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  • East Valley Academy offers small, challenging classroom experience

    In its 16th year of operation, East Valley Academy, a K-6 charter school in Mesa, continues to make big strides in redefining quality education.Initiated by husband and wife Ken Ryan and Janet Stoppelmann, who are the school’s sole teachers, East Valley Academy offers a challenging environment with small class sizes — no more than 35 students making up the total enrollment.“We find that with smaller classrooms students tend to learn best from one another, whereas in classrooms with 30 or more students, students sometimes learn the worst from each other,” said Stoppelmann, who along with Ryan has an extensive background in the education field.Unlike the typical classroom, East Valley Academy divides its students into two classrooms – one for kindergarten through second grade, and one for grades three through six.“The structure allows students to learn from one another, with more advanced students helping students that are struggling,” said Stoppelmann.The school’s overall goal is to provide students with a curriculum that will best prepare them for junior high. In her experience as a teacher, Stoppelmann said often students at the high school level were struggling because they did not learn what they should have during elementary school.

  • Police recommend animal cruelty charges after 79 cats removed from Gilbert home

    The Gilbert Police Department is recommending animal cruelty charges be brought against a 59-year-old woman who was squatting in a home with 79 cats.Jesse Sanger, spokesman for Gilbert police, said it will be recommending multiple counts of animal cruelty to the County Attorney after dozens of cats were found in a home near Val Vista Drive and Gilbert Road Monday afternoon.The cats are currently in the care of the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control who are evaluating the cats' health and trying to determine if any of the cats will be able to be adopted.Melissa Gable, spokesman for MCACC, said two kittens were recovered, one of which is about 2 weeks old.Gable told ABC15's Allison Rodriguez that most of the cats are malnourished and in bad shape. She said one cat had to be euthanized. It's possible that those that are deemed not to be adoptable, will have to be put down.Officers were called to the home Monday night after investors, who bought the home at an auction, started renovations inside the home. While renovations were being done, the previous owner returned home. It was determined that the woman was still living in the home, even thought she should have already vacated, said police.

  • Mesan using D.C. internship to help change foster case process

    One young man from Mesa who grew up in the foster care system is in Washington, D.C., learning about the political process and help change the way the Capitol makes policy regarding foster kids. Craig Stuart is interning in the office of Rep. Trent Franks with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Foster Youth Internship (FYI) program.“Craig’s arrival in Washington this summer has meaning far beyond his participation in CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship program; he also comes to Capitol Hill as a voice for every child in U.S. foster care,” said Becky Weichhand, interim executive director of CCAI, in a statement.Stuart overcame a childhood filled with hardship to attend Arizona State University, majoring in communications and minoring in business, and hopes to go into business for himself one day. He said education is the driving factor on his path to success, thus far. After bouncing around the system, Stuart was finally placed with a local woman, Mary Corrigan, who emphasized the importance of education and gave him the tools he needed to get ahead.“I definitely credit a lot of my success to her as she built up my confidence and self-worth and hammered in education as a way to actively change many of the hardships which I was born into,” said Stuart. “She was able to help me most by welcoming me and offering me a loving home. If I did not have the opportunity to meet and learn from her, I am not sure where my life would be today.”But Stuart said many who share his background are not as fortunate as he was. Education is not always first and foremost in the lives of children who lack a stable home environment.“I see one of the biggest road blocks to success of youths in the foster care system is lack of a quality education,” said Stuart. “Often times, foster kids bounce from home to home, changing schools and have so many life issues to deal with on a daily basis that often homework and preparing for class is the last thing they have time to think about.”

