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69 Days of Summer

69 days of summer

Today marks the official first day of the kids’ summer vacation.  They have 69 days of summer vacation before school starts again September 1.  This year, both kids opted not to go to camp.  Now that I am working part-time from home, this is the first time in awhile where camp was an option and not a necessity.  Despite the variety of camps presented to them:  town camp, Girl Scout/Cub Scout camp or sports camp, neither of them wanted to go.  I reminded them that they shouldn’t expect to “hang out” with their friends every day since most of their friends are at camp all day.  So, now, what is a mom to do with 69 days of summer?

69 Days of Summer

Well, first I bought myself a mini notebook to journal our summer adventures.  Yes, I said adventures.  If you know me well, “adventure” is not a word that you’d normally associate with me.  I’m a creature of habit and routine.  However, if you read Wednesday’s post, I wrote about my daughter’s moving up to middle school in the fall.  With this upcoming change I know that spending time with her mom will soon be replaced by wanting to spend all her time with her friends.  So, I plan to take the kids on outings.  We can tackle our Hudson Valley Summer Bucket List as well as explore New York City.  We can eat our way through Westchester County and spend lazy days at the park. Whatever we do, I am taking advantage of this time that we do have to spend together.

Notebooks

I also found two notebooks for the kids to decorate and use as their own summer journals.  Not only will they keep up their writing skills, but they will have a souvenir of their hopefully fun summer!

Summertime Rules

And for those days that we spend at home, this sign was made.  Now, my son won’t be constantly asking to play the Xbox.

Follow along with NY Foodie Family on the blog and on Instagram, as we fill our 69 days of summer!

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Moving Upward and Onward

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Yesterday, I attended my daughter’s moving up ceremony.  She is officially a 5th grader and will be heading to middle school in the fall.  I share the sentiments of many parents that time is going by too quickly.  It seems like yesterday, that I was putting her on the school bus for her first day of Kindergarten and today she walked across the bridge to middle school.  My baby girl is growing up.

I am so proud of all that my daughter has accomplished in her five years of elementary school. Her teachers have nurtured her love of learning and she is constantly seeking knowledge.  She has made many friends throughout the years, and this past year in particular, she has developed friendships that have the potential to become life-long relationships.

Like Shonda Rhimes, 4th grade was my daughter’s “Year of Yes.”  She embraced her last year in elementary school with enthusiasm, wanting to participate in everything.  The Gym Show, the school musical, the Tae Kwon Do club, the spelling bee, book club, the school newspaper, band and the science fair…..she did it all.  Plus she had outside of school activities  including piano lessons, Girl Scouts and religious education.  While it was not always easy for her to fit everything in and get her homework done, she somehow managed to do it all.  It wasn’t always easy, with early mornings, late nights and little free time.  But she never gave up and stuck with it all.

I will admit that I’ve been a bit over-protective of my daughter; not wanting to see her fail at anything and to always be prepared and have whatever she needs.  I am learning that I need to take a step back and start letting her spread her wings.  In his speech to the parents, my daughter’s middle school principal noted that his job is to help our children become independent.  Mistakes need to be made so she can learn from them.  And as her parent, I can help guide her towards making good decisions, but ultimately, she needs to make the final choice. And as difficult as that may be for both her and me, I think we will be okay.  Because we both know that I will always be here for her.

My daughter’s official last day of 4th grade is tomorrow.  Then she is home with me (and her younger brother) for the summer.  Neither of the kids wanted to go to camp this summer and since I am home, I didn’t push it.  I’m  hoping to spend some quality time with the kids while they both still want to do things with their mom.  As excited as I am for my daughter to start this next chapter in her life, I know that middle school will change her (and I’m hoping that it’s for the better!).  I know that pretty soon spending time with her friends will be more important than spending time with her family.  So, as elementary school is ending for her, I am hoping that this summer we will be able to make memories that both she and I can look back on with fondness.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 43}

2016 Calendar

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend celebrating the dad’s in their lives.  We had a great Father’s Day, in which we did some geocaching and had a picnic lunch at a local state park.  Then my husband’s family joined us for a BBQ dinner.  Meal planning has gotten interesting for me.  I picked up my first CSA haul last Tuesday (and weekly from now until October!).  So I have lots of fresh veggies to use.  This past week, most of it was of the leafy green variety.  I didn’t want to make the greens the same way, so it took a bit more time researching different and interesting ways to make use of the veggies.  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday: My husband and I attended the Westchester Wine & Food Festival.  We got to sample amazing dishes from local restaurants and sample some wine and liquor as well.

