Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baked by Melissa

Back to cupcakes. I'm pretty devastated. I'm down to three slices of Pam-cakes (formerly A La Cupcakes in Glen Rock). Pam was awesome enough to bake me a cake to cut and freeze so I would still have some of her awesomeness to eat. But I'm almost all out. So I'm trying to ration it out. Hear me Pam?? I'm rationing your cake. I have a problem. ;-)

E had an improv class in NYC on Sunday and we didn't really have a plan for the day. We just decided for the first class to wing it. We were going to see if we could celebrity sight-see near the TriBeCa Film Festival but since we didn't know that area well, it didn't go as planned and there was nothing for us going on down there. We'd walked the west village and I'd seen at least three cupcake places I'd have wanted to try. I didn't want to carry them around though so I thought I'd catch at least one on the way back. But when we got lost in TriBeCa, we decided to just take the subway back to 16th Street & 8th Ave where we were parked. Then I got the bright idea to look up Baked By Melissa and see if we were near a location.

Who knew there are like seven of them?! We weren't immediately near one but we were able to drive there and park. I'd had them before at a friend's house here in Jersey but only one or two. I remembered them being good but wanted to really try them myself by getting a box. I also didn't know if all they do are the mini ones. So I needed to see the whole operation.

We went to the one on the Upper West Side. It's very sleek and contemporary. It's all take-out, it's very no frills in there, and just trays of mini cupcakes. There are ten flavors and then a Mini of the Month. It figures, as I'm looking at the menu now, the one *I* loved the most is the Mini of the Month and I assume then, not a regular flavor. Ugh. Of course. It is French Toast and it's awesome.

If you like to bring baked goods to a kid get together or playdate, these are awesome because they're so small they're not messy. It's nice to be able to really control how much sweet stuff they're eating vs just giving them a hunk of cake. I would let E have one of these at an afternoon playdate before dinner, but not a regular sized cupcake.

But there is a negative to the size on the flipside. I get the novelty and all- they're cute. Plus, you get to have all the flavors because they're so small. But I could seriously eat twenty-five of them in one sitting and that's not good. They seem harmless because they're tiny but I bet if you get addicted to them, they will do some damage to your ass! My second favorite was the Cookies & Cream. At least I know I could get that again if I can't have the French Toast.

They're something I might buy a few of in the mall- Baked By Melissa is coming to Garden State Plaza or they're already there. Like, there used to be a My Favorite Muffin there and I used to buy their cinnamon cheesecake minis. But I'm not going out of my way to get these and I haven't seen a My Favorite Muffin in years. I wouldn't be driving around special to get those either and I loved them. It just seems like they're costly for such small cakes. So to me, it's more like a specialty thing. Something to bring to someone's home for an event, party, etc. I'd much rather these than buying the way overpriced mini cupcakes from Crumbs.

  • Cookies & Cream
  • Cookie Dough
  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Red Velvet
  • Triple Chocolate Fudge
  • Tie-Dye
  • Cinnamon
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Chocolate Chip Pancake
  • Mini of the Month: French Toast
  • 3 for $3
  • 6 for $5.50
  • 12 for $10
  • 25 for $20
  • 50 for $40
  • 100 for $80
There are other options too- You can only get the "In Chocolate" ones in certain locations. I didn't see any when I was in this location. The flavors for those are:
  • Birthday Cupcake
  • Sooo Baked
  • Coconut Cream
  • Coffee Caramel
  • New York Cream
  • Strawberry
  • Chocolate Graham
  • Peanut Butter Fluff
Then there are special gift boxes and pricing on those In Chocolate ones.

They ship nationwide


Monday, April 29, 2013

Passing Judgment

Everyone judges. Opines. Analyzes. Gossips. Whatever. That's cool. I would just prefer that it happen behind closed doors where I don't have to hear it. Not because my feelings are hurt. But because it's annoying. I don't want to feel like I have to defend my life choices because of someone else's unsolicited commentary. I actually don't feel like I have to defend my choices. I'm 100% confident in pretty much all of the life choices I can think of off the top of my head. But I don't think it's fair that I'm constanly put in the position where the only way to keep conversing with someone standing right there talking to me is to defend my choices. Then it also puts me in the position of being kind of an asshole, giving smart-ass answers.

I feel like I wrote about this already but I couldn't find an entry about it when I quickly scrolled through. I probably feel like that because my decision is called into question so much that it's a constant topic of conversation. Or not even a "conversation", but more of a debate where I've had to hone my skills and one liners to get people off my back.

You would think I'm going to say it's a decision of epic proportion. And for some people it may actually be one. But for me it wasn't and isn't a difficult one in the least. I am one and done. We are one and done. One what? One child. Cue the horror...

I don't know why people think it's okay to tell someone they need to have any children, nevermind add more to their family. When someone tells me they're having a second, third, or fourth, I don't make a face and say- I think you should totally stop having kids. You need to stop. I also don't then list all the reasons why they should stop, make verbal assumptions as to how their kids will turn out being one of many or whatever. Yet, that's pretty much what happens every time I say I have one. Before I can even get another sentence out there is a running commentary- "You're going to have another, right?!", "You should get on that now- you don't want them too far apart!", "It's mean to only have one!", "He's going to be spoiled and weird!", "No....you'll change your mind!", and the best- "But don't you want another baby to hold- oh! that baby smell....". Um, no.

I'll be totally honest- I don't even notice people's babies unless they're right in front of me- like really in front of me. Not in a stroller- in front of me like, in my eye line, or they're making noise. I don't dislike babies at all. In fact, I love immobile infants. I loved my infant who is now a preschooler. I just don't want another one. Yours is cute but it doesn't make my uterus tingle, it doesn't make me think- "what if?", and it doesn't make me all mushy & longing for the baby days. I can't explain it. I can't make anyone understand it. It's the same as when someone tells me how much they want another one and how their family just doesn't feel complete. Does. Not. Compute. For me.

There are no guarantees in life. You can have six kids and can't be guaranteed that ANY of them will be around to take care of you in your old age. If that's why you had a child or twelve, you did it for the wrong reasons. They don't sign a contract as they come out outlining and detailing duties and responsibilities they're going to take on into and through adulthood. Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes those kids don't make it to adulthood. It can't be just about what you think or see happening in the future. Because all that does is set you up for disappointment. You may be close to all your kids their entire lives- they may even live with you through their adulthood- the way the younger generations are going. But again, there are no guarantees.

