2011 in review

:: Josh and I started teaching the 8- to 9-year-olds at church. Boy, has that kept us on our toes.
:: I admitted an emotional funk.
:: I had some articles published in the New Era.
:: I discovered Fabric Depot.
:: Josh turned 26.
:: I fell in with Jimmer-mania.
:: I had a hard time adjusting to my full-time job downtown.
:: I started sewing, and my first skirt was dubbed "crafty" by an insensitive coworker, and my second skirt gave me hell.
:: I survived my first Oregon winter.

:: We celebrated our six-month-iversary and had no qualms about the cheesiness of it all.
:: I had my first day off of work since Christmas.
:: I filed our taxes and with some of the return bought a KitchenAid
:: I met up with my sister, mom, aunt, and cousin at Women's Conference in Utah.
:: I met one of my kindred spirit friends through blogging, a friend who, incidentally, I had many classes with at school and never got to know until we lived on opposite sides of the country.
:: The rain continued.
:: I ate Lebanese food for the first time.
:: I went to the Oregon coast for the first time and loved it.
:: I had some a serious cake failure.
:: I read many, many books.

:: We spent the Fourth with my family in Colorado.
:: I posted about my strong feelings on feminism and how women are treated in the media.
:: I chopped my hair.
:: I finished writing the wedding thank-yous.
:: I hiked at Mount St. Helens.
:: I stopped working downtown and have never looked back.
:: We went to DisneyLand with the Wilson clan.
:: I turned 24.
:: I planned my fall sewing.

:: I had another cake failure when I tried to bake a cake for my grandma's birthday.
:: We started rock climbing.
:: I made a point of doing spooky things for Halloween.
:: Rachelle came to visit for a whole week, and we rocked Oregon.

:: Josh and I celebrated our first anniversary.
:: I had an emergency root canal.
:: I subscribed to Cook's Illustrated.
:: I started a new job at Deseret Book, a place I never saw myself working until I got there.
:: We celebrated another Wilson Thanksgiving.
:: I added to our Christmas decorations.
:: I experienced working holiday retail hours.
:: I blogged only seven times during December, including this post.

So it was a pretty good year. Nothing super eventful happened, but sometimes years like that are nice. I felt like I really settled into my chosen life. I've felt contentment over my choices and have never been happier than I am right now.

Happy new year, everyone.


some affirmations

Yes, I am still a blogger.
And yes, I know that it's been almost two weeks since I've posted.
Yes, we went to Colorado for Christmas.
And yes, it was completely wonderful.
Yes, Josh did give me a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas.
I know.
No, I was not ready to leave home to go home.
Yes, both Colorado and Oregon feel like home to me.
Yes, I cried a lot when I said goodbye to my mom.
Yes, I will be getting back into the blogging groove.
Yes, I did buy more fabric in Colorado.
Yes, I did start listening to Harry Potter 5 when we got back tonight.
And no, I will not reach my 45-book goal for 2011. I did, however, surpass my initial reading goal of 40 books. And seriously, 41 books in a year is not too shabby.


guest posting

Happy Christmas week, everyone! I have a pretty crazy week ahead of me that will conclude with flying home to Colorado to be with my family for Christmas. Can't wait. Today you can find me at Emily K Designs posting about one of my favorite Christmas traditions! Have you just been dying to know how my taffeta-tulle skirt turned out? Check out my guest post!


12 on 12: december 2011 hodgepodge grid

So, confession time: I didn't ever end up doing a November grid. That day ended up being a weird one for me, and I just wasn't in the mood. I kind of feel guilty, but I also kind of feel okay about it.

And another aforementioned confession: The photos in this grid weren't all taken on the same day, but were actually taken over the course of three days. Yes, people, three days, for a 12-on-12 grid. I didn't want to forgo this month's grid like I did with November's, so this month you get the 12-on-12-13-and-14 grid. And, actually, this happens to be one of my favorite grids this year.

01. 12.12--Leisurely morning shower
02. 12.12--Homemade mac 'n' cheese and broccoli, the ultimate comfort food
03. 12.13--Caramel-chocolate-toffee pretzels to take to my coworkers (please note the baker's twine--it's my favorite part of the whole thing
04. 12.13--Glittery Christmas tree
05. 12.13--My current number-one fictional character crush, Neal Caffrey
06. 12.13--My new sewing book that I'm crushing on
07. 12.13--Sunny, cold day
08. 12.13--Leftover homemade mac 'n' cheese
09. 12.13--Blurry photo of my bookseller name tag
10. 12.14--Crashing on the couch before a later work shift
11. 12.14--Packing peanuts from an eBay package
12. 12.14--My Christmas to-do list, but obviously I can't show you--hello, it's Christmas

Did you do 12-on-12 this month?


a blog?

