Friday, August 29, 2014

Pat On The Back For The Shack

Radio Shack. I never really think of going to Radio Shack. I don't know why I don't think of them, but I should. I actually was in the one near me, on the border of Glen Rock and Fair Lawn about a week ago. I ran out at 8:45 pm for a cable splitter and they were open until 9p. They were super helpful there.

Today, I had to go to Garden State Plaza to get E's back-to-school haircut. I realized that if I didn't do it today, I didn't know when I'd get to it, and I'd like to have a few days to grow in a little. I brought this new thin glass screen protector for my new iPhone with me. I just got a 5s since my 4 pretty much crapped out. I'm so afraid of my screen shattering when it eventually falls on my driveway as it tends to happen when I'm carrying my stuff in the house on the daily. I got this Tech Armor thing on Amazon for $12.95. It had good reviews. I had spoken to Apple today about another issue I was having and asked if the Apple store would put it on for me. He said to go to the store I got the phone because they put those things on all the time. "Like Verizon?", I asked. "Yes", he replied.

Tech Armor Premium Ballistic Glass Screen Protector: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BT8L2MW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

That's what I did. I went straight to the Verizon kiosk after E's haircut. We RAN there. Because I was on tight schedule. There was a girl there. She wasn't busy. Just chatting with another employee of some other kiosk I think. I politely asked if she could possibly help me. I explained that I have a Verizon phone, I bought this screen protector, I spoke to Apple, and they said it might be possible for someone at Verizon to put it on. She took a quick look at it, told me I didn't buy it from them, so she can't help me and will not put it on. I was annoyed.

I saw Radio Shack just across the hallway from the Verizon kiosk. Kathy & Christian were standing in the doorway handing out sales flyers or something. I asked Christian if he might be able to help me out. I explained that I have this screen protector, I am afraid to put it on myself because my 4 looked terrible, and asked if he might do this. He didn't ask me where I bought it. He just said- "Yes! I can help you. We put these on all the time". Then he really looked at it. He didn't try to be a big shot and put it on himself because he told me he actually never put this particular one on. But he got Isis, who Kathy said is their "pro" at applying these. I was excited because I really didn't want to go through the weekend without any protection. No one should go through a weekend without protection!

I told them what happened at Verizon, that the girl wouldn't help me because I didn't buy it from them. They were all just like, "huh?" I guess the motto at Radio Shack is more like "just be nice and helpful to whoever walks in." Suck it Verizon girl. Radio Shack is my new go-to place. Customer service, baby. Customer service.

Christian and Kathy didn't just walk away either. Like good employees who actually CARE, they watched Isis put her skills to the test. She hadn't applied this one either, but she was going to do her best. Christian wanted to see her do it in case he got this request again. Kathy was excited that I gave her my button covers for her 5c since I can't use them. But she also watched the application. A few minutes later, Isis had my screen protector on and I was good to go.

But wait- where's E? I turn around and E is all serious, with DJ, their phone technician. Doing what? DJ is showing E how to fix whatever he was fixing under a microscope. He was letting E look through the microscope lens like it was no big deal. Like it was no interruption on a busy Friday of Labor Day Weekend shopping. Thanks DJ. That was super nice. E loved it.

So happy shopping Labor Day weekend shoppers. And if you need any electronic type stuff, go visit these three all-stars.
Kathy, Christian, and Isis

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Everybody Dance Now

We moved. Dance schools. Wyckoff School of Dance was great for the past three years but E was over ballet and tap. He wanted to try Hip Hop. I went looking for Hip Hop. I didn't have to go far.

I know this woman Toni from my ZTA alumni group. I'm not exactly sure what she has to do with Dance Education Unlimited 2 in Fair Lawn, but I'd been seeing posts on Facebook from her since they opened. I'd trust her judgment on where to send a kid to dance or gymnastics. Her daughter did competitive gymnastics for years. I'd also seen a Groupon for classes at DEU over the year but I didn't know E wouldn't want to do ballet/tap again and ask to do Hip Hop. I investigated a little further over this summer and see they not only have Hip Hop, but also Breakdancing, Pop N Lock, and other really cool sounding classes. I don't have time or money for more than one class a week but you can take unlimited classes there and the more you do a week, the cheaper it is for the year.

I actually find the cost, especially with the Groupon to be very reasonable. One class per week is $555 for the school year (Sept-through whenever they end in the spring). With the Groupon for six classes, if you buy for the year, it comes out to a $90 discount ($15/class). $555 is around what it cost me for tuition for Wyckoff. It's also a lot closer to me than Wyckoff.

Here is the Groupon: http://groupon.com/bwf/69296f63-e0db-45d8-9ed2-facd4bd2d02b?utm_medium=bwf&utm_source=bwf_fw_email

I think if three people buy one from this link, Groupon gives you money back. But I can't find the info on that.

E did a trial Jazz/Hip Hop class this afternoon. It was GREAT. When we got there, a boy his age was doing a Breakdance class. E was in awe. He'd love to take that too but we don't have time for two classes a week. Not with all the other stuff he wants to do. But I will definitely consider it for next year. There is a Back Handspring clinic too. I wish I had unlimited time and funds or I'd sign him up for all of them. This trial class was no joke either. My kid who is always on the go and asking what's next was saying he's tired by the last few minutes of the class. I couldn't believe it. He also had to learn a whole short routine that the other two in the class had been learning for months already. He was able to keep up but it looked difficult! Definitely more intense than anything he's taken so far. I thought it was awesome. It was a real workout.

