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Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza -post #2

A few weeks ago I posted about our first trip to Anythony’s Coal Fire Pizza (read post here). Typically when I post about restaurants I go to their Facebook site and link my blog post for them to read. This time I just sent them a Facebook message with the link included. This quick Facebook message set off a fun chain reaction.

First I got a reply back from the marketing department, via Facebook. At that time, they thanked me for the post and asked for my address. I expected to get a coupon or gift card as a thank you. The Director of Marketing mailed me a handwritten note. I was impressed that she took the time to write to me and not just send a form letter as I’ve had in the past as a response for a product review.

The second and even more impressive reply I received, was an e-mail from the company’s CEO, Wayne Jones. Yes, you read that correctly the CEO of Anthony’s Coal Fired PIzza e-mailed… ME. He also had read my blog post. He thanked me for my post and talked about a few of the points in my blog post such as Colby wanting to have a pot of meatballs the next time. He also shared the e-mail and post link with the manager of the local Anthony’s.

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Sooooo. On Saturday we were out in Cranberry Townships, going to Costco, and decided to go to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. We did order Colby his pot of meatballs (13 meatballs in a pot that you get to keep! We also ordered to pies (meatball ricotta and plain cheese). We figured we needed to try the meatball ricotta since all four of us LOVE their meatballs. I personally have always enjoyed ricotta on my pizza.

While we were there I asked to speak to the manager, since well I did know his name now thanks to the CEO. When the manager came over I said “Are you Brian Fisher?” “I got your name from Wayne Jones” His response was “That’s the CEO.” Yes sir it is! I then explained who I was and why I was communicating with the CEO of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

We then spent a bit of time talking to the store manager. Mr. Fisher was very kind and well spoken. He addressed both the boys and asked them directly about the food. Richard then asked where Anthony’s originated. Mr. Fisher took the time to share a bit of the back story. It turns out that Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza began in Florida. Anthony was working at his father’s Italian restaurant, Anthony’s Runway 84, in the Ft. Lauderdale area and Miami Dolphin’s Dan Marino often visited the restaurant. Marino would suggest other popular Italian dishes he wished they served at Anthony’s father’s restaurant. Anthony and his father were able to accommodate most with recipes from their own family recipes. When Marino suggested that they add pizza, the idea clicked that it was time for a new restaurant. Anthony knew that the only way to do pizza so it tasted like authentic from Italy pizza was a coal fired grill. They originally planned to build one Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza back in 2002. It has now grown to over 60 locations in 8 states.

In each location they build a coal fired grill in which they fire up not only the pizza pies, but all their dishes. As I mentioned in my previous post they do not have microwaves or freezer, and they only use fresh ingredients. Check out the menu, here.

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The pizza, Blake’s favorite part, has a crispy and yet still chewy crust. With fresh ingredients as topping including homemade sauces (you can see the tomatoes, you know it’s fresh!), the pizza will make you smile. And take Colby’s word for it you HAVE to try the meatballs. Colby tops his with parm cheese, while Richard and I enjoy adding dobs of the fresh ricotta that they serve on the side. Blake enjoys the meatballs too, but he reallllllly likes the fresh focaccia bread that comes with the meatballs.

Mr. Fisher suggested to the boys that they needed to try the wings the next time we head into Anthony’s. I can tell you this, between the tasty food and how much they have gone out of their way to show me, a little known blogger, their appreciation… we will be back again, soon! (Too bad that Uber Eats doesn’t deliver their food to our house, or else we might order even sooner. Oh well… guess it just means I’ll get a chance to talk to Mr Fisher again and hear more of the story).

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Education · family · life

Changes and News

Yesterday I took the boys to their school. The teachers aren’t there, but it is an opportunity to find their classrooms. This year they are in the same biome (the school labels the hallways by biomes). Colby has the teachers that Blake had last year and Blake is just moving down the hall to 6th grade. Colby found two people from his class last year that are in class with him again this year. He is happy about that. At this time, Blake doesn’t know who is in his class, but those who know enough to contact are in his biome never mind his class. Oh well that will be good for him, meet and get to know other kids.

