Category Archives: Family

Music Can Inspire Greatness

I have been a Harry Potter fan since the books first came out. I have a 20 year old son who was at just the right age for Young Adult books when they were published and he was at that time in his life an avid reader. In face he would often get in trouble in 4th and 5th grade for often having his nose in a book instead of paying attention to the teacher. (I probably should have realized this was an escape from school work that would show up later in high school in less positive ways) but at the time I was okay with having a great reader although of course being a dutiful mom I scolded him for not paying attention.

This same son and I were such Harry Potter fans that we went to the bookstores at midnight when the books came out to buy them. I wasn’t quite okay with midnight movie openings because they were usually on school nights unfortunately but the books came out on Fridays or Saturdays and it became a special treat for us.

We own all the movies and have all the books in both paperback and hardcover, and yes I can say we have a Harry Potter marathon movie day at least two to three times a year at our house.

So you can imagine my delight when this brilliant man named John Jesensky created Cine concerts. This is a concert where a symphony plays the scores of movies while the movies are being shown on a big screen behind the musicians. For me this is awesome because Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is being shown and played by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in November in a town next to me.

This is very exciting and I can’t wait to experience this. It will be both acoustically and visually stunning! Music Can Inspire Greatness!

Mr. Jesensky is also a composer of music for over 15 films and has created a scholarship in his name. Young musicians face a highly competitive field and higher education is quite costly. Many times they drop out of music and pursue other career paths. Mr Jesensky has created a scholarship (The John Jesensky Music Scholarship) to support students. One student can receive $1000.00 to be used to help in their pursuit of musical higher learning.

And the accolades don’t stop there. This man has dedicated his life to music and has won awards at events such as the Cannes Film Festival, L.A. Film Festival, Hollyshorts Film Festival, D.C. Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Bare Bones Film Festival, and La Gona Film Festival.

With such an impressive list of accomplishments and entrepreneurship, nit to mention his interest in youth and their attainment of a higher education in music, I am proud to be able to spotlight Mr. John Jesensky.

 

 

Greek Chicken and homemade Tzatiki sauce

We have tomatoes! LOTS of beautiful, juicy lovely cherry tomatoes. So many tomatoes I don’t even know what to do with them anymore. Oh and cucumbers. We have those too! Lots of them.

So with lots of cucumbers and tomatoes, the first thing that came to mind was a cucumber and tomato salad, but Karol said she wasn’t a fan. So I had to think about what she does like. And what she (and the rest of the family) like are chicken skewers. With a greek marinade, and pita bread and feta cheese. We like Tzatiki sauce also, but the boys can live without that. We eat this Greek Chicken and homemade Tzatiki sauce many times in the summer because it is so easy and so Delicious!!

So off to the grocery store I went to get some greek yogurt and pita bread. I always make my own Tzatiki because it just tastes better. One thing I will say is that it tastes even better the day after you make it then the day you make it so if you can have the presence of mind to prepare (as I didn’t) and make your Tzatiki the day before it will be much yummier. In this case they got what they got. Just kidding, we loved it and we like it even more the next day!

First, you make a simple marinade for the chicken and let it sit in there for as long as you have — sometimes I have 20 minutes and sometimes (although not as often as I would like) for as long as 24 hours. Mostly I just forget to plan ahead. Either way the chicken will taste delicious. Then you make a huge amount of Tzatiki. More than you think you will need, but trust me, it goes fast.  You chop lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion (for others than my family I do this, we are not big red onion eaters). Then you grill the chicken. You can either grill your chicken whole or use skewers. For some reason my family just loves food on a skewer. We also always grill the pita bread. Grilling gives it a nice texture and takes away some of the “flour” taste. A super easy way to feed a family or even a large gathering, and you will hardly break a sweat. Added plus of making a light, summer meal that everyone will love and they can take what they want or don’t want, (onions and sauce for my kids, and pita bread for the people not eating gluten) and you can just simply enjoy a lovely glass of whatever your favorite summer beverage is (I like a white sangria personally, or wine spritzer) and enjoy the smell of grilled food and the sound of happy people on a summer evening!

Grated cucumber

 

Yogurt

I put my yogurt in paper towels (because I don;t have cheesecloth) and then put in over a large cup (a tall plastic container works also). I wrap a rubber band around it so the liquid will drip through the cloth and your sauce will be thicker. You definitely DON’T have to do this, especially if you use Greek yogurt which has less moisture. I just like my sauce thick.