The music was good too. All popular dance beats. E knew them all of course. He especially liked, "Fancy", which he sings non-stop from hearing at camp this summer. I signed up for the school year as soon as the trial class was finished.

They are doing a Kinder Club on Tues & Thurs too- for those of you whose town still has half-day K and needs something else for your kid to do when school is finished mid-day.

Kinder Club is a program designed to produce a happy, healthy and fit child.  Throughout the course of the program your child will be stretching, dancing, and enhancing fine motor skills.  Painting, singing, group games, learning music and rhythm, and basic tumbling are activities all children enjoy learning and practicing.  All this is done in a motivating, self-esteem building, fun and nurturing atmosphere.

This is a great program for children to spend the afternoon while parents can run errands, prepare dinner, or even take a nap.  Winter and inclement weather will soon be here with no chance to play outside.  Video games and TV watching do not make a healthy or fit child.  Let them burn some energy and learn and play in a safe and joyful studio.





DEU Main page: http://www.deustudio.com/dance-education-unlimited/

DEU schedule: http://www.deustudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Dance-Education-Unlimited-Fair-Lawn-2014-schedule-with-grid.pdf

Dance Education Unlimited 2

7-15 Fair Lawn Avenue
Fair Lawn, New Jersey 07410
201-773-8588
deu2fairlawn@gmail.com deustudio@verizon.net

Pricing: http://www.deustudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/DEU-Fall-2014-Pricing.pdf

They're having an open house!



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thank You Buzzfeed


I know, I know- Peanut butter is mostly considered the devil these days. It's outlawed pretty much everywhere. Somehow I live in one of the few districts left that it's allowed. But it's not even school- he will eat lunch this school year where he goes after half-day kindergarten, which also isn't nut-free. Luckily he didn't have any kids in his class the past two years with nut allergies.

I won't put up a fight when it eventually goes- as do all good runs come to an end. I have several friends who have kids with severe nut allergies. So I get the deal. I just also happen to have a kid who eats like three things, and one of them is PB&J. He is his mommy's son even if he thinks the sun rises and sets on the back of Daddy.

I LOVE peanut butter. There is nothing more appealing to me for lunch than JIF peanut butter and Dickenson's Seedless Black Raspberry Jelly. Even my since-elementary-school friend's daughter loves MY sandwiches. I took a few good things from my mother and making perfect PB&J was one of them. I'm just carrying on Rita's sandwich legacy.

I think I saw this on Buzzfeed. All I know is that I have THE best tip for school lunch that I feel like my life is actually better. I can't believe after three years of preschool daily lunches, I finally found this out. I wish I knew it years ago but it didn't even occur to me.

I read a blog post or an article or something- wish I could credit this wonder of a smarty-pants. But I can't. However, I CAN tell you to make your life easier.

All you need is:

One loaf of Nature's Harvest whole wheat bread (or whatever flavor you like), but that brand. It makes NINE sandwiches.

One giant tub of peanut butter- we like Natural JIF, Maranatha, or Natural Skippy. Creamy. I was going to try Trader Joes but I am not big on the kind you have to really stir and I can't get on board with any peanut butter that has to be refrigerated after opening. I don't have room for that. And I also can't imagine it would be easily spread. I need ease for speed in my assembly line.

One giant tub of jelly- we like Crofters Organic. Not because it's organic, though, I guess that's a bonus. It just happens to come in giant jar. In both raspberry and grape.. Maybe one other flavor. It's huge and the jelly is thinner, therefore getting more out of  it. It also is lower in sugar than some others.

All those peanut butters and that particular jelly spread really easy.

Make your nine, or in my case- EIGHTEEN, sandwiches...and FREEZE THEM. Yup. That's what I said. Freeze. Them. Eight fit in a gallon size freezer bag. I bag each individual sandwich in a fold-over baggie. I get those in CVS- the "Basics" brand. The baggies seem to work better than foil for some reason.

Just pull a sandwich out in the morning and by lunch it's thawed and perfect. Soft, too.

Peanut butter and jelly perfection. And partially, because I don't have to make them every night. My husband thinks I'm insane. I don't care. He just likes to quote "Bad Santa"- "No, I don't want any f'ing sandwiches. What's with you and the f'ing sandwiches, Kid??"

Whatever. I'm doing the frozen PB&J sandwich dance. With a freezer packed with sandwiches.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tradesy Treasures

I love dresses. I love dresses, like formal dresses, like I love cake. And Jelly Belly. But like a Kardashian, once photographed in them, I don't really want to wear them again. There a select few, like my recent birthday dress or some other random old BCBG, Halston Heritage, Laundry by Shelli Segal, and Xscape dresses (see a trend here- forgiving stretch jersey). But if they were really show-stopping or unique, how many times can you wear it before it's repetitive? I have one gorgeous Scala beaded gown that looks like it could be in a pageant. I bought it in Las Vegas in 2001, at a boutique in the MGM Grand for a last minute gala. It was way out of my budget but I loved it and HAD to have it. But that was the last I wore it. I wore it last September for a charity event in NJ but it's one of those REALLY memorable dresses. I feel like I can't really wear it again, at least for another few years. And by then, I don't know if I'd even fit in it. I just turned 40. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't know that it would be age-appropriate. Unless you're La Lucci.

Social media has definitely been a game-changer in regard to formalwear. Even B doesn't want to keep wearing the same shirts and ties after we've been in photos for 201 Magazine or on the Bergen.com website. Otherwise it looks like we have no other clothes. Like the girl who only wore one dress on Seinfeld.

