Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Best of 2016 Jewish Standard

I need your votes again! Under the Shop Til You Drop section, there actually IS a "Lighting Store" category! So please just type us in. Shades of Soho, Glen Rock.

Thanks so much- we appreciate every single one of you that takes a minute out to vote. You don't have to sign up for anything, and you can just fill us in if you like. You can also win great prizes for filling it out.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I Googled "Top three fears in life" and surprisingly enough, I didn't see confrontation in the top ten of any of the lists I saw. However, I did only open a few pages so it could be there somewhere. Based on the popularity of bullying or bitching from behind a computer screen or the amount of talking trash behind people's back, you'd think it would be just over or under the fear of public speaking.

There was drama on one of the twenty-five (slight exaggeration) Facebook groups for my town. Townspeople trash talked some in-town small businesses. Some people came to the defense of the shops, and some came to the defense of the unhappy patrons. What then pushed me to think about this deeper and then write about it were two more more interactions.

One, is something kind of silly, but it is what it is. Most people know I watch almost all the Real Housewives. Every season in every group there is a situation where someone gets confronted for saying something behind someone's back. The other person denies it. Then they show the footage where the person accused actually IS saying it. Yet, when asked about it, they just deny, deny, deny. Meanwhile, if they admitted it, they probably could've hashed it all out. Or at least just agree to never be friends, but to be civil in social situations and be done with it. Or apologize. Whatever. Instead it's just a circle of lies. All because they had a fear of the confrontation. I get that reality tv is loosely scripted and they need drama. But I don't feel like their denial is any different than people in real life denial to avoid confrontation.

Second, was a post in another area's Facebook moms group where someone was asking for a good barber. Numerous people recommended one place as great. Then one person chimed in with- "My husband went there and got an uneven cut". Now, I'm not doubting her husband's experience. But that was one day, one person, one cut. And five other people said the place was great. So, why the necessity to jump to the negative when there were already like five positive recommendations. This person wasn't even giving a name as to who did the uneven cut. There have to be more than one person working there, so the comment wasn't even helpful.

I just *know*, without the woman saying, when he got the uneven cut, neither she nor her husband said anything, or asked to have it fixed. They just lived with it and then didn't miss an opportunity to knock the place when asked. Had they just asked the person to fix it, it could've been taken care of and maybe then they'd have had a totally different, favorable experience.

The other was a conversation I had with two different friends over a twenty-four hour period. They both have elementary school daughters who are having continuing trouble with two totally different kids from school. Both of the moms have decided to work on the confidence and reactions of their own daughters to situations where they feel they are not being treated nicely. I applaud them both. The reality is that there will always be another mean kid. Confronting these particular parents might stop these particular situations but the kids still need coping skills for when these situations arise in the future with other kids.

I also get that it's not easy to confront another parent about their kid's behavior. Especially when it's your kid that's hurt. Your first instinct is to go Mama Bear all over the kid and/or the parents. It's hard to be diplomatic and you're not looking for a fight. You also may feel like there have to be reasons why the kid is acting out and that confrontation (even friendly), may just fall on deaf ears. I've been in situations like that. I've just let it go because I didn't think the conversation would go anywhere productive. I also want to use these situations to work on E's responses and his coping skills. As an only child, I know he can also be a bit sensitive. He shouldn't have to put up with being targeted or harassed, but there are definite teaching moments to be extracted from some of these interactions.

I do recognize though, that in certain instances, I didn't confront because it would be uncomfortable. I think when it involves kids and parenting, confrontation is extra difficult. It's more personal than even with it's about yourself. Over time, you get an idea of how it could go down and if it seems like it isn't going to be to the benefit of you or your kid, you just weigh it and decide not to go for it.

The general root of non-confrontation is totally the uneasiness factor. People simply just don't like confrontation. I don't enjoy it myself. Although, I will say, one of the best conversations I ever had, that turned into a really nice friendship, was when someone confronted ME, flat out asking if I don't like her or if she did something to offend me. Of course, I was taken aback, but I was kind of trapped. I was at her house on a play date and she just said it. Asked me. I gained a new respect for her that day. I didn't know her well, and that was the point. From what I knew, it didn't seem like we had much in common. I wasn't mean to her. I guess I just came off as disinterested. I stayed at her house for hours that day she confronted me. I learned that we actually do have things in common, and I appreciate that she just cuts through the bull and gets down to business. That was like three or four years ago and we're still friends.

