Carnival Sunshine {A Review}

Carnival Sunshine

The Carnival Sunshine was previously the Carnival Destiny.  In April 2013 the Destiny underwent an $155 million renovation and was renamed the Sunshine.  The ship weighs 102,853 tons and carries 3,006 passengers.  There are over 1,040 crew members coming from over 50 different countries.  The ship currently departs from Charleston, SC, New York, NY, Norfolk, VA and Port Canaveral, FL and cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada/New England and the Caribbean.

Last week, my family cruised on the Carnival Sunshine out of New York City. We traveled to St. John and Halifax on a five night cruise.  My husband and I had previously cruised on the Carnival Fantasy almost eight years ago.  This was the kids’ second cruise, but first time on a Carnival boat.  We drove into the city and parked at the terminal for $40/day.  The check-in process was smooth, but very slow.  Arriving at the port, checking in and finally boarding the ship took over two hours.

Carnival Sunshine Inside Cabin

Once onboard we visited our stateroom.  We chose an inside cabin that slept four.  We were surprised to see that the kids’ beds were directly above us!  They loved sleeping in an “upper bunk.”  However, the setup of the room made the room feel especially small.  Space on a cruise ship is at a premium and cruise ship rooms in general are not very roomy.  This isn’t usually a big deal for us, as we tend to just use our room for sleeping and changing.

This was our first time cruising to Canada.  The weather was a bit chilly and since we were heading north to even colder weather, we knew this was not going to be the kind of trip where you lay out at the pool.  However, we were surprised to discover that the main pool on the ship is heated.  My son took advantage of this on both sea days.  My daughter wasn’t feeling well and she agreed she shouldn’t swim with the weather being so cool.

Each evening on the boat we received the FunTimes which provides an activity, music and dining schedule for the next day.  This was helpful in planning our days on the ship.  Carnival Cruise Lines has a reputation of being the “fun and party” cruise line.  However, unless you like trivia or Bingo, we found the indoor planned activities onboard tended to be limited.  This was especially noticeable on our first fun day at sea when the weather was cold and rainy.

Carnival Sunshine WaterWorks

Granted, if the weather was warmer, we would spend the majority of our time outside.  The Sunshine has a WaterWorks area with three water slides.  However, they are not heated!

Carnival Sunshine SkyCourse

Up on the SportsSquare our family played miniature golf and also completed the SkyCourse, part of which is pictured above.  I was surprised at how well the kids did completing the course and how scared I was!  But we all finished it and my husband and kids even did it a second time on our trip.

There is also a basketball court, foosball tables, pool tables, shuffleboard and a giant Twister game board and Checkers board on the deck.  A jogging track circles the SportsSquare as well.

Carnival Sunshine has Camp Carnival, a kid’s club for children ages 2-11.  Groups are normally broken down by ages (2-5), (6-8) and (9-11).  Because of the low number of children registered during our trip, they combined sections and had one large (6-11) group.  However, our kids didn’t participate in many of the Camp Carnival scheduled activities, opting to spend time doing things with me and my husband.  Even though the camp is open until 10 PM at night free of charge, we only made use of this one evening so my husband and I could go see the Love and Marriage Show!  Otherwise, the kids came with us to the evening shows.  Late night babysitting is available until 1 AM for a $6.75 per hour fee, though we didn’t make use of this service.  One of our favorite  Camp Carnival activities was a family digital scavenger hunt.  It was lots of fun!

Carnival Sunshine Fitness Center

My husband and I visited the gym once while onboard.  Cloud 9 Spa offers massages, facials and more at an additional cost, which we did not partake in.

A casino operates onboard when the cruise ship is at sea.  There are lots of different slot machines as well as tables.  There are also more than nine different bars on board the Carnival Sunshine.  Unfortunately, alcohol is not included in the price of a cruise.  Luckily, my husband and I are not big drinkers.  For those that do enjoy drinking, the ship offers CHEERS!, an all-inclusive beverage package that can be purchased.

Each evening there was plenty of entertainment.  Playlist Productions put on three different shows while we were onboard, with Epic Rock being my favorite.  There were also two different comedy shows, karaoke, the Love and Marriage Show as well as Hasbro Family Game Night.

