Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where is the Love?

I started writing this entry awhile ago. I don't know when- I forgot to look at the date when I opened the draft. I didn't complete it because I didn't really know how. I'm not sure I know even today. I just know how I feel the next day after any racially and/or politically charged incident occurs that throws social media into an attack war. Where people I thought I knew, liked, cared about, are people I didn't really know at all....with such hate on their insides that seem to be proud to put it on their outside.

You are what you post. I've been saying that since I started hanging out on Internet message boards in 1995 when I found my first one. You. Are. What. You. Post. Whether you hold back or let it all hang out, it's your persona that you cultivate and the perception you give off about who you are. Doesn't matter if it's mostly schtick or if it's your real true self- it is what people see and believe. So you better make sure it's what you want it to be. To ANYONE who could possibly be reading. Your mom, your boss, your co-worker, your friends, your enemies. We shake our heads over what "kids today" are posting but what about the adults? Maybe we're not posting nudies on Snapchat, well, I'm not, but we're posting awful, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, hateful things. Ignorant things. Perpetuating lies without even fact-checking! When we're already ON the Internet! It's at our fingertips! Yet- we see something we think is true or has a grain of truth and just share it on like it's no big thing. Like smug douchebags. Hello, f'ing SNOPES! It's not hard to fact check. Yet, there's stupidity going around like wildfire, left and right.

I read some pretty vile stuff on FB the day I started this, other days, and of course, this morning. Hateful things. It wasn't even so much what was said- which was bad in and of itself, but it was the vitriol you felt coming from the words. Coming from people I actually like. In some cases, people I've know my whole life. People I wouldn't have guessed felt this way. It made me sad. In one case, the interesting thing of it is that they were all related to each other.

I've often wondered statistically speaking, of how this kind of thinking comes about. Not just thinking that's different than mine. Political views. Racist views. Religious views. There is a family where I peripherally know one of the siblings. I think there might be four kids in the family but I'm not sure. The one that I sort of know started putting out really racially & religiously charged political statements and memes on Facebook. I was shocked. I started investigating his profile and was bewildered at the hate, but then, worse yet- there were more of him! A whole family of him. It was like, "O'Doyle RULES!" in Billy Madison. I have to think their parents raised them that way. How else would they be SO steeped in hate like that? I barely know him but I didn't want to be associated with at this point. But he's friended to a lot of people I know also which scared me. I started wondering how many of them think like he and his family do. Thinking about it further, as I reread parts of this, especially about families of hate, I couldn't recall what family I was specifically referencing because I can think of three different ones off the top of my head that I've seen this kind of thing from.

I've also seen people I know "like" some of these ignorant comments. One time I questioned it. The answer I got was- "Well, I see both sides". I was baffled because the sides were pretty much- racist or non-racist. There was no way the one sides WASN'T racist.

I grew up in a town that was not racially or religiously diverse. I went through school with one black kid in my grade until high school, I think. Then by graduation, I think there were only three more and two of the were siblings. There were a handful of Latino/Hispanic, Asian, and Indian. Beyond that, pretty much everyone else was just white. White, Catholic, Irish and Italian. There were some us Jews, but trying to count them off the top of my head now, I'm coming up with around ten in my grade of approximately one hundred thirty six kids, at any given time. But race and politics was never really discussed. At least it wasn't something my friends were talking about. I had no idea what people I knew thought about those things. There were instances I did I feel "different" being Jewish. Someone I was dating told me that two of his siblings asked him if he told their mom that I'm Jewish. He was sort of surprised by their question and he was fine with it, so I just didn't pay it much thought. There were other, more subversive things that happened, but I think I was just too boy crazy to give it much merit. But now, looking back, I wonder if there were instances that happened that I was oblivious about. Maybe just because I was white & Jew-lite, I just didn't know any better.

College was pretty white too. White but racially charged. When I first started it was just known that there was a "black cafeteria" and a "white cafeteria". I thought it was weird but I was a freshman and it was my first time experiencing any real diversity. I didn't really have an opinion either way. Again, I was boy crazy and all I cared about was meeting new boys. Then we had the whole Phi Kappa Psi mess* and the shooting** on campus around the same time that was played out in the media for all to see. Racial tension was high but it still wasn't really discussed. Not in classes and not amongst peers. Maybe at the upper classes there were more discussions. But for us as freshman, all we really knew was the Naughty By Nature was supposed to play and then they were cancelled. The two incidents occurred during Rider's weird extra long winter break we had back then. Because of that, not many people were around and much of what happened was speculative and glossed over. There was no social media so anything people felt was kept pretty close to the vest I guess. I know there was anger on all sides of both incidents but unless you were directly impacted, it was easy to ignore. I had my own brushes with anti-Semitism in college there. I was sort of shocked at those brushes because I really hadn't encountered it up in Bergen County, but it still wasn't something I really dwelled on. It definitely was more of a bubble.

But now, it's ALL out there. Social media has pretty much made people into walking, talking advertisements for all their views. And that's fine. Many times disappointing, to me, but it's fine. However, what I don't understand, is how people don't realize that what they put out there on social media can affect their job and career. Nevermind just what people think of you. If you don't care what people think of you, that's fine too. I often don't care what people think. Although, I definitely would care if people thought I was racist. But if you need or want to keep your job, having the common sense not to put out racist sentiment would behoove you. I see in the news all the time that people have been fired for stupid stuff they put out on social media. Is the need for your controversial opinions to be heard trump common sense? I really have no idea. The motivation to have the world know you're racist or some other form of discriminating, escapes me. Even *I* know that not every single thought in my head needs to come out and do a tap dance for all. What exactly do you get out of giving your hate center stage? I assume to most of your friends and family, you're preaching to the choir and anyone else isn't going to magically decide your word is gospel.

