Albanian Family Dinner {Monthly Family Dinner}

Are you looking for a fun way to spend time as a family?  Try having a monthly family dinner!  I’m not talking about a dinner that you cook and you all sit down and eat together.  I mean a dinner that the entire family cooks and eats together.   I know that sit-down family dinners are important.  However, during the week I am the one cooking dinner and most nights it’s just the kids and I eating together.  One of my goals for 2018 was to have monthly family dinners where we cook an entire meal together.

Our Albanian family dinner was a tasty and delicious meal.

Last month we had our first monthly dinner.  We decided to start with an alphabetical country-themed dinner.  For our “A” dinner we chose Albanian.  For our Albanian family dinner we made Tave Kosi, Byrek with Spinach and Baklava for dessert.  As seen from our menu, Albanian cuisine has Mediterranean influences.

Tave Kosi is the national dish of Albania.

Tave Kosi is the national dish of Albania, which seemed appropriate to make.  It consists of lamb and rice baked with a yogurt and egg mixture.  My husband and son adapted this Tave Kosi recipe.  They halved the recipe and instead of lamb shoulder used ground lamb.  They also used plain Greek yogurt instead of regular plain yogurt.  This was a tasty comfort dish.  The yogurt mixture made a sort of souffle on top of the ground lamb. The yogurt gave the dish a slight tang.

Byrek with spinach is an Albanian spinach pie.

My daughter and I made the Byrek with Spinach (Byrek me Spinaq).  This is a simple dish with few ingredients and is fairly easy to make.  Phyllo dough can be a bit tricky to work with but we managed the best we could.  This was a tasty dish and we all loved the crispy, flaky top.

A sweet and tasty dessert we made for our Albanian family dinner.

For dessert, we enjoyed baklava.  I forgot how much I love baklava.  It’s a fairly easy dessert to make, minus that phyllo dough again.  It’s very sweet, but addicting!  We cut it into small squares and the whole plan was gone within a couple of days.

Tips for planning your family dinner:

The meal doesn’t have to be fancy….. – We all enjoyed this Albanian family dinner and are excited for next month’s dinner.  You do not need to do an international-themed dinner.  Pick your family’s favorite meal and maybe add a special dessert to the menu.  The point of a family dinner isn’t to see how fancy of a meal you can make.  It’s getting everyone into the kitchen and working together to cook a meal that you will all sit-down and enjoy.

…..But make the dining part of the meal special – Eat in the dining room, if you have one.  We normally never eat in our dining room unless it’s a holiday or we have company over.  Use the special plates and glassware!  We ate on our wedding china and drank sparkling cider from our  fancy wine glasses.

Choose dishes everyone will like – There’s nothing that will ruin a dinner more than making something you know your kids will not eat.  If you have picky eaters, choose recipes that they are familiar with and enjoy.  If you have more adventurous eaters, maybe pick new recipes with ingredients that they are familiar with and like.

Plan the date of the meal in advance – A weekend obviously works best for a family dinner and planning in advance ensures that there’s no other conflicting activities.

Start cooking early – I recommend starting earlier than later.  Remember, you are cooking with kids.  What may take you a half hour to cook on your own will likely take double the amount of time when children are involved.  Plus, you don’t want to feel rushed or stressed.  We started cooking at 4 PM and were eating by 5:30 PM.



January 2018 Reads

A look at the books that I read in January 2018.

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The second Tuesday of the month means that it’s time to join Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  Each month many other book lovers share the books that they read the previous month and their review.  This is a great way to get new book recommendations…..and my to-read list grows significantly!  You will be seeing more non-fiction books this year in my monthly reviews, as one of my goals this year is to read at least one non-fiction book a month.  I had a pretty good reading month in January in terms of quantity. However, quality-wise, a lot of my reads were just okay.  Here are my January 2018 reads in order of least to most liked.

3 Stars


I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll – While on a train, Ella Longfield overhears two young men just out of prison, chatting with two teenage girls.  She later discovers that one of the girls, Anna Ballard, is missing.  A year later Anna is still missing and Ella is receiving threatening letters.  During an anniversary appeal, new evidence comes in and it appears everyone has been keeping secrets.  This book is told through the perspectives of Ella (the Witness), Henry (Anna’s father), Sarah (Anna’s friend) and Matthew (the private investigator).  Overall, it was just an okay suspense read for me.


Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds – Jo Harding falls down the stairs in her home, hitting her head.  She now suffers from partial amnesia and cannot remember anything that happened from the last year of her life.  As she starts to piece together the details of her life before the accident, she realizes that everyone has been keeping secrets, including her two children.  The story is told in alternating before the fall/after the fall chapters.  I found this book to be too drawn out and the characters, especially the daughter, to be annoying.


Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart – Sisters Quinn and Nora haven’t seen each other in almost a year.  When Quinn receives a text from Nora that says I have something for you she is not expecting a little girl. Soon, their mother also gets involved in this little girl’s life and all the mystery that surrounds her appearance.  This book is allegedly a “suspense/thriller.” As a huge fan of this genre, I was so disappointed with this book.  This was more of a family drama that moved way too slowly for my liking.


Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest –  The premise of this book drew me in, “leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living.” I had also seen and read a lot of positive reviews of this book.  Unfortunately, I found this book to me more a memoir of Niequest’s quest for a more simple and soulful way of living, rather than giving the reader ideas.  It was also a little more religious than I would have liked.

4 Stars


The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – I had heard the five different love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch) referred to many times, but never read the book until now.  I find the concept of having different love languages interesting and valid.  There’s a quiz in this book if you are unsure of what your love language is.


Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills –  Paige and Iris break up and Claudia ends up overhearing the entire thing. Iris isn’t the friendliest of girls and unfortunately for Claudia, the two end up being partnered together to write a paper.  They are then are forced to audition for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Claudia is exposed to a whole new world of teenage life.  This was a cute and fun YA read that shows the ups and downs of adolescence and adapting to change.  I could have done without all the references to Battle Quest, a multi-player


Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda – Jessa’s recent ex-boyfriend Caleb is dead and she feels like everyone blames her.  So when his mom asks her to help box up his things, she says yes.  As she does, she discovers things and learns more about him that make her question their relationship and whether she really knew him.  I’ve read one other of Miranda’s books, The Perfect Stranger, but enjoyed this book a lot more. Although this YA mystery book was slow at times, it picked up mid-way and turned into a page-turner.


The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – My son and I had been reading this book together for almost 2 1/2 months and finally finished last month.  This is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series, a spin-off of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  In this book, Jason, Leo and Piper are brought together on a quest to save Hera from Gaea’s potential awakening.  The book is told from the various points of view of the three main characters.  This was my first Riordan book and I can see why so many tweens love his books.  He sucks the reader in and his books are filled with humor and adventure.

5 Stars


The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth – Mother and daughter, Alice and Zoe, have always been a pair. But then Alice is diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. She has no family to help her after her surgery and during her chemo treatments. Her teenage daughter Zoe suffers from severe social anxiety.  Kate, one of Alice’s nurses and Sonya, her social worker are both dealing with their own personal issues, but they both help Alice and Zoe. I am not very familiar with anxiety and reading about Zoe’s anxiety issues made me feel anxious.  I cannot imagine how difficult life must be for people living with the severe anxiety that she had.  Beware, this book is an emotional tear-jerker of a read, but so good!  I read one of her previous books, The Things We Keep and really enjoyed it. I plan on reading The Secret of Midwives soon and her soon-to-be released book, The Family Next Door.


Five on Friday {Done With Winter}

I cannot believe how quickly the week flew by!  In case you want to celebrate, today is National Pizza Day. We are huge pizza lovers and enjoy our weekly homemade pizza! Wednesday we enjoyed another Snow Day and had a 2-hour delay yesterday.  While we all enjoyed the day off, I am so over winter.  The cold, the snow, shoveling……not a fan!  Here are five from this week:

Super Bowl Sunday – We went to a neighbor’s house for a Super Bowl party.  While I’m not a football fan, it was fun to see all the neighbors and enjoy good food and drinks.  Some of us adults were playing Cards Against Humanity while the kids played and some of the adults watched the game.  We stopped to see the half-time show and then headed out soon after because it was a school night.

Miracle film.jpg

Watching – Last weekend we watched the movie Miracle.  It was fun to see since the Winter Olympic Games are just starting and we visited Lake Placid this summer and saw the rink that the real game was played on!  Wednesday on the snow day we watched Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief.  Both my kids read the book and enjoyed it.  I didn’t even realize that there was a movie until I did a library catalog search.  Although I didn’t read this book, we all enjoyed the movie.  As for television, this week I watched the Super Bowl episode of This Is Us.  As usual, I was in tears.  I was happy to finally find out what happened to Jack.  I didn’t watch the Tuesday episode yet, since I was getting caught up on The Bachelor!


