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Five on Friday {Father’s Day Weekend}

Happy Friday and Happy Birthday to my dad! This weekend is also Father’s Day. My husband has requested a family hike with a rewarding view. The weather is looking a little iffy for Sunday, so we may have to take that hike on Saturday. Here are five from this week:

1. Supper Club – Last weekend we had our monthly supper club. This month’s theme was bite-sized food. I made Truffle Mac and Cheese Bites and my husband made these Asian Turkey Meatballs. I liked his dish much better than mine! The whole meal though was delicious as always with chicken wings, Thai Turkey Sliders and Pea Pesto and Burrata Crostini. Dessert was mini Lemon Tarts.

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2. Reading – This week I started Run Away by Harlan Coben. His books are so fast-paced that I’m sure it will be finished by the end of the weekend, if not before.

3. Eating – My husband picked up this Steve’s dairy free ice cream at the grocery store. We aren’t dairy free but the flavor looked interesting. It’s a Sri Lankan Coconut Cream base infused with honey/orange blossoms, a pomegranate swirl and chopped almonds. They have some other interesting flavors that we will have to check out as well!

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4. Watching – I started watching The Society this week on Netflix. It’s a teen drama about a town where everyone but the teen residents mysteriously disappear. I’m only two episodes in. Even though it’s rated MA, I recommended it to my thirteen year-old daughter, who I was surprised hadn’t started watching it yet. I likely won’t watch the whole season, but I do like to be aware of the teen shows.

5. Kohl’s Shopping – I don’t shop very often. However, whenever I get a 30% off Kohl’s coupon, I feel like I HAVE to shop. Yes, the regular prices there are way over-priced. But, you should never buy anything at regular price there. There’s almost always a sale and/or a coupon. I picked up a pair of sandals and some shirts. I also got some shorts and a romper/dress for my daughter.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared my May 2019 Reads.

Thursday I posted about a visit to the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden {North Salem, NY}

Secluded in the back roads of North Salem is a small taste of Japanese culture right here in Westchester County.  The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden is a hidden treasure of beauty that aims to connect and promote an appreciation of Eastern and Western culture.  My kids both visited the Hammond Museum on school trips after studying Japan.  Last summer, I enlisted my daughter to accompany me on my first visit.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to post about our visit to the Hammond Museum until now.

“But what’s the use of having collections if people can’t see them?” – Natalie Hays Hammond

When you arrive you enter the gardens through the museum. The museum was designed by Natalie Hays Hammond and built in 1957 to showcase her collection of antiques and artifacts that she acquired through her travels.  The art in the galleries change several times over the eight months that the museum is open.

Artist Rosalind Schneider's exhibit Transformed Realities at the Hammond Museum.

We were able to see artist, Rosalind Schneider’s, Transformed Realities exhibit, just before it closed. Currently art exhibits in the galleries are closing mid-June, with new, yet unannounced exhibits replacing them.  Full Bloom, Sculpture in the Garden is on display for the entirety of the season. 

Through the gallery is the entrance to the gardens.  I don’t believe that there’s one way to visit the Japanese Stroll Gardens.  Once you pass through the tea house entry you can go either right or left. The garden path is circular, so whichever direction you choose, you will eventually make your way back to the tea house.  The gardens are designed with the Japanese design principles of balance and harmony.  Balance, in a Japanese garden, is asymmetrical and you will find odd-numbered and triangular groupings.

To the right of entry is the Zen Garden. Also known as karesansui (dry mountain water).  Rakes are available for visitors to create patterns in the rocks.

If you continue on the path to the right you will see the pond to your left and the Katsura Trees and Bamboo Grove  on your right. Bamboo is important to Eastern culture.  From food, to paper, furniture and even planking for houses, the bamboo plant is highly useful.  However, some species are used for ornamental purposes in landscape gardens, like the ones here.

Waterfall Garden at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.

To the left of the entry is the waterfall garden.  This is a tiny waterfall that is almost hidden by all of the ferns and mountain laurel.  The water flows from east to west, shadowing the sun’s path.

