Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gander's Generosity

One thing I love about the Olympics is all the back stories...about the athletes, the sports, and the countries.

This weekend, I sat in tears watching one of those stories.

The story, presented by Tom Brokaw, focused on the small Canadian town (province? city?...don't know the right word) of Gander.

It was an amazing story of human kindness and generosity and one that was not widely shared.

We all know what happened on that Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001. But while we were all focused on the horrors of what was happening in New York and at the Pentagon, something else entirely was happening in Gander.

When the planes hit the Towers and in DC, all flights in the US were ordered to be put down. Also all international flights coming into the US were ordered not to come in. It was the first time in history that US air space was empty!

One of those places flights were diverted to was Gander. Gander is a small town of only 10,000 people. On the morning of September 11, the airport was expecting about 3 planes that day. Instead they got about 38 planes. A total of about 7,000 passengers...almost doubling the population of the town.

Can you imagine? 7,000 unexpected visitors show up at your doorstep and you're supposed to welcome them.

And that's just what Gander did. They transformed hotel rooms, churches, legion halls, schools into makeshift homes. To get the passengers to their temporary homes, school buses were the only mode of transportation that could accommodate the amount of people. However, the school bus drivers happened to be on strike that day. When they heard they were needed because of a national emergency, they didn't have a second thought about it.

Passengers weren't allowed to take their checked baggage so all they had were the clothes on their backs and any carry ons they may have had. Town residents came out of the woodworks to offer clothes to their new town members. Prescription drugs were also needed for those that had them in their checked bags, so the local pharmacies opened their doors and gave out medicines as of charge.

One man talked about how he was in line at the grocery store and the clerk invited him to her house so he could take a shower.

There were stories like that all over Gander.

Once they were allowed to fly again (3 days later) one lady wanted to pay back the community that had welcomed her so warmly. On the plane, she asked the pilot if she could make an announcement. She wanted to repay the community somehow. She asked if anyone would like to donate to a scholarship to the school that had been her home the last 3 days. That day alone they had pledged $15,000! Today, it's up to $900,000!

There was also a sweet story about a man from Europe who was going to a business meeting in Texas. (He was supposed to fly out Sept. 10, but the company changed it at the last minute). He met a lady flying home to Texas. They were both stranded in Gander, but struck up a friendship. And eventually married!

Brokaw said that when he was in Gander doing this story, the people just couldn't understand what all the big fuss was about. They didn't understand why because they just did what needed to be done.

I searched everywhere to find a video clip of the story, but couldn't find it anywhere. I'm hoping NBC will put it up there soon. Here is a good recap.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it or being to "religious", but I think it was a great example of God's love for us. He welcomes us with open questions asked. We show up with our baggage and He's there for us.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Ten Questions I Have About Cake Decorating


So I've been making cakes for almost 10 years now, but don't really feel like I've made any real progress. I have learned some new tricks & techniques, but I just don't feel like I'm there...know what I mean?

I know I just need to take some classes, but I'm hoping to gain some new wisdom through all you fabulous cakers out there!

1) What do you do to get your icing so smooth? (without using fondant)
2) When covering a cake with fondant, how do you keep the bottom from ruffling? (how do you make it stick to the cake?...may be a better way of asking it)
3) Do you flavor your fondant?
4) Any tricks on getting your cake level?
5) The Cake Boss talks a lot about using modeling chocolate. Have you? Where do you get it?
6) I love the quilted look on fondant. Tips on how to do that?
7) The basketweave covers a multitude of sins. What is your one go-to trick?
8) What is the one tool you can't do without?
9) What's the best way to make writing look better than it is?
10) What are some of your favorite sites to get ideas?

Go to Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

Creative God

You can't spend a day at the aquarium and not believe we serve a CREATIVE God! It would've been so much easier to just make all the fish the same...

...but then we wouldn't have this!

If He puts that much detail into the fish, imagine how much detail and thought He put into us! I just can't wrap my mind around it.

It puts me into perspective when I complain about my thighs, my knees, or any other body part I find flaws with. He created me. He purposefully, thoughtfully, skillfully, fashioned me.