Reading – Since I’ve started working I haven’t had as much time to read.  I’m still working on Eleanor Oliphant, which I mentioned in last week’s Five on Friday.  I don’t have a long commute, but to get in some more reading time I’ve started listening to audio books.  I’m currently listening to Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner and it’s a good one!

This chocolate cannoli from Casa Rina in Thornwood was delicious!

Family Time -Last night we went out to dinner with my parents and brother. He is moving to Pennsylvania tomorrow, so this was a last get-together before he leaves.  We went out to Casa Rina, an Italian restaurant near my brother’s apartment.  We don’t have Italian very often so it was a nice treat.  I had lobster ravioli, a salad, eggplant rollatini and a chocolate cannoli.  It was delicious and I was stuffed!

Eating – Last weekend we went out to lunch.  At the request of my son we had Japanese.  Have I mentioned how much he loves sushi?  He hadn’t had sushi, “in sooo long” and enjoyed this sushi and sashimi platter.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I posted January 2018 Tween Reads.

Have a great weekend!



January 2018 Tween Reads

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Here’s another monthly review of some tween reads.  Each month I give a short summary of what my 9 and 11-year-olds have been reading.  These are the books that they read outside of school for leisure, not the books that they are required to read as part of their school curriculum.  If you are looking for new books for your own tweens to read, hopefully you can get some suggestions here.


The Complete Guide to Greek Myths by Heather Dakota
Published by:
  Sandy Creek, 2015
Pages: 144
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Price: starting at $7.62 used
Rating: 4/5 stars

My son’s teacher has been focusing on non-fiction reading and he was required to read non-fiction books for his daily reading homework.  He chose The Complete Guide to Greek Myths after reading Rick Riordan’s books (see below) and has become an expert on all things Greek mythology.  This book is a collection of many of the Greek Myths.


Creatures That Glow by Anita Ganeri
Published by: ABRAMS, September 1995
Pages: 30
Price: $19.95
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is another non-fiction book that my son borrowed from his classroom library for his non-fiction reading homework. This book describes different creatures that glow-in-the-dark with illustrations.  It includes everything from fireflies to angler fish.  My son found this book informative but, “it wasn’t the best book ever.”


Dog Man and Cat Kid by Dav Pilkey
Published by: Graphix, December 2017
Pages: 256
Price: $9.99
Source: borrowed from the library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the fourth and newly released book in the Dog Man series.  This graphic novel series is written by Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants.  My son enjoyed this book enough that he read it twice.  In this bookDog Man has a new side kick, Cat Kid.  The two must help find a missing movie star.


Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by: K.G. Campbell
Published by: Candlewick Press, September 2013
Pages: 233
Price: $6.99
Source: borrowed from school library
Rating: 3/5 stars

When Flora’s neighbor runs over a squirrel with her vacuum cleaner he develops superpowers.  Flora names him Ulysses, after the vacuum cleaner.  The two form an unlikely friendship and when Flora’s mom tries to kill Ulysses she must save him.  This book was the most recent selection for the school book club that my son attends.   Although it is a 2014 Newbery Medal winner, my son and the other book club members weren’t big fans of this book.


Inside the Whale and Other Animals by Ted Dewan
Published by:  DoubleDay Books for Young Readers, May 1992
Pages: 48
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Price: from $4.90 used
Rating: 4/5 stars

This was another non-fiction book that my son read. He enjoyed reading and learning about the inner organs of various animals.  He liked, “seeing the illustrations of the insides of the animals that we can’t usually see.”


The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)  by Rick Riordan
Published by:  Disney Hyperion Books, March 2006 (first published June 2005)
Pages: 375 pages
Price: $7.99
Source:  own the book
Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  12-year-old Percy Jackson discovers that he is a demi-god and is sent to Camp Half Blood.  Percy eventually ends up on a quest with Annabeth and Grover to find Zeus’ stolen lightening bolts and prevent a war between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.  My son received The Lightning Thief  as a present and began reading this book after we had started reading The Lost Hero together (see below).  There are five books in this series and he has already started reading book two!  I also just discovered that this book was made into a movie, which we will hopefully watch soon!