Bun Ga Nuong (Grilled Chicken and Vermicelli Salad)

Sunday: We had our monthly supper club Sunday night.  The theme was Vietnamese and I made Bun Ga Nuong (Grilled Chicken and Vermicelli Salad) from Food.com.  I don’t get to eat Vietnamese food a lot and the meal was delicious.  Everything was light, summery and so good!

Tilapia Curry with Basil

Monday: I made Tilapia Curry with Basil from Every Day with Rachael Ray.  I served it with some cucumbers marinated in rice vinegar and sugar and cooked rice vermicelli noodles sauteed in soy sauce and sesame oil.  I’m trying to eat more fish and tilapia is tasty and easy to cook.  This dish was flavorful with the red curry but probably not a dish that I’ll make again.

Pork Chops with Zesty Tomato Sauce & Swiss Chard

Tuesday: I made Pork Chops with Zesty Tomato Sauce & Swiss Chard from Every Day with Rachael Ray.  I am not a big pork chop maker or eater.   I’m always afraid of not cooking the pork enough and usually end up overcooking it, where it ends up dry.  The pork in this dish was okay in flavor.  We loved the swiss chard cooked in oil and garlic.  It was simple but really flavorful.

Penne with Sausage and Escarole

Wednesday:  I made Penne with Sausage and Escarole from the Cooking Channel, courtesy of Chef Emeril Lagasse.  I have made this dish before with broccoli rabe.  The escarole, which has a slight bitterness to it raw, tasted great in this recipe.  This was a winner with the family.

Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Thursday: I made Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry from Epicurious, which I served with rice.   My daughter helped get the marinade ready while I cut the chicken up.  I will admit that the chicken did not sit in the marinade for thirty minutes as recommended.  It probably marinated for a good twenty minutes though and unfortunately, didn’t have as much flavor as I would have liked.  I also used chicken breasts instead of the boneless thighs that the recipe called for.

One Pot Stovetop Creamy Kale Mac and Cheese

Friday:  I usually make pizza on Fridays, but not this week.  Instead, I made One Pot Stovetop Creamy Kale Mac and Cheese from White On Rice Couple, which I served with a ham steak.  I should have cut the kale smaller, but otherwise, this was a great way to use the kale.   My son was happy to have the mac and cheese and I was happy he was eating the kale with no complaints!

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Westchester County Family Dining: Umami Cafe

Umami Cafe

Are you looking for a casual, family-friendly restaurant in Northern Westchester?  Umami Cafe in Croton-on-Hudson fits the bill.  Umami Cafe is named after the fifth primary taste (umami translated from Japanese meaning “pleasant savory taste”) …..and the name is fitting.  As the restaurant offers a flavor-packed menu of dishes featuring flavors from all over the world.  

The restaurant, opened in 2002,  is owned by Jonathan Pratt and Craig Purdy, who together also own Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown Heights and Tagine Restaurant & Wine Bar, which is also located in Croton-on-Hudson.  

I mentioned that this restaurant is child-friendly.  They have a shelf of little toys that kids can grab and bring to the table to play with.  The children’s menus are viewed via a Viewmaster, bringing back fond childhood memories!  As a rule, we prefer to have our kids not order from children’s menus whenever possible.  Even at Umami Cafe, where the menu is cool to view, the kids menu offers the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pasta with butter or tomato sauce and grilled cheese.  The most interesting items are a Fluffernutter (Marshmallow fluff and peanut butter) or Fluffer-Nutella sandwich, both which can be easily made at home.