I love social media and I've seen it do a ton of good. I love it for lively discussion, tv quoting, catching up, changing my mind for the positive about people, and for daily entertainment. But on days like this, I wish it didn't give a voice to the extremely ignorant and bubble-ized. The world is bigger than you and your narrow-minded views. You just have no right to be that dumb. We have too much education out there. You just have to be willing to seek it out.

I guess I'll stop here because I don't know what else to say. I just know I cringe before opening Facebook on any morning after any racially or politically charged incident occurs. I know I'm going to be saddened and disappointed by what I see and by whom. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. It's embarrassing. For all of us.

*Phi Kappa Psi scandal- http://articles.philly.com/1993-01-30/news/25958223_1_fraternity-white-students-frat-member

**Rider Shooting/Death- http://articles.philly.com/1993-03-23/news/25948741_1_racial-incident-white-students-black-students

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Out There

I'm dipping a toe into really being social. Now that's I've turned 40. I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone.What? Tara, whatever do you mean? You have tons of friends and always seem to be out and about! No, no. B calls me a "sociable loner". I know tons of people. However, I do not have a ton of friends. I know people. I flit in and out. But I don't have a crew or a clique and I don't really go out much, like for leisure, unless you count my weekly dinner out with B and E. I'm always on the go...just not socializing with others outside of the internet.

I think this would be surprising to people. It used to be surprising to me. I'm a Leo. It's supposed to be all one big friend party. But ever since Don (my friend and amazing hairdresser) told me about my Capricorn moon, I get me. I'm like one big oxymoron. Now I understand the why but I'd like to change it.

I have a friend who is just so, so good about nurturing her friendships. She has a group. A crew. It seems so fun and nice. I don't think I'll ever get to that point, but I would like to learn how to be more open in a different way than I am. I will talk about things other people would consider too personal with no problem, but when it comes to really getting close, I'm just not good at it. I always thought it was very cool of me that I don't hold grudges. That I'm fine with people coming in and out of my life whenever time manages to be on our side. While that's lovely, it doesn't really foster strong bonds. With old friends it's fine to have that thing where you can pick up the phone after six months and just pick up where you left off. I have a friend who shall not be named. She's so private that we like to joke she is part of a foreign spy network. She and I catch up when we can and whether it's six weeks or six months, the love is there. With her and other old friends like my city girl, we just have totally different lives going on. Kids vs no kids, single & dating vs married, etc. It makes sense that it's hard to find time to be social together. But if you try to have that drop in and out with newer friends, it ends up being way more out than in.

I moved to a town where the whole idea is to make connections. As I researched towns, I looked for ones that had some kind of newcomers or welcome club. I pretty much joined it before we even closed on our house. I think I really WANT to make stronger connections. B and I love this town. A big part of it is the close-knit feel. Yet, we've lived here for eight years and while I've made some friends, people I really like, I still feel like a peripheral player. I also realize this is mostly of my own doing. I don't always put myself out there. I'd say it's because I've gotten burned before, which I have. Hardcore. Though, I don't think that's it. It's part of it, of course. I just think I've just taken the path of least resistance. It's a lot of things. It's probably a combination of fear of rejection, disappointment, and my own laziness. Honestly, probably the biggest reason I end up keeping to myself is that I have a nervous talking problem. I often don't know what is going to come out of my own mouth. Sometimes, it's just better for me not to be around groups of people. Trust me, I've said some crazy shit that I couldn't even explain why if I tried.

I also don't like drama. There is a lot of drama that surrounds small town suburban mommyhood. It's just seems easier to be a loner. Show up when I want, leave when I want, not get bogged down in minutiae. But the downside of that is doing it all on my own. I think it would be nice to have more partners in crime. The internet- my message boards, Facebook groups, are easier. It's more of a come as you please. I can just shut down the computer if I need a break. But easy isn't always better. It's just different. And my internet friends are not in close proximity to me, so we can't just grab a drink or a cup of coffee.

So my new thing is to accept invitations. Without really thinking about it. To nail down plans. Cohen got me using a calendar on a regular basis, which I am super thankful for. I've been making a conscious effort to actually make plans, say yes to invitations, and to just put myself out there. I rejoined the newcomers & neighbors group just to go to the Progressive Dinner last week and I had fun. I'm talking to this one and that one and I'm thinking as I talk to people- "I really like her", "They seem like they're a really fun couple", "I would totally hang out with her/him/them". So that's my plan. To actually do it. Somehow I'm going to be a joiner. Although it may take baby steps. Starting tonight. As I go to a "Moms Night Out" with the moms from E's Kindergarten class instead of staying home and eating bell cakes from Zadies. Wish me luck.

Update: I jinxed myself by writing this in the morning. I think for the first time...ever...I'm bailing on my plans. See, once I make the plan, I HOLD the plan. I always tell people that I don't need to confirm because I'd have to be missing an appendage or something to cancel. Well, I'm not missing an appendage but as the day wore on, I got sicker and sicker. I'm now on my couch simultaneously freezing and hot with snot pouring out of my nose. No phlegm cups though, Tuck. I swear. (clearly an inside joke with one other person that really does know me). Even if I could get off my couch, I don't want to get any other mom sick. No one needs that. So, better luck next time. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shop Local for a Local Cause

Shop Local for a Local Cause!

