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Happy List {April 4, 2020}

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary! Definitely a reason to be happy today! Here are three more things making me smile:

1. Cat snuggles and book time

2. Mongolian Seitan – a.k.a. Vegan Mongolian Beef with Broccoli. When my son, the picky eater of the family has thirds, you know this is a good dish! Recipe from Yup….it’s vegan!

3. Pregnancy Announcements – Enjoy some of these pregnancy reveals to make you smile…..these bring back memories of our first baby pregnancy reveal when we wrapped a little poem up in a frame and wrapped it for each set of grandparents-to-be. This is a longer compilation than the ones that I usually see on FB.

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Five on Friday {Happy Anniversary to Us!}

Happy Friday.  I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.  These are some scary times and everyday I have to remind myself to be grateful that I am together with my family, trying to do the best we can each day. That looks different every day, but we are managing. On a positive note, tomorrow is me and Dana’s 16th wedding anniversary! We plan to take a drive to get some take out from a vegan restaurant in Rockland County that I’ve heard about. Otherwise, we obviously don’t have big plans!  Here are five from this week:

1.    Shopping Finds – This week we scored on our grocery shopping trips. We were able to find tofu and chickpeas on our weekly trip earlier in the week. Dana ran out to the store early yesterday morning and was able to get toilet paper and flour, two things that we have not been able to find! Seriously, these little wins made me so happy!

2. Reading – This week I finished What You Wish For by Katherine Center.  It is an ARC from Netgalley that I read on my kindle that is being published in July.  As with all of the Katherine Center books that I’ve read, it was an enjoyable read.  

Unbelievable (miniseries) Title Card.jpg

3. Watching – This week we finished binge watching Tiger King (Netflix).  That was a crazy, entertaining show! For something a bit more serious, my daughter and I binge watched Unbelievable (Netflix) about two women detectives who try to find a serial rapist.

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Salad Pizza, 15 Minute Lo Mein, Tempeh and Kale Enchilada Casserole, Greek Eggplant and Potatoes and Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.  

5. My Happy List – For April, I started posting a daily happy list post.  It’s just three things that are bringing me a little happiness (and might hopefully make you smile as well).  You can check out today’s, yesterday’s and Wednesday’s posts!

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Happy List {April 3, 2020}

Three things making me happy:

1. Homemade vegan chocolate cupcakes that my almost 14 year-old daughter made by herself (the chocolate frosting was found in our cabinet and was the inspiration for her to bake something!). Recipe from allrecipes.com.

2. Group Family Texts – I’m in a group text with my brother, sister and parents. It’s nice to keep in touch daily with short check-ins.

3. Puzzles – I am currently working on my 4th puzzle since social distancing began. Yesterday I made my son take an electronics break and do a puzzle. He’s actually very good at them and completed this 300 piece puzzle in less than an hour. I was impressed with his puzzling ability and that he had some quality unplugged time.

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Happy List {April 2, 2020}

Three things making me happy today:

1. Celebrity Dad Jokes – Because Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

2. Tom’s Diner – Throwing it back to some of the songs of my childhood! I used to know all the lyrics to this song!

3. Signs of spring – Mother nature is showing her beauty. Every day when I do my daily walk I see new signs of spring.

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My Happy List {April 1, 2020}

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It’s difficult for me to blog right now. My heart just isn’t into writing about family fun in the Hudson Valley when we are mandated to socially distance and everything is closed. But, I do find that blogging is a creative outlet (for my non-creative self). Since it’s the first of the month, I thought it fitting to start publishing a daily “Happy List.” Just three little things that I’m loving lately and that are bringing a little happiness into some stressful times. This may be a song, a show, a podcast, a meme, an activity…….you get the idea. Just something that made me smile and will hopefully bring you a little happiness as well. Because let’s face it, we can all use a little more happiness right now!

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

1. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast (February 12 episode): Oprah and Michelle Obama – I only started listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast within the past couple of months. But this episode was the first one I listened to and my favorite. It was so good that I listened to it again this week. It has two of my favorite women having an intimate conversation (in front of a live audience in Brooklyn!).

Tiger King, Murder, Mayhem and Madness publicity image.jpg

2. Tiger King (television show) – I can’t remember the last television show that we binge watched before this one! I know that this Netflix show is ALL over the internet. But there’s a good reason. Seriously, this is not quality television. It is mindless entertainment, that gets crazier with every episode. These hours of escapism were much needed and enjoyed.

3. A sign spotted on my daily walk around the neighborhood – Let’s do as the sign says and “Keep Smiling!”

What is making you happy today?

