Westchester County Staycation Fun {For Tweens}

With all of the recent snow storms we’ve had, for many Westchester County families, this upcoming Spring break has been significantly shortened.  Some of you may have booked your vacations weeks ago.  However, for those of you who have not, here are some ideas to make the most of those few days off.  There is lots of fun to be had close to home.  Enjoy some Westchester County staycation fun with some of these great ideas, especially useful to entertain the tweens!

A Maze in Pottery – Spend some time painting pottery!  With over 300 different items to paint, everyone in the family will be able to find something!

Bounce & Trampoline Fun – Sit and watch your kids tire themselves out as they bounce and jump.  Local venues include Bounce (Poughkeepsie), Bounce U (Elmsford) Rockin’ Jump (Yonkers), Rockin’ Jump (Mount Kisco), and Sky Zone (New Rochelle).

Bowling –  Westchester County has several bowling alleys including Bowlmor (White Plains), Cortlandt Lanes (Cortlandt Manor), Homefield Bowl (Yonkers), Jefferson Valley Lanes (Jefferson Valley), Roc ‘n’ Bowl (New Rochelle) and Spins Bowl (Mount Kisco).

Escape the Mystery Room – With nearby locations in Yorktown Heights at the Jefferson Valley Mall and in West Nyack at the Palisades Center, this is a fun family outing for older children.  You can get more info and read about our family’s experience.

Hudson River Museum – Enjoy a trip to the Hudson River Museum.  April 2 through April 6 students on break are welcome to enjoy a FREE planetarium show when accompanied by an adult.

Ice Skating – If you haven’t had enough cold weather fun, Westchester County is home to several ice skating rinks. Check out our guide to ice skating in Westchester County for all the info.

iFLY –  Do you have adventurous kids?  They might enjoy indoor skydiving!  iFLY Westchester is located in the Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers.

Muse Paintbar – With locations in White Plains and Yonkers, at Ridge Hill), enjoy an afternoon of painting.

Palisades Climb – Inside the Palisades Mall, your kids will enjoy exploring the 75 elements that make up the world’s tallest indoor ropes challenge course.  Read all about the fun that our family had!

Spins Hudson – Recently opened in Peekskill, Spins Hudson has laser tag, a ropes course, arcade and bocce and shuffleboard.

Sporttime USA – Although a little dated, there is a lot of fun to be had at Sporttime USA.  There are lots of video games, batting cages, lazer tag, and even a couple of rides (Bumper Cars, Himalaya Roller Coaster and Mini Twister).





Five on Friday {St. Patrick’s Day Weekend}

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Happy Friday! This has been a super busy week.  The kids ended up having a snow day on Tuesday.  My son had his science fair.  I am super nervous excited because tonight and tomorrow my son is starring in his school’s 3rd and 4th grade school play.  They are doing a production of the Magic Tree House Knight at Dawn and he is Jack for the first half of the play/musical.  Our weekend will be filled with the play and seeing family who are coming to watch it.  And of course hopefully enjoying some corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day!  Here are five from this week:
Watching – We don’t get HBO.  But I recently discovered that season one of Big Little Lies was available from the library.  So, I’ve been binge watching this since it’s due back to the library on Monday!


Reading – This week I finished up Still Me by Jojo Moyes.  This was a great book and I really enjoyed reading more of Lou’s story.

Family Time – Much of our family time revolves around food!  Last weekend we drove to a town about 45 minutes away to go out for lunch.  We made two stops, one to a dumpling restaurant where we had two kinds of dumplings (the fried beef and onion are showed above and we also had steamed pork and seafood ones).  My kids LOVE dumplings and these were some of the best dumplings we’ve had.  Then we went to a Vietnamese restaurant, where we shared some pho, a bahn mi and some pork bun moc.  Both of these places were recommended to me by an Instagram follower who lives near me.

A Wrinkle in Time


Mother-Son Date – Last weekend the movie A Wrinkle In Time came out.  Since we read the book together, the two of us went to go see it.  I cannot tell you the last time that I went to a movie on opening weekend!  The movie was alright.  It was a bit different from the book.  But I enjoyed the cast.