Every exhibit we went through just resonated within me the inspiring awesomeness of our God.

And seeing it all through a child's eye just topped it off!

God's creation is amazing. It's His way of reminding us He loves us, cares for us, and are always in His thoughts.

I was really looking forward to going to the Aquarium from a science teacher's perspective. I'd never been so I was excited to see all these things that I was teaching my kids about.

But I had no idea I would be overcome with love and appreciation for my the aquarium of all places!

So what is it that reminds you of God's love?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Planet Shark: Predator or Prey

Press play.

Until today, this was my impression of sharks, but thanks to Scott Smallwood of Creaxion, I got to attend the Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium and learn a lot more about these seemingly deadly creatures.

The exhibit was full of real shark jaws, teeth, and fossils. I also got to go inside a shark cage [sans sharks!]. I always thought that would be a fun thing to do...get in a cage and be lowered in shark infested waters. I mean, if I'm gonna swim with the sharks, that would be the way to do it, right? Well, after my visit in the shark cage today, those bars don't look quite close enough, know what I mean?

One part of the exhibit was dedicated to shark attack victims and survivors. One of those stories was of Australian Rodney Fox. He was so badly attacked it said his wet suit was the only thing holding his body together! 400 stitches later, he is fine.

A few things I read about on how to avoid a shark attack:
-Don't wear jewelry in the water. Sharks are attracted to shiny things.
-Don't go in the water at dawn or dusk. This must be feeding time.
-Swim in groups, not alone. Sharks go after things that are alone.
-They're also attracted to splashing.

Overall the exhibit was very interesting. It held my attention for the whole time. Because we couldn't take pictures inside the exhibit, Scott sent us some press images to use:

Shark Finning is the practice of catching sharks, ripping of their fins off and throwing them back in the ocean. The fins are then dried in the sun. It is legal ( in most countries. Apparently it is a delicacy in other countries. Below are some of those packaged fins. Don't think I'll be trying that!!

So pack up the family and make a day of it. And here's a coupon to help you out:

Disclosure: I was given 2 complimentary tickets to the GA Aquarium and the Planet Shark exhibit in exchange for this little ole blog post! Thanks again Scott!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Encouraging Kids

One of the awesome sponsors of the Blissdom conference that I went to a couple weeks ago, was Hallmark. They've come out with a new line of cards for kids that are all about encouraging them.

They had a booth set up where you could go and pick out cards for the special kids in your life. You also could sit and talk with one of the card writers for Hallmark. What a fun job! I really wanted to just sit and talk with her about what it's like to be a card writer, but we talked about the cards that I picked out and how I encourage the kids in my life.

See for yourself. Do I have a future in front of the camera?! Ha!

Monday, February 15, 2010

List of Words - Top Ten Tuesday


I've always had a tinge of jealousy for people who naturally flow with words. I feel like I stumble all over my words in speech and in writing. This has become apparently clear as I'm working on an essay for something at work. I had another teacher proofread it and I could barely read my original essay through all the markings.

Fast forward to this weekend and I saw the movie Love Happens. Cute little movie! One of the little querps (did I just make that up?) of the leading lady is she leaves random words written on the wall behind pictures. One of the words was quidnunc which is a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody. I really have no idea what that had to do with any part of the movie...she was a florist!

Anyways, it got me thinking about words and my lack of, well, words.

So without further adoo (, you get the idea!) here are my Top Ten words that I thought were funny and unique:

1. Oxter - the armpit

2. Dactylonomy - a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

3. Gamp - an umbrella

4. Liripoop - a silly person (this was actually the 3rd definition, but I like it the best!)

5. Bever - a light snack between meals.

6. Triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13

7. Nudiustertian - the day before yesterday

8. Badot - silly

9. Emacity - a fondness for buying things.

10. Jentation - breakfast

Some of these words have been lost in the English language and aren't found in dictionaries any more. I'm thinking we should bring some of them back!!

For more TTT lists, go visit OhAmanda.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last minute Valentine treats

If you're a procrastinator like me, then this post is for you. Here's a quick, easy, and YUMMY last minute Valentine treat.