I know I haven’t talked about me job search in a while. I was contacted by three different preschools over the summer. I interviewed with all of them. Two of them I went back and taught a lesson. The third one offered me a position at my first interview, that was last Thursday. Yesterday I did a second interview at the other pre-school I was considering. I made a decision today. I accepted a job teaching kindergarten prep.

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I will be working from 8:45-12:45. I decided this would be perfect for our family. I get to teach and have the fun and challenge of doing what I’m good at doing, but I’m also home when the boys get off the bus. I can do the grocery shopping, cleaning and other things during the week and we can still have our weekends to do fun things.

It will also give me time to do more work on my Teacher Pay Teachers store! I am looking forward to this change and less teaching stress.

I’m excited to take on this new adventure and step in my life.

family · life · through my camera lens

Carnegie Science Center

Yesterday Richard took the day off to spend some time together as a family. We had been trying to find time to head into the Carnegie Science Center, but hadn’t managed yet. Right now they have a special display called the Art of the Brick.

We started by going through The Art of the Brick. This is the art of Nathan Sawaya. He creates and recreates art using Lego blocks. Colby was excited to see this. Before we walked in he informed me that this was going to be his career, but he wants to create abstract Lego Art.

We walked through and looked at the art and sculpture recreations. It was pretty impressive to see how close he was able to get to the original art. The next sections were pieces he created on his own. These too were very creative. When you went through this whole area you then went upstairs where they had a variety of stations with Lego blocks for people to build their own creations. They had a variety of suggested items, but you could pretty much do whatever you wanted.

Then we went into the science museum. This was a decent science center. There was a variety of hands on activities for the children to interact and learn from. I’m not sure I was impressed with the quantity or quality of these activities. (I guess I’m a bit of a museum snob). I’m not sure you would want to go back to this museum on a regular basis, but it certainly was worth going at least one, or once in a blue moon.

They we went outside to the submarine that they have docked on the river. You are able to go through the USS Requin submarine with your admission to the science center (the Art of the Brick was a separate cost, but everything else we did was included with the museum price). We walked through the submarine and realized that this was a very tight place to live for weeks at a time.

We then went to the Highmark SportsWorks. This was nothing like I expected it to be. There are 30 sports related activities. There were long lines at most of it and many were just ok. We did not wait in line for the ropes course, rock wall, human yo-yo or any of the ones that had long lines. They swung a bat, raced, tested their reflexes and a few other things. I’m glad this was included in the price I would not have wanted to pay a separate price for this.

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– back to school (routines edition)

It’s that time of year. Back to school time!

If we still lived in FL, the boys would be going back today. But, here where we live they go back on the 23rd. Yes, I know that there are other places that still don’t go back until after Labor Day.

It doesn’t matter when you go back, it all is the same… change!

While we all know that going back means getting new clothes, backpack and lunchbox. There are so many other things to do to help your child get ready to go back to school.

Work on adjusting their sleep routine back into school mode. I know most parents, myself included, allow the bedtime routines to slip a bit during the summer. Maybe you let your children stay up later, or sleep in longer. Maybe you drop the reading before bedtime or other routines. You should start these routines back up 2 to 3 weeks before school starts. This will help on that first day/week/month getting up and moving in the mornings.

Establish new routines and set expectations ahead of time. Each year your child should be gaining more and more responsibility for their school prep. I’m not talking about making them buy their notebooks. I mean get an alarm clock and have them wake up and get moving on their own. Or have them choose their own clothes to wear. Or have them pack their own lunches. The more steps you encourage them to do independently the easier it will be later in life.

My sons began picking out their own clothes when they started K. They had to put out their clothes on their toy box the night before. I had and still have veto power over outfits. They have school clothes that they keep separated from their play clothes. I keep their bottoms neutral (demin, khaki, navy and black), this makes it easier to put together outfits that will work. When we go shopping they pick out the clothes they have, so they like what they have.

