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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!

Happy List {April 16, 2020}

It’s really beginning to feel like Groundhog’s Day around here. Still looking for the happy each day though!

Family Chalk Art – I made the family go outside yesterday afternoon and create this chalk art. There were surprisingly no complaints from the kids and it was a fun family activity. Plus, it will hopefully bring a smile to all the neighbors who walk by (until the rain comes this weekend!).

Choose Joy – Something found on the internet, but so fitting for right now.

Kelly Clarkson Show – This episode of the Kelly Clarkson Show because I love Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake!

Happy List {April 15, 2020}

Yesterday was such a busy day that I missed my Happy List. Here is today’s three:

1. Birthday Celebration – Yesterday my daughter turned 14! Birthdays in quarantine stink. But we tried to make the most of it. She said she had a great day, which is all a parent can ask for. This is definitely a birthday that she will always remember! I’ll share more details in Friday’s Five on Friday post!

2. Show Us Your Books link up – Every month I participate in a book link up and share my monthly reads. It’s such a great way for me to get new book recommendations. Since the library is closed, I put a bunch of e-books on hold.

3. Cat Fashion Show – I don’t know how they did this – my cats would NEVER let us dress them up like this!

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March Reads {2020}

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I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during this global health pandemic. These are some crazy scary times that we are currently facing. My reading has definitely increased with all of this time at home. I’ve been reading books off of my own shelf and even reading on my kindle, which I rarely do. When you’re desperate for books, you go to drastic measures! As usual, I’m sharing this post with Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up. Here are my March reads:

3 stars

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Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde (ARC c/o Netgalley) – Brooke is driving her car when it gets hijacked with her two year-old daughter, Etta still in it. Etta is found by Molly, a teenager who has been living for months on the streets of L.A. Molly protects Etta and helps to reunite her with Brooke, which helps create a unique relationship between the three of them. This was my first Hyde book and I didn’t realize that she was such a prolific writer. This was just an okay read for me but I’m open to giving some of her other books a try.

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Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova – Lana wants to have a baby and after many failed attempts and miscarriages, resorts to an egg donor with her partner, Tyler. He tries to help fulfill Lana’s request to have a donor of Bulgarian descent. Katya is a college student who Lana meets by chance, and the two end up becoming friends. When Katya unexpectedly disappears, Lana ends up digging into Katya’s past and discovers the secrets she’s been keeping. This was my book club read for the month (even though we didn’t end up having book club). I’ve been trying to avoid reading too many suspense/thriller books because they’ve all been pretty disappointing recently. I was not a fan of this book. All of the characters were so unlikable and I didn’t find the story line very interesting.

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Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen – Adam and Sophie Warner are vacationing with their three year-old daughter when Adam sees his wife being abducted. Kristen and Connor are staying in a cabin next door to the Adam and Sophie. As Detective Lee Husemann investigates the case, she finds that the couples have a history and that secrets are being kept from her. This was just another okay suspense read for me.

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson – Amy Whey is married with an infant son and a stepdaughter. She helps run the neighborhood book club with her best friend Charlotte. But one, night, a new neighbor shows up. “Roux” gets the women liquored up and starts a game of Never Have I Ever, getting them to reveal their secrets. While Amy doesn’t reveal anything, it appears that Roux knows secrets from her past and blackmails her. Amy can’t afford to lose the life she loves, so she has to beat Roux at her own game. While this book did have lots of plot twists and surprises, it was just unbelievable on so many levels. Of course this didn’t keep me from finishing it, because I had to see how it would end.

4 stars

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Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner – This book follows Jo and Bethie Kaufman, from children in the 1950’s to present day adults. It shows how their past experiences have shaped them into who they are, tackling complex themes in a very readable way. I’ve only read a couple of Weiner’s books and they were read years ago, so I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read this one. But after seeing a lot of positive reviews, I gave it a try and I’m glad that I did. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would.

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Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein – This book is a guide to manifesting and becoming a super attractor (living in alignment with the universe). It will definitely be a little “woo-woo” for some people, but I found it pretty interesting.

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Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center – Cassie Hanwell is one of the only female fire fighters in the Texas firehouse that she has been working at all of her career. Cassie’s estranged mom invites her to Boston for one year, to assist her after a medical procedure. She ends up finding a job at a traditional all male firehouse. Not only does Cassie have to adjust to her new job, but she also needs to work on her relationship with a mother that she doesn’t really know. I’ve only read a couple of Center’s books, but I’ve enjoyed them all, including this one.

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Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – Pepper is a high school student, captain of the swim team and runs the twitter account for Big League Burger, the fast-food chain that her family owns. Jack is her classmate and the class clown, who works at his family’s deli. The two become involved in a Twitter war when Big League Burger steals a recipe from his family’s deli. This is a YA book that reads like a YA book. It’s a contemporary, light, fun read.

