Wednesday, February 29, 2012


If I don't just put everything in a mish-mash post these days, it doesn't get done at all. So, that's what this one is today.

I don't know if I mentioned that our store(s), Shades of Soho (Glen Rock & Norwood), won Best in Bergen in 201 Magazine. Yay! So thank you to everyone who voted. We really appreciate it and hope to make it a THREEpeat next year. You can find us and the full list of winners at:

I ran into the Bergen Mall the other day to get E something to wear to see the Easter Bunny. Yes, I'm fully aware we're Jewish but I like Santa photos and I like Easter Bunny photos. When there is a Jewish equivalent, I'll be more than happy to get those photos too, but I don't see that happening. Besides, who can resist all those cute Springy clothes? Anyway...

Frozen Peaks is open. I'm going to tell you what I think. It's ok. Well, let me clarify what "ok" means to me. It all depends on what you're looking for when getting "frozen yogurt" as opposed to straight up, you know how bad it is for your waistline, ice cream. Frozen Peaks is super clean, comfortable looking and they seem to have endless options for flavors & toppings.

I actually tried four flavors in one cup. And I would've tried to add a fifth but one was a little too fast coming out and took too much room. I tried: angel food cake, tart, red velvet cake, and cake batter. And they were all great. Too great. The cake batter and red velvet were too much like ice cream. You'd be totally tempted to put all kinds of fattening toppings on it. They have EVERYTHING- even little balls of cookie dough. Stuff I couldn't even identify. Then, there are what look like a ton of different syrups to put on it. All the flavors I tried were really good! And I shared with E. He told me, "You can have the chocolate one (Red Velvet) Mommy. I will have the white one please!". He likes the Tart. That's all he's used to since I used to share my Tart 16 Handles with him when I was in the mall for Stroller Strides.

But I don't know- something about putting cookie dough, brownie, and chocolate sauce on frozen yogurt seems...wrong, somehow. I still think that while customer service at 16 Handles BLEW, it gave off a very healthy vibe which I liked. As far as choices, which I'm a fan of, Frozen Peaks totally takes the cake. They must have 15 flavors at a time! Maybe 12? I don't know but it's a lot. 16 Handles has like eight. It's definitely not sixteen in Garden State Plaza. I actually didn't try any toppings on this visit to Frozen Peaks because I really wanted to taste the flavors, I shouldn't be eating it at all because I'm still on Jenny, and I didn't have that much money on me. BUT- FP does take credit cards, which is awesomely convenient, where 16 Handles is cash only.

FB is also Kosher and you can find the nutritional info on their site. It's much better than Tasti d'Lite which is also Kosher and I think 16 Handles might be also. But Tasti D is also less calories per 4 oz than this is. FP goes by "1 oz servings" but who the hell is going to eat one ounce?

I'd eat it again, they give out punch cards, and I'm still thinking about the little balls of cookie dough.

I want to talk about another craze going on- Cake Pops. They are the newest cupcake and/or burger. They're everywhere and everyone wants them. I had a groupon for one dozen cake pops for $15 (half off the full price) at Cakepops For You,, that was going to expire on Feb 23. I had to use it even though I had no occasion to need them. I'm not a fan. The Groupon allowed for you to order one dozen and two flavors in that dozen. I will say that the ordering process online was super simple and I appreciate being able to do it that way. But after that it was downhill.

I ordered red velvet and strawberry shortcake. I'd never had a cake pop so I didn't know exactly what to expect. I had to order them 48 hours in advance. I couldn't just go into a store and pick them up. That's annoying right there. I would've liked to go in somewhere, maybe even sample some so I'd know what I was getting, and be able to pick an assortment. I had to go to this deli in Ridgewood to pick up my order. It was the smallest deli I've ever seen with the worst hours ever. I think they're open 6a-3p. Yeah, I work 40 min away so picking them up in the morning isn't good for me and I WORK. WORK. So, it's kind of rough to have to make sure you can pick up your order by closing time. Of course I forgot to pick them up the day I was off so I had to try to grab them before work. Forgetting was my own fault but it certainly wasn't very convenient on their end.

