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MunchPak Subscription Box {December 2018}

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Who doesn’t love snacks?! And even better, what about a box delivered to your house each month filled with candy and snacks from all over the world?!! Our family loves trying new foods so we are big fans of the MunchPak subscription box. Boxes can be ordered with 5+, 10+ or 20+ snacks and can be delivered every two weeks or every month. Depending on the size of the box subscriptions start at just $9.95/month.

Each box contains a variety of snacks and candy from different countries around the world. These are full-size candy bars, snack-size bags of crunchy, salty, snacks and more. I like that each snack item has a sticker with a short description of the snack, as well as what country it is from. If you discover a snack that you really like, you can order more from the MunchPak website. Check out MunchPak and get started on starting your subscription!

Our most recent MunchPak box contained the following snacks:

Pocky: Winter Melty (Japan) – Pocky are chocolate covered biscuit (cookie) sticks. This is not a new-to-us snack, as we’ve received Pocky in previous MunchPak boxes. However, we had never tried this Winter Melty variety before. The biscuits are covered in layers of white chocolate and cocoa chocolate cream.

Ulker Cokomel: Strawberry Marshmallows (Turkey) – This cookie reminded me of Mallomars in looks. Except this had a strawberry flavored marshmallow filling. The package contained six cookies, which was plenty for sharing.

UHA Mikauto Puchao: Ramune (Japan) – This was another snack from Japan. For those not familiar, ramune is a Japanese, carbonated soft drink that comes in many different flavors. Each candy is individually wrapped and is chewy with tiny gelatinous like balls. My son loved these!

Cheetos: Bolitas (Mexico) – These tasted like the Cheetos we are all familiar with less of a cheese taste and more of a slightly, spicy kick.

Reptar On Ice (USA) – They placed the info sticker over the part of the wrapper that has the Nickelodeon Rugrats images. It appears that “Reptar on Ice” was an episode of the Nickelodeon cartoon. This was a chocolate bar filled with blue icing that is supposed to turn your tongue blue (which it does). Although I’ve seen a few Rugrats episodes, I was unfamiliar with this particular episode.

Oppenheimer: Chik Chak Hot & Spicy (Israel) – This bag was filled with tiny, crunchy cubes. I didn’t find these to be too spicy and thought they could actually use a little more flavor.

Vidal Gummi Snowmen (Spain) – Our family loves gummi candy. These snowmen came in strawberry and apple flavors.

Toxic Waste Nuclear Fusion Sour Candy (Pakistan) – This bag contains five different flavored, individually-wrapped candies (raspberry lemon, pineapple and passion fruit, banana and blueberry, orange and apple and grape and strawberry. When I tried this candy I had to spit it out after 15 seconds. It was way too sour. However, the rest of my family have more tolerable taste buds and after a bit told me that the extreme sourness goes away.

Avery’s Kitty Piddle Soda (USA) – You can add a drink to your box for an additional $5. Just the name of this Avery’s “Totally Gross Soda” did not make me want to drink it. Kitty Piddle is supposed to have flavors of pineapple and orange. Both my daughter and I thought it had a “woody” aftertaste. None of us were fans of this drink.

MunchPak is a fun monthly subscription box that the entire family can enjoy together. Or, it makes a great gift for any snack-loving friends or family!

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Five on Friday {It Feels like January}

Happy Friday! We are two weeks into January and it feels like it! I am not a fan of the cold temps and strong winds. The only thing I like about winter is snow days! As in, the kids have no school and I don’t have to go to work days. Otherwise, I could totally do without! We were surprised this week with a 2 hour delay. A little extra sleep is always nice. But otherwise, this week was rather uneventful, and I’m okay with that! Here are five from this week:

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1.Reading – I am almost finished reading My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren. I have been devouring this duo’s books and really enjoying them. This is a fun, contemporary romance that takes a look at the world of online dating. I will likely finish reading this tonight before bed and give a 4/5 star rating.

2.Watching – Tidying Up on Netflix. I will be honest, I was not a huge fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. However, since I’ve been on a decluttering and cleaning kick, I told myself I’d give the show a try. I’ve only watched the first two episodes, but have enjoyed them. I don’t really find it a show that you can binge watch. But the tips are useful and the transformations inspiring.