My sons began packing their own lunches when they were in first grade. I packed in kindergarten and they used the same lunch containers in first grade. They used bento style boxes that had three sections. They packed a protein (sandwich, deli roll up, leftovers etc), a fruit or veggie and then a junk (chips, pretzels, goldfish, etc). Now they use zip lock bags, tupperware or thermos to pack their lunches. They know to have a main item (protein preferably), a fruit or veggie and then a snack type item. I do pack the lunch items into their lunchboxes in the mornings. Hmmmm maybe that will be their new thing this year?

My sons became responsible for all paperwork when they were in third grade. At this point I stopped checking folders/binders etc. They could give me everything or they could pick out what I needed to see (I prefer the later). They needed to be on it as I won’t go hunting down permission slips and other papers that need to be filled out. I typically know when things should be coming home and may provide a few gentle reminders at that time but it’s their paperwork.

I also only check homework if they ask me to, that started about 4th grade. It is their homework, their responsibility. I do help if needed, but they need to try on their own before they can ask for help. They come home, have a snack and start homework. They must complete it before asking for any kind of technology. School based technology is the last step in the homework process.

I know there are parents who would feel that I’m way too hands off when it comes to my children’s school work. I want them to own their successes and failures. I want them to learn now that it is not ok to turn in things late. That no one is going to rescue you when you are unprepared. I want them to see that they can get themselves prepared and going. They need to learn to leave time to do the things that need to get done. They can’t be late (or in my opinion on time… as on-time is late). If they learn these lessons now when grades are not as important as they are in high school and college. If they learn these lessons when we are here to help pick up the pieces it will help when they live on their own.

I’m helping my children grow up.

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Mixed Berry Sauce

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Colby had requested pancake for dinner tonight. So we had pancakes and bacon for dinner. While I do get one cheat day/meal a week I decided I wanted to have a slightly healthy addition to our pancakes.

While Richard made the bacon, I whipped up our favorite homemade pancakes. Here is the link to the pancake mix we use.

I also made a batch of mixed berry sauce. I have frozen mixed berries for my smoothies, this bag was strawberry, blueberry and raspberry,

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I used the berries as a topping on my pancakes as well as topping a dish of vanilla yogurt. Since I did not add any sugar to this mixture the sweetness totally came from the berries.

Mix Berry Sauce

  • 2 c. mixed berries
  • 1 lemon
  1. put berries into the sauce pan over high
  2. zest and juice the lemon adding both to the pan
  3. once it comes to a boil, reduce the head to low and let the mixture simmer
  4. stir to assist in the breaking down of the berries
  5. remove from the heat and let cool
  6. serve over pancakes, yogurt, ice cream… whatever you want/need a berry sauce

This batch had a strong raspberry flavor, but it was very tasty. I am planning to make a batch of just strawberry, and then experiment with a peach sauce since I have frozen peaches too. I really liked this over the yogurt and the fact that I can control the amount and quality of berries added to my yogurt!

 

food · reviews

Lemon or Lime cookies

So Richard had a bbq to go to after work today, I decided to bake cookies for him to take. Shocked? Yeah I’m sure his co-workers won’t be shocked either. Oh well, at least I’m predictable in a tasty way?

So I was originally going to make a make your own oreo recipe, but decided I didn’t want to deal with rolling out and cutting cookies. I had gone to the grocery store and picked up some lemons and limes. I decided to make lemon and/or lime cookies. I went searching on the web and stumbled across a recipe for Lemon Chewy Crisps.

Lemon or Lime Chewy Crisps Cookies (adapted from allrecipes)

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • zest of a lemon (or two limes)
  • juice of a lemon (or two limes)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. cream butter and sugar
  3. incorporate egg, zest, juice, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda until blended
  4. add flour until just mixed
  5. scoop onto cookie sheet
  6. bake 10-12 min until edges start to brown
  7. let cool 1 min on sheet then remove to cooling rack

I made one batch of lemon and one batch of lime. I got about 22 cookies in each batch. While the color of the cookies were pretty much the same (oops guess I should have added a drop or two of food coloring), that is where the sameness ended. The lemon (right picture) ones didn’t spread much at all and ended up with a crinkled top. The lime (right picture) ones spread out more and had a smooth top. The lemon flavor was barely there just a hint of lemon to be found. The lime ones had a much stronger flavor.

