Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Makeover or under?

I was watching the news the other night. I think it was Nightline. They were showcasing Mary Kay and how awesome they're still doing even in a bad economy. The line that stuck out for me was something like "In any recession, while people are cutting back on everything else, you've never heard anyone say they're going to cut out their their mascara. Or stop buying lipstick" So, as I was putting on my (free) mascara from a Lancome gift-with-purchase, I started thinking about it and how much I care about make-up. Or how much I don't. How I can covet trendy handbags, semi-expensive colorful shoes, yet, walk around on the average weekday, with no make-up on, dressed like what Oprah used to call a "Schlumpadinka". I guess everyone has their thing. I love, love, love my navy blue sequin bag with the attached disco ball. So what if I'm carrying it while wearing Nike running (walking?) pants, sneakers, and an old Rider sweatshirt?

This Mary Kay thing resonated with me though. I like to look nice when I have somewhere to go besides Park N Play or dropping E off at school. When I was in LBI with my friends in October, my friend Hezz brought this most excellent eye shadow set to do up our faces. It was the coolest thing I've ever seen. It's called Urban Decay's Naked Palette: http://tinyurl.com/6c7b9sy. She did up my eyes and I looked fab. She did up half the rest of the house and they looked fab too.

I have tons of eye shadows. TONS. They come in every gift-with-purchase every time I buy a nail polish, eye liner or moisturizer. The gift is the only reason I ever even buy "make up counter make-up". I toss the make-up remover, shove the free black mascara & eyeliner combo in a box and throw the eye shadows in a little white bin I keep next to my vanity mirror. I always have the high hopes of being able to do something with them, but I try, and I feel like it looks stupid. AND, one eye always looks better than the other. I don't even know if I have the right brushes or how to use them.

Sephora sent me a $15 off $50 coupon so I bought the Naked Palette. I don't know what I'm going to do with it- maybe barter lampshades with Hezz to get her down here from Massachusetts to give me a tutorial. Or I can just do what everyone else probably does and look up some tutorials on YouTube. If you're in the market for some eyeshadow in neutral but still interesting shades that didn't come with a free gift, this is definitely the way to go. Usually the gift shadows are weird, hard for the make-up skill challenged person to attempt. Like, pink and silver. Or shimmery white. Seriously?

So, really, I don't put on a full face of make-up for school drop-off, but I do like to look like I've actually slept more than five hours a night (which is actually how long I usually do sleep). I thought I'd give you my findings for what I think is a pretty natural looking face. Not too done, not totally undone. And I don't like to spend a lot of money. The Naked thing was for three reasons- One: Hezz made me look like a rockstar. Two: I had the coupon. Three: It has colors I'd actually use and I could dump all the crappy ones I'd been keeping. I have an internet friend, Cassondra, who seems to put on a full totally gorgeous face every day of what looks like a MAC counter to me. It makes me tired, poor, and envious just looking at her photos.

I'm a big fan of CVS and all it has to offer. It works for my face and my wallet. But any drugstore or Target will do. I'm not picky. But, with my food and make-up, I am a brand shopper so it just have to have the specifics. CVS has most of them and it's the closest to my house.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer: http://tinyurl.com/7chaa79. It's sheer and doesn't feel like a mask. I do have some sun spots on my face and it doesn't totally cover it. But, that's what you get when you go sheer. I'm not willing to do the heavy hand so this is totally fine for me. It's also taken me like a year to use the whole tube. A little goes a long way.

L'Oreal True Match Super Blend Concealer- http://tinyurl.com/7yodxha. It works. It's the only concealer I've found that didn't give me raccoon-eye. Clinique also has one too that's pretty decent. It came in a Gift and since I haven't been in a tanning bed since October, I'm pale enough to use it. But, I wouldn't pay whatever the price is for it. It'll probably last me for years.

*Yes, I'm aware they tell you make-up has a shelf-life but I don't subscribe to this. NONE of my make-up, some of which I've had through the W presidency, has ever "gone bad", separated, smelled weird or given me any infections.

Cover Girl Pressed Powder: http://tinyurl.com/7lsprsw Self-explanatory. I've used it since high school. It doesn't get cakey and the color seems fine without getting into the crazy number of shades they have at a counter or even in the drugstore brand that goes from powder to liquid. All I want it to do is go over the Neutrogena "Enhancer". I don't know the difference between Bisque and Buff Medium. Nor do I want to or care. I want to be able to quickly grab it and get the hell out.

Maybelline Shine Free loose powder- http://tinyurl.com/7mzvksa. I use this too, in lieu of the pressed powder. It's whatever is closest to me when I'm putting on my face. It lasts forever too. I can't remember the last time I bought one yet, I still have plenty.

*I do also have Lancome Dual Finish pressed powder. It's $35. You know why I bought this if you've been reading. I don't know what Dual Finish is supposed to do, nor do I want to do it. It sounds like a pain and I'm not that interested. But, I do like it as an actual powder. http://tinyurl.com/84z5kvz

NOW- I found THE BEST lip balm ever. The other day, I ran into CVS to grab some tissues. I left with this- Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm- http://tinyurl.com/7u5dbhl. It ROCKS. I hate lipstick. Well, no, I don't hate it. I wish I could wear it. But, my whole life, I've had extremely dry lips and lipstick always gets cakey or I bite it off. I feel it on me and it drives me crazy. I end up with a tube of Blistex medicated which ends up looking like I just ate powdered doughnuts. Lip gloss is ALWAYS too gooey-goopy, those lip-stains look like I magic markered my mouth, and Chapstick is too waxy. I've tried tinted balms but none seem to be the right color. I bought it in "Fresh Plum" and it's PERFECT.

One thing I've never found is a good drugstore blush. I've been using Lancome's Blush- Cedar Rose, for a million years. I don't even know if they make that color anymore. I bought a new one a year ago, haven't gotten to open it yet since I'm still on the last bit of the old one. Why do I buy Counter blush? Because you can test it out IN the store, touch it, feel the consistency. Blush is tricky. It's not something you can buy all wrapped in plastic. I'd rather get it right the first time and not have to deal with the wrong color when I get home. No one wants to look like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane with two Pepto-pink cheeks. I also buy Lancome Liquid Eyeliner- because Estee Lauder doesn't make one. Those are my two counters because I like the free "age defying" moisturizers that always come in the gift bag.

Lastly, when I do get a little more glamorous, I actually CAN and DO put on false eyelashes. The best lashes are also bought at CVS- either Ardell, Andrea or Revlon: http://tinyurl.com/72psoa8. Revlon even recently came out with a paintbrush glue. Can't get much easier than that. Of course, the first time it took me an hour. But, it's gotten less and less time consuming as I've done it more times. I think I'm down to like five minutes and eye. And they look damn good if I do say so myself.

There you have my picks for a *mostly* economically made-up face. Being Barbizon trained in 1988 did not prepare me for later life without rainbow colored eyelids, "contouring" blush, and pink frosted lips.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My friend Jenny......

Or our friend. Jenny Craig, that is. I read Valerie Bertinelli's book- Losing it: Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time back in January of 2008. I LOVED it. I really liked her candor and she made Jenny Craig sound so easy and manageable. http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Gaining-Life-Back-Pound/dp/1416568182

So, I found myself feeling like I NEEDED to try it. Valerie had a book signing at Bookends in Ridgewood in February 2008 and I was in line with the rest of the Barbara Cooper fans. I was inspired and signed up the next day. Of course B did it with me...because that's just what we do. I knew I was going to try to get pregnant in the next few months so I figured it couldn't hurt to lose some weight prior so that I wouldn't feel like a house while I was pregnant.

Let me preface the rest of "our" journey with some facts. No, I'm not obese, but I've never had a healthy relationship with food. I'm either rigidly doing some diet or justifying eating a daily cupcake and 2 lbs of jelly beans a week. Yes, I said "a week", and if you ask the friendly lady who owns the Candy Store in Garden State Plaza, and she understands what you're asking, she'll corroborate that statement. Anyway, I've been a size 2 and a size 12. Before anyone says, "oh, boo hoo, I'd be happy to be a size 12! What an asshole.", understand it's not about the number- it's not even about the number on the scale. It's about how I feel in my skin and in my clothes. EVERYONE, whether they want to admit it or not, KNOWS what is their "happy weight". Not only do I know my happy weight, I know my "too skinny I look like a bobblehead weight" and my "oh my god, no amount of Barbizon trick posing is going to make that arm not look like a medieval turkey leg weight". I just want to be able to fit in my own clothes comfortably without having to get bigger ones. I'm not weight-greedy at this point.

When I was 25, after a tumultuous life altering break-up, I went to "thin enough to rock pleather pants and sequin bandeau top at D'Jais" weight of 125. By the way, that's what most men think all women should weigh. I think I read that in Maxim once. Yeah, well that was 25, many moons and platform shoes ago and completely unobtainable ever again. I think I was eating a piece of turkey roll on a half a piece of bread and calling it a day. On my wedding day, I weighed 138 and that was rough to maintain. That's my "I'll look good, but a jelly bean would show in my gullet like a snake eating a mouse weight". I didn't look sick- I looked good. But, I could never enjoy another cupcake at that weight. I might as well kill myself then.

I think when B and I went on Jenny in 2008 I was probably around 160. That's my "lazy but still watching somewhat weight". Oh, I'm 5'7 by the way. Just in case you're following along and comparing. As an aside- that's SO what I do when I read Shape or one of those magazines where they chronicle people's weight loss. I'm always so bummed when someone is 5'7, weigh like 130 and make it sound effortless. I'd have to spend my life chained to a treadmill. And not mine where I only go as fast as I can still hear the TV. Whatever- I went off on a tangent. So, we went on and I think B and I weighed about the same. It's always awesome when you weigh as much as your husband. He's about 5'8 if you're interested in that too.

We did Jenny for like four months. Of course B ended up losing so much weight they told him if he didn't stop losing he wouldn't be allowed to buy anymore food. Jenny's wet dream. For me, it was good- I never got to my goal of 138-140 but I made it to like 142 and I was ok with that. I also found out I was pregnant in May 2008. So, I did my last week of food when I found out and that was that. I will say, I was happy I had lost so much before I got pregnant but it was HARD to get used to the mindset of seeing the scale go higher with the baby in there. I was so used to weekly weigh-ins expecting/hoping the numbers went DOWN.

