Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thought for the Day...

As the new school year is upon us, I hear the old adage my grandfather used to say about having 24 hours in a day...

-8 Hours of Work-

-8 Hours of Play-

-8 Hours of Rest-

Wouldn't it be nice if it worked out so balanced each day!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don't Forget...

2 weeks left until GRANDPARENTS DAY...
How will you celebrate with your grandparents?

You don't want to miss this sale! Since my grandfather was the inspiration behind my story I have slashed prices even further in honor of Grandparents Day from now until September 11, 2011.


"My Hero, My Ding - A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather"



(S&H Included)

See easy ordering details on side panel...
Click on video to see book commercial!

You can get more information by clicking on my website and read more reviews at
There's still time to order and receive your autographed copy before Grandparents Day!  Would you like a special message included?  Be sure to let me know with your order!

5 Stars to Author Lisa Scottoline!

Think Twice (Rosato & Associates, #11)Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read just about every book Lisa Scottoline has written and Think Twice is among her best yet! I love the physical set up of the book - shorter chapters with the focus of each chapter on a different character. Reading her book was certainly like watching a movie unfold. I enjoy Lisa's characterization too. My favorite character in this book was Fiorella Bucatina! Not only is that a great name, but Scottoline did wonders with her and the dialogue among the Italian family.

We hear about people stealing identities today, but what if the person trying to be you looks exactly like you too. Friends and family can't tell the difference and no one will believe that you are the real you. In Think Twice, Bennie Rosato has to deal with her evil twin not only taking over her identity but trying to silence Bennie for good. It's certainly a mad rush to the finish-line in Lisa Scottoline's novel. The only thing you won't have to think twice about is turning the pages fast enough to see if good will conquer evil or if this time evil will finally win out.

Lisa Tortorello- author of My Hero, My Ding

View all my reviews

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's All About the Love-Take It or Leave It

I normally don't just re-print someone else's article, but this was sent to me by a third-party and I believe Matt Farmer did a great job in his explanation.  I don't know Matt Farmer (a Chicago resident and a parent of a CPS student), but he certainly hit the nail on the head with this one!

Click on link for original article:

Education Thu Aug 25 2011

Jean-Claude Brizard: It's All About the Love--Take It or Leave It

by Matt Farmer
My nine-year-old daughter was excited to get up in the morning and go to school last year, thanks in large part to the energy and efforts of her third-grade CPS teacher.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has now decided to harness even more of that teacher's seemingly boundless energy. In fact, earlier this week he asked her to spend some extra time in the classroom during the 2011-12 school year.

Why? The reason should be obvious. As Brizard told WTTW's Phil Ponce on Tuesday night: "We want to celebrate our teachers...We love our teachers."

Brizard was even willing to put a price tag on that love.

He said he'd break out his checkbook and sweeten this particular teacher's $52,400 salary with a 2% kicker. And all she needs to do is spend an extra 90 minutes in the classroom on each of the school's 170 instructional days.

You read that right. Just for her putting in a paltry 255 additional hours (a little over 6 extra weeks for those of you who remember the old 40-hour work week), Brizard will show his love to the tune of $1048. That, my friends, represents a pre-tax hourly wage of nearly $4.11. Not too shabby in the age of 9% unemployment.

Sure, it's a bit below the $4.25/hour minimum wage that a lot of fast food workers enjoyed back in 1991, but how many Burger King managers actually celebrated and loved their employees back then? (Before you answer, let's remember that President Clinton was not yet in the Oval Office.)

Yes, the extra 90 minutes a day in the classroom sounds like well-paid fun, but won't that teacher also shoulder additional preparation time, grading time, and (possibly) commuting time as a result of the longer school day? And isn't that teacher going to end up shelling out more of her own cash for the supplies that students will use during those extra 255 hours? All good questions, but no one ever said love was easy, folks.

Just look at what love's done to our Romeo Brizard. The guy went out on a limb Tuesday by promising a 2% salary increase, even though he's flat broke. But make no mistake -- he will get the money.

He told Ponce that he will order his team to find the money and tell them to "cut bone" if they have to. (Note: The expression "cut bone" has long been rumored to be City Hall slang for "tap into the mayor's TIF slush fund.")

And he is going to do all of this for love.

Love can move mountains. Love can obviously get the Tribune and the Sun-Times to print CPS press releases on a near-daily basis. And love can certainly dig under the sofa cushions on Clark Street to find an extra $4.11/hour for my daughter's old teacher.