I said to Richard “Now I need to go get an orange and try it with orange.”

I may try them again, we will see. I might have to search for a different recipe. I wanted something more crispy and these were certainly a chewy cookie.

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chicken thighs with sweet potatoes and apples

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I had chicken thighs and sweet potatoes to have for dinner last night. Originally I was going to grill them both, but then it decided to pour when I would have to heat the grill and get things started.

This prompted me to switch gears.  Ok… turn on the oven!

This was a toss together meal, so that means I don’t have any exact measurements, but hey winging it is not a bad thing!

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Chicken Thighs with sweet potatoes and apples

  • chicken thighs- trim off the fat
  • 2 apples sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes sliced
  • cinnamon
  •  nutmeg
  • cumin
  • S & P
  • EVOO
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. pour a bit of EVOO on a sheet pan
  3. placed sliced sweet potatoes and apples on the cookie sheet
  4. sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper over the whole layer
  5. placed cleaned chicken on top of sweet potatoes and apples
  6. sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over chicken
  7. top with aluminium foil and bake for 15 min
  8. remove foil, increase oven temp to 425 and cook for an additional 10-15 min or until chicken is cooked thoroughly

I did enjoy this a lot. I probably put more EVOO than needed. Next time, I may just spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray instead of pouring the EVOO on it. It didn’t taste greasy, but there was just a lot of grease/oil on the bottom of the pan when it was all said and done.

The boys both enjoyed the chicken and ate 2 or 3 thighs each. They were not fans of the apples or sweet potatoes, but that didn’t shock me since they don’t really like cooked veggies at all.

Richard did not like the apples but did enjoy the sweet potato and chicken.

I found that if you got a bite with a bit of everything it tasted really good. Next time, I will make it with just the sweet potatoes and skip the apples. But it was a tasty and healthy meal!

book · reviews

Beautiful Exiles

I know it has been forever since I did a book review! I have been reading a lot of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Series. I am also almost done reading young adult series, by Kiera Cass, which started with Selection.

Last week I finished my library books early so I had a lot of time to devote to a story I’ve been reading on my Kindle, Beautiful Exiles by Meg Write Clayton.

Beautiful Exiles tells the story of Martha Gellhorn who is a headstrong, independent, journalist in a time where most people felt that women needed to be in the house not on the battlefield.

In 1936, Martha along with her mother and brother go to Key West for the holidays. There they meet Ernest Hemmingway. Martha is awestruck as she views Hemmingway as a journalist to model herself after.

Hemmingway, married at the time to his second wife, finds the company of Martha quite enjoyable. He woos her with his words and the prospect of travels to war torn places. Hemmingway states that the best love stories are written against the fury of war.

Both Hemmingway and Gellhorn travel to Spain to cover the beginning steps of World War II. There Gellhorn falls deeper in love with both Hemmingway and the nature of being a war journalist.

The book follows them through their relationship right up until Hemmingway’s death. They have a very turbulent relationship in all aspects. While the book tells about their relationship it is far from a love story. This book touches on all aspects of life… the good, the bad and the ugly. It is told from the perspective of Gellhorn and is a great way to show how even when it is enough, it isn’t enough. She was a strong female who stood up for what she believed in. She struggled to find balance between her dreams and goals and being the wife the Hemmingway expected her to be.

This is one of those books that I wouldn’t read again. It’s not a book that I’m going to say… go out and get this book now! But, I didn’t put it down either. I didn’t delete it. It was a good book. It was informative. It told a lot about life in the world during the pre-WWII era.

I will admit that I’ve never read anything written by Hemmingway. I never heard of Gellhorn before reading this book. But I did find them both to be intriguing.

 

Education · life

School Supply Lists

It’s back to school time. Which means it is time to hear people complain. Let the complaining begin, or should it?

You will start seeing/hearing/reading about people complaining about supply lists. I know both sides of these lists. And, while I understand the issues, I also understand why these list exist.

So… here!