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan
Published by:  Disney-Hyperion Books, October 2010
Pages: 557
Price: $9.99
Source:  own the book
Rating:  4/5 stars

For the past several months my son and I have been reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan and finally finished it.  This is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series, a spin-off of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  In this book Jason, Leo and Piper are brought together on a quest to save Hera from Gaea’s potential awakening.  The book is told from the various points of view of the three main characters.  These books are thick with small print. However, Rioradan is a great writer and these stories suck the reader right in.  The book is filled with humor and lots of adventure.  Since reading Riordan’s books, my son has become very interested in Greek Mythology and has been reading non-fiction books about the Greek Gods.



Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Published by: Feiwel & Friends, March 2017
Pages: 336
Price: $16.99
Source:   borrowed from the library
Rating: 4/5 stars

Callie June has Tourette Syndrome and is nervous about starting another new school. Even though she is teased by her classmates, she is befriended by her neighbor Jinsong.  He helps her feel comfortable in her new town.  This novel is told in verse from the two points of view of Callie and Jinsong.  My daughter liked this book because, “it showed the story of true friendship” and she learned about Tourette syndrome.


I See Reality: Twelve Short Stories About Real Life by various authors
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 2016
Pages: 304
Price: $17.99
Source:  borrowed from the library
Rating: 3/5 stars

This book is a collection of twelve short stories by different authors.  This book is a YA book geared for older teens.  Only after reading reviews of this book did I realize that my daughter probably shouldn’t have been reading this book, as it deals with abusive relationships, sexuality, pregnancy and addiction.  My daughter felt it was an okay book.  “There were such a wide variety of topics and only some of the stories were interesting.”


It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by: Point, October 2016
Pages: 288
Price: $9.99
Source:  ARC
Rating: 4/5 stars

Days before the prom Avery Dennis is dumped by her boyfriend.  Then her American History teacher gives the class an oral history final project in which they are to interview adults about an event in American History that they had lived through.  In her interpretation of the assignment Avery decides to conduct her own oral history to find out why she always ends up single.  Thus, “It’s Not Me, It’s You:  An Oral History of Boys” is written. This story is told as an oral history with each chapter consisting of Avery interviewing her ex-boyfriends. There is commentary from various friends and family members as well that offer different perspectives on the same events. The oral history format of this book  is different and fun.  Although the main characters in the book are seniors in high school, the content is mild enough for middle school readers.  Readers will be able to relate to the topics of friendship, romance and jealousy.  I received an ARC of this book last year to review for Kiss the Book and my daughter wanted to read it, after seeing it at her school book fair this past fall.  She enjoyed the story and the format of this book, as did many of her middle school friends.


Five on Friday {The First of February}

Happy Friday!  I’m so happy that the weekend is here!  Monday I started my first day of work.  So far, everything is going well and we even got a surprise two-hour delay Tuesday morning.  However, we are still adjusting to me being back at work full-time again and this mom is TIRED!!!  My husband has been super helpful as we all adjust to this transition.  This weekend will include some movie watching, taking my son to a friend’s birthday party and a Super Bowl party.  The weather forecast is currently predicting snow Sunday evening into Monday.  I’m over winter and hope the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow today!  Here are five from this week:


Reading – I have just started reading Eleanor Olphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  Many people have compared this book to Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove and I can already see why.  Eleanor is definitely a quirky character!

Truffle Burger from Burger Bistro & Bar.

Eating –  Last Friday my husband and I enjoyed a last lunch date.  We went to a new-to-us burger restaurant, Burger Bistro & Bar in Thornwood.  I had the Truffle Burger and my husband had the Wellington Burger.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already seen my burger – it was topped with truffle aioli, balsamic portobello and brie on a black pepper brioche bun. They have over 25 different dipping sauces for your fries!

Watching – Who watches This Is Us?!!  And who is excited to see the next episode Sunday evening after the Super Bowl?  Well…..I actually won’t be up late enough to watch it Sunday.  But I will hopefully watch it Monday and finally find out what happened to Jack!

Family Fun – Last Saturday we went to a Westchester Knicks game with the Binghamton University Alumni.  Last year my husband started the Westchester County chapter.  This was the second annual family alumni event.  Although the Knicks ended up losing, it was a great game.