  • Pathfinder Academy moves to new Mesa location

    A local charter school is moving into its new location just in time for the beginning of the school year. Pathfinder Academy will open the doors of its Monticello-inspired campus on Aug. 5, and will serve kindergarten through eighth grade with a classical-focused curriculum that teaches students in a style more akin to home schooling than the classroom style of public schools.In the late 1990s, Susan Stradling, principal of Pathfinder Academy, joined with Sequoia Charter Schools, now called Edkey, to infuse her private, in-home school, where she educated her 10 children as well as others, with the support charter schools in Arizona receive. This allowed her to expand her scope and bring the quality of education she gave her children to others.Stradling’s school is consistently rated “A”-plus and students excel in testing. She credits this to her focus on the basics but says that her curriculum goes the extra mile to round out each student’s experience. In-depth study of Greek and Latin roots, recitation for building memory, and a phonetic reading curriculum combine to instill basic knowledge on a deeper level than might otherwise be accomplished.“It’s a back to basics, if you want to call it a particular genre,” Stradling said. “We focus on, of course, reading in the early grades. We have sort of a heavy slant in history, as far as, we feel like the great history stories of our heritage they need to know.”Pathfinder has always been a small school, and will remain so, Stradling said. The school expects to enroll about 190 students this fall with an eventual capacity for 260-270 students in 14 classrooms. The new facility, located at 2906 N. Boulder Canyon in Mesa, has a gymnasium and stage for recitals and presentations.“We think that this move is a benefit to the families that have been so loyal to us over the years,” said Doug Pike, superintendent of schools for Edkey. “We’ve had a number of students we’ve had to turn away for a number of years … and so we’re excited to provide that opportunity for a lot of people to have a new place and to be able to partake in such an excelling school.”

  • Police investigating possible cat hoarding house in Gilbert; police estimate 50 cats found

    Police estimate at least 50 feral cats have been found inside a home in Gilbert.A spokesperson for the Gilbert Police Department said officers were called to a home near Ray Road and Val Vista Drive Monday afternoon.Police said investors were starting renovations inside the home after recently purchasing it.Officials said the cats are considered feral. Officials with the Arizona Humane Society are working to collect the cats and place them into boxes. The cats will then be transferred to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

  • Event by Chandler PD offers warning, advice about hot car deaths

    Outside of the Chandler Fashion 20 movie theater at Chandler Fashion Center on Friday night, the Chandler Police Department hosted a family friendly event geared to prevent children and animals from suffering hot car deaths and injuries.Families came to the event to see the likes of a SWAT truck kids could climb on; a yellow hot rod officers revved up; coloring books, stickers, and games given out; and even McGruff, the famous crime dog, was on the scene. That doesn’t include a large amount of police officers who volunteered their time to meet with the community and answer any questions.Amanda Schlichting, a Chandler Police officer and animal cruelty investigator for the city, said she came up with the idea for this program, “Cool Kids and Pets,” back in April due to the high volume of calls her department was receiving involving kids and pets being left in hot cars.“Most of the calls we get involve pets being left in the car,” she said.With regards to children being left hot cars, Schlichting says it happens enough that raising awareness is a necessity.“One call makes it a necessity and my team has taken one that I know of in the last couple of months,” she said.

  • The Phoenix Zoo held its annual Winter in July event on Saturday for the animals and an estimated 7,000 visitors to cool off in over twenty tons of snow.Music: "The Shine" by Jahzzar (CC BY-SA 4.0)[Vincent Cota/East Valley Tribune]

    Video: Winter in July at the Phoenix Zoo

    The Phoenix Zoo held its annual Winter in July event on Saturday for the animals and an estimated 7,000 visitors to cool off in over twenty tons of snow.Music: "The Shine" by Jahzzar (CC BY-SA 4.0)[Vincent Cota/East Valley Tribune]

  • Keep tabs on San Diego Comic-Con as it unfolds

    The East Valley Tribune's NERDVANA blog is reporting "live" from San Diego Comic-Con Wednesday through Sunday this week. Follow the pop culture news with photos from the event on Twitter @Nerdvana, on Facebook at: facebook.com/nerdvanablog, or with daily recaps at http://blogs.evtrib.com/nerdvana.

