Looking Back on 2014

It's that time of year again. That time where the year is ending and we are looking back on the last 365 days. I have had some interesting days in this last year. I'm linking up with Nichole from Three 31 for the 2nd Annual Year In Review. Let's take a look back, shall we?

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
~ I went to my very first NFL football game. It was the New England Patriots vs the Washington Redskins. I had never been to a pro-football game ever and it was a lot of fun!

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? Will you make more in 2015?
~ hahahahaha! Nope, sure didn't! but i'm going to do better in 2015 (says everyone). that will be tomorrow's post, so definitely make sure to come back and start taking bids on what i'll keep and what i won't.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
~ A friend of mine did have her first baby, a boy, in november.  My former boss had twins in October. Yay for babies!

Did anyone close to you die?
~ Not this year.

What countries did you visit?
~ None :( one day though...one day!

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
~ A pet of my very own ... meow!

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?
~ November 11th 

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
~ Getting a new job! It was the first time I've had to interview for a job in about six years!

What was your biggest failure?
~ Getting a really bad dose of kidney stones. It tells me that I'm failing myself by not taking care of my body. It's time to really make some serious changes!

Did you suffer illness or injury?
~ Oh yeah. 2014 was crazy for this topic. 
    - January I went to the emergency room for what turned out to be a migraine (the left side of my body went numb and I thought I was having a stroke).
    - April I had a LEEP done.
    - September I had kidney stones and the stones were so large they had to be removed by a urologist on two separate occasions.
    - October I had a gum graft done.  
I was in the hospital a total of four times this year. CRAZY!

What was the best thing you bought?
~ My burgundy Merona dress from Target. LOVE this dress!

Whose behavior merited celebration?
~ This kid! With all the craziness that's happening this guy is giving out free hugs! Some people are saying the image is fake, but I don't care. FREE HUGS ROCK!

Where did most of your money go?
~ The city of Alexandria for my Rent.

 What did you get really excited about?
~ My new job.

What song will always remind you of 2014?
~ Happy by Pharrell…this song will forever be etched in my brain!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
o   Happier or sadder?
         Definitely happier
o   Thinner or fatter?
     I think I’m about the same, but working on the thinner part.
o   Richer or poorer?
      Richer and in so many ways!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
~ Exercise

What do you wish you’d done less of?
~ Eat pizza…haha

How will you be spending Christmas?
~ At home in Roanoke with my mom and dad. Jacob's coming home too, so it will be the whole family! 

Did you fall in love in 2014?
~ nope

How many one-night stands?
~ none

Who were your best friends?
~ Lindsay
~ Marina and I become super good friends and I'm so glad for that!
~ I’ve reunited with my high school friend Steph. It’s been a looooong time, but it doesn’t feel that way!

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
~ Sharing my story. I would go into more detail with that, but it's not the right time. Maybe one day.

What were your favorite TV shows?
~ Orphan black became my new favorite show in 2014. OBSESSED! I even bought the first two seasons on DVD this black Friday at Target for $10 each!

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
~ Nope. No hard feelings to anyone.

What was the best book you read in 2014?
~ I read some pretty good books this year, but I didn't have a crazy favorite. The one I liked the best was Whistling Past the Graveyard, by Susan Crandell.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
~ Definitely Johnny Swim. My mom introduced them to me. I got to see them in concert in August and they are amazing!

What did you want and get?
~ A new job in my hometown.

What did you want but did not get?
~ A smaller waist…I’ll work on that for 2015

What were your favorite films this year?
~ I narrowed it down to 6 ~ God's Not Dead, Chef, The Fault In Our Stars, Begin Again, 100 Foot Journey,  Edge of Tomorrow. I haven't seen Into the Woods yet, but I'm sure that would have made the list!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
~ I turned 31 This year. Mom and I saw The Band Perry in concert and then we went line dancing. YeeHaw!

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
~  I don't think there is anything. I had a pretty good year. What I wanted the most (a new job in Roanoke) happened and I couldn't be happier right now. Except for the romance department, but I know that will happen when it's meant to.

What kept you sane?
~ Meeting with my women’s group.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
~ Domhnall Gleeson - ever since I saw About Time last year. Love him! He's going to be in the new Star Wars movie. I'm not a big SW fan, but I'll be sure to see it just for him!

What political issue stirred you the most?
~ The whole Ferguson situation. What a mess!