Verdi Blu, Glen Rock’s wonderful boutique, & the Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation, a Glen Rock non-profit foundation serving the disabled in Northern NJ, team up for a special evening.

6pm – 9pm
@ Verdi Blu 

227 Rock Road
Glen Rock, NJ

Make your holiday shopping fun and easy!
Stop by and say hello
Join them for wine and hors d’oeuvres
Verdi Blu will donate 10% of all sales to the Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation

If you cannot join them from 6-9, you can still help by:

-shopping in the store from 9am to 9pm November 19. Please mention the
Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation when checking out

-shopping online @ verdiblu.com from November 18-20 and enter promo
code JAK14 at checkout.


The Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation

The Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization,
is dedicated to improving the lives of those with significant disabilities
and their families.

The Foundation honors the memory of a very special girl, Julia Anne Kirsch,
who had multiple disabilities and faced many medical challenges. It was
through Julia that her parents, Teri and Cliff, became aware of the real challenges
and barriers that the disabled and their families face every day of their lives.
It was also through Julia that they learned of the special potential each individual
holds and that they and their families can lead a full and happy life.

Julia passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in November 2011. The Foundation
celebrates Julia’s brave and joyous spirit by helping disabled individuals and their
families meet the challenges they face.

The Foundation seeks opportunities to provide grants and other assistance to families in need as well as support local programs and other community-based initiatives which serve the Foundation’s mission.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Neighbors

We've lived in our town for a little over eight years. Before I moved here, I was all over the internet checking it out. I wanted to know if there were town "groups". Stuff to do. Shared experiences to bring the town together. While I grew up in a small town, I didn't ever feel like it was very cohesive. It may have been and my family just wasn't part of it. I just knew that for where I was settling, in my forever town, I wanted to feel that close-knit thing other have. I felt like that would be possible in a place that had groups in place to give the chance of that bond. I know the town I grew up in didn't have a "Newcomers" kind of group, at least by the time we got there.

I found the Newcomers & Neighbors group on the town website. I immediately emailed and said we were moving to town and I wanted to get involved. Someone got back to me and told me they would be having a kick-off event in September. We were moving in late August and that was perfect.

We moved in and we joined. I heard about this thing called a Progressive Dinner. I was told it was the most popular event of the year and it was always sold out. I never heard of such an event. It's where you all start out at one house for appetizers for about an hour or a little more. Someone gives you a name tag with what house you & your spouse be going to for dinner, you separate, and then you meet up with everyone again for dessert and/or drinks. Over the years there have been sixty to one hundred people at this event.

That first year I thought we'd be hospitable and host the dessert portion. They couldn't find anyone to do it so I jumped at it. Of course I found out why no one wants to be the dessert house a bit too late. When I told B we were going to be the dessert house, let's just say he wasn't pleased. Clearly, that's where the night gets crazy. Everyone has been drinking since the appetizer house, through dinner, and you're the last stop. Sometimes an unfinished keg ends up in your yard. At least it did in mine! Honestly, it was fine. I don't even have the kind of house conducive to entertaining more than eight or ten people, let alone sixty, but it was still fine. Luckily that year it was in October and we had an unseasonably warm night. Most people hung out in the backyard. We had someone on the board of the Newcomers & Neighbors kick everyone out around 12:30am so it wasn't an all-nighter.

It was fun. It was just part of exactly what I was looking for in a town. They had other events we attended (or just me), like a wine & cheese night, Ladies Night Out, and a book club. We didn't have any kids for the first three years of our time in town. That's kind of odd here where many people have strollers with stadium seating for their brood. They did have a "D.I.N.K.S." division of the group which stood for Double Income No KidS. We went out a few times with that crew until one by one, those couples started procreating. But it was definitely a cool way to connect with people from town. Especially before you have kids, you tend to just live your normal routine, no matter where you live. You go to work, see your current friends, and nothing really changes. No school functions or obligations in which to meet people. Being part of the Newcomers forced us, in a good way, to socialize with people in town. That really helps you put down roots. To feel like you are really getting the most out of where you live.

Now it's been eight years and we're no longer "Newcomers". But we are still "Neighbors". That's the cool thing about the group- it ebbs & flows and you can always be a part of it. We stopped paying the yearly dues for around two years, just because we were busy after having a kid, with work and just life stuff. The board regimes have changed over a few times- some have been better at planning and organization than others. If you didn't have the best experience at some other time, a year could go by and it's all fresh. Old events have changed or been axed, new events have become tradition. But the core mission stays the same- to unite the townspeople. And it does.

We went to the Progressive Dinner this past weekend after not attending for a few. We had so much fun. We know the people running the show but we hardly knew any of the attendees. Most were more recently additions to town. The host for the appetizers has the perfect house for this kind of thing. Huge open floor plan and lots of room to mingle. The hour and a half went by in a flash and then it was on to dinner. We lucked out and got someone we knew for that portion. There was another couple we knew but hadn't seen in awhile and two couples where I had met the wives but hadn't spent any time with them. Finally, so coincidentally, I grew up with the wife of the last couple. I knew she moved to town and had run into her a few times but we are like ships passing in Kilroy's (little market in town). It was just a really great mix of people. Also why I drank a bottle of Moscato myself. You know, "when in Rome...". We were just having so much fun that I kept at that bottle and next thing I know, Sunday was really rough. But that's another story.