I gained 40-42 lbs with my pregnancy. So, I think I gave birth at around 180. I was horrified to be honest, but I tried not to think about it. I also thought I'd give birth and like a basketball coming out, I thought my stomach would just go down. It did not. But, I lost 20 lbs rather quickly and I was back at that 160 mark. I went back to my old friend Jenny. This time, it was a lot harder. I was doing it alone. B didn't feel like doing it again. I was also a new mom with what felt like a lot of new stress and while I wasn't particularly "stress eating", I just wasn't as rigid with the program. I didn't buy their breakfasts- I ate my own cereal. I didn't buy their snacks, I had my own. I think doing that, while saving money, allowed me a different mindset. Just more lax about it. I could've done that down the road after some success but not right away. I need that whip cracked, so to speak. So, it took me a long time to get down to around 145. I think that's around what I was when E was between 7-8 months old. Then my mom dropped dead. I'm not going to go into the whole dead mom thing here because this is about Jenny. I'll just say, due to circumstances, I lost another five pounds.

I was actually able to maintain that for like a year! THEN, last fall, for Hanukkah, B bought me that damn candy dispenser from Brookstone, that I love with every fiber of my being. For my jelly beans. And boy did it get use. That was the start of my downfall. Then I found Cupcakes by Carousel. Next, around June of this year, I was in Victoria's Secret when I found the "Boyfriend Pant". These are literally the most dangerous and damaging things to hit the market. Well, for my ass. You put these on and you instantly have a craving for ice cream, a soft blanket, and Lifetime Television. I actually don't even eat ice cream but in those pants, anything is possible. I finally learned the urban legend that you grow to fit your pants is not really urban legend. It's absofuckinglutely, 100% true. Of course, being me, I bought five pair over the next month or so and started wearing them almost daily. They're heaven with brushed cotton insides and giant pockets. I think one of them even says PINK on the behind. I wasn't even choosy with them. One pair is neon pink. I could direct planes wearing them.

I knew, but was ignoring, that when I washed the pants, they were feeling a little tighter and tighter. I blamed the dryer. Then I took E to tennis class and my pants split. That was kind of my wake up call when I couldn't make eye contact with anyone as I left the building with him since I looked like I was channeling old school/80's Joe Elliot. And not in a nostalgic, hot kind of way. But, really, all my jeans were starting to feel tight, I didn't like any pictures of me (which those that know me would say was a tip off), and I just didn't feel good getting dressed.

I'm not sure how we came to the decision to go back on Jenny together this time. B was probably complaining about the dinners I was giving him (cold salads from the Kings deli counter). He tells me he likes something so I buy it. Enough for every day. I just forget not everyone can eat the same thing every night like I can. He said we should just do Jenny, it's easier, it's quick, and we'll both look good by spring. He has maybe 5 lbs to lose, but I appreciate the Jenny companionship. And not having to deal with his dinners.

We went back to the center this past Wednesday evening. I was looking forward to their no-brainer way of eating. I did a pre-weigh in of my own, naked, at home, so I wasn't shocked when I stood on the scale there. 160. Awesome. I'd gained like 12-15 lbs in five months. I decided "for my file" that my "happy weight" is 140-145. Anywhere in there, I'm good. All my clothes will fit, I look nice, and I feel good. It's manageable to where I can still have cupcakes here and there and I'm sure I can have a few jelly beans if the mood strikes. I just can't eat 2 lbs of them a week.

They are running a special right now- 4 weeks for $15. That's the lowest I've seen it, I think. I think I signed my life away this time. I was paying the "deal" memberships for almost 4 months and I spent about 1/3 of what I would've spent if I just bought the longer deal to begin with. For me, it's worth it. I'm never going to lose as fast as B and he's going to get bored of it much sooner than I would.

Wednesday night both B and I were mentally hungry. Just knowing we were starting is an emotional thing as well as physical. Thursday, we were starving. Not necessarily because we weren't eating enough- we just weren't used to it again. We need to be reigned in like every six months. By Friday, we were both busy, didn't get to eat much until later in the day so it was getting easier. Saturday I wasn't really hungry and Sunday neither. Our bodies are getting used to the lesser amount of calories and it's working. I'm on 1200 calories and B is on 1500. I did a mid-week weigh in at home and I'm already down to 157 lbs. I'm finding it easier not to eat the "bad" stuff or off E's plate.

We're not really doing much this month even though it's the holidays so I'm not concerned how the holidays are going to affect our staying on track. If we go to the movies on Christmas like the rest of the Jews, and like we did last year, I'll cheat with a small bag of heavily buttered popcorn. Because I'm not going to deny myself everything I love for the rest of my life. The whole idea of any diet anyway is to be able to work in your real life.

And for those interested in the actual food...It's GOOD. *I* happen to really like it. People have asked, "well isn't it just like getting a Lean Cuisine?". I don't know. Maybe it is. But, it's more a mindset. You feel like you're in control with the Jenny meals. I've also heard on the news that the frozen dinners in the supermarket have been tested and are often 20% higher in calories than they say on the box. I don't want to get caught in that game- eating that only to not lose and then be hard on myself not knowing where I went wrong. The Classico Chicken Parmesean, the meatloaf and potatoes, and the mac &cheese, are my favorite dinners. The Sunshine Sandwich and the blueberry pancakes /sausage are my favorite breakfasts. My favorite lunches are the stuffed chicken sandwich and the meatball stuffed sandwich. There are other meals I like but my point is, the food isn't total shit. Or maybe it is if you're a foodie, but I'm not. I don't know the difference between homemade lasagna and Jenny's aside from the size of the portions! I've now also eaten way more jello than I've ever eaten in my life. It's "free" food so you can have as many as you like. We've "liked" it a lot.

So, that's my Jenny story. If you need to lose weight and think you can stick to frozen meals for awhile, it's the easiest thing you'll ever do once you get past the first few days. We go to the one in Paramus, on Rt 4 next to BUCU, Destination Maternity, Houlihans, etc. They're nice, quick, and really work with you on your goals if you need them. I highly recommend it! Hopefully I'll make it to that 145 in no time....


Monday, December 5, 2011

Lots of Natural History

B had been anxious to take E to see the dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He seems to remember going as a kid and since that's pretty much one of the only memories he has of his childhood, he was excited to share it with E. I'm not a huge fan of museums. I know, *gasp*. I'm not that cultured. Lest anyone not realize that on their own based on my love of all that is reality tv. It's not that I didn't think I'd have fun, it's just not the first thing I think of as something I want to do for the day. E does love dinosaurs though so I knew he'd think it was cool.

We went on Sunday and anticipated getting there rather quickly. We did. I think we left around 11a and got there, parked and inside before noon. So, there are things to know if you're taking a trip there....

It's confusing as hell to even know where to get tickets. You can get tickets online or at those same kind of kisoks you see in the airport to check-in. There are "recommended donation"prices. Now, I don't know how you go about paying less but if you're willing to just pay whatever they're asking you don't have to wait on line and talk to an actual person. You use the kiosk. If you want to pay some other amount you wait on line. We waited on line because we also had questions. There are different kinds of tickets. General admission, general "plus one" (one special exhibit) and then general plus 2 or more special exhibits. The special exhibits also have times you're supposed to keep to and you are supposed to know what order and when you want to see what as you're buying your ticket. I guess they do this because they have to keep some order in the place but for us, it was a lot to process at that moment.

Big decisions on what to do. We have a toddler. We don't know what he's going to be like from hour to hour and how long he'd last looking at stuff. So we took our best guess, bought tickets for general admission plus 2 or more special things (four exhibits, to be exact). It was $33/adult. Not sure what it is for kids. The guy asked us how old E is and we said "He's two.". He just said ok. We didn't read any signage until later. Just saying 2 isn't clear- you have to say like, two and a half. Because over 2 you're supposed to pay. We would have- we were just so confused and felt pressure to be quick since it was a long line. We said two, he didn't charge us, and we just went on our way. Anyway, the itinerary we picked had us going until like 4p and it was only noon. Just thinking about that made me tired.

*Strollers are allowed everywhere but the special exhibits you pay for. Just FYI. And at E's age, there was no way we could've gone through this whole museum without it. Too big and spread out.

It wasn't that crowded. Or as crowded as we'd expected. We walked around the dinosaur exhibit first and then into the special "Largest Dinosaur" exhibit. Both were cool but I'm not exactly sure why it cost more for the Largest Dino thing. E didn't really understand that he was looking at their bones but thought it was cool none the less. But, it took us a really short time to walk through there. I guess if we had an older child that really knew what he was looking for or at, it might've taken longer. Plus, people were taking pictures, which I thought was kind of weird because what are you going to do with those? But, whatever. So, the next thing wasn't for another 40 minutes or so. It's just confusing- there are a lot of different elevators that take you to different places.

I actually got lost and separated from B and E. I felt like a kid in a mall. I had no phone, no money, no car keys or jacket. I told B I was going to the bathroom which was downstairs by the food court. He said he'd take E in the stroller down the elevator and meet me there. I went down the stairs. I quickly used the facilities and came out. No B and E. I wait. I look in the food area. Still no family. I started to get frantic which is so not me, but I felt like this is what news stories are made of and I was nervous. Luckily about ten minutes later I checked this other elevator area and there they were. I literally almost started crying. I don't know what came over me, but in my head I had been like, "oh my god- I have nothing, they are nowhere, what could've happened to them..." so on and so forth.

We were starving and figured we'd take this time to eat. The food ALL looked awesome. I packed a lunch for E, thank god, because it was EXPENSIVE to buy their food. They had your average hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fries. But, they also had sushi, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, pizza, a salad bar with hot and cold food, giant cupcakes, cookies, fruit, chips, and more. There were just a lot of choices. B had sushi and some stuff from the hot food bar. He liked everything. I had a turkey burger and fries. Also good. But, this all cost $35 and that was without food for E, a drink for me (I brought my own) and no dessert. It's cafeteria style which works, we found a seat easily and they have high chairs.

We went looking for our next thing which was a frog exhibit. It was cool, but again, I'm not sure what constitutes the extra cost. They had these electronic kiosks where you could learn about different frogs which I liked.