In contrast, the adult dining menu offers so many interesting dishes.  Main entrees include Grilled Salmon with Yuzu Ponzu, a Lobster Roll, Grilled Marinated Shrimp Siracha, Curry Wurst, Bahn Mi Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Vietnamese Pork Chop, Evil Jungle Prince (spicy chicken curry), Barbecued St. Louis Ribs and more!

We especially like Umami Cafe for their Thursday, $5 appetizer nights.  We make a tapas-like meal by ordering a bunch of appetizers for dinner.  On our most recent visit it was just me, my husband and our son.  Our daughter was away on a school trip.  The three of us enjoyed a meal out of the following appetizers:

Duck Quesadillas - Umami Cafe

Peking Duck Quesadillas

Pork Potstickers - Umami Cafe

Pork Potstickers

Gnocchi with Duck Confit - Umami Cafe

Gnocchi with Duck Confit

Cubano Spring Rolls - Umami Cafe

Cubano Spring Rolls

Truffled Mac and Cheese - Umami Cafe

Truffled Mac and Cheese

Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Wonton Tacos - Umami Cafe

Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Won Ton Tacos

These appetizers are normally priced between $6.75 and $8.95 each but on Thursday nights, they are each only $5. We’ve eaten here several times and had tried all the appetizers before except the Gnocchi with Duck Confit and the Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Won Ton Tacos.  Everything was delicious!  My son found the wasabi sour cream to be a bit too spicy on the tacos but my husband enjoyed them. We were satiated with our appetizers for dinner but didn’t leave stuffed.  We didn’t even look at the dessert menu, as we planned on making a stop at the nearby Hot Dippity Donuts!

The restaurant does not take reservations, so we always make sure to arrive close to opening.  They are open daily from 5 PM to 9:30 and from 5 PM to 10 PM on Friday and Saturdays.  In addition to their Thursday $5 appetizer night, Umami Cafe also has a Tuesday $10 burger night.  Yet another reason for us to return!

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May 2016 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Jana and Steph for their monthly Show Us Your Reads link up.  May was a good reading month for me. I got a decent number of books read and I was able to read several newer releases that had come in from my holds at the library.  June is looking to be a busy reading month.  I am participating in a Goodreads group team challenge which will run from June until October.  So, I may not end up reading books that are on my to read list, but rather those that will fit the different challenges.  Note to self, I should probably not put a bunch of books on hold at the library, since they all seem to come in at the same time!

3 Stars:

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The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee – This book tells the story of three American women living abroad in Hong Kong.  Their lives end up intertwining after a tragic incident occurs.  I found it interesting to learn more about the expat community but overall found the story to be just okay.

Opening Belle

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry – Isabelle, “Belle,” is a managing director at a financial firm on Wall Street.  She is trying to juggle being a mom, a wife and a high pressure job and at  times appears to be failing at all.  I enjoyed getting an inside view of working at a financial firm on Wall Street, although I didn’t understand much of the market talk.  I found her husband, Bruce, to be really annoying and unlikable.  And unfortunately, I’m sure that the sexual harassment stuff that occurred in the book happens more often than we hear about, in such a male dominated field.  Overall, this was an okay, chic-lit type read.

4 Stars:
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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld  – This is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice……but I’m pretty sure that I’ve never read the original!  Regardless, I found this book to be humorous and engaging.  It seems this is the fourth book in the Austen Project and although, they all appear to be stand-alones, I’m now curious to try reading the other three.

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Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Along with James Patterson, Coben is one of my go to authors for quick, suspenseful reads.  This book didn’t disappoint, as I found it to be fast-paced and had me guessing until the end.

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – Three of four siblings are counting on the family trust fund, dubbed “the Nest” and have lived well beyond their means, in expectation of their inheritance.  When they discover the money has been used to cover their fourth sibling’s poor decisions and actions, they end up examining their own lives and making changes to adapt.   I was surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I do.  Literary fiction is not one of my go-to genres.  However, I found that the author captured family dysfunction in a realistic way and spun a story that kept me interested.