  • Checking in with The Motels' Martha Davis

    Whether you were there when The Motels first burst onto the music scene in the early '80s or are just rediscovering them again, it's hard to deny that singer Martha Davis is one of MTVs first leading ladies and one of the most charismatic female performers in rock.The 1980s are back in full swing as Talking Stick Resort plays host Wednesday to the co-headling tour The Go Go's and Martha Davis & The Motels Replay America. The two bands will perform their repertoire of hits and summon a night of new wave nostalgia.The Motels recorded six records for Capitol, starting with their self-titled debut in 1979. Three years later their album "All Four One" and the smash single, "Only The Lonely" propelled them to the Top 10 and gold record status. They followed that effort in 1983 with "Little Robbers" as well as another Top 10 single, "Suddenly Last Summer."In 1988 Davis took a sabbatical from the music scene after The Motels broke up. Davis rebooted the group several times but in 2013 she signed with manager Greg Sims of Vesuvio Entertainment and is as busy as she was three decades ago.Davis spoke exclusively to Get Out about the dawn of MTV, her longtime friendship with the Go Go's and new music on the horizon.Q: I was surprised to learn that the first incarnation of The Motels dates to 1971 in Berkeley and you didn't break it big until about a decade later... that's some serious dues paying.

  • Review: "Purge: Anarchy" offers little but annoyance

    It's evening in America, and the entire country has permitted citizens wanton acts violence and crime against one another one night in March every year. The annual ritual of destruction has resurrected America's economy – unemployment is less than 5 percent – and crime rates are almost nil, aside from the annual bacchanalian blood fest.This is America circa 2023 as presented by writer/director James DeMonaco in “The Purge: Anarchy.” DeMonaco's vision of the country is one with an increased divide between the rich and the poor and one in which acts of violence are akin to religious ceremonies to wipe away impurity.It sounds gloomy and intriguing, but it’s really quite stupid.The follow up to 2013's sleeper hit “The Purge,” the sequel expands the action to the streets of Los Angeles on purge night. It's the one night of the year in which all crime is allowed, albeit with a few caveats to ban certain levels of explosives. In other words, it's Christmas for murderers, rapists and twits.Most people try to ride the night out by locking their doors, keeping a gun handy and just praying for survival. That’s the plan for couple in a troubled marriage Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez), as well as single parent Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul).The proverbial best laid plans don't quite work out of course – a car breaks down on the first two, while the mother/daughter combination are nearly raped – but they are rescued by a mysterious and well-armed man (Frank Grillo) who offers his protection in exchange for a car. Shenanigans involving guns, bombs, revolutionaries and people with villainous and murderous intentions ensue, poorly.

  • Brew News

    Four Peaks holding drive for teacher suppliesTempe’s Four Peaks Brewing Company is partnering with Smashburger and Wist Office Products to present its Four Peaks for Teachers campaign that provides Valley teachers with free school supplies.Valley-wide Smashburger locations will collect cash donations from customers through July 25 and sell raffle tickets for prizes such as Smashburgers for a year. For every $5 donation made at any of its three locations, Four Peaks gives customers a chance to win a beer dinner and tour for eight people at the original Four Peaks Brewery on Eighth Street in Tempe.Four Peaks for Teachers provides teachers with complimentary classroom supplies to minimize their need to go out of pocket for such items. The campaign has a goal for the 2014 school year to benefit 1,500 Valley teachers with supplies such as dry erase markers, reams of paper, tissues, pencils, pens, markers and sanitary wipes. According to a statement from Four Peaks, the program supported 1,300 teachers last year during its inaugural drive.Teachers who want to participate can visit any Four Peaks or Smashburger location through Saturday, July 19, with their school ID and pick up a voucher good for one teacher supplies kit that will be distributed at designated Four Peaks locations starting July 21 while supplies last. For a list of supply pickup times or to donate online, visit FourPeaks.com.Chao hosting beer dinner

  • 3 to Try: Dining spots for kids

    Tensions rise with the temps as Valley families are smack in the middle of summer break. While it’s nice to spend more time with the littles, every parent knows the chaos that comes with a restless bunch. When it’s time to get the crew out of the house, consider one of these East Valley eateries where kids get more than just a pint-sized meal.The Hangar Café1725 E. Ryan Road, Chandler(480) 899-6965Hangar Café is a classic diner located just off the landing strip at Chandler Municipal Airport. Treat your junior aviator to a front-row seat watching the planes and pilots over pancakes. Go early, and grab a patio seat for traditional fare like scrambled eggs and hash browns or a B.L.T. If you can’t take the heat, have lunch inside by big windows with kid-friendly staples like grilled cheese and chicken fingers.Flight Deck Café at Mesa Gateway Airport

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  • Sonoran Spine hosting open house for new location

    Sonoran Spine will host an event on Aug. 22 as part of the opening its fifth location in Tempe.The open house, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m., includes behind-the-scenes tours and a raffle for Arizona Cardinals tickets, Amazon and Massage Envy gift cards, and other items. Food and drink is also available.The new location is at 1255 W. Rio Salado Parkway Suite 107, and additional information about Sonoran Spine is available by visiting sonoranspine.com.