Image result for breyers birthday cake ice cream
Ice Cream – Breyers Ice Cream Cake ice cream has become a recent favorite. If you like Carvel ice cream cake, you will most likely enjoy this ice cream flavor as much as I do.  It is vanilla and chocolate ice cream, but the chocolate ice cream has the little crunchies.  I may buy this ice cream and a flavor I don’t like, and don’t let the rest of the family eat my ice cream!

ICYI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared my February 2018 reads.

Wednesday I posted what was Rocking My Happy this week.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!


Rocking My Happy {3.14.18}

Here are some things rocking my happy this week:

*Giving our bedroom a deep clean including a major dusting and vacuuming and clearing off my nightstand.

*Eating the most delicious dumplings.

*A mother-son movie date.

*Getting to bed early on the weekend and not feeling affected by daylight savings.

*Signing up again for the Ipsy Glam bag, even though I’m wait-listed.

*Getting back into Yoga with Adriene.

*Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love finding new books to read!

$2 medium beverages at Dunkin Donuts Happy Hour.

*Getting to sleep a little later on a work morning because of a 3-hour delay!



February 2018 Reads

Ratings and reviews of my February2018 reads.

(This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our disclosure policy for more information.)

It’s one of my favorite days of the month, Steph and Jana’s Shows Us Your Books link up!  I love getting to share my recent reads as well as get a bunch of new reading recommendations.  Although February is a short month, I think I read a decent amount.  Especially since I returned to work full-time at the end of January, which means my reading time has substantially decreased.  Even better, most of my February 2018 reads were 4 stars!

3 Stars


52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life by Andrea Owen – This was my only non-fiction read this month.  So far, I’ve been good with my goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a month.  This book is made up of 52 very short chapters, where each chapter is a different tip.  While this book didn’t really tell me anything new or wow me, Owen provided lots of reminders on how to live your best life.

4 Stars


The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson  – The “gardener” has created a beautiful garden of butterflies.  The butterflies just happen to be kidnapped young girls.  But something has happened and the garden is no more.  The FBI question Maya, one of the survivors where we are told about the gardener via her stories and flashbacks.  After reading about this book from several bloggers in past linkups, I had to read it.  This is a disturbing story, yet I had to continue reading it to see how it all unfolded.  It’s the first in a three book series, which I now want to continue.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – I have read so many rave reviews of this book on these linkups and I can finally understand why.  Eleanor is such a quirky, likeable character.  I enjoyed this book and can see how she has been compared to Ove in A Man Called Ove.


Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner – I thought I’d start listening to audio books on my commute to work.  I listened to this book and then my cd player/radio died.  I’ve been two weeks now without any radio/cd player as we wait for one more part my husband needs to replace it. So, no more audio books after this one for awhile. Live to Tell is the fourth book in the D.D. Warren series.  In this book an entire family is murdered, with the father as the primary suspect.  Detective D.D. Warren is assigned to the case and as she starts investigating, realizes that there’s more going on. I’ve been trying to avoid starting new series, especially those with a lot of books in them.  However, I had started this series way back and it was nice to start back up with Gardner’s Detective D.D. Warren series.  This was a really good book to listen to on audio, with multiple narrators.


Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine – Gina Royal accidentally discovers her husband’s secret…..that he is a serial killer.  Even though he’s in prison, people still think that she was involved with her husband’s crimes and have targeted her and her children.  They have been living a life on the run, constantly changing names and moving.  Stillhouse Lake is actually starting to feel like home when a dead body turns up and they start receiving threatening letters.  This is the first book in a series, which I didn’t know until I read it…..it ends with a cliffhanger!  The author includes a soundtrack at the end of the book of songs that accompanied her during the writing of this book.  I found it to be a unique concept to include and had fun listening to the songs on YouTube, though some were too heavy metal for my liking.  Overall, a great, suspense read for those that like this genre.


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – This story revolves around three characters, the husband, the ex-wife and the new fiancee.  It’s hard to say much more without giving away spoilers.  This was a surprisingly enjoyable suspense read with several plot twists that kept me guessing. I recently read that it’s going to be made into a movie, which I think will be pretty good.