Link Love – My son loves sushi.  I saw this recipe and think this is doable…..totally my style!  A friend shared this article on Facebook.  As a parent of tweens, technology is scary.  We were fortunate to grow up in a time without cell phones and social media.  This read only helps me reinforce my stand on no cell-phones until 13.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

5 inspirational fitness quotes to help motivate you when you need a little encouragement with your exercise routine.
Saturday I posted 5 Inspirational Fitness Quotes.

Tuesday I shared 28 Days of February Family Fun.

Thursday I posted the 2018 Westchester County Valentine’s Day Dining Guide.

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


2018 Westchester County Valentine’s Day Dining Guide

There are 13 more days until Valentine’s Day.  If you haven’t made them yet, dinner reservations are a must! Here is a look at some of the restaurants in Westchester County and the surrounding area that will be offering special Valentine’s Day menus.  Most other restaurants throughout the area will be open and serving their regular dinner menus.  Regardless of where you decide to eat, be sure to make reservations now!

Please check the restaurant’s website or call for the most up-to-date information.  Additionally, please note that prices listed below do not include tax and gratuities.

Aesop’s Fable (Farm-to-Table)
13 King Street
Chappaqua, NY 10514
reservations: (914) 238-3858

Aesop’s Fable is offering a special Valentine’s Day 3 course pre-fixe menu for $65/person.

Benjamin’s Steak House (Steak House)

610 Hartsdale Road
White Plains, NY 10607
reservations:  (914) 428-6868

Benjamin’s Steak House is offering a 3 course Valentine’s dinner menu for $89/person.

BLT Steak
The Ritz-Carlton Westchester
221 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601
reservations: (914)467-5500

BLT Steak will be offering a special Valentine’s Day a’la carte menu.

City Perch Kitchen & Bar (New American)
1 Livingston Avenue
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
reservations:  (914) 348-7003

City Perch is offering a special 3-course Prix Fixe Valentine’s Day menu all week (February 9 – 14) for $60/person.

Dolphin Restaurant (Seafood)
1 Van der Donck Street
Yonkers, NY 10701
reservations: (914) 751-8170

Dolphin is offering a 3 course Prix Fixe Valetine’s Day menu for $47.95/person.

Gleason’s (Pizza/Italian)
911 South Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
reservations: (914) 402-1950

Gleason’s is offering a 4 course Valentine’s dinner for $50/person.

Half Moon (New American)
1 High Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
reservations:  (914) 693-4130

Half Moon is offering a special 3 course dinner for $65/person.  Dinner hours are 5:30-9:45 PM.

Harvest-on-Hudson (Italian)
1 River Street
Hastings, NY 10706
reservations: (914) 478-2800 or online (A deposit is required when making reservations)

Harvest-on-Hudson is open from 5-10 PM on Valentine’s Day.  They are offering a special three course dinner for $70/person. Wine pairings are available for an additional $30/guest.

The Hudson Room (New American and Sushi Bar)
23 South Division Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
reservations:  (914) 788-FOOD

From 6 PM – 10 PM, The Hudson Room is offering a 4-course dinner for $70/person.

L’Inizio (Italian)
698 Saw Mill Rd.
Ardsley, NY 10502
reservations: (914) 693-5400

L’Inizio will be offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $70/person.  *At the time of writing this post, the menu was not posted.  However, check the website for updates.  

Madison Kitchen (New American)
7 Madison Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538
reservations: (914) 732-3024

Madison Kitchen is offering a Valentine’s Day special that includes a glass of champagne, house-made crostini, a choice of 3 small plates and a dessert for $75/person.

Modern on the Rails (Italian, New American)

One Station Plaza
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
reservations:  (914) 777-9300

Modern on the Rails is offering a four course Valentine’s Day menu for $65/person.

Moderne Barn (New American)
430 Bedford Ave.
Armonk, NY 10504
reservations: (914) 730-0001 or online

Moderne Barn is offering a 3 course prix-fixe Valentine’s Day menu for $85/person.

Monteverde at Oldstone
28 Bear Mountain Bridge Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567
reservations:  (914) 737-6500

Monteverde at Oldstone is offering a four course Valentine’s Day menu for $125/person.

Plates (New American)
121 Myrtle Boulevard
Larchmont, NY 10538
reservations:  (914) 834-1244 or online

Plates is having a Valentine’s Day 3 course prix-fixe menu for $85/person.

