Archive for September, 2010

Going To School Using Skype While On Vacation

September 17, 2010

#1 Daughter Uses Skype To Do Schoolwork While In The Hotel Room

I own a vacation rental home company because I love helping guests have the vacation of a lifetime.

I’m also a big fan of vacationing during the off season when rates are lower, service is more personalized, crowds are sparser and you can get so much more for your money.

Since Orlando is such a family friendly vacation spot, one of the biggest concerns guests express about an off season vacation is taking their kids out of school. They’re afraid their child will miss too much schoolwork.

I decided to put that theory to the test.

When I planned a vacation to Washington D.C. to watch my beloved VT Hokies play Boise State on Labor Day, I made a special arrangement with the teachers at Number One Daughter’s Montessori School. We set up a Skype account so Number One Daughter could join her classroom each morning as well as do all her teacher and classroom interactions online.

Skyping With Her Classmates

Every day Number One Daughter would Skype into her Montessori School at 8:30am to join her classroom’s morning meeting and get her assignments. She would then spend the day doing a mix of schoolwork and vacationing. Her teachers even designed some activities that were specifically related to the Washington D.C. area so there would be a seamless correlation between the vacation she was having and the opportunity to further her education.

Here’s a video of Number One Daughter Skyping with Montessori Teacher Rebecca and her classroom to discuss the literature assignment for the day. I think you’ll agree it proves that a dedicated school teacher and a motivated student can successfully use modern technology to achieve academic enrichment while enjoying the benefits of vacationing during the best value season!

Lanier’s Historic Downtown Marketplace

September 8, 2010

In The Heart Of Old Downtown Kissimmee, This Place Is A Great Find!

18,000 square feet crammed packed FILLED from floor to ceiling with antiques, collectibles, design ideas and everything in between–welcome to Lanier’s Historic Downtown Marketplace located on Broadway in the heart of old town Kissimmee. 

Packed From Floor To Ceiling

For the lucky readers of my blog seeking “more than a mouse”™ and an off-the-beaten-path adventure, you’re in for a real treat. Lanier’s is not simply an antique store. It is an oasis of southern hospitality. (you might be invited to have a coffee or lemonade by the store owners.) It’s a maze of amazing design ideas. It’s packed with a prestigious cornucopia of creativity. In short, it’s a shopper’s dream and an historian’s treasure! 

Jeremy Exudes Southern Hospitality

Jeremy had no idea who the LanceAround family is or that they would converge upon him on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon. His warm smile, sincere greeting and offer of coffee made one instantly like him. He is the manager and member of the original Lanier family. We explained that we were looking for some items resembling Hogwarts for a Harry Potter bedroom we were creating in one of our vacation rental homes

Sitting next to Jeremy was Myles Edwards, a professional designer who, Jeremy says, makes Lanier’s shop windows rival Bloomingdale’s every Christmas. They put their heads together and soon Jeremy was whisking us around his store finding troves of Potter-esque items. 

#1 Daughter Discovered Lots of Treasures

There was so much to see even someone who dislikes shopping as much as I do found tons of amusing items that captured my attention and imagination. We spent over $100 on various items, not only for our vacation rental home but also for Number One Daughter who discovered a four player chess set she just had to have. 

Meanwhile, Number One Son was still debating on which of the multitude of ancient chests and antique desks he found would work best in the Harry Potter room. Mrs. LanceAround and I smiled as we enjoyed watching how much our children enjoyed this one-of-a-kind place. 

It was like we had discovered our very own hidden treasure–and now you can too! 

Lanier’s Historic Downtown Marketplace
108 Broadway Street
Kissimmee, FL 34741
Open Mon. to Sat. 9am to 5:30pm

Is NYPD The Best Pizza In Orlando?

September 3, 2010

NYPD Pizzeria Voted Best In Orlando

Number One Daughter got her driving permit on Friday.  To celebrate, she wanted pizza and elected to try NYPD Pizzeria and Delicatessen which had won some local Best Pizza of the Year awards.

I spent many years working in the pizza industry. I get nervous whenever I do an unannounced review of a restaurant. I understand that even the best establishments can have an off day. When I do my reviews, I try to look deeper than the surface. I look for systems, talk to patrons, observe the crew and study the procedures. Does anything indicate that tonight is different than usual?

But this visit, I didn’t have to worry about that.

From the moment we pulled up to the NYPD Pizzeria, located on Universal Drive right near the convention center, it was obvious we were at a restaurant worthy of a Best in Orlando award.

The restaurant was doing a bustling business; phones were ringing, tables were crowded and the kitchen crew and wait staff were scurrying back and forth.

#1 Daughter Digs In

I looked at the tables full of people. They were all smiling, gesturing and talking in an animated way. On the center of most tables was a round metal plate set on a pedestal about 8 inches off the table and filled with pizza that looked expertly cooked with generous portions of toppings and cheese. Some tables (that did not have a pizza in the center) were being served with plates filled with calzones, sandwiches or pasta all of which appeared to be cooked just right.

The wait staff was hustling, but not harassed. They appeared friendly, but not overbearing. The kitchen had a half dozen team members each focused on their work. No one looked bored or annoyed. The atmosphere was pleasant.

I looked around the shop. It was obviously a new store. Even so, the walls, tables, counters and baseboards seemed clean. There were firefighter helmets and amusing signs that carried themes of New York’s Finest. Walls with accent paint, a granite countertop and dark wood molding said that someone had created this shop with care and attention to detail.

Our waitress, Ashley, was cheerful and attentive. It was a busy night so she had to hustle and she did so while not being rude or pushy. She tried to give us a few minutes to purview the menu while she attended to some pressing duties. However, when we told her we were ready to order immediately (we had a movie deadline, but we didn’t tell her that) she dropped her other duties and instantly gave us her full attention.

Toasted Just Right

Number One Daughter ordered a Bayside Bianca (white pizza), I ordered an eggplant parmsean sandwich, Number One Son got got linguine with sauce and Mrs. LanceAround shared my sandwich with a slice of Number One Daughter’s Bianca and a salad. The food did not take long to arrive–but it was long enough to indicate that it was freshly prepared. It was cooked to perfection, not over- or under-done. The crust was slightly crunchy and chewy on the outside yet moist and tender on the inside. The eggplant parmesan was on an italian roll that was toasted just right.

At the front of the kitchen, you could watch the chef hand tossing the fresh pizza dough and putting the completed pies into a large oven. It appeared to bake on a revolving stone surface, but I did not get enough of a glimpse of the oven to know for sure.

We were all smiles as we tasted each other’s fare. When our waitress, Ashley, asked why were taking so many photos, she displayed the usual nervous concern when learning we were preparing to write a post about the meal. Since we never reveal whether a review will be positive or negative, we could not alleviate her anxiety. She had nothing to worry about. It was obvious from before we even sat at her table that she is a caring, conscientious waitress who works very hard.

We gave her a good tip and went on to watch our movie–full, delicious and content. Good meal at a good price.

And lucky for our readers, there are currently five NYPD Pizza and Delicatessen Restaurants throughout the greater Orlando area. Here’s the contact info for the one we went to:

NYPD Pizzeria & Delicatessen
9900 Universal Blvd.
Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32819