Five on Friday {In Like a Lion}

March has truly come in like a lion.  We have had two major storms in less than a week.  The kids have not been in school since last Friday!  Goodbye spring break, since they’ve used all their snow days and then some!   March was supposed to be a super busy month for us, but many events have been cancelled or postponed.  Spring cannot come soon enough!  We have had sad news from various family members as well, making it a not-so-great week.  However, there have also been several happy moments as well which I shared in Wednesday’s Rocking My Happy post.  Here are five from this week:


Reading – I just finished reading Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.  I’m not sure if I’m getting tired of the suspense genre or I’m just picking not-so-great-books.  But this was just an okay read for me.

Black Panther film poster.jpg

Watching – Sunday we went to see Black Panther.  My son had been really wanting to see this movie.  While I almost passed on it, my husband convinced me to go and enjoy some time with the family.  I have to admit that I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would.  We also watched Wonder.  They did a great job turning the book into a movie.

Family Time – Last weekend we went out to lunch and then went duck pin bowling.  I’ll have a post up on the blog soon! But for those unfamiliar, duck pin bowling uses smaller pins and smaller balls.  I hadn’t been duck pin bowling since I was a child myself.  It was different and fun family experience.

Eating – Before we went bowling last weekend we stopped for lunch at JK’s Restaurant.  My husband ate here when he was a kid.  Since we were in the area bowling he suggested we have lunch here.  We enjoyed this delicious spread and shared some milkshakes.  Definitely not a healthy meal, but pretty tasty!


Listening – I found a new podcast that I’ve been enjoying.  Forever35 is hosted by Kate and Doree.  The two talk all things beauty, nutrition, and self-care.  It’s fun to listen while I commute to work.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!


Rocking My Happy {3.7.18}

Today we are enjoying another snow day as we get hit with the allegedly worst snow storm of the year.  Within the past few days we have received a lot of sad news from our family and our community.  It’s very difficult when you know people are in pain and you can’t do anything but offer words of encouragement.  These events have made me even more grateful for everything I have.  While it’s been difficult to be “rocking my happy” this week, I realize that self-care also includes mental health. Although these past few days have been rough, I’ve found that the little things can bring a smile or help me make it through the day.

Rocking my happy this week:

*Coffee and strawberry milkshakes.

*Not losing electricity during the bad Nor’easter we had last week and hopefully not losing power today as well.

*Giving up on reading a book that I wasn’t enjoying.

*Finishing reading A Wrinkle In Time with my son, right before the movie comes out.

*Having my parents over for a weeknight dinner.

*Not having to set the alarm clock last night.




Five on Friday {First Weekend in March}

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Yeah, it’s Friday!  Another week is in the books!  I cannot believe how quickly the week went by.  As I sit here writing this Thursday night, we are unsure if tomorrow will be a snow day.  As of now, the previous rain we thought we were getting has turned into a possible 6 -12 inches of snow!  It’s crazy after we had temps this weeks in the high 50’s!  I can’t believe we are already in the month of March.  This is a busy month for us, especially my son.  He has a class play, science fair, Cub Scout Pinewood Derby and he stars as one of the leads in the 3rd/4th grade musical.  It will be an exciting but busy month!  Here’s an update for those of you who read about the audio book CD fiasco in last week’s Five on Friday.  My husband took the CD player out of the car and was able to get the CD out. Phew!  However, he discovered the CD player itself is broken.  He’s going to replace it with another CD player.  In the meantime, I’m without a car stereo.  I’ve been listening to podcasts on my commute.  I just miss the clock and not knowing what time it is while I”m driving! Here are five from this week:


Reading – Yesterday I finished reading Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino.  This was such a great contemporary romance.  It was refreshing after all the suspense/thrillers I was reading and it was a very enjoyable read.

Supper Club – Last Saturday we had our monthly supper club get-together.  This month’s theme was red, in honor of Valentine’s Day.  I made a Roasted Red Pepper Soup and my husband made Strawberry Sorbet. Even though the kids don’t usually go to our supper club dinners, my daughter made brownie pops and red velvet cake pops for us to bring.  She had gotten a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker and was excited to put it to use.