3. Baking – Blueberry muffins. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve baked muffins. Although I’m not a big baker, muffins were at one time a weekly thing in our house. This week I made blueberry muffins, which the kids loved. I like that I can freeze them and have them on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks.

4. Planning – This April my husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We are in the process of planning a small weekend getaway to celebrate. We’re not planning anything extravagant…..likely a Bed & Breakfast somewhere in New York. More details will come!

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5. Playing – My daughter got me hooked on the game app Wordscapes. You use the given letters to make words that fit in a crossword like grid. It’s semi-addicting and uses a little more brain power than my normal Candy Crush!

ICYMI this week on the blog:


I shared my December 2018 Reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites! Have a great weekend!

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December Reads 2018

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for additional information.)
December was a busy month and unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to read. I ended the month with a total of four books read, which I think was my slowest month of 2018. Two were holiday themed reads, as I try to read a couple of Christmas books in December.

According to goodreads, I read a total of 82 books in 2018, surpassing my goal of 75. For 2019, I set the goal again of reading 75 books. Here’s looking forward to a new year of great reads! I’m sharing my December reads with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books linkup. Here they are in order from least to most stars:

3 stars:

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – The premise of this book interested me – nine strangers who meet at a health resort. However, this book took a weird, unexpected turn. Aside from Big Little Lies, I haven’t enjoyed the other Moriarty books I’ve read. I was hesitant about reading this one and as expected, wasn’t a big fan of this one.

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Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand – This is the second book in Hilderbrand’s Winter series. Unfortunately, I was not a big fan of this second book. Not much actually happens and it ends with the story still unfinished, so you know there’s a third book that you must read (and then a fourth!). I will likely finish the third and fourth books next December to see what happens with the Quinn family and see how the series ends.

4 stars:

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Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler – Haley wants to win a major Toy ad campaign but has no Christmas spirit. Her book sends her to Christmas Camp to hopefully learn to love the holiday and help her with her campaign. When Haley arrives, she first wants to complete the activities as fast as she can to get her certificate and leave. But then she meets some others who help her understand the true meaning of Christmas. Don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers there, it’s a Christmas book, so you know there will be a happy ending. This book was actually a movie first, and was filmed near me in the Hudson Valley. I haven’t seen it yet, but will hopefully watch it next December.

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Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – I have become a big fan of Christina Lauren’s contemporary romance books. Hazel is such a fun and quirky character and I really enjoyed following her and Josh set each other up on blind dates. This is one of those books that I think would make a great romantic comedy movie.

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Five on Friday {Happy 2019}

Happy Friday! I cannot believe that 2019 is here. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I unintentionally took a much needed hiatus from the blog over the holidays. But I’m excited to be back and am looking forward to bringing you more things food, travel and family fun in 2019, as well as some other lifestyle posts. Here are five from this past week:

  1. New Year’s Eve – We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve at home playing board games and eating appetizers. I had to work earlier in the day so it was nice to come home and be able to relax. I didn’t even make it to midnight and was asleep by 11:30! My husband and kids watched the ball drop and toasted the New Year with sparkling cider. Then they woke me up with kisses and wishes for a Happy New Year.

2. Reading – I am almost finished reading The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman. It’s been an okay read and I’m waiting to see if there’s a twist at the end. Most likely this will be a 3 star read. This will be my first book read in 2019!

3. Watching – My husband and I watched Bird Box on Netflix this week. I didn’t realize that it was a book before we saw it. I thought it was really good. However, I was left with so many questions unanswered.

4. Weekend Getaway – This year, instead of a present, Santa treated the kids to a weekend getaway to Pine Ridge Dude Ranch. Since riding horses for the first time at Painted Bar Stables, the kids have fallen in love with horseback riding. We spent the weekend at this all-inclusive for some family fun, relaxation and horseback riding.

5. Planner – Does anyone else get excited about new calendars and planners?!! Our house does not run smoothly without the refrigerator calendar and my planner. I’ve really enjoyed using The Happy Planner, but I got this Recollections planner on sale at Michael’s for only $10.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Wednesday I shared my Intentions for an Amazing 2019.

Sharing with Friday Favorites! Have a great weekend!

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Intentions For an Amazing 2019!

Happy New Year! I took an unplanned, but much needed, blogging break during the holidays. I enjoyed spending time with family and friends and am very excited for 2019! For me, a new year always represents new beginnings and endless possibilities. Through the years, I’ve learned not to make resolutions because I never end up keeping them. However, there are some things that I am doing to start my year with intention so I can have an amazing 2019!

