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?


Exercise Classes: A to Z Guide {Self-Care Saturday}

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Exercise is important.  Our bodies need to move and burn calories for optimal health.  However, running on the treadmill, or taking the same classes over and over can get boring.  Here is an exercise classes A to Z guide of the different types of classes out there.  Unfortunately, some of these classes are gym specific.  However, many of these workouts are also available for purchase on DVD or even free on YouTube.  Get out there and mix up your exercise routine!

*Note:  By all means, this is guide does not include EVERY exercise class out there.  New ones are being introduced all the time.  Please check with gyms and websites for specific details. 

20-20-20 –  A combination class that typically includes 20 minutes of cardio, 2o minutes of strength and 20 minutes of core work.

AcroYoga – a practice that combines acrobatics, yoga and healing arts.

African Dance – Explore and learn the movements of traditional African dances. Most of these high-energy classes are held at dance studios and accompanied by live music on traditional instruments.  Workouts are available on DVD.

Animal Flow – An exercise routine that, “includes a wide range of exercises and movement combinations that are grouped into six components, each designed to elicit specific results.” The components can be mixed and matched to your workouts.  These workouts are available through the website or at select Equinox gyms.

Aqua Bootcamp – A total-body aerobic workout that takes place in the pool for a different environment and full-body resistance.  Classes are held at select gyms.

Aqua Yoga – A yoga class that takes place in a pool.  Classes available at select gyms.

Aqua Zumba – Combines, “the Zumba philosophy with water resistance.

Ashtanga Yoga – A yoga practice that performs the same poses in the exact same order.  This is a physically demanding form of yoga.  Classes are held in studios throughout the country.  DVDs are available for at-home practice.

Ballroom Dance
– These are partner dances of different styles including waltz, tango, Cha-Cha, Jive, Rumba and more.  These classes are often taught at dance studios.  Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

– Exercise class that, “uses a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and pilates.”  The barre is used as a prop to assist in balancing.  Classes are offered at most gyms and barre and studios.

Belly Dancing – Belly dancing is an Arabic expressive dance that emphasizes movement of the torso.  There are traditional belly dance classes available as well as belly dancing fitness classes. DVDs are also available if you want to practice this in the privacy of your home!

Bikram Yoga – A sequence of 26 postures and two breathing techniques that are completed in a 90-minute session.  This is also known as “hot” yoga, as it is done in a 105 degree F room where you will sweat and detoxify.

bodyART – This exercise program is, “based on the five elements of Chinese medicine and regards the person as a unity of body, mind and soul.” Exercises work on flexibility, strength and balance.  Classes are held at Equinox Clubs and select gyms.

BODYATTACK – A 55-minute Les Mills, “sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina.”  The class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises.

BODYPUMP – A Les Mills barbell workout class.  It uses light to moderate weights with high repetition movements. Available as 55, 45 or 30-minute workouts.

Bokwa – In this class, participants, “draw letters and numbers with their feet while performing an energizing and addictive cardio workout routine.” Classes are held in gyms throughout the country or a 3 pack DVD set is available for purchase online.

BodyBlade – Using a BodyBlade with rapid contraction technology, you increase strength, balance and coordination.  The more you flex, the more resistance you get. Classes are available at select gyms or via DVD for purchase. The Classic Kit includes the BodyBlade, a DVD and exercise wall chart and is available for purchase online.

BollyX – A 50-minute Bollywood-inspired dance-fitness program inspired by the music and dance of Bollywood.

Bootcamp – These classes vary but generally include a mix of strength training and aerobic elements.  Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

BOSU – An acronym for “BOth Sides Utilized,” this piece of equipment is a balance trainer that helps you work on balance, stability, strengthening the core and more.  DVDs and BOSU trainers are available for purchase online.

Burn – A cross-training class offered at NYSC uses intervals of strength and cardio training to burn calories. Focuses on flexibility, stability and regeneration.

Capoeira – A martial art that, “combines elements of fight, acrobatics, music, dance and rituals in a very elegant and magnetic way.”  DVDs are available for purchase online.

Cardio Sports Training – A high-energy cardio class offered at NYSC that uses the training techniques of professional athletes.  The 60 minute class uses sports specific drills and equipment like agility ladders, cones and jump ropes.

CrossfitA fitness regimen of, “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.”  Driven by data, scoreboards are used to keep records of performance. There are thousands of Crossfit gyms, aka “boxes” worldwide.

CXWORX – A 30-minute Les Mills workout that focuses on exercising muscles around the core.

Drums Alive
– A high-energy workout that combines,  ‘traditional exercise, a stability ball, and drum sticks.”  Classes are 30-45 minutes and are a combination of aerobic dance with the rhythm of drums.