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson – Let me first note, that my kids loved the cover of this book and asked me, “Is this book about a dog walker?!”  Second, although this book is over 500 pages, it flies by.  After reading this, I first thought about giving it three stars.  I’m a big fan of YA books, but this book just felt  SO YA, if that makes sense.  However, if I fell into the YA age bracket (which I don’t by many years!) I think this book has everything a good YA book should.  Family drama, friendship drama, boyfriend drama.   It’s all in here.  Plus, it takes place over the summer, making it fitting for a light, summer read.

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Untangled:  Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour – I have a 10 year old daughter and I will willingly admit that I am terrified of her becoming a teenager.  Not only for what she will be going through, but for what I will also be dealing with.  So, I’m trying to prepare myself for this upcoming transition, since times have changed since I was a teenager.  I thought Damour did a great job of describing the seven developmental transitions and providing example scenarios and advice on how to help both daughter and parent get through them.  This is a book that I will probably revisit in a couple of years.   I realized that this is the only non-fiction book that I read this month.

5 Stars:

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  by J.K. Rowling – My son and I got through book two in the Harry Potter series and watched the movie.  It’s fun doing this reread with him.   Since I read these books so long ago, I don’t remember a lot of what happened, so this is a nice refresher!

What have you been reading?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 42}

2016 Calendar

Did everyone have a great weekend?  We did!  Our weekend included lots of great food!  My husband and I went to a local wine and food festival on Saturday and then had our monthly supper club on Sunday!  I can tell that summer is almost here in my motivation, or really lack of, in the kitchen.  The weather is beautiful and I’d rather not be in the kitchen slaving over dinner.  You will be seeing more Cooking Light and Every Day with Rachael Ray recipes on my weekly meal plan, as I’ve been going through all my magazine recipe tear outs.  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this week.

Saturday: We went to my son’s Cub Scout camp out and end of year award ceremony at Fahnestock State Park.  My daughter and I just had dinner and stayed for the award ceremony, while my husband and son camped overnight…..in the rain!

Burger Night

Sunday: My husband made burgers with blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms and frizzled onions, which we had with fries and onion rings.

Antipasti Chopped Salad

Monday: I made Antipasti Chopped Salad from Everyday with Rachael Ray, July/August 2015.  I adapted it and added some olives, eliminated the radicchio.  I used a smoked provolone that I found at Shoprite and I thought that it added nice flavor to the salad.

Ham and Honeycrisp Quesadillas

Tuesday: I made Ham and Honeycrisp Quesadillas from Cooking Light, April 2014.  I love how versatile quesadillas can be.  I used Gala apples in place of the Honeycrisp ones.  My only problem with the dish is that the apples don’t stay in the quesadilla!  When you take a bite, the apple slice falls out.  I didn’t put the arugula in the kids’ since they aren’t biggest fans.  Overall, these were okay.

Paprika Shrimp and Farro

Wednesday: I made Paprika Shrimp and Farro from Everyday with Rachael Ray.  This was quick, easy and tasty!  I’ve only recently started liking farro and my son isn’t quite a fan.  I used up some of the arugula from the quesadillas in an arugula salad with peaches and goat cheese.

Umami Cafe Duck Quesadillas

Thursday:  We went out to a local restaurant, Umami Cafe for their Thursday $5 appetizer special.  We had a tapas-style appetizer dinner that included Truffle Mac & Cheese, Duck Quesadillas, Pork Cubano Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers and more.

Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter Sauce

Friday:  I made Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter Sauce from Pinch of Yum over pasta.  I bought a large basil plant and have been in search of recipes that use fresh basil.  This recipe was delicious and fit that bill.

