Education · life · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Orientation Day

Today was the day! It was the day when my K-Prep kiddos got the opportunity to see our classroom for the first time. It was also the opportunity for their parents to come in and see where they will be learning and playing.

I had to give the school’s Orientation power point, which meant I was speed talking. I’m also not used to having the children in the room when I have to give these types of presentations to the parents. This meant my voice had to get louder and louder to talk over the children who were working on a quick project in the back of the room.

Oh well… it is done. Onto tomorrow our first day of class. I should have 17 of my 19 students tomorrow, but 3 did not show up today and at least one parent told me they will be on vacation next week, of course I totally forgot who that was 3 minutes after they told me. Information overload!

As promised, here are a few pictures of my classroom.

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Hello

 

Image result for life goes onI did not fall off the face of the Earth. I haven’t given up blogging. Life has just been super busy. I’ve been working 8:30-3 or so trying to get my room set up and everything ready to go.

I will take pictures of my room and share with you. I will get back to sharing stories, recipes, book reviews and so much more. I will be back reading your blogs and enjoying your stories. But, first I need to get all my ducks in a row at work and still maintain a normal life for the boys.

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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 Fischer?” “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. Fischer 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 Fischer again and hear more of the story).

family · life · Uncategorized

Variety is the Spice of Life

Over the years, we have tried to expose the boys to a variety of things.  We have exposed them to a variety of sports both on tv (Olympics, pro sports, x-games etc..) as well as going to see sports live (pro soccer, indoor football, college football/baseball/softball/ basketball etc…)

We have introduced them to a variety of literature genres. They read everything from graphic novels to non-fiction to biographies to mysteries. They enjoy finding series of books that they can get wrapped up in characters as well as books they read to learn something new.

We have also expanded their horizons when it comes to music. They have been listening to a wide variety of music since they were children. While they did like listening to Laurie Berkner Band and the Imagination Movers when they were little, they also loved classic rock. If you look at their MP3 players you would find everything from Van Halen, to Weird Al, to Green Day to more popular songs today. There is very little that we do not listen to in the house.

Right now the boys are into listening to musicals. They are big into Hamilton, Sponge Bob the Musical and Wicked. I know that this is spurred on because of their performing in musical theater themselves. We will continue to expose the boys to a variety of musicals. I know we will soon be listening to a lot of Mary Poppins here soon, that is the play they are doing this fall.

We know that the more they are exposed to the better they will be later in life.

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Pies and Prejudice

PIES AND PREJUDICEWhen I was at the library the other day I picked up Pies and Prejudice, by Ellery Adams. This is written by the same author who wrote the Secret, Book & Scone Society, that I reviewed here.

Pies and Prejudice is the first book in a series set in Georgia.

Ella Mae LaFaye feels like nothing else could go wrong with her life. Seven years ago she left her home in Havenwood, Georgia to move to New York with her husband Slone. There she went to culinary school, in hopes of opening her own pie shop. She never finished that degree and never wants to go back to NY ever again!

Not knowing where else to turn, she returned to her mother’s home in Georgia. There she is surrounded by Reba, her mom’s housekeeper and Ella Mae’s confidant and constant companion, and her three aunts. Growing up Ella Mae felt more connect to these 4 amazing women than her own mother. Will she be able to stay under the same roof as her mother now? What will she do next in her life? Well her mother and aunts have just the answer to that…. open a pie shop in Havenwood.

But as life seems to be going right now, life isn’t so simple as opening a shop, Charmed Pie Shop, and going on with life. Is there something special about her pies beyond the fact that they taste scrumptious? Will she rekindle the flame she had for her childhood crush? What about the rivalry with her childhood bully? Will everything come to an end when her rolling pin is found at a murder scene? Read and find out.

I really enjoyed the mystery and food connection Adams creates. She even includes recipes at the back of the book! The characters go back and forth between feeling real and being part of an imaginary realm. There is a whole magical element to this story that swings between feeling like a gimic to adding a fun and creative element to the story.

I will pick up the second book in the series Peach Pies and Alibis to see what other adventures Ella Mae and her crazy and loving band of relatives, friends and nemisis can conjure up.

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Star Girl and Mockingbird book reviews

This summer the boys and I got library cards. We have been going to the library every week. Each week Blake gets 7-9 books and Colby gets 5-7 books. I have been picking up 2 books each week. I am always shocked to see that we have plowed through the books and are ready to return them the next week.

The last two weeks Colby has been choosing books off a list we found of books for children who liked the Wonder series. He asked me to read one last week and one this week.

Book - Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliLast week he had me read Star Girl, by Jerry Spinneli. Star Girl is written about how a school deals with “The new girl” who starts school for the first time. Leo tells the story of how Star Girl changes Mica High from the first day she arrived. Star Girl did not look, act or even think like anyone else in the school. Is it good to be THAT different? Can the positive energy and unique desire to be happy all the time, that is Star Girl, bring about a change in the culture of a whole school, or at least a few of the students there?

