifts my mood.

4. If you would rather exercise, do you prefer going to a gym or working out at home?
While I would love to work out at home, I don't really have the home gym to do that.  I definitely prefer going to the gym.  I like the variety available at the gym.  Boredom can often stop a regular workout schedule in its tracks for me, so variety is key.  That said, I haven't had a gym membership since the end of October and it's killing me.  That's going to have to change soon.

5. What do you think is a huge waste of time?
The amount of time I spend on the internet, half of the things I purchase that I "need", most of the time I spend worrying.  And that's just a few from my life.

6. What is one way you save time?
By driving really fast.  I mean, appropriately fast.  I only have 1 speeding ticket, but it's not even on my record, so it doesn't really count.  I also like "to do" lists, but I don't know that they save me time.  They just make me feel better.

7. What is your current obsession?
Those big oversized cowls I keep seeing.  I'm trying to knit my own, but may not have the patience for it.  Only time will tell.

8. What is a current obsession you can't wait to pass?
Vampires.  I just don't get it.

9. Are you currently reading a book? If so, what book? Would you recommend it?
I just purchased, but haven't started, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I'll let you know what I think.

10. Since we had the 90s question last week, what are your favorite songs from the 00s?
Oh gosh, how many am I allowed to include?  I don't know if I have the patience or energy to do this question justice.  Maybe I'll do a post about this in the future (although, realistically, I'll probably forget all about it).

So there you go, my ten.  Check out the everyone else's and take part yourself!


Oh, so pretty.

I didn't mention it, but I finally got my camera back last weekend.  And then I didn't take any pictures.  I was just savoring it's presence.


There were, however, some pictures from my drive across the state the last time.  I just have to share a few of them, in two parts, because I live in such a beautiful place.  I see these pictures and can't imagine leaving.

Not that I'm planning on leaving, but you never know what might happen.

I meant to share the pictures sooner, but the week was a little consumed by the GRE (which I think went really well).

In unrelated news and before I share the pictures, my cousin was supposed to be arriving from Finland for the holidays this afternoon.  Instead she's trapped in Heathrow Airport due to snow.  She might get here tomorrow.  Ugh.

She won't want to move for a couple days once she arrives, I'm pretty sure.  Here's hoping and praying she makes it in tomorrow and not later than that.

Now onto the pretty mountain pictures.  And I don't mean east coast mountains.  We do things a little bigger out here in the Wild West.  (Capitalized for emphasis)

Have a happy weekend!  Hopefully you aren't having to brave malls or stores.  It's dangerous out there.


Ten on Tuesday: Reunited and it feels so good.

My computer and I are together again.  It was only 2 days without my MacBook, but that was more than enough.  Especially since it wasn't purposeful.

To celebrate, we're doing another Ten on Tuesday.  It's a team effort (between my computer and I).

1.  What is your favorite kind of cheese?
I am huge cheese consumer.  Like it would be the one food I would choose, if I had to narrow it down to one.  Although just saying "cheese" may be a little broad.  I love smoked gouda, swiss, feta, blue cheese,  sharp cheddar, brie, fresh mozzarella.   Basically I could go on forever.

2. Do you prefer fudge with out without nuts?
Probably without, as long as its melt in your mouth fudge.  If it's more chewy, I don't really care.

3. How do you feel about cats?
I'm more of a dog person.  My first pet was a black cat named Shadow who was so afraid when we got dogs that she ate food as quickly as possible and then threw it up while hiding in my room.  I loved her.  Really.

4. Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts?
Julia Roberts for sure.  I love her laugh and smile and humor.  She's great.

5. Do you wear a watch?
As of my birthday this summer, yes.  I have a white fossil watch with a little bling and a pearl inlay.

6. What are your favorite songs from the 90's?
There are quite a few songs, but I'm going to list some of the artists I listened to instead.  I should mention that I was pretty sheltered musically until the 2000s.  Jars of Clay, Shania Twain, Jewel, TLC, Christina Aguilera, Enya, Jaci Velasquez, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks, Newsboys.  There's more, but I'll stop there for now.

7. Do you like scented candles?
I'm not a big candle person in general.  Not that I don't like candles, but I've never really done them.  I don't know.  If I do have candles, I like them to be scented, but I am particular about the scents I like.  Really it's just easier not to have candles.

8. What do you like on your hamburger?
It depends on the day.  Sometimes cheddar and bacon, sometimes mushrooms and swiss cheese, sometimes avocado--it really just depends on the day.

9. How often do you cut your fingernails?
I have no regular schedule.  It depends on the condition on my nails mostly.  Sometimes I let them grow, other times I keep them short.