This year, they ended up doing dessert at the house you were assigned to for dinner. Like I said- it's not easy finding a dessert house. But they gave everyone a drink ticket for the Glen Rock Inn to meet up after dessert. We went over there from our dinner house but it was like being at Quincy's/The Junkyard on a night The Benjamins were playing or something. PACKED. We were out in like fifteen minutes. Besides- we'd been out since 7p, it was already after 11p and I'm now forty. I'd had enough. Yeah, yeah, ":::shakes cane:::"

Even if you're not typically a joiner, if you have a Newcomers kind of group in your town, you should check it out. It's definitely one of those things that you get out of it what you put in. If you make it to events, even just now and again, you meet cool people. Instead of having to travel far for fun, you can pretty much find fun right around the block.

Thanks to all the people who made Saturday night possible. Katie Manning (Ms Prez), her whole board, the host homes, RoCCa, etc.

Glen Rock Newcomers & Neighbors: http://glenrocknewcomers.com/

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beauty And The Beast

Beauty and "the Beast"
I get a call. I answer. A girl is on the other end. Sounds kind of unsure, a little frantic, and tells me she needs lampshades. A pair. Like yesterday. They "have" to be these certain dimensions and white. Immediately I know what is coming next. She's a "designer". They're for a "client". Of course.
Upon further discussion, I asked her why she needed those dimensions. She paused. Then she said, "Because that's the size of the ones that came on the lamps". She went on to say that she's never bought lampshades separate from a lamp. Head, meet desk. How does someone call themselves a designer and have no idea that the best lampshade for a lamp may look nothing like the one that came with it?? Where is the vision? The creativity? How has someone in that industry never bought a lampshade separate from a lamp before? Stymied, I am.

Because the scenario above is not new. Not new by any stretch of the imagination. This happens ALL THE TIME. They need it "like yesterday" and practically for free.

I would really love to know exactly what qualifies someone to call themselves a decorator or an interior designer. I am aware there is schooling to be a designer but having worked in retail, where we actually DO design and make products, I am at a loss in dealing with those who use those titles. If I've dealt with a hundred designers in the nine years I've been in this business, I'd say that I could count five who I would actually consider a designer, who designs something, and who I could recommend to someone. And that's being generous.

With as many people calling themselves designers as there are, there have to be then thousands of clients. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that of those thousands of clients, it would be impossible that they all have the same lamp. So why do 99% of decorators and designers ask us for the same thing? They all want a "white or egg, hardback drum in a linen or silk". This could be the most boring and least aesthetically pleasing of any of the choices in our store. We have it to sell just because that's what they ask for. But funny enough, the end users that come in without decorators and designers NEVER ask for that. Nevermind that the designers never bring in the lamp and are fine with just grabbing whatever is here, but I'm not sure what the endgame is with that shade. They'll take a hundred year old porcelain vase, which is nowhere close to being called "contemporary", stick that ugly white hardback on there, call it "transitional" and they're done.

I also don't understand how they have any business when they're filling everyone's house with the same thing. Or just taking, "whatever" in a pinch to fill a need. We had a "designer" call from a tv show. She needed to run over and grab "some black lampshades" for a well-known local celebrity who was having a room done over on a reality show. We asked if the celebrity then has to live with these lamps and shades from the makeover and the designer said that the lamps and shades picked were to keep. Baffled again. How do these people have jobs? I should have this job. If it's as easy as that! She didn't even care what they looked like. It's not even a design on a budget show! This celebrity is known to flaunt money on his own show. I don't know why HE and/or his wife would want to cheap out on their lighting and let someone like this pick décor out for them. How does a show have such little interest in showcasing something better? Do they just assume people will think it's attractive just because a designer on the show says it's so?
I'm scratching my head because I fight people on the daily to push the envelope to really do something special. I tell people that I don't let ugly things leave my store. I really CARE what people are buying from me. It hurts me when someone wants something plain and boring when I know I can do their lamps so much better. I could just sell white shallow hardback drums all day if I didn't care that my name was attached to it.
To me, this is being a glorified shopper. They aren't "designing" anything. I'd be hardpressed to say they're even decorating something. Doing the same thing in every house is like the real life version of Copy & Paste.They're taking a lamp made in China, stamped with an expensive name, that looks like it came from Target, and sticking a dime a dozen lampshade on it. While cooing the magic words, "clean lines". Or they're taking someone's family heirloom lamp and trying to make it contemporary by just sticking that white, plastic, shallow drum shade on it. Who couldn't do that? My five year old is more creative when he takes lamp parts off our showroom floor to "design" his own lamp. There is no way I would PAY someone to just take whatever a store had two of and be done with it.