I really enjoyed this story and so did Colby. I believe in some ways he could relate to Star Girl. He was just the new kid and he too is very emotional, passionate and always wants people to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong he doesn’t dress crazy, or call himself a unique name, or go out of his way to feel that different, but he knows his personality draws people in and makes them happy.  This is a YA book and one that is a good read for teen and tweens. The story is written from the voice of Leo and how he reacts to Star Girl. Both male and female readers can relate to this story.Book - Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Colby and I both plowed through the book Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine yesterday. It’s not that the book was super short, it was just that good. Caitlin is in the fifth grade. She is bight, a gifted reader and a talented artist. Caitlin also has Asperger’s syndrome. Before, her brother Devon helped her negotiate how to fit into a world that makes little to no sense to her. But, then the unspeakable happened. Devon was killed in a school shooting. Her father doesn’t no know to deal with his own emotions never mind those of his daughter. The school counselor tries to help Caitlin see that with a little guidance she can understand empathy and then understand how to help herself and so many other people in her life that are hurting after this tragedy.

This book is a good ready for anyone! It was an interesting look into the thought process of a child with Asperger’s. I have taught children with this and I could relate. I have know children with his and see how they just don’t fit in even when they don’t realize they don’t fit in. They see the world through their own set of eyes. This book did an excellent job of showing how important it is to see each person for their strengths and that if you just step back and look at the person for their strengths and not the aspects of why they don’t fit in you may see you have more in common than you realize.

The theme of school shooting plays a back plot in this book. It is not discussed in great details, but more deals with how this effects those left behind. The purpose seemed to be to connect a variety of characters to the same tragedy. This is something that is being addressed in schools on a regular basis, and helping children see how the shooting effects more than just the victims themselves may help children see this act in a new light as well.  (this is also a YA story)

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1st blogoversary

I was looking at my memories on Facebook and realized that one year ago today I started blogging again. You can read my first post here.

I started this blog as a way to write about our move. There was so much changing in our lives that I wanted a place to just put my thoughts down. I find that when I blog about something it helps me work things out in my head.

I often keep my blog light and rambling. It is a quick peek into the lives of our family. I enjoy sharing the adventures of my sons, the books I’ve read, and recipes that I’ve made. I truly enjoy the followers who comment on my blog and feel that I have found a place in the blogging community.

I will continue to blog until it feels more like work than fun. But, for now I’m enjoying the ride.

So, my fun blogging friends… here’s my question for you. What posts do you enjoy reading? What would you like to see more of in the year to come? I feel like I have been posting more recipes and book reviews lately. Do you like that or would you rather more of my rambles?  Let me know… I blog for me, but I like to keep my readers happy too!

family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.

 

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Beach Rental book review and rambles

Happy Friday Eve!

This has been such a strange week for me. I posted a bit about it yesterday. On top of all the crazy busy of the boys’ schedules, Richard had 2 days of meetings. For his job when they have these big meetings where people travel in from other states it means full days of meetings followed up by dinner and/or drinks. This means he leaves the house at 7:20am to drive the boys to the bus stop and then didn’t arrive home until around 10pm. I’m not sure how he does it! At least it’s done now, and everything went as smoothly as he hoped it would.

I just finished reading another book on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader . One of the biggest perks of reading on the Kindle is the free books I can get with out prime membership. On Monday, I posted about Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series which I also got for free. I guess this is another bonus to having a prime membership even if the price is going up! I love the free shipping, we have a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player which is ALWAYS on playing music in the background of our life. I had to laugh yesterday listening to the boys request music on Alexa, we went from We Didn’t Start the Fire to Laughter In The Rain then Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. My sons have always had an eclectic variety of music they listen to, but it just seems to shine through more lately. Some of their favorite stations to listen to are Pop For Cooking, ’70s Light Pop Perfection, ’80s Pop for Runners and those are just a few that they pick. I find it crazy that they know the names of the songs as well as who sings the song. Me, well I could sing the whole song for you but couldn’t fathom to tell you the facts about the song. Oh well, guess I’ll never go on a music game show, but they can!

Today I finished reading Beach Rental (Large Print) (Emerald Isle, NC Stories) (Volume 1), but Grace Greene. I felt like I read this book really fast, but that maybe because I’m finally back to only reading one book at a time. I read all three of the Harry Potter books one after the other and then I was reading a book and an e-book at the same time while adjusting to reading on the Kindle. Beach Rental was the first book in forever that I read both during the day and at night. So I felt like I flew through the book. I was able to get this book free through my prime membership, notice a trend her?

Juli Cooke’s life has never been easy. She bounced around in the foster care system as a child and has worked hard as an adult to keep her nose clean and a roof over her head. She works at a grocery store during the day and picks up jobs with caters at night for extra cash.

One night while working as a server for a lavish party, her life takes a very unexpected twist. She meets Ben Bradshaw at that party and he turns her life on its ear with the proposal of marriage. Ben is dying and realizes he wants someone in his life to keep him company. He offers Juli a financial freedom for her friendship, that may or may not turn into more over time. Juli agrees with this arrangement, but finds more opposition from Ben’s family than she was prepared to deal with. Ben’s cousin and business partner Luke, noticed Juli at the same party and had a preconceived notion of who she was and what her motives really were. When Ben’s sudden death changes everything, Juli and Luke are forced to work together to settle the estate and so much more.

Read what happens in this unique love story that shows that often times love pops up in the most unusual places.

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