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Five on Friday {Good-bye June}

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Today is the last Friday in June. If things were “normal” my daughter would have had her 8th grade graduation ceremony this past week. This weekend we were supposed to be in Miami for my brother-in-law’s wedding tomorrow. Instead, he has postponed the wedding until next year and the kids have survived their first week of summer vacation. This has involved staying up super late and sleeping until 11:30 AM most days. It’s hard for me to complain since they don’t have much else going on. Here are five from this week:

1. Last Day of School – Last Friday was the official last day of school for the kids. We participated in a graduation car parade for my daughter, who is heading to high school in the fall. It was definitely not the school year we were all hoping for. But the kids made the most of it and still had a successful year. As a bonus, during the online graduation slide show, we discovered that our daughter earned the academic award for earning the highest grade in Math 8! It was a huge surprise for us all, including her!

2. Doughnuts – Saturday I picked up some vegan doughnuts from Peaceful Provisions. I had to pre-order these Wednesday evening and was lucky to get them, since they sell out so quickly! This week we got a Coconut Cream Sticky Bun Doughnut and a Coffee Cake Truffle filled doughnut. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but these doughnuts were huge! The flavors change weekly, but they are always delicious!

3. Father’s Day – Sunday we drove up to Wethersfield Garden in Amenia to enjoy some outdoor time. This was our first time visiting these gardens and they were really pretty. My husband requested homemade veggie burgers for dinner, so the kids and I made them and served them with fries. Then later that night we had two Zoom calls – one with Dana’s family and one with mine.

4. Reading – I finished Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner this week. This was a fun, summer read. I didn’t know anything about the book before I started reading it. Weiner usually writes chick-lit, but this book has a mystery aspect too which I enjoyed.

5. Take-out – Izla, a local Puerto Rican take-out restaurant near us is one of our faves. Since we’ve stopped eating meat, we still do take-out but only get sides. This weekend we got tostones, yucca fries and rice and gandules and made a tasty meal out of it!

ICYMI: This week on the blog:

Monday I shared our weekly vegan meal plan.

Wednesday I posted a Hudson Valley Pick-Your-Own Fruit Guide.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {8th Grade Graduate}

Happy Friday! Today is officially the last day of school for the kids. And this morning we will be participating in a car parade to celebrate my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. It is hard to believe that in the fall she will be starting high school! This week was a fun week:

1. Beautiful Sunsets – Last Friday night, after dinner, we drove down to the Peekskill waterfront to watch the sunset. It really is the little things that make me happy, like this amazing picture my husband took.

2. Vegan Ice Cream – The Hudson Creamery is located right next to the Peekskill waterfront. We surprised the kids with ice cream while we watched the sunset. They have a couple of vegan flavors and I tried the strawberry with Oreo cookie crumbles. I wasn’t super impressed and will likely get regular ice cream from her the next time we visit, since I know that is really good.

3. Strawberry Picking – Last weekend we went strawberry picking. The weather was beautiful and it was such a fun family outing. If you’ve never had a freshly picked strawberry, you have no idea what you are missing! They are the sweetest, tastiest berries ever!

4. Rock Painting – My son and I did some rock painting last weekend. Every time we visit the beach in Rhode Island we bring back rocks that we collect on our walks. I have a bag of them that have been waiting to be painted. Thanks to Pinterest, these are the first rocks that I’ve painted. We have a bunch more that I’ll be painting throughout the summer. I figure we can take them with us when we go hiking and leave them out in the woods.

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5. Reading – This week I finished Beach Read by Emily Henry. This was an enjoyable contemporary romance. It has more substance than the chick-lit type book that I thought it was.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Monday I shared our weekly vegan meal plan.

Wednesday I wrote about Strawberry Picking at Saunderskill Farms.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Happy Flag Day}

And just like that it’s Friday again! I hope everyone has had a great week. It finally feels like things are slowly returning to a “new normal.” The kids now have one last week of school left. Thursday night we had a Zoom call for my brother-in-law’s birthday. Sunday is Flag Day and my dad’s birthday, so there will be another Zoom birthday celebration. While outdoor dining opened up this week in our state, we haven’t yet ventured out to eat. I’m still okay with takeout for now. Here are five from this week:

1. Seeing my parents – My parents had to come to New York to take care of some things this week. So Sunday night we got to finally see them in person for the first time since quarantine! The next time we will see them is when we go to Rhode Island for the 4th of July.