Next up was the Imax. No strollers in there- you leave them outside the doors. I was a little apprehensive about it but I guess if they had a stolen stroller epidemic they would tell you to leave it at your own risk. I left it and it was fine. The movie- It's narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and about all the planets, sun, moon and stars. We were able to get in just as it was about to start. That was good because we didn't have to wait on a line and it didn't matter where you sat- it was the same view. We thought E would really be into it but meanwhile, it started it and he was clinging to me for dear life. He was really scared. But, he didn't cry and didn't ask to leave. And actually, he regurgitated to us later, info he heard Whoopi say about the planets. It was kind of awesome. He did sit on my lap, it wasn't full and it was a nice break from walking around. I bet if we went back, E wouldn't be scared at all, but since this was the first time in an Imax, I totally understood.

The last special exhibit we did was seeing the butterflies. It's literally 80 degrees in the greenhouse thing they're in. And HUMID. Butterflies just fly around freely and can land on you. You're just not supposed to touch them. None landed on us, but it reminded me a little too much of Silence of the Lambs in there. E really likes butterflies though so I wanted him to be able to see that exhibit.

We got into every exhibit early and were done by 3:30 I think. They didn't keep to the times and we zipped through the exhibits as one does with most things having a two year old. I guess if it was really crowded they would keep more strictly to the times on your ticket. By the time we left, B and I were exhausted but E seemed still raring to go, as usual.

It was a really nice experience, aside from getting lost in there, and the exhibits were really great for any age to see. Older kids might get more out of it than E did but he definitely retained some of what he saw. If you haven't been there, it's definitely a nice day. Had it been warmer out and we weren't so tired, Central Park is right across the street so there is another place to go before or after if you're looking to make a whole day of it.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanks and Giving

Belated Happy Thanksgiving all! Hope the holiday was turkey and more. Our "more" was a 6lb brisket I made. Courtesy of Shop Rite in Oakland. Which, if I hadn't mentioned before, has the best supermarket butcher around. There are actually people in there when you need them, have questions, or need a cut of something that isn't out. I rarely see this in other markets. Maybe it happens but I've been in a lot of markets and never have seen such a helpful butcher area. Anyway, they're also the only ones to readily have a 5-6.5lb brisket around. I don't know why, but 2-3lb seems to be the norm. Well, after cooking that would amount to maybe enough for two people? Certainly not 12-14 people. So, they had a 6lb and that's what I took. By the way, for some reason I had a bug up my ass to cut the fat off PRIOR to cooking it. I don't know what I was thinking except that I HATE having to trim it when I'm cutting it 3/4 of the way through. It's so gross. So, I just grabbed a big knife and started cutting it off, as much as I could. Then, I got all nervous that I messed it up and wondered if I needed the fat. Too late. But, it came out awesome. So, I'll be doing that again.

I also made a sweet potato casserole- http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/sweet-potato-casserole-ii-2/detail.aspx. I did add a few things like an egg and a dash of heavy cream. I also didn't use regular sweet potatoes. I used yams in a can. I just drained all the syrup. Then I put all the ingredients into the Kitchen Aid (stand) Mixer I got a few years ago because of a craze on the NJ board theNest.com. Trust me it was a frenzy and this non-cooker/baker NEEDED this thing I've used like five times. BUT, for this casserole it was perfect. I hate lumpy sweet potato and this made it perfect. It looked awesome and tasted even better. Yeah, it was really sweet but in my opinion that's how it's supposed to be. Other than that, it was just a regular, nice meal. No complaints, no drama, good company and good food.

Before we could even say good-bye to our Thanksgiving meal, I was already in deep conflict with myself as to whether or not to go out for the pre-Black Friday sales that were starting Thursday night. I normally love the frenzy of Black Friday shopping and pre-E, I used to go to the mall at 7a in Paramus to catch some deals. I'm not a great morning person though and B has to work on Black Friday, alone in the store, so I really can't go out with E to do that kind of thing. Last year Toys R Us was opening at 11p so I decided to go. B hates even the thought of the whole Black Friday blitz thing and doesn't get it. So, he'd never go. But, he was fine with me going. I had waited in a ginormous line for an hour to get into TRU, met some cool people and only spent $40 getting a few things for E and his friends.

THIS year, stores were opening even earlier and it sort of grossed me out. I couldn't put my finger exactly what bothered me about it but it did. I just kind of have a whole bah-humbug spirit on purchasing. Look, I LOVE shopping. I do. And I don't need a reason. But, something about this years crazy consumerism has me not able to partake in the whole thing. So, I didn't go out on Thanksgiving. I did go out on Black Friday to Ridgewood because I needed to let E walk off some energy. It was CRAZY there because I guess people didn't want to go to the mall. Gymboree had a ridiculous sale so I got E two coats for next winter and a pair of boots for this one. But, that's it.

Cyber Monday didn't do it for me either. I was able to get E some good deals on kid movies for his Hanukkah gifts. Last year, I felt like Amazon had crazy good deals but I didn't see anything. Same with Toys R Us. Now, maybe had I gone to the store I would've seen something in person that I would've been excited about but that didn't happen.

None of this is "negative" though. It all means that I saved my money!

B said he was cool with some holiday decoration so the year before last we got blue and white stockings for the mantle. I put our names on them with silver glitter. Last year we couldn't find them so we just didn't put any up. This year, on Saturday night, we took a trip to the Christmas Tree Shop and found cooler ones! These are a navy blue with gold and silver Jewish stars on them. They look so much better in our house. The other ones were more of a Smurf blue. They were fine but didn't go as well as the navy with the gold and silver accents. I'd run to the Christmas Tree Shop if you're looking for any Hanukkah stuff. I'm sure it won't be there for long. They had a really decent selection considering most places have none. Since it was the weekend most people would be buying holiday decorations, I thought it would be nuts parking and inside. It actually wasn't a zoo in there and we were in and out pretty quick. We also made a pit stop at Garden State Plaza around 8p (for my jelly beans) since we were in the same parking lot pretty much. I expected not to be able to even find a spot. I did, by Neimans. I got in and out in like ten minutes. It was weird because on a normal Saturday you can barely get in there but I guess it was a good thing for me!

Sunday was E's last Teddy Tennis class. E liked it so I guess it's sad, in a way, that it's over. But, I'm not that bothered. First of all, the class started with like eight kids in it. As time went on, it seemed it was less and less. I don't know what happened. Considering the owner didn't want to give me the $20 discount to re-sign him up, I highly doubt she was refunding money to people. So, what that would mean is that some people paid around $400+ to just not show up. That would seem weird if I hadn't spent 10 weeks in a waiting area/lobby listening to people talk about how much money they have, name-drop, and rudely talk extremely loud for long periods of time on their cell phones. Maybe $400 isn't a big deal for some of these people to waste on a kid not going to class. Of course I'm just being judgy, but hey- I call it like I see it. At any rate, my issue with the actual class was that I guess they follow some kind of timed curriculum. So, when it got down to 3-4 kids in the class, the class was ending early. Or much earlier than it did with more kids. If it was a timed curriculum and there were less kids, why not just let the kids there have extra time then? I don't know. I don't know WHAT was going on. But, it's over and I can do without being out of the house by 8:55 every Sunday mornings because that's for the birds.

We've been going to Van Saun for the past three weeks after class. One reason is, we found out by driving there that Abma's Farm is CLOSED on Sunday. I did not know this information because I didn't look it up. E loves Abma's and he loves to feed the animals there. It's a no-go for Sundays FYI. Van Saun was fine because the carousel and train were still running. Till this past weekend. We went and the sign was up- the train and carousel are closed for the season. Another good FYI to note.

My last FYI is about Barns & Noble. And it's a good one. B bought me a Nook two birthdays ago- so a year and a half ago. Normally he doesn't go for those insurance/protection plans that come with appliances or gadgets. They usually ARE kind of BS. They end up not covering anything you need it to, etc. But, he got the one with the Nook thinking I might get "something sticky" on it or who knows what. I don't use the Nook THAT often because the iphone has me completely backed up on my magazines. Yes, physical magazines, of which I have many subscriptions. As a side note, I get into phases. Sometimes I'm reading a new book every few days and then I don't read one for months. Right now I'm in that whole months phase. So, I was neatening up and prioritizing my magazines and picked up my Nook. I opened the cover and the Edgar Allen Poe face was on. That means it was "on" but not on. Resting? I don't know. But I distinctly remembered it being blank, as in totally off. I tried turning it off. Nothing. Face still there. I tried plugging it in and the face still was there, no recognition of being plugged in. I knew I had to bring it in. I didn't know about the protection plan, or at least I didn't remember. So I was geared up to be annoyed.

I went in to B&N and didn't have a lot of confidence. They sent me up to "Rory", one of their "Nook Experts" in the music section. He tried some stuff for about 10 minutes. He was baffled. He said he never saw the EAP face still on with no battery in it. He called tech support and in two minutes he put me on the phone with them. They told me they were sending me a new Nook and all I had to do was send the old one back when I get the new one. That's it. Easy. If I don't send it back within the 14 days, they'll charge me for the new one. Easiest customer service situation I think I've ever had. Go B&N!

By the way, I have a 1st generation Nook which is now going for $89. It reads books. That's all I need it to do. My next gadget want is an Ipad. I don't need a special book reading tablet than can do a few other cool things. However, I did take a little look-see at the newer Nooks, including the $249 tablet and it looked cool as hell. Same with the $199 color one. I'm sure the Kindle is great too. I just know nothing about them. To be honest, I don't know much about my Nook beyond it reading books. And as time goes on, I'm sure the newest of Kindle and Nook will just continue neck and neck competition. I'm sure either one is fine.

That about wraps up the last week or so with my reviews and whatever. I just have a few other little tidbits to take note of-

Of course I have to mention cupcakes. One, A la Cupcakes in Glen Rock is now open on Sundays through the holiday season. Yay! I mean, not really yay for me because B and I are going back on Jenny Craig. But yay for anyone else in need of a great cupcake fix. Two, I tried their chocolate chip cookie cupcake and let's just say it's a good thing I'm going on Jenny. It's indescribably delicious.