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What You Wish For by Katherine Center (ARC c/o Netgalley) – Samantha Casey is a librarian at an elementary school in Texas. The principal of the school unexpectedly passes away and his replacement is Duncan Carpenter. Samantha used to teach with the goofy, fun teacher before moving to Texas, and might have had an unrequited crush on him. But now, he’s a very serious person and making changes to the school that Samantha and her colleagues are not on board with. She becomes the one to stand up to him in hopes of saving the school that everyone loves. This book is expected to be published in July. Two Katherine Center books read in one month! Like Things You Save in a Fire, I enjoyed this book a lot!

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Happy List {April 13, 2020}

I took an unintentional Happy List break over the weekend. Hope everyone had a Happy Easter. Here’s today’s Happy List with a couple of extras!:

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We were lucky this week to be able to pre-order some @peacefulprovisions vegan doughnuts…..warning, they sell out so quickly! This week their menu was inspired by some of their fellow Peekskill restaurants. We got “Gleason’s”: traditional yeast doughnut topped with almond ricotta-thyme icing and a lemon olive-oil drizzle and “Peekskill Brewery”: a traditional yeast doughnut topped with a blackberry sour icing (using Peekskill Brewery’s simple blackberry sour) and a basil icing drizzle! These were a tasty breakfast treat! Pre-orders for Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings open up on Monday! . . . . . . #peacefulprovisions #peekskill #peekskilleats #westchestereats #gleasons #peekskillbrewery #doughnutgram #veganveganeats #westchestervegan #devourpower #delishdelights #nomnomnom #instayum #foodgasm #happyfood #biteofthebest #treatyoself #supportlocal #sweettooth #breakfastgoals

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1. Vegan donuts – These donuts need to be pre-ordered for weekend pick up and sell out so quickly. We finally remembered to order some earlier in the week and were able to get them again.

2. Celebrating birthdays – Over the weekend we participated in two birthday celebrations. The first was a neighborhood singing of Happy Birthday to one of the boy’s who lives on our street. The second was participating in a birthday car parade for one of my son’s friends. The mom had the fire truck lead the parade with lights and sirens. Birthdays are hard, especially for kids, during this quarantine.

3. Georgia Aquarium kitten field trip – How cute are these kittens?!!

4. Family dumpling making – My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow and she requested a luau themed dinner. So we all worked together yesterday to pre-make the dumplings. They are in the freezer and ready to be cooked.

5. Some Good News (SGN) with John Krasinski – Such a fun show, I had to post it again, since there’s a new episode! I laughed, I cried…..all the feels!

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Happy List {April 10, 2020}

Happy Friday! Enjoy today’s Happy List:

1. Homemade Beer Bread – My husband made this beer bread last night and OMG it was sooo good! He subbed olive oil for the butter to make it vegan.

2. New television: Saturday Night Live is airing a new, socially-distanced episode this weekend.  One more episode of Tiger King is being released on Netflix Sunday, April 12th – The Tiger King and I (an after show) hosted by comedian, Joel McHale.

3. Baby Tiger Cubs at Zoo Miami – Such cuteness!

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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!

Happy List {April 9, 2020}

A little late today with the happy list, but better late than never! Three things making me happy today:

1. Pastel painted nails – I apologize for the horrible picture. But, my husband painted my nails for me the other day and I’m loving my nails. There’s just something about having some color on them and this Essie Lilacism is a perfect spring pastel color!

2. Dogs in bread – I saw this on Facebook and just literally laughed out loud! Wish I had a dog to do this with….it just won’t work with cats.

3. Cherry Blossom Festival – Around this time there are several cherry blossom festivals that take place around us. My son is a huge fan of Japanese culture and these are a great day out for some culture and family fun. Also, going to see the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington D.C. is also on my bucket list. Now we all can enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. virtually.

Happy List {April 8, 2020}

Happy Hump day! Half-way through the week…..we got this! Here are three things making me happy:

1. Stay Home, Take Care – from the creators of Girls Night In, Stay Home, Take Care is a website with ideas for self care during this stressful time. There are different categories with lots of different ideas to help you take care of YOU!

2. SGN w/ John Krasinski – Sadly, I am new to Some Good News (SGN) with John Krasinski. I just watched Episode 2 for the first time this morning and couldn’t believe what I’ve been missing out on. This short show celebrates all the good that’s going on right now amidst the pandemic. The Hamilton birthday surprise at the end was = 100%!

3. Homemade cookies – My daughter has turned to baking as her “being productive” activity. Last night she made these Soft Baked Vegan Sugar Cookies. She bakes (and cleans up….part of the deal!) and we all get treats. Win for everyone!

Happy List {April 7, 2020}

Happy Tuesday! One week into April, here is today’s happy list:

Free Photography Classes with Nikon – Learning to take better photos has always been on my to-do list. Nikon is offering free photography classes for the month of April.

Free Headspace Meditations – In a partnership with Governor Cuomo, Headspace is offering New Yorkers (and anyone) free meditations. I still find meditation difficult, but if there was anytime to really practice, now is the time.

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3. Homescapes Game App – I used to be a Candy Crush addict, but this game has become my recent obsession. It is a match-3 game with a story line. As you win levels you get to complete tasks to help Austin renovate his parent’s home.