10. Do you sleep in socks?
Almost never.  I don't like how they feel.  It can be a challenge in the winter.


A Few Long Days and a Man Down

I've been out of touch for a few days.  Partly because I traveled to the other side of the state, which in this part of the county takes about 6 hours, partly because I've spent the last 3 days in a car (or so it feels), and partly because I left my computer in my cousin's car.  It's now 2 hours away from me.

It's a little bit of a crisis.  I think my cousin did it to ensure I brought her dog by from her parents' house.  My computer is a hostage.  And I paid a lot more for it than she did for her dog.

Just saying.  (No dogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

Plus, he's kind of covered in burrs so she probably doesn't want him back anyways.

As a sidenote (as if this post is completely off the tracks already), her dog, Shepp, is probably the smartest, most well-trained dogs that I know.  And not well-trained in a give-me-a-high-five sort of way.  More like, he runs when he's told to, stops when he's told to, etc.--all by voice commands.

I'm too much of a softie to make our dogs that obedient.

But I'm back blogging now.  Obviously.

Even though it's been a busy three days, it's also been fun (if a little short on sleep).  My mom and drove cross state to her home town, a.k.a. my college town.  I got to catch up with a friend (briefly), which meant bowling.  As is our custom. 

Next, my aunt joined us for a trip north.  We met up with cousins and my sister for some Christmas shopping, my sister's choir concert, a lot of meals out, and a night at a hotel with hundreds of hockey players, loud obnoxious hockey players.

Hence the lack of sleep.  Also, some people snore.

Somehow, even though I went into the weekend "done" with Christmas shopping, I managed to spend much more money than anticipated.  I blame it on Ulta and World Market.  Those stores are just so dangerous. 

On the plus side, I can't wait to try my Mexican hot chocolate mix.

I love a little spice.  Literally.

Tomorrow gets to be a lazy day, with a side of meeting with my financial guy.  (I feel like the grown-up-ness of "financial guy" in the previous sentence is offset by "lazy.")

Tuesday, we're headed back home and Thursday I take the GRE (btw, I don't need more comments from the GRE people about improving my score through their website.).

Did I mention that my GRE study books are with my computer two hours away?

I'm so kicking that test's butt.

On that uplifting note, my parentheses and I are calling it quits for the night.  I'll see (or write) you when the hostage has been restored to my possession.



My focus over the next week (eek!) in studying for the GRE is vocabulary.  Although how many words I can learn or remember at this point is questionable.

(It doesn't help that I'm headed out of town tomorrow through Tuesday.  Maybe Mom and I will do flashcards in the car.)

Today I decided to go online for some studying action at FreeRice.com.  Have you heard of it?
Play Freerice and feed the hungry

There are 60 levels for English vocabulary.  The first few are so easy, you think you're a genius.  Seriously.  I made it to the high 30s before I started feeling stupid.  Luckily, they repeat the incorrect words and give the correct definition, which really helps me remember them.

I haven't been to the site in a while.  Now, there are other subjects you can do.  It's a little distracting and kind of takes away from my "studying" but is still pretty fun.

I tried my hand at math, Spanish, world geography, and English grammar.

The best part is that the site donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer you get.  I'm somewhere up over 3,000 grains on the day.  So I'm studying, playing a game, and helping someone out all at the same time.

It's a pretty sweet deal.



Today I decided to make a (small) effort, get out of my sweats and into "real" clothes, and head out to run a few errands.

My first stop was a local consignment store.  I had dropped off a load of clothes this summer when I decided to do purge some.  I had a few more things to drop off and I checked my balance from the previous load.

Cha-ching.  I ended up having enough to pick up a fun leather clutch, a nice belt, and two button-up shirts (one with a military vibe, which I've been wanting to add into my line up), and having enough cash left over for a little Trader Joe's shopping run.

Of course, I went into TJ's with a shopping list and on an empty stomach, so my cart ended up looking like a Christmas snack fest, but at least it was all essentially free.

I finished off the day by watching The Sing Off (fyi - I'm a total music junkie) and my alma mater kick some Gonzaga butt, with a little Criminal Minds as a night cap.

Tomorrow I have a few more errands to run, a little present wrapping, and some GRE studying to take care of.

And the most beautiful part, no alarm to wake up to.


Another Tuesday, Another Ten

It's for real, officially my Christmas break now, except for a self-eval I have to finish.

I'm feeling pretty good about life, as I should.  I had happy hour with a friend I haven't spent time with in too long, I have spent more time in sweats than out of them lately, and I have some fun adventures to look forward to over the coming weeks.