I don't pay retail. We've established that. I feel like a schmuck doing that. Unless I was going somewhere REALLY special and it was an "it" dress. But I can't even think of somewhere I'd be going THAT special that I'd feel cool with paying full price. Even for the White House, I'd still stick to my regular discount haunts.

I need a dress for Jordan's bat mitzvah coming up. Ever since Loehmann's closed, I've been sort of at a loss. I go to Nordstrom Rack but it's usually a disaster and unlike Loehmann's their selection is not huge. I think because they carry SO much. Men, Women, Kid, Home, Shoes. Accessories. It's a lot. Loehmann's was mostly women's stuff with a sprinkle of men's and sometimes kid's. I've gone to the other discount stores. Saks Off Fifth is good. But Century 21 is just too overwhelming for me. I also know what I like. If I like a top or dress, I'd most likely just buy it in another color. Anything from the brands I wrote about above is likely going to be my pick.

I was looking for a Nicole Miller dress online I saw at Lord & Taylor in the store. I should've bought it at the moment. But I couldn't commit for $99 even though it was down from $290. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson after the red Franco Sarto boots at Marshalls. I was trolling the internet for the dress when I came across Tradesy and Poshmark. Basically eBays more targeted for current or sought after fashion. I was intrigued.  I started looking up my go-to brands. On Poshmark, I looked up the Xscape dress I wore to Syd's bat mitzvah that I LOVE. Mine is black but I was seeing it came in a bunch of other colors. For WAY less than retail prices new. I was able to score one in brown for $40. It came and the seller didn't mention she pinned the bust for modesty. (WHY?? There is never too much boob! Especially in a dress CALLED The Bombshell!).

I put the dress on and it was great. Except for the pinning. I took the pin out and there were pin holes. It also didn't lay right there because it had been pinned so long. It also turned out there was a little hole in the front in the seam. If the pinholes weren't there, I might have been able to live with the other hole. You couldn't see it unless the dress was stretched. Thing is, I don't love brown. I don't know why I thought I would. I would've kept it because brown is great for autumn. But not with a hole or three. So I sent an email to their customer service with photos. They quickly agreed to a refund that day, emailed me a mailing label, and I sent it back. Then I ordered another of the same dress, this time in blue, from someone else, for $30 plus $4.99 shipping (cheaper than the first!). Shipping on there is always $4.99 which isn't bad at all. TOTALLY worth it. I think it was at least $150 new.

I have tons of dresses I'm never going to wear again so I investigated both sites selling policies. On Tradesy, the shipping is built into the price. This is the best- you plug in the retail price of an item. Then they give you the price similar things are selling for. It's great. Then you don't have to go researching and scouring the internet for similar things and prices. It takes all the work out for you. You can list as many things as you want for free and they stay listed indefinitely - until they sell. There is no having to re-list like on eBay. It's not an auction. Everything is just purchased outright. I'm already in love and I haven't even sold anything yet.

Poshmark has good stuff to buy, but they want 20% of the profit! With Tradesy, YOU get 91% of the profit. I'm with them- all signed up. I got obsessed, as usual. I stayed up until 3am taking pictures of all my stuff. I have a dress form, who incidentally, doesn't have the best body, but it works. I put clothes on and off until I really needed to go to sleep. I spent the next day editing photos (ie, cropping out piles of dresses and clothes from my frenzy that ended up next to the dress form).

So, I'm on there. Selling my stuff. Check mine out or look through your closet and sell yours!

Tradesy! Use my link. I get credit and so do YOU. 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

MY Tradsey "closet": https://www.tradesy.com/member/tara-d/1449746/

Poshmark: https://poshmark.com/feed - I don't think there are referrals/credit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Going Downtown

I'm aware this may only be of interest to those in Glen Rock, but I have to put it out there...and maybe it sort of goes for all small towns with a walking downtown area.

All I know is that I've started drinking coffee lately because I'm tired. I'm hoping it helps wake me up, and I like getting the steps in on my Fitbit by walking down the street to Starbucks. Yes, I support Starbucks. Not for any reason except that I don't really LIKE coffee. I like a "Tall iced skinny vanilla latte with two splenda, light on the ice". Until someone else starts making that, Starbucks it is. Otherwise, I can't stomach coffee.

I walk by all the businesses on the way to Starbucks which is a block down and pretty much half of our downtown here. There has been a problem with too many unoccupied storefronts. There are two more trafficked Glen Rock pages on Facebook and this lack of business has been a topic numerous times. People are always saying what "should" go in the downtown but unless you're actually opening a business, it doesn't really matter what you think should go there. People complain- because that's pretty much what these pages are- what I like to call "bitch pages". Same people, complaining about everything and nothing and then some. But sometimes, in addition to the complaining, there is also spirited conversation, like about the downtown.

People complain every time a new business comes in because it's another this or that. While the constant barrage of negativity gets on my very last nerve, there is a total weirdness to our downtown. What I mean is that there seems to be this strange phenomenon I'm not sure happens so much in other downtowns that are the same size as ours. For example- one tutoring place opened on Rock Rd. Either Kumon or Mathnasium. I'm not sure which opened first, but now there are both. I went to get my coffee today, walked out of my store, and almost walked into a sandwich board sign for "JEI Learning Center" which is yet another tutoring place. I looked at the details and apparently, it's now open in the back of the parking lot of where my store is located. I get it- the back building here has turned into a total kid-zone which is actually pretty awesome. Music For Aardvarks, Naturally Yoga, Moonlight Ballroom, Gary Stevens Martial Arts, are already back there and all either are kid-centric activities or have classes for kids. Tutoring seems like it would be a great fit because maybe you have one in a music class and the other in tutoring. Seems convenient.