I've been in what looks like it would be a gorgeous home- from the outside. Homes that are meant to have unique pieces. I go in and every lamp looks cheap. Meanwhile, I can see they put time and effort into other things like draperies and countertops. Yet the lighting is awful. It's a crime. Or really, sometimes, it's just sadly boring. It looks like it could be the demo house for one of those McMansion developments where people "build" from scratch but all similar from a basic design. But it's not. People live there. You just can't tell because it's a sea of beige with "contemporary" style and no personality whatsoever.
I also don't know where this push came from to make everything "contemporary". Maybe because now, most of what is considered contemporary is cheaper? Maybe it's cheap to the designer and they can mark it up more? It is just easier to find? Remember the 80's, when everything became "contemporary"? Lacquer, ginger jar lamps, glass, mirror, bright brass, shiny, plastic. It was bad. So why would anyone wanting a "high end" look want to bring back "contemporary". To me, even the expensive contemporary isn't that far off from the 80's. It all looks like it could've come from Ikea. Not a knock on Ikea, but if I'm paying a decorator, I don't want my house to look like everyone else's. I want statement pieces. I want unique. I don't want the same lamps and shades that look like they belong in any dorm across America. Of course there are lamps where this type of shade works or goes with it, but they are few and far between and what is cheap, usually looks cheap. And these ALL look cheap. I just don't get it.
The Beast
I rarely have someone who calls themselves a decorator or designer come in and really work up something cool with me. Luckily, *I* am the designer in my store and can work with the thousands of people who don't work with designers. I have photo upon photo of really awesome stuff I've done and making someone's lighting into functioning art.

If you have that shade in your house, you should come and see me.



Friday, November 14, 2014


For this class they were to pick an owl they liked from the many owl paintings posted up around the room. They were to draw it, paint, then make it into a collage. E picked a cool looking owl that had a lot of design on the inside of owl form.

After he picked his owl and I knew the gist of what he was going to do, I left. He was excited to show me what he was doing when I came back. He opted out of doing a collage on his page, he just wanted to use Cray-Pas & paint. Apparently he really enjoys using those.

The girls in the class were very into doing their collages. I don't know why E didn't want to do that but I loved his finished product. I really feel he's getting a lot out of this class. He's getting to use all kinds of mediums and figure out what he likes the best.


He's very proud of his work when he's finished. And so am I!

Drawing Room
Midland Park, NJ

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Market House

I'm part of a lot of mom exchange/selling pages on Facebook, mom message boards, and other social media communities. Somewhere I'd seen that a local mom had opened a cool store in Westwood. I wasn't exactly sure what it was but I assumed some kind of home goods store. As long as it wasn't a lighting store, I wanted to check it out. I liked their Facebook page and I saw some baby clothes and other stuff in my feed so I knew it wasn't lighting.

E had off for teacher's convention last week so I figured we'd take a ride over to Westwood on Friday afternoon. So that's what we did.

The store is in a good spot by the movie theater. That means a lot of people who might not ordinarily see the store definitely will. It's really. It looks like a store that would be in Nyack, NY. Sarah & Chelsea are the owners. They met while teaching yoga in Harrington Park, N.J and became fast friends. Sarah had a home-based organic body product company called Yogi's Choice. She was selling mostly at farmer's markets all over the area. People kept telling her that she should open a store. So after much discussion, ironing out details, and finding a location, they opened Market House together. They wanted to give a platform to all the amazing artists they'd come across in their travels who don't have a brick and mortar space to showcase their talent.

They sell all kinds of unique goods. Handbags, clothing, soaps, jewelry, accessories, and even some food. All handmade by local artisans. Not people who just sew in their house or whatever but people who have legit businesses making interesting, beautiful, and useful specialty items. I looked all over for a kid's bowtie and vest or suspender set a few weeks ago. I trolled the entire Bergen Town Center and came up with NOTHING. Guess what? Market House has them. Fun stuff too- like the Avengers bowtie and suspender set. Not just the average satin ones you'd expect.

For holiday gifts too- this is your spot. Don't run all over to the malls. They have so many different genres of stuff, you'll find what you need.

What I find to be the special piece of this story is that they really know all the artists. It's not like a typical store that just has "vendors". These are people who do work that Sarah & Chelsea handpick to give a spot in their small store. They seem like they really take care in who they choose to showcase. They don't just take anyone's stuff. They all have a synergistic philosophy.


Market House
172 Center Ave
Westwood, NJ

Mon - Wed: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sales Fail

I love As Seen On TV products. Anyone who REALLY knows me, knows I love that stuff. Even in my Jdate profile years ago I copped to owning a Eurosealer. When I discovered Brown & Crisp bags in the late 90's, I thought my life was complete.

I think I was around eight when I bought my first As Seen On TV product. I feel like I must have asked my mother, while she was sleeping, as was when I often asked her things, if it was ok if I got these special markers from tv. She probably opened an eye, or not, and just eeked out an "uh-huh". I took her credit card and my special markers were on their way. I was uber-excited.

Somehow this infomercial product love is hereditary because my five year old has not met a commercial or infomercial he doesn't like. Often, he will run upstairs to tell either B or myself about the totally awesome product we just HAVE to have to make our lives better. Last week, E said, "Mom! You know how daddy sometimes can't sleep so he comes down and sleeps on the couch. Then he wakes up and his back really hurts?? They have this cool thing where you just put it in your mouth and you go to sleep! We can get that for him for his birthday so he can sleep!" I have no idea if this is some kind of Ambien or a plastic mouthpiece. What I do know is that the love of As Seen On TV has officially been passed down.

I also like Lori Greiner on Shark Tank. I like Shark Tank in general. I like entrepreneurs. I guess having a business with my husband, making things, we're entrepreneurs. What I don't like is companies that prey on the bored, weak, or desperate. I don't like companies that tell people that sales is easy, that you can do it with minimal work from home, and that give moronic sales and marketing instructions. Welcome to the current world of direct sales, multi-level marketing, scams, schemes and cults.

