Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day of School 2014/2015

After a busy summer of preparations, planning, and work for Jim and his staff, the new school year began yesterday!  Last year was a rough year in many, many ways, and everyone was looking forward to a fresh start this year.  Many families stuck it out through all of the transitions last year (not wanting to find a new school mid-year and waiting to see how things went with a new administrator), but Jim had no idea who would actually enroll for this new year.  He had heard that some people were leaving, and had assumed that others would, and in the end, some did.  However, a surprising number not only stayed, but also referred friends and family to the school as well.  Enrollment is much higher than anyone expected it to be, and several more students are visiting and testing this week after school has already started!  There is a spirit of excitement about the school that was missing last year, and the families that are there seem happy to be there.  It is such a wonderful difference!
Jim has worked incredibly hard since he became principal to do things right, make things better, and treat parents, students, and staff members kindly, fairly, and in a consistent, professional manner.  I am so, so proud of him and am thrilled to see that God is blessing his efforts.  
Drew started second grade yesterday!  I can't believe he is old enough to be a second grader!
 I love this guy, and I always miss him when he goes back to school!  He loves school, though, so I have an easier time letting him go since I know he is happy.
 He has a wonderful teacher this year, and we are excited about all the things he will do and learn in her class.
 Drew's class is the smallest in the elementary, with nine students, so I know he will be getting a lot of individual attention.  Six of the nine second graders are boys, so that will be lots of fun for Drew!
 Maddie loves to go visit Jim at school.  They walked around together the first morning of school while I took pictures for the school newsletter.  The secondary art teacher took this picture of them, and I love it!
Maddie also helped Daddy in the office.
 There are a couple little peg games in the office that Maddie loves to play.
We have been so busy in the past few weeks that I didn't have time to put together anything fancy for a first day gift for Drew's teacher.  I ended up grabbing her an 8-pack of Sharpies and some chocolate and tying it up with a ribbon and a tag.  I did break out my eyelet-setter and put an eyelet in the tag, but that was as fancy as I got this time!
We are excited for this school year and are praying that it will be a wonderful one!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meatball Calzone

A few weeks ago, I was looking through my refrigerator and freezer and trying to come up with a meal plan using items I had on hand.  I had a big bag of frozen meatballs in my freezer, and I thought about making meatball subs, but I didn't have any sub buns.  I decided to get creative and make something from scratch.  I looked around on Pinterest and found a recipe for Meatball Calzone.  I gave it a try, adapting it a bit for my family.
I used my mom's stromboli dough recipe for the bread part of the calzone.  The dough recipe makes enough for two calzones, so I put half of the dough into the freezer for a future meal, and used the other half to make the calzone.  I served this to my family, and after one bite, Jim told me he loved it!  This calzone is very simple, but really delicious.  Here's how I made it.

Meatball Calzone

6 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. oil
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. rapid rise yeast

8 precooked meatballs, sliced into thirds (I used thawed, frozen meatballs I bought at Sam's Club.)
1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 cup spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add water and oil, and mix 5 to 7 minutes with the dough hook, adding additional flour as needed, until dough is smooth and pulling away cleanly from the sides of the mixer bowl.  Let rest for 10 minutes.
Spray a pizza stone with non-stick spray.  Place half of the dough on the prepared pizza stone and roll into a large circle with a rolling pin.  I rolled mine all the way to the edges.
Place meatball slices on half of the dough circle.  Cover the meatballs with cheese.
Take the plain half of the dough circle and pull it over the meatball and cheese half, lining up the edges of the dough and covering the bottom half completely.  Pinch the edges of the dough together.
Mix the olive oil, garlic powder, garlic salt, and oregano in a small bowl, and brush on top of the calzone.
Bake the calzone for about 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
While the calzone is baking, heat the spaghetti sauce.  When the calzone is baked, cut it into strips or wedges.  Serve the sauce alongside the calzone or on top.
This meatball calzone is very tasty, and I hope you will give it a try soon!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Charleston Trip - Day 2

