life · through my camera lens

Photo Fun

So this weekend I decided to splurge on me a bit. Typically I spend more money on everyone else in the house, but from time to time I say… I need x, y or z.

So… this weekend we went to Famous Footwear and I got hiking shoes. I’ve been talking about getting shoes for hiking since we moved here last summer and I finally gave in and bought a pair. I got new gym shoes while I was there since I’d worn a hole in the side of my old pair.

My other splurge was a bit more expensive, but totally worth it and time! I ordered a new camera on Amazon. I actually go the same brand and style I’ve had for my last two cameras, just a newer bit more elaborate model. I am a point and shoot photo taker. I have a Panasonic Lumix camera.

So, on Monday when the boys went to there second to last mountain biking class I put on my new hiking shoes and tossed my camera in my backpack. I thought I’d share the photos I had playing around with my new camera

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family · life · through my camera lens

The Point and North Park

Friday we went into the city. The boys and I met Richard at his job and from there we went to an art’s festival by “The Point”. Point State Park is the location of Fort Duquesne which was part of the start of the French Indian War. (I’d have to have Blake do a blog post to tell you more about it) The Point is also the location where three rivers (the Allegheny, Monogahela and the Ohio) converge.

 

The art festival was… ok. But, we had a good time walking around and just being. I was also able to get a few decent pictures of some of the bridges as well as the incline.

Saturday we got up and headed to North Park. The boys took Richard on another trail that they rode with their mountain bike class. This trail travels across the park so I dropped them off and then moved my car. When the finished they wanted to ride more so they took off on a new trail. This trail also ended in a second spot so I moved the car again. I hiked on two new trails for me too. We were all tired when this was done.

 

While I was hiking I came across this little deer having a snack. I decided to stop and watch. While I was there, the boys and Richard actually made it to where I hiked (we were going in opposite directions). We then headed back to the car.

Last night Colby had two friends over for a late birthday sleep over. They had a blast playing video games, watching a movie and we even went out for ice cream. We are all tired today, but it was a fun weekend.

life · through my camera lens

Strawberry Picking

Yesterday the boys and I had a quiet-ish day. The power was out in the morning for over 3 hours, we knew about this ahead of time. The boys used this as an opportunity to build with Lego and read. The power came back on right around lunch time. After they had lunch they began their summer workbooks. I typically purchase workbooks for the boys to complete over the summer. I don’t make it a ton of work, but just enough to keep their brains going. Yesterday, Colby decided he was going to do the first 3 days of lessons, go for it. They did get to use a bit of technology and this made them happy too. We also watched the recorded episode of America’s Got Talent, always a fun and quirky show to watch together.

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I got an e-mail yesterday saying that Sorgel was opening their strawberry fields today from 10-4. We arrived at Sorgel at 10:30! We worked together to pick just about 3lb of strawberries. They did not originally intend for the fields to be open yet, but they said there were too many ripe berries to not have it open for at least one day.  The first field we went to was really picked over, but the second one was bursting with perfect berries.

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I find it interesting that the strawberries that we got in FL, did not have anywhere near the flavor that they have here in PA. This seems backwards to me, but hey I’ll take it!

So… now what to do with all my strawberries??

family · life · through my camera lens

Catching you up on life

Wow I think I missed posting more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole time I’ve been writing this blog. We were busy this weekend as I talked about here. The boys finished up school yesterday, so there were a lot of end of the year things happening. Also, yesterday I had a job interview.

I will hear back from them in about a month, they are between sessions right now and have a board meeting coming up. They also need to finalize with the existing staff what hours they want before hiring. Not that I know if they will offer me a job yet or not. I have another preschool that wants to interview me later in June once they too get their summer program up and going as well as the director of that one is going on vacation in the middle of June.  We shall see what comes about from these places.

I always hate when interviewers ask canned questions. I’d rather you ask me specific questions that I can tell you actually want to know the answer. The first question I got in this interview was tell me about yourself… ummm what do you want to know? I’m a mom, I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I have lots of teaching experience,  ummm umm crickets in my brain.

Another interview question that is always asked that I never know how to answer is “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” Now when I was young (as in right out of college) I was better at answering this… now, not so much. When I got asked this question at my last interview, back in FL, I laughed and said if you asked me this question 2 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been “I see myself interviewing for a teaching position”. They knew this, but that is another story for another post. This time I was like…. if you asked me last year I wouldn’t have said I’d be in Pittsburgh. Life has to be a bit more fluid when you are a mother. I’m lucky in the knowledge that I don’t need to work and that if life says I need to stay home I can. I instead talked about the fact that I want to go back at sometime and get my PhD (that won’t be until we’ve paid the boys college tuition… they come first), and that I would love to teach in a either a HS, tech school or college where people are in teacher training programs. I have a lot to share and I think I’d do a decent job teaching people to become teachers. But again, that is on the back burner right now because I need to take more courses to get the certifications I’d need for that. I think of life this way in 5 years, Blake (16) will be going into his junior year in HS and Colby (15) his sophomore year. In 10 years Blake will be 21 and Colby will be 20 and they will be in college. How can I know what I’d be doing then when I can’t even imagine them at those ages?