Red Hat on the River (French Bistro)
One Bridge Street
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533
reservations:  (914) 591-5888 or online

Red Hat on the River is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $75/person plus gratuities.  They also have special Valentine’s Day cocktails that they will be offering that evening.

Savannah & Company  (Southern)
3901 Crompond Rd.
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567
reservations: (914) 736-1203

Savannah & Company is serving their regular menu but has some Valentine’s Day specials that they will be offering.

Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge (Italian)
59-61 Main Street
Yonkers, NY 10701
reservations:  (914) 376-6500

Zuppa is offering a special 3 course Prix Fixe Valentine’s Day menu for $75/person that includes a complimentary glass of sparkling Rose Prosecco.  *At the time of writing this post, the menu was not posted.  However, check the website for updates.  

Putnam County:

The Arch  (French)
1292 Route 22
Brewster, NY 10509
reservations:  (845) 279-5011

The Arch is serving a 4 course Valentine’s Day menu from 5-9:00 PM for $88/person.

Rockland County:

Sixty 5 On Main (Mediterranean)
65 Main Street
Nyack, NY 10960
reservations:  (845) 358-5200

Sixty 5 on Main is offering a 4 course dinner with a complimentary bottle of wine and live music for $150/couple.


28 Days of February Family Fun

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February will be here in a couple of days.  Although it is a short month, with Valentine’s Day, the Olympics and President’s Day/February break, there is a lot going on!  Here are 28 days of February family fun!

1. February is Black History Month.  Published this month, read Young, Gifted and Black with your kids to introduce them to 52 Black heroes from past and present.

2.  Will the groundhog see his shadow today?  Tradition says if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t, we can expect an early spring!  Here are twelve Groundhog Day picture books that you can read with your kids.

3.  Have a video game day!  Have your kids show you their favorite video games and play with them.  My son’s current XBoxOne faves include Cupheads and Marvel vs. Capcom.

4. Today is the Super Bowl! Make some of these snacks for your game day party while you cheer on the Eagles or Patriots!  While I’m not a football fan, I will be watching the half-time show and the commercials.  Take a sneak peek at some of the commercials!

5. Today is World Nutella Day!  Here are 60 ways you can use using this delicious hazelnut spread.

6. Check out the new shows coming to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime in February and plan some binge watching.

7.  Valentine’s Day is in a week.  Have you made or purchased your child’s Valentines?  If you need some ideas, here are over 50 Valentines you can print at home.

8. The 2018 Winter Olympics begin tomorrow in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.  Have your child find South Korea on a map.  Pick out some sports that your family will watch and cheer on Team USA!

9. Today is National Pizza Day!  Make homemade pizza for dinner.  We love this Onion Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Balsamic Glaze.

10. Take a family road trip!  Hop into the car and visit a new-to-you nearby town.  Have lunch or dinner out, and explore the sites.  Enjoy being a local tourist.

11.  For many kids, breakfast is their favorite meal of the day.  Start your Sunday off by going out for brunch!

12. Make some chocolate playdough (that you can’t eat!) and then make some chocolates in these heart-shaped molds that you can eat!

13.  Today is Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras!  Read some of these Mardi Gras books with your kids and make a King Cake!  In the United Kingdom, today is also known as Pancake Day.  Celebrate with pancakes for dinner!

14. Happy Valentine’s Day!  Plan a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt for your kids with a sweet treat for them at the end.  Have heart-shaped everything today!  Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Valentine’s pancakes for breakfast and heart-shaped sandwiches for lunch.  Shape pizza dough into a heart shape for dinner tonight!

15. Add these recently released middle grade children’s books to your book collection or borrow them from the library:  The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (January 23),  Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire (February 6), Checked (February 6), The Unicorn Quest (February 6),  Marabel and the Book of Fate (February 6), Payback on Poplar Lane (February 6) and The Midnight Gang (February 27).

16. Have a family game night.  We are enjoying Sushi Go Party!

17. Today is National Random Acts of Kindess Day!  Challenge your kids to show kindness.  Some ideas include give 5 compliments today, hold the door for the person behind them and/or help someone in need.

18. Visit a museum.  Science museums are a family favorite since they are so hands-on and fun for everyone.

19.  Happy President’s Day!  Here are seven ways to celebrate with kids.

20. Plan a family movie night!  Some popular children’s movies being released on DVD this month include Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (February 13), Wonder (February 13), and Coco (February 27).  And for mom time, A Bad Moms Christmas (February 6).