I'm sure there are going to be folks who take offense to the above paragraph. And not all people involved in these companies fit the bill of who I'm targeting here. It's more a situation of "if the shoe fits". In my estimation, with a cross-section of people I know, a lot of shoes are fitting.

I can't believe I have to write about this again. Yet, I have to write about it again, especially in light of how I feel like I'm living in Groundhog Day (the movie). Same stuff, different day. I can't even take it anymore. It's to the point where I'm afraid to talk to anyone, anywhere. Or afraid to open my email.

I received a tremendous response to my previous blog entry about this called Bombarded. http://knowitallinnj.blogspot.com/2014/05/bombarded.html.  It's actually my most popular entry in over three hundred entries. It has gotten thousands of views. I consistently get private emails by people who need to vent about friends, coworkers, neighbors, family, and acquaintances who are basically harassing them with direct sales. So, direct sales people- this is for you. Listen up and listen good.

  • Do NOT take an email list used for other purposes to use for your mailing list. If you get emailed for a school event, a block party, a coffee social, you cannot just take that list and assume people will be ok with you emailing about your new business. All that does is piss people off. I don't know how many times or ways I need to say this. I don't know why you think you're the special snowflake that isn't going to piss people off. Maybe you'll get one or two hits off it but you ARE alienating the others. Trust me. Please. If you've done this- I've gotten an email about it. For real.

  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. If you basically stole that email list and you're going to use it no matter what I say- GO THROUGH IT FIRST. If you're selling products aimed at women, take the men off your list. If you're selling something aimed at young people, take the olds off. Is your seventy year old, crusty, male neighbor really going to be interested in your product? Think about this. There is a word "target" for a reason. You have one. Figure out what that is before you just fill any group of email boxes.

  • Do NOT go on to FB pages that are not for selling and push your product. There was a case this morning that I saw where this happened. Maybe it was last night and this morning. I can't keep up. I'm in a group that's JUST for basic mom chat. It is SPECIFIED that there is to be no selling. If someone ASKS for recommendation of a business or a solution to a problem, you are free to answer if your business is the answer to their question. I'm not sure if people are being purposely ignorant, born ignorant, or just have no concept of reading comprehension. I don't know if these companies are telling their sales force to just bombard people with the info, asked for or not, and someone will take them up on it. I don't know. What I do know is when I see your fat "before" and ripped "after" picture and a whole lot of cryptic blah-blah about making the decision to change your life, in a group specifically stating it's not a sales group, I scroll right by shaking my head. Then I report you to Facebook for spam. And I'm sure others report you too, if they know how.

  • Do NOT continually harass someone who has shown no interest. Or someone who has flat out told you they aren't interested. It's weird and awkward! No, you're not wrong when you feel like someone is avoiding you. It's because you're relentless and barking up the wrong tree. Maybe they would try it if it didn't cost $350 or if they didn't have to get roped into a monthly replenishment situation. The fact is, they said no. No means no. We teach that to our kids and it goes for adults too.

  • Be courteous to EACH OTHER. I have never seen such shark infested waters as the mom's exchange/mom-"chat" Facebook pages. I cringe inside when I see a mom ask about losing weight or for an eye cream recommendation. She has no idea what Pandora's Box she's opening, but that's even besides the point. In like fifteen seconds there is a sea of "I can help you! PM ME!", "I can change your life! I PM'd you!", "I use it, it's the best, I had amazing results, PM me for more information", or some variation of that. Those posts end up with seventy-five replies and guess what- they're almost all reps and they almost all KNOW each other. I have no idea why anyone would join a direct sales company that has a beyond oversaturated sales territory in their area, but that's not my problem. If you see five people ahead of you answered that you are fully aware sell the same thing, it's not being passive to sit that one out. You make sure you jump on the next one. Someone else got there first. That's sales. You're selling the same product and not saying anything different than the bunch before you to make them go with you instead. Have some professional courtesy.

  • ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED. What does this mean? If someone posts on a message board or Facebook group "I have a gift card to Bloomingdales. I want to get a really good eye cream. Can someone recommend something they love?"- THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR YOUR DIRECT SALES BRAND EYE CREAM. Unless, of course, it's SOLD IN BLOOMINGDALES. I know you want to get your business out there, but there is pretty much nothing more annoying than getting an answer that has nothing to do with the question asked. She didn't ask for any eye cream. She asked for one in a store she has a gift card in. I don't know what is so hard to understand about that. I want to bang my head against the wall when I read this kind of thing. It like someone asking for a gynecologist recommendation and someone saying- "I don't have a gyno but I do have a great cardiologist if you ever need one!" WHAT?? NO. Just. No.

  • Stop posting incessantly about products. Just. Stop. If everything you post is about your direct sales, you're going to start wondering why no one is liking your photos and statuses anymore when you used to have regular interactions with your network. It's because THEY HID YOU. They didn't defriend you but you've filled their feeds with your sales pitches for the last time. They just hit that little "unfollow" tab so they could take a breather from your sales suffocation. You are not one dimensional. Stop acting like you are. You used to have a life that you used to share before partaking of this new venture.