Ok enough of that. Blake and Colby finished their first round of mountain biking classes last night. They enjoyed this so much that we signed them up for session two, that starts on Monday. They went a totally different route and actually ended at a different part of the park. North Park is 3,075 acres so there are lots of trails and paths to take. I decided to drive down to where I would pick them up and hike from there for a change. This was an area I’d never visited, but I will be back. I didn’t walk as far or as long as I typically do, but I finished feeling tired and covered in sweat, guess I call that a good workout,

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food · life · reviews

Sir Pizza and Sorgels

Tonight we had decided to go out to eat. We decided to try a different pizza place. I had read about it in an article stating pizza places to try in the Pittsburgh area. So off to Sir Pizza we went. We ordered a large pizza, half pepperoni and half bacon. We also ordered an Italian Hoagie.

Blake was the only one who liked the pizza. Colby didn’t like the bacon, and if you know Colby you know that is an odd statement. Richard and I didn’t like the sauce they use. The crust was ok. It was really thin, but not really crisp. The sub was cut into 4 pieces. The first slices that Richard and I had were decent, but then when we went back to try the other slices they were soggy from the dressing they put on it. I ended up pulling the ham off my slice to give to Colby and then just ate the rest of the meat off the roll. It was certainly not worth the calories.

After we were done, we drove across the street to Sorgels. Sorgels is a family owned farm that has a garden center, grocery area, ice cream stand, deli, Natrually Sorgels (allergen free, gluten free and other products such as that) and a gift store. This is where we go to strawberry and blueberry pick in the summer and apple pick in the fall. We haven’t been there in quite a while. We decided to walk through the garden center. Then we went into the grocery area to their bakery where they bake all kinds of yummy things daily. We purchased peanut butter cookies for Colby, doughnuts for Richard and Blake, a brownie for Richard and I to split and two quick breads (blueberry and apple cinnamon).

After that, we went to the ice cream part and go ice creams. The four of us sat down and enjoyed our ice creams. It was nice to just sit and relax outside and enjoy having a sweet treat together. I got cinnamon bun ice cream, this was very tasty.

So while dinner was a flop, we did end up enjoying our time together and who doesn’t enjoy ended the day by eating ice cream?

food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Peace Love and Little Donuts review– by Blake

On May 5th, 2018, my mom suggested that my dad and I could go to the Peace, Love and Little Donuts in Wexford, get some donuts, and then I can do a review on it. It was pretty small, and it looked like this:

Image result for peace love and little donuts wexford Pretty interesting, huh? So, my dad and I walked in, and it looked like it opened in the 60’s or 70’s. There were a lot of old band posters dating back to that time, and here are a few of them:

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You can obviously tell that they’re pretty old. The donuts were divided into different sections, with different prices for each type, along with more band posters, as you can see:

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So, as my dad and I were looking around, I noticed something that was really cool:2018-05-05 08.49.25

The one thing that you can’t see, but it was probably their slogan, was: ‘Feed your inner hippie.’

I then decided that I’d get two chocolate chip donuts, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips on that. We got a half dozen donuts, so we got the two chocolate chips, a maple bacon that we got for Colby to try (he didn’t, but my dad did), which is a donut with maple syrup with bacon on top, a chocolate pretzel, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and then two pretzel sticks on top, a cinnamon sugar donut,  which is a cinnamon donut with sugar on it, and a cinnamon donut, which was a cinnamon sugar, just without the sugar. We then paid (and it pretty cheap) and went home. This is what all the donuts looked like:

We all (except Colby) tried one, and they were pretty good. It turns out they were cake donuts, which I’d never tried before. I finished one and had the other one today, May 6th.

All in all, this was a pretty good place. There’s multiple of them, one in Wexford, one in Pittsburgh, and one in Cranberry.

If you’re in a donut mood in Western PA and want to not use a lot from your budget, head on over to this place that I’d definitely go again. You won’t regret feeding your inner hippie.2018-05-05-08-50-04.jpg

 

 

family · life

May the 4th Be With You

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Today has been a good day. Richard decided to stay home, and it is not because it is Star Wars Day. Today is my birthday. Unlike many people, I actually try to ignore the fact that I have a birthday. Maybe if I could count backwards instead of forwards it would be better, not that there are many ages I’d like to go back and try again.

Richard and I went to Ford to get touch up paint, my car got scratched the other day when Blake knocked the bike rack over trying to put out the trash barrels. Then we went and dropped off 4 bags of stuff at Goodwill. After that we went to new lunch location. This was a local “dive” that we had never been to before.