The Carnival Sunshine has a shopping area known as the Fun Shops.  Here you can purchase clothing, souvenirs, liquor, jewelry, watches and more.  There’s also Cherry on Top, a candy shop onboard. Next to the candy store is the 24 hour arcade.

And last, but not definitely not least, we need to discuss food.  The wonderful thing about cruising is that there is ALWAYS food available and most of it is included in the price of your trip.  The Carnival Sunshine has several dining options.

There are two assigned dining times in the main dining room for dinner at 6 PM and 8:15 PM.  However, for those cruisers who don’t want to be tied down to a set dining time, Carnival also offers My Time Dining.  When we booked our cruise we were assigned to the 8:00 PM dining time.  However, with two children who are normally in bed at 8 PM on a school night, I didn’t want us eating that late.  The first evening we were able to dine during the 6 PM seating and by the next morning the maitre’d we spoke with had assigned us to the My Time Dining.  This dining program allows you to check-in at the desk anytime between 5:15 and 9:45 PM and be seated within 15 minutes in the dining room.

Carnival Sunshine Dinner Menu

Each day that night’s dining menu was available to peruse outside the dining rooms.  If a three course, sit-down dinner is not your thing, the Lido Restaurant offers a buffet for all meals.  The Carnival Sunshine also has Cucina del Capitano (Italian), JiJi Asian Kitchen (Asian), Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and Bonsai Sushi restaurants which require an additional cost to dine.

Our family found that the BlueIguana Cantina and celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Burger Joint offered some of the tastiest food on the ship.  The BlueIguana Cantina had made-to-order breakfast burritos as well as tacos and burritos during lunch hours.  Guy’s Burger Joint, available for lunch/early dinner offered a selection of burgers served with fries.

There is a 24 hour Swirls frozen yogurt and soft-serve station.  For an additional cost JavaBlue Café offers coffee and pastries and the Shake Spot sells all kind of shakes, including some “grown-up” shakes that contain alcohol.

Overall, we found the food on the Sunshine to be just okay.  There is plenty of food available in terms of quantity on the ship, however the taste and quality weren’t impressive.

Our family had a great time on the Carnival Sunshine.  A vacation where this mom didn’t have to worry about the cooking and cleaning is a good one!  Unfortunately, we didn’t have control over the weather, which wasn’t great for a majority of our trip.  While what we saw of St. John and Halifax was beautiful and when we cruise again, it will be to a warm location!


Slow Cooker Beanless Chili

Slow Cooker Beanless Chili

It has been awhile since I did a recipe post. With the weather getting cooler I’m all about using the slow cooker to make tasty chili, soups and stews.  I made this beanless chili this past Sunday evening when my mom came over for dinner.  I enjoy chili but I’m not a fan of beans, so this chili was perfect.  This recipe does require about 20-30 minutes of prep before putting it in the slow cooker.  If your house is as crazy as ours is in the morning, you may not have time to prep this before heading off to work.  However, it makes a great weekend meal.  I prepped this in the morning and we were able to do errands throughout the day, without having to worry about what was for dinner.  This was a winner with the family and the leftovers provided lunch for us the next day.  If you want to add a little heat and spice to the recipe you can add jalapeno or poblano peppers (when sautéing the onion and garlic) and/or cayenne pepper (when adding the spices).  I served our chili over rice with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, but feel free to add any other garnishes your family enjoys!

Slow Cooker Beanless Chili
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 bay leaves
2 cups rice, cooked
sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese for serving

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add the olive oil.  Add the onion, sautéing for approximately five minutes until translucent.  Stir in the garlic cooking for a minute.  Add the ground turkey to the skillet, breaking up into crumbles.  Brown the ground turkey for approximately 10 minutes.  Once browned add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt, mixing to combine.  Cook for two minutes and then remove the skillet from the heat.

Pour the ground turkey mixture into the bowl of the slow cooker.  Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, maple syrup and bay leaves to the slow cooker, stirring to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.   When finished cooking, if chili is too thick, add another 1/2 to one cup of chicken broth.

Remove the bay leaves from the chili.  Spoon rice into a bowl.  Ladle the chili on top of the rice and serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.


September 2016 Reads

September 2016 Reads

Happy Monday!  We are home from our cruise and I am back into blogging!  Unfortunately,  while I was away I missed the monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  Although I couldn’t link up, I did want to share my September 2016 reads.  September was a good reading month in terms of quantity, as I was able to read several books.  Here they are listed in order from least to most liked.