Goal lists: Last year, after listening to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, I made an 18 in 2018 list. But guess what? I didn’t complete a single thing on the list! But, I’m trying again this year and created a 19 in 2019 list, filled with realistic and doable actions. Some of my list includes:

1. Paint the kitchen cabinets. I’ve been talking about doing this for YEARS and it’s so doable. I plan to do this in the spring, when I can paint outside.

5. Read a non-fiction book every month. This wasn’t on my 2018 list, but I almost did it. This year, totally doable.

7. Write down 3 things that I’m grateful for every day. I started doing this in 2018 and want it become a daily ritual.

10. Order pictures every month. I have a gazillion pictures on my phone but am not sure that I had any of them actually printed last year. This year, I plan to upload them to Snapfish and once a month do a bulk order.

15. 40th birthday trip. Yes, this September is the big 4-0. I am not a party person. The idea of a big party to celebrate is probably my worst nightmare. Instead, like we did for my husband, we are going to take a family vacation to celebrate.

19. Try meditating. Meditating is becoming more and more popular. Every time I hear about it, I automatically think, “Nope, not for me. Can’t do it.” Which is why I think I should actually try it! I feel like my mind is always racing a million miles an hour and can use the peace and calm.

Some additional reading:
19 for 2019: Achieve Your Goals for an Amazing Year
Day Zero Project (101 Things in 1001 Days challenge)

Word of the Year: This year, my word of the year is Abundance. Most people associate abundance with money and wealth. My intention for 2019 is to have an abundance of good health, wealth, tasty food, happiness, travel and new experiences.

Some additional reading:
5 Tips for Choosing Your Word of the Year
100 ideas for a Word of the Year

Vision Board: I hope to have my vision board completed this weekend. I’m not rushing to get it finished just so it’s done. I’m really thinking about my vision for 2019 and what I want to accomplish.

Some additional reading:
5 Reasons You Should Make a Vision Board in 2019
How to Make a Dreamboard

What are you doing to make your 2019 amazing?

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Five on Friday {‘Tis the Season}

Happy Friday!  Eleven more sleeps until Christmas!  It’s really beginning to feel like Christmas.  There’s a lot going on including a Christmas party tomorrow, baking cookies for another cookie exchange, school concerts, and of course present buying.  I’m sad to say that I have yet to buy my kids a single present.  However, I’ve been making progress in getting presents for the family and friends on our list.  I’m hoping to get in a little shopping time this weekend. Here are five from this week:

1.Reading – Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler.  Every Christmas I try to read a couple of holiday reads.  I just finished reading this book this week and enjoyed it.  It’s not overly sappy, but like all Christmas books, there’s a happy ending.  

2. Family Fun –  Last Saturday we headed into NYC.  My sister and her family were up for the weekend to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  Since my brother-in-law and his girlfriend live in the city  we all met up and went to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, see the decorated windows at Saks and also went to Bryant Park.  

3. Cat Problems – This guy, Salem, wasn’t feeling well this week.  We knew something was wrong because he was hiding away near the heaters in our house and growling anytime our other cat went near him.  Definitely not his normal behavior.  My husband took him to the vet and after many tests (and a very expensive vet bill!) it was discovered that he was constipated!  He was prescribed anti-nausea medication (not a laxative?!!) and a couple of days later, he’s back to his normal self.  

4.  Cooking – Not the best picture (darn you winter darkness!), but I made Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes this week for dinner from Closet Cooking.  They were easy to make and very tasty!  

5. Coming Soon – I just found out that Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has a show on Netflix that will be debuting in January.  I think that I’ll check out at least one episode.  It looks a lot less hoarders and more organizing and letting go of things.

  ICYMI this week:

Tuesday I shared my November reads.  

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend! 

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November Reads {2018}

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It’s the second Tuesday of the month and time to share my November Reads with Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up. November was a slow reading month for me, with only five books read.  None of them were horrible reads, so I can’t complain.  I am disappointed though that I didn’t get to read a non-fiction book this month, which I was trying to do. Here is what I read last month:
3 stars:

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As the Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz – Erin Murphy works at Murphy’s Mercantile, a gourmet specialty food store.  In seems that she also likes to help solve murder investigations on the side.  This is a Christmas-themed cozy mystery that I found to be just okay.  This is number five in the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series.  I normally don’t like to read books in a series out of order, but I read this one because I wanted a Christmas read. I didn’t enjoy this book enough to read more in the series.  