– A fitness class that, “combines boxing and martial arts.”  It uses punches, kicks, blocks and sometimes a jump rope.

Forza – This is also known as Samurai Sword training and combines two Japanese sword-fighting techniques, Kendo and Aikijujitsu.  This class is only available at select Equinox gyms, but a DVD and samurai training bokken is available to purchase online.

Grit  – A 30-minute LES MILLS HIIT workout available in 3 different focuses (Strength, Plyo or Cardio).  Uses a variety of equipment including barbells and plates.   Classes are available at gyms throughout the country.

Hard Knocks – A kickboxing cardio workout set to hip hop music.  This is a 45 minute class at Crunch Fitness.

HighX – Created by Gabrielle Reece, this is a, “high intensity explosive training and conditioning program designed to maximize the body’s ability to burn fat, build muscle and optimize the body’s hormone and physiological response to exercise.”  Classes are available at select 24 Hour Fitness gyms.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts involve short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short recovery period. Many exercise classes incorporate HIIT. Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

Hip Hop Yoga – A Vinyasa yoga class set to hip hop music that brings a different, more upbeat energy than traditional yoga.  Held in select studios throughout the country.

Hula Hooping – Some classes use a regular hula hoop, others use a weighted one for an energetic workout.  Classes are at select studios throughout the country.  Weighted hoops and DVDS are available online for purchase.

Indoor Cycling – Also better known as Spinning, this is 30-75 minute class.  The intensity of the classes vary depending on the different body positions, pedal speeds and resistance used.  Regular indoor cycling riders may wear special sneakers that can clip into the pedals.

Insanity – Insanity is part of the Beachbody program that is offered as a class in some gyms.  This is a workout based on “max interval training” that provides HIIT with short rests in between.  No equipment is used, just your body weight for resistance.  The Insanity Base Kit DVD workout program is available online for purchase.

Jump – An exercise class that uses mini-trampolines that maximizes the benefits of rebounding.  Rebounder trampolines and DVDs are available for purchase online.

K Kardio
– This is a 60-minute cardio dance class set to K-Pop (Korean Pop music).

Kangaroo Jumps – These are specially designed rebound shoes that you wear during the workout.  Jumping fitness classes are somewhat limited, but free exercise videos are available online.

Kettlebell – Using a kettlebell you will work muscular and cardiovascular systems with dynamic, total body movements.  DVDs and kettlebells are available for purchase online.

Kickboxing – An exercise class that combines the punches of boxing with the kicks of karate.  This is a class held at many gyms across the country, sometimes called Cardio Kickboxing.  Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

Ki max – This utilizes a free-standing kickboxing bag and special gloves.  Techniques include boxing, Muay Thai and kickboxing.  Classes are either 45 or 55 minutes.

Line Dancing – This is a choreographed dance class with repeated steps and sequences.  People dance in one or more rows of lines to country western music. Many DVDS are available for purchase online.

Lyra – This class uses a suspended aerial hoop in which you twist, turn and wind your way through.  The class is offered at select Crunch Gyms as well as private aerial and acrobatic studios.

Metabolic Training – A high-intensity class that uses exercises that work many muscle groups.  The goal is to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout.

Muay Thai – Thai boxing, known as, “the art of eight limbs” because it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

Muscle Pump – A strength training class that works the body using free weights and bars.

Nia – A practice that combines, “dance, martial arts and mindfulness.”  It tones your body while transforming your mind.  These are 60 minute workouts that combine 52 simple moves.  A DVD is available for purchase online.

OULA Fitness – This class, “combines the depth and soulfulness of of a mind-body practice with the carefree playfulness of a living room dance party.”  The two official studios are located in Montana, but classes are offered throughout the country.

Pilates – A mind-body exercise that uses a floor mat or a variety of equipment.   It builds strength and tones while improving flexibility and agility.  There are all types of Pilates DVDs available.

Piloxing – A fusion of boxing and standing Pilates, creating both a physical and mental balance.  DVDs and the Piloxing System is available for purchase online.

PiYo – This is part of the Beachbody program that is offered as a fitness class at many gyms.  It’s a 60 minute class that combines, “the muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of yoga.”  The Chalene Johnson PiYo Base Kit is available for purchase online.

Pole Dancing –  Uses a pole to build and strengthen the core and upper body.  These classes can also be empowering and bring body confidence.  Classes are held in gyms and studios throughout the country.

POP Pilates – Developed by Cassy Ho, this is a, “total body, equipment-free workout that sculpts a rock solid core and a lean dancer’s body.”  Classes are held in gyms throughout the country.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

POUND – Using lightly weighted drumsticks, this full-body workout, “combines cardio, conditioning and strength training with yoga and pilates-inspired movements.”  The POUND system is available online for purchase.