There are some deals going on right now that are worth checking out-

One month membership at Gymboree on Living Social- http://www.livingsocial.com/cities/531/deals/177914-one-month-gymboree-membership
E and I are just finishing this deal and it's been good. We've been going on Saturdays and he's been enjoying it. The Waldwick location only has classes up to Level 5 which is a little too young for E but he was fine with it. For the four classes (1x a week) it was totally worth it for us.

US Weekly for $40 instead of $67- http://www.livingsocial.com/cities/531/deals/192806-one-year-subscription-to-us-weekly-magazine. No explanation necessary. This is one of my subscriptions.

Lastly, check out the WGirls to see what they're doing for people this holiday season. http://wgirlsnyc.org/. Here is the link to buy tickets to Hope for the Holidays in NYC- http://wgirlsnyc_hope.charityhappenings.org/. If you're looking for worthy causes to donate to this season, none are more deserving than what my girls have going on!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Daycare- Glen Rock/Fair Lawn borders

I saw this the other day and meant to post about it but I didn't remember to write down the phone number so I figured I'd get to it another time. Then, I opened my mailbox today and The Glen Rock Gazette was in it and there's an ad so I'm following up with a blog post.

So many people ask me if I know of any day care centers in the area. I really don't know of any this close so I thought it was a great place for a new one. It's called Rainbow Academy and from the website it looks like a chain. http://www.rainbowacademy.com/

I don't know the reputation they have so I'm not vouching for them, but if you live in Glen Rock or Fair Lawn, it's literally straddling the border on Maple Ave between the two towns. The address is Fair Lawn. I drove by a few days ago and they were still doing the build-out on the inside but it is a brand new building. It's between Brunswick Lanes and TD Bank.

They're running a special for full-time enrollees- $500 off your first month. The phone number is 201-773-8770. From the ad it seems pretty high-tech- they have that internet ParentView monitoring, which I always thought sounded very cool. A lot better than trying to rely on a nanny-cam. They also have hours from 7a-6:30p.

So, if you need daycare, it looks like a good place to check out! Good luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Musing?

I wanted to call this Tuesday's Tip, but I couldn't wait for Tuesday. I need to tell everyone what I'm obsessing about.

It's the Clorox Bleach Pen- http://www.clorox.com/products/clorox-bleach-pen/. Yes, I know, it's not nearly as interesting as cupcake reviews. But, let me tell you, this is like a magic invention. I think the last time I bleached any article of clothing was in the 80's. I was trying to get my jeans and possibly a denim jacket to rival Joe Elliot's in the Pour Some Sugar On Me video. It didn't work, I messed up my mom's bathroom carpet, the rips looked weird and the bleach definitely looked home-done. And not in a good way.

I had two tank tops and three thermal tops that I wear for exercise. I think I have hard water or something- I don't know what. But, three of the tops all of a sudden had these weird brown marks on them. There weren't toddler marks, as in poop, or food. And I've seen these marks before. Not in this house, in a long time, but I've seen them. I saw this bleach pen in the store and on impulse I bought it thinking I'd try it on these. Also, not to be gross, but from exercise and bad deodorant or bad armpits, I had pit stains on the thermals. I'd been told there is NO WAY to get that out. "NOT EVEN BLEACH". I'd actually tried bleach IN the water here and there over the years and whomever told me that was correct- it didn't help at all. BUT the pen...Oh the pen.

Anyone who knows me, knows when I get obsessed, I get OBSESSED. Be it jelly beans, cake, watermelon sour candy, or bleach, it becomes this whole thing. I then want to bleach everything. I actually don't really have much white clothing except the stuff I mentioned, so I went to town on that. I penned the "hard water stains" (or whatever they were). I then penned the pits. Left the clothes out for a like an hour or so while I did other laundries. Put in the washer with regular detergent and bleach detergent.

WELL. Let me tell you- the hard water stains? GONE. The pits- white as snow. I was doing a little dance in my laundry room. I wished I had more things to pen. But, I don't. So, I'm done. Until my washer messes up more shirts, but we'll just hope that doesn't happen because I need a new pen.

Happy whitening!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fun Times!

Of course there's been a lot going on. Is there always? B is always wondering when it's going to slow down but I don't think that's going to happen. And that's kind of the way I like it! Two weekends and two big parties to talk about.

Last weekend we had a surprise 40th birthday party for our very good friend Nicole. Her amazing brother, Eric, planned it with some of her other friends and it was spectacular. It was awesome because although Nicole knew she was having "something", she didn't know when, where, or what kind of event it would be. The party was at the Westwood Knights of Columbus on Crest St. in Westwood- http://westwood-washington.patch.com/listings/st-thomas-more-knights-of-columbus. It is a really great space. It's down a dead end street so it's great for a surprise because it's surrounded by condos and apartments so you'd have no idea where you are. Nicole sure didn't. It has a HUGE parking lot right in front so you don't have a far walk or a hard time parking.

Nicole was surprised by the giant bunch of us waiting for her in the parking lot but even more surprised and beyond excited to see her favorite band, local cover band, Trippin' Carla- http://trippincarla.com/ there to play for her and her guests. In typical Nicole fashion, the door opened, she saw them and just yelled, "SHUT. UP!". Ha. SO Nicole- that's her version of Seinfeld's Elaine pushing Jerry over all the time. The lead singer Jay is great, they played a fun mix of all kinds of music and they made things a lot of fun for Nicole. She knows Jay from high school so that was just nice added touch to making the night special.

Eric had gotten a food truck for the party food. It is called Two Pitas in a Pod- http://twopitasinapod.com/. One the whole food truck thing was very unique to begin with but this choice of food was also very interesting. It's not really my thing but they gave two pita choices- falafel and pork. I ate the pork and I have to say, it was really good. B had the falafel, actually he had two of them, so suffice to say he thought it was great. The fries they gave with the pitas were SICK (in a good way). Oh. My. God. I ate two plates of fries. They also had a whole "fixin's" bar inside with Israeli salad, hummus, two aioli dipping sauces, and whatever else goes with Mediterranean food of this nature. People LOVED it, which actually says a lot because it's not what you might traditionally have for a large group of people. The party was for Nicole and this is totally her kind of food.

Then there were cookies from Momofuku in NYC. Eric is a chef and connoisseur of all things good food. He picked out an excellent variety of delicious cookies - compost, blueberry & cream and cornflake marshmallow. I ate one of each of course because I had to sample everything. I loved them all. There are apparently locations around the city so I highly recommend checking them out.

They had a cake for her which was lovingly adorned with her Facebook profile photo, a pic of her going to spin class and the time she gets up for the gym- 3:59a (Yes, that's what I said), every day. It looked beautiful but we were tired and went home before cake. It was a great night and if you're thinking of doing a party in a hall, I think it was the perfect space. Everyone looked like they had a great time. We did! Happy 40th Nicole. Hope it's the best year ever!!

On to the next celebration!! This weekend we had Suzanne & Jason's wedding celebration at San Carlo in Lyndhurst, NJ- http://thesancarlo.com/. We had a great time. First we thank Nicole for babysitting because she's the best babysitter around. Now, for the party...

We knew we were going to know a decent amount of people there so that would be fun. Our table was great and we didn't stop talking the whole night. That contributed to the two-pack a day smoker's voice B and I had today (we don't smoke BTW). The place looked really nice. Roses were the centerpieces, the appetizers were all fab, and the cake was classic and beautiful. I forgot to eat dinner because I literally gorged myself on apps - fried shrimp, some kind of shrimp/risotto cake thing, pizza, lamp chops, pigs in a blanket, spinach in phyllo, etc- you know, the usual suspects. My favorite part, and I dare I say, most people's favorite part of any event. There was just tons and tons of food. It seemed endless. The DJ was good too- The dance floor was packed all night with everyone burning off all those calories.

At the end, there was a surprise Bananas Foster bar which was a HUGE hit with everyone, especially my table. We were all first on line for that and it was probably the only time of the night we were all silent. Just eating. Two of my friends, Don & Neil were raving about the coffee. They were saying it was the best coffee ever. I don't drink coffee so I'll just take their word for it.

It was just the perfect night to celebrate the beautiful bride and groom- and parents-to-be! We were excited and thrilled for them and wish them a lifetime of happiness and love.

So there you have it- two awesome parties in two weekends. We capped it off tonight with pizza/bingo night at E's pre-school in the GRJC. It's really nice that they have activities like that. We got to hang out with some of the kids in E's class and their parents, have something to do in that dreaded 5p-7p hour period, and have dinner, dessert and games. What more could we ask for? Hope everyone had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baking anyone?

Pam, my favorite cupcake maker needs help. She had some people working that she knew were not permanent and they got permanent positions. I figured I'd help her out and post her help wanted ad in case there is anyone I know who is interested.

Who she needs:

Seeking a part time cake decorator / pastry chef for small cake shop in Bergen County. Willing to work flexible hours including early morning, night shifts and weekends.

Must have basic knowledge including
-Mixing icings and pastry creams,
-preparing and decorating cakes and other items.
-Experience with fondant, gum paste, and royal icing.
-Must possess creativity and an eye for detail,
- Strong customer service skills and be able to work well in a team environment.
-Must have a valid driver's license
- Be able to lift a minimum of 50lb

Please send your resume, pictures of current work along with salary requirements.

A' La Cupcakes, LLC

(201) 444-CAKE (2253)

36 Glen Ave, Glen Rock, NJ 07452

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Kid Stuff

Yes, I've been absent. Too wrapped up with the whole Penn State scandal. I'm not going to write about that because my feelings are way too strong, too emotional, and no one really cares what I think anymore on the subject. I'll just leave it at that. What I will talk about is what we've been up to in our house.

Birthday parties and just getting stuff done. I don't know where my time goes but I haven't even been able to get to a playdate for E. I was supposed to join Park and Play last week but I never got to it. I thought I'd be there the first day they opened but between the power outage and recovery from that and just other pressing errands and such, it just never happened. I plan to get there on Thursday (I think).

I still have a Music for Aardvarks make-up to do and somehow I've gotten to the last few weeks of class without managing to squeeze it in somewhere. I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. Buy the way- Music for Aardvarks is going to be doing open registration for Winter Session in like two weeks. The 10 week winter session goes from January through March. They also are opening up sessions in Teaneck coming for winter. http://www.ahummusic.com/. You can also follow them on Twitter- @aHumMusic.