Party mode.

Here's my Ten on Tuesday.  You should join, too!

1. What do you order at Starbucks?
This time of year egg nog lattes, cut with nonfat milk to make them less thick, are my crack, but nonfat chai lattes are "the usual".  In the summer I go for green tea lemonades, unsweetened, for something a little more refreshing.

2. Where is your favorite place to eat breakfast?
There are a couple really good spots around town for breakfast: the Little Cheerful, Old Town Cafe and Diamond Jim's.  Those are definitely my top three.

3. Are you on Twitter? Why or why not?
Yes, I'm @ewiley.  Come be my friend.  Or follow me.  Or whatever.  I've been on twitter for about 2 years now.  I started out of curiosity and boredom (I was unemployed at the time), and now I'm kind of an addict.

4. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
I love Elf.  It makes me laugh every time, especially if I watch it with my sister and dad.  In terms of classics, I'm a fan of The Christmas Carol, the older version.

5. Are you a good gift giver?
I love, love, love giving gifts.  Some people are definitely harder to buy for than others (my sister is the easiest ever), but I love the challenge of finding something people will enjoy and don't already have.

6. Do you like your handwriting? Bonus points for posting a picture.
It depends.  It can look fun and nice, but it can also turn into scribbles.  And sometimes when I get going too fast, I have the tendency to leave out letters.

7. Is your signature legible? Bonus points for posting a picture.
My signature has actually become less and less legible over time, but I really like it.  It's missing a few letters at this point.  Some of them have melded together.

8. Have you ever been to New York during Christmas season?
I've actually never been to New York at all.  So no.  It's on my list though.  One of many, many places I would like to visit.

9. Are there any items that you are completely brand loyal?
Deodorant: Dove.  I had really sensitive skin when I was younger and Dove was the only thing I found that didn't make my skin freak out.

10. Who is your favorite public speaker?
Oh gosh.  I'm not sure.  I heard Michael Kimmel speak earlier this year and found him hilarious.  He's a sociologist who has studied young men in our culture and has some great insights.  I don't know if I've heard enough to have a favorite, though.



I'm taking the GRE in a week in a half.  And it kind of makes me want to vomit.

I scheduled the test a month or two ago and then promptly put off studying.  Now I have 10 days to cram, because that totally works for these types of tests.

That's not to say that I haven't studied at all, I just haven't put as much time into it as I should have.  I keep clinging to the fact that even though I've haven't been a student for almost 3 years, I have spent the better part of the past 2 years in the university setting (and classroom).

That should be enough, right?

I took two practice tests today, and I could tell that was a lot by the end of the second.  The number I was getting wrong shot up in the last few problems.

So that's what I'll be doing for a while (along with setting up letters of recommendation--I am so behind the ball) and writing a personal statement.  I have until February 1st to get it all done.

I can't really put this work off any longer.


The Facts of (my) Life

Fact: Today is Friday.

Fact: I have three more hours of work before I'm free until early January.

Fact: I am guest posting over at Woo! today.  Check it out! 

Woo! was created by the awesome and adorable Michelle, who is currently on her honeymoon in Argentina.  She features really, really fun stuff on her site and I'm excited to be featured.


Today was a good day.

I got to check a lot of things off of my to-do list today.  I love that.  Even if my list is more figurative (in my head) than literal.

After finishing up some work at home I ran some errands.  I had to return a few items that had been previously ordered online.  Check and check.  (Also, yay for free returns!)

Let me just say that I love REI.  Even though I'm not a rugged ourdoorsman, I could wander around looking at things in the store for hours.

Today, however, I had a mission.  My rain jacket died last night.  The zipper came undone from the bottom and the pull on the zipper snapped off.  I was going to have a hard time staying dry in that piece of clothing.

But REI is awesome because they take it back anyways.  Luckily I had given them my dad's membership number when I purchased it, so they had a record of how much I spent.  I got that amount towards the purchase of new jacket.  Now I have a fully functioning, even nicer rain coat.  It's lined.  Quite the step up from the last version.

I count this purchase as more of a need than a want.  The Pacific Northwest is known for its rain and we don't use umbrellas here.  I kid you not.

Like I said, a raincoat is a need.  And I met that need quite nicely.

I finished up my errands with a couple check deposits (thank you IRS for my amended refund) and dinner with a good friend.

Okay, so the dinner was more pleasure than errand, but by the time I got home I felt quite accomplished.

And was really looking forward to sweats.

Now I'm going to bed.  Literally.