I chose to try the red velvet first. It tasted like straight up chocolate. I associate red velvet with cream cheese. So, I was really surprised there wasn't any vanilla or cream cheese flavor in them. I'm not really sure how these can be called red velvet. They were definitely just red chocolate. Then I tried the strawberry shortcake. I don't know what the consistency of cake pops is supposed to be, but this kind of grossed me out. It was the color of baby mice when they're first born and almost translucent looking like baby mice look too. At first I didn't like it. I just didn't. Then it sort of grew on me but I know I wouldn't pay $30 for these things, ever. I wouldn't buy another Groupon for them either.

I did give two of the red velvet ones to Sam who works with us. HE thought they were fabulous and probably would've eaten the dozen. So, to be fair, it could just be me. I'm not a chocolate fan, even though I do like red velvet a lot. For me, they just weren't what I expected.

My friend's Christine & Tadd had a birthday party for their son last weekend where they put an Elmo cake pop in the goodie bag. I'm the one who ate it and it was REALLY good. So, now I DO know what a cake pop is supposed to taste like. Christine said her cousin did them and is now doing them for sale. The consistancy was closer to the ones I'd bought myself than to actual, regular cake. I guess that's how they have to make them so they don't fall apart. I'd say they're "heavier" than regular cake. More like a cookie dough-ish kind of feel. But for sure, the one Christine gave me was much tastier than the others.

So, I'm kind of over cake pops unless someone has one that's supposedly super fabulous and they want to give it to me to taste. I couldn't trust they'd be really tasty to anyone when I know people who make fabulous cupcakes. Like A la Cupcakes, just FYI. I'd trust Pam to make a good cake pop. And if it sucked, I'd know that cake pops are just more for looking at than eating.

Speaking of Pam at A la Cupcakes, I asked her to figure out a calorie count or some kind of info for me to make a swap of a Jenny dessert for one of her fab cupcakes. She told me she'd work on it. Bet your ass if she figures THAT out, I'll be shouting it from rooftops all the way from Glen Rock to Norwood.

As for Jenny Craig...I'm at a plateau. I'm at 150 on the nose. I was 149 for a day but I don't know how that happened. I know ten pounds is nothing to sneeze at, and I'm happy to have lost it, but it's annoying as hell that I was eating two pounds of jellybeans a week and a cupcake a day, now I'm not, and I'm not losing weight. Granted, I ate a chocolate covered Peep on the way to work today when I just went in Walgreens to get a bag of natural almonds to snack healthily on. But I'm going on the treadmill for a half hour every day and while I'm not running like my life depends on it, I'm still on that thing. It's just SO hard! I didn't buy one package of Entemann's Valentine's cupcakes and I LOVE them. And now Easter candy?! Easter is my favorite holiday for the candy alone. Mini Eggs, Peeps (slightly hardened and stale), Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, etc. I love them all. And they love my ass. But I keep trucking along with Jenny. If nothing else, I'm not gaining. It keeps me in check. I WANT to lose that last ten. So, we'll see. I signed my life away with them so I might as well use it to my advantage. I just find the whole over-peppy "consult" about my "challenges" so annoying and sort of condescending, I find myself thinking "shut up, shut up, shut up" every time I walk in.

That's about it. On a less important note to some, I've jumped ship from ABC to CBS during the day. ABC is a very foolish operation. Soaps may not have the best ratings but the fans they have are rabid. I will not watch their insipid, The Chew and The Revolution. Personally, I don't know why cooking shows exist, but that's why they have their OWN channels. The other one is just boring. So, I watch The View & the news, then I switch over to CBS until 3p for General Hospital. And now I'm not even switching over because I'm so behind on GH that I dvr at home and watch Dr Phil on CBS at 3p. Nice looking out ABC. I can't imagine how many people are like me. I'd never watched The Talk but I'm liking it.

I think I covered enough things in one entry. Maybe I'll be as motivated tomorrow. I'm going for Botox on Sunday, to a "Botox Party" at Salon Azano in Norwood, and I'm getting my 37 year old hair dyed blue like Katy Perry by the end of next week so I'll have plenty more to discuss.

