07 February 2016

Blizzard of Photo Albums Predicted

Category: Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1159

I’ve received some comments from people saying that I haven’t posted any photos lately. Well, it’s not because I haven’t taken any. It’s just because I haven’t taken had time to post them. That’s about to change. I have 6 sets of photos that I’ve been working on. They’re all just about ready to put up on the site. So, watch this space for announcements as I post each of them.

What are the photos of? Glad you asked! They’re from October’s trip to the 1000 Islands/Alexandria Bay, Upper Canada Village and Watertown, some fall foliage, the Bethlehem Steel plant and a Christmas light display on a farm in Bucks County.

20 November 2015

Norwalk CT Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1422

While looking for someplace to stop for a few days on the way back from Kingston in the Catskills, we settled upon Norwalk, Connecticut, a city I’ve driven through/past hundreds of times but never visited. They have a cool aquarium along the waterfront on the Long Island Sound. We also took a boat trip out to Sheffield Island to tour the lighthouse. Our spare time was spent exploring the SONO (South Norwalk) neighborhood where we found some fantastic food. On our way out of town we stopped at the world’s most fun supermarket, Stew Leonard’s. A friend suggested it and you’ll have to look at the photos to really appreciate it as much as I appreciate her telling me about it!

Check out the photos here.

01 November 2015

Kingston NY Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1928

Espous Meadows LighthouseI just posted some photos I took while in Kingston, NY. For those keeping count, this short vacation to the Catskills is the third time we’ve wound up at a German festival at a ski resort. I swear it’s not intentionally planned that way, but really, who can resist delicious German food? Of course, it included a scenic chairlift ride, but one difference at this festival at Hunter Mountain was the Doxie Derby. How often do you get to watch dachshunds racing??? Some ran to the finish line, some ran away! This trip also included a walk across the Spectacular Walkway Over the Hudson, a boat ride on the Hudson river and some time in downtown Kingston before we headed out of the Catskills and off to Norwalk, Connecticut.

Check out my Kingston photos here.

06 September 2015

Tall Ships Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1523

Back in June there was a tall ship festival in Philadelphia and the Camden waterfront. When I was a kid my parents would sometimes take us to a park along the Delaware River to see the tall ships when they were coming to Philadelphia. We also got a see them once or twice in Baltimore. So this was a fun chance to check them out up close and bring back some good memories too.

I would have liked to go aboard a few more ships, but the crowds were insane. We chose to go aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.

You can see the photos right here.

06 May 2015

New Mexico Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2021

Hot Air Balloon The photos from my vacation in New Mexico are now online. There are also a few short videos including a video of the highlight of the trip… a hot air balloon flight! Beside the balloon flight, we visited San Lorenzo Canyon, Socorro, the Trinity Site, White Sands National Monument, Albuquerque, Acoma Pueblo, Route 66 and the Sandia Peak. Throughout all of these locations we ate more New Mexican cuisine than you can imagine. We might’ve gained a few pounds, but it was totally worth it!

Click here to view the photos and be sure to check out the hot air balloon video while you’re there.

26 April 2015

Improvements to Website Photo Albums

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1218

In preparation for posting the photos from my vacation in New Mexico (soon, I promise!), I’ve completed a major upgrade to all of the existing photo albums on my site. Both the thumbnails and large images have been replaced with larger versions and I’ve removed the 1990s-esque frames that were around the images. Those cute little white frames may have been appropriate in their day, but they are no more.

Now that Apple is sadly replacing Aperture and iPhoto with their new Photos app, there may be more changes coming in the future. Of course, as always, I will hang on to the old programs as long as I can!

22 March 2015

70 Years Since Iwo Jima

Category: Genealogy,Interesting Links — Posted by Michael at 1520

Bill Gatti 70 yrs ago today, my uncle Bill, my father’s brother, was at Iwo Jima. I wish he had lived long enough for me to know him and thank him for his service. Tragically, while he survived his time in the Pacific Theater, he was killed in a car crash in his early 20s after returning home. 

Return to Iwo Jima: Vets remember on 70th anniversary of bloody battle Iwo Jima

01 February 2015

Review: Poynor’s Pommes Frittes – Pigeon Forge TN

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1114

This restaurant sits in the shadow of the giant Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and is named for its fries (Belgian fries actually). While they definitely serve good fries, the bratwurst sandwiches are what really caught our attention. More specifically, the bread on which the sandwiches are made is amazing. It’s called Broetchen. It’s a small hard roll from Germany/Austria. My mother, who was with me, said she had them years ago on a visit to Germany and had never seen them in this country.

We met the very friendly couple (Tammy and Poynor) who owns the restaurant. Poynor bakes the delicious rolls. He explained that they’re made with a process that involves breaking them three times. We discussed how we could arrange take some home with us and he offered to bake a batch twice so that we could take them home and finish them. They were so good that we took him up on the offer and drove back to Pigeon Forge the following day to pick them up before leaving Tennessee. They survived the 10 hour ride home and we ate them nearly every day for a week!

When visiting Tennessee I’d expect to find southern food and moonshine (we found plent of both), but Poyner’s surprised me with a brilliantly baked German specialty that I wish was available closer to home.

30 January 2015

Review: Kitchen 519 – Gloucester Twp NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1906

This small casual restaurant is a bright wide open space with a lot of very eclectic decor. Vintage clothes hang on clotheslines on the wall alongside artwork and old photos.

While you wait for your meal to be ready you can keep yourself occupied with the Trivial Pursuit cards on each table. You can also enjoy some appetizers. The garlic fries are good and the Cuban quesadilla is an interesting (and tasty) twist on traditional Cuban sandwich. However, the fried pickles (usually a favorite of mine) were disappointing because the cornmeal breading fell off most of the pickles while they were still in the basket.

