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Five on Friday {Goodbye July}

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Happy Friday! It’s crazy that today is the last day of July. Even amidst a pandemic, the month seems to have flown by.  Before we know it, we will be getting ready for back to school…..whatever that may look like. New York schools had to submit their reopening plans to the Governor today and we will find out next week whether he approves them.  I really feel like my kids need to be in school, at least for a couple of days, mostly for the socialization. However, there are so many challenges.  And with the recent upticks in numbers throughout the country, I am keeping my fingers crossed that New York remains at our current, stabilized numbers. I guess we will find out next week and can then start finalizing what we want to do. As for weekend plans…..nothing is definite as of last night, when I’m typing this. But Sunday they are calling for possible thunderstorms, so we have to find something to do outside on Saturday. Here are five from this week:

1. NYBG –  Last week the New York Botanical Gardens finally reopened for members (and this week to the public).  Saturday we braved the heat and took a drive down to the Bronx for a visit.  I loved looking at all the flowers and plants.  But it was HOT!  And they aren’t running the tram, so there was a lot of walking as well.  We discovered the tropical courtyard, which along with the rose garden were my faves.  It wasn’t a super long visit due to the heat, but an enjoyable one.

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2. Reading – I just finished The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.  This was my first Jewell book that I thought was just okay.  I just started Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison, which is another suspense/mystery book.  I’m a little nervous that I’m getting tired of this genre, which used to be a fave. 

3. Making – My son wanted to make some popsicles.  So, I dug out our popsicle holders and this week we made Orange Mango Coconut popsicles.  They are vegan and were very refreshing. We are looking forward to trying different flavor combinations.

And Cooking: Our favorite dinner this week was a Caramelized Corn and Tomato Tarte Tatin from Half Baked Harvest. The corn at the grocery store wasn’t looking so great so I used some zucchini instead. I served it with an arugula, tomato, avocado salad for a delicious, light, summer meal.

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4. Watching – What haven’t I been watching?!! Work has been crazy busy with school reopening stuff and I come home exhausted! At night I just want to sit on the couch. My evenings have been spent watching Indian Matchmaking. My daughter and I have started season 1 of America’s Next Top Model and Dana and I have been watching Alone. Reality binge watching at its finest! LOL!

5. Skateboarding – Back in June my daughter got a long board.  Then we got my son a skateboard for his birthday in July.  The kids have been going out skateboarding almost every day.  It’s fun seeing how much they’ve improved over the course of a couple of weeks.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {Cheers to the weekend!}

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week. I am loving my summer Fridays because this was another crazy work week. It’s going to be another hot weekend but hopefully the weather will be bearable enough for us to spend a little time outside. Here are five from this week:

1.Magazzino Italian Art – Saturday we visited Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring. I have a whole post write up, linked below. It was a great way to spend a hot afternoon. While we don’t like to be in indoor places, we felt 100% safe with all of the safety precautions that they have implemented.

2. Ice Cream – Did you know that last Sunday was National Ice Cream Day?! Yeah, neither did I until I saw all the posts on Instagram. We ended up getting ice cream Saturday at Moo Moo’s Creamery in Cold Spring. I had heard lots of good things about this place, so we finally went and tried it. The cookie dough was super creamy but a little light on the cookie dough chunks. It’s located right next to the river, so we got to enjoy beautiful views of the Hudson River while we ate.

3. Drinking – I’m not a big drinker. However, when I do drink, I usually prefer a hard cider. Ace Pineapple Cider is so good! I love a sweet cider and this one is perfect!

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4. Watching/Listening – I’ve been on a David Chang kick this past week. I have been watching Season 2 of Ugly Delicious on Netflix, which is a short season with only 4 episodes. I’m already halfway through so will have it finished over the weekend. I’ve also been listening to his podcast The Dave Chang Show. I’ve never eaten at any of his restaurants but I’d like to!