  • Arizona tourism back to pre-recession levels, still short of expectations

    Tourism in Arizona is now back to where it was before the recession — and SB 1070 — hit, but it's nowhere near where it should be, according to the state's top tourism official.Figures from a study done for the Arizona Office of Tourism show that 39.1 million people visited the state and spent at least one night here in 2013. That includes 24.2 million from other states and 5.3 million international travelers.The last time Arizona came close to that was in 2007 with 38.7 million visitors.All those visitors plunked down $19.8 billion last year for everything from $2.7 billion on hotel rooms and $3.7 billion in meals, to $2.5 billion in retail sales of everything from clothing to trinkets to take home to the family like Arizona-themed clothing items proclaiming “Grandma and grandpa visited Arizona and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”State Tourism Director Sherry Henry said the recovery has been a long time coming, but Henry said there is more to be done.“We're not up as much as we would otherwise like to be,” she said.

  • Grapes, oak lead to 2 new beers at SanTan brewing in Chandler

    One day, while talking with his brewers, SanTan Brewing Company founder and brewmaster Anthony Canecchia was struck with an idea — to mix beer and wine into a single brew.The result is two new beers debuting this weekend: the Oak-Aged Saison di Aleatico and the Cab Franc Barrel-Aged Saison.The two beers were created by blending Aleatico and Cabernet Franc wine grapes with a Saison, a highly carbonated style of brew with fruity and spiced flavors. The fresh version of Saison di Aleatico debuted last fall at SanTan’s brewpub, but the oak-aged edition has been sitting in oak barrels for the past 11 months while the Cab Franc Saison was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels that contained Cabernet Franc pommace. They were tapped for the first time Saturday at the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild’s inaugural Real, Wild and Woody Beer Festival in Tempe and the SanTan brewpub in downtown Chandler.The idea for the Saison di Aleatico and Cab Franc Saison stemmed from a conversation about fermentables, specifically fruits, and combining them with beer. The idea wasn’t a particularly new concept; SanTan Brewing Company already has a Mr. Pineapple beer that is brewed with pineapple juice, but soon the conversation turned to grapes.So, Canecchia grabbed a bottle of Dos Cabezas WineWorks’ El Norte wine and mixed it with an amber ale. He liked what he tasted.“We really enjoyed some of that acidic character that came out,” Canecchia said. “Mind you we were just kind of splashing some wine in some beer and not aging it, so then the conversation started.”

  • Health company to move into Rivulon in Gilbert

    One of the most important real estate developments in Gilbert recently agreed to house the office of an Arizona-based health company and, in essence, start construction on the project.Nationwide Realty Investors announced on July 17 that Isagenix International, LLC, — a company that sells diet, skin care and other health products — will lease a three-story, single-tenant building at the Rivulon development. Located off the Santan Freeway portion of Loop 202 at the corner of Gilbert Road, Rivulon is a 3.1 million-square-foot plot of land expected to host a wide array of hotels, restaurants and businesses over the course of the next two decades.Although the land is currently unoccupied, Brian Ellis, Nationwide Realty Investors president and chief operating officer, said the construction of Isagenix’s 150,000-square-foot building is essentially, “the catalyst to kickoff the Rivulon project.”“That’s really exciting for the town to have phase one starting,” said Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson.Nationwide plans to begin construction on the Isagenix building later this year and anticipates it will open in fall 2015.Ellis said the agreement with Isagenix shows how much the real estate market has rebounded in recent years and solidifies the reality of the Columbus, Ohio-based realty company’s long-term plans.