Dunkirk Film poster.jpg

Watching – Last weekend we watched the movie Dunkirk.  This war-movie was nominated for many awards. I didn’t realize that the whole movie was about the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II. My husband is a big history fan and enjoys these types of movies.  However, I found the movie to be a bit slow and wasn’t the biggest fan.

Date Night – Last Friday night, my husband and I went out to dinner for an unplanned date night.  My daughter was at a Girl Scout event and my son was invited to a friend’s for a sleep over.  I realized that my husband and I were on our own for dinner.  So, we went to a local, new-to-us restaurant and enjoyed a quick dinner date.  We ordered wings, onion rings, nachos and milk shakes.  Definitely not the healthiest of meals, but it was delicious!

Mother-Son Date – Sunday my son and I went into NYC.  We had brunch at Charlie Palmer at the Knick and then went to see SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical.  You can read more about our day in this week’s post.  Brunch was delicious and even though I’m not a fan of the television show, the Broadway show was excellent!

Linking up with Andrea, Katie and April.

Hope you have a great weekend!  


Brunch and a Broadway Show! {Charlie Palmer at the Knick and SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical}

(Thank you to the Charlie Palmer Group and SpongeBob the Broadway Musical for hosting us.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Dinner and a movie makes for a great date with your significant other.  If you are looking for a fun day out on the town with your child, how about brunch and a Broadway show?!  My children love breakfast foods. I know if we go out for breakfast they will always find something on the menu that they will enjoy. And, really, who doesn’t love bacon and eggs? For a super special parent-child outing, seeing a Broadway show is a real treat! Enjoying brunch before a weekend matinee ensures that you don’t get home too late.  This is especially important when seeing a Sunday show, when your kids probably have school the next day!

My 9 year old son and I recently took a trip into New York City for a mother-son brunch and a Broadway show date.  We started with brunch at Charlie Palmer at the Knick.  This family-friendly restaurant is located on the fourth floor of the Knickerbocker hotel, in the heart of Times Square.

The decor of the restaurant is modern but inviting.  As my son noted: “This is the fanciest-looking restaurant I’ve been to!”  Chef Charlie Palmer creates American cuisine that is sourced locally from the Hudson Valley. For those on the hungrier side, the breakfast menu includes both a Continental and American Breakfast.  The a la carte menu includes a couple of different omelettes, pancakes, waffles, french toast and more. The restaurant also has a different children’s menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Although my son sometimes orders from the adult menu, he opted for the buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries from the kid’s menu and added a side of bacon. After seeing the portion sizes, he could have likely finished a meal off the adult menu. As it was, he devoured his pancakes in record time. Breakfast is his favorite meal!

I ordered the Midtown Eggs Benedict.  Two poached organic eggs were served on a potato rosti with Bearnaise sauce, surrounded by chunks of lobster.  This was a decadent and delicious dish!

After we had ordered, a basket of pastries was brought to the table.  We enjoyed these after our brunch to end our meal on a sweet note.  My son especially enjoyed the chocolate-filled croissant. The flaky layers of pastry filled with a sweet chocolate filling was delicious!

I’m not going to lie.  Prices at Charlie Palmer, even for breakfast, are on the higher end of the price spectrum.  My eggs Benedict was definitely a splurge, priced at $26. However, if you are going to have a parent-child date, it’s nice to be a little fancy and treat yourself!

We had 11 AM reservations, which gave us plenty of time to eat before our 1 PM show.  Our food arrived quickly after we ordered.  However, we were not made to feel rushed at all.  After finishing our meal, we sat a bit while I enjoyed my coffee. Service was excellent, with our server being attentive but not annoyingly so.

Charlie Palmer at the Knick is super close to many of the Broadway theatres.  After our delicious brunch, we only had to walk a couple of blocks to the Palace Theatre to see the show. “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  SpongeBob SquarePants…..”  If you have tweens you are probably very familiar with that song!  Did you know that the Nickelodeon television show made its Broadway debut this past December?  I have to be honest, my son really wanted to see this musical.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m not the biggest fan of the animated talking sponge.  But guess what?  I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy the musical.