Oh, last but not least...I had an old friend call me out of the blue with a question about a Groupon deal I recommended. Old friend as in kindergarten. We had reconnected on Facebook at least four years ago. We never talk on the phone and even email on FB is spotty. But I spoke to her for an hour and a half (those who know me these days know I rarely speak on the phone), and it was just really good to catch up. I love no pressure friendships like that. Where you can go months or years without talking but then you catch up and have tons to talk about for hours. We had a lot of laughs reminscing about funny, old stuff and catching up on the new stuff going on. So, thanks Karen. :-) And anyone reading, if you're thinking about calling one of your old friends like that, out of the blue, but are nervous about it, it's usually worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birthday Bonanza

I'll start by saying that I can't believe I have a 3 yr old. His birthday was at the end of January so I'm late on posting. I'm kind of glad I've been slacking because since his birthday I've been to like three more. Some kids in E's class turned 3 in the fall but the birthday "season" really kicks off in January.

At his school it's strongly encouraged to invite the whole class and to have it on a Sunday. The Sunday thing is for kids possibly observing Shabbat and I'm thrilled about it. Do we observe? No. BUT, since we own retail stores, Saturday is a business day. That means I'm on my own, or taking Sydney to parties if it's on a Saturday. Sundays B is home to come with me AND it's something fun to do for E. Win-Win. There are just A LOT of parties if people are inviting the whole class, sometimes two in a day if I count in his non-school friends. E has a better social life than B and I.

Starting with E's first birthday, it was always more of a "friend party". B and I both have small families and my mom had passed away about four months prior to his first party. Most everyone invited were "his" friends and their parents (my friends) and some family friends. The first one was in our house, catered by Costco, cake by Shop Rite, and approximately nine or ten little kids. I had Sean & Pat from Music for Aardvarks come to my house to entertain the kids for about 45 min or so. It was really awesome because most of the kids who were there were enrolled in Aardvarks classes already so they knew all the songs and were really into it. It was a little cost prohibitive- $350. But, looking back, it was still worth it because what do you do with ten toddlers at a house party? The whole party was a success but B decided he didn't want anymore parties in the house. The clean-up is always a pain and it makes it all exhausting.

For E's second birthday he was already taking classes at Little Gym in Waldwick. All these play gyms and play places have party packages and for around the same amount as having the music at my house, they could run around, tire themselves out, I can invite more kids and it's over in an hour and a half. Best part is not having to set up or clean up. These places do all of that for you. We did his party there and it was such an easy breezy success that we knew we'd be doing these party package places forever. I was a summer baby and had a pool in my backyard. All my parents had to do was let us use the pool and order pizza. For winter babies in NJ it isn't that simple. I think for up to 14 children the cost for a member at Little Gym for a party was around $365 (not including tips). E wasn't in school yet so I didn't have over 14 kids to invite. It included set up, clean up, cake, an hour an a half of play, invitations and paper goods, pizza & juice (for the kids). We stupidly did more platters from Costco for the adults, and soda. I say "stupidly" because I should've just ordered extra pizza and called it a day.

With his third birthday looming, I actually didn't get to party planning until the end of October. That seems early for the end of January but it isn't. People are nuts with the kid parties. I like a party at 11a-12:30 so there's something to do in the morning and we finish with lunch, go home and take a nap. So I wanted to make sure I had my choice of party times. I also send the invites out way before the holidays so they don't get thrown in the trash with holiday cards.

I had a few options I wasn't overly enthusiastic about. I'd been to In the Swing (Waldwick) for parties numerous times. It's fine but I didn't love it. We aren't members of Little Gym anymore so I didn't want to pay the higher price for non-members. My Gym had opened in Glen Rock but I hadn't had time to check it out and since E never took a class there, I wasn't sure how it would be. I was sort of over the gym thing anyway.

I had gotten an invitation in early autumn to JellyBean Junction from one of E's friends and I was intrigued. I usually know of all kid places in the area and I'd NEVER heard of it. She was having a dance party. We couldn't make the party but I definitely wanted to check the place out. It's inside The Learning Experience daycare center in the Superdome Complex in Waldwick. Just an aside, that seems to be Kid Row over there with the Superdome right there, Gymboree down the street and In the Swing across the street. I went in and it was clean and friendly in there. They explained all their packages to me, took me on a tour, and were just very helpful. They have a lot of different "themed" parties across a wide range of ages. I booked the "Dance party" about a week later.

The Pros: They give you invitations, paper goods, pizza, juice, an hour and a half of play, and goodie bags for the kids. Depending on the number of kids, they have an appropriate number of staff. I was told they can accommodate up to 30 kids. They do the set up and clean up. You just have to bring the cake and anything you want there in terms of food or paper products for the adults.