21. Make a bird feeder and hang it outside a window to watch the birds (and possibly the squirrels!) eat.

22.  Today is National Margarita Day!  Make a kid-friendly alcohol-free frozen margarita for the kids…..and maybe ones with some alcohol for the adults!  You can serve them in these fun glasses!  It’s also National Chili Day.  This Slow Cooker Beanless Chili is a great way to celebrate!

23. Have a family date night out and go to an Escape the Mystery Room.  Read about our fun experience doing this.

24. Read a chapter book together as a family.  Take turns reading a couple of pages.  My son and I are finishing up The Lost Hero and will soon be reading A Wrinkle In Time.  I want to read it before the movie comes out next month.

25.  Celebrate the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics with a Korean dinner.  Either go out for Korean BBQ or Bibimbap (one of my favorite dishes!) or make Korean food at home!  Maangchi and Kimchi Mom are both great websites to find recipes.

26. Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.  Have your children retell their favorite fairy tales.

27.  Plan a trip out to the movies.  Family-friendly movies coming to the big screen this month include Peter Rabbit (February 9), Monster Family (February 9), Early Man (February 16), and The War With Grandpa (February 23).

28. If it is winter and COLD where you are, go outside and fascinate the kids with Frozen Bubbles.


5 Inspirational Fitness Quotes {Self-Care Saturday}

5 inspirational fitness quotes to help motivate you when you need a little encouragement with your exercise routine.

Although January is coming to an end, I will be continuing on my fitness journey as part of my year of self-care.  I always find quotes to be motivating.  I’ve collected some inspirational fitness quotes for those times when you need a little extra motivation and encouragement with your exercise routine.



What is your favorite inspirational fitness quote?















Five on Friday {Big Changes}

Happy Friday!  It’s been a busy week around here.  Big changes are in store for our family because I am going back to work.  After being a stay-at-home mom for the past two years, I am starting a full-time job.  It’s been something that I’ve been considering for awhile. By the time I was in elementary school both my parents were working full-time.  So, I grew up with a working mother.  I’d like to be a role model for my children and show them that a woman can be a mom and work full-time.  I think it will also help them be more responsible.  My husband fortunately has a flexible work schedule and will be helping out tremendously these first few weeks as we all adjust to this new change. I am not returning to teaching. Those days are officially over.  I will be working in a school district’s human resources department.  Total career change that I am looking forward to!  Did I mention that I start the new job on Monday?!   I found out earlier this week that I had gotten the job so it’s been a rush these past few days trying to get everything in order.  Have no fear, I will still be blogging here  at NY Foodie Family!  Posts may not be as frequent though as I adjust to a new schedule.  Here are five from this week:

1. Watching –  My husband and I have always been fans of The Amazing Race.  Last season was the first time that the kids watched it with us.  They soon became big fans of the show as well and we cheered on Team Fun – Becca and Floyd (and even did a “Five Questions With…” interview with them).  We all look forward to watching episodes of the newest season (Season 30) together each week.  Last weekend we also watched Despicable Me 3.  It was a fun family movie but one that I’m glad we waited to see on DVD.

2. Supper Club – Last weekend we hosted our monthly supper club dinner.  This month’s theme was Japanese.  My husband made a shrimp curry and I made chicken yakisoba (pictured above).  There were homemade gyoza, Oyakaodon (chicken and egg rice bowl) some marinated veggie side dishes and a Soba-Cha Pudding (roasted buckwheat custard) for dessert. It was a delicious meal!


3. Reading – I recently started reading Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda.  I read one of her other books The Perfect Stranger and thought it was okay.  Fragments is a YA mystery that has started slow but has me curious.  This wee, my son and I finally finished reading The Lost Hero.  We’ve been reading this book together since November!  It was my first Rick Riordan book and I can see why his books are so popular with the tween age group.  The next book we’ve started reading is A Wrinkle In Time, since the movie is coming out in March.

4. Closet Clean Out – I’ve been living in jeans and “athleisure wear” (i.e. leggings and sweats) for the past two years.  Now that I have to dress for work, I decided to do a closet clean out.  I had to go through my dressier pants from years ago to see what fits, what is still in style and what I need to buy.   I haven’t gone crazy buying new clothes…..yet.  That will be coming soon!