Punk Rope – A mash-up of, “jump rope, recess, and rock ‘n’ roll.”  Using a jump rope to workout you improve cardio, endurance, coordination, agility and speed.  Classes are held at select gyms throughout the country.

Qi Gong – An ancient Chinese health method that includes gentle movements repeated a number of times. Some consider Qi Gong to not be exercise, but dynamic mediation.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

– Resistance, Intervals, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance, Diet.  A 50-minute workout that combines a cardio routine with weights and resistance.  An online DVD is available.

ShockWave Workout
–  A circuit challenge, total-body workout that includes a specially designed WaterRower machine.

SoulCycle – SoulCycle is a 45 minute indoor cycling class held at the branded studio.  This class focuses not only on the cardio ride, but also is a mind-body experience.  Rides take place in candle-lit studios with one-of-a-kind playlists.

Step Aerobics – A classic cardio workout that incorporates a choreographed routine with an adjustable rectangular platform.  DVDs and step platforms are available online.

Strong by Zumba – This class, “combines body weight, muscle conditioning, cardio and plyometric training moves synced to original music that has been specifically designed to match every single move.

SurfSET – This is a surf-inspired workout that takes place on a specially designed board.  The 45-minute workouts, “build balance, core strength, stability, agility, aerobic conditioning, power, lean muscle & coordination.”

SWERVE Fitness – Swerve is team inspired indoor cycling.  Classes are 45 minutes and are HIIT full-body workouts. Progress is tracked and team stats are posted during the class. The studios are currently based only in NYC.

Tabata – A, “HIIT workout featuring exercises that last four minutes.”  You complete eight sets of each exercise, pushing yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds.

Tai Chi – An ancient Chinese martial art practiced for defense training and its health benefits. It’s a mind body practice that involve certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus and breathing.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

Throwback Fitness – This is actually a fitness studio that focuses on fun, “by incorporating childhood playground games into our unique and intense full-body workout classes.”  Classes have a phys ed component and a recess component.

Tone House – An, “extreme athletic-based group fitness studio aimed at unleashing the inner athlete in everyone.”  Sessions are team oriented and no two training programs are exactly alike.  Studios are currently only located in NYC.

Trekking – An instructor-led class that has you walking/running on a treadmill and includes hills, sprints and/or power walking.

TRX –  TRX is suspension training bodyweight exercise that requires the use of a TRX Suspension Trainer that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight. It uses seven basic movements and over 100 exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability.

U-Jam Fitness  – An, “athletic urban dance fitness workout that combines dance and high energy music.” Classes are held at gyms throughout the country.

Urbhanize – A dance fitness program, “based on the urban moves from street dance and Hip Hop.”

UrbanKick – This class combines, “sports conditioning with kickboxing to give you a full body workout.  Classes take place in gyms throughout the country.

Vinyasa Yoga – A style of yoga, sometimes referred to as “flow” yoga.  It involves synchronizing the breath with a continuous flow of postures.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

Water Cycling – Like a regular spin class, but it takes place in the water.  Classes are available at select gyms.

Whipped! – A class that combines HIIT and circuit training.  You visit ten separate stations and use various equipment (kettle bells, exercise balls, etc.)  to complete exercises.  The 45-minute class is only available at Equinox gyms.

Xtreme Ride 
– An indoor cycling class that includes HIIT.

Yoga – An ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice.  Most unspecified yoga classes are Hatha yoga, which features a series of asanas or postures. Classes are held in gyms and studios throughout the country with many different variations (some are included in this list).  Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

Yogilates – A fusion of yoga and pilates with positive effects on the mind and body.  DVDs are available for purchase online.

Z :
Zumba – A mix of, “low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party.”  Many DVDs are available for purchase online.

Zumba Sentao – Using a chair as a partner, this class combines, “strength and resistance training with innovative dance moves.”

Zumba Step – Combines, “the awesome toning and strengthening power of Step aerobics, with the fun fitness-party” of Zumba.  DVDs with steps are available for purchase online.

Zumba Toning – By adding resistance with Zumba Toning Sticks or light weights, this class puts extra emphasis on toning and sculpting.  Online DVDs that include toning sticks are available for purchase online.

Zuu – A high intensity interval training class using primal moves in a 20 minute workout.  There are over 100 unique moves that target major and minor muscle groups.

Which of these exercise classes have you tried? 


Five on Friday {The Short School Week}

Yesterday, before school, my son asked me, “It’s Thursday already?!  This week went by so quickly!”  I told him that it was probably because he’d only been in school for a half-a day this week.  The kids were off on Monday for Martin Luther King Day, they had an early dismissal Tuesday and a snow day Wednesday.  Yes, it’s been a very short school week for them.  And yes, I am sick of the cold and snow! Now it’s Friday and we are ready for another weekend!  Sunday we are hosting our monthly supper club.  But otherwise, we have a pretty relaxing weekend. Here are five from this week:

1. Family Game Day –  Last weekend my daughter requested that we have a family game day.  We played a couple of the new games that the kids got for Christmas and enjoyed some snacks.  It was a fun and relaxing day.