  • Let Joe Know: 2 Ariz. businesses duped by counterfeit bills

    Do you know how to tell a real $20 bill from a fake?Small businesses in Sun City are finding out the hard way.A couple of businesses along Bell Road believe they were hit by the same guy who paid with counterfeit money.Doug Kepler manages the New England Clock Shop and says the man bought a watch.“We gave the guy change back from the $100, over $87 worth of change, that’s what hurts me,” Kepler said.Erica Doyle owns The Sewin’ Asylum right down the street. She says the man bought scissors from her.

  • Gilbert starts program to help small businesses open

    Starting a new business is often stressful for owners, but with the help from a support team, opening a small business in Gilbert has become much simpler.Gilbert’s Development Services Department officially launched a new program called Taking Care of Small Business (TCSB) on July 7. The program provides free support to emerging small businesses in Gilbert with the purpose of navigating the town’s planning, permitting and licensing process in assistance of starting a business.“As Gilbert continues to grow, so do the number of small businesses,” says Development Services Director Kyle Mieras in a statement. “The goal of the Taking Care of Small Business program is to provide free assistance and support to small-business owners as they begin their journey of opening a new business in Gilbert.”The Taking Care of Small Business program is a four-step process that begins with a person interested in opening a business. He or she will contact the TCSB team coordinator, who relays the details to other team members. The TCSB team then accumulates a packet of information, including applications and a checklist for the customers, saving them a lot of time and effort.“A small business often has less expertise and fewer resources to draw upon when it comes to opening or expanding its business and navigating our processes for doing so,” said Gilbert Town Manager Patrick Banger. “Along with our many advocacy partners, we are continually working on ways in which we can streamline our systems and assist our small-business owners to be successful as quickly as possible.”The TCSB coordinator contacts the customer and schedules a meeting with the rest of the team. Owners can include their contractor, engineer, planner and architect at the meeting. The team will then follow up with a response letter to the customer.

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  • Engineering for Kids Summer Camp

    Engineering for Kids offering STEM Based Summer Camps at Primavera in Chandler. Announces Summer Camp Open House on May 17thWhat is East Valley Engineering for Kids?Engineering for Kids is an enrichment program that teaches concepts on a variety of engineering fields in classes and camps for kids’ ages 4-14. We want to spark an interest in the kids for science, technology and engineering. The camps are all themes based and require the kids to work in teams to address engineering challenges and problems. All programs meet national education standards for STEM and align with Common Core for math and science. Engineering for Kids has operated since 2009, is in 26 states and 4 countries. When and what is the open house for?The open house on May 17th is an opportunity for parents to come and see the facility, meet the staff from Engineering for Kids, and get their questions answered. The summer camps will be offered at Primavera Blended Learning Center at 2451 N. Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The open house is from 11 am to 3 pm.  From 1-2 pm we’re having our popular robotics workshop where the kids will build, program, test and improve the robots. At the end of the workshop, the kids will compete against each other in a Sumo Bot tournament. An RSVP is highly recommended as seating is limited. Please email your RSVP to eastvalley@engineeringforkids.net. What is Primavera Blended Learning Center?

  • Keeping the Faith: Hitting the road

    Here we are, deep in the Here we are, deep in the dog days of another summer. School is out, vacation days are being cashed in, and picnic baskets are being packed. Barbecues are firing, pools are splashing, and ice cream trucks are rolling. Meanwhile, thousands, yea millions, are taking to the great American highway.Seventy percent of the U.S. population will hit the road this summer — off to visit grandma, the beach, the closest roller coaster, or a national park. We just love to feel the breeze on our faces and road beneath our wheels. We can’t stop ourselves from being a traveling people. We always have been.In prehistoric times we hoofed it, walking out of Africa scientists tell us, to every point on the globe. Then we built boats, domesticated horses, constructed wagons, engineered planes, trains, and automobiles – not to mention submersibles and space ships – so that no corner of creation has been untouched by the human foot, it seems. We keep moving, rolling, and running, so much so that the theme song of human history might well be Willie Nelson’s, “On the Road Again.”True to form, Christianity is a fluid faith for a pilgrim people. It is a spirituality of sojourn, of “goin’ places that we've never been; seein’ things that we may never see again.” Yet, we don’t always understand faith this way. Look at how we have structured it, however, and it is easy to see why we most often view Christianity as an incorrigible, fixated fortress rather than a living, dynamic movement.Our doctrines, constructed and accumulated over thousands of years, stack up like heavy stones. They are unassailable, infallible, and immovable. The buildings that contain our worship services are almost always built of rock, granite, or the hardest and heaviest material we can find — and there those buildings sit in the same place for centuries.Then, try being an idealistic reformer who seeks to change a church’s policy or its strategy to meet the world where it now is. If you’re not taken out behind the vestry and quietly crucified, you will find that change in the church usually moves with all the terrifying speed of a melting glacier.

