Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Rainbows and Cake

The NYC Pride Parade was this past Sunday. We weren't sure if we were going to go. We knew it was going to be SO hot. We had also just gone to the one in Asbury at the beginning of June, AND walked IN it. We do love the NYC parade but it's way more crowded and difficult to navigate. Asbury is just an easier time.

The route was different this year too. I read that the route changed in preparation for next year's 50th anniversary celebration. It made it REALLY confusing. In one way it was good, because no matter what street we went down in the west village, we were seeing parts of the parade. However, trying to GET anywhere was rough. Streets were closed and you had to show ID to get through. Crossing streets in some places was rough. We were trying to get somewhere to eat and had to just abandon because we didn't see any way of getting around to the place we wanted to go.

We did get parking in a garage and it only cost me twenty five dollars. We parked on 19th St and 10th Ave from 11:15a til around 5p.

When we decided we were done with the Pride festivities, we decided to do a bakery run. That's what E and I do when we go to auditions. We try to find the closest bakery that sounds good. Last city run we ended up lost around Chinatown and found ourselves in Tous Les Jours. It's small, but it was SO good. I got a a clear Solo cup filled with cream puffs and French Macarons. E got a smoothie and cake. Everything was so good, I was dreaming of coming back there. I am not usually in that part of the city though. I looked the bakery up online and saw they have a location on 32nd street, between 5th and 6th Ave. Perfect, I thought. Except we had to walk like fifteen blocks. I still didn't think it would be that bad, but it kind of was that bad. E kept asking- "Are we there yet?" and I wanted to choke him out. I told him to count the numbers as we pass.

We got there and it was SO worth it. SO. WORTH. IT. This location is bigger, with more stuff. They had a cake in the other location, called Strawberry Fantasy or something, not sold by the slice. I got a strawberry cake in this location that I don't think was the same. I do want to get that cake at some point because I NEED to try it. I got some other strawberry whipped cream thing that was amazing. It was sort of like a croissant with whipped cream and strawberries in it and powdered sugar on top. I could've eaten ten of them. That's my kind of dessert. I also had a strawberry creme filled croissant which was different than the one I just described, and that was good too. I just liked the first one better.

B had a blueberry tart and E had French Macarons. Both were happy with their selections. 


It was a good day. We walked over six miles. We saw cool floats, gorgeous drag queens, and some boobs with pasties on them. A very nice woman, who lives somewhere in the village we decided to stand, brought her own tall ladder for her sons to stand on. She wanted them to be able to see. Her boys looked to be around E's age. She let E sit atop the ladder for a little too so he could see. He loved that. So I thank you, helpful, kind mom who I didn't catch her name.

Oh, I did try to buy a charging cord for my iPhone at CVS, Rite Aid, and AT&T. All three tried to rob me blind by trying to charge $20-$25! What the hell? I went into a tiny food mart and was able to get one for $10. Still high, but acceptable in a pinch. But really- $25 for a charging cord? Not happening. And I didn't think chain stores like that would be doing that. At my CVS over the bridge in Jersey has them in bins for like $5!

Just by the way- I posted some pics from the day on Facebook, and sadly, got the inevitable questions private messaged to me- "Is your husband or son gay?", "I'm confused, who's gay?" so I feel I have to reiterate that NEITHER ARE GAY. None of us are LGBTQ. But we SUPPORT. It's not any different than supporting immigrants being separated from their kids, prison reform, the environment, etc. I don't need to have gone to prison or have been separated from my child to be able to sympathize or support those who have.

Again, I write this not to distance us from the LGBTQ community, but to explain that you don't have to BE something to SUPPORT something. Going to the Pride marches, parades, and festivities doesn't make you gay. It doesn't make you look gay. It just makes you an ally. Besides being a great cause to be an ally of, Pride events are FUN. Who doesn't like rainbow everything? Rainbows make people happy.