The Cons: It's expensive. It's $330 for the party for up to twelve kids for the dance party theme. Every theme costs a different amount. Any child over that amount was going to cost $15.50 EACH. Well, since we're encouraged to invite the whole class, that's almost 20 children right there. Since I'd never been there, I wasn't sure how they'd count the younger ones. Would they count two kids who had just pretty much turned one year in the fall? I was really concerned about the cost. I had to limit the invited to his class and about six or seven other kids that I really wanted there. Kids I couldn't see not inviting because they're the same age as E and we're friends with the parents. They're also really strict about the paper goods for the adults. I forgot cups and they told me I had to go out and get them. Luckily there is a Walgreens nearby.

I was also really concerned about cost and how they were going to charge me for the little ones. They participated in the beginning part but no so much in the main dance part. They were pretty lenient, which was nice. But if I knew that ahead of time, had they given me an age, like 2 & under, I would've been able to invite some other friends with little ones. I was really concerned about the different age factor too. I didn't know if there would be anything for the younger kids to do. In retrospect it would've been fine but I really had no idea what it would be like.

The party as a whole was good. I loved the beginning. They have a small room where they can climb, slide, play in a ball pit, get their face painted, play dress up, etc. It's big enough to accommodate all the kids but not too big that they can't navigate it on their own. I loathe going to Kids U or Bounce U for the reason that I'm expected to climb and bounce too. I don't want to go to a party to "work". I want to be able to have conversations with people while my son & the other kids have a good time. So I loved this room here because the kids can really do their own thing without parents having to guide them or play, climb or jump. Everything in that room is self-manageable for any child 2+.

What I didn't like was that the main party hostess girl was not a very strong or commanding personality. Everything happened so fast they didn't really tell the parents what to do. So, some parents hung out in that first room, some in the hallway, etc. No one really took command of the whole thing. Then when the kids moved to the main party room where the dance party was supposed to be happening, it seemed really chaotic. Parents were in there all around the perimeter so some kids wanted to be glued to their parents. Had the girl told the kids to line up and come in without the parents, they probably would've just gone in and done whatever in a much smoother fashion. It just seemed like way too much of a free for all for three year olds. They need more direction. Sure, if a kid needed their parent I can see being very flexible with having the parents in that room but it was probably unnecessary for the bulk of them. The majority of them are in school together- they know how a classroom works.

Then the pizza & cake part was a little bit of a pain. Stupidly, I got a full sheet cake. I didn't count on a stomach virus ripping through class and claiming five victims from his class within 2-3 days of the party. With those kids not coming, that meant less parents too. I had no idea what size cake I'd ordered before and the full sheet didn't seem that big when I looked at the box. Yeah, there is still cake in my fridge. The cake was ginormous and where they put the cake was so far away from where E decided to sit for his pizza. But if they were going to put it on this one table they should've told me to have him sit near it. So the hostess had to carry it over to him and it just was very awkward. Not to mention she looked like she was going to drop it and that would've been good for no one.

I'm also realizing now that part of the deal was that the kids were supposed to make some kind of spin art to take home and that never happened. Oh well. The kids didn't miss it. An hour and a half goes by in a blink of an eye. I don't know when they would've even fit that in. It's annoying that it was part of the package and we didn't get it but I'm not going to complain now.

But they have SO many different themes which sound really cool. It's close to my house and the point is that the kids had fun and it was easy on the parents. Some parents had infants they brought with them and it was very easy to navigate having two children there if you were the only parent. I'd use it again for E's party but I'd make sure to specify that I want someone running things with more of strong personality. I'd also make sure we got everything we paid for in the package.

I've also been to numerous My Gym parties in Glen Rock so I just want to say a few words about those too. Lucky for me, the location is super convenient for me. It's literally probably five minutes from my house. At the first party there I attended, I was able to look at their party package. It's definitely pricey for a non-member. It was around $450 for up to 20 kids. That would've been the dealbreaker for me because I definitely had more than 20 to invite. I only got charged 18 because that's how many showed up but I wouldn't feel comfortable inviting more than 20 if that's all they could accommodate, just hoping some wouldn't come.

