Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

After a month of saying "Santa's cutting back this year" the daughters whirled through the house in about two days...watching me "find" things I just happened to have bought a year ago.  I don't think the five grandsons (ages 6, 4, 3, 2 and 4 months) are going to notice any "downsizing" at all! 

And after a frantic day and a half of wrapping, it's done.  Santa's has been here - presents are under the tree, stockings are stuffed, milk has been drunk, cookies eaten, carrots and celery gnawed, letter left.  Check, check, check.  The jolly elf himself and his helper, Mrs. Santa, have enjoyed their hot toddy and with a quick peak at NORAD to see that the sleigh is actually somewhere over New Orleans and rapidly making final approach to the west coast at this time, I'm finally ready to head to bed for that promised long winter's nap.

Tomorrow will be a joyous one - presents to be opened, toys to be tried out, cousins to play with, festive food to be shared with family...all with (hopefully) no major meltdowns (I'm talking about the adults here - the boys will all no doubt get naps!)

Wherever life takes you this next year, here is my wish for you:

Mele Kalikimaka

Nollaig Shona Dhuit  

God Jul  

Merry Christmas

And warmest wishes for 2014!

~God Bless Us, Everyone!  tw

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Adventures in Generosity

As the holidays approach time seems to slip away.  The fact that I have been unable to contribute anything here is not because I've nothing to share.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  There just aren't enough hours in the day.  Gerry tells me it's because I got a bit "squeezed" on both ends - Thanksgiving coming so very late in the month (with whom do I register a complaint about that!?!) and the "Swedes" arriving a week earlier than usual (no complaint there!).  No worries though - it'll get done or it probably wasn't that important to begin with!

In any event, yesterday was one of those wonderful, if a bit exhausting, days spent in the company of three incredibly generous women working entirely on the behalf of others - most of whom we will never meet or know.

The day began early - my dear friend (Carol) arrived at my house at 7:30 am, which might not sound too early to you but you should know that before coming to my house to start on our project, she had already gone in to work to finish something there (and further amazement should be registered by the fact that her work is the exact opposition direction from my home!)

We jumped in my very over-loaded "sleigh" - boxes of "blankets" (really just 2 yards of fleece fabric), 10 empty Full Circle vegetable boxes I had collected (they are the most fabulous packing containers), assorted items for the grandsons we'd be seeing, a large empty cooler.  There would barely be room for the driver and two passengers (and I really pitied the one who had to sit in the back seat!)

First stop, the Klahanie QFC to purchase four hams.  They were a great deal (limit two though) and we needed a total of ten hams to include in the food baskets we would be assembling.  We had called Marne to get her coffee "code" so Carol made a quick stop at the in-store Starbucks.  Armed with 2 coffees, 4 hams and a peppermint cocoa for me, we started to the car.  I thought maybe we could get to the vehicle with just one shopping cart so I put everything in mine - except the two coffees.  Carol kept her cart just to bring those two coffees along and we navigated around the guy delivering that day's shipment of poinsettia plants.  I wish I had a photo of that moment - the terrain is a bit bumpy and with no actual groceries to weight it down, Carol was soon wearing a good part of at least one of the cups!

Once we got the hams stashed in the cooler, it was time to pick up Marne and head to the Issaquah QFC (to pick up the other six hams, of course!  I know I could have probably just made an arrangement with one of the stores - QFC has also been incredibly generous - but it adds to the overall "craziness"  to make it kind of a scavenger hunt!)  After some rearranging so everything would (barely) fit, we beat a hasty exit as the poinsettia delivery guy recognized us from the first store!

Then it was on to Joint Base Lewis McChord.  Our task:  launder 48 twin sheets, pillow cases, towels and washcloths; finish purchasing items for 10 food baskets, wrap/assemble/arrange for pick up of said food baskets; fold/assemble 48 towel and bedding packages...oh and take turns watching three adorable little guys (age 4, 2 and 4 months).  Piece of cake!