And that's why Chicago taxpayers were so eager to get into an imaginary bidding war with imaginary school districts for Brizard's services. That's why we ultimately agreed to pay his $250,000 salary, which is about 9% more than we paid Ron Huberman, who merely liked teachers.

Imagine the void those poor public school teachers back in Rochester must now feel. Even when 95% of them gave their old superintendent a vote of "no-confidence" last February, Brizard continued to love them unconditionally.

Well, he's ours now, Rochester. At least for the next year or so.

Matt Farmer is a Chicago lawyer and musician. He currently serves as a member of the Local School Council at Philip Rogers Elementary School.

Thanks Susan for sending me this article!

For the Love of Art Fest in Whiting, IN

If you enjoy fine arts and crafts, come check out FOR THE LOVE OF ART Fest in Whiting, Indiana.  Detail are below!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2 Percent Minus 2 Percent = Zero

I guess the separation of Church and State only applies when it's convenient because as stated in the news this morning.... Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will meet with 200 religious leaders about having a longer school day in the city.   I'm sure this will turn out to be one big hug fest at Cellular Field this morning. 
How that longer school day would work, hasn't been discussed in great detail yet.  There is talk of art and music teachers...great! But in most schools that means they'd have to hire those teachers, the same teachers they can't afford to pay already.  What about the operating costs of keeping schools open longer?  Longer recess time was mentioned too (which is really a way to babysit children so they're not on the streets in the afternoon.)  Again, they have money for that in the budget?  Of course they do, they just raised your property tax! 

Now Brizard and Emanuel propose to give teachers a 2% raise for 90 more minutes of work each day and 2 weeks longer at the end of the year equal to approximately 16,300 more minutes, or 272 hours, or 39 more days of work a year for what amounts to less than minimum wage.  To top it all off this little tid-bit below has not been discussed in the news recently..

In January of this year, payroll taxes were cut by two percent. The payroll tax cuts, like the Bush tax cuts, had an expiration date. That date was originally six months, but was extended to one year. If this cut is not extended, payroll taxes will rise to their normal rates in January 2012.

Is this just a coincidence?...I think not.  There is a very good possibility that teachers won't get anything but the shaft.

Teachers are the demons of today, but they'll be coming after your jobs and contracts tomorrow!

To read the full articles click on the links below:

Neal Boortz


Sunday, August 21, 2011

3 weeks left until GRANDPARENTS DAY...Buy your unique gift today!

You don't want to miss this sale! Since my grandfather was the inspiration behind my story I have slashed prices even further in honor of Grandparents Day from now until September 11, 2011.

"My Hero, My Ding - A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather"
(S&H Included)

See easy ordering details on side panel...

Watch the book trailer...

A Few Book Reviews:

My Hero, My Ding is such a sweet and amiable memoir of a girl and her grandfather, filled to the brim with silly, lovable and endearing stories. I highly recommend this heartwarming story to everyone who has ever had that special someone in their childhood.
Faith H. Tydings author of A Little Yellow Star

Funny Title…Wonderful Stories
My Hero, My Ding by Lisa A. Tortorello…might be a funny name, but the story is a sweet, endearing walk down memory lane. This is a collection of stories about a girl and her grandfather and the fun and special bond they shared. Lisa brings her memories to life and lets you enjoy the love, camaraderie and zaniness she shared with her grandfather. The Dings share a special bond that made sense only to them, and that’s exactly how they liked it. I encourage anyone that had a special bond with a grandparent, aunt, uncle…to pick up a copy of My Hero, My Ding. Not only will you find Lisa’s story genuine but it just might bring back fond memories of your own life…Plus, you’ll get to find out what a Ding is…
Reviewed by: Ursula Gorman, author of ‘Old Acquaintances’

A Must Read for Everyone!
I really enjoyed My Hero, My Ding by Lisa Tortorello. This story about a grandfather and his granddaughter, is endearing and delightful and brings you into their lives, as if you were one of the family. It made me wish I was part of the Ding Dong Club. If only I could have had a relationship with one of my grandparents, like Lisa had with her grandpa (Ding). I highly recommend this story. It was very uplifting, inspirational and funny.
Karen Gammons author of Prince Andy and the Misfits: Shadow Man

You can get more information by clicking on my website and read more reviews at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Money for You!

Rahm Emanuel must be thrilled to have contact with people who are just willing to give millions and millions of dollars to him for the city of Chicago.