Same thing with siblings. I shake my head when people talk about how mean it is not to give my son a sibling. Newsflash! Not all siblings get along, like each other, or even talk. Some are "thick as thieves" and that's great. But no matter how you do it- one and done, or a litter- there is always going to be some issue. Even when siblings are close, that doesn't mean there aren't periods of discord, bigger rifts, long lasting feuds, resentment, or just general apathy. How parents foster relationships within the family both help and hinder but there is still differing personalities with different perceptions of what is going on around them. Trust me, when they're in therapy in 20 years, it won't be over everything you thought you did wrong, it'll be about those handful of things you thought you did right! Because everyone has a different perspective. My son may have a problem with us because we never gave him a sibling, but every family has their cross to bear and we're ok with it being the only child thing.

I cringe when I hear questions to friends of mine or even strangers about when they are planning to have a kid, a second kid, more kids, etc. Because you also don't know what is going on personally with people. I'm one and done by choice. And I have no problem discussing it. I've had people email me and ask how I came to that decision and I've written what I can say are record long responses. Not everyone is that open. I happen to throw all my stuff right out there for all to enjoy. But believe it or not, MANY of my friends are uber-private and would rather have all their toenails pulled out one by one with a tweezer vs talking about their fertility or anything personal with people they know, let alone strangers just deciding they should have kids because they'd be attractive offspring.

In light of last week being National Infertility Awareness Week, I'll say that I know A LOT of women who have struggled and continue to struggle with infertility & miscarriage. Some willingly talk about it because that's their way of coping and getting support. But I can't imagine how difficult it is for those who don't want to discuss it to have to hear how she should have children because they'd be really good looking. I'm pretty sure they'd take an ugly baby if only they could get pregnant or carry a baby to term. I'm told that it feels like a failure on their part- something they're "supposed" to be able to do. Nothing makes someone feel better like rubbing it in their face that they "should" have a child. Not to mention- I don't know if people realize that when they tell someone to start having kids, they're basically telling them they should start having a lot of sex. When you look at it that way, is that the conversation you really want to be having with anyone? Of course Aunt Jennie doesn't realize when she's asking if you if you're trying to have a baby that she's really asking you if you're having a lot of the sex. If you turned it on her and said that you're having sex every day but nothing yet, though- I bet she'd stop asking about your fertility.

I don't want to get into all the things not to say to a woman who doesn't have a child, is one and done, or who is dealing with infertility because that's been done a hundred times over. I'm not even going to go into all twelve hundred reasons I'm one and done and happy as a clam with that decision. I'm writing to say that if you need to make small talk, telling people to have children when you have no stake in it is rude, insensitive, and just out and out baffling. It's right up there with telling a pregnant woman she's big, that she has to breastfeed, or asking a mom of two same-gender kids if they're going to go for the third to get the opposite gender. All useless questions that have no bearing on your life. My motto is "Don't ask questions you don't care what the answers are" for a reason. I don't ask someone if they're going to have kids, more kids, etc because I don't care. I actually have about eight million other things I'd rather talk about. Add another one million if it's just small talk and not even a serious conversation. If I don't have to babysit or pay for it, have or don't have- it's up to you. Don't get me wrong- if someone WANTS to talk about their infertility with me- I'm there. I've been there for many friends going through it. If someone wants to discuss their pro and con list with me about having another or wants to ask me my feelings about having one- I'm more than happy to share. I just don't have any weird vested interest in other people's procreation enough to tell them they need to do it.

I just had someone tell me that she'd have enough money for the college fund for the child she isn't having if she had a dollar for everyone who told her "But you'd make such a good mother!". I'm always perplexed by this statement too. When I had E, everything I thought prior just sort of flew out the window. I thought I'd be one way about certain things and I was totally different once he was here. And what's the definition of a "good mother" anyway? What I think is good and what ten other moms think is good are amazingly different things. If that wasn't the case we wouldn't have such tense, sometimes venomous, "Mommy Wars"- working vs staying home, BF vs FF, CIO vs co-sleeping, disposable vs cloth diapers, schedules vs free for all....so on and so forth. So I'd like to know what measuring instrument there is to magically know someone would or wouldn't be a "good mother". And really, if someone knows they don't want kids and they decide that because they are sure of that, they're not going to have any, that may quite possibly be the best mother of all. The non-mother. Hey- makes sense to me. Just because someone is good with kids doesn't make them a candidate to be a "good mother". I guess I'm good with people's dogs. I don't go around kicking puppies. I might even pet yours, let them sit in my lap while getting my hair done (shout-out to Gidget and Otto!), and be a little obsessed with the "Ceasar dog" from the commercial. But that doesn't mean I'd be a good dog mom in any way. I get to leave the dog in the salon & turn off the commercial on tv and forget about it. Catch my drift?

This entry was sort of prompted by a comment I read to a childless acquaintance. It stuck with me since reading sometime last week. I don't know this acquaintance's reason for remaining childless. She's still in a window of child-bearing years where she could theoretically have a baby with no medical intervention. She seems happily married and pretty stable in the outward areas of life you get to see on Facebook. One of her friends said- "I'm just sad that for those who won't know the love of a child. It's the greatest of all things." I'm paraphrasing. But it was something close to that. And I immediately got angry. Because no one needs to be sad for someone about that. If more people were so self-aware and knew their own limitations, there wouldn't be as many abused or neglected kids. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent and the ones who don't want to be parents- shouldn't be. People have kids for all kinds of stupid reasons- to "save" a relationship (which works so well), to have a caretaker later on, because they're not confident they won't regret not doing it, as an accessory (crazy but true), to carry on a name, etc. Well, not wanting one is better than all those put together as a reason NOT to have one. If I tell someone to try a  bite of my macaroni salad and they say they don't want any, that's kind of it. And that's just macaroni salad, not a lifelong commitment.