The pros there are that it is extremely clean & safe. You can pretty much let your child run wild in there and they're not going to get hurt. I liked that aspect and think it's better than Little Gym in that respect. They also seem to have really awesome teachers/party hosts who can control a room of 2-3 year olds really well. **My Gym just called me (3/6/12) to invite us to a free trial class because we've been to so many parties.** The girl with the strong personality, able to adeptly control a room of 20 three years old's is Sam and she's the Assistant Director. She's great. If any of these other party places had her or someone like her, I'm fairly certain there wouldn't be the mass chaos I've seen. Like as E's party.

What I did not like, at all, was the pizza/cake portion of the party. There is no "party room". It's the front lobby of the place. There are no tables- just counter space and long benches to sit on. But, the benches are right up to the counter space. The counter is the half-wall between the lobby and the play area. So the kids have to sit on their knees to eat. It's really crowded and it looks really uncomfortable.

There is no room to help your child if they need help eating because it's a tight squeeze and no leg-room. On top of that, it's a carpeted floor. So while it looks really clean, I think it's mighty stupid to have kids eating pizza, cake and juice over a carpeted floor. I'd think, eventually, it would have to get pretty gross. I just think it's a really bad set up. It's also where everyone is supposed to put their coats and shoes. There aren't enough hooks to hang stuff up and everyone's coats, handbags, etc ended up in a huge jumble on the floor. Well maybe that in itself isn't a big deal but what if one of those kids gets pizza or cake on someone's coat, etc. It seems like it would be easily rectified if they took out the ridiculously enormous Melissa & Doug retail and make a better system for eating, coats and shoes. No one needs to buy Melissa & Doug in the gym, it takes up ridiculous space and just contributes to kids being want-monsters in the lobby. I'm sure people buy the stuff but under duress of trying to get a screaming kid out of there.

THEN, the weirdest part of it all is that they stop the play to QUICKLY do pizza and cake, then they clean them off and send them back in to play. It sounds nice but it's really a pain in the ass to try to get your kid out of there. They are conditioned that at birthday parties, you do the playing, you eat, then you leave. Try getting a three year old off a trampoline to go with no lure of pizza or cake. Fun times. Plus, again, now they ate and are going straight to running around and jumping again. No one ever barfs after that? I just think this practice is really weird. If the party is 3:00-4:30, let them play until 4:10, then do pizza and cake and send them HOME.

Lastly, their party times are set on the weekend at 1p-2:30, 3-4:30, and 5p-6:30. None of those would be convenient to me. 2p & 4p are a weird time for lunch/dinner and ending at 6:30 on a Sunday is late for a lot of people having to prepare for school or work the next day after the weekend.

So, again, it's a nice place, clean and safe with great employees. But these other things would turn me off to having a party there.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Date Night!

I don't know when B and I last went to dinner on a Saturday night without E, but if I can't remember it, it's been a long time. Way too long. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Bensi nights, Applebees, Charlie Brown's, BUCU, Friday's, etc. But, it is nice not to have to bring a cooler bag with milk, pick crayons up off the floor and find things to entertain a 2-3 year old. Sydney has moved up in the ranks to evening babysitter so we were finally good to go.

I'd been dying to try Park West Tavern in Ridgewood since they opened. Our store had won Best Home Decor store in Bergen Health & Life a few years in a row and we'd attended Bergenfest at Florentine Gardens for their party and one of the years The Park Steakhouse in Park Ridge won for something (sorry, I can't remember what they won for). All the restaurants who won a category were giving out samples and I could've stayed at their table stuffing their mini steaks in my mouth all night. The Park is definitely on the expensive side and it's kind of far. Not that we don't like a good drive but it's just easier to stay more local and we do have a ton of restaurants nearby. We've never made it to Park Ridge but when I heard the same owners were taking over where Winberies went out, I was thrilled.

Saturday night was our chance. We made the reservation on Thursday. And good thing- because I heard they were booked and there was a waiting list when I was being seated. We made our reservation for 6:30p. They were turning people away then. At least I felt like I made a smart choice! It's been there for at least a few months and they're still at the point of turning people away so that was a good sign.

Everything looked very similar to Winberies. Bar is in the same place. It had the sunken room still. They added a fireplace on the bar tier, where we were seated. They added some brick-y things on the walls and there were around five flat screen televisions. Four of them were above the bar and then one was on another wall. I thought it was kind of interesting because the menu is very gourmet, but it had the televisions like a sports bar. It's fancier than a local bar, like The Office, but there were still kids there. But there was no kids menu that I saw so I don't know what you'd order a child. I'm not ordering E a filet mignon. A regular burger is $14 and I wouldn't waste that on a three year old.