On Day 2 of our Charleston trip, Jim and I were hoping to see more of the downtown area of Charleston and some of the historical landmarks in the city itself.  Because we didn't really know where we were going, and because there was supposed to be more rain that day, we decided to take a trolley tour.  We figured we would be covered from the weather that way, and we would have a guide showing us the sites.  I found a trolley service, the Lowcountry Loop Trolley, that was supposed to be a hop-on, hop-off trolley, and it was only $5 per person.  We thought that meant that we could hop off to spend time at things that interested us and catch another trolley on the route when it came by or just ride along for the whole route and see things from the trolley if the weather was bad.
 However, the trolley wasn't what we were expecting.  Instead of a guided tour through the city, it was more of a shuttle.  You could get on, tell the guide where you wanted to go, and she would drive you there.  She told some information as we rode along, but the "tour" was not really intended to be a tour.  We found out later that there is a free trolley service that runs from the Charleston Visitor Center that has routes through the city and stops at the landmarks.  I don't think it is a guided tour, but it would have been more of what we wanted.
We got on with one other couple who were wanting to tour a plantation.  We spent the first hour of our "tour" riding along with them to the plantation, dropping them off, and then heading back to pick up another passenger from his hotel.  It was not very historical.  Our guide did take us out to Folly Beach and drove us through the Isle of Palms.  We saw some beautiful beach houses and a little of the ocean.  We took a trolley selfie.
 We stopped at the Mount Pleasant Visitor Center for the driver's break.  There, we saw a pretty view of the bridge back to the city.
 We also saw some of the Charleston sweet grass baskets.  There were women sitting and weaving these baskets in many of the places we went.  They were beautiful (and expensive!).
 We went back to the trolley to find out that our guide had gotten sick and had called another driver to come get us.  He arrived a few minutes later and drove us back to the Visitor Center.  At that point, we gave up on the trolley tour and decided to eat lunch before we left to return to my parents' house.  We walked several blocks to the restaurant and saw several old churches and buildings along our way.
 We ate lunch at Toast, a restaurant suggested by one of Jim's former students.  Jim got the Deluxe French Toast.  It was a big loaf of French Toast, stuffed with peaches and covered with peach syrup.
 I got the Crab Cake Sammie.  I had hoped to try a crab cake while we were in Charleston, so I tried one on a sandwich.  It was good!
 Since our trolley tour was a failure, we ventured on our own to one last stop, Rainbow Row.  We made it there (with just a few wrong turns).
 We drove past Rainbow Row, and I hopped out at the end to take a few pictures.
 We drove down a little further, parked, and got out to see the water along the Battery.
In spite of the rain, we really did have a nice time on our trip.  It was good to get away, just the two of us, and it was fun to experience a new place together.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Charleston Trip - Day One

While we were in South Carolina last month, my parents kept Drew and Maddie for us so that Jim and I could take an overnight trip to Charleston for a belated anniversary celebration.  We left mid-morning on a very rainy day and made the three-ish hour drive to Charleston.  This was our view for much of the trip. 
 We got to Charleston around 1:00 in the afternoon, so we went straight to lunch.  Jim had done a little research and had found some Charleston restaurants that had been featured on the Food Network.  We ate lunch at Fuel Cantina.
The rain had slowed down some, so we decided to eat out back on the covered patio.  The patio had some fun paintings on the walls and lots of palm trees and other plants.

 My lunch date (and husband of 11 years!).
 We ordered some hoe cakes as an appetizer.
 Jim got the Caribbean Jerk sandwich,
 and I got the braised pork tacos.  We both enjoyed our food and we were stuffed when we left.
 After lunch, we drove to Mount Pleasant for a historical boat tour.
 Our tour boat was docked right next to the USS Yorktown, so we got to get a good look at that ship.