What, I still have a blog? Are you sure? Even though it's been only a week since I've posted, it feels like much longer. December is flying by in twinkle lights, yarn wreaths, Christmas shopping crowds, long work hours, late-night Gilmore Girls episodes, revisiting The X-Files, unfolded laundry, and Christmas sewing.


I have a 12-on-12 grid to post, and this one will be unique, because here's the thing: I didn't manage to take 12 pictures on the 12th, 13th, or 14th, so I'm combining my pictures from all three days to complete the grid. Let's pencil that post in for tomorrow? Okay? Okay.

And my 2011 reading goal? Still behind. Two books behind. Heavens.


some holiday favorites

:: A Muppet Christmas Carol DVD at Costco for $12.99. Hello, my childhood.
:: Felt mistletoe (pictures coming soon)
:: The plaid taffeta Christmas skirt I'm sewing for myself--it includes tulle, people. Tulle.
:: The Modern Family Christmas special
:: Nick Lachey as The Sing-Off host--he still has that boy-band smile and swagger, and I love it.
:: Katelyn coming home this month--so excited
:: My freelance article in an online magazine--check it out (mine is on page 46)

I'll be posting some pictures soon of the Christmasing that's been happening around the apartment--so far, this December has been a delightful one.

PS--If you didn't at least preview the Muppet and Nick Lachey links, do. Because they're awesome, and I was really excited to find them.


new peeps

So the crown for my root canal is gold. Yes, gold. I'd show you but the cortortions required to get a picture that far into my mouth wouldn't paint me very pretty, and my vanity gene is too pronounced to allow me to post such images.

Just know that now I can hang with the gangsters and the pirates. Obviously.


OSR: November 2011--so close

Eve and the Choice Made in EdenEve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eve gets a bad rap, and we all know it. Even I've had my own qualms with the Eden story because of simple lack of understanding, and this book really cleared so much of that up for me.

The Garden story is now one of my new favorite scriptural stories because I've started to understand it so much better. Eve knew what she was doing, and she was influential and powerful. Not only did I start to gain a deeper understanding of gospel principles regarding womanhood and agency, but I also learned more about our relationship with God and my own personal mission.

I have a better idea of the kind of woman I want to be and realize that Eve is the ultimate pioneer. Every woman should read this book. I know I'll reference mine often.

The Woman in White (Penguin Classics)The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever I read or watch mystery stories, I try to figure everything out, and The Woman in White was no exception. The thing is, though, that I didn't really predict any of the twists in this book. Collins had me hooked the whole time--and I really liked that.

The mystery of the woman in white isn't your expected murder or robbery, but rather involves intricate and crafted conspiracy. The characterizations were thorough, and the web of the mystery solid. The story maybe felt a little long at parts, but the writing was so well crafted that I stayed involved.

I enjoyed this story for its unexpected unpredictability and its winning protagonists. The Woman in White is a great 19th-century mystery that I'd recommend to anyone looking for a thrilling, if not fast, read.

Princess Academy(Princess Academy, #1)Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Princess Academy is sweet, simple, engaging, compelling, and interesting. This was the perfect young-adult book for me to read right now. It's full of good writing, endearing characters, and driving plot. I loved this book and was sad to see it end.

Slathbog's Gold (Adventurers Wanted, #1)Slathbog's Gold by M.L. Forman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Categorized as a young-adult novel, I'd place it as a middle reader book. The story followed the traditional Joseph Campbell hero format and often leaned toward the didactic side. That said, Alex was likable enough, and for a tween needing a wholesome and adventurous read, this will do the trick.

View all my reviews

Jacob T. MarleyJacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Dickens's Christmas classic, Jacob T. Marley is perhaps the most important character besides Scrooge. It was interesting to read the story through Marley's eyes, especially when I could see how Marley got to be how he was.

The writing was reminiscent of Dickens's own 19th-century style, but sometimes strayed into the didactic zone. Overall, though, this book is a great support to its classic counterpart and sends a clear and uplifting message of love and redemption. I'd like to read this whenever I reread A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How could you not love this story? (When I was reading it, I kept thinking of the characters played by Muppets, and that was actually delightfully nostalgic.) You can't help but be inspired by Scrooge's redemption and reclaimed life.