I don't know this acquaintance's story and whether she does or doesn't plan to have any children. But I just thought about that comment her friend made when I've been inundated with stuff in my FB newsfeed about infertility. Then I thought about how awful it would feel for her if she is indeed dealing with infertility and how she probably wanted to tell this person to take their sadness for her because of their perception that she just doesn't want any (which would be fine too) and shove it up their ass. Someone who doesn't know me very well recently mentioned that I "should" have another but in the same breath talked about how pro she is about a kids program that is highly expensive. I was quiet for a minute and said- "Well, if I had another kid, instead of one in a program, I'd have two doing nothing and I'm not sure how that would be good for anyone since I still need to go to work." Should I have to then delve into my financials with someone I hardly know? Unless she was offering to pay, which in that case, my answer would be- "You have it and pay for it and let me know how that goes."

So you can judge anything you want. I admit, I have opinions on the Duggars. You know, the ones with nineteen or twenty kids. These opinions don't keep me up at night though and unless I'm in a discussion specifically about them, it's not like I just have random daily issue with them. They put their life out in the public eye to be poked, prodded, and discussed. But I also wouldn't write or call Mrs Duggar to give her my unsolicited opinion. Because they're on tv, the opinions are more like water cooler talk. People can't help having opinions. I'm fine with that. You can think it's a tragedy to not give our child a sibling. Judge someone not having any. But realize that with your judgment, you're not changing any minds and it's just not necessary to say out loud. It's not like the recipient of your stellar advice is going to say- "You know what- you're right. I'm going to have another" or "Yeah, I'm trying for the girl after two boys. So if it's another boy I'm going to sell him on eBay because I'll be too disappointed to keep him.". Basically it's just to hear the sound of your own voice when you start these conversations. And know that it's not an innocuous line of questioning or stating when you start telling people what they should do with their reproduction. Be mindful of what the person you're speaking to could be going through. Or possibly, that they just don't give a shit what you think about one kid vs more.

Friday, April 26, 2013

More of my Favorite Things

Last spring or summer I think I did an entry on some of my favorite things going into the warmer weather, even if it had nothing much to do with the weather. People seemed to like the recommendations so I'm going with it again. I will probably have to do another once summer actually comes but since we're pretty much down to two seasons- winter and summer, this is as good a time as any....

Abeo footwear- It's exclusively sold at The Walking Company, as far as I know. I got the Balboa Neutral "Flip Flop" and fell in love with it two summers ago. I put flip flop in caps and quotes because when you typically think of that kind of shoe, you think of crappy Havanias (sorry, but I bought a pair at Loehmanns and not only weren't they comfortable but they gave me blisters), or $5 things you get anywhere- on the boardwalk, in CVS, wherever. These look like flip flops but they're SO MUCH MORE.

I judge any shoe by how long I can wear it without constantly thinking about my foot pain. I'm such a pain baby to begin with but I can't deal with foot pain. I barely wear heels, comfort is optimum for me, and I'd wear flips all year long if I could. The Abeo shoes are on the more expensive side for this kind of shoe- I KNOW. But, how many uncomfortable, cheaply made, really just shitty pair have you shelled out $15-$30 or more for because they were cute, but you couldn't wear them for more than an hour? Add up a few of those and you have one pair of Balboas. And they have other styles- "dressier" so to speak. I just don't need that. But if I did, I'd be buying them all. They are stylish but made for comfort. But it's not your mom or grandma's Aerosoles or Naturalizers. And FYI, I have a pair of strappy Naturalizers I got for a wedding and they're awful. Blister city.

I now own two and a half pair of Abeo Balboas. I say "half" because I can't bear to part with them but the reason I got the second pair was because B flat-tired my first pair and when that happened, I tripped forward and it ripped the thong part partially out. In my mind they're fixable. I wore them EVERY day the summer of 2011 and part of last summer. Till B stepped on the one. I just ordered purple, which is my last pair for awhile so I don't mind letting everyone in on my shoe secret. The size 9's and 10's always seem to go first.

If you have an Ebates account, they're on there and it's 5% back!


EZ Freeze Stayfit products: I bring my breakfast to work. I use Jenny Craig frozen breakfasts because they're easy to transport and heat on the go. But I'd rather eat cereal. It's cheaper. But it's a PAIN to transport. I don't want to keep milk in the refridgerator at work because it's small and the milk will end up going bad because I'll never be able to use it all. I've brought it but it's always been annoying. THEN- I went to my friend Margaret's house & she showed me these contraptions she has for her son to bring cereal to school. The smaller one has a frozen part you would put the milk in that attaches to the bowl part so it's all one piece for easy transport. You'll have to look at the link I'm going to post to really understand. But it's amazing and I'm waiting on mine to come in the mail. Except I got the "deluxe" one because I do love me some cereal. Frosted Mini Wheats, to be specific. But there are so many options for cold food storage- salad things, sandwich things, smoothie things, etc.


Shellac nail polish: I don't care what the news says. Having been a tanning bed girl all my life, the little bit of UV on my hands to get this done like once a month is nothing. Wear fingerless gloves if you must. But not having to sit and wait for nails to dry, only to smudge one anyway? Priceless. You can pretty much get it done anywhere now and I think it's usually around $30. More if you need the gel nails too- which I do. $30 for just the shellac, $45 total with gels at 4U Nails in Glen Rock. The palatte of colors has gotten larger over time and the time and aggravation saved is totally worth it.

Color Coating: This is work related but it's really wow. It's "new" to us for lighting so I'm mentioning it because it's just so unbelievably cool that we're doing it like mad lately. We're taking people's old metal lighting pieces and coating them and we're taking new lamps and chandeliers and doing those too. It's just added such a fun, unique twist on the traditional looks people are used to. The iridesents come out so awesome. When the light hits the pendants and the chandeliers, it looks amazing. We took the most basic looking, really unattractive chandelier and made it into a showpiece by doing it in a root beer coating that is something I've never seen anywhere else. I'm just really excited about all the possibilities. We're doing pendants over kitchen islands like are totally one of a kind just because of all the special components we've been able to put together.


Chocolate Twizzlers: All I have to say is, they're back! Back the way they were meant to be. For a few years they changed the consistency and they were awful. They totally ruined them. Apparently there were even blogs about it. But they put them back the way they were and I'm thrilled.

Pack It: I have written about these before, but I think that was before all the sizes were available. I strongly dislike having to buy those reusable ice packs. They rip, they're bulky, take up too much room, etc. But these have them built in and they're awesome. I've been using the mini one for E's lunch all school year. Perfect for a toddler, preschooler or probably even a kindergartner. The mid-size or their "standard" size is perfect for me to being my breakfast, lunch and snacks in. Then there is the large one which is good for all of us.