Now Jenny, my Army wife daughter, would have (and actually could have) done this on her own because she is truly just that amazing but work like this a) goes MUCH quicker when shared and b) is a LOT MORE fun when shared.  We quickly decided to divide and conquer the world - my task, head off post to shop at Safeway, Carol offered to watch Milo (4 months) and Shay (2 years) while Jenny took Marne to the on-post launder mat to begin that process.  Jenny then headed over to pick up Jax (4 years), Carol & the other boys and lunch.  We all met up at the launder mat for a bite - good thing the place was HUGE! - and the boys had an impromptu play date with some other kids there. 

Marne and I finally developed a "rhythm" where I was kept busy taking the sheets from their packaging and loading the washers while she hopped from machine to machine inserting her "laundry card" to start them up again.  It took a bit of time (unfortunately but humorously) for her to realize that she could set them up for more than six minutes at a time but until that happened she resembled the guy who's playing the glasses with various levels of water...hopping from glass to glass to play a tune.  It was a pretty funny sight!

By the time lunch was finished and it was approaching naptime, the towels were pretty much dried and we sent (clean) garbage bags full home with Carol and Jenny.  Carol was to stay with the boys and wrap/decorate the food boxes while Jenny purchased any last minute items at the commissary (pick up was scheduled for 4 pm and it was going to be close). 

Meanwhile back at the ranch...Marne and I were still up to our necks in laundry, laundry everywhere!  We had taken over four triple-load commercial washers and were just about down.  Loads were completed but we had no place to put anything until dryers were available (and we had commandeered six triple-load dryers but assorted smaller ones) and by now had figured out how to put at least 18 minutes on each load.  Dried sheets were now beginning to accumulate so I was reassigned from unpackaging new items to folding laundered ones.

It only took a few minutes to realize why we always just launder and remake the bed - folding 48 fitted sheets is a pain!  Try though we might, things were getting dry much quicker now that we were using so many dryers, and we could not get it all folded.  We decided to throw any remaining unfolded items in (clean) garbage bags and head back to Jenny's.

We arrived just as the food boxes were being picked up.  Marne saw a soldier in uniform in Jenny's house and naturally assumed that on an Army post the only soldier in uniform who would be in Jenny's house had to be Travis - a surprise Christmas present for the family.  She was pretty excited until I reminded her of exactly where we were and that practically EVERYONE is in uniform at JBLM!

Anyway, as I said, fully loaded (and beautifully wrapped) food boxes were making their way out the door. (These boxes are going to military families.  Many of our military families are what I term "free and reduced lunch" meaning that these kids receive free or discounted meals while they are in school.  This places a huge burden on families already struggling to make ends meet as there is often no lunch when the kids are not in school - such as the Christmas holiday.  In addition to some holiday foods, these boxes are more intended to get them through until school is back in session, providing simple meals, snacks and even milk.  To help with this project, we are so grateful to the St. Judes' Knights of Columbus who fundraised and donated monies to purchase the food included here.)

One project down/one still to complete - the folding/assembling of linen packets.  We set up an assembly line where someone held the baby, someone folded items and someone rolled up a set and put them back into the plastic bag the sheet set had originally come in.  (These linens will be used to provide a welcome home for returning soldiers.  In this particular case, a portion of the 170th Military Policy Company will be returning home sometime this month, with the balance arriving home in April 2014.  Single soldiers return home to barracks furnished with...pretty much nothing.  And so, once again, a HUGE thank you to St. Judes' Knights of Columbus who donated funds to purchase bed linens, towels and basic toiletries as well as another HUGE thank you to Dr. Ronald Danforth, Redmond dentist who donated dental products.  These items will supply the soldiers with some basics until they can be reunited with their personal belongings which were put in storage prior to their deployment.)

Then it was time to hit the road back to Redmond.  We considered having our husbands meet up with us somewhere for dinner but realized we were all pretty tuckered out.  We had left my house at 7:30 that morning and I pulled into my driveway just about 7:30 that night.  What an incredibly fun, exhausting, productive day!