Who do you miss?
~ My Grandpa Henry

Who are the best new persons you met this year?
~ My fabulous friends Tara and Elizabeth. Love you ladies!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
~ I can’t control everything.  I need to Let Go & Let God.  He’s the only one with control, he knows the right way and he knows what my true path is.

Quote that sums up the year:
~ Everything happens when it’s meant to at the exact right moment.

New Year's Resolutions

I Googled "most popular new year's resolutions." I found a usa.gov (here) website that lists Popular New Year's Resolutions to "help you achieve your goals in 2015."  It got me thinking about resolutions I wanted for myself.  For me it's about setting goals, not changing myself.  There are the ones that I usually go for. I thought about not doing a post about resolutions and not making any resolutions at all, but I like having goals. Even if they are the same goals year after year, I keep making them in hopes of never having to make them again.

1. Be Healthy & Fit
~ This is always NYR of mine. I started the day after Christmas on this one, so hopefully I'll actually get down to where my doctor wants me. In May my doctor told me that I was a little overweight and that he'd be more comfortable with me around 140. When I had all the kidney stone issues back in September I lost 7 pounds and I've been holding stead at 157 ever since. I feel pretty committed for once and am confident that I'll get down to where I need to be.
~ Since moving home my eating habits have definitely improved. I haven't eaten pizza in over two weeks. That was my biggest food vice. Mac & Cheese too. I'm not going to lie, I do miss mac and cheese.

2. Put my CC Debt to bed, for good!
~ Every year I talk about how close I am to getting my debt paid off. This year it will actually happen. As long as I stick to my plan, I should be out of it by mid-March. WooHoo!

3. Back off from Facebook 
~ I am on Facebook waaaaaaaaaaaay too much! I recently read an article in Health magazine (January/February 2015 issue) about social media and it's effects on you.  The article says that 'one of the biggest groups of Facebook users are women ages 32-45 and about 35% of the younger ones admit that the first thing they do after they crawl out of bed, before going to the bathroom, is check Facebook.'  62% of people say they feel better about themselves if more people like their posts on social media.  They also note about relationships and how they are better conducted in real-life and not in 140-character 'sound bites.'  
~ With all of that said, I'm going to back off of Facebook. I'm definitely one of those people that check it first thing in the morning, all throughout the day, and right before I go to sleep. I'm also one of those people that gets annoyed by other people's "perfect life."  I have to remind myself that people tend not to post the other stuff. It's all an image thing, really. I'll admit that for myself too.

Those are my three big ones. Some others that I have are to read more, watch less TV, write in my journal everyday, and to write gratitudes every day.

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions?

 All material © Erica Musyt

*The Last Friday of 2014*

Happy Friday and Happy Day After Christmas!

Did Santa bring you everything you wanted?  Were you a good little girl or boy? I sure hope so! Talk about a time for family and friends. My week was just full of it and I loved every minute of it. Now that Christmas is over the New Year is just around the corner. Wow, 2015! Can you believe that this is the last Friday of the year? Just Crazy!

~1~ My weekend started off just wonderfully! Soon after I moved back to Roanoke I got involved with a women's group and I am loving the time I get to spend with these fabulous ladies!  B had all of us over to her lovely home last Friday. It was just us girls; her husband hid in the basement. B has an awesome white Christmas tree with purple lights and purple ornaments. There are little purple trees all over her house too. We had such a good time together and I can't wait for more!

~2~ You may remember me mentioning my fabulous friend Kate who blogs over at A Thought and a Half. We have finally met in person, in real life! WooHoo! I love meeting blogger friends in person. Kate was down at Virginia Tech for her boyfriend's graduation, so we met up for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. We had a lovely breakfast and were able to get to know each other a little better. In person makes is so much better. We both dined on pancakes and chatted about what we like to do and how our holiday has been. She's such a sweetie and I'm so glad that we got to meet up. It won't be the last time, that's for sure! Thanks Kate, you're awesome!

~3~ On Tuesday night mom and I finally made our annual Christmas Cut-Out Butter Cookies.  It was a bit of a process this year. Mom had made the dough in advance and tweaked the recipe a little by the suggestion of a friend. When we started to roll it out the dough just crumbled! It got tossed and we started all over again.  At least this time I got to help with the dough.  Once the dough was made it had to sit for a few hours in the fridge. I finished the decorating last night, but we did put some sprinkles on a couple before they went into the oven. These cookies are my absolute favorite. We've been making them ever since I was a little girl!