3 Stars:


The Girls by Emma Cline – A teenage girls gets involved in a cult in the 1960’s and escapes being part of a tragic incident.  Although this is a New York Times bestseller, I wasn’t impressed.


The Mistresses’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen – I recently read Cohen’s newest book The Fallout and wasn’t impressed.  This book wasn’t any better.  It shows one woman’s demise and that of her lover after he ends their five year affair.


Still A Work In Progress by Jo Knowles – This is a recently published middle grade fiction book.  Noah is a middle school student whose older sister has battled an eating disorder.  It appears that she has relapsed, which effects the entire family, especially Noah.  I think Knowles provides a realistic view of the ups and downs of middle school, friendships and family difficulties.


Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung – This is a middle grade fiction book.  Chloe Cho is a 7th grader, Korean-American.  She is the only Asian student in her school.  Although she is eager to learn more about her Korean culture, her parents are very resistant.  The story was enjoyable until midway when Chloe makes an important discovery, and then it went downhill for me after that.


The Widow by Fiona Barton – This book is told from three different points of view – Jean, the widow, the reporter and the detective.  When little Bella goes missing from her yard and is never found, Jean’s husband Glen becomes a prime suspect.  Jean stands by her husband, even as she discovers things about him that she never new.  This was another book recommended, “for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.”  However, I didn’t find it very suspenseful.

4 Stars:


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll – Have you ever been confused as to whether you’ve actually read a book or just know the story so well from movies?  That’s how I felt with this book.  Prior to now, I’m not sure if I ever actually read this classic.  If I did, it was probably as a child.  My son and I read this book together aloud over the course of a month.  I hadn’t realized how antiquated the language was, however he understood the gist of the story.


All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker – 15 year-old Jenny Kramer is brutally raped and injured in the woods near a party she attended.  At the hospital she was given a drug to help her forget that night.  But now she’s working with a therapist to retrieve her memories from that night to help her heal.  This book fits the psychological thriller category with several twists.  Add in characters that are all dysfunctional in their own way and you have a good read.


All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – Wavy’s dad is a drug dealer and her mom is a drug addict.  At eight-years-old Wavy don’t speak or eat in front of people.  She has taken on the role of caregiver for her younger brother Donal.  When Kellen, one of her father’s workers gets in a motorcycle accident she ends up saving his life by getting help.  What ensues is a love story between a young girl and a man.  The book is told through the points of view of multiple characters in the book.  As disturbing as the relationship is, the story is riveting.


Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – This book was more psychological than a suspense thriller for me.  I found Jack Angel to be a psycho and Grace was naïve.  Overall a good read for me though.


Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern – This is another middle grade fiction book that I read this month.  Fourth grader Benny blames himself for his father’s aneurysm.  Since the accident, he hasn’t been himself.  Add in a teacher who starts acting strange and dealing with two older brothers, one who is autistic, life is tough for Benny.  Having worked with autistic children, I thought this book did a great job of giving a realistic look at autism.  It also touches on being kind and friendship.



Five on Friday {Ready for Cruising}

Happy Friday everyone!  And what a happy day it is for us.  We are leaving tomorrow for our cruise tomorrow.  We will be spending five nights on the Carnival Sunshine visiting Halifax and St. John in Canada.  It will be quiet for the next several days on the blog while we are away.  This week was a relaxing week for us.  The kids had off from school Monday and Tuesday for Rosh Hashanah.  Unfortunately, they are so busy during the regular school week that we ended up doing a lot of errands and shopping.  It’s really hard for me to go shopping without them, now that they are both very opinionated about their clothing and style. We did squeeze in a lunch at Five Guys though!  Here are five things from this week:


1. Reading – This week I finished reading The Girl Before by Rena Olsen.  I’ve been on a psychological, suspense reading kick lately and this book did not disappoint. It is a disturbing read about the human trafficking trade and one girl’s brainwashing and naiveté. Despite the uncomfortable topic of the book, Olsen’s writing had me captivated to see how it would all end.

American Horror Story Season 6.jpg

2. Television Watching –  After taking a several season hiatus from this show, my husband and I have started watching American Horror Story: Roanoke.  I’m not sure why I do this to myself since I really hate scary shows and movies!