There are just so many arguments and misunderstandings that could be avoided if people were more forthcoming with their feelings. Hey, sometimes it won't work. E was really obsessed with being close friends with another boy. E just likes him a lot. He wanted to be best friends. I get it. I kind of worshipped this one girl in preschool that I could never seem to get close enough with. E is deep though, and I have to give him credit. At six, he had the where with all to tell his friend that he likes him a lot and wants to be best friends. The other kid didn't really get it and didn't really answer him. E ended up being fine. But I wouldn't say they are best friends- whatever that means to boys when you're six.

E has also tried to reason with kids he's had issues with over the years. He gone to them and asked him why they're mean to him. Usually they don't really have an answer or I can't fully decipher E's explanation of the answer. Which is fine. I don't expect kids his age to be that self-aware or articulate. I'm just happy he's still young enough to not have the fear of (friendly) confrontation yet. He's just doing what comes natural to him. Even when he doesn't get the answer he's looking for, he's still going to go for it. He doesn't know any other way yet and I'm glad. I wish we all could do the same as adults. I don't know when it changes. Probably puberty when your confidence plummets.

Rationally, when dealing with friends or acquaintances, I'm not even sure why we're so afraid. In most cases, I can't see one parent lunging at another. Yeah, I know, we've seen that on the news, but I don't think that's the norm. Especially if you don't come out of the gate aggressively. Online, dealing with strangers, people just get these virtual balls they'd never have in real life. If they say they would say the same things in real life, then I question what the need is to malign someone or a small business for everyone to see.

There is just a real culture of public shaming these days which is positively shameFUL. It seems like it's more the instant gratification part of it mentally. They're angry in the moment, so the only recourse is quickly fire off a quick, negative response, and they feel better. Then they forget about it but it leaves a lasting issue for the person or business they so cavalierly maligned. They're also validated when other people, strangers, agree or "like" their posts. Then they feel they are in the right and there is no remorse for putting whatever they did out into the cyber universe.

I've totally left negative feedback on Twitter, Facebook or on my blog for big companies that refused to acknowledge me after many attempts. Social media isn't my FIRST action. It's my last resort. I'm sure it's statistically documented somewhere- I don't feel like looking- that people tend to write more negative reviews or comments than positive. I looked up someone who wrote an extremely negative review and saw all he had were negative reviews. Awful, scathing, trying to ruin someone's business reviews. That was very telling. It told me that he's a coward, because he didn't try to rectify anything first. Second, he's just an angry guy who most likely can't be satisfied. There are just people like that. Always looking for an issue, problem, or a fight.

I know this entry is sort of all over the place with different examples of personal and business types of confrontation. They're all related now because of social media. Everyone knows I *love* social media, but I also am not blind to the downsides. While on one hand, it brings people together that wouldn't ordinarily be in the same social orbit, it also gives a voice to people who should be using it more in person instead of hiding behind a screen. We're losing our ability to converse in person.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I know most of us are obsessed with Q-tips and we're not all using them the way they're "supposed" to be used. I know we're all sticking them INSIDE our ears. So I don't want to hear any crap about the story I'm going to tell.

Yesterday, I went to clean my ears. But I did it dry. I never do that. I always do it after I've washed my hair, which you all have been told, doesn't happen every day. I do clean my ears though, every single time I wash my hair. Because my ears are exposed, water gets in them, and the Q-tip glides around nicely. Dry, it's a bit of a gamble because it could get stuck. Or not stuck, but the cotton sometimes comes apart a little.

I normally only use REAL Q-Tips. Like, the BRAND, Q-Tip. Or whatever brand they are, but called Q and Tip. I buy my toiletries most often at CVS. As of late, CVS is really focused on selling their own name stuff. I feel like they're hiding or getting rid of real branded stuff in favor of their. When Excedrin had a recall for like a year, I started getting CVS brand migraine pain reliever and I've stayed with the CVS brand years later. I actually prefer it. Not with Q-Tips. NEVER with those. With good reason. However, I couldn't FIND real Q-Tips in CVS- not this time and not the last time I was there. I know they're probably there somewhere, but they're hidden and I didn't feel like asking someone for them. Now I know better- As evidenced by what happened to me.