Mini Countryman: The car. Yup. The "SUV" of Mini Coopers. I just got one. It was time to turn in my leased "mom car"- the Honda CRV and get back to feeling like me. I know, the CRV is no minivan. But for me it was way too big. I hit all kinds of things in that- including our other Mini Cooper S that was parked behind me once in the driveway. There was nothing wrong with the CRV, it's just kind of conservative and nothing really special about it. It's perfect if you want a small SUV, good on gas, with a lot of bells and whistles in the highest model. But if you want cool zip, the Countryman is the way to go. It's four door which I needed with a four year old. But mine has satellite, navigation, it's roomy in front and back, the trunk space is deceptively large for a Mini and I LOVE it. I just feel cooler. And it was less a month to lease, fully loaded, than the Honda! Now we're a Mini Family.

Profile by Gottex swim dress: I think I may have discussed swimdresses. While it's not like I think I'm really disguising anything, I just feel better covering up a little more when I'm bending all over the kiddie pool. No need to have ugly naked all over the place. I hate bathing suits and I hate trying them on. I used to just get all mine from Victoria's Secret catalog. Scoop bottom, halter top, done. But I don't know what happened to their stuff, but the bottoms are way too small for my generous behind. So I got some swimdresses last year. Three Nautica and two Coco Rave or Coco Reef. The Nautica ones are fine but they're pretty conservative. I tried the Profile one on a whim one day whizzing through Macy's on the way to my jellybean store in Garden State Plaza. It's a little more on the sexy side, if a swimdress can be sexy anything. I tried it on and was pleasantly surprised for once. It looked pretty good, it's made nicely, and it has a removable strap. If you catch Macy's at the right time, you can get like 20-25% off. 


I'm sure I'll come up with more as soon as I post this but this is all I've got off the top of my head today. Check back for more. Unfortunately, I'm not Oprah and I can't just give them all away to every reader. But I'd like to!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Vibe'n for Camp

Last Sunday Spring Lake Day Camp had a party for campers and staff at a place called Vibe in Riverdale, NJ. I'd never been to Riverdale. It just sounded far away. I think I'd heard of it before but couldn't tell you where it is or what's there. But the camp owners, Mitchell & Michelle sent out an Evite so we decided to go. I even missed the Nyack spring street fair for it. But that's ok- I'll make it to Hoboken for theirs.

So apparently Riverdale isn't far from Glen Rock. Maybe it took twenty-five minutes? It was off 287S to 23N. The place itself is in a decent sized strip mall. It was really cool in there. We signed in, and the kids got name tags and bracelets. There were staff there to greet us, to chat and to mingle with. There were photo booths and music, pizza and lemonade. Then in another room there was a DJ getting the kids to dance. They also had a magic show which E LOVED. The event was three hours and all the kids seemed to have a really good time. It was free for all the campers and their families so it was a really nice gesture from the camp for the kids to get to know each other a little bit before the summer. Thanks Spring Lake!


The place itself was really cool. Seemed like a great spot for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Sweet 16, or other type of event. I don't know if it's open other times as some kind of club too or if it's JUST events. But they seem to do everything- birthdays, corporate, etc. They have their packages right on their website too. Too bad there's not a place like it in NYC- it would actually be the perfect kind of spot for the WGirls Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction. Vibe has been used for fashion shows so it obviously can be set up properly for that type of thing.

They also have an area in the second room with video games, foosball, and other kid-friendly things.
It's very loung-y. Lots of ottoman-type couches, little tables, etc. It's very comfortable. You could really have a great party there.

From their website:

Vibe features 10,000 sq ft of special event space with a commercial kitchen, 2 rooms with complete State-of-the-Art sound, lighting, video displays, in-house Audio and Video equipment to meet all your audio visual needs, built-in and moveable bars, lounge furniture, formal seating, lucite tables, and much more...

Vibe is the perfect private event location for you next corporate event, sales meeting, seminar, product launch or holiday party.

We offer full in-house Audio Video services  including Audience Response Systems, Plasma Screens, Projection Screens, Sound Reinforcement, Wireless microphones, Intelligent Lighting, accent lighting, and Lasers with logo technology.

Vibe's spacious layout with two rooms offers great flexibilty for meetings or events. Complete with a commercial kitchen for all your caterer's needs.


I would definitely check it out for any event you're planning to have in the future.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dining Out NJ

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saying Something

I feel like it's expected for me to say SOMETHING about Boston. I just don't really know what to say. We're totally inundated with media coverage and it seems like as far as the media is concerned, it's not even important if the info is true anymore- as long as it's quick. Fast. Up to the second. Then you have people running around spewing incorrect info, it keeps people glued to the tv and internet, and it's just a gross cycle that doesn't seem to end. There are reporters all over the family of the eight year old boy that died who's sister lost a limb and mother had an injury too. So what is there TO say? I mean, those people aren't left alone in peace for one minute and I don't even know what there is for them to say and their whole life is changed irreparably from it. It's been discussed everywhere by everyone and it's mostly just opinions. With a few conspiracy theories and some blame on our general godlessness thrown in for good measure.

I've said my thoughts are with Boston. My heart goes out to them. But so does everyone's heart and thoughts. It feels flimsy to even say it again. Or just ineffectual. We're all just helpless. And then I hear a lot about fear. NOW, people are fearful again. They are up to their eyeballs in worry. Something I also don't know really what to say about. Because I don't live in fear. Of pretty much anything. I was here for 9/11. And it was awful. The worst. But even after that, I can't say I lived in any more or less fear than I ever did. It's not my way....not my personality. And what I always tell people- I'm too busy for fear. It's not like I'm the CEO of a massive company or have six kids or whatever. But I don't know- I'm always busy. Always on the go.

As soon as planes were flying again after 9/11, I was on one. I didn't have a choice. It was part of my job working for a tanning lotion company to travel. I used to do sales/product seminars for a living. I'd get sent all over the place for this and I loved it. When my trip was booked a few weeks after 9/11 I don't know that I really thought about it. I just did it. After that, I thought the scariest thing would be getting the call that something happened to my mother. For some reason I always just imagined something tragic would happen to her. She could be a little forgetful and a lot flaky. I never wanted to call her on her cell phone because I could just picture her driving, rummaging through a bag overstuffed with her whatevers, and getting in an accident. Or driving too fast in the rain or not being able to see. Just something tragic and accidental. Turned out it was tragic but not of her own doing. A blood clot. In Oct 2009. So that was my "big" fear and it happened already. I got that call and my mother is gone. So what else?