  • If we haven't spoken in twenty years, chances are, I'm not the place to start for your sales. I know I write a blog and it would be really awesome if you could get me to promote your direct sales product, but it's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. I am 100% authentic. Unless I use it and love it, I'm not promoting it. I seek out what I want. If I haven't sought it out, it's likely not because I don't know about it- I'm just not interested. How do you not know it's beyond transparent when I haven't seen or heard from you since Clinton was president but you all of a sudden want to email me about how cute my kid is, ask me some random questions about my business, and drop hints about yours?? Come on. Give people a little credit.
If we're friends, we can totally talk about your new sales opportunity. As friends. Not as you trying to sell something. I can promise you that unless you ask me about lighting, I'm not going to try to push you into buying a chandelier. So please extend to me, and the rest of your real friends the same courtesy. Tell friends and family what you're doing- by all means. Be excited about it. If it sounds like something they might be interested in, they may ask you some questions. Or not. Leave it at that. Learn how to read people. That's a HUGE part of sales. Psychology. Reading people. Knowing when to back off.

SALES IS NOT EASY. It's not. Any company you're thinking of joining that tells you sales is easy is lying. They are a crappy company. If they tell you that it's minimal work, they're wrong. Not everyone is a sales person. And you're not a salesperson if you're just parroting some bad marketing and inundating people who don't want that product with information they didn't ask for. If you can't have a conversational, email, or Facebook exchange without trying to sell something, you're doing it wrong. I don't care if someone you know or a friend of a friend's mom's aunt got the BMW from selling this stuff. You're not going to get that BMW if you just annoy and alienate people. I'm not saying it's not possible to achieve high sales goals with any of these companies. I'm saying "results not typical" and I'm making you aware of all the ways you're not doing yourself any favors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fair Lawn Family Needs Help

As written by a friend/neighbor of the family:

On November 7, 2014 a fire raged through a Fair Lawn home. The family of 5, Mom, Dad and three teenage boys have been completely displaced. They lost EVERYTHING.  This hard-working family would benefit from our support  to piece their lives back together.

The home is destroyed. Their spirits are crushed.

They escaped with the clothes on their backs and not even shoes on their feet.

With the love of family and support from friends and neighbors... the support of compassionate fellow Bergen County residents we can help this family get back on their feet.

Thank you in advance for your generous donation.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston S. Churchill

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens


Monday, November 10, 2014



This class was drawing then painting landscapes based on photos they chose to try to copy or get inspiration from. Pictures of paintings of landscapes were posted around the room. Each child picked one that spoke to them for whatever reason and went to work.

E picked one of of a house with a farm. It has a huge tree in front, taking up most of the landscape but then the house balances it out on the other side. There are also cows in the picture just standing around. As cows do.

At first he was bummed out he wasn't getting to make a monster out of clay. But he was voted down on that one by the girls in the class so paint was the winner. I thought they were going to use watercolors for some reason but it was tempura. E is pretty easygoing but I could tell he was nervous that he wouldn't be able to make a nice drawing/painting. It did look pretty daunting.

That's when I left. After I knew he picked a painting and wasn't sulking about the clay. I try not to go too far even though it is a two hour drop off class. I swear I'm not a helicopter parent. However, like in a lot of his classes, I'm almost positive he's the youngest in the class. He's also the only boy that is there every single week. Sometimes there is another boy in the class but not every week. The girls are a bit older and can be a bit...precocious. E can be sensitive about things I find kind of odd to bother him. The girls also can be a little on the wild side. If E sees that kind of behavior, he will join in if it looks fun. Sometimes he needs to be reigned in. I take all his extracurricular activities seriously as I want him to do. I don't bother him when he's in the class. Most of the time he doesn't even know I'm still around. I just like to listen. I tend to leave from 4p-5p-ish. Then I come back, bring my laptop and sit on the floor out in the hallway and just listen. If I hear behavior I think needs to be discussed, we'll talk about it later. I also like to keep the ruse up that I have eyes everywhere, like I've told him.

This particular week I was gone longer than anticipated and came back to what I think was an incredible painting by my five year old. I was a very proud mama.

Drawing Room Fine Art & Sculpture Studio
Midland Park, NJ

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Money Money Money

Just a reminder as you do your online holiday shopping-

Coupon codes, invites, links galore! Use mine, shop and we both get credit!

Go to Ebates BEFORE buying anything online and get money back for the stuff you buy. Totally legit- I got $250 back after last holiday season's online shopping. They give you your money every three months. I can't retire on it but it's better than nothing!

Ebates:  http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=M7ztafdzmV9Ni0Td2axGyQ%3D%3D&eeid=26471

Directions how to use ebates:

1. Go to Ebates using my link and sign up.
2. Search for the "store" you want to buy from (snapfish, Gap, whatever)
3. Click through to the store site. It'll show an ebates tracking ticket before it goes to the page.
4. Make your purchase without going to other sites/tabs/pages. (Like, don't go from the page to google on another page or something- if you have to look something else up online, make a new tracking ticket before going back to the store site. You can open as many tickets as you want- you just need to have one open to get credit)
5. It'll show up in your Ebates account within 1-4 days- usually right away. 
Stores change how much cash back they're giving all the time. You'll get emails from ebates telling you what stores are doing double cash back or a higher amount back than usual.