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Five on Friday {What Day Is It?!}

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Hello Friday, is that you?  The days are just running together and I’m seriously losing track of time!  I thought I’d be posting so much more on the blog, since I’m home all day. However, after working from home, staring at my laptop screen for so many hours, I’m just not feeling very motivated to stay on it any longer than I have to.  I thought I was doing okay for the most part with the social distancing. But after looking at the news and social media, I almost had a breakdown the other night. It’s hard to believe that we may be living like this for months. But I got myself out of my funk by reminding myself how much I have to be grateful for, even during these difficult times.  It was really helpful and I know that it’s normal and expected to have bouts of sadness and unease. Here are five from this unexciting week:

1.  Weekend Walk – As long as we are allowed to be outside, we are going to spend time there, getting some fresh air and exercise.  Last weekend we took a drive to Bear Mountain State Park. The kids made it clear that they were NOT going to go on a hike so we walked around Hessian Lake.  It was a lot more crowded than I was comfortable with. So we did the 1.4 mile walk pretty quickly and left. It was still a beautiful day with scenic views, even though it was a short visit.   

2. Reading – Although I’ve been reading, I’ve not been getting in as much reading time as I thought I’d be during this time.  This week I did finish Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner which was an enjoyable read. It’s been years since I’ve read any of her books and I was surprised that I liked this one as much as I did.  

Motherless Brooklyn (film).jpg

3. Watching – This week we only watched two movies. We all watched Motherless Brooklyn together.  Then my daughter and I watched Last Christmas. It was fitting that it was snowing the day we watched it.  On Netflix, we started watching Tiger King. It’s a crazy, diversion!

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Vegan White Pizza, Roasted Peanut Butter Cauliflower and Carrot Salad Bowls, Chickpea Shawarma Wraps, Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Pot Pie, and General Tso’s Cauliflower.

5. Social Distancing – During the day Dana and I are continuing to work from home while the kids are doing their online school work.  After I log off at 4 PM, we either all go for a walk, or the kids play volleyball or badminton outside for a bit while Dana and I walk.  I also try to do yoga, since my back is not happy with me sitting at the dining room table all day working. This week we ordered takeout one day from Izla.  Although we can only eat the sides, rice, tostones and yucca fries made for a tasty lunch earlier this week.  

I didn’t post any new posts this week. But in case you missed last week’s posts:

Indoor Family Fun During This Stressful Time.

15 Ways to Entertain Yourself At Home During Social Distancing.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {We Will Get Through This….}

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Happy Friday!  This week has been one unlike any other.  I know we are all feeling unsettled during this public health crisis.  It seems like everything but the grocery stores are closed now. For now, our schools are closed until the 31st, but who knows if that will change.  As we’ve been told, things are going to get worse before they get better. But I know that we will get through this. I am very thankful that Dana and I both have jobs that we can do from home and that my kids are older and able to manage their online school work on their own. It’s obviously not been a very exciting week, but here are five from this week:

1.  Weekend Hike – last weekend the social distancing began.  We ended up going on a hike (along with a lot of other people who had the same idea!) since it was such a nice day.  

2. Reading – I finished Her Daughter’s Mother but book club, like everything else, was canceled. We walked to our local library Monday and I picked up some holds and other books, before they closed for the next couple of weeks.  I have just started Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, which has been on my to read list.  

A man in a suit with a gun in his right hand is flanked by five other individuals in the middle of a street which, behind them, is folded upwards. Leonardo DiCaprio's name and those of other cast members are shown above the words "Your Mind Is the Scene of the Crime". The title of the film "INCEPTION", film credits, and theatrical and IMAX release dates are shown at the bottom.

3. Watching – We’ve been having family movie nights most evenings.  Together we’ve watched Inception and Austin Powers, both on Netflix.  Dana and our daughter watched Doctor Sleep, since they both read the book.  I don’t like scary movies so I skipped this one.  He was a bit disappointed and noted that the movie was very different than the book.

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Halushki (sautéed cabbage and onions with egg noodles) for St. Patrick’s Day, cauliflower korma (using a jarred, non-vegan sauce) with basmati rice and naan, chickpea meatloaf with roasted potatoes and a roasted vegetable risotto.

5. Social Distancing – During the day Dana and I are both working from home.  But besides the cleaning and cooking, I’ve been reading, doing a paint-by-number and working on puzzles. Dana and I also started another 30 day Yoga with Adriene series. Revolution is actually a 31 day series, but an oldie that we haven’t done.