Straight ahead of the entry is the pond.  I recommend taking some time to sit on the benches by the pond and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty.  If you look closely, you may be able to spot one of the ten turtles that inhabit the pond. Listen and you will probably hear the frogs croaking. The day of our visit the staff was prepping for a wedding later that day.  So we didn’t walk out to the island.

There are a couple of different statues and sculptures located throughout the gardens and this beautiful gong.

Off one of the garden paths you will find The Garden of Buddhist Saints. These are sixteen stones that honor the enlightened followers of Buddha.

There is much more beauty and nature to be found at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, than what I showcased here. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility, this is a place that you must visit.

The Details:
Hammon Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden
28 Deveau Road
North Salem, NY 10560
(914) 669-5033

Hours: Open May – November (see website for specific dates)
Wednesday – Saturday 12 PM – 4 PM

Admission:  $5/adults, $4/seniors, Free/Children 12 and under.  Free for members.

Parking:  Free parking available on the grounds

Tips and Notes:
*As a first-time visitor, my daughter and I spent approximately an hour visiting the museum and garden.

*If you have some time, bring a book and sit on a bench by the pond.

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May Reads {2019}

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for more info.)
It’s time for me to share my May reads with Jana and Steph’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup. May was a decent reading month for me in terms of numbers, with seven books read. However, four of the books were only three stars, so not wonderful in terms of quality. I did read three non-fiction books this month which is more than I usually tend to read. Here are my May reads:

3 Stars:

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Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This book, told in interview style, describes the building and demise of Daisy Jones and the Six, a seventies rock band. I know that I’m in the minority here with my rating on this book. I love Taylor Jenkins Reid. The format was okay with the interview style/different perspectives. However, I didn’t find the story line interesting.

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Girls Just Want to Have Likes by Laurie Wolk – As a parent, I am really struggling with technology use and social media, especially with my 13 year-old. Wolk gives tips and advice on how to build a foundation and boundaries with technology and social media use.

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Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center – Helen is divorced at 32. She needs a change and decides to go on a wilderness survival course in Wyoming. Right before she goes she learns that her brother’s best friend Jake will also be going. I’ve read a couple of other books by Center. This one was okay but not my fave.

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You Are a Bad Ass Every Day by Jen Sincero – I’ve read Sincero’s other Bad Ass books. This book was more of a resource of inspiration rather than a reading book. I like her other books better.

4 Stars:

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Educated by Tara Westover – At 17, Tara attends Brigham Young University, without ever having a formal education, growing up, “off the grid.” One of seven siblings, she had a traumatic childhood filled with abuse and parents who believed more in their religion than their children. This book starts off very slowly. This was my second attempt at reading it, after originally giving up about fifty pages in. After so many rave reviews I had to give it another try and am glad that I did. Westover’s story is very powerful and it’s amazing that she was able to overcome such odds.

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Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens – Kya, also known as the Marsh Girl, has lived on her own since she was about nine years old. When a well-known community member is found dead in the marsh, Kya becomes the number one suspect. This book started out very slow for me. Since both my mom and a colleague raved about this book I decided to stick with it and am glad that I did. Owens is a descriptive writer, where at times it felt like too much for me. But it was a great overall story.

5 Stars:

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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I know I am so late to the GOT party. But I finally finished the first book in the series after starting it January 1. This was one of my goals of 2019 and I did it! In the meantime, my husband and I are watching the series and are up to Season 3. I enjoyed the first book more than the show. There’s just so much more detail in the books that they can’t put in the show. But I think they did a great job of editing and making it all work. I have started the second book but with all my other reading, it’s not one of my reading priorities.

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Five on Friday {Ready for the Weekend}

Is anyone else ready for the weekend? Let’s get right into today’s Five on Friday.