They finally moved to their permanent space in Ridgewood and it's awesome. To me, it's better than it was in the old Bookends. There are a lot of windows so even though it's in the basement of the Knights of Columbus (I think that's what it is- or a VFW?) it doesn't feel like a basement. It's REALLY sunny in there- enough to need air conditioning (which they have), because it gets a little hot when the sun is out. It's carpeted, there is nothing the kids can get into in there, and it's comfortable- not too big and not too small. I'm really happy I stuck with Ridgewood. I LOVE the Waldwick room room but the nice thing is that the windows in Ridgewood are up, where the Waldwick ones are kid-height. In Waldwick the kids can climb. In Ridgewood they can't.

We had a birthday party at In the Swing in Waldwick. I have to say- Hopper Ave in Waldwick is like a hotbed of kid-activity. In the Swing is across from the Superdome complex. I've been there for two parties so far. The first time I really didn't enjoy it because I didn't know adults can't go in the jungle gym thing and the party was for a child turning a year older than E. There were like 25 kids there so if someone wasn't in there with E, he could've gotten trampled. This party went a LOT better. Less kids and all around the same age. That worked out much better. The waiting area is big enough for all the adults and it seemed like the kids all had a good time.

So, if you're thinking of a party there, my advice is that it's great if all your kid attendees are very close in age and I wouldn't have more than 15-20 kids. Pizza, cake- it was the same as at any party.

Next up- trying out Gymboree. I'd bought a Groupon for a month at Gymboree. At first I bought Paramus. But, then I saw Waldwick was on the list of ok'd locations. SO many people bought Paramus so I didn't want to go there. I was afraid it would be too crowded and my class times would be really limited. I switched to Waldwick.

I realized the Groupon expires on Nov 17th (thanks to the reminded from Groupon). Well, September, October and now November are whipping by and I needed to use it. I went to their website and they only have ONE Gymboree Play & Learn "6" class- which is E's age group. That ONE class is while E is in school. They have a few "5's" classes which is 22-28 months. But the only one E isn't in school for is on Saturdays. I figured it would be packed because that's the only time working parents can go to these type of things.

I went last Thursday or Friday to sign him up and it was kind of weird. It's really small in there and there's no office. Or not that there isn't an office- I'm sure there is, but usually there's more of a "barrier" between coming in and the class area. That's what I'm used to anyway from Little Gym (also in Waldwick). At Little Gym, there's a real lobby, where there is a viewing window of the gym and family can watch the classes without being disruptive.

There wasn't any problem signing up for Saturdays so we were set. It just seemed...I don't know- not as professional as Little Gym. Gymboree put my info in a binder. I never thought of Little Gym as particularly professional, but they did everything on computer, we would earn points by signing up and the points were in our info in the computer, and the first point of contact there is the owner and front office. I'm just suspicious of any place that doesn't do everything on computer.

The Pros: It seems VERY clean. The staff is very attentive and at least the class I'm in, the teacher sings a lot and very well, I might add. The class is very interactive and moves quickly. Also, while most of these classes are only 45 minutes, this class seemed to go the full hour. I was pleasantly surprised by that because I'm really bummed by these 45 minute classes. It's never enough time but I feel like for the money these things cost, they SHOULD be an hour.

What I liked the best is that all the equipment is able to be manipulated/climbed on, etc by the kids alone. Well, unless you're a total helicopter parent (which there definitely was one giving E the stink eye for daring to come near her little princess, but whatever). At Little Gym, if E wanted to go on the balance beam, I had to help him. Same with the rings, the uneven bars, etc. He could do some stuff on his own like play with the balls, shoot hoops, and climb on the mats. But, he's almost three now- he doesn't want my help nor should he really need it in that kind of class, in my opinion. At this point, I don't even like to take classes I have to be in the room for because I'm seeing how he's thriving without me in school and in ballet- he behaves SO much better in those settings. At Gymboree, he was able to do everything without me, but it wasn't so easy that it was boring. He really seemed to enjoy every minute.

The Cons: They just don't really seem to adhere to the age groups for the class. One really nice dad told me it's usually mixed ages because there aren't enough people sometimes. He and his wife work so they can only come on the weekend. I'm baffled as to why these classes aren't filled. Try to get into Aardvarks on a Saturday and I'm pretty sure those spots are filled within hours of open registration. So, some of the kids in this class seemed MUCH younger than E. It was fine and it'll be fine for the next three weeks but I wouldn't sign him up for it and pay a premium for him to have to be "careful" of smaller kids in a gym-type class.

Like I said- he had fun, but I had to constantly watch that he was mindful of smaller kids around him. Not because I thought they'd really get hurt- he wasn't doing anything but running and jumping like he should be. But, because I felt like I was getting side-eyed like he was being wild or something. The only other MINOR thing I didn't like was when the teacher pulled out this big Gymbo stuffed doll. The kids were supposed to dance with it. But, there's only one doll, one kid went mental over it, and that was it- she got the doll. Then the sister was fighting over it with her, but the doll didn't get to anyone else. No quicker way to start a domino effect of meltdowns than to hand one doll between six or so kids.

That's my review for the most part. It's a decent place- I didn't investigate the pricing beyond the month I've gotten from the Groupon. Next week I'll inquire more. I heard not-so-great things about the Paramus location and it's just not in a good spot. It's on Rt 17 which is always a traffic nightmare so I didn't really want to go there. I love going to Waldwick for anything- it's easy and no traffic. But, I am curious if Paramus looks as clean and nice as Waldwick and check out their pricing as compared to My Gym in Glen Rock and Little Gym. I would've loved to go to My Gym, but I missed their grand opening deal and it's just really expensive for another "Mommy & Me" kind of class. Their drop off class doesn't start until kids are actually over three years old. Well, that's not till after the new year. So, that's out until he can go on his own. I also haven't been inside My Gym but I assume since it just opened it's in top shape.




That's about it. E missed what sounded like a fun birthday party this past weekend because of Teddy Tennis but that's over in two more classes, so I'm assuming we'll be looking at a lot more Sunday birthday parties and a lot more venues!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time is flying!

I don't know how it got to be November. Time is just flying and I'm not prepared. We certainly weren't prepared for SNOW in October. But, enough about that. Power is back and all is good for now.

School for E is going well. He seems to really like it and get a lot out of it. He's been staying for lunch and I had to leave him there a full day last week and he was totally FINE. Now, in retrospect, I SO wish I'd signed him up for five days a week. We live and learn. I just didn't realize he'd be able to handle it so well. For any moms on the fence for kids going into the 2's class next September, don't think about how old they are when they're getting signed up, think about how old (and READY) they'll be when they actually GO to school. E is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was when I signed him up and he just seemed so little then.

But, had he been in school five days, he wouldn't have gotten to do ballet, which he is flourishing in. Moms of boys- don't hesitate to sign up your little man. E is doing a great job and LOVES it. I'm so happy I found Wyckoff School of Dance. They are having a little "recital" or holiday show and he's going to be a soldier. I'm sure it will be really cute. The only thing I wish was different is the way they do tuition. You have to pay half up front, then the rest by Oct 31. It goes until May or June so I kind of felt like the second half should've been due closer to January, but whatever. It's a small issue. I'm pretty sure you can also sign up whenever so if you're thinking of signing up but aren't sure- take the plunge. It's SO cute.

Teddy Tennis- Well, I'll say this....E seems to love it and he's good at it. It's an interesting class with a really cool curriculum. But, we're not going to continue for the next session. One, for tennis skill retention, I'd have to keep signing him up every session. It's like $440 for 11 or 12 weeks. That's really expensive for a 3 yr old class. That's fine- that's what it is, but I can do another 10 weeks of music for half that. There was a discounted rate given for a certain time to re-sign. I missed the cut-off for that because I wasn't sure what we were going to do. I thought we might try something else that's during the week- we are doing tennis on Sunday morning. But, then I didn't really get to research anything else so I figured I'd just sign him up for tennis again for now. I asked if I could still get the discounted rate (which only expired Oct 21) and I was told we couldn't still get that rate. This just left a bad taste for me. I own a small business and if someone brought me an expired coupon, just as a show of good faith and to make the sale, I'd totally take it. Common sense would dictate to me that I'd want some of the money vs NONE of the money.

I don't know. Maybe they're used to dealing with all people who just have tons of FU money- it seems that way from the showy chatter overheard in the waiting area, but I digress. At any rate- it was only a $20 discount (I didn't know what the amount was at first- I just knew there was a discount). I was told "it's only $20, so I hope that won't be a deterrent to signing E back up...". I was just sort of taken aback assuming there would be no issue with giving the discount. Well, if it's only $20 then why wouldn't you just suck it up to give the discount? I just don't understand that mindset and I didn't like it on principle. I just know that's not the way B and I do our business. C'est la vie. I'm pretty sure the likelihood that E is the next Agassi is very slim and I'm not worried about finding another activity.

Like I said- the teachers are great, it's a cute program, and if you're a tennis person and want your kid to play, this is a great into for it. I may return to it sometime, just not now.

I'd bought a Groupon for a month of classes at Gymboree in Waldwick. The Groupon expires on November 17th so if anyone bought it and forgot about it- this is the time to use it!! I'm going to start that this week.

I also just bought a Living Social deal for a month at Cutie Patootie in Englewood. I'd reviewed it in a previous blog. I like it. With the deal, it's totally worth it. It's an unlimited month for $35! Normally it's $15 PER visit. So, I jumped on that. http://livingsocial.com/deals/129747?ref=personalized-link-box-34792490&rpi=34792490

Another deal going on is a Groupon for 5 open bounce + pizza/juice at Screaming Parties. I've never been there but I've been hearing raves and I'd been meaning to get there. This deal was only $29 and it seems awesome to me. I'm joining Park and Play but I need a little variety. Especially since PNP is closed on Friday. I may need stuff to do on a Friday that E is off since it seems like he never has school on Fridays. http://tinyurl.com/7msd2z6

Ok- well, life is finally mostly back to normal since the power outage. Fridge is restocked and I've caught up on most of my tv shows. Including Revenge, which B and I are LOVING. It's so awesome and CRAZY. But, it's not something you can just jump into- you need to start from the beginning. It's so worth it to see how dark & twisty (stealing from Meredith Grey) Emily Thorne REALLY is....Check it out. I swear you won't be disappointed. You just have to really suspend some disbelief. Here's the link to watch it online- http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/revenge

Ok- off to print out my Groupons/Living Social deals, etc...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Deals of the day (that I like).