One of my favorite parts of this story is the fact that most characters in the book frankly forgive Scrooge when he seeks their love and friendship--what a beautiful reminder to be kind and forgiving always.

Something I especially enjoyed about this edition was the illustrations. This particular illustrated version is one that I look forward to reading with my family in Christmases to come.

View all my reviews

I made good progress in my annual goal. I finished November with six books left to read in the year. I quite enjoyed my November reading, perhaps with the minor exception of Slathbog's Gold, a book I reviewed for the bookstore. According to Goodreads I'm still one book behind my goal, so it looks like my December reading is cut out for me.


let's leave work at work, okay?

I was grocery shopping in Target this evening and almost asked a fellow shopper if I could help her find anything, as if I actually worked at Target instead of Deseret Book.

True story.


a Wilson Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend went by entirely too fast.

We had chocolate turkeys. And a regular one. Plus stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, and five pies.

We played some Dominion and lots of Bang! One time I was an outlaw and rocked it. Another game, the outlaws rocked me.

Jeremy and Nicole and Josh were here. (Remember, there are two Joshes.) Estee couldn't come, and we missed her.

She had to work. And so did I. I've never had a job that required me to work on Thanksgiving weekend. So yeah, I've been spoiled. And I'm okay with that.

But working really wasn't the worst. And sometimes, I have to do things I don't want to do. Even on Thanksgiving weekend.

But I still got lots of family and fun time in the mix, time that included some movies. Think theater movies like The Muppets. And couch movies like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. And don't leave out the nostalgic childhood films like A Muppet Christmas Carol.

I'm sitting here typing this, and real life looms, reminding me that, yes, there are still dirty dishes in the sink from Thanksgiving morning.

I think I'll do them tomorrow. Tonight, I'm going to soak in the last little bit of Thanksgiving weekend I have and deal with real life later. Right now, I have some serious reading to do by the fireplace. In stretchy pants. Obviously.



Monday when I checked the mail, I found this waiting for me.

I was thrilled. I recently took the plunge and took out my own subscription to Cook's Illustrated, and I received this subscription bonus with serious excitement. See, here's the thing: I am devoted follower of the Test Kitchen. I don't have cable and so haven't actually ever watched America's Test Kitchen, but its companion publication, Cook's Illustrated, is everything I could hope for in a cooking magazine. Second only to my own family of cooks and bakers, Cook's Illustrated is my go-to cooking source.

And don't forget the recent gem I found, Baking Illustrated.

I bought this with birthday giftcard money, and I love it. It's my baking bible. It's these editors' job to experiment in the kitchen with things like leavening, eggs, milk-to-flour ratios, and mixing methods; their goal is to find the best, most reliable recipes. When it comes to my recent cake failures, this book is exactly what I've been looking for. I'm converted completely. I will actually hunker down on the couch expressly to read this book. No joke.

You will accurately surmise that much of the holiday baking that will be happening around here will be rooted in these publications--what else could you expect from a firm devotee? Also, please note that no part of this post was sponsored by the Test Kitchen or its affiliates, though if they happen to read this rave review I wouldn't say no to a lifetime Cook's Illustrated subscription, or better yet, a trip to the Test Kitchen in Boston.


kicking off the holidays

:: Christmas bins
:: Christmas music
:: Pumpkin bread
:: Cozy fire
:: Christmas sewing
:: Mistletoe crafting
:: Rainy day
:: Homemade mac and cheese

Yes, I do set up for Christmas at Thanksgiving, and it's awesome.

where to find me today

So my friend Camille asked me to guest post on her series The Heart of Life Is Good, so that's where you can find me today!

You should also check out the rest of her blog--she's pure delight all the way.


comfort food

I've been battling a chest cold this week, and instead of doing anything productive, all I really want to do is plop on the couch with some cream of wheat and hot chocolate and watch some Gilmore Girls.

So that's what I'm doing this morning.

That is, until I have to go to work at 11:00.


the thing about root canals

:: The worst part of a root canal is getting to the point where you need one.
:: I'd rather have a migraine than root canal pain.
:: Root canal pain registers as a 7 on a scale of 9, 9 being the most pain I've ever experienced on a scale of 10. (Follow that?)
:: The Novocain shots put my body into brief shock.
:: I start to feel claustrophobic with more than two implements in my mouth.
:: You can fight a gag reflex by keeping your eyes open, focusing on a specific spot on the ceiling, and breathing through your nose.
:: I'm willing to undergo whatever it takes to avoid another emergency root canal.
:: Even braces.
:: And yeah, braces might just happen.
:: I don't want to talk about it.