5. Reading – I finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett this week. It was a really good read about a set of light colored African American twins. One of the twins lives with her African American daughter in her childhood home. The other twin passes for white and lives a life hiding this secret. It follows the twins and their daughters over several decades. The book is going to be turned into an HBO limited series.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Wednesday I wrote about Magazzino Italian Art.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {It’s going to be hot!}

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Hello Friday! I love me some half-day summer work days! It is going to be a HOT weekend….allegedly temps may reach 96 degrees on Sunday. I see a weekend spent inside trying to stay cool! Here are five from this week:

1. Family birthday party – Saturday we had a small family gathering to celebrate my son’s birthday. We had not seen my brother-in-law and his fiancee since before Thanksgiving, so it was really nice to get to see them. Since we are vegan/vegetarian, and the rest of our family is not, we ordered Italian food from a local restaurant. Then we had cookie cake and ice cream cake for dessert. It was nice to not have to cook!

2. Turning 12 – Tuesday, my son turned 12! We celebrated with sushi (for him) and Chinese takeout, at his request. He asked for flan for dessert, so I tried my hand at making flan for the first time. It doesn’t look great, but it tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself! We then had a zoom with my family. He didn’t want a birthday parade with friends and we weren’t quite ready to do a friend party. So, it was a small but celebratory day. And as you can see from the birthday treat pics, I didn’t realize that we didn’t have a “2” candle. Oh well!

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3. Reading – This week I finished A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler. It was a really great, five-star read for me. I am currently reading A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is a YA fantasy book that has been on my to read list for awhile. My daughter read it and said it was really good so I’m finally giving it a go. So far, it’s an okay read.

4. Drive-In Movie – Wednesday night we went to our first drive-in movie! This has been a bucket list item for awhile. Amazon Studios and Michael B. Jordan have created “A Night at the Drive-In.” Select drive-in theatres throughout the country are showing free double feature movies that celebrate, “diverse voices in cinemas.” We saw Black Panther at the Overlook Drive-in in Poughkeepsie. We originally saw this movie in the theater when it first came out and it was just as enjoyable as we remembered. Since the movie didn’t end until after 11:15 PM, there was no way we were staying for the second movie, Creed! Although we do want to see this movie too!

5. Butterfly Bush – Somehow, the small, orange butterfly bush that I bought a couple of years ago has really grown. I was able to get a picture of this Monarch on it the other day.

ICMYI this week on the blog:

Monday I shared “A Night at the Drive-In.”

Tuesday I shared my June 2020 Reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {The Kids Come Back}

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Happy Friday!  As is our annual tradition, we spent a couple of days in Rhode Island with my parents for the 4th of July.  Usually, there’s a crowd that includes my sister and her family and sometimes my brother and brother-in-law.  This year, it was just the four of us and my parents.  It was a much smaller and quieter gathering.  But it was so nice to get away for a couple of days. Dana and I headed home Sunday because…..work. But the kids spent the rest of the week with my parents.  They come home tonight because tomorrow we are having a small family gathering to celebrate my son’s birthday (which is Tuesday).  This week I also officially headed back into the office.  We are on a staggered schedule and only go in twice a week for the month of July.  The other days I still work from home.  They have implemented lots of safety measures and it’s a very small, partial return to normal. Here are five from this week:

1. Beach time -While we were up in Rhode Island we only got to the beach twice.  Once at night to catch the sunset and the other during the day.  The water was freezing! But sitting on the beach reading is one of my favorite things to do!

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2. Reading – Speaking of reading, I finished so many books over the past week.  With car rides and lots of relaxing time I was able to read Necessary Lies, In Five Years, The Lager Queen of Minnesota and almost all of The Bright Side of Going Dark!  I’m currently reading Fix Her Up, a contemporary romance that is an okay read so far.

3. S’mores – Is it summer without s’mores?! We didn’t have a fire but we were able to make them in the oven.  Such a tasty treat!

4. Sparklers – it’s legal in Rhode Island to sell fireworks.  While we were at the local Walmart I picked up some sparklers to light with the kids.  Can you believe my husband and kids had never held a sparkler before?! 

5. Family Time – Over the four days spent together in Rhode Island, we enjoyed some quality family time. This included playing croquet in the backyard.

We introduced my parents to Telestrations.  This fun game is a cross between telephone and Pictionary.

My kids have gotten into skateboarding and we spent some time watching and helping them practice.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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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.

Photo: Netflix

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!