Bad things happen. Evil things happen. You don't want to up the ante by purposely doing things that throw you into harms way. I don't bungee jump or jump out of airplanes. I prefer B not ride a motorcycle anymore since having E. But things like this bombing & massacre in Boston- you can't prepare for this. And you can't live in a bubble. You can't put your family in a bubble and you can't just lock yourself in your house. This was a disgusting, awful, horrifying act that doesn't even have the right words to describe it. But that doesn't take away that there is still good in the world, good in our immediate lives and in the people around us. There was good that day, in all the people who ran toward the explosions to help. The people who gave shirts off their backs. And then the good all around of people donating money, people coming together to do whatever it takes to make someone feel better. And lastly, just the good around in regular, everyday life that has nothing to do with what happened the other day- the sun coming out, the funny emails with friends, the laughs in the parking lot with other moms at school drop off. This is why we are resilient as people. Because there is never all bad or all good. There's bits and pieces of both everywhere.

I don't know what I'm trying to say even after all this above. I felt weird about posting about just regular stuff when the aftermath of Boston is still being felt. I have many friends there, I've spent time there, and I am so saddened about what happened. I just don't know that I have any words to comfort anyone, I don't have any witty ways to spin it that make people think, and I don't have any answers. I just know that fear and living in bubbles isn't the answer- at least not for me or my family. I'm not going to be scared to go to NYC- if I had to go there today, I'd be more "aware" but I'm not scared. I'm not scared of going about our regular business. Because my mom used to say- "When it's your time, it's your time- it's the luck of the draw". She said it ALL THE TIME- my whole life. I believe her. Good and bad have been happening since the beginning of time. Hopefully you just escape as much bad as you can. In one of the school shootings, I think maybe Virginia, one of the people who died was a Holocaust survivor. The guy survived the Holocaust only to get shot randomly by a crazy person. Life is random for the most part.

These senseless things like what happened on Monday are planned but the people they hit are random. The only recourse is just to live. Live the best life you can. Live in a way that makes you happy, able to look in the mirror, and in a way where you're not always sweating the small things. All fear does is let you live....less. It wastes time and energy. It gives you anxiety and probably shortens your life on the inside because it's not good for your body. So I'm kind of over reading about hugging your loved ones a little tighter because this happened. No, just live in a way that you just act normal, still try new places and new things, get out of your house, and try your best not to take much for granted. Hug your loved ones tight when you want and because you feel like it. Just live. And hope you're one of those people with the inner strength to run toward the explosions to help instead of being the one to run away. That's good enough.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Small Town USA

B was just walking in our downtown and came back. He was remarking on what cool little "old-time" niche businesses we have in Glen Rock. He mentioned that Books, Bytes & Beyond is going out of business. Then yesterday we saw the announcement from Rony Alvarado of Rony's Rock Burger that he's going out of business after this weekend. It's sad. We're losing the little guys. We actually haven't had too many vacancies in the downtown in awhile. There are definitely a few but I can only think of approximately five street level empties. Now there will be more. It was like that when we first moved to town in 2006 and when we moved the store here in 2009. The cool thing is that we have stuff most places don't have. There is a psychic reader, a grandfather clock seller/repair person, a store that still repairs sewing machines and vacuum cleaners, we make lampshades and lighting, and then some other small mom & pop shops that you don't see just anywhere.

There are very few chain places here. We have Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, CVS, Subway, and I think that's it. Everything else is a family business. Beekman's Liquors, Kilroys Wondermarket, and some restaurants, tailors, banks, and delis. The problem is that the vacancies seem to be oddly taken by office space. I don't know why anyone would need office space on the street except a realtor. There was an insurance guy but he's been out for awhile. I saw nj.com filled a space that's been vacant since we moved here in 2006. It was a huge bank. It would've been awesome if a restauant, like a diner, went there. We don't have one and there is space next to it that could've been great for outdoor seating. But no restaurant thought to go in there, couldn't, or didn't know about it. Offices don't revitalize a downtown though. No one gets excited about offices. I mean, don't get me wrong- Welcome nj.com. It's just weird for an office to be in a retail space where everyone just walks by and...watches them work at their desk? I just wish something a little more retail or food went in there. Just for my own personal enjoyment and to bring people into town to shop and eat.

We also have a ticket broker. Who knew people didn't just buy tickets online? There is also no shortage of hair salons. I think there are five. And like five deli places. Two nail places. One sushi & one separate Asian Fusion. One hamburger place (that's now going out of business). Three or four dry cleaners, A yoga studio, a karate dojo, and a ballroom dance studio. We still have a toy store that isn't a chain store. Peppered in there are some doctors, lawyers and real estate offices.

It's not a big downtown but it is a walking downtown where the tweens and teens congregate, parents stroll strollers, and people walk to and from the two trains in the center of town. I just hope some of these empty spaces get filled as soon as possible with good retail or food. There is nothing more depressing than looking at empty store spaces. I'm sad about the kids bookstore. They are a rarity, I know, because of the internet and the big book sellers, but it just gave the downtown a nice feel to it. And this town is full of kids. I don't know how a kid based business could fail here! There used to be a children's boutique here too and that also went out. Hopefully the next crop of new businesses here can do better!

Support local businesses!

**I apologize, spell check is broken for now**

Monday, April 15, 2013

Who DOES that?

You know I don't usually write about stuff that didn't happen directly to me. But I WAS there to witness a...situation, and then discuss it after with some women who were also there, so I thought I'd write about it.

I've never been divorced or divorced with a child. But I'm friends with a lot of people who have been divorced. And I used to be a counselor for teenagers who almost all had divorced, separated or never married parents for most of their lives. It was tough. I saw things through those childrens eyes, hearts, and minds. Nevermind the relationship issues between the divorcing couple, but when there is a child or children involved, there just seems to be some unspoken (or should-be-spoken) rules there. I would think the bottom line of the whole thing should be to shield the children as best as possible by both parents.