OSR: September and October 2011

My reading still hasn't picked up to where it was when I was commuting, and I've accepted that. Even though it takes me longer to get through my books, I've read some really, really great ones lately (some of which won't make it onto the blog until the November OSR post).

Shanghai GirlsShanghai Girls by Lisa See

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shanghai Girls opened my eyes up to a world I didn't know much about. I found Pearl and May's Shanghai life fascinating as well as their flight from China and their entry into the United States. I didn't know much about Japan's invasion into China or about the Chinese refugees in America. I found it sad and interesting how the immigrants found ways around the system so that they could protect their families.

The relationship between Pearl and May is simple, yet still hard sometimes. They're sisters and share a bond unlike any other in their lives. At the same time, they fight jealousy and bitterness while still remaining inseparable best friends. I just love stories about sisters.

The most meaningful part of this book to me was the message that tragedy doesn't have to define your life. It's never too late to make a fresh start, and while your life may not turn out as you expected, you can still find happiness. Shanghai Girls is a great book that I'd recommend to most people.

Rocket BoysRocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

September 2011: Rocket Boys is just as enjoyable the second time around as the first. As you turn the last page, savoring each final word, you leave not wanting for any more or less. You come away perfectly satisfied. This is a book about a boy, a father, a town, and their dreams, a book that gives you exactly what you need, even if you didn't know what you needed to begin with.

Note: My Rocket Boys review is amended from its full Goodreads version. The full version includes the review from the first time I read this book in August 2009.

Moloka'iMoloka'i by Alan Brennert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book that introduced me to a world I hadn't known much about. Not only was the insight into 19th- and 20th-century leper colonies interesting, but the character development and depth was compelling. The protagonist, Rachel, was a strong and beautiful woman whose character drove the plot and its emotion forward.

While not making it to my top-favorite lists, Moloka'i is still a well thought-out novel full of lovable characters and emotional plot lines.

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Could there be a more perfect book to read in October? No, there isn't. Dracula was the perfect Halloween book.

Stoker creates the quintessential horror story, one built on suspense, on uncertainty, on the fantastic supernatural. Dracula introduces an eerie elegance to vampire lore, and I found myself captivated by the spookiness of it all.

Dracula combines spooky with literary finesse; it doesn't contain gratuitous gore or violence, but is rather replete with subtle and carefully crafted build-up.

To be completely honest, I loved this book. The only thing that stops me from giving it 5 stars is that it's not life-changing. Dracula just really is an excellent story, one that far surpasses modern horror stories.

View all my reviews

I'm three books, or seven percent, behind in my annual reading goal, and even though the end of the year is approaching fast, I'm holding out hope that I'll finish strong. 

What have you been reading lately? Did you also read a spooky book in October? Are you on track for your 2011 reading goals?


a bookseller

My official title at Deseret Book is bookseller.

I work between 25 and 30 hours a week, and throughout my shifts I do everything from dusting to stocking to involved customer service. A year and a half ago when I graduated with vast editorial aspirations you wouldn't have found me even thinking about working retail. Is that too diva? Maybe it's just that infectious college grad carpe diem.

Let's get real, being a bookseller is something that comes very naturally to me simply because I can talk books indefinitely. Sometimes, though, I wish I were on that other side of bookselling, the side with the deadlines and proofs and manuscript piles.

And here's where this indulgent post-degree monologue takes a turn: I'm okay with all of this.

I was talking to my mom this week and answered some question about work. Then she said, "Charlotte, you seem so much happier than you were a few months ago." And it's true. Contrasting my downtown Portland life with my Lake Oswego retail life, I can't believe how unsatisfied and stifled I was before. I'm so much happier now, and it shows. I'm less stressed and less anxious, more motivated and more purposeful.

So my professional life didn't take me where I thought it would. And I'm content right now in my role as bookseller. That doesn't mean that writing and editing aren't important to me, because they are important--very important. I fit them in where they're supposed to fit, which right now is a freelance gig here and there.

I can't tell you exactly why being a bookseller is working for me right now, but it is. And I'm happy.


yes, it really is Wednesday already

:: Saturday I spent the day on pain meds. Josh drove me to Joann's (since the pain meds prohibited driving) so I could use my coupon. I bought supplies for four Christmas gifts for only $35--score. I was beat afterwards, though, and lazed on the couch all afternoon waiting for the meds to clear my system. Plus side, though? My tooth was feeling better--so much better--and the meds were totally worth it.