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Our Hudson Valley Summer Bucket List

View of Bear Mountain Bridge

Our family is so fortunate to live in the beautiful Hudson Valley.  We are close enough to enjoy all the food, culture and arts of New York City.  However, we also love living close to the Hudson River and enjoying all the family fun that our community and neighboring areas offer.  Summer is quickly approaching and we have made a bucket list of fun things in the Hudson Valley that we would like to do over the next couple of months.  Please note, although there are some date specific events and festivals that we are interested in, I did not add them to this list, as I wanted to keep our summer plans and this list flexible.

Go strawberry picking at Fishkill Farms.  We went strawberry picking for the first time last year and really enjoyed it.  Freshly picked strawberries are amazing!

See a Renegades baseball game.  Last summer we went to a Rockland Boulders baseball game and this summer we’d like to see a Renegades game.

Take a hike and geocache.  Our family has caught the geocaching bug and we plan on finding as many caches as we can!  On the top of our list is to return to Fahnestock State Park and probably a trip to Bear Mountain State Park.

Visit the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and the Vanderbilt Mansion.  My daughter has her Every Kid in a Park pass that expires in August.  We enjoyed visiting the home of FDR back in November and we said that once the weather got warmer we’d like to go visit the Eleanor Roosevelt House and the Vanderbilt Mansion.

Walk the Walkway Over the Hudson.

Have a picnic.

Play mini golf and have lunch at Red Rooster Drive-In.

Enjoy an outdoor concert.

Visit Untermyer Gardens and the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.

Summer is all about ice cream!  We are definitely going back to The Hudson Creamery (the Breakfast Club Sundae was so good!) and I’d like to visit The Blue Pig.

And when not indulging in ice cream, we’d like to eat some doughnuts.  While we like Dunkin’ Donuts, we hope to get to Gypsy Donut and Hot Dippity Donuts.

We will be having lots of fun this summer!  You can follow along on Instagram and read about it here on the blog as our family hopefully completes our bucket list this summer!

Do you have any recommendations for us to add to this list?

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All the Podcasts {Volume 2}

Podcasts2

My name is Nancy and I have a podcast addiction.   My family is aware of this addiction but I won’t go as far as saying they support it.  My daughter can now identify Gretchen Rubin and Heather Dubrow by their voices though! Showering, driving in the car and grocery shopping are the main times that I will listen to podcasts.  I tell my husband that working at home all day by myself, it’s like almost having conversations with other adults, or in my case, at least listening to adult conversation!  Back in September, I first posted about the podcasts that I was currently listening to.  Looking back at that post, the only podcast that I still regularly listen to is Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  So what am I currently listening to?

Heather Dubrow’s World – I love the Real Housewives shows and was excited to see that Heather, from the Real Housewives of Orange County, had a podcast.  In her podcast she talks about her family, what’s going on in her life as well as beauty, health and fitness.  If you’re not a fan of the Real Housewives or her in particular, you may not end up enjoying this one!

Sorta Awesome – This podcast is hosted by Megan Tietz.  Each week she is joined by one of three other co-hosts who discuss various topics including blogging, books, Myers Briggs and much more.

For Crying Out Loud

For Crying Out Loud – I’ve just started becoming a regular listener of this parenting podcast.  It is hosted by Lynette Carolla (wife of Adam Carolla) and author, Stefanie Wilder Taylor.  Be warned, there’s bad language and telling it like it is, which some may find inappropriate.  However, that’s what I like about it.  Both women are brutally honest about the good and not so good things going on in their lives.  They both are parents of twins and Stefanie has recently experienced one of her young daughters identifying as a boy.

Spawned with Kristen and Liz of CoolMomPicks

Spawned with Kristen and Liz of CoolMomPicks – This is another parenting podcast that I enjoy.  Two moms, both divorced who discuss a variety of parenting topics.  I especially like their Cook Picks of the week.

lohud food podcast – This is a local food podcast which I love to listen to, so I can hear about new restaurants and dishes to try.

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The Armchair Librarians – Steph and Jana are fellow bloggers and book lovers whose monthly Show Us Your Books linkup I join every month.  They have just started a book podcast that I am listening to and enjoying where they talk about all things books.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 41}

2016 Calendar

Happy Monday! We survived a very hot and then very rainy weekend!  There was some Harry Potter movie watching, a birthday party and a cub scout camp out over the past couple of days.  This past week was also filled with good food!  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week.