ICYMI this week on the blog: 

Monday I wrote about Indoor Family Fun During This Stressful Time.

Wednesday I shared 15 Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home During Social Distancing.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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15 Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home During Social Distancing

You’re stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time. There’s only so much cleaning and organizing that you can do. If you have kids, you’re trying to entertain them and stay sane. But you deserve some fun too! Here are 15 ways to entertain yourself at home during social distancing:

1. Learn a Tik Tok Dance. Here are 15 Tik Tok dances that you can learn…..and they are not as easy as they look!

2. Work Out – The gym might be closed, but exercise is important. Not only for your physical well being, but for your mental health as well. Fitness Blender, PopSugar Fitness, Yoga with Adriene,and Madfit are only a few of the sites where you can find free workouts to do.

3. Have a virtual book club – Make reading social by having a virtual book club with your family or friends. Everyone reads the same book and then discusses it together via your favorite group chat/video app.

4. Watch a cooking show – Michelin-rated Chef Massimo Bottura, who recently opened Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills, has created Kitchen Quarantine. Every day at 3 PM (EST) on his Instagram, he cooks, offer culinary tips and holds online Q & A sessions.

5. Pamper yourself – Take a bath, paint your nails, put on the face mask.

6. CreateLet’s Make Art offers art subscription boxes as well as online tutorials. Or order your own kits from your favorite online retailer. Paint-by-Number, coloring books, calligraphy, knitting, embroidery….the options are endless. Some local craft/pottery places are offering deliverable paint a piece of pottery kits. Bakeries are offering decorate cookies or cupcake kits. Check out your local businesses!

7. Take virtual field trips – These aren’t just for the kids! You can visit museums, zoos, National Parks and more from your home.

8. Create or just listen to fun playlists – Music can be very uplifting in stressful times. Spotify has tons of playlists, like All Out 80’s and Michelle Obama’s workout playlist, or make your own!

9. Meditate – Now is a great time to spend some time meditating! Headspace and Calm are popular meditating apps.

10. Candy Crush, Best Fiends, Homescapes, Pokemon Go, Wizarding World of Harry Potter.……you get the drift. Find a mindless game app.

11. Listen to a new podcast – I’m sure you have your regular podcasts that you listen to, but why don’t you try a new one? Here’s Esquire’s list of the 57 Best Podcasts You Can Listen to in 2020.

12. Binge watch a new-to-you show – Like you haven’t already started doing this! If you need some ideas, check out this list of 55 Best Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix (March 2020) from TechJunkie.

13. Cook something – Yes, you’re probably cooking A LOT more than you are used to. But what about cooking something new to you or something a little more indulgent than you’d normally make? There may be meat and poultry shortages in the grocery stores, but there’s lots of fresh produce!

14. Plan some fun outings – This too shall pass. And when it does, we will all be itching to get out of the house! Start planning now for some fun outings that you’ll take once we are done social distancing.

15. Do whatever that thing is that you’ve always wanted to do but, “never had the time” – Because now all you have is time! Find something off that list that you can do or try now! There are YouTube videos, books, articles and apps for almost everything out there.

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Indoor Family Fun During this Stressful Time

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Our nation is facing a pandemic and it looks like this is just the beginning of of what may possibly be a very long journey. While we’ve been advised to practice social distancing and avoid large crowds, being inside and having to entertain our children for days, if not weeks, can seem a bit daunting. Here are some indoor family fun ideas during this stressful time:

Yoga – The physical and mental health benefits of yoga are endless. If you’ve never tried yoga, now, in these uncertain times, is a great time to start. And why not get the whole family involved?!

Families with young children can check out Cosmic Yoga. This is a yoga program targeted towards children ages 3+ and introduces them to yoga, mindfulness and meditation in a fun and entertaining way. With yoga-themed adventures like Frozen, Moana, Minecraft and Trolls, your kids (and you!) will have a blast.

Families with older tweens and teens may want to check out Yoga with Adriene. Not only does she have an episode, specifically targeted towards teens, but she adapts her episodes to all levels of yoga.

Virtual Museum Tours – Most, if not all museums are currently closed. However, you can take a virtual tour of these 12 museums located throughout the world.

Movie Marathon – Now is the perfect time to have a mass movie marathon. Have everyone choose a favorite movie and watch it. Or pick movies you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t yet. If you can’t find your favorites on cable, Netflix, Amazon, etc. try your local library. At this time, most libraries are still open. You can put the movies on hold and have them sent to your local library.