E is in an extracurricular class where there are three classes going on at once in different rooms. All the parents are in very close quarters in the waiting area. We all know each other pretty well at this point. Some of us have been coming for one year, some two and some three, I think. We all sit and talk and know a decent amount about each other's private lives. We don't talk in a gossipy way- we just share how women do when you're getting to know each other.

One woman I really like has a daughter a year older than E. She went through a nasty divorce. Sometimes the ex-husband is there but I hadn't realized they were divorced. She had never said a bad word about him. But after witnessing what looked like a very quiet but tense exchange once at the end of class, we got to talking and she gave some clearer details. The husband cheated with multiple women. I'm not sure how she found out but I know it was true. One was a woman he knew in college and had dinner with once while he was married. The wife knew about the dinner but didn't know there was anything else going on. They finalized the divorce in May 2012 and he got married, in another country, WITHOUT HIS DAUGHTER in June 2012.

My friend found out, at their mediation in August 2012 that he had gotten remarried. Three months to tell her? You don't think that's pertinent information for the mother of your child to know ahead of time- maybe to gauge their daughter's feelings on it? See if she's ok, if she understands? How do you get married without your daughter? How does this woman not insist on making his daughter a part of the wedding to make her feel like she's still part of his family?? How do you explain to your daughter you just got married to a new woman? The child is five. She's going to notice. She may not understand marriage or divorce now but she's going to understand later that her father and his wife didn't include her in the starting of their new life together. Who DOES that??

Why am I bothered by this? Well, put yourself in the ex-wife's shoes. Nevermind that he cheated with this woman because that's just an extra thorn. But, they're divorced- it is what it is. But now my child is involved with this woman as a stepmother and I never even met her? No. That is not appropriate co-parenting. I feel that as a parent, and as common courtesy, I should know the people my child is going to be around like that. It doesn't have to be a big deal and obviously I can't veto the remarriage but I want to know anyone that's going to be spending a significant amount of time with my child. I want to make sure they're nice, caring, and I want a gut feeling about the person. Granted, if she was ok being shady and breaking up a family like that, there are a few gut feelings I could see having. But in seriousness, I just want to be fully aware of what's going on. And I think that's fair. I want to be able to continuously make sure my daughter is ok emotionally, physically, mentally when she comes back from being with them. I just feel like it's the parents duty to keep each other in the loop of anything going on in either home that has the potential to affect our child in any negative way. It's not about allowing juice or extra tv time. It's not petty to want to be in the know about my young child's parental figures and how she's responding, when she's not with me.

But the real kicker of this whole thing. We, the moms, are sitting in the waiting area, waiting for class to begin when the ex-husband walked in with the new wife. The new wife and the ex-wife- my friend, NEVER MET. Of course this woman is dressed to the nines, big blond hair, black skinnies, boots, etc., all on a weekend morning. One of the other moms, who knows the situation, just looked at me and spoke volumes with her eyes. As I did right back. I mouthed, "Who DOES that?!". THEN, then our friend walked in and I see her notice them, look at me, and I could just see the stricken look on her face. It's not that she cares about the guy, but this is NOT the place to meet the other woman/new wife! First of all, my friend, who is always done up, even in the morning, looking beautiful and put together, was in yoga pants and a fleece jacket. I've never seen her dressed down. Hey- I'm sorry, but she earned the right to be able to look fabulous the first time she meets this woman. Give a girl some warning. My friend didn't look "bad" by any means, but I know that's just not how she wanted to look the day that went down. To add insult to injury, ex-husband and new wife were all touchy-feely, he's rubbing her back and they're all leaning into each other. NO ONE is doing that in there. Then, the new wife comes up to my friend and introduces herself. The other moms and I were all just sitting on the floor bugging out. One of the other moms who had just learned of the scene going on in front of us gave our friend a lot of credit. She said she has a hot Italian temper and she would've been on them both like a spider monkey.

How does someone feel okay doing that?? If that was me, in the new wife's position, I'd have said to him- "Hey, I don't think it's really appropriate for me to just show up at your daughter's class with her mom there. We haven't officially met, it's awkward, you're both there to support your daughter and I wouldn't want to feel ambushed like that in her shoes. Drop me at Starbucks across the street, talk to her while you're there, and see if she's cool meeting at Starbucks after class since I'm here. If she says yes, great. If she says no, we'll make a plan for another time." That's what someone with a clue and some class does. Not just show up at the class, thrust your relationship, your long blond hair and tall boots in the ex-wife's face at her daughter's activity.

There are effective, appropriate, courteous ways to co-parent. I'm lucky that B didn't have any kids from his first marriage because I know it's a difficult road to navigate. But common sense should dictate what you should and shouldn't do. Kids pick up on everything. I'm sure a 5-6 yr old child could pick up on tenseness, anger, hurt, surprise, etc. Why even put your child in that position. Sure, you're married to this new person but there are ways to go about things that don't seem like purposeful daggers to the other person. You did love this person once. You share a child. Even if the circumstances of the divorce can't let things be friendly or amicable, you have to be able to get past that stuff when it comes to the child.

I will say my friend, the ex-wife, is the epitome of grace, class, and decorum, especially in public. I KNOW people who would've flipped their shit in a situation like that. Trust me- I KNOW people that I could guarantee there would be an ugly scene. My friend was perfectly cordial and nice even though I know she could've used a cocktail. Hell, we all could've used a cocktail. The rest of us felt awkward for the whole situation. She didn't say much, we talked about other things like nothing was going on around us, and she watched her daughter through the window.

I just think it was really weird and in really poor taste to just bring this woman in there and be all over her like teenagers going steady for no reason. I'm sure new wife could've been doing something else. Pick a time that's good for everyone and meet then. Ideally before you get remarried to someone you cheated with, but that's a moot point here. Definitely NOT in a crowded lobby with classes going on so everyone could watch your dirty laundry in 3D. Remember, you're there in the first place because of your child. Even if you're not in love with her mother anymore, she still IS the mother of your child and have some respect for everyone's space and feelings. Again, I understand there are three sides to every story but there are also facts. When you're coparenting, especially of a younger child, you want to be able to do it as seamlessly, carefully, and as emotionally healthy as you can. This just doesn't seem like a great way and I happened to see it all with my own eyes.

