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 "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 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