2. Baby Hawks – Monday evening my husband saw a baby bird in our backyard. It wasn’t making any noise and couldn’t fly. We figured the Mama bird would come get her baby. But by 10 PM the bird was still there. Dana brought him onto our deck and we prepped a shoe box for him for the night. Since it was a little chilly that night, my daughter filled the box with leaves and a heating pad placed inside a sock. We were so happy when we woke up Tuesday to find the bird still there and alive (there are foxes and cats that wander the neighborhood). Dana made some calls and took the bird to Green Chimneys in Brewster. The handler told my husband that it was a baby Broad-Winged Hawk.

Early Tuesday evening before dinner I looked out our sliding glass door and I saw another baby hawk walking around the yard! We finally spotted the nest in a tree in our neighbor’s yard. The nest was so high up it would be impossible to reach even with a tall ladder. But we did see the Mama bird up in the nest with at least one baby bird.

We brought the bird to our deck and got another box ready for the night. After dinner I was working on my laptop next to an open window. I heard rustling and things falling from the tree and then a horrible thud. My daughter ran outside to look by the tree and she found another bird. We think part of the nest broke and the bird fell with it. This poor bird was injured pretty badly from the fall (that thud sound still haunts me!) and he died soon after his fall. But Dana called his contacts from earlier in the day and met up with one of the handlers to deliver the second baby hawk. This one was also going to Green Chimneys with his brother. Once Green Chimneys opens up again, we plan on going to visit our hawk friends!

3. Baking – Sunday I did another baking project. This time I made homemade naan. It was easy to make and they didn’t really taste like much. But we spread butter on top and dipped it in the korma sauce that we were having for dinner and it was tasty. Plus it made enough for me to freeze some for future dinners.

4. Eating – I won a dozen Duck Donuts in an Instagram contest. Several months ago, this chain opened a shop about 45 minutes away from us. We’ve been meaning to go and winning finally forced us to drive down and try them. Each donut starts with a vanilla cake base. Then you choose your coating, topping and drizzle. We opted for their Signature Assortment, which includes S’mores, French Toast, Peanut Butter Paradise and more. It was a fun and delicious way to start our Sunday!

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5. Reading – This week I finished Open Book by Jessica Simpson. It was an okay read. I was never a huge fan of hers, but I had heard good things about this book. A bunch of good books that I had on hold came in from Overdrive. I’m starting a team reading challenge on Goodreads which starts this evening, so I plan on hopefully getting in a lot of reading time this weekend!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Monday I shared our weekly vegan meal plan.

Tuesday I shared my May Reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Hello June!}

Happy Friday! It’s the first week of June and the weather, despite a couple of thunderstorms, has been pretty nice! Our area of New York has been in Phase 1 of reopening and will be in Phase 2 by next week. That still hasn’t changed our going out/shopping habits as of yet. This weekend the weather is supposed to be beautiful. So, I hope to get some weeding and yard work done and possibly go on another outing with the family. Here are five from this week:

1. Orange County Arboretum – Sunday we took a drive up to the Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery, NY. It’s almost an hour north of us. But it was such a beautiful day and I wanted the family to get outside. This was the first time we visited this arboretum. It was beautiful and it’s one of those places that you have to visit every season to see how the gardens change.

2. New Dishwasher – Our dishwasher has been in the house since we bought it fourteen years ago. Dana has had to do repairs on it and it hasn’t been running very well recently. So, we finally purchased a new one. It was delivered this week, Dana installed it, and I am happy to report we have a new, running dishwasher! #itsthelittlethings

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3. Reading – This week I finished Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore. It was a contemporary fiction/time travel book about Oona Lockhart, who travels to a different year of her life at the stroke of midnight every New Year’s Eve. It was just an okay read to me.