  • It's just unfortunate though that he is still planning to go ahead and raise property taxes for homeowners to the maximum extent allowed by law.
  • It's just unfortunate that he "has money" for his projects but has "NO money" to pay the teachers their negotiated 4% contractual raise. 
  • It's just unfortunate that with all of his recent donations, windfalls, loans, or whatever he'd like to call them he's not even thinking about putting money in  the city's pensions  that the CITY has been derelict in funding for so many years.  Every city worker has put in their agreed upon part for their pension, but the CITY has not. 
  • It's just unfortunate that the city must now pay about 40 millions dollars for a politically correct lawsuit for the Chicago Fire Department for claims that the test given in 1995 was "unfair" against African Americans.  It was never reported what was "unfair" about it, but the TAXPAYERS are now going to foot the bill.  And now that they've won, there is a second lawsuit pending by women because the Firefighter's Physical Agility Test is too hard.  Well, boo hoo, if you can't do the job, I certainly don't want you to come to my house in an emergency situation.  But...if they'll be the TAXPAYER that gets it again.

Oh....they don't have money for any of that...

BUT they do have money for this...

Emanuel now has millions of dollars to give principals "merit" pay and millions more to target housing foreclosures in some of the most crime-ridden areas of Chicago

And I wonder how much Emanuel's latest move will cost us in order to "save" us more money! Click Link for more... City hires Accenture with hopes of saving $25 million on contracts

It's just unfortunate!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Merit Pay! Seriously?

Chicago is not corrupt enough, so now Rahm Emanuel is announcing $5 MILLION in Merit Pay for principals.  I wonder how much extra work the teachers will have to do in order to make their principals look good. 

Emanuel states the money is coming from private donors.  Too bad he couldn't use some of that money to  hire back many of the teachers who were unfairly fired and put them in schools where classrooms are over-crowded.  That might actually help the learning environment! The Board claims it's not increasing class size, but when many are already overcrowded, what does that mean? 

At a time when CPS cannot even balance their own budget or honor the contract they made with the Chicago Teachers' Union, should this really be the Mayor's main focus?

Link to Original Article

Mayor: $5 million for Chicago school principals’ merit pay

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday will establish a $5 million fund to provide merit pay to Chicago Public School principals.

Emanuel said he has “put together” a $5 million fund to reward the best-performing principals, with details to follow at an afternoon news conference.

But the mayor campaigned on a promise to deliver merit pay for principals and he’s about to check it off his list of accomplishments during his first 100 days in office.

“I’m gonna announce today that I’ve put together $5 million of merit pay for principals,” the mayor said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on his first 100 days in office.

“We’re gonna announce [that we will be the] first city school system in the entire country that will have merit pay for its principals.”

Emanuel campaigned on a promise to create a local version of the federal “Race to the Top” fund to reward the best teachers and schools.

The $5 million over five years is coming from four wealthy Chicago families. Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, are contributing $2 million. Three other families are each giving $1 million: Groupon co-founder and executive chairman Eric Lefkofsky and his wife, Liz; Penny Pritzker and her husband, Chicago Park Board president Bryan Traubert and Paul and Mary Finnegan.

In an interview with the Sun-Times in mid-March, then Mayor-elect Emanuel also dangled a cash carrot in front of school bosses.

At the time, Emanuel did not specify how much the reward would be. He would only say that the bonus would be big enough to serve as an appropriate motivation for outstanding principal performance.

He also noted that merit pay for teachers needs to be authorized by the General Assembly. Cash incentives for principals is something the mayor can do on his own.

“The core of this is a level of accountability that the [school] contracts will provide and a reward for the chief executive of that building for the performance of what goes on in that building,” Emanuel said then.

“If all we do is say bonus pay or merit pay for teachers, we’re missing [a key element]. This is why teachers feel that they’re being selected out to bear the burden or the responsibility or the blame. The whole idea of merit pay or bonus payment for teachers was based on a reward. But they’re hearing it as somehow punishment.”

At the time, Emanuel said he wanted to level the playing field, in part because of a backlash against his proposal for merit pay for teachers.

“My hope is that teachers will hear it and say, `He’s not trying to single us out. He’s holding everyone accountable.’ I want the notion of reward and accountability to be comprehensive,” the mayor-elect said.

Bonus pay for principals is not a new concept in Chicago.