5.  Drinking – (c/o Brooklyn Food & Beverage) I was recently sent samples of Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer.  Their ginger beer is made with real ginger and contains tiny ginger particles. Besides traditional ginger beer, it comes in fun flavors like Earl Grey, Lemon & Lime and Mango.  If you like ginger, these beers are for you. They are non-alcoholic, but make great mixers for cocktails and mocktails.  And, they are now available at BJ’s Wholesale Club.  While I’m not a big fan of ginger, my husband is.  He enjoys the variety of flavors, the simple ingredients and the small size (7 fl. oz glass bottles).  He also likes the distinct taste of ginger and thinks these are a nice treat.  I of course sampled them and have to say that they are for true ginger fans.  There’s a wallop of flavor in such a small bottle!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Saturday I shared an Exercise Class A to Z Guide.

6 fun games for a tween family game night that parents won't mind playing.

Tuesday I posted 6 Fun Games for Family Game Night (Tween Edition).

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

6 Fun Games for Family Game Night {Tween Edition}

6 fun games for a tween family game night that parents won't mind playing.
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We are a big gaming family.  Although my husband and son enjoy video games, I’m not talking the electronic kind.  I’m talking about board games.  If my daughter had her way, we’d play board games every night.  Finding a board game that is fun for EVERYONE, including the adults, can be challenging.  It has to be easy enough that the kids can win, but also have a high interest factor for the parents, so we don’t get bored to tears.  Here are some of our newest game additions and a couple of family favorites.

A fun domino game perfect for family game night!

Mexican Train – This is a domino game where the object of the game is to get rid of all of your dominoes.   Our set came in an aluminum case that stores the dominoes.  You can play a quicker game and just do a round or two.  Or, you can play 13 rounds, in which the game can last hours!  This game is recommended for ages 8+.  We first learned about this game from my parents and we often play on family vacations to their Rhode Island beach house.  This is a great multi-generation family game.  I recommend that you purchase domino holders, if your set doesn’t come with them.  They are super helpful in keeping your dominoes organized when playing.

An award-winning maze strategy game perfect for family game night.

Mine Shift – This is a maze strategy game for 2-4 players.  It is recommended for ages 8+.  The object of the game is to be the first player to move all four of your jewels from one side of the board to the opposite side. This is a Mensa Select game winner and a 2018 Toy of the Year Finalist.  Our first time playing took about 25 minutes.

A fast-paced matching game perfect for family game night.

Spot It – This is a fast-paced matching game for 2-8 players.  It is recommended for ages 8+.  Each card has only one matching symbol to another card.  You need to “spot” the matching symbols and call it out.  Believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds.  When you’re competing with others and under stress, it can be difficult to spot the match.  The instructions come with eight different game variations that can be played.  We usually play each game one time and all games can be played in about 20 minutes.

A fast-paced dice game that is fun for tweens and adults.

Sushi Dice –  This is a fast-paced dice game for 2 – 6 players.  It is recommended for ages 6+.  Two players go head-to-head, rolling their set of six dice, to try to complete one of the sushi platter cards.  When they have all the matching items they ring the bell and the next round begins.  However, you mus beware of the black skulls.  If you roll one and your opponent sees, you have to re-roll all of your dice.  If the players not actively rolling the dice spot both players with black skulls, the game ends.   The first player to win five sushi platter cards wins the game.  This is a quick game and can be played in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the number of players.

A fun pass the cards game for tweens!

Sushi Go Party! – We first played this game at a school-sponsored family game night.  My son enjoyed it so much he requested it for Christmas.  This pass-the-card game is for 2-8 players and recommended for ages 8+.   In this game, you win points by selecting different sushi combos.  However, since you pass cards, you never know what you will end up with.  There is a card-only version available.  However, the Sushi Go Party! game comes with a board and pawns for help to keep score as well as a menu board that allows you to customize games and play different variations.  The game consist of three rounds and can be played in about 30 minutes.

Wits and Wagers is a fun guessing trivia game for the whole family!

Wits & Wagers – This is a trivia game, where you don’t actually need to know answers.  You just have to be able to guess well!  It’s for 4+ players and is recommended for ages 8+.  Someone reads a question that everyone answers on their mini dry-erase board.  Then everyone bets on which answer is closest to the actual answer.

What is your favorite board game for family game night?