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2. Reading – I am currently reading two books.  My fiction book is Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart and my non-fiction book is Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest.  I’ve just started both but am enjoying them so far.

Free willy.jpg

3. Watching – On the snow day I watched a movie with the kids.  After listening to the kids argue over what we were going to watch, I decided what we were going to watch.  I found Free Willy on Amazon Prime.  I had not seen this movie since I saw it in the movie theater in middle school.  And I cried (a little less than the first time I watched it).  Although both kids complained in the beginning about my movie choice, they both really liked it.

4.  Monthly Family Dinner –  This year, one of my goals was to have a monthly family dinner.  I will be writing an upcoming more detailed post about this.  But basically, I want us to cook a full meal together and then eat it in the dining room with our fancy china.  We decided to choose a new country each month to base our menu on, beginning with the letter A.  This month we had an Albanian dinner.  It was a fun and delicious night!  Here’s a peek at the baklava we made for dessert.  I don’t make it often enough but should.  It’s so good and relatively easy!

5.  Baking – When the kids were off on Wednesday, I had the two of them bake some muffins.  They made these Pineapple Muffins from Recipe Girl.  I supervised, but they did all the work!  I love having kids who enjoy cooking!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I posted a guide to Ice Skating in Westchester County and Beyond.

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



Ice Skating in Westchester County and Beyond

Ice skating is a fun winter family activity.  Here is all the info on ice skating in Westchester County and beyond.  Many of these rinks are indoors and offer year-round skating. If interested, many of these rinks also offer skating lessons and have ice hockey leagues.  Check the websites for specific information!

Please call or check the websites for the most up-to-date schedule and pricing information. 


*Ebersole Ice Rink
Delfino Park
110 Lake Street
White Plains, NY
(914) 422-1348

Ebersole Ice Rink is located in Delfino Park in White Plains.  Public skate sessions are 2 hours during the week and 2 1/2 hours on the weekends.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.

Admission:  $10/adult, $8/youth, $5/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $5.00/pair

*Edward J. Murray Memorial Skating Center
348 Tuckahoe Road
Yonkers, NY
(914) 377-6469

EJ Murray Memorial Skating Center is located in Yonkers.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  In general, weekend public skating times are  11 AM – 1:30 PM and 8:30 PM – 10:30 PM Saturdays and 12 PM – 3 PM Sundays.

Admission:  $11/general admission adults and children, $3/seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.00/pair

*Hommocks Park Ice Rink
140 Hommocks Road
Larchmont, NY 10538
(914) 834-1069

Hommocks Park Ice Rink is located in Larchmont.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  In general, weekend public skating times are 1:00 PM -5:15 PM Saturdays and 11 AM – 4 PM Sundays.  Friday evenings from 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM they hold a skating session with music and lights.

Admission:  $8.50/adult, $7.50/children (12 and under), $6.50/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.50/pair

*Ice Hutch
655 Garden Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
(914) 699-6787

Ice Hutch is an indoor skating rink located in Mount Vernon.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most skating sessions are 90 minutes.

Admission:  $8.00/adults and children, $5.00/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.00/pair

*Playland Ice Casino
100 Playland Parkway
Rye, NY 10580
(914) 481-5941

Playland Ice Casino is located in Rye.  There are two rinks, the Main Rink and the Studio Rink.  Between September and April the rink hosts a Friday night teen skate with a DJ and black lights.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Skating sessions are between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Admission:  $9.75/adult, $7.75/children 10 and under, $5.75/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.25/pair

*Westchester Skating Academy
91 Fairview Park Drive
Elmsford, NY 10523
(914) 347-8232

Westchester Skating Academy is located in Elmsford.  There are two rinks, the USA rink and the Canada rink. Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times. Most skating sessions are 2 hours.  Friday nights they have a live DJ and light show.

Admission:  $11/adults, $10/children (10 and under), $6.25/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.50/pair


*Brewster Ice Arena
63 Fields Lane
Brewster, NY 10509
(845) 279-2229

Brewster Ice Arena is an indoor rink in Brewster.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most skating sessions are either 90 minutes or 2 hours.  Friday nights they have a skating session with a live DJ.