Why do I say there is a weird phenomenon? Because I just don't understand why we need THREE. Three of essentially the same thing. It's not really the landlords- I guess they could be more selective when renting as to rent to more unique businesses or businesses that don't have such strong competition. But they have to pay their mortgages and such so they're going to rent to whoever wants to rent, within reason. I don't see someone opening a Romantic Depot or smoke shop in town. I could be wrong, but I just don't see it happening in this town.

So what makes someone come to Glen Rock, look up and down our small strip of businesses essentially two long blocks, and say, "You know, they already have two nails salons, and EIGHT hair salons that offer other beauty services. I think we should open another nail/hair/spa here! Perfect location!". Two of the hair salons are right next to each other! As in, it took me a few years to realize they weren't actually the same salon. But, EIGHT! Eight. Bellula, Fausto Pellegrino, Hair Station, Highlights & Hair Design, Iconic Barber Shop, Little Joe & John's, Salon Rocks, and Sasha. Just to name them. In case you need some kind of hair issue today. There is a new nail & spa opening where Jim Bush Insurance used to be, next to where Tasti D'Lite (then The Lite Choice) just went out. I just can't imagine seeing eight similar businesses and then the two nail salons- 4U Nails and Janet's Nails, and thinking it would be a great idea to open something close to the same. Yet, most of them have been in business for a LONG time, most from at least when I moved here like eight years ago. So I guess Glen Rock is full of hair that needs to be cut, coiffed, colored, etc. I do know that patrons of the town businesses are also super loyal, for the most part, except the complainy-complainers. *You know who you are* I shouldn't be surprised these places are still hopping.

It just seems like the trend in this town, for some reason, is that one genre of business opens- two more of basically the same thing, pop up really quickly. We have three delicatessens. We had more though. There is Gianella's Italian Deli & Bakery, Wilke's Deli, and Trackside Deli (which I think was Town Deli before). There is also Rock Kitchen but I don't know if they'd consider themselves a deli, but you CAN get a deli sandwich there. Three or four dry cleaners. Two tailors. Four banks but used to be five- Glen Rock Savings, Boiling Springs, Valley National, Bank of America. Chase moved. Two jewelry stores (real, not costume). I've now pretty much told you the entire downtown.

Except we do have a few randoms, Stars Hollow type places which are pretty unique. Us- Shades of Soho- custom/boutique lighting all made by us. The grandfather clock guy- The Village Time Keeper, the vacuum repair shop, the fortune teller (what? yes, that's what I said), gift shop Verdi Blue, the kid's bookstore, The Curious Reader & the toy store- The Grow-cery. And not to be left out, we're now getting a veterinary storefront- Glen Rock Vet. I find this fascinating. I've never seen a vet as part of a retail strip but I actually think it's kind of cool. What would be even cooler would be if someone capitalized on that and took the place next door to it which is empty and made some kind of pet related business- a groomer, a pet accessories store, etc. I have to run to Petco every time I need Betta fish related stuff. I'd much rather patronize somewhere downtown and I only have one fish. I feel like everyone in this town has a dog. It would probably be a goldmine. Now watch someone does it based off my prediction and it becomes like Babu with the Pakistani restaurant on Seinfeld.

There are still a decent amount of empty spaces. Obviously, no one can control what goes in or out or where. From the FB pages, there are plenty of opinions so since I have my own forum, I'm going to put mine out there into the blogosphere. I'm holding out for some kind of adult/women's boutique or consignment store. Consignment of adult or kids. Ridgewood has three consignment stores. We have none. I'd also love to see a salad place. Like a Chopped, Salad Works, something. I don't care who the "brand" of salad is- but just salads. Well, if this is a wishlist, I'd really die for a PAX (they're in NYC). Ridgewood couldn't sustain their Salad Works, but who knows why. Maybe it was rent? Maybe there are too many food choices in Ridgewood. Now that Tasti D'Lite is out, we're pretty much the only town without some kind of frozen yogurt. 16 Handles? Anyone? Bueller?

We had a children's clothing store when I moved here. But it went out pretty quickly I think. I don't get it. Sports equipment? Sports equipment consignment? With all these local selling boards on Facebook, obviously there is a market for used everything. But instead of no-shows, misrepresenting items and frustration, someone, SOMEONE, open a consignment store of something!