1. Solo Getaway – This past Monday and Tuesday I visited the Lodge at Woodloch…..alone. I had been saying for awhile that I needed a solo getaway. After much research, I found this place. I will have a full blog post up soon, but it was just what I needed. This is an adults only, health and wellness resort, less than two hours drive from my home. Two days away, does a body good. Follow along on my Insta-stories to see lots of pics! But look at the Hydro Massage Waterwalls (above)! A combo hot tub and waterfall that was so relaxing.

2. New Classes – While I was at the Lodge at Woodloch I enjoyed new-to-me fitness classes like Splash Dance (aquatic pole dancing – poles in the pool pictured above), Tower Pilates, Drums Alive and the Great Wall of Yoga (check out my Insta-stories for a picture of that!).

3. Reading – So I joined my first in-person book-club (besides my work one). We are meeting in a couple of weeks and this month’s book is Behold the Dreamers. I’m about half-way through and am enjoying it. This is one of those books that I probably would have never read if I hadn’t joined this book club. I’ll have to report back in a couple of weeks after my first meeting!

4. Lunchtime Walks – Last month my work had a health and wellness challenge to walk/run a marathon (26.2 miles) over a month. I handed in my tracking sheet and think I squeaked in the 26.2 miles at the end. Most of the walking took place during my lunch hour. I can usually get in a good 1.5 miles in a half hour and enjoy either walking with a co-worker or walking solo and listening to a podcast. Even though the challenge is over, I am trying to continue my lunchtime walks until it gets too hot.

5. A Chipped Tooth – There’s nothing like getting a call from the school nurse when I’m two hours away and my husband is in a meeting in the city! While I was on my solo trip away, I got a call from the nurse that my son had hit his chin outside on a bench during gym. In the process he chipped the back of his tooth off. Luckily, it wasn’t an emergency. After a trip to the dentist, it looks like it will be an easy repair. My son’s not in pain but the tooth is a little sensitive to cold and heat. He will get it fixed in a two weeks after making sure the tooth is healing properly without any complications.

6. Website Down – Here’s a bonus vent for you all! Wednesday I went to check my Google Analytics and saw that there were zero visitors to the blog on Tuesday. I don’t get huge traffic to my blog…..(yet!), but I definitely get daily traffic. I go to find that my website is down. After chatting with Bluehost, I discovered it would take 24-48 hours to fix. Fortunately, they were able to repair the issue (since you are reading this post!) but it was super frustrating and annoying.

ICYMI this week on the blog I shared You Can Support a Tobacco Free NY.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

You can Support A Tobacco Free New York!

This post was sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Did you know that the average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old?! As a mom of a 13-year-old, this alarms me! As much as we’d like to think that they don’t have access, teens are being exposed to and finding access to tobacco products. My daughter has told me stories of older middle school students found smoking e-cigarettes. And the e-cigarette use in high school students grew 160% in just four years from 2014 – 2018.

It’s not just our teens that are being exposed to tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars in advertising, much of which is found in-store. You may not realize it, but when you stop at the local convenience store with your kids to pick up some groceries, they see the colorful signs and boxes of cigarettes behind the counter. Tobacco Free New York is working to protect our kids from being visually exposed to tobacco products. The simple campaign aims to gather support to move tobacco and tobacco marketing out of view of kids. As a parent of a tween and teen, this is something that I am on board with.

As readers of the blog you know that my family enjoys the great outdoors. We often spend our weekends eating, traveling and enjoying new experiences and adventures. It is important to me that my children are active and healthy and I ensure that they have healthy diets and get adequate sleep. They know the harmful effects that smoking can have on their health and have often questioned why people would knowingly harm themselves. While they are both anti-smoking and probably low-risk, it doesn’t help to see cigarettes and other tobacco products while we are shopping at the store.

As parents, we can do something to protect all our children from being exposed to tobacco products in stores. You can take action by simply pledging your support at the”Seen Enough Tobacco” site. Every pledge counts! Help make New York a healthier place to live, work and play!