Admission:  $8.50/adult, $6.50/children (12 and under) and seniors, $6.25/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Friday Night DJ Skate (8:15 PM – 10:15 PM):  $10 (includes skate rental)
Skate Rental:  $3.50/pair
Walker Rental:  $2.00


*Bear Mountain Ice Rink
Bear Mountain State Park
Route 9W North
Bear Mountain, NY 10911
(845) 786-2701  x266

This rink is outdoors and uncovered so dress warmly!  Lockers are available.  They sell refreshments.  There are benches both inside and outside.  Public skating sessions are 90 minutes in length. They are held Friday evenings 8-9:30 PM and beginning at 10 AM Saturday and Sunday.  There will also be additional sessions during the holiday break.  Check the website’s holiday hours for additional times.

Parking:  $10.00
Admission:  $5.00
Non-skaters and seniors:  $2.00
Skate rental:  $5.00/pair
Mastercard and Visa are accepted.

*Palisades Center Ice Rink
Palisades Center
2900 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, NY 10994
(845) 353-4855

This is an indoor ice rink located on the 4th floor of the Palisades Center mall.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most public skating sessions are 90 minutes.  They have additional times during the holiday break.

Admission:  $10.00/adult, $8.00/child and seniors
Sate rental:  $4.00/pair


4 Fitness Podcasts for Motivation {Self-Care Saturday}

4 Fitness podcasts to help motivate and educate you on all things fitness and health.

As many of you know, I love to listen to podcasts.  As I focus on exercise this month, I have been listening to different health and fitness podcasts to help educate and motivate myself.  Here are the top four fitness podcasts that I’ve been listening to.  These are all podcasts that are still producing new weekly episodes.  When I try out podcasts, I often listen to the most recent couple of episodes as well as the first couple.

Ascend Lifestyle Performance Podcast

Ascend Lifestyle Performance Podcast – This podcast is hosted by Tanja Shaw. Formerly known as the Fit and Vibrant You Podcast, it features conversations about, “fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, mindset and inspiration so you can think better, eat better and move better.”  There are currently 98 episodes to listen to with a mix of interviews and just Tanja talking on selected topics.  This podcast has recently only been releasing new episodes on the first of the month.


FIT CHICKS CHAT–  This has become my favorite fitness podcast to listen to.  Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn host this podcast where they, “talk all things fitness, nutrition and wellness for women to help you live your healthiest and fiercest life inside and out.” Some episodes they do interviews, other times it’s just the two of them talking.  It’s like a conversation with friends and not preachy at all.  They have a website where they feature show notes from their podcasts and include resources and links to things that they talk about during the show.

Fitness, Food, and Freedom

Fitness, Food and Freedom – Jordan Stolz hosts this three times a week podcast that focuses on fitness, food and freedom.  The weekly episodes include Motivation Monday, Workout Wednesday and Foodie Friday.  Each episode is only about 20 minutes. There are 146 past episodes that you can catch up on! Check out the podcast’s website for additional resources.

Get-Fit Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up

Get-Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up – The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up are just like the title states – quick, short episodes (about 20 minutes each).  This is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips franchise.  Brock Armstrong hosts more than 370+ exercise-focused episodes.  Although the podcast sounds scripted (which it is since he also has a written post with the same exact info on his website), he packs a lot of useful info into a short amount of time.  This is not a podcast that I can listen to every week.  Instead, I like to pick and choose topics of interest to me.

What are your favorite fitness podcasts to listen to?


Five on Friday {The Warm Weekend}

Happy Friday!  The kids made it through their first full week of school in 2018!  Amazing!  And the temps today and tomorrow are supposed to reach 50 degrees F.  Although it may be rainy, I’ll take it!  This was a busy week around here.  Last weekend we took down our Christmas tree.  It’s been too cold to take down the outside lights and decorations though.  Here are five from this week:

1.Supper Club get-together – One of the couples in our supper club was sick and missed out on our New Year’s eve pizza dinner and cookie exchange.  So we all met up last weekend for some game playing and cookies.  Then we went out to lunch together at a local diner.  Now we have more cookies to enjoy!  These Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies and Snickerdoodles are delicious!

2. Family Fun –  Our family was invited to dine at El Balon Cantina, a local Mexican Cantina.  This was a new-to-us restaurant.  We love trying new places and eating delicious food and this fit the bill.  We enjoyed guacamole, a variety of tacos, a spicy shrimp brown rice bowl and brisket enchiladas.  We also split a caramel flan and fried cheesecake for dessert.  (Link to full review is below!).

3. Social Media to Real Life – This week I met up with Sharon from Instagram account cookingwithkidsny.  We met via Instagram and discovered that we live near each other.  We finally got to meet up in real life!


4. Reading – I’m currently reading the suspense/thriller Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds.  I’m about half-way through and so far it’s a 3 star review.  I’m not rushing to read it, which usually is the mark of a good suspense book.