Why do teachers send supply lists in the first place? Because school systems do not supply materials for classroom use. I’ve worked in schools where teachers get a $25 budget to buy resources for the classroom… do you know how far this goes for 18-22 children? Back to school time is the time that items are on sale. So while your child may not use 50 pencils in September, he/she will use/lose that many during the school year. Plus most classroom teachers have to share specific supplies with special area teachers (art, music, library, computer lab, pe … etc)

Why do teachers ask for specific brands? After teaching for many years you get to know classroom supplies. We realize that it is cheeper to buy store brand, but it won’t last as long. Crayola crayons color in true color and most other crayon colors are slightly off. Friskar scissors are the sharpest and do not break. I’ve had students with off brand scissors have the scissors break during the year. These kids are NOT gentle with their supplies. We do not get money from these brands, we are just trying to find the ones that will last the longest. Trust me it is worth a bit more investment now instead of having the teacher/your child ask you to replace the items later because they are broken, dried out or totally lost.

When teachers ask for specific color folders, notebooks or other items, they have a system in place that uses these colors to help your child get organized. They are not trying to make it so your daughter can’t have the super cute folder she wants. They want to be able to say take out your red writing folder. Or pull out your green science notebook. This helps speed the process of transitioning between subjects.

Think of this, your child’s teacher is having to store these items in the classroom for future use. But, as I stated most of the items teachers ask for on back to school lists are on sale at this time of the year. When grade level lists have to be created teachers spend a lot of time hashing over what to ask for and where to store the items until they will be used.

As a teacher, I often find it quite humorous that the parents who are the most forceful on everything being equal are the ones who often complain the most about having to buy a specific brand item. This isn’t about being equal, or trying to make parents spend too much money or any of the things you think. The teachers are attempting to figure out everything your child will need to be successful. If you question a product, ask the teacher what it will be used for, they will tell you.

For example, I overheard a parent a few years ago complaining that their kindergartner needed dry erase markers. The parent was saying… how many markers will a teacher go through in a year. My child will probably never even get to use the marker on the board. Where if the parent asked they would probably find out that every child in that classroom will most likely have a lap size whiteboard that will be used in the learning process.

Parents… Teachers are not trying to make you go broke. They are not trying to punish you. They are not even mildly attempting to be unreasonable in their requests. Just remember that if they do not ask for these resources now they will either have to ask later (when parents are less likely to buy since they won’t be on sale) or buy the items themselves. I know myself and most teachers I know spend a LOT of their own money for the classroom. If you can’t afford items the teachers will not make your child’s life miserable, the teacher will just go out and buy the items him/herself.

life

Ready for the new school year?

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. There are often times when I wish the boys went to school all year long. They do so much better when they have a routine. Then there are days when I am so happy that they have summer break. I love the slower moments of life.

Today the boys got up, had breakfast and then went downstairs. They are playing with hot wheels cars. They take control of the fire stick, but that is fine. They don’t always play well together, but when they do it is nice. I enjoy the easy relationship they have together. They certainly are best of friends and worst of enemies. They have a natural relationship together. They are both strong willed and that shows in ugly ways at times, but I wouldn’t change in either of the boys.

We have kept up some routines, schedules and expectations over the summer, but also loosened up some of them too. I like that as they get older they have more independent times. We are getting to the phase in their lives where they balance is shifting. They need to make more and more decisions on their own. They need to be more responsible for their choices, actions and forward movements in life.

So many times it seems that parents want to keep their children younger. They want to shelter the children. They want to stay in control of the choices and decisions that are made. That is not the way that Richard and I parent. We want the boys to have a firm grasp on reality. They need to understand choices and consequences now before those wrong choices could land them in more trouble than an apology can fix.

So am I ready for summer to be over? Yes and No. Am I ready for the boys to grow up? Yes. I love seeing the changes in the boys. I am excited to see what the next change will be. I’m excited to see the growth and development in all aspects of life. Going forward into the next grade of school is a huge step in the development process… so bring on 6th and 5th grades. I’m ready to see the changes it with bring in their personalities, development and all around self. (Not that I’m ready to start the whole get up and function in the mornings)