Take a pack of chocolate bark. I like to use white chocolate because then you can color it any color to match any holiday. Follow the instructions on the package to melt it. Add color after it's melted.

Take anything you have around the house and get to dipping! I happen to have some Oreos and graham crackers. You can then add some embellishments: sprinkles, red hots, whatever you've got on hand.

Lastly, it's all about the presentation. Put them in a cute tin, baggie or tissue paper.


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Randomness that was Friday

While I did learn so many neat things about blogging at Blissdom, it doesn't really help if I don't BLOG! That might be easier if I was a mother who had funny or frustrating stories to tell about my kids or if I was a famous singer and could tell stories from a 50 city tour.

I am neither.

So in an attempt to at least get something on this blog, I present to you (all 5 of my loyal readers) the randomness that was my Friday.

-The big story here in GA is all the snow!

This is actually a lot of snow for us!

-I had off of school yesterday! Which puts a damper to the aforementioned snow because our day off was planned...not because of the snow. As a teacher, I still love a good snow day more than ever!

-I'm still cleaning/organizing from Blissdom. One of my predicaments was deciding what to do with all the cute business cards I got. I mean, you are some really clever women! So I didn't really want to throw them away. Then I came across our cute bag tag we got from Mabel's Labels
I just punched a hole in the corner of all my business cards and strung them on our cute Blissdom '10 tag. [Some other blogger posted about stringing business cards together, but I can't for the life of me remember who she was!!]

-I finished a birthday cake for a friend of a friend.

The cake has now been postponed because of the snow. Here's hoping the cake will still tasted good!

-I started to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. That is probably one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. I'm all about pomp and circumstance and it doesn't get any bigger than the Olympics. It was so neat to see all the athletes march in and to see them just swell up with pride as they march behind their flag. Whether they be a country with 100 athletes or just 1, they get the awesome honor of representing their whole country.

I get all tingly every time I hear our national anthem!

So my Friday consisted of some snow, a cake, a craft and the Olympics...random.

What was random about your Friday?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Top Ten Things I Loved About Blissdom


As I try to decompress from my weekend at Blissdom, I'm taking a light spin on things and listing the top 10 things I loved about the weekend:

1. Harry Connick Jr
Still waiting for the picture of Harry and I...with his arm around me. Oh yeah!

2. Meeting Laurie from Tip Junkie
3. Hanging out with Jill from Diaper Diaries...

4. Tricia from Once a Month Mom...

5. Christine from Christine Satterfield...

6. Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife...

7. Jo-Lynne from Musings of a House Wife

8. Meeting George Duran from the Ultimate Cake Off
I kind of have a thing for famous people!!

9. Finding the hatch in our hotel!
10. These girls here

I just am so excited for Blissdom '11 :)

For more TTT, go check out OhAmanda.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Blissdom Recap

Wow...what a weekend! I got to attend the Blissdom conference in Nashville, TN. And to top it off, it was at the beautiful Opryland Hotel. My mind is still reeling from everything I learned. I have to be honest that I totally felt like a fish out of water. {splish, splash}

I loved all the things I learned, but now the question is how to implement it all! Before I left, my blog for me was just a hobby. I was really looking to get some direction on where to go next. I've had my blog for about 3 years now, but have just been in a plateau lately.

As far as the was a blast! I loved all the parties, events, and especially all the new friends I made! I was expecting to meet a lot of new people, but I didn't expect to actually become such good friends with them.

I'm so glad I got to go with my Sisterchicks.
We just had the best time! We can make anything fun...seriously. That's kind of what we're known for. On our drive home, we had a Sisterchick brainstorming session and it looks like a Sisterchick blog is in the works! I will say that most of that brainstorming session involved a lot of belly laughs! Stay tuned!

I was also surprised at the sense of community there was. Everyone loved everyone! Sounds kind of cheesy, but it was really true. The opening session with Kevin Carroll was so inspiring. The closing session with McKmama was so heartfelt. And everything in between was just fabulous!

There were lots of goodies from the sponsors of the conference. I'm surprised we were able to fit it all in the car!

So hopefully, you'll see some progress here at Simply Staci. Albeit slow progress ;)

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