5. Self-Care Saturday/Bootcamp Class – If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that this year I am all about self-care.  To help me and hopefully inspire others, I’ve started a Self-Care Saturday post.  January I’m focusing on exercise.  For two weeks now I’ve taken a bootcamp class at my gym.  This is a new-to-me class and it’s a killer of a workout!  After the first night of class, every muscle in my body hurt for 3 days (not really, but it felt like every muscle!).  I went back again this week and was barely sore the next day!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Saturday – I wrote about Building an Exercise Routine.

Tuesday I shared my December 2017 reads.

Thursday I wrote about our lunch at El Balon Cantina.

I’m linking up with Andrea, Katie and April.  Have a great weekend!


Lunch at El Balon Cantina

(Thank you to El Balon Cantina for hosting us!  All opinions are our own.)

El Balon Cantina on Market Street at Ridge Hill in Yonkers.

Living in Northern Westchester County, we don’t make it down to Yonkers very often.  However, last weekend our family ventured down to Ridge Hill, for lunch at El Balon Cantina.  El Balon Cantina is a Mexican Cantina located on the corner of Market Street, near T.J. Maxx and the Legoland Discovery Center.

The interior of the restaurant is bright and colorful.  There is a variety of seating including booths, tables, and seats at the bar.  My kids loved the optical illusion floor!  A large bar is situated in the middle of the restaurant.

There are two different foosball tables in the restaurant, which are great for entertaining the kids (or adults!) while they wait for their food.

One of El Balon Cantina’s most popular drinks is their margarita.  Since we were there on the weekend, my husband opted to sample a Chipotle Bloody Maria, one of the restaurant’s brunch cocktails.  This drink had a spicy kick!  The kids shared a non-alcoholic frozen strawberry daiquiri and I stuck with water.  We started with chips and guacamole while we decided on what else to order.

The weekend brunch menu has staples like Huevos Rancheros Tostadas, Chilequiles Verdes, Tostada Francesca (Mexican french toast) and a variety of egg dishes (burrito, avocado omelette, etc.).  The restaurant has a children’s menu for those 12 and under.  It has a variety of choices including a quesadilla, chicken tenders, hot dog, mac & cheese that are reasonably priced at $7 and includes one side.  Drinks are additional.  Although our 9 and 11-year-old children were with us, they did not order from the children’s menu. Instead, as we often do, we opted to order a variety of dishes from the regular menu and share.

Sriracha Pepper Shrimp Brown Rice Bowl from El Balon Cantina.

I saw the brown rice bowl and knew that I wanted it with Sriracha Pepper Shrimp.  I will be honest, this bowl is smaller than I was expecting, especially since we wanted to share.  Everyone had a little taste, and I ate the rest.  It was spicy but tasty! I loved all the veggies that were in this.

The kids, especially my son, love tacos.   We ordered three different tacos – Crispy Panko Shrimp ($4), Grilled Baja Fish ($3) and Chorizo ($4).  Look at all the toppings on these tacos!  There were so many tasty looking tacos on the menu that I’m going to have to go back! The Falafel, Calexico and Barbacoa tacos are still on my need to try list!  If I was making a meal out of only tacos, I’d likely add a side of rice and beans and fried brussels sprouts.

We rounded out our meal with the BBQ Brisket Enchiladas which came with rice and beans.  These enchiladas were tasty with big chunks of brisket.

El Balon offers a variety of tasty desserts!

We of course couldn’t leave without sampling dessert!  We decided we would choose two and share.  My husband immediately saw the Caramel Flan and knew he wanted to try it.  It took us awhile to decide between the Churros, Fried Cheesecake or Balon Sundae for the second dessert.  But we finally opted for the Fried Cheesecake.

Caramel Flan and Fried Chesecake from El Balon Cantina in Yonkers.

We made two great choices.  The flan was creamy, but firm and wasn’t overly sweet.  While I’m not a huge fan of flan, my husband and kids thought it was delicious.  We all enjoyed the fried cheesecake too.  The outer shell was crispy and dusted with cinnamon sugar.  The inside was filled with creamy cheesecake.

El Balon Cantina is a reasonably-priced, family-friendly restaurant.  It’s a perfect place to grab a quick lunch or dinner after a day of shopping or family fun (Rockin’ Jump, Legoland Discovery Center and Showcase Cinema de Lux are all located in the shopping center).  For those of you who live closer to the restaurant, they have lots of weekday specials.  On Mondays frozen margaritas are $7 all evening long, on Taco Tuesday they have all you can eat tacos in 60 minutes for $19.95,  50 cent wings on Wednesday and $7 frozen margaritas and $5 beers on Thirsty Thursday.  Plenty of reasons to stop by and give  them a try!

The Details:

El Balon Cantina
Ridge Hill
211 Market Street
Yonkers, NY 10710
(914) 376-6800
For reservations call the restaurant.