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4. Watching – Dana and I finished the second season of Homecoming on Prime Video. We first got into the podcast when it first came out. Then we watched most of season 1 of the show when it first streamed on Amazon. Only when we heard season 2 was streaming soon, did we finally finish watching season 1. And then we quickly finished watching season 2, since it’s only 7 half-hour episodes.

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I have been also watching The Big Flower Fight on Netflix. Sometimes the kids will watch with me. It’s a fun, competitive show about flower arrangements. I do love flowers, so this has been an enjoyable show to watch.

5. Justice in June – This past week has been a lot emotionally with the death of George Floyd, the peaceful protests, the riots and looting, etc. One thing I have learned is that I have so much more to learn. This Google Doc was created by Bryanna Wallace and Autumn Gupta. It’s a great resource for spending 10, 25 or 45 minutes a day becoming more informed and a better ally of the black community.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Monday I shared another weekly vegan meal plan.

Wednesday I posted Read Before You Watch {Television Series Edition}.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {The End of May}

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Goodbye May, I can’t believe you’re over. I enjoyed a four day holiday weekend which was so nice! We found out this week that the kids’ last day of school will be June 19th, about a week earlier than originally scheduled. We also learned that the local day camp they were supposed to attend is canceled. It was expected, but now that it’s real, Dana and I are like, “now what?!” We work, so it’s going to be a long, hot summer for the kids! Since I skipped last week’s Five on Friday post, here are five from the past two weeks:

1. Baking – This past weekend I made 4-Ingredient No Knead Bread. I am not a baker. And this is something I would have never tried if we weren’t in quarantine. Thanks to my mom, who found yeast in Rhode Island and mailed me some, I was able to give it a try. I think I was pretty successful for my first time!

I had been wanting to make soft pretzels since quarantine started, which was the reason for my search for yeast. Last weekend I was so happy to finally get to make them! This Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe was easy to make and the pretzels were so good! Again, something I would not have been able to make without the yeast my mom sent and some free time on my hands!

My daughter also did some baking and made some homemade chocolate chip banana bread.

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2. Watching – This week I watched almost the entire season of Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. It’s based on the book series by Sherryl Woods, which I have not read. But it’s a sweet, feel-good show about three friends living in a small town.

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3. Reading – This week I finished Anna K. by Jenny Lee. It’s a modern, YA retelling of the classic Anna Karenina. I read AK several years ago and don’t really remember it very well, so I can’t tell how closely this book followed the classic.

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I am currently reading The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. It’s a light, romantic comedy that I’m enjoying.

4. Eating – This week the Peekskill Brewery hosted a small, vegan pop-up. Peaceful Provisions, Freakin Vegan and Gone Pie took pre-orders that were available for pick-up on Monday. We tried Freakin Vegan for the first time and ordered a Philly Cheese Steak, Porkless Mac ‘n Cheese and Sweet Corn Tamales. Everything was delicious and vegan!

5. Yard Work – Two weekends ago we spent both days outside doing yard work.  We power washed the deck, did some major weeding, and stained the deck. 

Since then, on nice days I’ve been able to read out on the deck.

And enjoy some after work cocktails.

ICYMI:  

Monday I shared our weekly vegan meal plan.

Wednesday I shared Peekskill Take-out and Delivery Options.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Still Here….}

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Happy Friday. Yes, I took a three week long hiatus from the blog….I have not been motivated to sit down at the laptop to write after sitting and working on it all day. And…..I needed a break. But I came back strong with three posts this week (who am I?!)! I do enjoy writing, so hopefully, I’ve gotten my momentum back. I did realize while typing this post that I didn’t take any pictures this week, minus dinner photos! I hope all you moms had a wonderful Mother’s Day last Sunday! Here are five from this week:

1. Celebrations – This week we celebrated my mom’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, my niece’s birthday and Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, none of my family lives nearby so we weren’t able to have any socially distanced visits. Just three zoom calls this week to sing happy birthday and catch up.