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.jpg

3. Movie Watching –  I just watched Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates the other night.  Guys, this movie was BAD!  I cannot recommend this and feel like I wasted an hour and a half of my life watching it.  I am a big fan of Anna Kendrick, which was the only reason in me watching it.  Don’t waste your time.

Iron Vine Tapas

4. Eating – This month our supper club decided to go out to eat for tapas, rather than make them, which was our original theme.  We ate at a local restaurant in Peekskill called the Iron Vine.  I think we ordered almost every tapas on the menu, in two different rounds of eating….plus dessert.  It was really good!

Southwest Shrimp and Corn Chowder

5. Family Time – Last Sunday my family and I were invited by Stop & Shop to attend the New England Chowdafest in Westport, CT.  We had such a great time getting a sneak peek of Stop & Shop’s new line of Nature’s Promise soups.  Then we got to walk around and try all different kinds of soups and chowders from restaurants throughout the area and rate them on a ballot sheet.  It was delicious and fun family time!

ICYMI this week on the blog:
Monday I posted our weekly meal plan.
Wednesday I shared my October Currently in the monthly linkup.

Linking up with Tif, Andrea and April!  Have a great weekend!


Currently October 2016


October is here.  This week my kids have enjoyed two days off for Rosh Hashanah.  Next week they have three days off from school for Columbus Day and Yom Kippur.  Although they’ve only been in school for a month, these days off are much appreciated.  Their schedules are jam-packed with all kinds of activities so it’s nice for them to have a day to relax.  I’m linking up with Anne and her co-host Jacqui for the monthly Currently link-up.  Here is what I’m currently:

Pumpkin Spice

Cheers-ing – Pumpkin Spice!  I think people tend to either love it or hate it.  I’m on the loving it side.  I’ve been embracing the limited time I have to enjoy it all!

Organizing – It’s time to go through my closet and do the shoe and clothes switch out and clean out.  I have to get rid of the sandals that won’t make it another summer and see what fall clothing I want/need to buy.

Dreaming – of our family cruise!  I feel like I’ve been talking about it forever and the time has finally come!  We leave Saturday to cruise to Halifax and St. John’s Bay in Canada.  I’m really looking forward to the relaxing, quality family time we’ll get to have.

Workout clothes

Buying – workout clothes.  Last month I joined the gym as a birthday present for myself.  I felt it was finally time that I got in shape.  Since I haven’t worked out in ages, I don’t have a lot of clothes.  I’ve been shopping around and trying to buy just some solid capris and leggings and a variety of tops.  As I continue to work out more I’ll keep adding to my collection!

Piano Playing

Listening – to my son playing the piano while I’m typing this!  He started lessons this summer and has just taken off with the playing!  He’s really good about practicing without being reminded.  It amazes me how far he’s come in just a couple of months!



Weekly Meal Plan {Week 43}

2016 Calendar

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  The kids are starting off this week with today and tomorrow off from school for Rosh Hashanah.  As much as I’d like to say we’re going to be off having some fun, today’s schedule includes flu shots, grocery shopping and laundry!  We are going to enjoy two days of not waking up early, after school activities and homework though!  Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday:  We went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant. We were so hungry that I took no pictures!

Stir-fry Veggies and Ramen

Sunday: My husband made a veggie stir-fry using some of our CSA veggies, which he served with over ramen noodles (just the noodles no flavor packets!).

Peach Cream Cheese French Toast Sandwiches

Monday: I made an adapted version of Katie Lee’s Nectarine Cream Cheese French Toast Sandwiches, using peaches instead.  I omitted the sugar and vanilla and added some cinnamon instead.  The sandwiches didn’t end up overly sweet and we dipped them in syrup.  I served these with breakfast sausage.  Anytime we have breakfast for dinner it’s a hit and this dinner was no different.  The kids loved it!

15 Minute Bangkok Peanut Mango Pasta

Tuesday: I made 15 minute Bangkok Peanut Mango Pasta from Half Baked Harvest.  This was a quick and easy dish to make.  Of course I forgot to add the peanuts to the dish at the end!  But it tasted great without them.  I also didn’t add the Fresno chile peppers to keep it kid-friendly.  We all enjoyed this dinner.  This dish would taste great with some grilled chicken or even tofu, if you want to add some protein to it.