Lots of awesome deals right now. I'm always looking for stuff to do with E and passes or unlimited play anywhere sounds good to me! And cupcakes ALWAYS sound good.


-$10 for $20 at Cupcakes by Carousel. I always buy this one for when I need to bring a dessert to someone's home. http://www.groupon.com/r/uu6432160

-5 open bounce passes + pizza & juice to Screaming Parties in Paramus- $29! I've heard raves about this place so I bought it. http://tinyurl.com/7msd2z6

Living Social-

-Cutie Patootie: One Month of Unlimited Play Center Sessions ($35) or Eight Open Play Passes, Two Classes, and $50 Toward a Birthday Party ($69) - http://livingsocial.com/deals/129747?ref=personalized-link-box-34792490&rpi=34792490

I had a membership there over the summer and it was VERY useful on rainy/crappy days.

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Park N Play- Open House this week

Got this email today-

Don't forget - this week is The New Park 'N Play's Open House!

Come for a visit and see why we are the Best Bargain in Bergen.

I've said before Park N Play is a great deal for those winter days when you have nothing to do with your kid(s). They play, you can socialize- it's a win-win.

Just remember it's cold in there often and you can't wear shoes. I bring slippers. Kids all should be wearing socks or some kind of slipper/sock that is non-skid. Just no outside shoes. I also dress E pretty warm in there- not overly so, but sweatshirt/sweatpants, etc. It's probably not so cold yet, but it will be!

Lastly- the address says 15 Shuart Lane but the door and parking are actually on the other side of the church, so when you locate the church, drive around to the other side and you'll see a large lot to park in and you go down the stairs to the room.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Soldiering on...

Yeah, so we still don't have power. And we lost our hotel room. Everything was booked from Glen Rock to midtown Manhattan to Rockland County, NY. I took E to our house today in mid-afternoon because he was running on empty and seriously needed a nap. The house was 43 degrees. I put him in 2 pair of pajamas, 2 sleep sacks, and SEVEN baby blankets. Then, I thought his head might get cold so I put the old "Swaddle Me" fleece over the side of his head and one ear when he was sleeping. He slept for two and a half hours. I had to wake him up. I guess he REALLY needed to sleep with all this moving around. I felt so bad for him. And me.

I do have some positive things to say though. I'll go through them one by one.

Holiday Inn Hasbrouck Heights- It was the only place with a room for us and we thought it was great. It's where Bananas Comedy Club is located. B and I had gone there once to the comedy club. It's kind of weird for that because it's just a regular kind of conference room in there vs what you think of as a comedy club. BUT, as a hotel- it's pretty good. Kids eat free which is a huge bonus. The king room was spacious enough for us and a crib. We had a mini-fridge and a microwave which was key for the few things I was able to rescue from the house for E to eat, some milk, drinkable yogurt, cheese, etc. Thrilled. The restaurant downstairs has a full service bar (yes, I had a Malibu bay breeze) and we did eat breakfast there and it was pretty good. The dinner menu also looked like it would've been worth a shot. But even if you don't want to eat there, you're right on Rt 17 by a million other restaurants.


Bensi- We normally eat at Bensi Paramus Park but we saw there was a Bensi right by the hotel so we ate there. It's MUCH smaller than the one in PP and no TV but it was a good meal and good service. Can't complain. I had the penne vodka with sauteed chicken. As usual B just had a salad and they of course thought it was mine. *sigh*


Music for Aardvarks- E normally attends their class in Ridgewood. Because Ridgewood schools were closed and they follow the Ridgewood school schedule they had to cancel classes there. BUT, instead, they offered a FREE drop in class at noon in Waldwick. I think I answered them back within, um...30 seconds of receiving the email. We went and it was great! I was SO happy. Otherwise, it would have really been a difficult day trying to entertain E all day myself. Sean, Cindy and Kellan all made it a really great class. We even saw some old friends. They told us the class filled up within 20 minutes of sending that email out so they even added another class. I just thought it was really nice to rally around their enrolled students and get something together quickly to make sure these kids still had something to do while their stressed out parents worried about power loss and where they were going to sleep.


Another accolade and happy dance goes to the Glen Rock Jewish Center Nursery School. They are letting E stay at school tomorrow as long as I need. I was so worried about what I was to do with him tomorrow and now I don't have to worry. That's a huge relief for me. He'll be somewhere warm, happy, fun and familiar.


Oh, actually, I can't forget a general shout out and pat on the back for Glen Rock PARENTS. The whole lot of them for the most part. No school on Halloween and Trick or Treating cancelled? Have no fear- Glen Rock parents to the rescue. I don't know how it started but parents mobilized QUICKLY to do a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot of the high school at noon on Monday. Parents parked and opened their trunks full of candy. Kids wore their costumes and Trick or Treated through the parking lot. Parents got rid of their candy, no one had to go door to door, no one was knocking on doors all night. Kids got to hang with their friends while the parents chatted and hung out too. To me, it seemed like a HUGE success. A total win-win for everyone. I wish Trick or Treating happened like that every year! Having to answer the door 500 times over the course of like four hours is something I can definitely do without. It seemed like everyone was happy and it only lasted like an hour and a half! E thought it was super- he got to see Sydney and Jordan (Mother's Helper and her sister) and see everyone's cool costumes.


Lastly, I want to thank Noreen, Jenelle and my MIL & FIL for letting us come over and hang when I needed it. I appreciate it greatly and so do B & E. E had a great time playing with Cayleigh, Will and Madison. I totally feel I can myself comfortable in all your homes and that's really nice when things are crazy like they have been these past few days.

Today, of course, I picked up some cupcakes from Pam (A la Cupcakes) because WTF am I supposed to do without them really? I need something to get me through this. Those will do it.

That's about it for my positivity though. I want to be powered up. I threw out hundreds of dollars worth of rotting food today and it was just so sad. And stinky. :-(  I'm not sure if it's positive or a negative but I've eaten almost all of E's Halloween candy. My car looks like a wasteland where Hershey wrappers go to die.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lights Out!

Snow in October. I don't particularly like snow. But, I wouldn't have minded some snow if we could still have POWER. I am 100% sure I would not have made it as an Ingalls child. Ma and Pa would have either kicked me out or I would've just frozen to death somehow. I just don't see myself chopping trees or churning butter.

I think it would've also been fine if we didn't have a toddler. It's one thing to be unshowered, feel all displaced, and run around with your panties in a bag when you're just you. Or you and a partner. But, when there's a kid involved, it's a ginormous shitshow. No one's fault- it's just like when some people are thrilled for a snow day from work because they can lay in bed, eat take-out or Kraft Mac & Cheese and watch Lifetime all day. With a kid- no so much. It's more- OMFG, how am I going to entertain him/her/them all day?! At least if E was older, we could hand him a shovel.

We were having a fine Saturday afternoon watching movies when, *poof*, off went the power. Now, if I look back to August, I seem to remember that being the same thing I was doing when the power went out during Irene. Watching Annie. This time, I think it was Tangled. Not that it matters since we didn't get to see more than a few minutes.

If we weren't going to be able to hang in the house, we thought we'd go to Garden State Plaza and walk around. Possibly get something to eat. Arrived at the mall to MAJOR traffic trying to get out and half the mall without power. Luckily, the wing with power was the one with Grand Lux Cafe, the movies, etc. Lucky for me- Grand Lux is one of my favorites. AND it was before 5p so we got the lunch special rates! Trust me, small victories during this kind of nightmare are important.

At this point, we were able to see outside from our table and it looked like the snow/sleet wasn't going to stop. B looked up the weather and it was going to keep getting worse for a good eight more hours. We called family but the ones closest lost power too and B's parents live in an area that has tons of tall trees and we didn't want to chance driving there. We called neighbors of ours to check the power status and they said it looked like a war zone all over town- especially by us. Trees were down everywhere- detours, lines down, etc. We started calling hotels like mad. Everywhere was booked up or had no power. Luckily we were able to get a room near the mall. For once, not traveling light came in useful and we had most of what was needed to keep us comfortable for a night. Little did we know it would definitely be more than ONE night.

We also lost power at our store, so that was stressing B out. Home sucks but it's bearable. Work- that's lost money we need. Neither is good but we'd rather lose power at home than work these days. And not to sound stupid, but what about Halloween? I was so glad I'd bought E a Muno costume because at least he got to wear it to the Yo Gabba Gabba Live show! And all that Halloween candy?! Ugh.

What to DO with my child is the next question. I just got the email tonight that there is no school for him tomorrow. At least if he had school that would be four hours I wouldn't have to worry about where we are going go and what we're going to do.  The news is saying it's not really safe to go anywhere because of live wires around and falling branches. A lot of places are closed because of now power still. I may actually lose my mind.

Everyone keeps throwing out the generator talk. A generator is nice, but it's a lot of money and for the possibility of power going out maybe once or twice a year- I don't know. If we had the extra money, I guess, it would be nice, but if we had that kind of "extra money", maybe we'd just rather stay in a hotel and let other people take care of us. I don't know. I'd be saving a lot on all the groceries I now have to throw out- that's for sure. I didn't even have it in me this time to try to save anything with coolers and whatnot. Just too much work. And last time, I tried my hardest but I still had to toss a lot of stuff. It's like- being displaced doesn't suck enough but now I will have to clean out two stinky fridges and freezers. Good times.

So I have nothing of real importance or interest to say aside from just venting. I can look on the bright side- or "bean side" of things. I still have jelly beans left since I wasn't around to eat as many as usual. I got to eat at Grand Lux. We are all together, we're not sick, E has been doing better with the changes than expected and we had no damage to our home or cars. I have friends with flattened cars and holes in the roof due to falling trees and branches.

I had some cupcakes from A la cupcake that I bought on Friday. Usually I buy them one at a time but this time I bought two. Didn't get to eat any on Friday night as planned because we went to S&P. Luckily I remembered to grab them when we left our house. She may bake new ones every day for freshness, but mine held up just fine. Just ate the 2nd one. We also had chocolate from Sugar & Plumm left over but that was gone in five minutes at the hotel. Awesome chocolate. Luckily we were in a hotel that also has a bar. Malibu Bay Breeze has also made this ordeal much more bearable.