I know...a long post but I don't know if I'll be able to share for the next few weeks as we'll be enjoying company!

I hope your holidays are joyous ones full of family, friends, fabulous food and basically a festive frenzy (how's that for alliteration!)  and that sometime in the midst of this craziness you remember that when everything is stripped down to bare basics it's just food and wrapping paper unless shared with loved ones and a thought to the real reason for the season!

And in case I don't get back to this blog until after the first of the new year, know that I am thinking of all my family and friends, and even those no longer with us.  (This morning I made up a batch of Chex Mix and couldn't help remembering how many times mom made it for the holidays of my childhood.)  I leave you with this - the first is something my sister-in-law (Annie) shared with me this morning.  It is absolutely amazing and I too wish I could have been there.  And the second a touching poem forwarded from a friend of my husband's - a Christmas Poem by a former highway patrol trooper.

~later, tw

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

I know I've been a tad neglectful, taking a break from blog duties.  Mid-November is a crazy time around the Weiler house.  Nearly all of our energy is devoted to candy making and holiday box packaging.  Our goal is to have all the component pieces ready by Thanksgiving and then spend "Black Friday" doing the final assembly, scheduling a postal pickup (for those going out-of-state or even more importantly, out-of-country) for Saturday.  It's a wild and crazy couple of weeks but the net result is that while others are madly scrambling through crowds and malls, we can just relax and enjoy the Christmas season.

And wouldn't you think with Thanksgiving being as late as it could be that we'd somehow be more prepared?  Not so much!  There are a couple of things still to do...not terribly much but still I'll be whipping up a couple of batches of candy tomorrow (thankfully for the local deliveries)!

But today, we stop and we give thanks.  I'm thankful for our three kids - none of whom are able to physically join us today but I'm sure we will be sharing thoughts across the miles.  I'm thankful for friends and family, near and far. 

I'm thankful to those we will be sharing our meal with today.  The recipe for our brined Thanksgiving turkey is from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and the pies I'll be making this morning (Pumpkin and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan), along with her technique for amazing pie crust are from a class I recently took at PCC from Barbara Schwarz which we'll be serving with Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (which I learned from another PCC class - The Vegetarian Holiday Table).  The variety and abundance (and naturally QUANTITY of each) of the many vegetable side dishes are being provided by my sister-in-law (Marne) and our dear friend John is bringing the all important rolls (an absolute necessity for making the proper turkey sandwich)!  It will be, no doubt, an incredible feast, followed I'm sure by a spirited "game night" (unless Marne and I are able to convince the menfolk that they'd rather watch reruns of Downton Abbey in anticipation of its return January 5th)!

Wherever you are, whatever your menu I hope you will take a moment to consider your blessings and abundances!  Happy Thanksgiving!

~later, gratefully counting all my many blessings, tw

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stayin' Alive

That BeeGee's song is back - and it might actually keep someone, maybe even someone you know and love, maybe even yourself!, literally Stayin' Alive!  Turns out that the ol' CPR (the one where you alternate between chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) is gone.  It's been replaced by Continuous Chest Compression CPR requiring ~100 compressions per minute.  (And the best way to measure this is by thinking of a song with a disco beat...like "Stayin' Alive" - how appropriate!)

Watch this video!  Watch it - share it!


Knowing what to do could DOUBLE the chances that someone having a heart attack will survive.  It requires NO certification or coursework and could save a life.

~later, tw

Friday, November 15, 2013

Singing the Praises

...or at least listening to them!

If you have not discovered Pandora, you should really give yourself a little holiday treat this season!

I love Pandora.  It's free and brings fun FREE music to my computer (or my TV now with DirecTV).  You can "train" it to only play music that you like and throughout the years I have created some really wonderful personal "stations" that I thoroughly enjoy.  Though it is offered for free with commercials, I enjoy listening so much that I willing pay the $37 in order to listen commercial-free all year long. 