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Five on Friday {Goodbye May}

And just like that May is done. I can’t believe how quickly the month went by. We had a great Memorial Day weekend, spending several days in Rhode Island at my parent’s house. Here are five highlights from this past weekend:

1. Beach Time – We spent Friday at the beach. We lucked out and it was empty! I told the kids to enjoy it since we wouldn’t see the beach this empty until after Labor Day. It was chilly and windy but we still enjoyed collecting shells and driftwood, walking on the beach and sitting and reading in the sunshine, while we listened to the ocean waves.

2. Book Reading – I got in some good book reading time as well. Over the weekend I FINALLY finished A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, the first book in the series. I started it in January and have been reading other books, but I’m so happy I finally got it finished. And it was really good too! I enjoyed the book much more than the first season of the show.

3. Waffle Sundaes – My mom made special desserts while we were up visiting including a homemade peach pie one night and these waffle sundaes the next. We might have been a tad bit spoiled!

4. Beautiful Sunset – My husband and I made a trip to the beach one night to catch the sunset. I mean, who doesn’t love a good sunset?! And this one didn’t disappoint. Everything’s better at the beach.

5. Memorial Day – We came home Sunday night so we were home for Memorial Day. Both the kids are in scouts and participated in our town Memorial Day ceremony.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared what we’ve been cooking lately.

Thursday I posted about what we’ve been watching this month.

Sharing with Friday Favorites! Hope you have a great weekend!

What We Watched {May 2019}

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

Although my DVR list is extremely long with shows that I need to catch up on, I don’t actually watch very much television. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to sit on the couch all weekend and catch up on old shows or binge watch all the ones that I’ve been meaning to watch. There’s just not enough time! The little time that we do have on weekends to watch television is usually spent as a family watching a show or movie together. Here is a quick recap of what we watched this past month:

Family Movies:

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A Dog’s Way Home – This movie is a bit cheesy and predictable. However, it doesn’t matter. I’m a sucker for a cute dog movie. While this one wasn’t my favorite, as usual, it still had me in tears…..and made my daughter want a dog.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – I will admit that I sat with the family “watching” this one. However, I wasn’t really paying attention to it. I didn’t watch the first one so I didn’t have a clue what was going on. The rest of the family enjoyed this movie though.

Date-Night Movies:

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A Star Is Born – I love the song “Shallow” from this movie, no matter how often it’s played on the radio. I of course had to finally see the movie. And I’m glad that I did, as I enjoyed it.

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The Favourite – I didn’t know much about this movie, except that it had some Golden Globe nominations. I really enjoyed this movie, I think even more so than A Star Is Born. Except, I didn’t like the ending.

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Green Book – I think my husband and I have finally watched almost all of the Oscar Nominated Best Picture movies, minus Vice, which we will hopefully be watching this weekend. I didn’t know much about Green Book prior to sitting down to watch the movie. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I can see why it won for Best Picture.

Television Time – Family Time:

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The Amazing Race – We started watching The Amazing Race as a family during season 29, back in 2017. We became such fans of Becca and Floyd that we did a 5 Questions With…..post with them! They are back in season 31’s Reality Show-Down and we are having so much fun watching them.

Television Time – Mom Time:

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Dead to Me – (Netflix) This show debuted on Netflix this month. The twists have me hooked and even though I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, I hope to finish this soon. There are ten episodes altogether and totally worth giving it a try!

Workin’ Moms (Netflix) – This month I finally caught up and watched the last few episodes of Workin’ Moms on Netflix. This is a Canadian show but I love how it captures all the different aspects of new motherhood.

Television Time – Couple Time:

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Game of Thrones Season 2 – I am so late to the Game of Thrones Game. One of my goals for 2019 is to read the first book in the series. I am a little over half-way through and it’s looking good for me to finish it by December. In the meantime, my husband and I have been watching the series. This month we finally finished watching season 2 and have started season 3. Since we are borrowing the DVDs from the library and some weeks only get a chance to watch one or two episodes, it’s taking us a LONG time to get through a season!





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Cooking Lately {May 2019}

Here is the monthly round up of some of the meals that we cooked in May. Although we cooked almost every week night, I’ve only posted the dinners that the family really enjoyed. There were a lot of tasty recipes this month and hopefully this gives you some new dinner ideas!