:: Sunday we stayed home from church. I was still feeling lightheaded, and Josh was still recovering from a nasty cold. I pretty much stayed in one spot all day and read my book, knitted, and napped.

:: Monday I resolved to rid our home of any and all sickliness. I cleaned the bathroom, changed the sheets, folded laundry, and made cinnamon rolls. This was also the day when Josh started a new project for his job--in Hillsboro. Translation: He went from a 90-second bike ride commute to a 60- to 80- minute car ride commute. Gross.

:: Tuesday I meant to blog and didn't. I celebrated my friend Shari's birthday with her while her husband was working on some school assignments. We went to the Olive Garden, and it was delicious. Josh hung out at home and was more or less still a commute zombie when I returned from the birthday celebrations.

:: As I've been falling asleep the past few nights, I've been brainstorming ideas for a Christmas newsletter that may or may not see fulfillment. Consequently, it's been harder to fall asleep.

:: With Josh's new commute I think I can have some serious empathy. We all know that I hated commuting.

:: I have some Goodreads updates to post. I'm really enjoying my current book, The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. It's different from what I expected, but in a good way.

:: I have some good Christmas projects happening around here. My dream is to finish the serious Christmas gifting by December, or at least the gifts that I have to send.

:: I woke up earlier than I really needed to today, and I'm loving it. I have time to read my scriptures, eat breakfast, and blog. Awesome.

:: I'll post a real post soon. Promise.


kicking off the weekend

What better way to usher in the weekend than with an emergency root canal??

Oh yeah, I can think of a billion better ways to spend a Friday.

A billion.


about that time

We had our friend Ian over for dinner and a game of Dominion, and he offered to bring dessert.

This isn't Ian. This is Josh. Obviously.

He reminded us that it's about that time, the time for Tim-Tam Slams.

This is Ian. He's Tim-Tam Slamming.

We agreed.


{Tim-Tam Slams}

Tim-Tams, a cookie often found at Target
hot chocolate

Take a Tim-Tam and take small bites out of opposite corners. Dip one corner into the hot chocolate and suck. As soon as you taste the hot chocolate, put the whole cookie into your mouth before it completely dissolves. There shouldn't be the slightest crunch. Allow the sugar rush to wash over you in chocolately, warm goodness. Repeat.

Oh, November, it's good to have you back. We'll have many more Tim-Tam Slam sessions, I can assure you.



Homemade chili
Caramel apple dip
Fun friends
Holiday t-shirts
Modern Family Halloween episode
Chocolate cream pie
A punctuated pumpkin
And one that's more carved than it is pumpkin

Happy Halloween!


year one

We spent our first anniversary in central Oregon in a cute townhome our friends let us borrow. Can you believe it's been a year since I was blogging about this? And this? And this? I hardly can. All month I've been thinking back to one year ago, and I've been filled with happy, happy memories. Our wedding day was the beginning of so much for us; it was a beautiful day, one that I look back on with fondness and yet one that I wouldn't want to go back to because that would mean leaving where I am now.

Taken at Eagle Crest 10.22.11. We got some non-goofy ones, but I really just love this one.

One year of marriage is hardly something to brag about, but regardless, it's changed me, a change that affects me in the ways I most need it, a change that is the best change, even when it's hard. I know more about stepping outside of myself to see a bigger or different picture. I'm learning that there's no such thing as the perfect wife or husband. I'm practicing how to give both Josh and myself the benefit of the doubt. I'm increasingly more grateful that this marriage is forever, because that means that I don't have to get it right immediately. Really, I have forever to get it right.

No one has a manual for the perfect marriage. Sure, you can reference self-help books, attend classes, and even hearken to prophetic guidance, but the fact is, marriage is a series of trials and errors, a risk that will pay off through listening, loving, and learning. If you ask me how I've adjusted to marriage after one year, I'll say that I take it one happy moment, one frustrated moment, one disagreement, one apology, one hand-hold, one minute step at a time. And I'm happy exactly where we are, just as we are.

So yeah, I'll always look at our wedding day with unabashed love and fondness.

But I'd so much rather be here, in my pajamas, enjoying a glass of sparkling grape juice and getting ready for some serious Modern Family–watching with my husband of one year.