Naturally I started by developing a HOLIDAY station (Definite "thumbs up" to Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald.  Huge (double actually) "thumbs down" to Elvis' Blue Christmas and oddly Johnny Cash (he really couldn't carry a tune which you don't notice on his country songs but on the Christmas songs where there isn't a lot of backup - it's HORRIBLE!).  Of course there is LOTS of Mannheim Steamroller, Straight No Chaser and the Boston Pops as well.  But through the years, I've also included a "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons" station to get my 60's fix (after seeing Jersey Boys naturally), a Celtic station to relive our Ireland trip, and a Barry Manilow station - a true guilty pleasure (but sometimes I just want to sing along and for some reason I know all the words to all his songs!)

Give it a try - it's so much fun!

~later, enjoying the music of the season, tw

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In the News...

...again!  That sister of mine has been elected to the Sibert Award Committee for the American Library Association.  This is the first time any Alaskan librarian has been elected to serve on this prestigious committee:

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is the oldest award for a juvenile informational book.  It is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. The Sibert Informational Book Award Selection Committee consists of nine members: one chair and three members appointed from the ALSC membership at large, and five members elected by the ALSC membership.  Members serve 2-year terms and led by the committee chair.  ALSC, a division of the American Library Association, administers the award.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is the world's largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. ALSC's network includes more than 4,000 children's and youth librarians, children's literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults dedicated to creating a better future for children through libraries.  ALSC members are innovators in the field of children's library service.
Helmer, Alaska School Librarian of the Year, has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award committees in the past. “I am delighted and honored to have been elected by my peers to serve on this committee.  It is going to be a lot of work, reading all those new information books, but I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to sharing those books with the students at my school and with ASD librarians.  I just feel sorry for the postal service workers who have to handle all those boxes of books. ”
Congrats Dona!!!

~later, so proud, tw

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It All Started...

...with a little girl and a coin.

I'm sure you've all seen those "flash" videos - by some agreed upon cue the mall erupts with enormous a cappella groups or fantastically coordinated dancers.

But I've never seen one where a full orchestra and choir bust out with an amazing performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, cued up by the "best coin ever spent".

~later, enjoying the show, tw

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


...No, I'm not practicing counting with the grandsons.

Today is November 12, 2013 or 11/12/13.  A fairly momentous occasion that some (actually many) will be commemorating this morning (at 9:10 am of course)!  Whether they are superstitious or just want to give the guy an easy way to remember their anniversary, David's Bridal estimates that some 3,000 couples will be getting hitched then (as opposed to a mere 370 a year ago).

If you missed out for this year, don't worry.  You've got one more chance at it - 12/13/14 is just a little over one year away (but you won't want to miss that as it will be the last sequential date in this century)!

~later, tw

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just when you start to think...

...that the world might be speeding down that path that leads directly to you know where in a hand basket with no chance to pull up, something like this happens:

This is an "On the Road" report by Steve Hartman from CBS News the other night.  It's an incredible story of a group of middle school students who, completely on their own without any suggestion or even knowledge of any coaches or adults, completed a play, actually two plays, that were quite literally game changing...life changing really.

Watch the video - be impressed, be inspired, be encouraged.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
~later, reaching for the Kleenex, tw 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Little Bit of Magic

A cup.  Yes, a Christmas cup.  I know - it's just the first week of November.  But I love this cup, I love the way my tea just tastes better when drunk from this particular cup, I love what it symbolizes!

I haven't completely left the reservation - the tree isn't up or anything like that.  But around here, as much as I do enjoy Halloween, it's hard to wait for that first weekend in November when my tea cup becomes more festive, my tea spiced with cinnamon and cloves, my Pandora channel switches over to "Holiday," the quilt on my bed takes on a Christmas theme,  and the holidays begin in earnest around here.

Gerry and I like to make our Christmas gifts (as much as possible).  And those of you who make gifts know that you have to start a bit early in order to get everything accomplished.  We figured out a few years ago that since our gifts are "goodies" it didn't really make much sense to hold off giving them until late December.  By that time, everyone is almost "goodied" out and with the new year and all those resolutions just one week away, our treat box didn't stand much of a chance of getting the attention it deserved.