Four years ago, then-Schools CEO Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Education secretary, used the lure of cash—as much as $69,000 over four years—to encourage four “superstar” principals to work in the neediest inner-city schools.

“This is part of our overall strategy to try to bring great talent to the schools and communities that need it most. We’re trying to really change that and do things very differently,” Duncan said at the time.

One of the superstar principals was Keith Foley, the highly-touted Lane Tech H.S. principal who was sent to Marshall to help that chronically-troubled school under a performance contract.
Marshall continued to struggle despite Foley’s help.

Skeptics had warned that the bonuses would foster test-prep mills. Duncan had hoped it would produce results.

Two months ago, Emanuel defended the decision by his handpicked school board to cancel four percent pay raises for Chicago teachers, arguing that teachers have gotten two types of pay raises every year since 2003 while students “got the shaft.”

The teachers union responded by firing off a letter to the board saying it intended to negotiate the board’s decision instead of swallowing it. Those negotiations are still going on and could ultimately force a reopening of the entire CTU contract or even lead to the first school strike since 1987.

At the time, newly elected School Board President David Vitale noted that, while teachers have enjoyed 4 percent raises for the last four years, central office staff have swallowed two years of pay freezes and furloughs and principals endured one year of them.

Grandparents Day is September 11th This Year -

You don't want to miss this sale! Since my grandfather was the inspiration behind my story I have slashed prices even further in honor of Grandparents Day from now until September 11, 2011.

"My Hero, My Ding - A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather"
(S&H Included)

See easy ordering details on side panel...

Watch the book trailer...

What others are saying...

My Hero, My Ding is a sweet memoir of the precious relationship between Lisa and her grandfather. It is filled with priceless memories of the special times they shared together. Lisa and her “Ding” had a special bond that could only come from the endless hours they invested in one another. Sometimes, I even wondered…were they ever apart?
Reading through Lisa’s memoir brought back warm memories of my own grandparents; the time, energy, and love they chose to invest in me. In fact, in several ways, “Ding” reminded me of my dear Grandpa Mac. They both shared such childlike qualities.
My Hero, My Ding is a good read, and I especially recommend it to all grandparents. Let this book shed light on the beauty that a relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild can bring.

Lisa Suggs author of Choices

This is an excellent memoir written by talented author, Lisa Tortorello. Sweet memories jump off these pages as we read about the love and affection a good grandfather and his granddaughter had for one another. I for one, who have never had such a relationship with either grandparent, am jealous. Things like Italian Christmas cookies and spaghetti with meatballs to make your mouth water and wise teachings as “I am not above or beneath any job” (a nugget of truth that would do well for many to remember) to lessons learned by experiences such as their front window escapade during winter are sure to warm your heart and evoke memories of your own.

Amanda Stephan - Christian Romance Author

Many of us have that one special person in our lives who has impacted and influenced us in ways we can only begin to tell. Such is the case for Lisa Tortorello. In “My Hero, My Ding” Lisa shares the stories and impact her grandfather had on her life. Each reminiscence shared paints a beautiful picture of how their relationship shaped both of them as they both grew up.

Lisa has a beautiful writing style which captures the essence of every story she shares. As a reader, you can feel completely a part of the scene unfolding around you. Lisa has chosen to share memories which can be relatable to many, yet have a distinctive quality and feel that helps the reader understand just how special Lisa and her grandfather’s relationship was. This is a beautiful memoir and I thank you, Lisa, for allowing me to take a glimpse into such a beautiful relationship.

~Kristi Burchfiel, author of Without Regrets


(S&H Included)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What a Difference a Parade Makes...CTU President Changes Her Tune

Not counting the Index, the Chicago Teacher's Union contract is 230 pages long. It already has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, and the CTU President cannot even take a stand.

Teachers upset enough to ask for strike vote, union chief says

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union said Friday on a radio show that there is a “very high” likelihood that teachers will ask her to take a strike vote, given how angry and disrespected they feel.
But clarifying later to the Chicago Sun-Times, Karen Lewis said she did not predict that teachers will ultimately go on strike, only that the probability is high that members will call for a strike vote.

“People are very upset. People feel disrespected,’’ Lewis told WLS- AM Radio’s Connected to Chicago, which airs at 6 a.m. Sunday.

“We have teachers who have been extremely vilified for political purposes,’’
Faced with a tougher new bar for approving a strike, Lewis said she would only call for a strike vote if teachers came to her and requested it. But, given the disrespect and “loss of dignity” teachers feel, Lewis said, the likelihood of teachers wanting a strike vote is “very high.’’