We are more than ready to embark on year two.


the Oregon experience

When Rachelle came to visit I wanted to give her a thorough Oregon experience, even though my Oregon experience is still relatively new. We started off with a day in Portland, a day that included the Thai Peacock, Powell's, and Cupcake Jones.

One night we went to Deschutes Brewery for dinner, and another night we hit up Nicholas's.

One day when I had to work, Rachelle and Karen went to the outlets, and I was oh so jealous.

Then we went to the coast, and seriously, I couldn't have dreamed of better weather. First we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory (which was a first visit for me too).

We took the self-guided tour, posed in the cow heads, and ate the best grilled cheese sandwiches we'd ever had along with the best milkshakes we'd ever had.

Are you surprised that I had to document the punctuation errors on Tillamook signage?

Then we made our way to Rockaway Beach, and parked at this cute Catholic church. The beach was right there just waiting for us.

The skies were clear, the breeze cool but not cold, the air briny and crisp.

In attempting a far-off ocean picture, a sneaky wave caught me off guard.

The ocean wasn't so far off then. In fact, the ocean was in my pant legs.

After walking around for a bit, we settled down on our blanket and beach chairs. I read, Rachelle people-watched, and we both napped at some point. The wind started getting colder, and we were glad we brought warm clothes.

At one point the fire department, the police, the Coast Guard, and the sheriff all came to the beach in response to a lost surfer. We saw rescue boats out on the water, men scanning the horizon with binoculars, and guys in ATVs cruising down the beach. Thankfully they found the surfer, and I'm not entirely sure what the full story was, but it was exciting nonetheless.

We filled our non-adventure time with The Sing-Off, crepes, rockclimbing, and shopping. I'm so glad that Rachelle could come out to visit, and we had such a great time.

I love indulging in Oregon. And I love doing it with one of my best friends. I hope you had a full Oregon experience, Rachelle!

Anyone else up for the full Oregon experience? Though, please give me some recovery time before taking me up on that offer. I'm exhausted.


a styled break-in

Imagine me:

:: Greeting Rachelle at the airport in my new favorite outfit, a plaid wool skirt (that I sewed myself) with a simple mustard cardigan

:: Automatically locking the car door because that's how programmed I am now

:: Realizing that I locked my doors with the keys still in the ignition and the car still running

:: Relieved that I remembered to pop the trunk before locking the doors

:: Thinking that I can probably break into the car through the trunk--Nancy Drew does it all the time

:: Climbing into my trunk still wearing the cute skirt

:: Disregarding the weird looks I'm getting from fellow airport-goers

:: Calling Josh for help on figuring out the trunk break-in strategy while still sitting in the trunk

:: Finding the tabs that push the back seat down

:: Crawling through the trunk and into the car as gracefully as possible, trying hard not to flash the other airport drivers

:: Turning off the car, unlocking the doors, and exiting the car through the doors and not the trunk

:: Feeling awesome because I just pulled a Nancy Drew

Did you imagine all that? Good. Because it wasn't made up. That really happened. And it was probably one of the funniest things I've ever done.


I'm back!

Oh, readers, I feel like it's been forever. The past two weeks have had me in a whirlwind of happenings, leaving me in a current state of exhaustion and home-messiness, not to mention the 700 unread blog posts in my Google Reader (can you see that some blog-reading simplification is needed here?).

I have so much to tell you. I want to tell you about Rachelle's week-long visit, the perfect weather for a day-trip to the coast, Cupcake Jones, my part-time bookstore job, the beautiful autumn we've been having, my first truly aesthetically pleasing cake, Dracula being the perfect October book, and our first wedding anniversary.

For now I'll satiate your reader thirst (because I know you've been compulsively checking for a new post on this blog--right? Right?) with this month's 12-on-12. The pictures really were taken on the 12th; I honestly just didn't have time for putting the grid together and blogging it until today.

01. A clean stovetop and kitchen
02. An organized magazine basket
03. Cute flower panels hung above the laundry closet (I've had those plaques for almost a year and hadn't hung them up till now)
04. Some freelance writing research
05. A trimmed pattern for a fall dress
06. The cute wall-art I bought at Homegoods using Shoppers' Math
07. The fall dress pattern all cut out, ready to be sewn
08. Changing leaves by Costco
09. Work--does anyone else find the Twilight-esque covers for works of classic literature a little off-putting? I mean, we talking Jane Austen here. Come on.
10. A mint truffle with some Dracula in the airport waiting area
11. The inside of my trunk (this deserves its own blog post entirely and involves a resourceful Nancy-Drew-like break-in into my car while wearing a skirt)
12. I thought I had 12 photos at this point in the evening and didn't--obviously.