~4~ Jacob came home for Christmas...Yay!!!! Of course he brought the adorable Butters with him. Jacob just turned the big 3-0. Do you remember what my mom and dad for me last year - 30 Presents for 30 Years. Now it is Jacob's turn! His birthday was the 15th, but since he's up in DC and is home for Christmas, we did a Christmas Eve Birthday present opening. He had so much fun. Love ya bro!
We fit all 30 presents into this big ol' bag. Jacob had a lot of fun opening each one up. Yay!

~5~ Christmas Day!!!!! We had a lovely Christmas! We all slept in and then opened our stockings. I worked on the yummy monkey bread. Even Butters tried to get a little bit of cookie this morning from Jacob.  We all opened up our presents. I got everything I asked for :) Santa brought me a new Madame Alexander Doll - Wendy's First Scrapbook.

Even Butters got a present from Santa!

Jacob got me the movie Frozen and I didn't waste any time watching it.  We all chilled out and took part in the wonderful movie magic that is Disney.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know that we did! We are absolutely exhausted. xoxo

 All material © Erica Musyt

~ Merry Christmas To All ~

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
~ Norman Vincent Peale

 All material © Erica Musyt

Christmas Eve Traditions

By now the house is decorated, the trees are trimmed, the cookies are all made, and the gifts are wrapped under the tree. My brother came home from Washington, D.C. today and we're all together! I think today is my favorite day of the Christmas season. I love all of the build up to it too ~ the shopping for gifts, the making of treats, the holiday themed movies, and of course the music! The reason I love Christmas Eve so much is because of my family's evening traditions.

When I was 9 years old we lived in Plympton, Massachusetts. On Christmas Eve mom made a big ole yummy lasagna and put it in the oven to cook, then we headed off to Christmas Eve mass. When we got home all of the power in the neighborhood was out, because of the winter weather we were having. Mom checked the lasagna to make sure it was okay, and found that it was ready to eat! We lit some candles on the dinner table and had our Christmas Eve feast. After dinner dad made sure that the luminaries were good to go on the drive way so that Santa would be able to find our house. They tucked us up all snug in our beds and sleeping bags and lots of clothes to keep us warm. I'll never forget that Christmas Eve! It's such a great memory.

Things have changed a little bit in the last 22 years. We've moved a few times and have celebrated Christmas in several different places. Once in California, Chicago, and Northern VA last year. There were a few times when we couldn't be together for whatever reason and I hated it! There was this one time when Jacob came home for 24 hours, literally! He arrived on Christmas Eve and Christmas night headed back to Chicago! We are all also working today. Well, I am :) Mom's officially on vacation from work for a few weeks and Jacob's off. Dad works from home, so I'm really the only one in the office. It will close early, though, so I'll be out of here soon.

Nowadays, some of us (me and mom) can't eat cheese like we once used to. Needless to say mom doesn't make lasagna anymore. Our new Christmas Eve dinner tradition is mom's homemade crab cakes.  Mom made them for the first time four years ago and we ask for them every year now. They are sooo good!  We also like to have sausage with crackers and cheese and the boys enjoy shrimp cocktail.

We still keep the lights down low. We gather around the television and watch A Christmas Story and other movies as well. Before we head off to bed we leave a plate of cookies for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer. I just really enjoy being with my family. It's so much better when we are all together. I just love the togetherness of my family and I love them so much!

What about you? What are some of your Christmas traditions?

 All material © Erica Musyt

2015 Reading Challenge


Welcome to my one and only reading challenge for 2015, The TBR Pile Challenge with Roof Beam Reader. The idea is to pick 12 books that have been on your shelf for at least 1 year, otherwise known as your to be read pile. I am also allowed to pick 2 alternates in case there is a book or two that I just can't get through. As I go along reading my 12 piled books I am also to do a review of each book. This should be good! Here is my list:

1. Three Weeks With My Brother, by Nicholas Sparks
2. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamante
3. The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
4. Night Road, by Kristin Hannah
5. Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
6. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Next, by Stieg Larsson
8. The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton
9. Winnie the Pooh on Managment, by Roger E. Allen
10.  A Simple Act of Gratitide, by John Kralik
11. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
12. Room, by Emma Donoghue

1. Then Again, by Diane Keaton
2. Bellman and Black, by Diane Setterfield

I will keep track of the books I've read on the following pages in addition to Looking to the Stars:
Diaries of a Bookworm 

I have also become a memeber of NetGalley, so I've got at least 8 books there that I want to read. That's a total of 20 books for 2015. I barely made 15 this year, so wish me luck!