So we switched it up.  We try, really try, to get all of our packages in the mail on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We spend the day after Thanksgiving (while everyone else is not experiencing anything close to a "holiday spirit" at the malls) putting final touches on boxes and arranging for the postman to pick them up from our doorstep the following day.

This means that November is wild and crazy around here - not only anticipation of returning children and grandchildren, but working on our Christmas cards and letter, making/labeling/packaging all sorts of treats, listening to our embarrassing large collection of holiday music.  A bit of work but so much fun!

And with the bulk of the hustle and bustle behind us before December rolls around, we are left to truly enjoy the season of family, friends and activities without all the guilt and worry and stress.  It makes for truly wonderful holidays and I heartily recommend this approach!

But it starts that first weekend in November, savoring my Christmas Tea (from Murchies of course!) in my Lenox tea cup.  More than mere enjoyment of the tea itself, I begin anticipating working together with Gerry, packaging our goodies, decorating the house, a visit with all five grandsons.

Not too bad for a cup of tea!

~later, already in full holiday mode, tw

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Soup"er Second Graders!

My sister (Dona) excels at being a librarian, working with children and writing grants (among many other things).  She's been working at her elementary school this year to bring those three things together to teach 7- and 8-year-olds to make their own food.  Through her grant writing prowess  ("Farm to School") she organized a field trip last week to visit a Science Center where the students learning about where their food comes from.  This week the kiddos working with their teachers, a dietician, a chef and, of course, their favorite school librarian used the SIXTY(!) crockpots provided by the grant to make soup from scratch.  Each of the students will be taking home not only the memory of these experiences and the lessons learned but also their very own crockpot to continue their livelong learning (and soup-making!) at home.

How cool is that!

Next up - learning to make bread (using the bread machine).

~later, elementary school cooking consultant, tw

Thursday, October 31, 2013


...no tricks.

Happy Halloween!

~later, looking forward to tonight's sugar rush, tw

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

National Candy Corn Day

Picture of Candy Corn Cordials Recipe
Celebrating that it's fat-free and only 140 calories per handful (making it one of the "healthier" choices for Halloween), October 30th (the day BEFORE Halloween) is National Candy Corn Day.  I don't know who actually got that one approved (because candy corn is consistently voted Least Loved Halloween Candy) but here is a way you grownups might enjoy it:

 Candy Corn Cordial (from the FoodNetwork)

~later, tw

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Christmas? Already??

This past Saturday we had a family/friends gathering with a purpose.  Our son-in-law (Travis) is currently deployed and his unit will not be home for the holidays.  Because we need to allow (LOTS of) time for shipping, we got together a group to work on making Christmas stockings for stuffing in the not-too-distant future.

The project was a simple one (I kept telling everyone that I started doing this project 20 years ago with first graders so I was pretty sure they could handle it!).  Stockings were traced and cut from felt:

A bit of typecasting here - John is tracing the pattern
with chalk (appropriate for a brand new teacher!)

Michael cuts out stockings (and is in charge of keeping the troops
"hydrated" - which must explain why he's working at the bar!

Marah cuts out the green stockings

Even Jax was put to work getting
the proper pieces together for
me to sew.
Yours truly assembling
the stockings.

To assemble, the stockings were then sewn together. 

Jeff gives a final "pink"
to the stockings.

Last step before heading to the decorators:  the edges were trimmed with pinking shears.  Then the stockings were decorated with puffy paints, glitter pens and felt scraps.  We had quite a group - 15 adults, one 4-year-old, 2 toddlers, one infant.  At one time or another I saw every single adult either with scissors in hand or decorating stockings (who knew some of these guys were so crafty!)  Though they tried to "mass produce" some elements for the stockings, they actually turned out quite unique and wonderful. 

Shh!  Don't tell Travis!

Aunt Marne helped Jax decorate a Christmas stocking for his dad.


Elizabeth helped keep Milo entertained.
Mark goes "old school" - keeping
the baby asleep while watching
the game!