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A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult – Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I enjoy that she brings attention to controversial topics and writes from different perspectives.  A Spark of Light is her newest book that deals with abortion and gun control.  While the topics are big ones and will never be solved from a book, I think they are important ones that need to be discussed.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of the book.  I didn’t like the format, as it’s told going back in time the same day.  I also felt like it was unfinished, with so many story lines and questions left unanswered.  
4 stars:

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Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren –  Carter and Evie meet at a Halloween party.  They hit it off and are attracted to each other.  But after their companies merge, they discover that they will be competing against each other for a spot in the new company.  This is my second Christina Lauren book and I enjoyed it a lot!  I thought that this was a cute contemporary romance and found it interesting to see how cutthroat the Hollywood agent business is.  I can’t wait to read more of this duo’s books!

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Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison – Teenager Mindy Wright is a competitive skier with hopes of making it on the Olympic team.  But during surgery after a skiing accident, doctors discover that she has a rare form of leukemia.  A stem cell transplant is needed to help save Mindy’s life.  But when her parents are tested and neither is a match, they learn that Mindy is not their biological daughter. This is a suspense/thriller read which had a bunch of surprises.  

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The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright – Jeanne and Tim are owners of The White Christmas Inn but are facing financial difficulties and are not sure how much longer they will be able to keep the Inn open.  Due to a big snowstorm, there possible last Christmas at least results in a full house at the Inn, when travelers get stranded.  Each guest has his/her own issue that they are dealing with, which because this is a Christmas story, results in a happy ending for all.  I enjoy reading Christmas stories around the holidays.  While this was of course a feel-good, story with Hallmark Movie potential, I didn’t think it was overly sappy.

Your Best Weekend {Volume 13}

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Welcome to another edition of “Your Best Weekend.”  Enjoy these ideas and recommendations to help you make the most of your Saturday and Sunday.  We are all busy but we need to make time to enjoy life!

Celebrate:

Saturday, December 8th is National Brownie Day!  These brownies sound delicious, but boxed mix works well too!

On Sunday, December 9th, celebrate Christmas Card Day by getting your cards written, addressed, stamped and ready to mail!  It’s also National Pastry Day, so pick up some cannolis, croissants or cream puffs to enjoy while you work on those cards!

Self-Care:

Journal prompt/reflection: What are three great things that happened today?

Challenge:  Clean out and declutter.  Make room for new gifts or just enjoy having more space and less clutter.

New Releases:

DVD: Some movies out on DVD this week include Mission Impossible: Fall Out (action/adventure), The Happytime Murders (action/comedy), The Nun (horror), McQueen (documentary/biography), Beautifully Broken (drama), The Miseducation of Cameron Post (drama/romance).

Netflix:  Show and movies that have started streaming on Netflix this week include Dumplin’, based on the book by Julie Murphy, and stars Jennifer Aniston, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Nailed It! Holiday.

Books: New books published this week include Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (YA Fantasy/series), Danielle Walker’s Eat What You Love by Danielle Walker (non-fiction/cookbook), Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts (fantasy/series), Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Official Collector’s Edition Guide (non-fiction/gaming guide), Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (historical fiction), You Are a Badass:  Every Day by Jen Sincero (non-fiction/self-help) and Never Grow Up by Jackie Chan (biography/memoir).

Family Fun:

Dinner Conversation Starter:  What is one gift that you really want this Christmas?

Family Fun Idea: Build gingerbread houses.  You can work in teams and make it competitive or everyone can decorate their own.  You can buy all the ingredients (graham crackers, icing, candy etc.) or purchase a boxed kit.  You can make a train or even an entire village! Either way, it will be a fun way to spend some quality time together.

Weekly Recommendations:

Listen to: Homecoming.  This podcast stars Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer.  My husband and I binge listened to almost the entire podcast (two seasons) on our ride to Maryland for Thanksgiving.  This is the podcast that inspired the Amazon Prime series that is now streaming, though I recommend listening or at least starting the podcast first.

Read: The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright.  I try to read some holiday-themed reads in December and this was a feel-good but not overly sappy Christmas book.