Among other things, CTU members are angry about more than 1,500 teacher layoffs and a growing “do not hire” list that CPS developed in “secret,’’ Lewis told the Sun-Times.

The CTU and other unions that work in schools are currently discussing CPS’s decision to rescind promised (it should say contractual) raises. A breakdown in those talks could open the door for the first teachers strike since 1987.

However, under a new law, 75 percent of eligible CTU voters would have to approve that vote — up from a previous simple majority of all those who voted.

Teachers Union President Goes Back on Strike Threat

Karen Lewis Says She Didn't Mean What She Said

WGN News
4:30 p.m. CDT, August 13, 2011

The Chicago Teachers Union President is doing damage control today after threatening a strike.

Karen Lewis reportedly said the possibility of a teachers strike was "very high" this year. 

She made the comments during a taping of the WLS-AM radio show Connected to Chicago.

The interview doesn't air until tomorrow, but Lewis was already doing an about-face at today's Bud Billiken Parade.

"That is not what that was about at all," said Lewis. "What I would like to do is focus on what our real issues are, which is finding funding to close these crazy budget gaps."

The district's last teachers strike was in 1987.

Sweeping education reforms signed by Governor Quinn in June, however, make it tougher for teachers to strike.

She does have one thing right.  All of this is being done for political purposes and the losers are not going to be the politicians or those at the top.  As usual, those who are the backbone of the schools will take the brunt once again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bang! Zoom! To the Moon...

Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and laugh!

Great compilation of Honeymooners clips!

Do You Celebrate GRANDPARENTS DAY? If so...

You don't want to miss this sale!  Since my grandfather was the inspiration behind my story I have slashed prices even further in honor of Grandparents Day from now until September 11, 2011.

"My Hero, My Ding -  A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather"
(S&H Included)

See easy ordering details on side panel...

Watch the book trailer!

What others are saying...

"My Hero, My Ding is such a sweet and amiable memoir of a girl and her grandfather, filled to the brim with silly, lovable and endearing stories. I highly recommend this heartwarming story to everyone who has ever had that special someone in their childhood."
Faith H. Tydings author of A Little Yellow Star

My Hero, My Ding,” by Lisa Tortorello, is a heartwarming story of the author’s memories of her time spent with her grandfather. The love they shared can be seen on every page. Lisa captivates the reader from the very beginning of the book. You will find yourself sharing in the emotions with each of her experiences. There will be plenty of times you will find yourself smiling, especially upon finding out Lisa’s unique Christmas gift to her beloved Ding. A welcomed surprise was all the memories that came flooding back about my own experiences with my family. Let this book help you rediscover some forgotten memories of your own."
Judy Chessir author of My Finny Fin Fin

"What an endearing memoir! Tortorello shares her memories of her hero, her grandfather. If every child had a relationship as the one described between the pages of My Hero, My Ding, this world would be a much better place. Very enjoyable read!"
Darlene Shortridge author of Until Forever

“My Hero, My Ding” by Lisa A. Tortorello, a memoir of a Girl and her Grandfather. In this heartwarming, endearing and life-touching story this Author shares her most treasured memories – times with her Grandfather. Although he became a jewelry maker and jewelry store owner, he gave her a rare gem, time and love, more precious than any of the jewels he had made. She found a rare treasure in their relationship – a treasure that would last a lifetime. These cherished memories etched a portrait in her life of not just a grandfather, but a hero. He left behind for her a treasure worth far more than gold. This book will touch your heart and reflect to other families to not let disagreements weigh you down, but perhaps be lifted by the spirit of love, that we can all possibly be the “hero” in the lives of those we love."
Ren Royal author of Lost Faith to the Living Faith


(S&H Included)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Honor Flight Chicago will be at Midway Airport Wednesday, August 10th!

If you can take part they'd love to have you there!  If you cannot, please take a moment to say a prayer of thanks to all of our military and especially remember those who were recently killed.

HONOR FLIGHT CHICAGO is helping to honor those veterans from the Greatest Generation...WWII.
Click Here for their website -
Over the years our military has done so much for our country and they still do today! Our veterans are not just those who once served in the military; they are the ones who fought the battles, made the sacrifices, and helped to keep our country "The Home of the Free"because of them ... the BRAVE!
Take a few minutes to watch a great video of a recent Chicago Honor Flight

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Read My Lips...I did, and they said, "BOHICA"!