We ordered appetizers. I got the simple mixed green salad. It's mixed greens, tomatoes & cucumbers. They said it's a "champagne vinaigrette". I was NOT impressed with the salad. The tomatoes were kind of mealy and the dressing was SO bitter. So bitter that I had a hard time eating it. I heard the guy next to me complaining so we asked the couple what they thought. The husband said he hated it. The waiter came over and we both told him we didn't like the dressing at all. The husband next to us was a bit more vocal but I definitely made it known, very nicely, that it wasn't good. I told the waiter I didn't like it but that it wasn't a big deal. He asked how everything was so I said I was just telling him. Now, I just didn't like his response. He said, "Hmm. I have that salad like every day and it's never been bad..." Ok asshole, does it matter if you had it and liked it? Two people are sitting here and saying it's awful, just say, "Oh, wow, I'm sorry. Do you want something different?". I would've said no but it would've been nice if he had asked instead of making it like we were lying.

B had the smoked duck & pumpkin dumplings. Now THESE were awesome. They had some balsamic on them but you could immediately taste the different flavors. They have goat cheese in them, which I'm not a fan of but I couldn't taste it in a bad way. They were just really delicious.

We got our main courses in a timely fashion. I ordered the crispy skin salmon with lobster risotto. I thought the whole thing was awesome. The lobster chunks were really generous and I just love risotto. The salmon was perfect and it was a good portion. It wasn't too big or too small. I didn't have enough to take home but definitely left some on my plate. B got the filet and he said it was terrific. He's had some questionable meat dishes lately so this was a pleasant surprise. He ordered their "In & Out" spinach as a side dish and was very happy with it.

Now, the best part....DESSERT. They don't have their dessert menu online so I had no idea what to expect. Then we got it after dinner and neither one of us were impressed with any of it! So disappointed. So we halfheartedly ordered two separate dishes. I ordered cinnamon & ricotta zepoles with strawberry dipping sauce and some kind of whipped (?) cream. It was called some other kind of cream- I don't remember what. B ordered some almond strudel with cinnamon ice cream.

WELL. We were SO wrong to be disappointed. I wish I never ordered that salad and just went with the dessert. I was so stuffed by the time I got to the dessert I couldn't eat every bit of whatever that cream was and I really wanted to stick my face in it. You know, if I'm going to honest. The zepoles came in a little brown bag and I can't even explain how totally amazing they were. I was eating them like I hadn't eaten in two years. They were sick. I gave one to B but then I ate EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. after that. And there were many. It was no tiny dish. I need to find out what that cream was and how to have it in my house. No, no I don't need that. But I want it...

B loved his choice too but the description on the menu definitely didn't do it justice either. It doesn't look like a typical strudel you might have in your mind. It was fancy looking and had wildberry spread on the bottom. I tasted a piece and it was fab. It was just enough for him because he doesn't like to leave dinner feeling stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. I don't mind feeling like that when it comes to dessert.

It definitely wasn't cheap. Or even moderate. I had two drinks and B had one and the bill came out to about $130 without tip. It wasn't overly expensive for the area or anything but it's not like we'll be going there once a week.

Overall I really liked it. I won't be ordering the salad again but there are so many things I wanted to try. They have steamed edamame which I almost ordered instead of the salad. There are almond chicken nuggets, short rib & risotto aroncini and some other stuff that sounded really interesting. Definitely worth trying out. Even though we had an early reservation, our table was ready right away. That's sometimes more important than anything else, especially when you're paying for a sitter!

There was a sign on the door that says they have free parking Thursday-Saturday (or Sunday?) nights in the lot on Walnut Street. But it was raining so B had dropped me off to park and he'd driven away before I could tell him about the lot. Good to know for next time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Supermarket trekking again

So, as I'd noted in a previous blog, I spend half my week trolling different supermarkets because I can't get everything I need in one place. I do like to buy a lot of organic or at least healthier choices so that also makes my supermarket shopping even more of a pain in the ass. Even Shop Rite which has always been my supermarket of choice isn't uniform in what they carry. Every. Single. One. carries different stuff. Now that I'm working, I even PASS a Shop Rite (Emerson) on my way home. I was so excited about this thinking I could stop on my way home and it would be convenient.