 We chose to sit on the top deck of our tour boat, but as soon as the tour began, it started pouring!  We were all getting wet, and we could hardly hear the tour guide.  We decided to move down to the enclosed lower deck, and we ended up staying there for the rest of the tour.  It was a little disappointing to be inside and for it to be so rainy during our tour.  We were able to see Fort Sumpter, and our guide (a retired history teacher) was very knowledgeable about the history of the city of Charleston and the Civil War.  I had hoped to see some dolphins - one lady on the tour said she did, but we did not.
After the tour, it was still raining, and since we were a little tired of being wet and rained on, we decided to go check into our hotel before dinner.  On our way to the hotel, we got a little turned around, and we saw a big thrift store.  Knowing my love of thrift store shopping, Jim suggested that we check it out.  We found several things for Drew and Maddie, and I found a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl for 99 cents.  I couldn't resist!
After thrifting and getting settled into our hotel, we drove back into Charleston for dinner.  We ate at Hominy Grill (another Food Network restaurant).  Hominy Grill was right across the street from Fuel Cantina, where we ate lunch.  We thought we had put the wrong address in the GPS when we first arrived, but we realized that the two restaurants were actually neighbors!
 I loved the little flower arrangements in the Mason jars on each table.
 Jim ordered the "Nasty Biscuit," a fried chicken and gravy biscuit sandwich, and he really liked it.
 I got the Shrimp and Grits.  The Food Network had listed this dish as the best shrimp and grits in Charleston.  It was absolutely delicious!
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel for the night.  We were tired and ready to relax and get out of the rain for a while.
I will be back later this week to share the second day of our Charleston trip.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer List - Library, Sonic Shakes, Metro Beach, and Choir Camp

We are still working our way through the summer list, and I have some pictures to share of some of our activities.

Visit the Library
Drew, Maddie, and I went to the library one afternoon.  The kids enjoyed trying out the different vehicles around the children's section.

They both played on the computers for a while before we went to pick out some books.  Our last stop was the movie section to choose a few DVD's to borrow, and while I was helping Drew, Maddie ran off.  After we finally found her at a drinking fountain outside the children's section, we went back into the children's section to check out our books.  I was having some trouble with my library card, so while I was trying to check out, Drew took Maddie over to another section to see a horse and cart.  I heard the librarian calling out, "No!  You shouldn't be up there!" and turned around to see that Maddie had climbed from the cart up on top of a book shelf.  I had to abandon my checking out to run across the children's section to pull Maddie down.  Needless to say, we will not be frequenting the library until Maddie learns to stay with me!
We stopped for 49 cent ice cream cones at McDonald's on our way home from the library.

Milkshakes from Sonic
We went to Sonic one Sunday night after church (on National Ice Cream Day) and got shakes for dinner. Since we were coming straight from church, we did not wear our jammies, as originally planned, but we did get our shakes.

Metro Beach
We picked Jim up from school one afternoon and drove over to spend a few hours at Metro Beach.  There is a Par 3 golf course in the park, and Jim and Drew played golf.  It was Drew's first time playing his own ball for an entire game!

Maddie and I spent some time on the playground.  She loves the slides, and she went up and down them again and again.

We also walked out to the beach to see the lake and then went over to the big outdoor pool to watch people go down the water slide and jump off the diving board.

It was a very hot afternoon, but we had a fun time!

Choir Camp
We had originally planned for Drew to go to our church's choir camp this summer, but we had to reschedule our family vacation, and the new dates fell during the camp.  Jim had a work commitment on the Monday of the choir camp, so since we were going to be in town for the first day of the camp, the camp directors told Drew he could come.
He went that morning and loved it.  He is already looking forward to going for a whole week of camp next summer!

Garden Box
Our garden is doing great, and we are almost ready to pick some tomatoes!

We also have several green peppers that are growing really well.

Hawkins Family Summer List
1.  Drew - Barnes and Noble summer reading program
2.  Make homemade ice cream
3.  Grill pizza and s'mores
4.  Go to the sprinkler park
5.  Have a garage sale
6.  Make a strawberry pie
7.  Go to the library
8.  Get Sonic shakes in our jammies (They are half-price after 8:00 pm!)
9.  Have a picnic
10.  Go putt-putting
11.  Go to Metro Beach
12.  Go to the Lego store
13.  Paint our bedroom
14.  Go to the dairy farm
15.  Drew - learn to ride a bike
16.  Drew - go to choir camp
17.  Drew and Jim - go to a Home Depot craft morning
18.  Make kabobs
19.  Keep up with our garden box - Tomatoes and peppers are growing, but nothing is ready to pick and eat quite yet!
20.  Go to the dentist - We have appointments for August and September!
21.  Organize the bedrooms - Drew, Maddie, Us
22.  Go to a baseball game
23.  Maddie - try potty training
24.  Go to Dress Like a Cow Day at Chick-Fil-a
25.  Go bowling