As a parents, it's part of my job to make sure my kid knows & understands diversity. To show him that there are people who are persecuted just for who they are and who they love. It's paramount that he's a good person who supports people who may be hated & discriminated against for their differences. We have to walk the walk though. It's not enough to just tell him. This is the easiest way to get him to understand why we need to show our support. So there you have it. That's why we go.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three Minutes to Wapner

I should probably name this entry, "Issues for a brand shopper". Though, one might think I'm talking about luxury brands like Gucci or Fendi. However, I'm talking more like Dickinson's and Pepperidge Farms. Don't know what Dickinson's is, you say? Oh, it's the brand name of the only jelly worth eating on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's Seedless Black Raspberry to be exact. If you could ask Rita, she'd agree. It's not only brands though. It's stores, companies...specific products, I'm talking about.

I'm routined. Rita called it rigid. As in, "You and your Aunt Barbara are so rigid!", as she was probably over an hour late to meet me. I just like my stuff. MY STUFF.

I could eat the same lunch or dinner every day for years. I *have*.  You'd think this would make life easy, but it doesn't. It makes life exhausting. What happens when items are discontinued??? I'm at a total loss. I think I seem to feel it more than other people. Or other people just aren't talking about it. I get to the point of writing angry letters to the companies. Some times they answer, sometimes they don't. Whether they do or don't, the items never seem to find their way back to the shelves and I'm screwed.

Entenmann's used to make the best cake- "Chocolate Chip Filled Crumb Cake". It was like a vanilla chocolate chip cake in two layers with this light fluffy chocolate in the middle. I'm not even a chocolate person but it wasn't too rich or heavy. It was amazing. I'd always stop and grab one to bring to someone's house if I didn't have time to make brownies or whatever. Then, one day- GONE. I angrily wrote Entenmann's. They were #sorrynotsorry and just sent me a coupon for something else. Like the crappy chocolate chip cake they put out in it's place. NOT THE SAME THING. Even the person I stole this photo from online called it "sex cake".

B didn't know this until yesterday, when we were discussing my Skinny Cow chocolate and caramel Divines being discontinued, that I haven't eaten peanut butter & jelly in two years, since my bread was discontinued. He said- "Well, how did you find the first bread? Can't you taste other breads and find a new one?". No, no I canNOT. It's not the same.

I wrote to Nestle asking about the chocolates. The rep who answered told me- "Oh, yeah, they've been retired. Please enjoy our frozen treats". Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I don't want to enjoy your frozen treats a-hole! 

I know this probably sounds crazy to most people. Why CAN'T I just find another bread? Because I can't. I'm not tasting other breads because I just know from the make-up of the bread I lost that there isn't a real comparison. Plus, I was reading diabetes forums where people were discussing how upsetting it was losing that bread and they hadn't found a suitable replacement. B asked why I'm eating diabetes bread in the first place - I don't have diabetes. I JUST LIKED IT. The consistency mostly. I don't like "light" bread because it isn't filling enough. I'd be hungry too quickly. I didn't want regular bread because of the carbs and calories. Pepperidge Farms Carb Style was perfect. It had the consistency of potato bread. It was perfect. Now, it's gone and I'm breadless.

This is also why I have to go to like five supermarkets to get everything I need, even though I don't really cook. I need certain things and not every supermarket carries them all. Shop Rite in Paramus is the only one who has MOST of what I need. Like, I can go there and not really NEED to go somewhere else. It would be more of a want than need.

I'm so pissed about my chocolates though. Granted, I think it's partial OCD, but the other part is the mind of a lifelong dieter. I'm not a drastic dieter - I still eat dessert every day. I eat my bread and butter. But I have the mind of a dieter, as in- I watch what I eat during the day. There's just some things I wouldn't do or the food floodgates would open and never close. I don't eat cake during the day. I wouldn't just grab a doughnut for breakfast. I wouldn't eat two doughnuts or two cupcakes in a day. Unless it was after-dinner-dessert and they were small.