People took turns minding the little ones as well (I saw several of the "grandpas" holding Milo at some point during the afternoon/evening). 

Gerry & Pete (in the background) start dinner prep.
Pete & Jeff "stirrin' &; saucin'"

While some were still working on stockings, others turned to the dinner portion of our event: a potluck stir fry.  Everyone brought things to contribute and we filled the new 10 ft. island with all sorts of veggies (bok choy, edamame, shredded cabbages, water chestnuts, mushrooms and more) and goodies (like chicken, shrimp, crabmeat and yakisoba noodles).  We handed out large bowls and people could toss in their selections and head to the cooktop to make their sauce selection and where Pete, Jeff and yours truly took turns doing the actual stir frying.  Even the kids loved it!

An having dinner with Elizabeth and Jax.
Shay digging in!


Jenny, Gerry & I owe a HUGE thank you to:
Carol, Mark, Jeff, An, Marne, Pete, Marah, Adra,
Sam, Cindy, John, and Michael! 
I know that Travis and his unit are going to have a
much merrier Christmas because of your efforts!!!!

The finished results:


~later, counting...days 'til Christmas, days 'til Travis comes home, but most of all my many, MANY blessings, tw

Monday, October 28, 2013

No Delivery???

No problem!

We live pretty much out in the country.  Okay, truth be told my favorite grocery store is only four miles away (or a "good stretch of the legs") and there's another one that's only 1 1/2 miles away so it's not like we're in outer Mongolia or anything (though the kids did refer to it as "Wyoming" when we first moved here...and not in a good way either!)

But we are (or at least were until recently) in the middle of a "Bermuda Triangle" when it came to pizza delivery.  We were just far enough away from at least three different communities to put us out of reach as far as getting a pie delivered.  (I suppose that was actually a good thing - being able to phone in an order for dinner delivery is not something one should really get used to.)

And it's not like I can't make my own.  I've taken a class and I've got a KILLER dough recipe - it's simple, it can make A LOT and it's from Wolfgang Puck so you know it's good.  All prerequisites for our large group "bring a topping, make your own but share with everyone" pizza parties!  They are definitely a lot of fun and while I don't mind the work for those party occasions, it's a bit of overkill for just the two of us and I find that two risings are not conducive to last minute planning.

Unfortunately, that does not diminish my love for the pie.

Recently I came across two fabulous notions that will allow me to get a pizza in the oven and whip up a salad to accompany it in less time that you-know-who's-30-minutes-or-less-promise:

    Sausage and Spinach Skillet Pizza
  • Dough.  Commercially prepared pizza dough.  Did you know you can buy this already made up?  I mean, I know I had heard you can often buy it right from your favorite pizza place but I'd just never seen it before.  I've used those Boboli ones and even the one in the tube from the tubby doughboy.  They are okay...but not really the same thing (and considering their shelf life are you really surprised?)  My amazing "here she goes again about Full Circle Farm" produce company now carries organic prepared pizza dough from The Essential Baking Company.  All of their Artisan at Home products are incredible and many of them area available from Full Circle Farm (some can even be found at Seattle areas Costco as well).  For ~$4, I can order their Artisan at Home Pizza Dough which is exactly enough to make...

I printed the recipe originally because I actually had everything in my house...without making a special trip to the store and that in itself it often cause for celebration around here. The great thing about this recipe is that you don't have to cook the sauce - just mix up the ingredients.  I find the sauce recipe makes enough for at least two pizzas so I just put half in the fridge for next week's pizza.  But I have learned a couple of tricks as well...