Chicken Chile Hash

Wednesday: I made Chicken and Chile Hash from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I used a regular green pepper instead of a poblano pepper to keep the heat of the dish down.  And then I topped the dishes with fried eggs instead of poached eggs.  I found this recipe to be pretty bland.  We all added some hot sauce or tabasco sauce to give it some flavor.  I will not be making this recipe again.

20 Minute Thai Basil Beef

Thursday: I made 20 Minute Thai Basil Beef from Closet Cooking.  I omitted the birds eye chilies and only used the red pepper that the recipe called for.  I used one tablespoon of fish sauce and one tablespoon of soy sauce in the recipe instead of 2 tablespoons of fish sauce or soy sauce.  I served this over rice.  This was quick and easy to prepare.  The flavor was interesting and we all ate it.  I don’t think that we enjoyed it enough for me to make again.

Eggplant Pizza

Friday:  We had our usual homemade pizza.  I fried up some of the eggplant that we’ve received in our CSA and my husband and I had eggplant pizza while the kids ate regular cheese.

What is on your menu this week?


Five On Friday {The End of September}

I cannot believe that it is the last day of September already!  It’s hard to believe that the kids have been in school for a month now and that fall is here.  Weekdays are now filled with after school activities and homework.  We have to squeeze in as much fun and family time on the weekends now as we can!  The kids have a four day weekend because of Rosh Hashanah.  Here are five things from this week:


Reading:  All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  From GoodreadsAs the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.”  This book is so horrifying and disturbing in so many ways but has me wanting to finish reading it to see how it all ends.

This Is Us (TV series) title card.jpg

Watching: This Is Us – This is a new fall show that airs Tuesday nights on NBC.  So I’ve watched the first episode and it’s definitely an interesting premise.  The first episode follows several characters who all are celebrating their 36th birthday.  Part of the show takes place in the past, which I didn’t fully realize until the end of the episode and it appears that the different characters are connected.  I will be continuing to watch this show.

I Feel Better Podcast

Listening:  I have my regular weekly podcasts that I listen to, but I am always on the lookout for new ones.  I’ve been listening to them in the car or while cleaning.  They definitely make the time go by faster.  A newish podcast that I’ve been listening to is the I Feel Better podcast. Each week four friends discuss pop culture including television, movies, books and more.  I feel like I have similar entertainment tastes and like getting new recommendations.

Corn Muffins

Baking:  Yesterday I made Ina Garten’s Corn Muffins.  If I’m going to bake I’m usually making muffins.  They are usually quick and easy to make (which these were!).  Plus, they make easy breakfasts or lunches for the kids when I pair them with yogurt and fruit.  These muffins were a hit (because of course we had to do some sampling!) and were breakfast this morning.

In the Blogosphere:  I’m a big quote lover and I enjoyed reading Tanya’s post “Inspirational Quotes to Help Shift to Joyful Thinking.”  As a mom of a new middle schooler I could really relate to Shell’s post “The Weirdest Thing about Middle School.”  I’m a contributor to the Westchester County Moms Blog.  Priscilla recently posted “To Breastfeed…or to be a “Bad Mom”?”  As a mom I think it’s a personal decision that we all have to make and she wrote about her personal struggle with the decision.

ICYMI this week on the blog:
Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.
Wednesday I reviewed six ciders/beers in the September Six-Pack.
Thursday I shared my kids’ September Favorites.

Linking up with Tif, Andrea and April.  Have a great weekend!


September Favorites 2016 (Kids Edition)

As the month comes to an end I thought it would be fun to share some of my son and daughter’s September favorites.  My son is eight and my daughter is ten.  With school starting this month as well as all of their after school and other activities, they are discovering that they have a lot less free time.  But when they do have some down time, the two try to pack in as much fun as possible!  Here are some of their favorites from this month:

My Son’s Favorites:


1.NHL 16 – Over the summer my son started borrowing video games from the library.  This is a great way for him to try out different games to see if he likes them before purchasing them.  He’s recently been enjoying NHL16 for the Xbox One.  This surprised me since he’s not into hockey.  He’s already informed us that he wants this game for Christmas!

2. The Gaming Show – My son loves this show about three teens who run a gaming show in a garage.  They learn about the world of video gaming as well as play video games.  Right up my son’s alley!  He watches it on Netflix but it also airs on Disney XD.