I haven’t been here for dinner yet but the lunches I’ve had were quite good. All of the sandwiches on the menu sound good making it hard to choose. I particularly enjoyed the Pork Rojo.

I look forward to exploring more menu items on future visits.

29 January 2015

Review: Smoky Mountain Trout House – Gatlinburg TN

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1906

While in Gatlinburg we intentionally dined at a different restaurant for each meal of our trip. There are a lot from which to choose. This was the only restaurant we decided to go back to for a second dinner. It’s farther east on Parkway then many other restaurants but it was well worth the mile and a quarter round trip walk from our hotel.

It’s a very small restaurant that is only open 4 hours each evening. I would highly recommend calling ahead for reservations. Because the restaurant is so small, when you enter they have you go upstairs to wait for your table to be ready. You can also wait outside. The gentleman who runs the place (the owner?) keeps everything moving smoothly.

They serve dishes other then the fresh caught rainbow trout for which the restaurant is named although I am guessing nobody knows what those dishes taste like because you would be crazy to order anything but one of the 15 available trout dishes. All of the trout preparations that we tried were lightly seasoned enough to let the amazing flavor of the fish come through. It all tasted so fresh.

If I ever make it back to Gatlinburg this would be the first place that I head for dinner.

082 Smoky Mountain Trout House 104 Smoky Mountain Trout House105 Grilled Trout 106 Smoky Mountain Trout House

01 December 2014

Gatlinburg TN Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2146

LeafPhotos from my trip to Gatlinburg, TN are finally posted. The foliage was less than colorful, although I suppose green is a color. However, it was a fun trip. We spent a lot of time walking around downtown Gatlinburg visiting various stores and tourist destinations, dining at great restaurants, sampling moonshine and just people watching. We also took the aerial tramway up to the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort for their Oktoberfest and spent a day visiting the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. We spent one morning in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg’s slightly more obnoxious and touristy neighbor. The trip was rounded out by some time in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Check the photos out here.

23 November 2014

A Tutorial for Turkey Brining Season

Category: Cooking/Food — Posted by Michael at 2030

19-Cooked-TurkeyWhen I tell people that I brine my turkey before cooking it on Thanksgiving (or any other time I cook one) they first ask me why I do it and then they ask if it’s hard. A brined turkey is so much more moist. It holds all of its moisture so much better than a non-brined turkey. The brine also imparts some extra flavor to the bird. I’ve also found that it cooks faster. Is it hard? No, it’s not

So, just in time for Thanksgiving, I wrote a short tutorial describing how to brine your turkey and impress your family. There’s also a PDF copy of the recipe that you can download and print. As a bonus, it also includes my stuffing recipe.

You can check it all out at www.michaelgatti.com/turkeybrine. Enjoy and feel free to let me know how your turkey dinner turns out!

10 November 2014

My Grandfather – George J. Stroup, Sr

Category: Life — Posted by Michael at 2108

georgestroupThank you to everyone who has asked about an obituary for my grandfather, George J. Stroup, Sr. He passed away on 6 Nov 2014 but did not want an obituary placed in any newspaper. He also did not want a funeral or viewing. We had a modest graveside ceremony for him with our immediate family.

If you are interested in sending or doing something to honor his memory, we ask that you instead make a donation in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org). This is a charity that was near and dear to my grandfather’s heart.

Another more detailed post commemorating my grandfather will be coming soon.

20 July 2014

San Diego Photos and Video

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1236

I just posted a few albums of photos from my trip to San Diego. While out there for a week on business, I added an extra day to do some sightseeing. Even though I didn’t have a ton of free time, I managed to see much of the downtown area, tour the USS Midway, take a boat tour of the northern part of the bay and go to the amazing San Diego Zoo. I also got to spend quality time with old friends and coworkers and we ate ate incredibly well throughout the week with meals of Mexican, Italian & Thai food! I’ve also included a video of the adorable pandas at the San Diego Zoo.

The photos can viewed right here. Enjoy!

22 June 2014

Book Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1755

I never typically write reviews for Amazon purchases, but Chris Hadfield’s book warrants special attention.

This book is fascinating on several different levels. First it provides a biographical look at Chris Hadfield’s life. He explains his childhood and everything that led up to his becoming an astronaut. It’s a great story of someone who knew what they wanted their entire life and worked exceptionally hard to achieve it.

As Hadfield tells his own story he uses his own experiences to give some really good advice on how anyone can think like an astronaut in their own life as a means to achieving their goals and focusing themselves on being prepared for whatever life throws at them. This is certainly not a self-help book but it leaves the reader with a lot to think about regarding how they handle events big and small in their own life.

The third angle to this book is the inside look at the space program. Hadfield provides a firsthand account of what it takes to become and astronaut plus a detailed description of what it’s like to be an astronaut when you aren’t riding a rocket into outer space. People generally don’t think about the training and everyday work done by astronauts in the he months or years between going into space but this book paints a great picture of it.

Of course, it also describes in great detail the exciting part of being an astronaut, launching into space and living in space (Hadfield was the commander of the International Space Station). From the most mundane tasks that become complicated while living on orbit to performing space walks, he describes experiences that most people will never experience for themselves.

Regardless of which of the above facets of this book interests you the most, it will keep and hold your attention. Chris Hadfield comes across as a totally honest and genuine author and if you’ve ever seen the cover of “Space Oddity” that he performed aboard the ISS, then you that’s probably an accurate depiction.

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