Cook:  This Sausage and Broccoli Rabe pizza.  I made it for our supper club pizza-themed dinner and my daughter’s already been asking me to make it again.

 

Experience Gift Ideas for Westchester County Families {2018}

As the holidays quickly approach, holiday shopping is at the top of many of our to-do lists.  As someone who doesn’t like “stuff” I prefer to both give and receive experience gifts.  Here is a collection of some great experience gift ideas in Westchester County and the surrounding area.

Boundless Adventures 
SUNY Purchase Campus
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
*youth (ages 7-11) gift card $54, adults (ages 12+) gift card $59
Although the park is closed now for the season, gift cards can be used anytime throughout the 2019 season.
Read about our visit!
Great for: adventure lovers, families

Escape the Mystery Room
(various locations including West Nyack at the Palisades Center and Yorktown Heights at the Jefferson Valley Mall)
*gift vouchers are location specific.  Each $20 voucher is good for one entry.
Read about our visit!
Great for: families with older children

The Holiday Train Show at the NYBG
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458
now through Monday, January 21, 2019
*tickets start at $10/kids and $23/adults
Read about our visit!
Great for:  train lovers, families, grandparents

Phantom at the Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY 10523
now through January 27, 2019
*tickets start at $59/kids, $62/seniors, $69/adults
Although we have not seen Phantom at the WBT, we have seen other shows at the theatre.  There isn’t a bad seat in the place and the performances we’ve seen have been amazing.  You can buy gift certificates to the theatre that can be used at a future performance, if Phantom doesn’t appeal to you or your gift recipient.
Great for:  theatre fans, families, grandparents

Thunder Ridge Ski Area 
137 Birch Hill Rd.
Patterson, NY 12563
Gift Cards can be purchased in any amount and can be used towards tickets, food and/or items in the gift shop.
Great for:  ski enthusiasts, families

Westchester Winter Wonderland
Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595
*now through December 31, 2019
Tickets:  $20/person (ages 3+)
Great for:  families

Movie Tickets – Depending on the number of tickets you buy, this is a gift that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Memberships – If you want your family to enjoy fun all year-round, memberships are a great family gift idea.  Memberships to the Bronx Zoo, Historic Hudson Valley, Hudson River Museum or the NYBG will provide enjoyment all year long!

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Five on Friday {Welcome December!}

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Can you believe that this weekend is the first of December?!  I honestly can’t believe it.  I feel like these past two weeks were a blur.  I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving last weekend and stuffed themselves silly…..because I certainly did! We have a school event tonight.  Then the boys are camping this weekend with the Cub Scouts.  It’s one of my son’s last big events before he becomes a Boy Scout in January.  Sunday we have our monthly supper club dinner (pizza-themed) and cookie exchange.  As I’m typing this Thursday night, I still have to figure out what cookie and pizza recipes that I’ll be making! Here are five from this week:

1. Traveling – We spent Thanksgiving in Maryland, visiting my sister and her family.  As I mentioned, most of the trip was spent eating.  Really! Look at this snack spread!  It was also my niece’s 6th birthday Saturday, so we got to celebrate with her.  My kids rarely get to see their cousins, so it was nice getting to see them having fun together.

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2. Reading – I am almost finished reading Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren.  I recently finally read one of this writing duo’s books, Love and Other Words, and really enjoyed it.  Dating You/Hating You is turning out to be just as enjoyable.  If you enjoy contemporary romance, I recommend this book!

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3. Watching – My husband and I watched the movie Eighth Grade.  This movie is cringy in a hate to revisit middle school type of way.  All of the awkwardness of middle school is shown, in a pretty realistic way.  It’s scary that my daughter will be in eighth grade next year! While she didn’t watch the movie, since it has an R rating, I wouldn’t be adverse to her watching it next year.

4. Eating – My husband went to Trader Joe’s before our trip to Maryland and picked up these Turkey & Stuffing seasoned kettle chips.  Of course we had to try them, but to be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan.  The kettle chip had a nice crunch, but the seasoning was eh.  I mostly tasted the flavor of thyme.

5. Cooking – This past week I made Modern Honey’s Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana Soup.  I have to admit that I’ve never tried the original Olive Garden soup, so I can’t compare it this one to anything, but I thought it was very tasty!  I only put in half the red pepper flakes and it was spicy though, so if you don’t like spice, I’d add even less.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I wrote about the off-Broadway play Puffs.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!