I went to clean my ears and the right ear was fine. I went to clean the left ear and that's when I just had a bad feeling. I didn't actually FEEL something weird, but I just knew to look at the Q-Tip. I looked, and of course, there was no cotton on the end. I didn't know if it was IN my ear, just popped off, or what. Whether there was something in my ear or not, it felt like there MIGHT be. I just couldn't be sure. This wasn't the first time I had done this but the last time there actually WAS cotton in my ear, it was over ten years ago. And the last time I thought there might be, I think I may have found the cotton on the floor. This time, it just felt different.

I told B about it later but he didn't seem too concerned. He just asked that I take care of it "on my own time". Except that I don't have any time this week. I'm booked with back to back stuff. Usually I'm just "busy". This week I'm monumentally busy. I knew I didn't have the time or money to go to the ER, especially if there was nothing in there. There's a vet down the street from my store that I could walk to who I really considered going to see. He has to have one of those ear lookers. But would they think I was crazy? Would they charge me? I don't even have a pet I could barter with- like, I couldn't even say- "Hey, I have a cat. I'll start bringing him here if you just look in my ear for cotton!"

I know doctors- my one neighbor is a podiatrist, my other neighbor is a pediatrician. But I felt weird about asking either of them. I actually didn't think of them until after I had a solution. It was much easier to put it out on Facebook! I have a lot of Facebook friends- I had to know SOMEONE who could help me. Or at least someone to psych me up to walk over to the vet.

I put it out on Facebook and almost immediately, after a bunch of people rallied for me to go to the vet, the most selfless person, Jennifer Miano, saw my post, asked me how long I would be at work and she'd come over to my store by 2p. What? She's not even really nearby. She has a chiropractic practice in Montvale, and I believe she lives over toward that way as well. That is not close to Glen Rock. But she said she was coming. So I waited.

By the way- I grew up with Jen. I haven't seen her in forever but she is the type of person who is always ready and willing to help so I wasn't surprised she offered to help. I didn't want her to have to drive to me but I also didn't want something lodged in my ear like Brokedown Palace either.

She came! With her ear looker. With her otoscope. Or faux otoscope that worked just as well. B took video.

Jennifer Miano, Miano Family Chiropractic- http://drjennifermiano.com/ 

Go to her- you will love her.  Most people wanted me to go to the vet- just for the story. Like Kramer with Smuckers. However, this worked out much better. Not for the story, but for my ear.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Brain Games

My husband is getting increasingly concerned about his memory, as he ages. He wants to be proactive in slowing down the brain aging prospect. Remembering names and faces is not working for him and it finally bit him in the behind. Twice, in one week, he didn't remember customers who had just been in either days before, or earlier in the same day. Both were very offended. In his defense, he does see and talk to a lot of people in a day, let alone a week. However, he is trying to figure out how he can circumvent or lessen this whole memory loss thing. He doesn't think anything is medically wrong with him. He just feels that he has too much information in his brain so he doesn't retain certain things. He also thinks I won't be a nice caregiver if his brain goes to mush. "A lot of barking" is how he thinks it's going to go down. On my part.

He made an appointment with my Dr. Tom (the neurologist who does my Botox for migraine). For now, he's been taking some Ginko and trying to remember and regurgitate random facts. Good, right? Sure, until it's weird.

I feel like I had to write this entry, because we're on the cusp of going to a party where there are going to be a lot of people we see in passing all the time. I just want folks to be prepared when he starts spitting facts at people about themselves like he's the Amazing Kreskin. I've been looking forward to this party since I left it last year. It's an annual event and the unofficial kick-off of summer. I get to see people I don't see over my winter hibernation. So, when we see everyone, after around a year, I don't want them thinking we're sitting around discussing and dissecting their lives. Or stalking them on Facebook.

B came home yesterday and told me he saw one of my friends from town. He said he congratulated her on her new job and that even mentioned where she was going to work. So proud of himself for knowing all this and being able to lob all that info at her in line at Dunkin'. She probably thought we were talking about her or he's a creeper. Meanwhile, all he was doing was spitting out info to exercise his brain function. And then patting himself on the back for remembering said random facts. (Congrats KM! He did mean it, even if he was more congratulatory to himself for memory retention)

I don't know if Dr. Tom can do anything for him or if there is anything that needs to be done. Except for maybe slowing down? Tricks for reading comprehension and listening? I know he reads fast and just makes things up in place of what's really there. Forever he called one of my friends "Ashdunk" (to me) because that's how he read/saw her (old) last name (not even close) on Facebook. I don't know what he can do for the facial recognition - like with customers. I just tell people he has that facial recognition thing Brad Pitt claims to have (Prosopagnosia). Bring the conversation around to Brad Pitt and most annoyed people are turned around.

