January 2018 Reads

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

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

3 Stars


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


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


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


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

4 Stars


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


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


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


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

5 Stars


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


Five on Friday {Done With Winter}

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

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

Miracle film.jpg

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


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

This chocolate cannoli from Casa Rina in Thornwood was delicious!

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

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

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I posted January 2018 Tween Reads.

Have a great weekend!


January 2018 Tween Reads

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


Five on Friday {The First of February}

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


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

Truffle Burger from Burger Bistro & Bar.

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

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

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

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

ICYMI this week on the blog:

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

Tuesday I shared 28 Days of February Family Fun.

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

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

2018 Westchester County Valentine’s Day Dining Guide

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

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

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

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

Benjamin’s Steak House (Steak House)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modern on the Rails (Italian, New American)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putnam County:

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

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

Rockland County:

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

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

28 Days of February Family Fun

(This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our Disclosure Policy for details.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Inspirational Fitness Quotes {Self-Care Saturday}

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

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



What is your favorite inspirational fitness quote?















Five on Friday {Big Changes}

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

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

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


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

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

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

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Saturday I shared an Exercise Class A to Z Guide.

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

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

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

6 Fun Games for Family Game Night {Tween Edition}

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

A fun domino game perfect for family game night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fun pass the cards game for tweens!

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

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

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

What is your favorite board game for family game night?

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?