The following days will prove to be interesting.  Just 6 months ago our new mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel stated he will NOT raise property taxes.  The following video is dated February 23, 2011. If you listen at the 1 minute mark you'll see his comments on this.

Now that his newly hand-picked school team suggested not only to raise property taxes, but to raise them to the "maximum amount allowed by law", how soon will it be before Emanuel caves further than he already has. Remember the fate of President George Bush the Elder when he said, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

If they are serious about making cuts in the public schools, which we know they are not, there is a list of things they can do immediately and save millions of dollars. Throwing good hard-earned taxpayer money after bad is NOT the solution.

Here's a short list of cuts:

  • Stop the Mandatory FREE (Read - on the Taxpayer) Breakfast program where the students are not forced to eat, but the school must have a ready supply of food on hand each day for students and staff.  The amount of waste in unbelievable!  Then there is the paperwork that each teacher must fill out on a daily basis.  Where does that go?  What new department had to be opened for that and who got the food contract?  (I know it states that the USDA pays for this program, but all that means is another government program paid for by the taxpayers).

  • Stop Free/Reduced Lunch Program- In the last couple of years of teaching I have only had 2 students who actually were required to pay the 40 cent reduced price for lunch, every other student ate for FREE (Read - on the Taxpayer) And, don't forget no food can be taken out of the lunchroom, so everything left each day must go in the trash.

  • Stop after school programs with their  FREE (Read - on the Taxpayer) snacks for each student.

  • Stop allowing students who move to remain at their current school even though they may no longer live within city limits and sometimes state limits.  I've seen this first hand with students who move to a near-by suburb or Indiana which is a stone's throw from many CPS schools on the south side.

  • Stop allowing "Homeless" students (by the Board's definition of homeless, not the true definition) to attend any CPS school of their choice.  Did you know if you live with your grandparents, by CPS standards, you're homeless?

  • Stop allowing Illegal Aliens to attend CPS schools.  I've had many in my class over the years and teachers can do nothing about it.
Right there is a start to making some major cuts in spending.  If they want more of the taxpayers money, why don't they acutally use the Lottery money.  Wasn't that what is was earmarked for decades ago?

In the end the quality of education at CPS will not increase at all no matter how much money you throw at it, how many hours you add to it, or how many teachers you hire or fire within it.  If the required standards continue to be dumbed-down and the main concern is self-esteem and what could you do for me today, instead of self-reliance and how could  I become a more productive member of society...CPS will continue down its path of destruction.

Click here to read full article about CPS's Proposed Budget

I'll leave you with this....Will this be Rahm Emanuel's answer to the Chicago taxpayer?????

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cherry Chip Cake...In Memory of Your Birthday, Ding

If my grandpa were alive today, he would have turned 90 years old!  I can imagine him still on his farm taking a swim in his pool!  Unfortunately he died in 1991, but many memories I have of him are as if they just happened.  Today a memory popped up that I did not include in my book....The topic is CHERRIES!

Whenever my grandparents were given a box of Fannie May candy Grandpa and I used to compete to see who could find the chocolate covered cherry first.  I especially loved the two-pound box of candy because we were guaranteed one chocolate covered cherry on each level of candy.  Whoever would find the chocolate covered cherries first would quickly pop them in their mouth and savor the flavor.  Grandpa quite often won and after years of competing he showed me a Fannie May secret.  The chocolate covered cherries had a fancy "C" dripped in chocolate on their top. wonder I very seldom won! 

Maraschino Cherries were also a kiddy favorite and whenever we'd be out for dinner and the grown-ups would have an adult beverage, I'd often have a Kiddie Cocktail!  Grandpa always made sure the waitress would put extra Maraschino Cherries in my drink. 

I returned the favor on Grandpa's birthday.  For a couple of years in a row, my sister baked a cake for my grandma's birthday and I baked one for Grandpa's. I have never been a culinary master (to say the least), but I was able to read the directions on the box cake mix and buy already-made frosting.  With our love of cherries, I decided that a Cherry Chip Cake would be the perfect way to go.  Once the cake was baked I added a special surprise before putting on the frosting....I surreptitiously poked holes in the sides of the cake and ever-so-carefully filled in those holes with Maraschino Cherries, (without the stems, of course). If a few cherries were a good idea then LOTS of cherries were even better. I then frosted the cake and looked lovely.  But the taste...well, I remember when the cake was finally cut, some places were a little more moist (read soggy) because of the juice from the cherries, but overall the cake was edible.  I know it would never win a prize in a bake-off, but grandpa enjoyed it (the thought of it, anyway) which is all that really mattered!