Beef and Broccoli – I’ve made beef and broccoli many times, but this was a new to us recipe. I roasted the broccoli in the oven and added it to the beef and sauce mixture at the end. This was a tad on the sweet side, but was tasty. I served it with rice.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – This is a low-carb casserole with a tasty sauce. I have to admit that I did miss the carbs. I needed pasta, rice or even potatoes to go with this, which I didn’t make. I served this with some veggies.

Chicken Tikka Masala Flatbreads – These were so tasty! And really easy to make too. I actually cooked the ground chicken the night before, knowing the next night we would be in a rush to eat. Then it was almost all just assembling the flatbreads and warming them up in the oven. This will definitely be a recipe repeat.

Cornbread Taco Bake – We love all things taco, but I’m always looking for new takes on the dish. This was a tasty meal that was easy to put together. This is a great fall/cool weather comfort food meal.

Burst Tomato and Bacon Rigatoni – I think this was one of the rare times that a Rachael Ray recipe actually took only 30 minutes to make. This was the first time I bought red pesto but I really liked the flavor it added to this dish and will likely buy it again. I used kale instead of swiss chard. I also cooked the pasta separately. Even though the recipe is a one pot meal, I haven’t had luck with pasta coming out well in one pot recipes. This was really tasty and I think would taste even better with ripe, summer cherry tomatoes.

Caprese Turkey Burgers – After last month’s burger overload, these were the only burgers I made this month. The hardest part was defrosting the spinach and squeezing out all of the water! The tomatoes had to be squished down to stay on the burger. Overall, this was a tasty burger that we all enjoyed.

Instant Pot Chicken Paprikash – I haven’t made an Instant Pot meal in awhile. We’ve been using the Instant Pot weekly to hard boil eggs and we always make our mashed potatoes in it. We just hadn’t cooked a dinner in awhile. The only change to this recipe I’d try next time is to use boneless thighs, as I dislike eating chicken off the bone. But the sauce was good and we just had to cook egg noodles to serve the chicken and sauce over.

One-Pan French Onion Chicken Gnocchi Bake – Warning, this meal did take a little bit of time to make. Caramelizing the onions requires a half hour and then the dish has to bake for 20 minutes. The recipe calls for cooked, shredded chicken, which my husband prepped the night before we made this. This dish is not photogenic at all. Nor does it look like the pictures in the recipe. However, the flavors were delicious. This is one of those comfort food meals that I’ll likely make again in the fall or winter.

30 Minute Cajun Butter Steak and Peppers – This dish was quick and easy and spot on with the time as well. I omitted the cayenne pepper and the fresh herbs and avocado. The seasoning blend of the steak was tasty and flavorful. We had burritos the night before I made this and my daughter put all of her steak, peppers and rice into a tortilla.

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Cell Phone Wars {Surviving 13}

Kids these days seem to be getting cell phones at a younger and younger age. My husband and I always agreed that thirteen seemed a fair age for our kids to get cell phones. We aren’t anti-technology and they both have had iPods for years. The iPods can do almost everything that a phone can do, except send texts (when not on WiFi) and make phone calls.

My daughter turned thirteen a month ago and she still does not have a cell phone. She assumed and told us that she is getting an iPhone 8. My husband and I recently upgraded to 8s because he didn’t even own an iPhone. When he went to purchase his there was a B1G1F deal. We debated saving the 8 for our daughter, as I was perfectly happy with my 6s. However, my husband told me that I should have the 8 and I didn’t really want a 13 year old having a better phone than me. We told her that she could get a cell phone at 13, but never told her it would be a new phone.

We’ve heard countless stories from my our daughter about how many of her friends have broken their phone screens or even lost their cell phones. Since when did it become the norm to allow children to carry around these, several hundred dollar pieces of technology, that are basically mini-computers?!!

Some parents I’ve talked to have gotten phones for their kids because both parents work late and it’s easier to keep up-to-date with their kids whereabouts and activities. Others have children who, if they had had a cell phone, could have avoided an anxiety-filled experience.