As soon as you enter the Palace Theatre you are transported into an underwater wonderland.  From beginning to end, guests are treated to a feast for the senses.  Giant fluorescent set pieces glow under black lights. The cast are dressed in bright, colorful costumes. The continuously changing sets are filled with lights, smoke and more.  There are lots of sound effects and the songs are catchy. Most songs were written by artists like Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Plain White T’s, T.I. and more, specifically for this production.  The show ends with bubbles, confetti and bouncing beach balls.

One of the first things you will notice once the show starts is that SpongeBob is not actually shaped like a sponge.  Ethan Slater, does a phenomenal job in taking on the role of SpongeBob.  He has the voice, gestures and even the laugh spot-on!  Although you don’t have to be familiar with the characters from the show, it helps, so you can fully appreciate how well the show was cast.  There is even a story line to the musical.  Bikini Bottom is in danger of being destroyed by a volcanic eruption.  While most of the residents want to leave, SpongeBob with the help of his friends Patrick and Sandy attempt to save their beloved home.

Although the audience was mostly comprised of families with children (right around my son’s age or younger), I think this show will appeal to the masses.  For anyone who loves a good Broadway production, you will not be disappointed. SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical is a fun and entertaining show.  This is a perfect musical for a parent-child/family day out and both my son and I give it two thumbs up!

The Details:

Charlie Palmer at the Knick
The Knickerbocker Hotel
6 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
(212) 204-4983

Hours: Breakfast 7 AM – 11 AM, Lunch 11:30 AM – 2 PM, Dinner 5 PM – 10 PM

Price:  $$$ (breakfast – most entrees between $16-$30)

SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical
The Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway (47th and Broadway)
New York, NY 10036

Show Dates and Times:  7 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 PM  Wednesdays, 8 PM Fridays, 2 PM & 8 PM Saturdays,  1 PM & 6:30 PM Sundays

Prices:  (Depend on day/time, seat choice and availability)  Tickets start at $49 balcony seating.


Five on Friday {2.23.18}

Although this was a short week, it felt really long.  I am so happy that today is Friday!  This week the kids had Monday and Tuesday off from school for President’s Day.  Even though the kids in the school district I work for had off all week, since I work in the district office, I only had Monday off.  I’m fortunate that my husband has a flexible work schedule and can work from, which he had to do Tuesday.  Tuesday and Wednesday the temps rose to almost 70 degrees!  We were treated to an early taste of spring.  But then the temps dropped yesterday and my kids even had an early dismissal from school because of sleet and freezing rain. I know that I’ve previously  mentioned how I’m so over winter.  This weekend is looking busy with our monthly Supper Club gathering Saturday night and a trip to New York City for my son and I on Sunday.  Here are five from this week:


Reading: I’m currently finishing up The Butterfly Gardener by Dot Hutchinson.  This is definitely a dark, suspense-type of read and I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

Olympic Rings

Watching:  We have been super into watching the Olympics.  Although this is Team U.S.A.’s lowest Winter Games medal count in decades, we have enjoyed watching and cheering them on.

Eating:  Do you have a food bucket list of things that you want to try, whether they be local specialties or regional or international dishes?  Or is that just me?!!  Well, this Chickwich sandwich from Mason Sandwich Co. has been on my bucket list for awhile now.  We finally made a visit Monday for lunch and I was not disappointed!

Car Stereo Fiasco – Although I don’t have a long commute, I have started listening to books on CD during my drive.  This past week I finished up my first audio book.  When I hit the eject button to to get the CD out it started making a funny noise and an error message appeared.  Now, the CD is stuck in the car CD player.  Did I mention that this is an audio book borrowed from the interlibrary loan system?!!!  It’s not even from our own library.  My husband is going to try to take apart the CD player and get the CD out.  Otherwise, I’ll just have to pay the library for a new one.

Monthly Family Dinner – This week I posted about our new monthly family dinners.  Our first family dinner was Albanian-themed and delicious.  We skipped a B country this month because my son got The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for Christmas and wanted us to make something from it.  We had our second monthly family dinner last weekend and made the Chicken and Ham Pie.  We chose the easy version and it was surprisingly tasty.   However, the directions were not very good and the food to book/movie connections is a stretch for many of the dishes.

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



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.