Antiques? Kid play space? I don't know. Like the rest of the people, I'm just throwing out ideas. I already have a store. And it's one of the more niche things. So I'm already doing my job of helping diversify the downtown. Maybe someone will see one on my wishlist that will spark something. *hopeful thinking*

Shades of Soho: https://www.facebook.com/shadesofsoho

Gary Stevens Taekwondo: https://www.facebook.com/GSTKD236

The Grow-Cery: https://www.facebook.com/GrowCery

The Curious Reader: https://www.facebook.com/thecuriousreaderbooks

Verdi Blu: https://www.facebook.com/VerdiBluCreates

The Village Timekeeper: http://www.thevillagetimekeeper.com/

Giannella's Italian Deli & Bakery: https://www.facebook.com/Giannellas/timeline

Trackside Deli: http://www.yelp.com/biz/trackside-deli-glen-rock

Wilkes Delicatessen: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wilkes-Center-Delicatessen/120681284616032

Little Joe & John's: https://www.facebook.com/LittleJoeandJohns

Highlights & Hair Design: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Highlights-N-Hair-Design/165960870102870

Bellula: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bellula/303893606129

Iconic Barber Shop: https://www.facebook.com/iconicbarbershopnj

Sasha: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sasha-Hair-and-Day-Spa/165499833522303

Fausto Pellegrino Hair Design: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pellegrino-Hair-Design/147898465230956

Salon Rocks: https://www.facebook.com/salonsalonglenrock

4U Nails: https://www.facebook.com/pages/4-U-Nails-Spa/154455744566860

Glen Rock Vacuum Repair: http://glenrockvacuum.com/site/

Music For Aardvarks: http://www.ahummusic.com

Kumon: http://www.kumon.com/centerepage/home.aspx?p1=f3305990-4654-4578-a250-f174cacfb2b6&p2=1&p3=glen-rock

Mathnasium: http://www.mathnasium.com/glenrock

JEI: http://glenrock.jeilearning.com/

Naturally Yoga: http://www.naturallyyoga.com

Moonlight Ballroom: http://moonlightdancestudio.org/

Alfred Jewelers: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alfred-Jewelers/113714485359980

Taylormade Jewelers: https://www.facebook.com/taylormadejewelers






Monday, August 18, 2014

Cake & BBQ

Enjoying the cake
I love cake. Everyone knows I love cake. But finding good cake is always a challenge. We were going to visit friends in Asbury for an early dinner after going to a kid's party down in that general area, then the beach, earlier that day. Because we were already out and about and not going to be by a refrigerator, I couldn't buy something up by us in north Jersey. I wasn't going to leave any kind of baked goods in my car all day in the sun. EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS BARELY SUN.

I normally would've picked up a kokash or a meltaway from Zadies, thanks to Cohen, and called it a day. That's my new go-to dessert place ever since Pam closed a la cupcakes. I'm not bringing crappy cake to anyone's home. And honestly, most places do have sub-par cake. Zadies rocks, but sometimes you also need other variety and I'm not about to trust someone else's kokash. If I don't know your kokash, I can't give my stamp of approval and people expect stellar bakery items from me. No one expects me to bring over kick-ass marinara, but dessert- yes, they do. And brisket.

As we were leaving the beach, I googled nearby bakeries. This one was closing in like forty-five minutes. So we had to motor. It's called Cravings in Allenhurst. I never heard of Allenhurst but it's like two miles from where we were going. We quickly got over there before they were closing. I was so spazzed out from being in a hurry, I didn't know what to do. I ran in with two ten dollar bills so I either had to get something under twenty dollars or run back out again. I didn't feel like doing that. Everything looked awesome but it was a bit pricey. Almost every cake there was twenty-four dollars or over. They had some smaller versions of the big ones for ten dollars each and then there were some cool frosted cakes that were decent sized for sixteen and twenty-two dollars. I picked a chocolate cake with pink (vanilla) icing. It wasn't filled or anything so I was wary. Everyone knows most chocolate cake is dry. It just is. That's why I don't usually like chocolate cake. It was the right size and the right price though so I took it. And a shark sugar cookie. I just wanted to taste the cookie. If the cookie was good, that's my barometer- the cake would be good. I was hoping, anyway.

I split the cookie three ways and we gobbled it down on the way to our friends. E said it was the best cookie ever but he says that about a lot of things. It actually WAS a really good cookie though. I had high hopes for the cake.

We got to Asbury and our friends rented a place in The Griffin. It's a gorgeous building where they've built up Asbury. It's across from the restaurant "Toast". I know this place because we went there a few years ago, after hearing they make red velvet pancakes. They do, and they're good too.

Walking into this condo they are staying in, I wanted to move in too. It is amazing. Huge, floor to ceiling windows, unique décor and furniture. Not our style lighting, but I'd take it anyway. It's also within walking distance of the beach.

They had brought in barbeque even though they actually cook. They own a restaurant, Bogota, in Park Slope. But they heard E and I are quite picky- we both eat like five year olds. So they got something easier and kid friendly. Local Smoke BBQ. It was FANTASTIC. Chicken, ribs, green beans, macaroni & cheese, corn bread. It was SO, SO good. I had been jonesing for our usual meal at the Windmill we usually have after leaving the beach but now all I'm thinking about is barbeque.

Then we broke out the cake. Oh. My. This was the moistest chocolate cake EVER. I ate barbeque and cake until I felt like I would pop. Everything about the cake was noteworthy. I would definitely go there again to pick something up to bring back up north. Pam left me with a cake void I've really yet to fill here. There are items here and there that I like at some bakeries, but none quite as good as hers and definitely no cupcakes. Now I'm starting to think that all the really good bakeries are in the Monmouth area.

It ended up being a great day- good friends and good food. Couldn't ask for more.

http://www.localsmokebbq.com/

http://www.cravingsgourmetdesserts.com/

http://bogotabistro.com/

http://conovernj.com/the-griffin/

http://toastasburypark.com/ 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Breaking the Rules

This story is stuck in my head. It happened a couple of weeks ago. Aretha Franklin went to a Johnny Rockets. She ordered food to go, but then decided to sit to eat. Apparently the rule from the owner is that if you order to go, you have to take the food and go. You can't just decide sit for whatever reason. Aretha was asked to leave. She asked to stay. The employee wouldn't let her. She was pissed and left without her food.