  • In a jam? It's time to think outside the PB&J

    It was probably 15 years ago that I discovered the magic that is a nearly empty jar of jam.Until then, I'd always hated those sticky knuckle moments of scraping the slimy dregs of the jar, hoping I had enough to add that sweet balance so needed by the otherwise leaden smear of peanut butter on my bread.Then an Italian cook who was supposed to be teaching me pasta making got sidetracked. She wanted a salad to go with our orecchiette, and she wanted to make her own vinaigrette. That's when she reached for a nearly empty jar of strawberry jam from the refrigerator, dumped in some olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper. Then she put the cover back on the jar and shook like mad.Revolutionary? Hardly. But it was delicious. More importantly, it changed my relationship with jam. It wasn't just a sandwich spread. And it totally made sense. After all, a jar of grape jelly has long been the not-so-secret ingredient for many a potluck meatball. And since that day, I've used a dollop of one jam or another in nearly every vinaigrette I've made.And that's just the start. I regularly turn to jams and jellies for adding oomph to everything, including sweet-and-sour chicken (apricot jam), barbecue pork ribs (seedless raspberry), beef marinades (orange marmalade), ham glazes (blackberry or cherry), sweet-and-savory dips for vegetables and crackers (red pepper jelly), even sandwich spreads (anything goes!). It's a cheap and easy way to add tons of flavor. If nothing else, you really must try fig jam in a grilled cheese (use extra-sharp cheddar).Fruit spreads — as the retail category is collectively known — accounts for some $959 million in sales a year in the U.S., where some 1 billion pounds are produced, according to the International Jelly and Preserve Association. And the leading variety? Strawberry, followed by grape, then raspberry.

  • Go For the Food: Shawarma in Copenhagan

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Don't tell the folks over at avant-garde eateries Noma and Geranium, but for many visitors to Denmark's capital, the biggest culinary sensation isn't Nordic fusion.That honor goes to Shawarma Grill House, which for more than 30 years has been dishing out some truly spectacular Middle Eastern comfort food, including an outstanding shawarma sandwich. The city's high-end restaurants may get all the headlines, but millions of Danes and tourists can't be wrong!Shawarma Grill House lies at the start of Copenhagen's pedestrian-only shopping street, Stroget, nearest Radhus Platz. It has the appearance of a narrow fast-food joint, but ample seating is tucked into the back and upstairs. Usually there's a line of people waiting for a menu that includes standard Middle Eastern offerings, including falafel, kebabs, grilled chicken and kofta (and a hamburger for those with less appreciation for the real deal).But the main attraction is its shawarma sandwich. Massive spits of marinated meats greet diners as they enter, promising an unforgettable sandwich. Servers slice off pieces of the fragrant meat, a combination of beef and lamb, into a warm round of pita bread. They then quickly top it off with a salad of lettuce and tomato and a dash of a white sauce made from tahini and yogurt. And you are set.To those who doubt how those simple ingredients can be transformed into a magical experience in your mouth, embrace it. Leave behind all thoughts of the rubbery gyro meat you are familiar with stateside. The crisp lettuce is a delicious contrast to the tender, moist meat, while the fresh, soft pita ties it all together splendidly. If you are brave enough, add some of the red chili sauce, or harissa, metal bowls of which are at every table. Its sweet-sour-hot flavor is the best complement to the sandwich.For just $6.60 (DKK36) each, one sandwich is filling. Two is even better.