Pokemon Go

3.  Pokémon Go –  My son only recently got Pokémon Go so it’s still relatively new to him.

Nerf logo.svg

4. Nerf Guns – Nerf guns are the newest thing with my son and his friends.  He has one or two and last weekend he picked up a new-to-him Nerf gun at a local community swap.   Now he’s carrying it around the house shooting the foam darts ALL the time!


5. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey – My son loves graphic novels.  The funnier and sillier they are, they better!  My son enjoys the Captain Underpants series by Pilkey, so I got this book for him from the library.  Let’s just say that after the first story I had to stop reading.  Totally not my thing.  However, my son loved this book and it’s made his favorite list!

My Daughter’s Favorites:

Road Trip Ice Cream

1. Ice Cream Club: Road Trip – I recently won six pints of ice cream from the International Dairy Foods Association.  We recently tried Road Trip (chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and peanut butter) and this is my daughter’s favorite treat this month.

First Day Signs

2.  Starting Middle School – My daughter started 5th grade this year.  In our district 5th grade is in the middle school.  While I was a bit nervous, my daughter is loving everything about it.  She loves being in a new school, all the clubs and activities that she can participate in (and boy is she participating in a lot, both before AND after school!) and having more responsibility.  I’m so happy that she’s started off with such a great experience!


3. The Voice – We recently got cable again and my kids couldn’t be happier.  So far, in the week that we’ve had cable they are all about watching The Voice.  We DVR it and watch a little bit of it together each night.  I never watched the show before so it’s a fun bonding experience with both the kids.


4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I own and have read this series.  I was hesitant for my daughter to read the books but she picked the book out as her independent reading book at school.  She is a few chapters away from finishing it and is absolutely loving it.  I’m pretty sure she’ll be wanting to watch the movie after she finishes reading it!

5. Converse sneakers – Converse are THE sneaker to be wearing at the middle school.  Her obsession with the sneakers started last year and has only grown.  Every day I hear all about the different Converse sneakers that kids are wearing and which ones she REALLY wants to get.  I tell her to “put it on her Christmas list!”  I believe that she has three pair of Converse and I told her she’s not getting any new ones from me until she outgrows those!

What are your kids into this month?


September Six-Pack

Build Your Own Six-Pack

On a recent visit to my local Acme I noticed that they offered a build your own six-pack.  While I know that Trader Joe’s also offers a build your own six-pack, the closest TJ’s is over thirty minutes away.  I’m usually very hesitant to buy new ciders or craft beers because I fear that I won’t like them after shelling $9+ for a six-pack. So I was very excited to be able to take advantage of building my own six-pack and trying some new beers and ciders!   Each month I’m looking forward to highlighting some new beers and ciders that we’ve tried, thus the monthly “Six-Pack.” Here is a review of September’s six-pack :

1911 Hard Cider

1911 Hard Cider – This cider is produced at Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards in Lafayette, New York where the first apple tree was planted in 1911.  I tried the original flavor of this cider.  The cider was light but dry.  It’s definitely not as sweet as I like.  According to the company website, this cider is semi-dry.  I’m curious to try the 1911 Blueberry Hard Cider and Grapefruit Hard Cider.

Angry Orchard Summer Honey

Angry Orchard Summer Honey Cider (Seasonal) – Angry Orchard is one of my favorite hard cider brands.  While this isn’t a new cider to me, I just had to grab one for my six-pack since it’s one of my favorites and it’s seasonal!

Badass One Bad Apple

Badass Hard Cider: One Bad Apple – Badass Hard Cider has an interesting label and fun cider names.  However, my kids weren’t a fan of the “badass” name!  This was the most recent cider that we tried and I have to say that this was my least favorite.  The cider’s name is “One Bad Apple” and I thought it tasted like bad apples and had an off taste.  My husband thought it had a wine-like flavor.  We won’t be getting this one again!

Badass Quite a Pear

Badass Hard Cider: Quite A Pear – We preferred this pear cider over the other Badass selection.  We really didn’t taste pear in particular, but the flavor was good overall. So far, we won’t be rushing out to buy either of the two existing Badass flavors that they produce.

Bud Light Lime-arita

Bud Light Lime-A-Rita Splash – I had been wanting to try these Bud Light -Ritas for awhile now, so I was excited to see this one in the build your own six-pack section.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this Lime-A-Rita.  I found it light and refreshing and something new that I can add to my preferred drink rotation.  There are a bunch of different flavors in the -Rita line, both in bottles and cans.   Bud Light recently introduced a limited edition Cherry-Ahh-Rita as well.