I plan my food out for the day. I eat the same way every single work day. I pack a lunch bag. I take one Graze snack, two fruits (usually blueberries and something else), my Special K flatbread bacon & egg sandwich, a Yoplait (vanilla) Greek Yogurt or a Breakstone's Raspberry cottage cheese single. And THREE SKINNY COW CHOCOLATE CARAMEL DIVINES. My three little individually wrapped Divines are the highlight of my food day. WERE, were the highlight.

I was just saying to B a few weeks ago, musing about what would happen if my Special K egg sandwiches were discontinued. They used to carry them in Target and then they were gone. As soon as something is gone from where it usually lives, I get distressed. Luckily they carry them in Kilroy's, my local little grocery in town.

Everyone jokes about how I eat dinner at Early Bird Special hour, always eating the same thing, calling me Rainman, but I ENJOY it. I love a restaurant with a huge menu just to know there ARE options, if I ever want. I still order the same thing, I just like knowing I could order differently if I so desired. I haven't eating at Houston's in years, since they discontinued their bread service and got rid of their sweet summer corn dish. Now, it's not worth going there.

I recently stopped going to pick up Jenny Craig food because they totally changed the only two meals I ate. I had whittled what I liked down to only two meals out of their whole line- Roasted turkey medallions with green beans, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. It was my absolute favorite and I pretty much ate it four nights a week. I also would mix in their barbecue meatloaf with potatoes and vegetables. Guess what? They ruined them beyond edibility. The turkey is now just with mashed and corn and it's WET. Like...stew. It's disgusting. They just told me what they did to the meatloaf and I'm not touching it with a ten foot fork. Done. I've been a member for over ten years and I'm done. Pissed and done.

Old recipe for Roasted Turkey Medallions
I don't know that I *want* to be this way. I just am. It's exhausting. I wish I could be less rigid about my food. Or not so much food, but needing my specific items. Believe it or not, I've actually relented on some and have become more laid back. There are just some things I need. If I was just naturally skinny or something, maybe I wouldn't care. I'm just trying to maximize taste for what I like, within a calorie and portion amount conducive to not growing a giant ass.

Maybe it's just that I don't do well with change. My Remington make-up mirror (long discontinued) that I've had since college finally bit the dust. I'm pretty sure I got it at Service Merchandise (also long out of business). I combed the internet to actually find one, new in the box, literally from the 90's, that I bought on Mercari (like a Poshmark or eBay). I was ecstatic. Sometimes, I do, get a win.

Now, I guess I do have to find a replacement for my chocolate. After I buy all the ones left at Kmart. *sigh* I can't even discuss that E's silver dollar pancakes he's been eating since he's two, have been missing from Trader Joe's for weeks. I do NOT want to hear there is a discontinuation on those...

Monday, June 4, 2018

Parading Around

 It's June! Which means that besides school almost being out, it's also PRIDE month! In May, I posted some PRIDE events going on locally. I attended the PRIDE flag raising in Glen Rock on June 1. This was the second annual flag raising and we had a decent showing for a really gross weather day. It was super hot and muggy but we still managed to eek out something like one hundred and fifty people. Maybe more. I tried to do a quick count, but it wasn't easy. For a noon time on a Friday, obviously during the work day, I think that was pretty good. I saw people later who said they forgot and were bummed to have missed it, so maybe next year!

Glen Rock Pride Flag Raising- June 1, 2018

GR Mayor & some of the council members
This past Sunday was NJ Pride in Asbury Park. They have a parade and a festival with booths, food and music. We have gone as a family the two years prior and went down again this year. The weather is never great for it, but it's still always a fun day. This time though- we were IN the parade!

My friend Monica is the manager at Petsmart in West Long Branch. Her store was marching and she asked if E wanted to hold the banner or throw stuff out to the crowd. It took him about a half a second to answer a resounding "YES!". E was made to be in a parade. Especially one with dance music and flying candy.