I've had a fun few weeks, but honestly, I can't wait to find normalcy again. Tomorrow my priority plans involve cleaning the bathroom and folding laundry, and I'm positively giddy about it.


things you never thought you'd hear me say

At Nicholas's Lebanese Restaurant in downtown Portland with Karen, Josh, and Rachelle: "Oh, this hummus is my favorite!"

PS--My best friend Rachelle is visiting me, and it's been a blast. I still have a few days of quasi-vacation and will resume regular blogging mid-week, including my 12-on-12 grid!


needed clarification

In light of recent political dialogue, let me set a few things straight.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--I am a Christian. I believe that through Christ's grace--and only through His grace--are we redeemed from our sins. I believe that Jesus Christ Himself restored His church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that we have prophets and apostles today who receive revelation from God.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He both lived and died for me, that through His atonement I am able to return and live with Him and His Father someday. My relationship with my Savior is what defines me.

I'm a Mormon.

I am a Mormon.
I am a Christian.


shoppers' math, or a lively discussion about gift cards

Let me start off by saying that Josh hates shoppers' math. In fact, as I was writing this we had a heated debate about it. That's how much he hates it.

My mom taught me shoppers' math growing up, and it's a hard mathematical field to explain; you learn best from observation. Shoppers' math involves not only numbers and percentages but also factors like needs-versus-wants, frugality, on-hand cash, and gift cards. Let me use today's errand trip to demonstrate to you shoppers' math.

I've been needing a new pair of professional shoes. My Danskos are getting a little ratty, and while I have several pairs of dress heels, I'm lacking a good pair of sophisticated, professional footwear. I found a style of loafer I like and put it in my mind to find a good deal.

Professional loafers: needed purchase

For my birthday my grandpa gave me a gift card to TJ Maxx (which can also be used at Homegoods). Gift cards present a whole new factor into the shoppers' math equation: gift cards are presents, and in my view, should be used to buy something you really, really want, something you wouldn't normally buy for yourself, or both. Yes, it's money, but it's in a different category. (But even that's not a hard-and-fast rule. Were I to receive a gift card to Target and also had no money to grocery shop, I would feel great about using that gift to support my family.)

Today I decided to check out JC Penney's current sale, with 50- to 70-percent markdowns. I found a darling pair of platform, heeled loafers for 50-percent off of their regular price and put them on hold while I checked out the selection at TJ Maxx.*

Their selection wasn't great. So I perused and found a pair of stretchy pants to use for rock climbing.

Stretchy rock-climbing pants: needed purchase, but something I might talk myself out of

Then I headed to Homegoods, where my shopping experience was overwhelmed by my many options. What did I want to spend my gift card on? Kitchen gadgets? Eight-inch cake pans? Wall art? Halloween decor? Or did I want to put it toward a larger purchase of a side table or nightstand? Because I still had a decent amount of money left on my gift card from the stretchy pants purchase, I browsed for things that caught my eye. (And if nothing caught my eye, I would have been content to leave without buying anything. Don't spend money, gifted or otherwise, just for the sake of spending it.)

I decided on purchasing a silicon spoon, a large glass liquid measure, an orange ceramic pie plate, and a cute piece of wall art.. After I exhausted my gift card, I ended up spending $7.00 out of my bank account.

Silicon spoon: needed purchase, but something I might rationalize not needing
Large glass liquid measure: needed purchase, something I would probably buy without a gift card
Pie plate: wanted purchase
Wall art: wanted purchase

Back to JC Penney's. Since I didn't find a cuter and/or cheaper pair of loafers at TJ's, I decided to go back and buy the pair I'd put on hold at the mall. I had a lingering $20 bill in my wallet that I hadn't used in a few weeks and decided to offset the amount of money put on my debit card by using the cash (Josh really hates that facet of shoppers' math).

To sum up my shopping trip, I bought one item that I needed, a few items that I needed but not immediately, and a couple of items that I didn't need but really wanted, with $20 coming out of my wallet, and less than $30 coming out of my bank account--a pretty thorough and versatile trip, in my opinion.