 

Tzatiki….yum!

 

We freeze the chicken with the seasonings on them. Makes dinner prep faster and easier.

Chicken done.

 

Ready to assemble. Also, side note I used Naan bread.

 

Ready to devour! Delicious!

Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 (depending on size of group) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Tzatziki dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups (554 grams) plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 hothouse, English or seedless cucumber, unpeeled (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assembly
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (we skip this unless there is company that likes it)
  • About 1 pound small-medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 hothouse, English or seedless cucumber, chopped
  • small can of black olives, sliced
  • 4 large pitas (intending 1/2 per person) or more as needed
  • crumbled feta cheese

Prepare the chicken: Combine all ingredients in a large freezer bag. Rub all around, coating chicken as evenly as possible. Let marinate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours, whatever time you have. (we put marinade on chicken and then freeze with marinade, easy peasy when thawed)

Make tzatziki: Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Slice your cucumber in half, and remove the seeds. Coarsely grate your cucumber and after sitting for a few minutes, wring it out as well as you can. All of that liquid makes the sauce too wet. Add wrung-out cucumber to yogurt bowl along with lemon juice, sour cream, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill until needed.

Prepare salad components: Arrange, onion, tomatoes, black olives and cucumbers on a platter, or in bowls.

Cook chicken: Heat your grill to high heat or a grill pan to medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade and grill on first side until dark lines appear, about 5 minutes, then flip and grill for 3 minutes more on second side. Cooking times will vastly range by the thickness and coldness of your chicken, as well as variations between grills. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board, let rest for a couple minutes while you quickly heat/toast your pitas on the grill. (or cube chicken and put on skewers)

Cut chicken into chunks. Cut pitas into wedges. Add to platter with vegetables and let everyone dig in.

Recipe Notes

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time. Add the marinade to the chicken, package for the freezer and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then grill or bake in the oven.

We make this a LOT in the summer. Definitely  a family favorite and super easy!!

 

 

Help Your Student Succeed In School

Disclosure: This post has been compensated by Diamond Bloggers. All opinions are mine.

It is August first. Stay at home parents (usually moms) are starting to pull their hair out about now. The first few weeks of summer vacation was all about fun and not having to be in school. July is usually when people take trips or travel. (At least according to MY social media).

So now they are back home and the kids are starting to get bored. If my social media is to be believed, the parents are getting tired of entertaining the kids and the kids are starting to be “whiny”. This is the time parents and kids start thinking about back to school time. (Well parents at least).

The other day I was at BJ’s and saw all the school supplies out. Today I saw mothers and children purchasing binders and school supplies in Office Max. Back to school time is upon us and although I am past elementary and high school with my children I remember those times vividly.

My youngest after he graduated from High School two months ago

My kids always had summer assignments and yet I worried about whether they had retained anything from the previous year. They seemed to do okay, but as they made their way through school some of the things that concerned me were things such as tests (especially Advanced Placement, PSAT, SAT), scholarships, difficult math, reading, and some of the subjects they found more challenging.

Tutoring, test prep, and getting ready for back to school can be stressful for both parents and students. Groza Learning Center can help with all of these things for students and ease the minds of their families. They even have a home school at their facility. They have thought of it all!! They can definitely help your student succeed in School.

In September my youngest will be headed to a local Community College with his sights set on transferring to William and Mary in Williamsburg Virginia after receiving his Associate’s Degree! He has decided he wants to go into Forensic Psychology (at least that is this months aspirations). Of course that may change but the years at a junior college will help him prepare for a larger college and more difficult educational demands.

He will need to have great study habits and organizational skills. I am pleased that he has learned these things along his educational career, and will be able to apply them to his next level of education.

Not only does Groza Learning Center help your students become more prepared for their educational goals, they also offer a $1000.00 scholarship for high school seniors who will graduate in 2018 and are accepted to a college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in a college or university.  Their website states “The Groza Learning Center Education Scholarship was created to help students interested in higher education reach their goal of attending college or university.”

How wonderful! I can tell you that my college student will be applying for this scholarship. Thank you Groza Learning Center for caring about students from preschool to college!