Howard Stern was talking about it, saying how it's a shame but it's true that people need a detailed list of things to do, rules, etc. They can't think for themselves and make judgment calls. I was nodding away in the car as I drove home from the hair salon.

It's amazing to me. I'd just written a blog about common sense. Here's a shining example of how people don't seem to have any. My husband and I are told ALL THE TIME how we NEED a vacation. We should just close our store and go. Or we should just hire someone to run it if we can't be here. We just laugh and shake our head. Why? Who the hell has time to write out detailed lists of every do and don't? We couldn't even think to cover every situation that could come up. We've HAD employees where we've been in virtual, "Seriously? :::head cock:::" mode. Finding someone who can just take initiative is like finding a needle in a haystack. Believe me, I'd LOVE to hire someone. But not when I'd have to do more work to have them work than would be worth it. I don't want to come into my store in the morning to it having been looted because I didn't actually write- "LOCK THE DOOR WHEN YOU LEAVE". That's pretty much the level of spelling it out I've found needs to be said to get anything done.

When B can't find one way to fix a lamp, he figures out another way. The other day he took my pointed Tweezerman's and a blackhead (facial) tool to be able to fix a lighting fixture. Someone else would've just said- "No man, can't do it." They wouldn't have even entertained such a thing. He's the MacGyver of fix-it in here. When he took a job to fix ginormous chandeliers for the Summit Historical Society, and they didn't fit in the store, he cleared out our home garage and has been working on them there. Again, something else someone else would not entertain. Customers come in all the time, desperate for someone to help them because everywhere else they've gone, the answer was just a resounding, NO.

Sure, there are times you have to follow the rules. But there are A LOT of times in life you can re-invent, find a better way, get the job done, etc by not following the rules. This is how I know I was never cut out for corporate America. I never wanted to keep to going through the "proper channels". I'd see a better way and want to go right to the top, where someone allowed to make decisions could actually help me implement something. I'm a rebel, Dottie. No, actually I'm not. I know there are times you have to follow the script, go up the hierarchy, and need direction. I'm saying that the rules aren't always correct and sometimes you have to question them if you think you have a better way. Or better yet, ALWAYS try to have a better way. Even if you get shot down, have an A, B & C for back up.

I'm forever telling E to "use his head". The first time, he literally tried to use his head then, putting his head on a box on the floor. But then he got it. When he asks me to do something for him he doesn't think he can do- I tell him- Figure it out. He hates it now but he'll thank me later.

I'm sure this Johnny Rockets owner was dying of embarrassment that the Queen of Soul and hamburgers was turned away. I'm also sure it's hard for him to find good help. Smart help. Help that can think outside the napkin box. So he HAS to make some kind of rules to be followed or it would be Lord of the Fast Food Flies up in that joint. But who knew it was so bad that he'd have to put an extra line in his employee handbook that says, "USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT" also?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

201 Best of Bergen 2015

So every year 201 Magazine does the Best of Bergen issue in February of the new year. But the voting starts in August and usually goes until November.

We need your vote! Let's make this the FIFTH year in a row!

Best Home Décor store is #72 in the Best of Bergen Readers Poll- That's our category. Just type in Shades of Soho, Glen Rock.

We really appreciate it. Winning is really important to us- it's a great way to get some free advertising, a boost in sales, and just getting the word out there that we exist. We can't do it without you and your votes.

Thanks!!

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1726803/201-Magazine-s-Best-of-Bergen-Readers-Poll-2015

Oh, and don't forget to vote for your other local favorites!

For example- some of mine... ;-)

#85 Best Salon- Salon Azano, Norwood
#86 Best Woman's Stylist- Don Grazano
#87 Best Colorist- Don Grazano

But there also some other locals to vote for, especially in Glen Rock-

Gift Shop- Verdi Blu
Kosher Deli- Kosher Nosh
Florist- Perry's
Farmstand- Herold's
Italian Restaurant- RoCCa
Pub Grub- Glen Rock Inn

And the list goes on...

Now, those are just MY favorites....

But there are 100 categories, so get to voting! Help your local favorite small businesses with just a click of a button.

Monday, August 4, 2014

This is 40: Part II

I wrote about my hair in Part 1. Now I'll write about the rest. I didn't know how to feel about turning 40. I still don't even want to discuss it because I think I care and don't care simultaneously. For the first time, I just sort of ignored my birthday. Usually I'm all about it. I invite a bunch of people to go out and have dinner. It's always a different mix of people, anywhere from eight to sixteen of us. But I just wasn't feeling it this year and didn't want to plan anything.

In the winter some time, Bryan said he was going to plan something so I let him. I didn't ask questions, I didn't give him any guidelines or anything. It was kind of freeing. I trusted him to do something I'd like. He knows me really well.

He didn't disappoint.

No one really asked me about my birthday and what I was doing. I was kind of bothered. Just like, damn, if I don't plan anything, no one cares. I wasn't really having a pity party because I felt like it's partially my own fault for not really making plans and I'm terrible about the phone. I never call anyone. I guess I was just a little bah-humbug about the whole thing.