So, that's what's been going on. Wanted to write a whole lovey entry about my fabulous weekend in Loveladies (LBI) with my awesome lady friends last weekend but that'll have to wait. I'm going to watch the episodes of One Tree Hill that I missed this past season on my laptop. Praise Amazon instant gratification video streaming. It's fabulous. Between Amazon and Hulu +, I'm good with stuff to watch while I wait this whole mess out.

For anyone that has no power also- I feel ya man. It sucks. Talk about "powerless" having literal meaning and then some. Virtual hugs to all of you hovering around the 50 degree mark in your homes and hoping power is restored within the next few hours. I'm signing off....

***Oh, and I got several emails saying Halloween is moved to Friday November 4, in Glen Rock. No parade, but Trick or Treating.  School is cancelled for Monday, Oct 31- public and I assume the private ones too. The GRJC Nursery School is closed.

***The New Park & Play in Ramsey opens Tuesday for anyone that still doesn't have power and needs to find something to do. I believe they're doing an Open House. You can just go and try it out once to see if you want to join.

Peace out kids. Stay warm!

Friday, October 28, 2011


The forecast is calling for snow. In October. And of course, on Saturday. We have our town Halloween parade on Saturday. It's already cancelled without a drop of rain or snow on the ground. As usual, I've heard the supermarkets have been pillaged and I'm sure there isn't a loaf of bread or gallon of milk to be found. I didn't feel like figuring out something to make with my lack of ingredients and my lack of culinary skill. We usually go out on Saturday night but I wasn't sure whether to believe the weather persons or not. So, I thought we'd have a delicious night out at Sugar & Plumm and worry about snowstorms tomorrow.

I know I've already written about this place but you know how it is with new places- you never know if they're going to get better, stay the same or go down the tubes. I have to say, this time the food was just as fabulous as the first time and the service got even better.

Luckily we got Avery again as our waitress. She's fantastic. I like that she always addresses E, like he's an adult and his opinion matters. The food came much quicker this time. As those who know me in real life know, I'm a creature of habit. For my entree, I ordered the crispy skin salmon. But, I decided to try the spinach salad- it's spinach,sugared pecans, REAL dried raspberries, cheese (I'm not sure what kind- B ate it) with a very light dressing. It was SO good. Everything just tasted really fresh.

B ordered the butternut squash soup and the pizza crepe. Last time, B got the tomato soup. But, their menu changes slightly seasonally, so tomato is out and butternut squash is IN. He thought both soups were phenomenal and he said something about them made them "different". He was right! (But, I'll get back to that). He thought his pizza was also awesome.

Then....Dessert. THIS time, *I* was actually the one to change it up. I saw there are, indeed, cupcakes there. I asked why they aren't on the menu and Avery said that they do change things seasonally and sometimes add or take away some things so instead of changing the hard copy menu, they just display the new stuff. I decided to try the fruity pebble cupcake. The icing already just LOOKED like a kind I'd love. I dug in, and the cupcake seemed kind of "hard", so I was like "uh oh". But, that uh oh turned into a pleasant surprise. It was the most interesting texture of any cupcake I've ever had. It was FILLED with fruity pebbles. FILLED is actually an understatement. The whole thing was something like I've never tasted before. I loved every bite.

B, in a twist of events, got the same thing he got last time- the banana and nutella crepe with chocolate ice cream. Again, he wanted to lick the plate, and again I had to remind him people were sitting next to us.

The best part of the evening was getting to meet and chat with Lamia Jacobs, the owner whose brainchild is this wonderful place. She is so warm, friendly and engaging and she LOVES to talk about her "project"- this store/restaurant. Owning a boutique-type retail establishment, B and I know how personal it is, and Ms. Jacobs is no different. She CARES. She was almost giddy at seeing E eat his sliders. It was actually really endearing. She pretty much spent our entire meal talking to us (and it was NOT an intrusion)- we were asking her how she got into this business, etc, and she was happy to share. Everything is made fresh- even the butter. They make their own. Their own chocolate, their own everything. She tastes everything to make sure it's sweet but not TOO sweet. There was a piece of chocolate on top of my cupcake- it was dark, not usually my thing, but it was printed with ghosts (so cute!) and it was so good. I wasn't sure it was real at first. Anyway, Ms. Jacobs is there a lot. She doesn't live close but she loves to check in on her baby. She's opening another store in NYC and has grand plans to open a few more in key locations around the country. I don't doubt they'll be successful if she finds chefs and staff for those that are as good as the one here!

So, it was a lovely evening. I can't wait to return there for more delicacies. Thank you to Ms. Jacobs for her time and scintillating conversation.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mish-mash of life

I know, it's been like ten days of eerie quiet from me. I've been trying to get into a groove with everything and October is whizzing by. There were the Jewish High Holy Days, lots of food shopping & cooking, I had to work in my store, Yo Gabba Gabba Live, and even caught a movie. I know where the time went but it just went by faster than I could write about. Plus, none of it was really "informational" for the rest of you. I haven't been anywhere new- I've just been getting settled in the old and new-ish.

So, this is just going to be a mishmash of all things Tara for the past ten days. From TV to live children's shows, supermarkets, movies and more.

First were the holidays- we went to the Rosh Hashana "Apples & Honey" service at the Glen Rock Jewish Center. It's a really nice service for the kids, open to the public (ie, non-members), and it makes services a little more fun. Unfortunately Ethan was not all that interested, was making noise and wanted to climb on chairs so we had to peace out rather quickly. But, for anyone looking for a nice temple, the Rabbi is young and very welcoming, it's a young(er) congregation, and they try to have a lot of activities to keep the kids interested. Hey, 2.5 is a hard age for religious stuff though. We'll try again next year.

I went supermarket crazy because I make a sick brisket http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisket and a very fattening noodle kugel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel for every holiday, Jewish or not. Those two dishes are two things that could always be counted on for any holiday I had growing up so I'm continuing the tradition. BUT- where to find a giant brisket?? I literally need like a 5-6lb brisket and believe it or not, they are not easy to come by. Unless, I guess, if you go to an actual butcher (my parents used a butcher- they had a meat delivery every few months). I've only used a butcher once and it cost me a FORTUNE. So, I try to stick to the supermarket for that. Brisket ain't cheap. Interestingly enough, I've gotten it at the butcher, Kings, Shop Rite and Stop & Shop. And the winner of the best? SHOP RITE. The Kings brisket for whatever reason has always ended up being really fatty. I'd get a 5lb piece and end up with almost nothing because it was all fat. It's not just "any" Shop Rite though. It's Oakland. I've asked them to cut me a giant one and they have done it on the spot. I can never even find someone to ask in Paramus. Usually all any supermarket has out is 2-3.5 lbs.

They shrink for those of you not in the brisket-know-how. AND, I make it ON the stove, in a pot. A pot like you'd use for spaghetti. Imagine how difficult it is to stuff a 6.15 lb brisket into a 5.5 qt pot? Not easy. But, since it shrinks, but the time it's halfway finished, it fits fine.

Anyway, though, I've found a new Shop Rite to love. Ramsey. I never went there because it seemed too far and I didn't know it was re-done. But, I was looking for these Foodles- http://www.crunchpak.com/disney/foodles/ that E loves. They're flat, plastic, Mickey Mouse heads with cheese in one ear, grapes or pretzels in the other, and apple slices in the middle part. It's PERFECT for a lunch on the go. I pair it with a Horizon milk box and a Jammy Sammy and we're good to go. My friend Jenn told me Ramsey Shop Rite had the Foodles and all the organic stuff I like so I figured I'd go after his dance class. I'm in love. Well, I'm not in love with the bizarre places they have things. There is a real lack of order in there. I found stuff randomly. But, they did have almost everything, including my Pepperidge Farm Carb Style whole wheat bread, which, if you eat that, you know it's pretty much nowhere to be found. Ramsey Shop Rite is HUGE like Oakland, but have WAY more of the puree pouches E eats, and just other random brand stuff I have to have. I'd say the only real edge Oakland has is its impeccable customer service. They will keep your cart so you can bring your car around to load. There is parking underneath and an elevator for when it's raining, and they do the "Shop at Home" pick up service.

That takes care of food. Well, except for the fact that I am now seriously addicted to A la Cupcakes. http://www.alacupcakes.com/. I've now gotten the vanilla with the strawberry preserves almost every day they're open (no Sundays or Mondays). I think I skipped a few when I saw my favorite Entenmann's Holiday cupcakes in store (Halloween) and bought them. But, truth be told, I only ate four (no, not in one day) and threw the rest away because I needed my special cupcake from A la. I don't care if it sounds like I'm kissing ass to them because I am. But, it's twofold- I'm sure they're doing fine- almost everytime I go in there, Pam or her husband is out on delivery. When I went in one day, my strawberry one wasn't there- so I got red velvet. It was great too, but I LOVE my strawberry one more. AND, I also just want to help insure they'll stay in business there because that cupcake has become like crack to me. B jokes that when I drop E off at my store to go there that I'm going to my "drug dealer". Whatever. And thanks to Pam for dropping off sprinkle cookies for E since they weren't made yet for the day the last time I took him in there.

We got to go out two nights in a row after the holidays. We actually found two babysitters- brother and sister, so one came one night and one came the next. I wish we'd found them sooner. We hadn't been to a movie since Sex and The City 2, I think.  I picked the movie based on what time we could have the sitter that night. The only movie short enough and playing at a time we could get there was 50/50. I had heard the writer and Seth Rogan on Stern talking about it- it was the writer's true story of his battle with cancer but LIVING. B hates TV shows or movies about cancer. But, I swear, nothing else was playing that we'd be able to get to in time. So, I glossed over the cancer part when I told him. So, I spent half the movie handing him tissues. I couldn't even let out a good cry myself because I was too busy laughing inside. I just knew I was going to hear it about the cancer after. Hey- it was a good movie. I liked it. Well written, well acted, and it ended on a happy note! I got to eat movie popcorn- I was thrilled.