 All material © Erica Musyt

How To | Grinch Kabobs

The new office I work in likes to have an abundance of food. Especially around the holidays! On Friday we all did a "food day" and everyone brought in a little something. Since there have been crazy amounts of cookies, cupcakes, candy, etc, I wanted to bring in something healthier. My mom found these little kabobs on Pinterest (here). 

They are so cute and looked super easy to make. At first I thought they were little Fruit Santas, but then I realized that the blogger who originally posted about them (Teaching With A Mountain View) calls them Grinch Kabobs. How perfect! It makes total sense seeing as how they are green. I decided to try these out and they came out great. Here's how to make this really easy and yummy holiday treat.

Collect all the necessary ingredients:
Green Grapes
Tiny Marshmallows
I used 2 medium bananas, a 1.lb container of strawberries, enough Large grapes to match the strawberries, and same with the marshmallows and toothpicks.

Step 1: Rinse Your Fruit
Before you start putting the kabobs together make sure to rinse your grapes and strawberries really well.

Step 2: Cut Top of Strawberries
Make sure to cut the green top off of the strawberries:

Step 3: Pick the Large Grapes Out of the Bunch
I went through the grapes and tried to get the largest ones I could find. The bigger the better. 

Step 4: Pre-Slice Bananas (it's a lot easier this way)
I sliced up 2 bananas before getting started so that they were ready to pick up.

Once all the above is done, then you are ready to start putting the little Grinches together!

Step 5: Marshmallow - Puff Ball on Hat
Get a toothpick and put the tiny little marshmallow on the tip.

Step 6: Strawberry - Red Hat
Slide your strawberry up the toothpick until it sits right under the marshmallow.

Step 7: Banana Slice - White Lining of Hat
Slide the banana slice up the toothpick so it sits right under the strawberry.

Step 8: Green Grape - The Grinch
Repeat the sliding up the toothpick with the grape and you're all done!

Here's my plate full of little Grinches!!!

These are my two favorite little Grinches! Everything is perfectly sized :)

Something I would suggest is to do these the day that you're going to serve them. I did them first thing in the morning before work. The bananas can get a little icky if they've hit the air for too long. Here's a snapshot of me doing them at 6:30am before work. It was worth it!

All material © Erica Musyt

High Five For Friday ~ The Last Friday b4 Christmas!

Happy Friday! Christmas is less than a week away. Can you believe it? I can't. The year has gone so fast. I hope you all had a wonderful week. Let's check out what mine was like. Don't forget to check out Lauren Elizabeth and September Farm for some Friday link up fun!

~1~ This past weekend I went up to northern Virginia to see some friends and close up my apartment. I love the people that I got to see while I was up there. They are fabulous people and I love them! My lovely friend Tara was celebrating a birthday, so I'm really glad that I was up there for it!

~2~ While I was up in NOVA I stayed with my wonderful friends, Marina and her hubby Garrett. I helped Marina decorate their Christmas tree and then we took silly pictures!

~3~ During the week, while I was on my lunch break, I headed over to the Hotel Roanoke to check out their Christmas Trees. Every year different businesses in the area decorate a tree and then they have a Christmas Tree competition. There were so many beautiful trees this year!
I took a selfie with Santa while I was there :)

~4~ Yesterday I attended a luncheon at the Inn at Virginia Tech for the Blue Ridge Valley's Hospitality Association. Lots of other hoteliers and hospitality people. The Inn had a beautiful ginger bread town that made the entire floor smell like sugar.
There are 12 VT signs hidden throughout the candy town. I could only find 10. It is so beautiful and delicious looking. Yummy!

~5~  I joined NetGalley today and am sooo excited about it! I have the badge on my sidebar, so definitely go check them out if you're a big reader like I am. The book I'm reading from them right now (my first one with them) is St. Nick: A Christmas Cop Novel. I'd been looking for a Christmas book, so this was perfect timing. I started it yesterday and have read the first two chapters. So far I really like it. Once I've finished it, then I'll post a review for you.
St. Nick

How was your week? What did you get yourself into? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!
Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!

 All material © Erica Musyt