What are your special memories today?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

P.S.A. on License Plate Stickers

Don't let the directions fool you!  We just paid our exorbitant fee for our state license plate sticker and last year (for the first time) we followed all of their directions.  After cleaning the license plate and drying it correctly, we placed the new 2011 sticker over the previous year's.  The CAUTION clearly states that once it's applied "it cannot be removed without destroying it".  With some unscrupulous people around that seemed like a good thing.  Anyone who tries to steal the sticker (which has been known to happen) would be greatly disappointed. 

Well now it's time for the 2012 sticker and we decided it was time to scrape off the two old stickers and start fresh, and it's a good thing we did.  My husband expected to have the sticker come off in little pieces because "it cannot be removed without destroying it". But, to our surprise...1-2-3...the whole sticker came off in one solid piece. The only thing that got slightly ruined was the 2010 sticker underneath.

So, just as a precaution....Don't believe everything you read and make your life easier by scraping and cleaning off all old license plate stickers.  Then use a razor blade and make cross-cuts on the sticker itself.  (We did this every year but last year, but now we have learned our lesson!) That way no one can get the sticker off in one piece...guaranteed!

Pierogi Fest in Pictures!

The Pierogi Fest was full of fun, food, and festivities!  Thanks to all who stopped by our booth and a special thanks to all who purchased my book!  Check out some entertaining pictures from the weekend!

The Buscia's had a blast at the fest!

Nuns on skates....

Real nuns, real skates!
The early crowd...when there was still space on the sidewalk!

Authors Lisa Tortorello and Darlene Shortridge accompanied by Miss Paczki!

The Pieroguettes!

Our booth at the fest!

And last but not least....
Mr. Pierogi himself!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Illegals Win Another One, while the American Citizen Gets the Shaft...Again!

As a teacher and a LEGAL CITIZEN of the United States, the law that Gov. Quinn just passed is yet another slap in the face to all hard working, AMERICAN CITIZENS.  Obviously, words mean nothing today.  ILLEGALS can now go to college on scholarship thanks to Governor Quinn.  Once again the state of Illinois celebrates and rewards ILLEGAL (which really means against the law for those who might be confused) behavior. 

Quinn Signs Illinois Dream Act in Chicago

Updated: Monday, 01 Aug 2011, 1:26 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 01 Aug 2011, 9:25 AM CDT
Associated Press

Chicago - Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Dream Act Monday, a bill that gives illegal immigrants access to private scholarships for college and lets them enroll in state college savings programs.

"We say to all the people of our country and our state, we want everybody in and nobody left out," Quinn told a packed auditorium at a high school in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago. "Education is the key to opportunity in a democracy." (and breaking the law I guess is democratic as well...)

Called the Illinois Dream Act, the law creates a nine-member commission to establish scholarships for illegal immigrant children with private donations, not taxpayer money (let's just wait and see). Quinn was quick to personally pledge $1,000 to the fund. (Of course he did.)

Immigrant children here legally and illegally can qualify if they attend an Illinois high school for at least three years and have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States.

Private scholarships are among the few ways that illegal immigrants can pay for college because they don't qualify for government financial aid.  (I am here legally and didn't qualify for aid.  I had to get a job to pay for my tuition!)

The new law also lets anyone with a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number enroll in state-run college savings programs.

Illinois already offers in-state tuition rates to undocumented (READ illegal) students at public universities.

Tania Unzueta, a 27-year-old graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who says she's undocumented (READ illegal) , was ecstatic about the new law.

"It's been so frustrating to know undocumented (READ illegal) young people who don't graduate from high school because they don't think they can go to college," she said. (Yeah, that's the reason.)

Unzueta said she is lucky to have gone to college and on to graduate school, something that more people will now be able to do because of increased access to private scholarships under the law.
But Unzueta, who has been in the United States since she was 10, said that still doesn't solve the problem of what undocumented (READ illegal)students do after college because they are not legally allowed to work in this country (because they are here against the law).

"I have one more year to graduate and I don't know what I'm going to do next," she said. (How about becoming a citizen legally!) Unzueta said there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform.

Proposed federal legislation with a name similar to Illinois' new law would give some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Illinois' law has no impact on a person's immigration status.

Click here for original article!