Terri's tips:
  • Of course now that I've discovered how much we love it, my Costco is no longer carrying it...but if you happen to come across some of their bulk chicken Italian sausage - try it!  It's incredibly delicious (and reduces a lot of the fat...and some of the guilt...of eating sausage in the first place!)
  • If you're going to use fresh mozzarella, you're going to have to slice it thin.  In order to shred the really good fresh stuff, you've got to unwrap it and let it set (preferably overnight) in your fridge (otherwise your pizza will be "watery" - a little "wet" when it comes out of the oven but if there are any leftovers you won't notice it on the re-heat.)
  • Use any vegetables you like - great "clean out the veggie bin meal" (I never make it the same way twice) but a) don't overload; and b) don't be afraid of the spinach.  (I've even used Swiss chard and it's delicious!)
  • When working with the store-bought dough,
    • Let is set out 1/2 hour before you need it (so it can come back to room temp),
    • Roll it out and then (AND THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!) LET IT REST FOR 10 MINUTES.  I seriously cannot stress this enough.  The gluten in the flour has a "memory" - but it's pretty short-term.  If you don't let it "REST" for the 10 minutes, it will try to resume it's previous NOT ROLLED out shape and this will cause serious "shrinking" - not a good thing!
    • To keep the "crust" from rolling back into the pizza, I put a little cheese in it making a "stuffed" crust.  Works like a charm (and tastes delicious!)
  • Skillet - I use my 10" LeCreuset skillet for this - basically a cast iron skillet.  I don't know that I would have tried it in anything else (but if you do and it works, let me know!)
So check out your grocery store or favorite pizza parlor and see if you too can buy your own ready made dough and you can have pizza any night of the week - exactly the way you like it!

~later, tw

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy Halloween!

In honor of next week's official kickoff to the holidaze (aka HALLOWEEN) I'm sending a few "treats" your way...

By October I've brought out the candles and decorated the house (something that just doesn't happen around here from March thru August) and while the hint of the other upcoming holidays is definitely in the air, of course for October Halloween is the main event. 

You can find really adorable Halloween candles and holders at PartyLite.  If you don't already have a consultant (and you really do want one because then you get to see the special online "sale" page!), use mine - Stacy Masters, Kirkland, WA.  She's fabulous!  (And don't worry - PartyLite mails directly to you!)

Christmas Blend Tea Fall TeasSomething else I'm enjoying this fall, TEA!  One of my favorite vendors (Murchie's of Canada) has some really wonderful fall blends perfect for these crisp mornings or to enjoy by the fire in the evening:  Canadian Breakfast (a marvelous breakfast tea with a hint of maple - perfect when you're having pancakes!) and Pumpkin Spice (warm and cozy!)  Murchies does ship to the U.S. so while you're at it, check out their Christmas blend and make sure you have this specialty to enjoy Christmas morning (it's really wonderful - I start enjoying mine the day after Thanksgiving)!

My new Halloween bag (with two
PartyLite holders in the background!
Make your own Halloween bag with this free Lickety Split pattern by Rae.  It takes only two yards of fabric (one yard of each of two coordinating fabrics and the Halloween fabric is on sale - and probably clearance priced - at JoAnn's!) and only one hour to make for even the most novice seamstress!  Here's the latest for my collection (I figure I'll hit JoAnn's up for the clearance fabrics after each holiday until I have an entire year's worth!)  Note: Once you figure out how easy it is to make these, you'll discover they are the perfect gift (diaper bags for new moms...or grandmas, book bags for kids and grandkids, even as reusable grocery bags!) and you'll be mass producing them in no time!

They aren't in the store for too long so here's a couple of ideas of what to do with those "fall" candies:

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints

Banana Ghost and Orange Pumpkins - kids party treat alternative
Banana Ghosts & Satsuma Pumpkins

from Sarah
Clever costume for someone's
first Halloween!
and though there are lots of recipes for holiday chex mix, here's one I cobbled together from some of the best:

Terri's HALLOWEEN Snack Mix


  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (which I love but you could just use cinnamon)
  • 1 - 12 oz.box Crispix (or Rice Chex or Corn Chex)
  • 1 package Chow Mein Noodles (I used the 12 oz. bag of La Choy)
  • 2 Cups Cashews (or any other nut - or combination of nuts - you like)
  • 1 - 16 oz. container Planters' Honey Roasted Peanuts
  • 1 - 12.60 oz. bag Harvest Mix M&Ms (or M&M peanuts.  I used regular but I'm thinking the peanut ones would have been more fun!)
  • 1 - 15 oz. bag Reeses Pieces


Melt butter and stir in spices.  In a large pan (one that has sides - I used my roaster), mix together anything that needs a bit of "toasting" (the cereal, the nuts - but not the honey roasted ones...that sugar will just melt or worse burn - and the "noodles"). Pour butter/spice mixture over this and gently toss to get everything evenly coated.