I see a cell phone as just another distraction. And if I’m going to give my daughter a phone, there are going to be rules set in place. The first stipulation we put in place months before she turned 13 was that she wasn’t being handed a phone at 13. She would have to show that she is responsible as well. Responsible being – she doesn’t need to be asked to do things ten times before they get done, that she doesn’t hold the family up because she’s late, that she gets her homework completed and gets to bed on time…..nothing life shattering. And guess what, months later, she still has not shown us this responsibility. So, she still doesn’t have a phone.

I also admit we were a bit lax with her iPod use. We’ve been a bit stricter now with her electronic time, but once a cell phone is involved, we have a phone contract that will be in place. Again, if she really wants the phone, she’ll sign the contract and follow our rules.

I know that she’s the only one in her friends group, and possibly even the whole grade, who doesn’t have a cell phone. In the rare times that she has needed to contact us, she borrows a friend’s phone or use the school phone. Somehow, millions of kids, including myself, were able to survive growing up without a cell phone.

So, we will continue to have to withstand the fights and the tears until she shows us that she is responsible enough to handle another piece of technology. I hope as an adult she can look back and be thankful that we didn’t just give her what she wanted and made her show she could be responsible. But for now, we will have to withstand the sometimes daily arguments. #Surviving13

Fun June Holidays to Celebrate with the Family

Although my teen would love to spend all of her time snapchatting, watching YouTube videos, binge watching Netflix shows and hanging out with her friends……my husband and I are big proponents of family time. As the kids get older it’s harder to find events and attractions that they are interested in going to. But, that doesn’t stop us from trying….even if we have to put up with some eye rolls and attitude! In just a couple of weeks, June will be here. Here are ideas to help your family celebrate some fun June Holidays!

June is Aquarium Month. Celebrate by taking a trip to your local aquarium.

June is also Candy Month. Surprise your kids with some of their favorite candy. Or, try MunchPak, a subscription box that includes candy and snacks from all over the world, for a monthly treat!

The first full week in June is National Gardening Week. Visit your local botanical garden. Plant some flowers. Or start planning your own garden.

Celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month by taking a trip to your local farm, farmer’s market or grocery store. Have the family pick out a new fruit and/or vegetable to try. It’s also a great time to join a CSA.

Here are some other fun holidays to celebrate with the family in June:

June 1National Trails Day: It’s a Saturday this year, which means that it’s a perfect day to celebrate by taking a hike! For locals, Rockefeller State Park has some easy hikes. It’s also fun to do some geocaching while you’re out hiking.

June 4 – National Cheese Day – If you have cheese lovers in your family, pick up some new cheeses to try. Or, go out for some fondue at The Melting Pot!

June 6 – National Yo-Yo Day – Have your kids ever tried to yo-yo? If not, today is a good day to try! Have a contest to see who can do it the longest.

June 7 – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day – Visit your local ice cream shop or pick up a pint of chocolate ice cream. If you want to have even more fun, pick up a couple of different brands of chocolate ice cream and have a family taste test to see which is everyone’s favorite.

June 7 – National Doughnut Day – If you don’t have chocolate ice cream lovers, celebrate National Doughnut Day instead. Pick up a doughnut from your favorite shop, or try making some doughnuts.

June 12 – National Peanut Butter Cookie Day – It’s a good day to finish up those Girl Scout Do-Si-Dos. Or bake a a batch of cookies to celebrate.

June 16 – Father’s Day – Today is all about dad! Find out what dad wants to do today. Make sure the kids have a card made. If you aren’t going to see your dad, make sure to call or send a card.

June 18 – Go Fishing Day – You may have to wait until the weekend to celebrate this day. But if you or your kids have never gone fishing, now is a great time to start!

June 21 – International Yoga Day – Celebrate by doing some yoga together.

June 21 – Summer Solstice – Today is the first day of summer. Make your family summer bucket list, if you haven’t already!