Use caution. Keep your immaturity in check. Kids remember things.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pretty Your Feet

I usually go to 4U Nails for a pedicure because they're right next to my store. But I was in Ridgewood the other day and decided to try a new place. I hadn't gotten a pedicure since December so I needed to get a really thorough one.

I decided to try Godwin Nail & Spa. It's the one on Godwin in that little strip mall sort of diagonal to Whole Foods. There are always balloons out front. I have no idea what's next to it.

It's SUPER clean looking in there. It's big. It looks like there are at least ten pedicure/massage chairs. They have a big tv in front of the massage chairs but they aren't playing tv. Or at least they weren't while I was there. They were playing really bad "muzak". But it was fine. I just wanted to relax and pretty up my feet for the spring. It was going to be nice out over the weekend and I wanted to be able to wear flip flops without shame.

They have a nice printed menu of services you can take with you. They are definitely on the pricier end. A regular pedicure is $25. At 4U Nails I think it's $20 or $22. Most are $18-$22 in Glen Rock & Fair Lawn. This is the first time I got one in Ridgewood so I don't know if $25 is more the norm over there. Then, it jumps to $60 for their version of a "spa pedicure". I had a problem with that. I don't have a definition of their spa pedicure but at 4U Nails they have two options for a spa pedicure at $35 & $50. All pedicures at 4U Nails use that "jelli-pedi" stuff that feels like your immersing your feet in jello. I love it. I don't know what Godwin Nails does for theirs but I can't imagine it's worth $60. For the regular pedicure they don't use jelli-pedi- just the regular soapy water. Maybe if I get a windfall I'll check it out but I doubt it.

What I do like- they have a lot of choices for manicures & pedicures. They have chocolate, green tea, Milk & Honey, mocha coffee, sea salt glow, lemon, blueberry, olive oil, and honey & cinnamon. Each one comes with a 10 minute massage. These "special" ones cost $30 for the mani, $60 for the pedi and $80 for both. Last, there is a "Delicious Spa Manicure & Pedicure for $100. That has some definitions that are kind of ambiguous like- "Expecting Silky Soft Hands & Feet". I kind of expect that with a regular pedicure but whatever. There are dead sea salts included, exfoliating scrub, antioxidant treatment, mud, callous eliminate, and deep massage. Sounds great. But I can't do my hands because I get gel nails or something. But if you just have your normal, born-with nails, it sounds fab.

You can add reflexology too for extra money. A pedicure + 10 minute reflexology is $40, 20 min is $50 and 30 min is $60. I think I'll stick to The Healthy Way for my massaging because they're awesome and a great deal for your money. Their back rub massage is like those mall chair places- less minutes for more money. It's $13 for 10 minutes but then $30 for $30. Again- kind of an odd jump. I have no idea what it would be if you asked for 20 minutes. I'd think that would be the most popular length of time. But this is nice if you just decide you need some extra pampering.

They offer the full range of services like waxing too and those prices are surprisingly average. It's only $50 for a Brazilian wax. You can pay all over the board for that. Anywhere from $45 to $100. I used to go to Beyond Day Spa in Hackensack and I think they had raised their price to $60 when I left. A full leg at Godwin is only $60. I think I paid $90 in other places for that. Significant difference.

There are three packages on the back of the brochure:

Package 1:  Mani, Pedi, Back rub (20 min)- $60

Package 2:  Mani, Pedi, Foot rub (20 min), Back Rub (20 min) - $80

Package 3:  Mani, Pedi, Foot rub (30 min), Back Rub (30 min) - $100

All in all, it was a really good pedicure. I'd go back. It definitely has a spa feeling to it. I just would've liked a spa option for under $60. Something more middle of the road between $25 for a regular one and the $60 for a spa one. Throw me a $35 or $40 one.

They're not open on Sunday which is always a bummer for me. But they're open Mon-Fri 9:30a-7p
Saturday 9a-6p

They sell gift certificates. I think they have a punch card too where eventually you get something free.

83b Godwin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

They have a sister spa:

206 Nail & Spa Together
365 Rt 206
Flanders, NJ 07836

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Film Series

Glen Rock Jewish Center Film Series
Features Award-winning Short Films
Date: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Place: Glen Rock Jewish Center 682 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, NJ
Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Cost: Tickets at the door - $7.00
Contact: 201-652-6624
The GRJC Film Series takes yet another new direction with its fourth and final program of the year. Join us for an exciting program that features a series of four award winning short films (ranging from 7 to 41 minutes) that explore life in the complex Middle East. Funny, provocative, witty, sexy and entertaining, these films showcase a world of cinema -- and a world -- that we rarely get to see. The program will also feature a talk from the Director of the Israel Film Center at the JCC in Manhattan, who will lead a discussion about some of the themes underlying these films as they relate to contemporary life in Israel, and will also talk about the emergence of the very highly regarded Israeli cinema.
A program like this rarely turns up in your own back yard, so don't miss it!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Car Sparkle

No, I'm not talking about my car magnet "bling". I'm talking about car washing. I guess people can wash their own, and I actually wouldn't mind doing that. Except for the time I wanted to thoroughly take care of my "new baby"- my 1988 Nissan Sentra Hatchback. I got it my sophomore year of college I think. After my 1976 Oldsmobile Omega with some hubcaps, no air and no radio wouldn't start in the Acme parking lot by Rider, I needed a more reliable ride. I was home on break for the summer and I thought I'd wash AND wax it. Very ambitious of me. It was nice out so I figured it would be easy, cheap and a little...fun? Not so much. Because someone who shall remain nameless watched me applying wax, in the hot sun, and didn't mention that might be a problem. Some people wax on, wax off, in little sections. I thought I'd save time by putting wax on the whole thing first, THEN waxing off. Yeah, well, the wax baked on the car and if it isn't in a car graveyard by now, then that wax is probably still on there.

I go to the car wash. Admittedly, not very often. I don't want to mess with my magnets & when I had the Honda CRV there was sometimes an SUV charge, and frankly, the inside of my car was always a mess so I felt like it was a waste to get the outside done when I couldn't get the inside done too. Now, I have the Mini Countryman and there really isn't enough room for me to get messy. There aren't even nooks & crannies to cram things like I did before. So now I can get the car cleaned from top to bottom.