Through Josh's lens, money is money, regardless of its form, and a gift card is no reason to splurge when you otherwise wouldn't. Through my approach, a gift card is inherently a good reason to buy something you wouldn't (or wouldn't be able to) normally. When I use gift cards in my shoppers' math equations, I subconsciously put myself on a longer frugality leash, like part of the gift card is the gift of not worrying so much about how you spend your money.

What camp are you in? And aren't you glad that shoppers' math helped me to buy these?

*A note about sales: Even though an item may be a million percent off, the money you spend on it is still real. Don't buy something just because it's a billion percent off. Factor in your needs, wants, and budget, as well. In this case, I had already decided that I needed a new pair of professional shoes, and I wanted a good quality shoe. So even though the shoes were half off, I can't overlook the fact that I'm still spending real money. Sometimes you still shouldn't buy something even if it is on sale. I have come to that bitter conclusion many times.


spooky to-do list

To-do before Halloween:

:: read Dracula with Miranda (remember my scary book from last year?)
:: go to a corn maze and maybe even a haunted house
:: carve a pumpkin
:: watch Wait Until Dark, Sixth Sense, What Lies Beneath, The Others, and maybe even The Ring
:: attend the ward Halloween party

{via} on Pinterest (obviously)

I am very excited for the spooking that's going to be going on here at the Wilsons'.


legitimate, sort of

At the behest of my darling sister-in-law, I present you documentation of the first official Wilson family climbing night. If we're going to climb with Nicole and Josh Snow, a.k.a. climbers extraordinaire, we needed to establish some semblance of climbing regularity and legitimately.

The rock gym where I've been a few times with Karen was having a screaming deal on rock-climbing passes, and Josh and I decided to commit and buy some. Our commitment furthered when we invested in legitimate climbing gear (and seriously, it's an investment). We bought shoes for Josh (Karen let me have her too-small-for-her pair) and harnesses.

So Thursday night after dinner at Jimmy John's we Wilsons, along with our friend Ian, headed over to Club Sport where we tested out our new gear and made our first steps toward becoming rock climbers. (Yeah, you heard me right--I'm calling myself a rock climber.) I'm even belay-certified now. I know.

The boys loved being photographed for the blog. Obviously.

This time rock climbing I worked more on my pivots and leg work. (Take it from a seasoned climbing novice--get that, a seasoned novice?--the work should come from the legs and hips.) We climbed for two and a half hours and were completely beat by the end of it. We have plans for many more climbing excursions, and I'm looking forward to getting better and more confident in my ability.

 And really, how could I turn down a sport in which you wear stretchy pants?


a birthday cake for Grandma

My late grandmother's birthday was yesterday, and in proper Petersen-clan form, I baked a cake in her honor. I tried a new recipe taken from my new book (which I'm in love with), and I was excited to try more cake baking.

It didn't turn out great.


So instead of eating cake to page homage to my grandma, I tossed one straight into the trash. I couldn't even convince myself to have a piece for breakfast.

Grandma knew when to throw a cake, and hell, I do too.

**Edit: I'm sure the problem has more to do with my baking skill than it does the recipe out of the baking bible. Baking Illustrated is super, super awesome.**



Remember the time when I successfully installed an invisible zipper on the first try without crying even once (unlike my first experience with an invisible zipper)?

Because I do, and it feels awesome.


a week in snapshots

A treat in the washer--better than finding cash in your coat? I can't decide.

Shattered eyeshadow--sad, sad, sad

Investing in mini loaf pans to optimize pumpkin bread baking--obviously

My name in the acknowledgments of a book I worked on at the Maxwell Institute--awesome. I feel like a secret celebrity at my new job. But really, I'm sure I'm the only one who feels that way.

Josh stocked up on more wooden models, especially since it looks like Michael's isn't going to stock them anymore.

Krylon Glitter Blast spray paint + fake pumpkins--you see where I'm going with this? I knew you'd love it too.

My favorite vignette in the home currently--I loved doing the embroidery projects (the reading mudflap image was Josh's idea, actually), and I sustained several hot glue burns while assembling the wreath. The Trick-or-Treat art was a birthday present from my mother. I love it all. (PS--Did you notice the hint of teal ribbon I used to finish the inside of the wreath? I love that final touch. And attn: Allison: please note my beloved Asher Lev copy peeking out from under Trick-or-Treat frame. )

This weekend I'm going to settle in to listen to General Conference, the semiannual meeting where we get to hear from our prophet. Thought that prophets existed only for the Bible? Think again, and be really glad you did. I know I am.

I hope your week was as good as mine and that your weekend is delightful!
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