  • Rethinking a healthy breakfast: a meal in a muffin

    When fall rolls around and it's back to school and work, wouldn't you love to start your day with something tastier and more substantial than that all-too-typical bowl of cold cereal? It's just so boring day after day. And that's apart from the fact that most cereals will fail to tide you over until lunchtime.Here, then, is a meal in a muffin, a delicious and substantial alternative to the usual breakfast fare.The base is a mix of white whole-wheat and all-purpose flours. Don't fret over the whole wheat. White whole-wheat flour — which is available at most supermarkets — is made from a variety of wheat that is lighter in color and flavor than a traditional whole wheat, but just as healthy.The flour mix is moistened with eggs (a terrific source of protein), a combo of olive oil and just a little butter, as well as a bit of buttermilk and some Greek yogurt. The latter is a wonderful ingredient. Somehow the version with zero fat delivers all of the creamy mouth feel and tangy depth of flavor that anyone could wish for. And it boasts double the protein of regular yogurt.Next come the veggies. I've chosen broccoli and roasted red peppers, but you're welcome to replace them with carrots or chopped green beans. Your choice, as long as they add up to 1 3/4 cups. And by the way, you don't need to pre-cook the vegetables before adding them to the batter.I've amped up the flavor with modest amounts of Canadian bacon and full-fat cheddar cheese. The finished muffins are good to go: tasty and filling without a ton of sugar and fat. Breakfast may never be the same. For that matter, these muffins would be great for lunch, too.

  • Shapiro: Summer camp is important for kids

    The sun has just set. From where I sit, up on a ridge, I hear music from two simultaneous song sessions filling the Valley below. When campfires turn to embers, youngsters will peel themselves away from the festivities and make their drowsy way to their bunks. Their dreams will no doubt be filled with obstacle courses and tie-dye, hikes and ropes courses. Another day at summer camp is done.I’m a camp rabbi. That means I lead programs for the kids in my unit, and prayer services. Recently, I told a story about a water carrier with a cracked pot, and the kids supplied beautiful meanings. I led evening prayers, and advised counselors about delicate interpersonal dynamics. I engaged kids who seemed lonely or out of sorts. I sang silly songs with them before s’mores. But most of all, I got to observe.I got to observe kids make tentative moves towards friendship, asking awkward questions of each other until they found something in common. I got to observe a counselor playing basketball with the shortest boy in the unit. I got to observe a group of pre-teen boys singing and dancing wildly to Jewish music, unself-consciously goofing it up. I got to observe kids tearing through a box of costumes, parading around in outfits that definitely did not gender-conform; nobody batted an eye. I got to see youngsters practice reading Torah and saying prayers in preparation for becoming bar and bat mitzvah. I saw older kids treating younger kids nicely. I got to see kids being themselves.What didn’t I see? Electronics. There are no iPhones or tablets at camp, and no Wi-Fi access anyway. And — wouldn’t you know it? — the kids aren’t bored. They are happy to go swimming and do arts and crafts and play silly games on the lawn, just as kids have done for generations. They don’t require the constant barrage of image and entertainment. It turns out that these are unnecessary distractions from life. “Here at camp you don’t need electronics,” one little guy told me, “except light switches.”We’ve robbed our children of their childhood. We’ve sacrificed them on the altar of busyness — theirs and our own. We don’t have the time to engage them, so we plunk them in front of the TV (even while driving). We want them to acquire skills, and so we send them to hockey and dance, martial arts and French lessons, shrinking to a wisp time for play and self-discovery. We test them over and over again, and contort their schedules to our adult need to quantify. As we cram them into little boxes, we neglect their souls, their individuality, their passion, and their play. We call these folly, but they are the stuff of which fulfilled adults are made. Let us not be surprised if they become passive, unable to think for themselves, self-absorbed, without dreams to propel them through the years. What else could they be, when this is how we have raised them?This summer is ending; school will soon be in session once more. Parents: make a pledge now to send your child to camp next year. Let them experience exuberance and freedom. Let them meet positive, caring role models in their counselors — responsible people who are not yet full adults and who can show them the way beyond the boundaries of boy- and girlhood. Let them meet new people and make friends. Let them find themselves.

Video: Winter in July at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo held its annual Winter in July event on Saturday for the animals and an estima...


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