Hours:  Open daily, 11:30 AM – 11:30 PM

Parking:  Paid parking in garages ($3 for up to 3 hours),  limited metered street parking

Price: $$ (Most starters under $10, tacos $3-$4/each, mains (enchiladas, fajitias, rice bowls $11-$18)


December 2017 Reads

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It’s the second Tuesday of the month and time to share my December 2017 reads in Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  December was a good reading month for me.  I only read seven books but all except one were four or five stars.  January has gotten off to a good reading start, so I hope to continue the trend!

3 Stars


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I had always thought that this was a historical fiction book that I wouldn’t be interested in.  Then, a friend told me about how good the show was on Hulu.  I’m all about reading the book before I see the movie or show, so I had to read it. In a dystopian future, where births are declining,  Offred and the other Handmaids have one job – to become pregnant.  The book delves into Offred’s past in random flashbacks.  I have to say overall the book has an interesting premise.  However, I felt like there was too much unanswered that left me unsatisfied as a reader.  I am curious to see the show now though!

4 Stars


Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate –  This book has two consecutive story lines taking place as you read.  There’s present day South Carolina where Avery Stafford, raised in wealth and privilege discovers information about her grandmother that sends her digging into the family’s past.  Then there’s 1939 Memphis, Tennessee, where 12-year-old Rill Foss’ family is torn apart when she and her siblings are taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage.  I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading, just that it was the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction.  And I like a good historical fiction book.  It was more horrifying to learn that this book is based on actual events that I had no idea about.


The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter – Two sisters, Charlotte and Samantha, are brutally attacked and one is left for dead.  This is after they witness the intruders shoot and kill their mother.  Twenty-eight years later, the sisters barely speak, living separate lives.  Charlotte is witness to a school violence incident that rattles her enough for her husband to call Samantha to come.  I am fairly new to Karin Slaughter.  While I don’t want to start either of her series, I did read Pretty Girls and enjoyed it.  Although this one had a slow start for me, about half-way through I couldn’t put it down.


Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak – The Birch family is spending Christmas in quarantine Emma and Andrew’s oldest daughter Olivia is returning after helping to treat a Haag (ebola-like) epidemic in Liberia.  Younger sister Phoebe has just become engaged. The family of four, have not been together in years and are not used to the close proximity.  Each of them is harboring a secret that of course ends up coming out during the seven days of quarantine.  The book is told from alternating points of view, in short chapters.  Overall, I found this to be an engaging, family drama read.


This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell – (c/o netgalley)  Jessie wants a one week break from her boyfriend Chris.  The he ends up vanishing.  Since they started dating, Chris has written her a love letter every week.  This book is a note that she writes to him as she tries to find him.  We get a history of their relationship and discover why she wanted the break.  There’s some racial issues (she’s Caucasian, Chris is African-American) and mental illness issues addressed (hoarding, depression). This was a decent YA read, but a bit heavy.  I just wish that more time was spent addressing some of the serious issues touched upon (don’t want to go into more detail and reveal spoilers!).


Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand –  Every year in December I try to read a couple of holiday-themed reads.  I’ve heard such good things about the Winter series.  This is the first book, and is about a bed and breakfast that shares the name of the title of the book.  Right before Christmas, Kelley Quinn, owner of Winter Street, discovers that his wife Mitzi is having an affair.  His four grown children are all dealing with their own issues.  They all end up together on Christmas, which is of course filled with drama.  Despite the drama, this is a heart-warming holiday read that leaves off unfinished.  Luckily, I know that this book is part of a series and the story continues. But if I had read this when it first came out I’d be unsatisfied with the ending.

5 Stars


Dear Martin by Nic Stone – Justyce McAllister is arrested by a white cop when helping his drunk girlfriend.  After experiencing this racial injustice, he turns to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for some answers.  He tries to live like Dr. King would and writes him letters.  But when Justyce and his best friend Manny end up involved in a shooting, he doesn’t know if he can live like Martin.  Fans of The Hate U Give will most likely enjoy this book.  It touches upon the same powerful issues of police brutality, racial profiling and racism that is too prevalent in today’s society.


Building an Exercise Routine {Self-Care Saturday}

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Welcome to Self-Care Saturday!  As I explained in this post, my goal this year is to focus on self-care.  Each Saturday I will be posting about different self-care topics to hopefully give you ideas to help you focus on yourself, and to hopefully keep me on track as well!  Today’s post is all about building an exercise routine.

January is probably the worst time to focus on exercise.  Everyone makes new year resolutions to lose weight and the gym is packed.  However, it is one of the areas of self-care that I really need to prioritize.  I’ve had a gym membership for almost a year and a half now.  I’ve been regularly using my membership (go me!) but I’ve been super lax about it.  I’ll take a class here or there but have not gotten into a routine or been very serious about going.