The next night we went to the Eric Alt NJ Fashion Week "Carnivale" Fashion Show. I'll only say a very few short things about that. One, I got a great dress. Event wasn't worth the money I spent on the dress, but I'm glad to have the dress and will be wearing it to my friend's wedding cocktail reception in a few weeks. Two, Johnny Weir is SUPER pretty in person. I'm not even doing him justice saying "pretty" but I don't know what else to call him. He was also really accommodating- I asked for a photo with him & while it came out blurry, he still said yes. I'd read his book and while it's clear he LOVES his fans, I just didn't know how he'd be with photos. Three, Kim G from RHoNJ looked spectacular in person. They gave her a really long, "I Dream of Jeannie" platinum ponytail and it looked fab. Lastly, I got our money back for the tickets and I am not a grudge holder so I'm not angry anymore that we paid $50 for a babysitter to go to that hot mess of an event.

Moving on....Let's talk TV for a minute. I was LOVING X-Factor. LOVING. Like, so annoyed that baseball has interrupted it twice, I was irrationally upset for hours. Yes, I get that the outside auditions were weird and in a lot of the acts, the autotune or back up tracks were drowning the singers out. That portion of it was WEIRD. And I was loving all the back stories. I think I used half a box of tissues per episode. But, without ruining it for anyone, I have to say, I'm really disappointed in one of the picks in boy category, one in the girl category, and one in the groups. The only section I think they got right was the Over 30 category. I think, one of them, could've gone home for someone else, but I didn't LOVE anyone else that did go home so I'm cool with it. So, I'm disappointed in a few that went home that I was really looking forward to watching go further. I'm going to watch, of course, but some of the acts that went through are really boring to me.

Real Housewives of NJ reunion? OMG. Seriously- I don't even know what to say. I tried to follow twitter and watch at the same time and it was information overload. No one looked good. Teresa looked like she lost her mind and was doing a lot of backtracking but I don't like when someone is ganged up on. I'm always for the underdog so I have to say, I did feel bad for her. Twitter was crazier. I'm the first one to say that I don't miss an episode and I have opinions on it, but it IS, after all, just a show and I'm fully aware that reality and TV are not really one and the same. There are people on twitter who are OBSESSED. I had to unfollow a RHoNJ tweeter because my whole feed was her opinions and re-tweets of Housewives tweets. It sounded insane.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is crazy too! I actually feel bad for Brandi Glanville. I was ready to hate her before she was even on the show for a second but I'm finding her funny and refreshing. Better than that kiss-ass Dana Wilkey label-whoring her way around town. Game Night was awful and Kim & Kyle were literally like teenage girls. I know Kyle's sort of apologized for her behavior that night- but Kim HIDING Brandi's crutches??? Who DOES that???? I'm also not enjoying Lisa so much this season. I REALLY enjoyed her in the first season but she's become a total bitchy nightmare. Adrienne always keeps herself looking good- the only one that never ends up acting like an ass. Smart woman. The only one to figure out how to keep it classy and mostly out of the drama on a Real Housewives show. She must be the real deal.

"Real" TV- Parenthood. I think it's my favorite show right now. Another box of tissues needed. SO good. I cry AND laugh EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. If you're not watching you should be. Every single actor on there gets to shine.

Ok- Yo Gabba Gabba Live- http://yogabbagabba.com/ - We went last year too. E was going to be DJ Lance for Halloween so I had him wear the costume to the Live show too. I hate Halloween. Really dislike it, hardcore. I never liked it growing up either- I never wanted to be anyone but me. I could never think of a good costume after like 4th grade and it was a pain. I liked the candy part, but the dressing up just never did it for me. Anyway, E doesn't care what I put him in yet. He loves YGG and when I said he could be Muno this year, he was thrilled. I knew we were going to YGG Live again so I figure he can at least get more than one or two uses out of it. Last year it was at Radio City on Oct 2. I think it was nice enough out last year but Radio City isn't in an awesome spot to walk around in comparison to the Beacon- http://www.beacontheatre.com, where it was this time. I have to say, I was SO happy with the Beacon! It happened to be a beautiful day out. When we'd bought the tickets and I saw it was later in October, I was a little worried it would be cold. It couldn't have been a nicer weather day. We met Tadd and Christine there (my friends who are responsible for the push to write this blog- Second shout out, lol!) with their son Grant. We didn't have seats together because we bought the tickets at different times but we met them for breakfast before the show.

The Beacon is on Broadway between W 74th & 75th streets. That is a VERY cool area to walk around, not to mention SO close to the GW Bridge. It took us only about 30 minutes to get into the city on a Sunday morning from Glen Rock. There is a park very close by- I think it was on Amsterdam & 78th street. It's across the street from Crumbs http://www.crumbs.com/ and Giggle www.giggle.com. Very nice park, clean, bathrooms open and available, benches to sit, and lots of stuff to climb on for both a toddler and a bit of an older child. It was a gorgeous day and there were definitely people in the park but it wasn't overcrowded at all. The show ended after around an hour and a half so Tadd & Christine had a little time to hang with us at the park. Christine and I were able to catch up while the husbands so graciously watched (and chased after) the boys. Unfortunately, the Beacon garage lot was not as wonderful as the rest of the day. T, C & G left to get their cars about 45 minutes before we did. We went to Crumbs, then for pizza, and then to the car. They were STILL waiting for their car! It was mayhem down there with a LOT of angry people. Luckily by the time we got down there, it was a bit less hairy and I think we got our car in 20 minutes or so.

And that's it. I'm getting to go away for the weekend, down to LBI, with friends, for the first time since E was born. I'm supposed to be packing but like always, I'll be doing that last minute tomorrow morning. Eighteen girls and gay guy in a rented house- so I should have plenty to write about when I get back from that!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Good Eats at Sugar & Plumm

I'd been seeing "Coming Soon" on Sugar and Plumm in Bergen Town Center for awhile and couldn't wait for it to open. I didn't know exactly what it was going to be but it looked like something fun and interesting. I did have a chance to run in when it first opened, but I didn't really understand what it's supposed to be. Now I do.

When I first went in, I saw the candy and the pastries. The pastries are STUNNING. Really beautiful. And I was totally intrigued that they make crepes. There is only one place locally that makes crepes, that I know of, and I really like crepes. I'd never been to the other place because it's just not a place I think of going. There is nothing around it I need or want to go to, so it's out of the way. But, I'm always in one or more of the malls, so this sounded really great.

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in Sugar & Plumm's loose candy section though. I happen to be a Jelly Belly junkie and they just don't have enough flavors. I'm very particular about my Jelly Belly flavors and they only have maybe one or two of my favorites. But, if you just want a quick candy fix, it definitely has enough of a variety to satiate you. They also have a cool selection of retro candy and gift stuff. As we were walking out I saw some fun gift baskets and they had Halloween themed items as well. It looks like the kind of place that would be cute to do a small party for a child under nine years old. I don't really know what kids that age are into but nine and under just seems like a good age range to me.

We were in the mall to get a shirt for B and decided on a whim to eat dinner there. I'd heard from my friend Melissa on FB that she and her family had a good experience for dinner there. I hadn't known that they served "real" (adult) dinner there. I'd thought of it more as a dessert place. So, I was anxious to try it out.

We walked in there around 7p. There was a short wait which was fine, especially on a weekend, and my only complaints (and I use that loosely because it wasn't that big of a deal) were that there was no real waiting area- nowhere to sit. If someone had to wait longer than the 10-15 minutes we had to wait they might be irked that they had to just stand there. They have some room to put a few chairs or a bench so hopefully they'll do that in time. Lastly, they have been open about six weeks and they're still really slow on turning tables over. The table I knew we were going to be seated at was empty for too long before it was cleared away. When there are people waiting and a table gets up, there should be a bus-person that immediately comes by and swipes everything off the table and someone else ready to set it up for the next group. It just felt like it took a lot of unnecessary time.

BUT- that is IT for complaints. I love that there is enough room in most table areas to keep your stroller with you vs putting it somewhere else in the eating area. It looks like almost all the tables have extenders to make them bigger, and if all were open, it would be a little tighter. As a whole though, you're not on top of the people dining near you. I hate having to leave the stroller somewhere- I have to take everything out, then I'm worried about someone stealing my stroller and it's a whole scene. Annoying. But, there was plenty of room for me to keep it next to the table.

Our waitress, Avery, was FANTASTIC. Very personable, helpful, friendly, and as quick as she could be. The food seems to take kind of long to make, but it's extremely fresh, plated beautifully, and the portions are perfect. It's not the Cheesecake Factory where you're getting a giant plate and taking enough home to feed you for two more days. It's just a more normal portion where you're not left hungry but you're probably not needing a doggie bag either. I had the crispy skin salmon with mashed potato and green beans. It was perfect. B had a shrimp & avocado crepe and tomato soup. He was thrilled with both. E had the kids meal sliders and he ate both of them. For dessert B and I both had crepes and B said if no one was around he'd have licked the plate. Like I said, I feel like we were there for a really long time- definitely over an hour. The food took long, but for such good food it was worth the wait. I definitely wouldn't have rather been at a diner!

I don't normally get dessert when we go out for dinner but I wanted to try something there because everything looks so amazing. I am surprised that there aren't cupcakes on the menu, but I could've sworn they brought out a cupcake for someone's birthday. I'll have to investigate that further. I'm usually too full to get dessert but they don't serve bread prior to the meal so I was able to fit it in. I might want to come back JUST for dessert also and try more than one thing. All I DO know is that we'll definitely be back as a family and I would go there with a friend to catch up and eat dessert.

The bill was around $70 for the three of us with E getting a kids meal and both of us getting dessert. B had an appetizer and I didn't. It seems a little high. Bensi is usually around $50 for the three of us and we always take food home. Then again, at S&P, B and I both had some kind of seafood which is always more expensive. It wasn't "too" high, but it's not a cheap night out. With the decor, the offerings, and the price, it would seem like more of a fit for Riverside Square over Bergen Mall. Bergen Mall is now known as the "discount/outlet" mall so it's kind of odd to have this place and a burger place (Bobby's Burger Palace) that sells $12 burgers. But, I'm pretty sure if it was in Riverside, it would have a consistent 45 minute wait and that would completely suck with with children. As it is, I love Houstons but I only go when I'm meeting a friend- WITHOUT Ethan.

I definitely recommend giving it a try for either dinner or dessert sometime soon before it really catches on and you do have that really long wait.