2. Watching – This week our family binge watched Upload on Amazon Prime. The show takes place in the future, where when people die they can choose to be uploaded into a virtual afterlife. Nathan has died and ends up forming a friendship with his angel, Nora. It’s part sci-fi, part comedy and even part mystery. It is rated MA and there’s some language and sexual references. But the four of us loved this show!

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3. Reading – I think I’ve hit another reading slump. The last book that I finished was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. But that was almost a week ago and I am nowhere near finishing another book anytime soon. This is one of Moriarty’s older books that I hadn’t read. I enjoyed this book and have found that I like her older books more than her newer stuff.

4. Home Projects – So what have I been doing in the past three weeks? Well, we decided to tackle a bunch of house projects. My daughter decided she wanted to redo her room, which includes painting her walls. We are making her do it (with some help from Dana). In the meantime, Dana has been working on giving the kids’ bathroom a face-lift – some new paint, hanging some bead board, new trim, a new vanity, new lights, taking out the medicine cabinet that’s been there since we bought the house, etc. This has been a slow process since he is working during the day. But, it looks like we have plenty of time!

5. Podcasts – Recently, I have been listening to ALL the news podcasts: The Daily (New York Times), Start Here (ABC News), Up First (NPR), The Journal (WSJ) and The NPR Politics Podcast. I like information and facts. Social media is horrible and I’ve found that these podcasts keep me informed and up-to-date on the what’s going on in the world, usually in 30 minutes or less.

ICYMI this past week:

Tuesday I shared my April reads.

Thursday I shared our first weekly vegan meal plan.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

Five on Friday {Just Another Friday….}

This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for info.

Hello Friday!  Hope everyone is still doing well during these uncertain times. Obviously, there’s not a lot going on here or likely anywhere! Here are five from another unexciting week:

1. Birthday Celebrations –   This week we helped celebrate two more birthdays.  One was a birthday parade for my daughter’s friend and the other was for our neighbor. 

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2. Reading – This week I finished reading Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood.  This is a non-fiction book about the author, who was adopted as an infant. She is able to track down her birth parents and travels to Taiwan to meet them and her siblings.   

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3. Watching – This past week Dana and I binge watched season 1 of Jack Ryan.  I wrote about this on Wednesday’s Happy List because it was my first true binge watch in forever (eight episodes in 24 hours).  We haven’t started season 2 yet (hopefully this weekend!) because I will not want to leave my couch until I’ve watched every episode.

I may have a thing for John Krasinski, but if you haven’t seen his show, Some Good News (SGN) on Youtube, I HIGHLY recommend! It highlights all the positive things going on during this time……and John Krasinski!! I linked the first episode here. I literally laugh and cry during every episode.

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Ratatouille Pasta, Veggie Teriyaki Stir Fry Noodles, Basil Chickpea Curry, Smoky Sweet Potato Tempeh Scramble Tacos and Vegetable Vegan Lasagna. 

5. Family Game Night – We take turns picking shows to watch as a family and games to play on game nights. My husband chose Monopoly Ultimate Banking. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a game of Monopoly in my life. We set a 1 hour time limit for the game and were fine when it was over. The good thing about this game is that it’s electronic so there’s no paper money to have to deal with.

ICYMI: My Happy Lists for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {We have a 14 year-old!}

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Happy Friday! I hope everyone who celebrates had a Happy Easter. We got the kids a few things for their baskets and did an egg hunt. But otherwise, it felt like a regular day. The Governor announced yesterday that New York State will continue to be on pause until May 15th. I know that this is a necessary measure to contain the virus and keep everyone safe. I’ve never even seen the movie Groundhog’s Day. But it feels like I’m reliving the same day over and over again…..I hope everyone has as great of a weekend as you can. I still look forward to the weekends since I don’t have to set an alarm and I disconnect my work email on my phone until Monday. It’s the little things! Here are five from this week:

1. Birthday celebration – Tuesday, my daughter turned 14! Birthdays in quarantine stink, but we tried to make the best of it. We decorated the house with balloons and decorations.  We ordered takeout pizza for lunch, made a homemade luau dinner (at her request) had a Zoom get-together with my family, and even did a family tik tok. One of her friends stopped by and they had a quick socially distant in-person catch up and then she had a group Facetime call with some of her other friends.  She hates having a lot of attention on her (hmm, wonder who she gets that from!), and did NOT want a birthday parade or a neighborhood sing-along, like we’ve participated in for others. At the end of the day, she said she had a great birthday and that’s all I can ask for as a parent. This is definitely a birthday that she will always remember.