Effortless Grapefruit Session IPA

Effortless Grapefruit Session IPA – This was the only beer that we tried this month.  I didn’t realize that this beer is produced by Captain Lawrence, a local Westchester County brewery.    While I’m not a big beer drinker, my husband enjoys a good beer. While he appreciated the distinct grapefruit flavor of Effortless Grapefruit IPA, the overpowering  taste is from the bitterness of the peel. This pale ale wasn’t a favorite of his.

Strongbow Honey

Strongbow Hard Apple Cider Honey – This was my first time trying Strongbow cider.  I’m usually confident that I’ll like any cider with “honey” in the name and this one didn’t disappoint.  This was a fruity and sweet cider, which is just what I like.  Strongbow also makes Gold Apple, Cherry Blossom and Ginger varieties.



Weekly Meal Plan {Week 42}

2016 Calendar

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  My daughter had a two night girl scout sleepover this weekend and my husband went to his college homecoming Saturday.  So it was just me and my son for most of Saturday.  I took him to soccer and then we did a quick drive around town so he could collect Poke balls (for Pokémon Go!).  We had lunch and watched the Fantastic Four and then ran some errands.  My husband and brother-in-law got home shortly and then we went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  Sunday I picked my daughter up from her girl scout camping trip and then the day was spent getting ready for the upcoming week, which included meal planning for this week. It’s really starting to feel like fall around here with the cooler temps.  As I meal plan now I’m looking for tasty-sounding but quick recipes!  If you’re new to meal planning you can read more about my meal planning process.  Otherwise, here’s a look at what was on our meal plan this past week:

Saturday:  We had a late lunch/early dinner (linner?!) at Raga Indian Cuisine.  We ate around 2:00 PM and I was good for the rest of the evening!  We went to our local town day and the kids each had a snow cone.

Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Sunday: We had supper club.  This month’s theme was to pick a favorite dish from a past dinner and make it.  I made Lasagna-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash from supper club member Ashley at Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen.  I had chosen this recipe because I thought it was one that I’d actually remake.  I like it because even me a carb lover, doesn’t feel like I’m missing pasta with this dish since it’s hearty and filling with the lasagna filling.

Chicken and Rice

Monday: My husband recreated Rafiqi’s Chicken over Rice for our supper club dinner.  He purposely made extra chicken so we’d have some leftover for dinner this week.  We all had enjoyed it at supper club and the kids enjoyed this one for dinner.  I apologize that we failed to take a picture!

Tuesday:  We had leftover lasagna stuffed spaghetti squash that I had made for supper club.  It seemed kid-friendly with the lasagna filling and I thought I might be able to sneak squash past the kids.  My daughter enjoyed it but my son wasn’t a fan!

Provolone Broccoli Rabe Beef Sliders

Wednesday:  I made Provolone Broccoli Rabe Beef Sliders from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I’m not sure if it was the size of the slider rolls that I bought, but there was not enough beef mixture to make eight sliders (two each).  Luckily, I had more ground beef in the freezer and defrosted it and made another batch of sliders.  This dish falls into the quick and easy category.  I cooked the broccoli rabe while the sliders were cooking.  These were tasty and we all enjoyed them.  I served them with fries.

15 Minute Garlic Butter Ramen Noodles

Thursday: I made 15 Minute Garlic Butter Ramen Noodles from Half Baked Harvest.  Ramen noodles are so cheap and this recipe uses the noodles, but not the salty seasoning packets that come with it!  Last week I had my husband stop by the Asian grocery store near his office to pick up the white miso paste that this recipe called for.  But of course I didn’t remember to add the zucchini to the shopping list, so I did without.  This was pretty quick and easy to make. Instead of soft boiled eggs we had fried eggs on top.  I served it with garlic bread and chopped salad.  My kids are big ramen soup lovers and were a little disappointed that there was no broth!  But they ate these noodles up.  This will probably be one of those go-to recipes when I feel like we have nothing to eat in the house and have to come up with a quick lunch or dinner!

Meatball Ricotta Pizza

Friday:  My husband used the leftover sliders to make a Ricotta Meatball Pizza as well as a cheese pizza for dinner.

What is on your menu this week?