I was told we were "going out" on Friday August 1. I was told just to "dress up". Get beautified. New shoes. Whatever. Look my best. I got my hair cut & colored, nails and toes done, new dress (needle-in-a-haystack Nicole Miller at Nordstrom Rack), and I was ready. The way he made it sound, it was more we were going "somewhere". Like, I thought we were going to a show, or a special restaurant. I didn't really think about other people being there. I hadn't spoken to anyone really as I'd been kind of a loner so far this summer. Just going to the pool every free minute with E. We never go out Friday night and most of my friends work. So I never thought about them being around on a Friday.

B said we had to stop at Greek Taverna next to my store to talk to the owner, who is also our landlord. He told me some story that made sense somewhat. I didn't question as to why I had to get out of the car and go in. Because I didn't plan anything, I was sort of go-with-the-flow of whatever he had us doing. I also wasn't thinking this had anything to do with our night ahead. So off my radar. It wasn't raining anymore, so I didn't mind. If it had been raining...well, that would have been a different story. I walked in and....

SURPRISE!

Like, forty of my friends were there. Aimee & Jesse came from Pennsylvania! Tadd & Christine came from New Providence when they both work in opposite directions. Megan, Yules, Tara, JGlass, and Lindsay all work in the city. Cohen's Mark works in the city. I'm sure a lot of the husbands do- Rob, Matt, Brad....and Charlie works close enough to the city. Then there were my mom-friends from E's dance school- Melissa & Andrea, and Andrea's husband Pete. My oldest friend Ann and her husband Kirk. My girls from GRJC-  Jordan, Amy, Susan, Michelle & Marissa (and some husbands). Our only GR "family"- Liz & Joe. Jenn & Anthony braved flood waters, and Don (and husband Neil), DON, cancelled his hair appointments to be there. Stein, who was working at camp all day. Cohen, who ran around picking up a cake bigger than her. And of course- Picken.

I had a real life Sally Field moment- "They like me! They really LIKE me!"

Everyone kept asking if I was surprised. My answer- YES! Anyone that knows me is aware that I eat like a child. Very plain. I have never even eaten Greek food even though the restaurant is next to my store. So why would I think I was having a party there??

It was wonderful. The room itself was really intimate. There is a nice fire place in that room too, which I think would be lovely in the fall or winter. Plenty of room for the amount of people and we totally could've still fit more comfortably. The staff was friendly and helpful. The food was plentiful and came out in a timely manner. The wine was flowing and every time I turned around there was a waiter asking if I wanted a glass.

There was spanakopita, lamb, chicken skewers, tahini, roasted vegetables, and hummus. I didn't get to eat much because I was chatting. But I know how much we took home. It's a good thing I have a spare refrigerator. The staff packed up all the food to take, which I thought was really nice. I also now have a lot of extra plastic containers for my arsenal, which is like an extra birthday present for me.

Greek Taverna is just a really great space for a private party. There is a lot of parking in the back, across the street, and down by CVS. It's also RIGHT off the train line if you have out of town guests. I'd definitely consider it for any party I wanted to do in the future. Although, I don't really have any occasions to throw parties. Since my son doesn't eat anything, getting him to eat Greek food seems a long way off.

I want to thank B for throwing such a wonderful party. He wrote a hilarious and heartfelt poem-speech that wowed all. He's good like that. Everyone said they had a fabulous time and it was just a fantastic mix of people. There were friends who were left off the guest list, but that was not by design. More that B has no idea who I talk to on a regular basis. He likes to tell people that for all he knows, I could be a superhero, leaving the house to save lives between the hours of 11p and 3am (he's fast asleep) and he would never know. I actually don't know how he cobbled together the amazing group he did. It was a great job.

I also can't leave off some of the awesome gifts I received. I'd been eyeing this ergonomic beach lounger from Brookstone for two years now. I'd NEVER buy it for myself. I just wouldn't. It would be a total luxury purchase. I mentioned it to Cohen once and I put it in my recent beach accessory post. She and Stein presented me with giant box that everyone at the party joked has to be the Barbie Dream House. I really had no clue what it could be. I opened it and put it together at about midnight after the party.

Another stand-out was the gift of fillers. As in Botox. Don, Neil, Ann & Kirk for a win with gift cards to The Plastic Surgery Group in Montclair. I couldn't be more thrilled & it couldn't be a more perfect gift. Buh-bye 40 year old wrinkles. (Who knew you could even get real, actual gift cards for plastic surgery??) And then I can go get a facial at The Fountain from the Paradisos and the Wises.

Everyone knows I LOVE gift cards. So I was doing a dance to have some fab ones now to my nail place, Garden State Plaza, and various restaurants in Bergen. Don't think I didn't go shopping & out to eat already, because I did. I also ate my fill of chocolate covered fruit from The Yertons. I'm going to thank everyone separately, I couldn't resist posting some here too.

If I have to complain about one thing- the rest of the weekend's weather pretty much sucked. But luckily Jordan watched the weather forecast and bought me a tanning session. Tanning to give the wrinkles, Botox to smooth them out. I've got it down now. By 40.

Happy 40th to me! With a little help from my friends.



http://www.greektavernausa.com/glenrock

http://www.brookstone.com/face-down-ergonomic-beach-lounger-chairs?bkiid=Related_Items_Zone|ProductDetails|Accesories|590240p

http://www.plasticsurgerygroupnewjersey.com/

http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/nordstrom-rack



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Not so 40 Hair: Part 1


I haven't written at all about turning 40 so I'm going to do this in two parts. In this one, I just want to talk about my hair.