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2. Reading – This week I finished reading On Dublin Street by Samantha Young.  I’ve owned this book for years and I’m finally trying to read through some of the books on my shelf. This was a steamy, contemporary romance that I really enjoyed. It’s the first of a six book series, but I think I’m okay with just reading this one.

3. Watching – This past week we had a family movie night and watched What Happened to Monday? On Netflix.  We did have to fast forward through a sex scene, but besides that, it was a pretty good movie.  My daughter (and now son) and I are continuing our binge watching of Money Heist.

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Udon Soup, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, and a luau dinner that included Huli Huli Cauliflower (pictured), Teriyaki Tofu, Marinated Cucumbers, Homemade Dumplings and Fried Rice.

5. Family Chalk Art – I’ve seen similar art projects all over the internet and wanted to do one as a family. Of course I had gotten rid of all of the kids’ old chalk on a cleaning spree. When I looked online for some, the price was either ridiculously expensive or the stores were sold out. When we made a quick Walmart run to get some birthday and Easter supplies, I found some chalk! And so, we had a family art day this week where we all colored this for our neighbors.

ICYMI: My Happy Lists for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday!

Tuesday I shared my March reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Happy Easter}

Happy Friday and Happy Belated Passover for those who celebrate.  This week has felt very long! It was supposed to be Spring Break for the kids, but due to the Governor’s orders, school had to be in session.  However, all of my kids’ teachers assigned enrichment activities and they had no actual assignments that they had to submit. So they both did a whole lot of nothing except watch TV or spend time on their electronics during the day when Dana and I were working.  I am actually looking forward to next week when they are back on a somewhat regular schedule. This weekend is going to feel strange, celebrating Easter with just the four of us. Normally, we host Easter and do a joint family birthday celebration for my daughter, who is turning 14 on Tuesday.  This year though we were supposed to be in Maryland celebrating the holiday at my sister’s house. We will make the best of the situation though and be grateful that we are healthy and together. Here are five from another unexciting week:

1. Baking – this week my daughter decided to bake vegan sugar cookies.  It was her idea of being productive. I was all on board, as long as she cleaned up after herself! She made the cookies and we all got rewarded with tasty, homemade cookies. 

2. Reading – This week Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin.  This is a nonfiction, memoir that a friend from work recommended. I thought it was just an okay read and after I finished it, I read about the criticism and discrepancies of the accounts told in the book.

3. Watching – My daughter and I have started watching Money Heist on Netflix.  It originated as a Spanish drama series but eventually got acquired by Netflix.  I enjoy having a show that we can watch together and this suspense/action series has a lot of episodes for us to watch.  I also am halfway through watching the 4 episode limited series, Unorthodox. This Netflix show is about Etsy, a girl who leaves an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn and moves to Germany to start a new life.  It’s based on a book and inspired by the author’s life.  

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Falafel, Chickpea Meatballs on Garlic Bread, Vegan Tacos, Tuscan Farro Soup and Beer Bread and BBQ Tofu with cornbread and roasted broccoli. Very few restaurants near us offer decent vegan takeout options. As a family, we’ve talked about how it’s much cheaper and tastier for us to eat at home.

5. Anniversary Celebration – Saturday was my 16th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated by ordering takeout from a vegan Caribbean restaurant.  It was a bit of a ride, but a beautiful day! We enjoyed the meal at home for lunch and then all did some yard work, since it was so nice out.  Definitely not how I imagined us celebrating but the best we could do during this time.

ICYMI:  My Happy Lists for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!

Happy Easter! Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Happy Anniversary to Us!}

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!