Tradesy: You get $25 in free first purchase credit for signing up with my link. http://www.tradesy.com/invite/tara-d-1449746?utm_source=RFL&utm_content=RFL0001_1449746&utm_medium=link

 Amazon Mom: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mom/signup/info?ie=UTF8&refcust=M4Y3R2RZ6PVLMNFZE7R6A4TGEU&ref_type=generic

Groupon:  http://www.groupon.com//raf/UserReferral_rp/121015/10r1act/lk/uu6432160

ModCloth:  http://sharethelove.modcloth.com/a/clk/1QHtwN

Rue La La:  http://www.ruelala.com/invite/tsdk

Zulily:  http://www.zulily.com/invite/tsdk

One Kings Lane:  https://www.onekingslane.com/invite/taradiamond-kule
Happy shopping! Don't forget to use Ebates every time. If you forget, you're out of luck for that purchase!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall into Creativity & Cocktails

Creativity & Cocktails

Create a painting in just two hours! Our experienced and fun-loving instructors will provide all the materials you need to create your very own masterpiece. Each participant paints a picture on canvas using acrylic paint with step-by-step instruction.
Come have fun - no art experience is necessary! This is a unique opportunity to make art in a relaxing setting while enjoying good food and wine with friends, family, and loved ones!
Cost is $60 including all painting supplies and canvas board, painting lesson, live music, food and drink.
Enjoy Cafe d'Artist - a menu specially created for our artists which includes lunch or dinner or hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine/beverage of your choice.
 Here's How it Works:
1) Visit our calendar of events and find the date you wish to sign up for.
2) Click "Sign Up" and filll out the registration form
3) Show up and participate in North Jersey's most creative night out!
Giving Back
Here at Drawing Room, we believe in the importance of doing our part to give back to the community.  Raffle proceeds during our events are donated to various charities. Each sample painting created by our instructor gets donated to Habitat for Humanity.

November 6, 2014

640 Wyckoff Ave, Wyckoff, NJ 07481
(201) 891-2618

Wine Room

November 8, 2014

3 Chicas
637 Wyckoff Ave, Wyckoff, NJ 07481
(201) 425-0463


November 13, 2014

Drawing Room
27 Central Ave, Midland Park, NJ 07432(201) 447-7272

Mosaic Workshop- 7pm-10pm
Other dates & times available- Gather a
group & schedule a date!

$50- Pizza & all materials included. BYOB.

November 20 & December 11, 2014

Planet Swirl
119 E Main St, Ramsey, NJ 07446(201) 818-0404

$55 includes painting lesson & large frozen yogurt
sundae creation and beverage of your choice

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Party at Portobello

The day finally came. Jordan's Bat Mitzvah. All three of us were looking forward to it. I'd shopped with Liz and Sydney, E had a mini tux to wear, I had a new dress, and B was looking forward to a fun night out.

I managed to pack in more activity than usual too. I made it to the Annual Halloween Parade in town, ran to NYC with E for his acting class, and then home to get ready for the Bat Mitzvah, which was called for 4:45pm at Portobello in Oakland. No one can accuse me of being lazy. At least on that day!

I've been to Portobello for lunch before but never for dinner. And never for catering. I'd only been in the restaurant area, which is a separate building from the catering hall. The lunch was always really good so I figured the catering would be good too.

I'd never even heard of a Bat Mitzvah ceremony in any place but a synagogue. Apparently, you can do it anywhere, like with a Jewish wedding. Jordan had a tutor for everything one would get going to a Hebrew school class. Hebrew, holidays, songs, prayers, history- you name it. She got it all. But since it wasn't affiliated with her local synagogue, she did the service in the place where the reception was to be held. The service was an hour long and had all the necessary components to become a Bat Mitzvah.

The room they did the service in was to double as the cocktail hour room for the adults. After the ceremony, the kids all went to the party room upstairs and the adults hung out at the bar until they changed the room up. The staff quickly rearranged the room and the cocktail hour began. I assume this is how it would work if you had a wedding ceremony in there.

I wish I could tell you more about the food but I was so busy running up and down dealing with E that I didn't really get a chance to eat. I shoved a few things in like coconut shrimp, fresh mozzarella & tomato, and fried calamari, but that was about it. Everything I had was good. E wanted to be upstairs, and downstairs, and at five years old, I have to keep a closer eye on him than just letting him run amok at an affair.

The room is a good room for an "entrance" too. There is a tall staircase where a person or a couple could come out and down to have their special moment. E and Jordan's cousins had a great time running up and down that staircase all night.

Portobello Banquets: http://www.portobellonj.com/webpage.php?info_id=36

We went up to the party room and the music and dancing had already been going. That's where the kids had their cocktail hour. There was a DJ, an emcee, and a dancer from In The Mix. The emcee was really great. Omari Brown is his name. He got the kids and adults moving and grooving. The DJ also played an awesome mix of oldies and new stuff. Music from every era and not too loud. Too loud is usually the problem. We were able to actually have conversations without screaming. Or having to try to read lips.  Omari also teaches dance at Extreme Dance in Totowa (I did some internet sleuthing).

In The Mix: https://www.facebook.com/ITMLiveEvents

Extreme Dance: http://www.extremedancenj.com/extremedance/Staff.html

All the vendors were terrific. They had Mardi Gras mask cookie favors (I'm not sure who did those) and photography by Jodi Crandell (http://www.jodicrandellphotography.com/) also. Jordan's mom Liz and Liz's friends also did a kick-ass job on all the DIY décor stuff too.

It was a great night. It looked like everyone had a great time. We came, we danced, we ate, and we mingled. Jordan looked beautiful as did the rest of the Carr/Kramer women. Mazel Tov Jordan! Thanks for having us!