No, no. NO. I stop in Emerson. While it's one of those re-done, giant ones, the first thing I was looking for was not there. I asked where their cut fruit & veggies are located. They show me a tiny refrigerator that was practically empty. For convenience, I buy Organic Valley or some other brand of sliced apples in snack size bags. I also buy those Mickey Mouse heads (Foodles) that I put in E's school lunch. Neither were there.

My friends Marissa and Nicole swear by Fairway. It's just so...FAR. I live on the 208 side of Glen Rock. Most of my business (errands) are on Rt 4. But, E's pediatrician and work are on the Rt 17 side of Bergen and I could pass Fairway on the way home from work too. I'd been there before, but it was before Jenny Craig and it seemed like it was just really expensive. But I figured it couldn't hurt to try it again. I needed a few things and the thought of taking E to Shop Rite some other time just didn't thrill me. I'd have to go on Saturday and Shop Rite in Paramus might as well be giving Justin Bieber clones away on the weekend. No way.

I have a few thoughts on Fairway. If you keep kosher, it's like you've walked into heaven. In Shop Rite, they do a decent job on having kosher items but in comparison to Fairway, I probably wouldn't even bother with Shop Rite. Anything brought into E's school for birthdays or celebrations has to be store-bought kosher and I was able to get cute mini cupcakes at Fairway that I've never seen in Shop Rite.

Also if you're into gourmet stuff- vinegars, cheese, olives, fresh nut butters, exotic frozen raviolis and other pastas, Fairway has everyone beat. Same with organic dairy. Tons of stuff. Their prepared food and soups look and sound diverse and amazing. Just so many choices.

For me though, some of my staples were so much higher. B eats Activia yogurt. I buy a 12 pack for him and he goes through them pretty fast.. It was like $1 more for the dozen. May seem like a small amount but if I bought there all the time it would add up. Some of the cereals I buy were more, organic fat-free milk was more in the gallon, and I think E's frozen waffles were more too. All stuff I use daily.

I also use Applegate Farms Organic hot dogs weekly. They only had the beef in organic. The turkey and chicken were just the "uncured". WHY? If you already committed to carrying all this other organic stuff and have a whole shelf dedicated to Applegate Farms products (cold cuts, cheeses, etc), WHY wouldn't you also have the organic chicken and turkey dogs???

With the fruit and vegetables, they don't carry Mann's sugar snap peas in the bag. I eat a bag of those a day. They had a bin of loose sugar snap peas but I don't want to pick through a bin and make a bag. I want separate bags for taking on the go. CONVENIENCE. I'm spoiled by convenience. My hands were freezing as I'm picking through a peck of beans and I was totally all WTF about it. I wanted to grab my nice, easy Mann's bags and get a move on. Oh, and no Foodles in here either. I NEED THE FOODLES.

Another issue, which is not really a huge problem but it is if you're pressed for time- the store is confusing as hell. Nothing is where it says it is. I was looking for PAM in the aisle that's LABELED "Cooking Sprays", yet no cooking spray to be found. I asked someone and it was the second half of that aisle. But that part of the aisle had other labels, that were not cooking spray. I think it's set up very oddly. I'm sure I'd get the hang of it once I'd been there numerous times but just going there on the fly here and there had me walking around in circles.

Now, I'm not sure, but I don't think they have a loyalty card either. I didn't want to buy any puree pouches for E because they count toward Baby Bucks at Shop Rite. It's more worth it for me to buy them there to eventually hit the amount to get $10 off $50. The loyalty cards don't save me a ton or help me that much but it annoys me when a store doesn't have any loyalty programs.

So, like I said, it's great for kosher and for organic, but for me, it's expensive for my weekly staples and I still have to make a trip to Shop Rite or Target. Target is the only place I can E's "Groovy Smoothies" (Fresh Beat Band moms know what I'm talking about)- Bolthouse Farms Protein drink in Mango. NO ONE seems to carry this but Target. I didn't dislike Fairway- I bought a chocolate babka that was to die for (you should be hearing that last line in a Brooklynese-Jewish accent). I could've eaten the whole thing myself. My husband loved their New England Clam Chowder in their prepared soups section. Last Mothers Day I got a chocolate mousse cake from their bakery that was awesome and I don't even like chocolate cake. They have a ginormous variety of foods, I just find the set-up confusing, it's a huge store, and it's a bit intimidating if you're in a time crunch like I always am.