Saturday:  We were up in Rhode Island for the Memorial Day Weekend.  My parents grilled steak and ribs which we had with salad and roasted potatoes.

Sushi Platter

Sunday:  We got home from Rhode Island and were not in the mood to cook dinner or go out.  So we ordered sushi from a local place.  They had a new platter special that we took advantage of and everyone was happy!

Sausage & Peppers

Monday:  My husband grilled some sausage and we had sausage and pepper sandwiches with cole slaw and corn on the cob.  Simple but tasty.

Classic Mu Shu Pork

Tuesday: I made Classic Mu Shu Pork from Every Day with Rachael Ray.  This was a tasty version of the Chinese take out version that I like.  Instead of napa cabbage, which my grocery store didn’t have, I used bagged cole slaw mix.  I sauteed some zucchini in garlic and olive oil and also made some rice.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Goat Cheese Skillet Chicken

Wednesday: I made Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Goat Cheese Skillet Chicken from Closet Cooking. The roasted red peppers, spinach and goat cheese made a tasty flavor combination for the chicken.  This dish was made in about a half hour.  To accompany it, I made Spaghetti Aglio E Olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil).

Mexicali Hashbrown Taco Casserole

Thursday:  I made Mexicali Hashbrown Taco Casserole from The Midnight Baker.  I precooked the meat mixture and defrosted the hash browns in the afternoon.  We had a 5 PM piano lesson, so by the time we got home and cooked the casserole in the oven for 35 minutes, we weren’t eating until 6:45.  So, not a quick meal, but this was super tasty.  Everyone had seconds and there were no leftovers!

Homemade Pizza

Friday:  We had our usual homemade pizza.

What was on your menu this week?

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Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This was a nice short week that was filled with lots of fun.  The weather is getting warmer and the kids have three more weeks of school that are jam-packed with lots of year-end fun.   We ended up spending Memorial Day Weekend up in Rhode Island.  Here are some of our favorites (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen most of these pics):

Butterfly

1.  Letting our butterflies go – Our butterflies broke out of their chrysalises last Wednesday and Thursday.  Our cats were going crazy trying to catch the poor things.  Since we left Thursday night to head up to Rhode Island we ended up letting the butterflies go.  There was no way they’d survive the cats’ wrath while we were gone.

Empty Beach

2.  An empty beach – While it was 90 degrees in New York, it wasn’t as hot in Rhode Island by the ocean.  Saturday evening we took the kids to the beach for a walk.  It was chilly enough that we needed sweatshirts and the water was freezing!  It was nice to have the beach pretty much to ourselves though.  We even went geocaching near the beach and found two caches!  The next time we are at the beach in July it will be much more crowded, so it was nice to enjoy the emptiness while we could.

Mini-Golf

3.  Miniature golf – The kids love playing miniature golf and they are at great ages to play.  They are a bit competitive but don’t cry when they lose!  One of my son’s top things he wanted to do this past weekend was go and play.  So, Sunday before we headed home we went to a local place and played a round.  My husband ended up winning.

Memorial Day

4. Memorial Day – For the past five years my daughter has participated in our local Memorial Day parade and ceremony with her Girl Scout troop.  Since joining Cub Scouts, my son has also participated.  This year was no different as we honored all of those who died protecting our country.  My son even got up early, like he did back in November for Veteran’s Day, to go place flags on the veterans’ graves at our local cemetery.

Knock-out Roses

5. My knock-out roses – I bought three mini knock-out rose bushes on super sale several years ago.  This is one time where I have not killed my plants (knock on wood!).  I planted the bushes outside and they have started blooming this past week.  I love walking into the house and seeing these!

ICYMI this week on the blog:
Tuesday I shared 5 Packaged Foods to Make Dinner a Breeze.
Wednesday I joined the Currently link up.

I’m linking up with Tif, Amanda and Andrea.  Have a great weekend!