Bake at 300 F. for 15 minutes.

Let cool COMPLETELY! before stirring in honey-roasted nuts and candies.

Hope you have a frighteningly fun HALLOWEEN!

~later, getting my costume ready, tw

Friday, October 25, 2013

If It Fits, It Ships...

and so much more.

I mean, seriously, how much do we love the US Post Office?  Especially this time of year!

If you hate standing in line (I generally do not find it to be the worst thing in the world  but my "other-not-always-better-and-certainly-not-when-it-comes-to-waiting-for-anything-half" is absolutely horrible at it!) then I hope you know all about USPS.COM

Holy FamilyIt's the most fabulous place - you can order stamps (including holiday stamps) and all kinds of packaging supplies (like those fabulous Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes - "If It Fits, It Ships!") and they'll even send you a supply of those plastic sleeves for customs forms for mailing internationally!Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes Variety Pack

(I frequently use those to send things to Sarah in Sweden and Travis while deployed.)  Most packaging supplies they will ship to you for free but there is a slight shipping fee to mail stamps (go figure?)  I even pay for the priority box postage online (which is sometimes offered at a slight savings and hey, every little bit counts!) AND....even more miraculous...I can arrange for the postman to pick it up RIGHT FROM MY DOORSTEP!  What a great country!

New England Coastal LighthousesPostal rates are scheduled to go up soon so you might want to stock up on those FOREVER stamps at $.46 while you can because these are going to cost you $.49 come January 26, 2014.

So with the holidays right around the corner (and I'm hoping I get lots of newsy/cheery cards and letters from each of you!), I know you'll want to be checking out USPS.COM!

~later, ordering my holiday supplies now, tw

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In The Bag

Today's tip comes from my son-in-law (Travis).  Even though he's currently deployed, Travis is always on the look out for things that make my daughter's life easier, better, enjoyable (which naturally earns him a rank much higher than "Captain" on my list!).  Amazon is great for this - you can shop from wherever you are and things appear half-a-world away as if by magic.

As I've mentioned before, I like getting my produce delivered.  I look forward to my weekly box and when it arrives I take the time to get it all perfectly situated in the fridge, ready to use.

The only real drawback is that it arrives...well...in a box.  Unless things are small and need to be corralled in a bag of some sort, it pretty much just is in the box.  This is not the way I typically like to store things in the fridge so I've been trying to carefully save and reuse the plastic bags from my increasingly rare trips to the produce aisle of the grocery store.

Now I use these little wonders that I happened to see when visiting Jenny:  Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags.  Travis had seen them on Amazon and thought they would be useful for Jenny.  I totally agree!  They are a lightweight mess material that can be easily tossed in the washer to refresh.  They are a nice size (12" x 14") and are "color-coded" (though I haven't figured out what that would be useful for - I mean, I'm pretty good at figuring out what's in each of them so far).

Another great idea from Travis was this set of Reusable Shopping Tote/Grocery Bags.  These come in a four-pack and in lots of bright colors (I got an assortment of four).  They fold up into themselves and have a carabiner that can easily hook onto purse, backpack or belt loop.  When stuffed into their pocket, it easily fits into YOUR pocket (or purse, backpack, etc.) meaning I always have it with me in my bag instead of stuck out in the car where I'm most likely not going to run out and get it.  It holds a ton (okay not exactly one ton but it does hold at least 25 lbs. which is more than I could easily carry anyway).

Both of these items are fun, inexpensive and incredibly useful.  Thanks, Travis, for these GREAT IDEAS!

~later, loving my new bags, tw