BUT- I was told I want a "hand wash" place. I think we went to one in Englewood when we lived there and got the first Mini. I only know of the regular kind that the car goes through brushes on some kind of conveyor system. I guess a hand wash is more gentle and thorough. B found a new place- Premier Auto Spa on Broad Street in Ridgewood. http://www.premierautospanj.com/Home_Page.html

He said he went in and met the owners- Alex and Angie. So it's a mom & pop family place like our store. We like that. We try to patronize the little guys as much as possible. And as far as I know they're the only hand wash place around. At least THAT close and convenient to us. There is another car wash down the road but it's not hand wash. He really liked Angie- said she reminded him of me. Just running the place, talking to customers, etc.

My lease was up on the Honda and it was seriously a mess. I had it since Ethan was around four months old. There was probably enough cereal pieces in there to repackage a whole box. It just got me through pretty much the first three years of my first and only child's life. Any mom, well, any mom who isn't a neat freak, knows what I'm talking about. Atrocious. Not to mention the outside wasn't looking to great either. B told me to go to Premier Auto Spa so I did.

I ended up talking to Angie for a long time. She is really nice, really happy to have left Wall St for their own business. They opened in February, which could be difficult for car washing traffic, especially with the crazy winter we had. But they're happy to be there and you can tell. But beyond that- MY CAR WASH. OH. MY. GOD. So I got the regular wash which was pretty inexpensive for handwash- I feel like it was it was a special for under $20. But the BEST part is for $4 extra, they shampoo the front and back mats! Mine were disgusting and I had very low expectations for what they'd look like washed. But when my wash was finished, the inside literally looked BRAND NEW. I was shocked. Didn't help the mess that was on the outside except now that it was pristine, every scratch and ding was more visible. But that was my own fault for having it washed in the first place.

On their price board it says $20 for a compact/mid-size and with that you get:

-Exterior w/wool mittens
-Hand drying with microfiber towels
-Wheel & Rim cleaning
-Wipe door jambs
-Professional tire dressing
-Clean windows & mirrors
-Vacuum interior & trunk
-Wipe down dash, console, door panels & steering wheel

I know they're running a "Spring Special $3 off" a wash.

Wagon/Full-size: $22
SUV/Minivan: $24
Large SUV/Pick-up: $26

They do custom packages, options, and detailing. All for really reasonable prices. I am just really impressed with their service. My car looked amazing and it was pretty quick too. It's not like I was there waiting forever. So if your car looks terrible, it's spring and it's time for your cleaning! Support small business too! They're right by the NYSC- across the street. By what used to be the Brogan car dealership.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dance with Passion

I wrote in the candy blog entry about us designing/making/installing a custom chandelier and pendants in a ballroom dance studio opening in Nyack, NY on Broadway. I just looked them up and it looks like they opened recently.

We were there like a month ago and they were still under construction but it looked beautiful. Not just saying that because it's our lighting in there. Although, I have to say, the lighting does look spectacular. But the whole place just looks really amazing. Roxana showed us around and let us take some pictures for our records. We like to post our customers purchases on our Facebook page so people can see how creative we can get. The pendants we made for them are a new edition and they really added something special to the overall look. But enough about us....

The dance place is called Dance With Passion. The owners are Nicholas and Roxana. I only know ballroom dancing from Dancing With the Stars and a few of the dance names. And I never really watched DWTS but I am watching this season for Ingo Rademacher. But Nick, Roxana and team seem to be doing it all. I stole this from their FB page- Cha-cha-cha, Samba, Rumba, Waltz, Tango, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Ballet and more.

I stole this too:

You will learn how to dance while having fun! The dance studio will specialize in private lessons for singles or couples, the best way to learn, group lessons, Kids dancing, Social dancing, Practice Parties, Competitive Dancing, Wedding Dance, and special Occasion Dances.

Call us for an appointment or info at 201-522-3205. They are at 73 S. Broadway, Nyack NY

Website: http://www.dancewithpassion-nr.com/welcome-to-dance-with-passion/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DANCE-WITH-PASSION/119678894850687#!/pages/DANCE-WITH-PASSION/119678894850687

All photos were taken while they were renovating their space.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Sweet Spot

I don't know how I forgot to write about my favorite thing but I guess I had a lot going on. Candy. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE candy. We were actually thinking of opening a candy store, a few years ago, in the town we live in. We couldn't find a good size store for the right rent.  It just didn't happen. Someone ended up opening a candy store but it's not even the kind of store we had envisioned. Willy Wonka was our inspiration. I whole store just filled with whimsy and of course, candy.

We just put had done the install of a chandelier and six (I think) custom pendants for a new ballroom dance studio across from Strawberry Place in Nyack. B, E & I went to have breakfast at Strawberry Place a few days after the install. We wanted to see how the place looked with everything in and take some photos. We decided to walk around and imagine my shock and happiness, just down the street is a new candy store. It's called The Sweet Spot.

It is exactly what I would've liked to do. It's all filled with candy. Loose and packaged and loose packaged! It was like chocolate, gummies and sours, OH MY! WITH space for parties. That is KEY. These places are great but I don't know if you can make enough money on candy alone. Being able to do parties is HUGE. Because everyone has done the bounce places hundreds of times already. Same with the Y's, JCC's, Little Gyms, etc. Moms I know are always looking for something DIFFERENT. And weirdly, there really aren't many candy stores around. I don't mean specifically in Nyack, I just mean there aren't many in general. Not like this- definitely made for kids. There are chocolate shops, but those are different and seem to cater to an older clientele. Some of them look like they don't even WANT kids in there. They do have chocolate- I think B got some that was in a case. And E got Harry Potter chocolate frogs.

It's just really nice in there. I met Melissa, one of the co-owners. She said there is another owner, James, who wasn't there. She was very friendly and helpful, let me take photos, etc. I really hope they stay in business. Unfortunately, stuff seems to go in and out over there for some reason. But there is NOTHING else like that around and candy is like crack. Once it's there and people start eating it, they start jonesing for it too. Plus, I think the party aspect should work in their favor. There was a kids place - not candy, I think more of a play place. It went in and out in a blink, so they don't have party competition in the immediate vicinity. But a kid place did go in and out- so who knows. I will definitely be patronizing their store every time we go up to Strawberry Place for breakfast, that's for sure!


11 South Broadway. Nyack, New York