Just now, a customer was in here talking about homes on her street. I was saying how we made pendants for someone's kitchen who lives on the same street. He did remember the name of that customer, but as I was talking about homes on that street and a house he really liked in particular, he just looked at me like he had no clue. I don't think he remembered what street we were even talking about.

I forget things, of course. But, luckily, I do remember customers. And most streets. Although, admittedly, I am very thankful for GPS too.

If B just starts talking to you like he's the host of "This Is Your Life", anywhere, please know that you aren't being filmed for a reality show and he isn't oddly obsessed with you. He's just doing self-induced brain exercises for the almost-middle-aged.

B, E and I recently stopped at that store Marbles: The Brain Store in Garden State Plaza. They have all these "brain games". Maybe that's where I should stop for a Father's Day gift.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

I'm not into the whole holiday thing so I wasn't going to get all sappy about Mother's Day. These Hallmark holiday usually just cause trouble and make people feel bad. That's not really the case for me. Yes, it does suck that I don't have my mom, but B is good at the holiday thing. I don't like to throw that in anyone's face but I did have a pretty good day yesterday, so I thought I'd share. We only get Sundays to have family day, and a great family day we did have. My husband and son deserve some accolades and I feel like it's important to post about the positives in life.

I was going to say that we didn't need any fancy meals but we did go to Legal Seafoods on Saturday night. That's where I got a haul of NINE rolls. NINE. So that immediately kicked Mother's Day off to a good start.

On Sunday morning, I got up to awesome cards and drawings from E. His writing and pictures now are so funny, I get why parents keep all this stuff.  Then, I got a great card and three strands of necklace from B. That he MADE. Yes, he made me three long, beaded necklaces- one representing him, one for E, and one for me. He had made me a necklace on his "vision quest" (when he drove cross-country on his motorcycle), eleven years ago. I love that necklace and still wear it.

These new ones were made very similar to the previously made one in style, but a different color. They're to be wound around the neck and tucked to make my own look. They're beautiful. Truth be told, I'm glad they weren't more Swarovski. That store in the mall has always been his go-to. I much prefer something he created than for him to run to a mall he loathes, to just dash into a store, grab something and run out. He did very well this year.

Three strands of purple beads woven around my neck
One of my favorite things about all holidays is that we don't have any obligations. We get to do whatever we want- the three of us. Mother's Day is no different now. For us, Mother's Day sort of kicks off early summer for us. If it's nice out, our plan is always to head down the shore. No plan really, but just go somewhere around our usual haunts. Get a taste of the summer ahead.

In my mind for days prior, my own secret plan was to find another cupcake place to try. I've been mostly disappointed by every cupcake place, except for House of Cupcakes. The Wayne one closed, so now I'm down to Clifton. Getting to Clifton on a weekday or Saturday means tons of traffic. I just haven't felt like doing that drive. And I don't have the time. We were going down the shore, so I figured there had to be one I haven't tried somewhere in the Long Branch/Deal/Red Bank area.

Boy was there.

I had did a search on cupcakes before we even went down there. Cupcake Magician came up in Red Bank. I'd already been to two other places in that area for cupcakes and I wasn't dazzled. One of the places was raved about by someone I know, but I didn't like it as much as she does. It was fine. It just wasn't great. We got down to Red Bank and made a beeline for Cupcake Magician. I walked in and was totally knocked out by how many flavors there are. I didn't even know what to pick.

Cupcake Magician

I took eight home and the owner gave me a specialty flower one to take for Mother's Day. I thought that was really nice because this was definitely not your average cupcake. I'll be honest- as I always am. I didn't have high hopes even though I wanted to love them. I wanted to loved them because their flavors are so unique. Not just your average chocolate, vanilla, red velvet. I find most cupcake places have crappy cake though. They do. Or not enough frosting. Or just something wrong with them. Most of the time, it's dry or hard cake.