Some ideas for families with younger kids:
*Check out Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Kids & Family Movies and try to watch the ones you haven’t yet or rewatch your favorites.
*For those with Disney Plus, Disney is streaming Frozen 2 early…..why not watch them both?

Some ideas for families with older kids:
*watch (or rewatch) all of the Harry Potter movies
*do a Marvel movie binge
*do a Star Wars movie marathon

Podcasts – When you’ve tired of the screen, sit together and listen to a podcast. Here are some family friendly podcasts geared toward the 8-12 crowd:

Six Minutes – This podcast is a mystery adventure told in 6 minute episodes.

Smash Boom Best – This podcast is a debate show where topics like cat versus dog and pizza versus taco are battled out and one declared a winner.

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel – This podcast is a serial mystery, self-described as, “…Goonies, meets Spy Kids meets Stranger things for 8-12 year olds” performed by kids. W

Puzzles – I’ve written about White Mountain family puzzles in the past, as they have been a family favorite. The whole family can enjoy working on a puzzle together, since their family puzzles have pieces cut into three different sizes, small for adults, medium and large, for beginners. They have five different puzzles available in this collection. Otherwise, puzzles with fun pictures like Pets Rock, pictured above, are fun to work on as a family.

Art Projects – Do your kids have boxes of craft projects from birthdays and holidays stashed in their closets? Now is a great time to take them out.

Art is a great way for everyone to sit together but express their own creativity.

*Buy some canvases and everyone can paint their own pictures. If you have rocks or shells from your summer adventures, you can paint those too.
*Take a walk around your yard and find some nature materials. Create collages using what you’ve found.

Other purchasable art activities include:
*Coloring books (for you and the kids)
*Paint-by-numbers (for you and the kids)
*Paint-by-sticker (for kids)

Family Reading Time – There are different variations of family reading time that you can enjoy.
*You can all sit and take turns reading (or some family members can just listen) from the same book. Here’s a list from goodreads for some ideas!
*Or, everyone sits with their own book for a set period of time and enjoys some quiet reading time on their own.

Cook and or Bake – Spend some time together in the kitchen. Have the kids help you prepare dinner one night. Better yet, have them pick out a recipe that they want to try and help them with it. For something a little more fun and motivating, make a sweet treat!

A fun domino game perfect for family game night!

Board Game Time – Now is a good time to clean out the game cabinet and dust those board games off. Enjoy some of your favorites and if you have games that you don’t play anymore, take them out and donate them. If you’re in the market for some new games you can check out some of our favorites here and here, or some from this list.


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Five on Friday {Keep Calm}

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Hello Friday!  What a crazy week it’s been here.  We live in Westchester County, right in the middle of the New York Coronavirus crisis. While neither the school district that I work in or my kids’ school have closed…..yet, there’s lots of panic going on around here.  Stores are out of hand sanitizer, cleaners and even toilet paper! Everything is getting canceled to promote social distancing. Saturday my son is working stage crew for our middle school play. They have limited the audience to one parent per cast/crew member, but I think we are going to drop him off and watch the live stream of the show just to be on the safe side. Then the plans are to lay low for the rest of the weekend. Here are five from this week:

1.  Weekend Fun – My daughter has qualified to apply for the National Junior Honor Society. She needs volunteer hours, so the two of us spent four hours last weekend volunteering at a local food pantry and then making sandwiches for a Midnight Run. Then after my son and I went to the grocery store to buy supplies for Supper Club (see below) we went to our high school track. He wanted to practice running but then convinced me to walk the nature/wellness path with him. It was a beautiful day and a nice walk with him.

2. Reading – I just finished Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova.  This is my monthly book club read and book club is next week, if it doesn’t get canceled before then!

The Joker dances on a set of stairs. Below him are the words "Joaquin Phoenix", "A Todd Phillips film", "Joker", "October 4".

3. Watching – I made it about halfway through Joker before I had to go to bed.  But Dana and our daughter stayed up and watched the whole movie. Dana and I also just started watching Mad Men on Netflix for the first time.  We are enjoying it, but it’s infuriating on so many levels about how women were treated in the 1950’s. Plus, all the smoking (and drinking even when pregnant!).

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Vegan Mac & Cheese, Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos, veggie burgers and fries and Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Pasta.

5. Supper Club – Sunday we had our monthly supper club.  This month’s theme was Thai. I made a Vegan Pad See Ew with tofu.  I couldn’t find wide rice noodles so ended up using regular pad Thai rice noodles.  Dana made Tropical Thai Coconut-Tapioca Pudding for dessert.

ICYMI this week on the blog: 

Thursday I wrote about the Westchester Knicks.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!