We then worked on looking at many of the decorations that we have yet to hang up in the house. We are trying to figure out what we can hang up and what will not work in this house. We decided to hang up some of the photos we have of the boys in the living room. This has helped add a bit more home feeling to this room.

For dinner we decided to try another local restaurant. We had ordered Uber Eats from them when we lived in the townhouse, but had never been to the actual restaurant. We really enjoyed the meal there, and will be definitely go back again.

So, now you know why I got a new laptop and my parents gave me a kindle… they were early birthday gifts. I love days like today when Richard and I can just be alone and do a lot and nothing all at the same time.

Hope you had a great Friday… and May the 4th be with you!

 

family · food · reviews

Emporio: A Meatball Joint – Restaurant Review

So yesterday I posted my menu for the week. In posting this I realized I had never reviewed Emporio: A Meatball Joint.

Emporio is one of those place that we have been going to since we visited PA last March looking for a place to live. What make Emporio special? Their meatballs. That’s what they do… meatballs!

First things first which type of meatball are you going to have, beef, chicken, pork, veggie or the “Ball of the Month”? Now what are you going to do with your balls? Pick your sauce, pick your side (or skip the side) pasta, fries, tater tots, rice, on a roll?

I typically just get “Saucy Balls” which is 4 meatballs in your choice of sauce. This time I just decided to have beef balls in marinara… simple yet yummy. IMG_20180426_174127 (1).jpg

Richard ordered the Taco Ball Salad (taco ball was the ball of the month). This was romaine lettuce, Spanish rice, cheese, peppers and beef taco balls. IMG_20180426_174159.jpg

We have tried the Ball of the month in the past too, one time it was a cheese burger ball, Colby loved that one.

Blake and Colby ordered off the kids menu. This gets them one ball in sauce, a side, drink and a cookie. Blake had beef with marinara (then ate one of my meatballs too) and french fries. Colby had beef with creamy Parmesan sauce and penne with the same sauce

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One of Blake’s favorite things about this restaurant is that we saw it on Ginormous Foods. He thinks this is pretty cool. They visited Primanti Bros on the same episode. You can check the episode out here.

family · life · through my camera lens

Spring Weekend

This weekend found us with nicer weather, so that meant we were outside. The boys and I went out after they got home from school on Friday. They rode to the park and brought a basketball and soccer ball to play on the court and field down there. I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked about 1.5 miles.

We just realized that that bug protection we had been applying to Dixie didn’t cover ticks. Great!! We have already pulled 4 off her. It’s not easy to find them since she has very dense fur in some spots, plus most of her fur is black. We have given her the flea and tick stuff the vet told us to try at her last appointment. Hopefully this works, last thing we need is for her getting ticks on a regular basis.

The tick find on Dixie spurred me to get out and treat the backyard. We sprayed the area she has access to as well as the perimeter of the woods of our yard with the insecticide spray and then put granular over the rest of the yard. That was my task Saturday morning before we left for the gym.

This was the boys last week of little lifters. They really enjoyed this program. It would be nice to see my places provide this type of training to kids their age. The program was for kids 8-13. This is the prefect age to introduce correct use of gym equipment that they can use independently. They aren’t ready to get out and use the circuit training or free weights yet, but they can use a step bench, resistance bands, light weights, a medicine ball and many other equipment. Colby is very excited to create his own workout for next weekend and keep working on getting stronger.

We headed to DiBella’s and Lowes. We needed an extension rod for the new fan we purchased at Costco for the morning room. We also picked up rollers so we could paint the garage. Over the last few trips we have been picking up their discounted paints. We were getting gallons of paint for $9. It is a great way to get paint if you don’t really care about the color.

So Saturday we painted the garage. We mixed together a quart of navy blue, a gallon of purple, a gallon of sage and a gallon of a light blue. The color ended up sort of a cornflower blue. It works. Richard also took the cans of white and painted the ceiling in the back section of the garage. We still have 3 cans of different shades of green and may mix them together to paint the basement since we were already talking about painting it green. That is still in the lets think about this stage.

Today we got up and headed to North Park. All three guys took their bikes. I’m’ still nursing my hip and knee so I decided to just walk. The boys rode the paved path to the pump park where I caught up with them. I ended up walking about 1.5 miles again. I was glad to see the distance here because soon the boys will be taking mountain biking lessons here and I’ll walk while they are at their lesson  Richard rode his bike on the actual bike trails.

When we were leaving, we ended up stopping to watch an auto cross in the pool parking lot. There were just regular cars, or regular-ish cars, racing around a cone course. The boys enjoyed this. I liked that I captured a few good photos of them up close. 

What a great way to get out and enjoy the fact that we are finally seeing spring temperatures and the sun!

Hope it is nice in your part of the world and that you had a great weekend.