Last night when we got home from the shore, I had to try one. I grabbed the Strawberry Shortcake. I actually didn't know it was strawberry shortcake because I couldn't remember what I bought. When I was transferring the cupcakes from their cake box to a Tupperware container, I got some of the frosting on my hand. I tasted it and it seemed like whipped cream. I didn't want to have to refrigerate just one so I decided to eat that one.

Wow. I was blown away. The CAKE part was fantastic. I don't even really like cake. I use it as a vessel for frosting. But this cake was delicious. It was SO moist. After sitting in my car all day too. The frosting was amazing, the filling was awesome- the whole thing. I could've eaten another one. I'm so looking forward to the rest of the flavors I bought. I now have a new favorite place. I would actually consider getting a cake from them too if I was going to be able to get down to that area. Or just to bring with me to a summer barbecue. The cake was light and spongy, versus heavy/oily or dry/crumbly, like some other cupcakes I've had. I know the rest will be good too- but after that one, I'm sorry I didn't get more of that one!

Me, trying to choose
My picks!

As we were walking down the same street Cupcake Magician is on, I spied Lil Cutie Pops. A CAKE POP STORE. A whole store dedicated to cake pops. I couldn't just walk by, so after spending $19 on cupcakes, I now needed cake pops. I was going on my own bakery tour of Red Bank. I quickly bought a Fruity Pebbles cake pop and a Birthday Cake one. I told E that Birthday Cake one could be for him, but he'll never remember. MINE.

I actually don't usually like cake pops. I like the idea of them, but most of the time, they're not good. Except for my friend Coley's cake pops, who makes them in Florida, which doesn't help me in NJ. I had hers on a trip we were on and they were great. Back to Lil Cutie Pops.... I opened my Fruity Pebbles one immediately upon walking back outside. It was delicious. I could've eaten five. I was two for two on bakeries! I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to press my luck or bust my pants, so I quit at two.

They have a Carlo's there, and Whipped is still open, but we have Carlo's here and I'm not really a fan. Whipped had too many people in there for me to bother. I really only like their Strawberry Shortcake, which they don't always have. I couldn't even eat all this in a week. Or better and more importantly yet, I SHOULDN'T be eating all of it in a week, let alone adding more.

We walked over to Double Take, which I'd seen on the ride into Red Bank. I love the Double Take in Ridgewood and never been to the one in Red Bank so I was excited. The one down there is bigger than the one up here, so there was more stuff to pick through. I found two dresses- One Alice & Olivia and one Hale Bob that are now mine.

Then we went over to The Secret Stash just because it's cool. Parents of the Year that we are, we bought E a hat that has "Snoogins" embroidered on it. And of course, the sign for the store that says, "I assure you, We are Open!"

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of beach, toes in the sand, Windmill burgers and fries, and ice cream at Hoffman's. It was a long, full, beautiful day and I spend it just as I wanted to- with my two favorite guys. We got home as the sun finally went down, exhausted and stuffed.

Hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day!

Cupcake Magician: http://www.cupcakemagicianonline.com/
Lil Cutie Pops: http://www.lilcutiepops.com/
The Windmill: http://www.windmillhotdogs.com/home
The Secret Stash: http://jayandsilentbob.com/

Monday, May 2, 2016

Coffee House at GRJC

Saturday, May 7 at 9:00 pm

In honor of Cinco De Mayo, this year's coffee house will include complimentary margaritas, chips and salsa!

Saturday night's lineup:

The triumphant return of Alfred Fredel!

Brandon Oliff on vocals and acoustic guitar.
The GRJC pop debut of Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg,  accompanied by husband Micah Wissinger on guitar.

Acoustic rock from Seth Hillman, Bob Katzman, Andy Wedeen with vocals by Jodi Schwartz and Elissa Lazev.

The country, bluesy, jazzy NEW BLUE RUBIES: Alan Butvinik,  Silas Bogg,  Russell Gombo, Arties Pazan and Larry Schwartz.

The unmistakable, unforgettable, somewhat unavoidable and completely unforgivable.......
with  Allie Butvinik, Matty Cooper, Howie Gerber, Bobby Katzman, Artie Pazan, Larry Schwartz and Robbie Weiss.  
FEATURING,  Randi Asher, Elissa Lazev and Jodi Schwartz, better known as THE LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY MAC-ETTES!!!!
$20 fee includes dessert and coffee
Questions?  Please contact Rob Weiss at212-448-6217 or email at rweiss@mclaughlinstern.com