Don, Me, Neil
I always talk about my hair when I have it done but this time I have different aspects to discuss. I've been getting it colored with pink and purple for over a year now. I don't even remember how long exactly. At first I did a little here and there, then I did it in highlight form from the root, and then I tried more of an ombre look. But since I wear my hair straight down a lot, there was too defined of a line of regular color and then the purple. If I actually did my hair on a daily basis, like curling it and such, it would look great. Except, I don't.

I brought Don at Salon Azano some photos where someone had just pieces around the face that had the purple/pink. So he asked- "Less of an ombre look then?". I said- "Yeah, I think so. Well, do whatever." He did. And I was thrilled.

It came out awesome. I got regular blond-ish highlights on the top and in front, but with some pieces of pink and purple around the face and underneath on the side. B said it was my best hair yet. I took a photo in the salon. But I stupidly stand under the same light every time I do that and I look terrible. It just washes me out and makes me look like I have no eyes and a wide nose. I might, but in other lights, I look better and I prefer thinking I look like those photos. Who wouldn't?!

He used Eufora's new color line. Everyone has been noticing my hair. I washed it today for the first time since Friday. It just feels nicer. Softer. It looks shinier. Usually, I frizz a lot, especially in weather like we're having now. But I have minimal frizz. It's amazing. B says the color is more vibrant. He'd just got it in the week before I was there. I came in this past Tuesday so he was all ready for me.

That bring me to....::::shuuuussshhh:::: My cheating. No, no. I would never cheat on Don. I'd never get my hair cut or colored by someone else. Last time I did that was like ten years ago and I learned my lesson. Hard. But I made a blow-out appointment near me at Moxie in Ridgewood. Before I get a thousand lashes, let me explain. I love Don. He does the BEST hair. But he's FAR from me. At least far for a simple thing like blow drying. I drive to Don for the "important" stuff like cut and color. But I've never gotten a blow-out before and I didn't have time this day to drive to Norwood and back. As an aside- luckily I didn't attempt that because there were flash floods and there was no way to get there or back at that hour. It takes me at least thirty-five to forty-five minutes on a good weather day. It's worth it for a cut and color though. Anyone who cares about their hair knows that!

I'd never had a blow-out before as just...a thing. I have friends who do it all the time. It's just not my thing because my hair is relatively easy. I've always had long-ish hair but it's not thick and I don't really style it. Especially for work. I just dry it, which takes 7-10 minutes and I run the flat iron over some spots and go. An hour into work I have it in an elastic. So why would I have someone else dry my hair? I mean, granted, I've said that if I won the lottery, I'd have someone wash & dry my hair all the time, but that's just out of laziness. I'm like Frances McDormand in Friends With Money- "My arms get tired...". I also didn't realize they dry it and then style it more than just making it straight.

Everyone I know here has gone or currently goes to Moxie. So I figured since it was just a few minutes away, that would be my place. Plus, who could resist seeing the scene of RHONJ fight crime (there was an infamous fight there in the finale of RHONJ last year)? I called and asked for them to explain to me the three different blow-out options. I took a blow-out and a simple style (with curls). They then made me an appointment with Olga.

I went there in a monsoon. My first blow-out, I get out of the car, and water is up to my ankles. Awesome. I went in and it all began. It was busy. Really busy. Look, I've been going to Don for like twenty years. I'm used to things his way. This was a little chaotic for me. A little assembly-line-ish. But I also don't go to Don on a Friday night or Saturday, so I can't speak to that. But it's just different. A different vibe. I was on a "line" for hair washing. Sometimes, depending on what's going on and who is there, Don will also wash my hair. So it's very personal.

It's also very casual in Moxie. I didn't know who was working and who was just...there. Either waiting for their hair to be done, just hanging out (?), or what. I'm casual at work, but there is only one of me so it's clear who is working. My other thing was- since I wasn't at a station yet, what do I do with my handbag? The washroom is small. They have a dresser thing in there but it's for stuff the staff needs. I don't know why they don't have some hooks on the wall or cubbies right there for people to put their stuff in. Not in front or somewhere else where you can't see it, but just in that wash room. I had two umbrellas and a small crossbody bag. I didn't want to just leave it on the dresser. Not that I thought someone was going to steal it, even though it was bustling with people back there, but it was on it's side and I was afraid stuff was just going to start falling out. I'm really not knocking them- just giving my first impressions. There was nothing wrong with the place, just some observations.

But then...James started washing my hair. And someone could've dumped my bag on the floor. I wouldn't have cared. I feel bad even saying this because I LOVE when Brittany at Azano washes my hair. James is awesome though in his own right. He has strong hands and he knows how to use them. He washed and massaged and it was fabulous.

I went to Olga next for my hair drying and style. I have to admit, I was nervous. What if it was ugly? What if I looked like Shirley Temple going to prom? Could I fix it?

I didn't need to worry. It was perfect. It was the best styling ever. I wish I could recreate it myself but I can't. I already know it. I actually don't even know what she did. It was something she did on the top that I really liked. I'm sure I could make big curls. But I loved the front and then the way the curls looked. I wish I paid more attention when she was doing it. I felt like I did when Don did my wedding hair. Like, I wanted to keep it forever.

So check out Don or the other girls at Salon Azano for your cut & color in Norwood. But if you need a local to Glen Rock or Ridgewood blow-out, ask for James to wash your hair and Olga to style it up. I am beyond pleased with my not-so-40 looking hair.

Salon Azano: http://www.azano.net

Moxie: http://www.moxietwins.com/ - I went to the original Moxie, not the blow-dry bar across the street. That's important to know because there are quite a few locations now.