First, I know I need to choose exercise that I enjoy.  I prefer taking exercise classes over running in place on a treadmill for 30 minutes.  Even though I can’t dance for the life of me, I love the music in the Zumba classes.  As an Obliger (for those of you who are familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies), I also respond well to an instructor telling me what to do.  She wants me to do 20 squats, I will do 20 squats.

Part of my goal with exercising is to lose weight. Although technically not overweight, I am currently at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been.  My sporadic gym attendance has not helped me get in shape and I know that overall, I am not as healthy as I can and should be.

 I’ve learned that an effective exercise routine includes both cardiovascular exercise and strength training.  While I hate that treadmill, I may have to overcome my adversity to it.  I’ve also read that as a beginner (yes, I’m calling myself a beginner) I need to aim for at least three 30 minute workouts a week, where I’m giving 100%.  So, my goal is to get to the gym at least three times a week.  “Too busy” is a myth and we make time for the things that we find important.  I need to prioritize exercise on my “important list” and truly make it a habit.

One week into January and I’ve made it to the gym twice (check!).  One day I did an elliptical-like machine for 25 minutes (I know, not the recommended 30 minutes!).  The second time I took a boot camp class.  This was the first time that I’ve ever taken this class.  Two days later and I am still sore ALL over.  This was a full-body workout that my body was not used to.  Although it was killer, I feel good, and I want to go back again next week! I honestly think I would have gone to the gym at least one more time but, “bomb cyclone” winter storm.

In addition, this week I started the True: 30 Day Yoga Journey with Adriene, from Yoga with Adriene.  This is a 30 day journey that you can start any time.  So far, I’ve done all four days.

If you don’t belong to a gym, I suggest checking out YouTube videos.  You can workout right in the privacy of your own home.  I personally have not tried enough of these workouts to recommend any, but if you have, please leave recommendations in the comments!

For some additional motivation, check out a fellow blogger friend Tanya’s post, “How an Avowed Exercise Hater Started Regularly Working Out.”

By putting it out here in the blogosphere, and holding myself accountable to you readers, I’m hoping that my Obliger self can stick to this exercise routine!

Here’s to getting in shape in 2018!  What does your exercise routine look like?  


Five on Friday {The First of 2018}

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Yeah, it’s Friday!  It’s also the first Friday of 2018!  I love the start of the new year.  To me, it equals a fresh start and a year of possibilities.  While I stopped making resolutions years ago, I have decided that this year I am focusing on self-care and myself.  Although it was a short week of school for the kids, it was a rough one.  Staying up until almost 2 AM on New Year’s eve and then having to go back to school on Tuesday was a killer.  Luckily, (or unlucky!) they got to enjoy a snow day yesterday from the “bomb cyclone” that hit the East Coast.  We stayed nice and warm inside!  We have a pretty relaxing weekend and the kids will hopefully get readjusted to their regular schedules.  Here are five from this week!


1. Reading –  I am currently reading I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll.  This is a mystery/thriller, right in my comfort genre and a great way to start my 2018 reading.  According to Goodreads, I read 90 books last year.  This year I set my goal for 75 book.

2. New Year’s Eve – Normally, we celebrate New Year’s Eve at home with tasty snacks and family game night.  This year, we had our monthly supper club on New Year’s Eve.  We had our annual pizza theme and cookie exchange with all the kids.  I made an eggplant parm pizza and my husband made a shrimp scampi pizza.  There was also a buffalo chicken pizza and a mussels fra diavalo pizza (and a plain cheese pizza for the kids).  It was a delicious evening!

3. Snow Days – There’s nothing like a snow day.  I know I loved the unexpected day off more as a child.  But even as an adult, I enjoy being forced to stay inside in comfy clothes all day, relaxing.  Yesterday was the first snow day the kids had this school year, and it was a doozy!  The winds were really bad and the temps are so cold right now that going out to play in the snow wasn’t even an option!

4. Instant Pot – My husband and I received an Instant Pot for Christmas.  I’m excited to learn how to use all the different features.  So far, my husband has made hard-boiled eggs and mashed potatoes in it this past week.  We are loving it!  If anyone has any Instant Pot recipe recommendations, send them my way!

5. Puzzle Time –  I haven’t done a puzzle in ages.  This year my son has become the biggest Harry Potter fan.  Santa brought him a Harry Potter puzzle and we (mostly me!) have been working on it.  I forget how relaxing it is for me to work on puzzles.  I sit and listen to a podcast and it’s just so enjoyable.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared more about my year of self-care.

Thursday I posted The Tweens Read December 2017.

I’m linking up with Andrea, April and Katie!  Have a great weekend!