I wasn't sure if just E was going to be in it or what. Next thing I know, all three of us were the head of the Petsmart crew holding their banner, walking in the parade. We were behind a pick up truck with two dancing half-dressed guys whipping candy and sunglasses at the crowd. They had music though so E danced right along with (behind) them.

The end of the parade route is where the most people are, so you're like a rockstar by the time you get there. At this point, E had two small rainbow flags, one in each hand, and was dancing up a storm to Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake.

The sky was on the verge of opening the whole parade, but it seemed okay once we got into the festival. My cousin, her husband and their four month old baby met us there too. We barely got to hang with them because the sky did open and we were poured on. We ran to the convention hall on the boardwalk but by then we were drenched and freezing. It was time to call it a day.

We accomplished what we came down there for though! E got to be in the parade. So thanks to Monica and her employees at Petsmart in West Long Branch for letting us be part of their group. E already asked if he can do it again next year.

I just wanted to address a few things. First, none of us are LGBTQ. Not me, B or E. I'm saying this not because I need to distance myself from the LGBTQ community, but to shed light on something I would've thought would be common sense. You don't need to BE something to support or advocate. I don't need to be black to understand the concept behind "Black Lives Matter" and support. As a family, we've decided to support the LGBTQ community with our actions, without having to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.

We went to a transgender rights rally in Jersey City a year or so ago. I had posted pictures on Facebook of us while we were there. Someone said- "Oh, I didn't know your son was transgender". I said- "He's not". It was just so beyond the realm of understanding that we could just be there in support, as allies.

Someone else asked me yesterday, "Why gay rights? Why did you pick this to be an advocate for". The simple answer, besides it being the most fun of all causes to support, is that I'm just not okay with people being discriminated against for who they were born to be. As a Jewish person, I know what it's like to be hated just because I happen to be born a Jew. Jews have historically always been persecuted due to other people's religious beliefs. Well....so has the LGBTQ community. So there are a few parallels there.

Further- while the Bible may prohibit certain sexual behaviors (from what I've been told- I don't know what's in the Bible), it's not like straight people who claim to be so religious are all refraining from participating in said sexual behaviors. Or other sins, for that matter. It's the whole hypocritical thing I'm really against also. You have zealots screaming about this or that being against what the Bible teaches, but unless they're living the exact letter of the Bible themselves, their points aren't even valid. I'm super triggered by anyone trying to put their religious beliefs on others, for any reason.

Of course, there is the superficial fun aspect. How do you even watch another kind of parade after watching or participating in a PRIDE parade?? The music, the costumes, the dancing! What's not to love? And everyone is celebrating LOVE. As in, Love Wins. You're surrounded by people fighting for equality just to be able to live like anyone else. To be able to exist amongst the rest of humanity without fear of being ridiculed, attacked and/or discriminated against. I think that's a damn good cause to get behind. It sure beats fighting for the first world problem to get organic treats in our elementary school!

I also like that this encompasses so many different kind of people. It's not just about one gender, one race, one color. It's a huge mix of different kinds of people. We feel like our child needs to be exposed to that. The same way he's exposed to and assists me in distributing toiletries, clothing and food to the incredibly growing amount of homeless people in NYC where he takes a class. We don't live in a very diverse town. It's gotten more diverse over the years but by statistic, most people are virtually the same. So it's up to us to make sure he has diversity infused into his life. I'm not interested in just giving money or going to charity dinners. Not to mention that I don't have the money to do those things. We want E to see how action can help so that's what we do.

If I can help someone else take a moment to make someone else think about taking some action out of their natural comfort zone with their kids, I'm happy with that too. The other night, when I was unloading my car after the grocery store, a mom & daughter stopped me outside. I'd met the woman once before, but I didn't recognize her. She expressed how she always stops to look at my house because she really liked how colorful it looks. That's because of our PRIDE flag, our purple stone Buddha, a rainbow sign with our "beliefs" about equality, and some other stuff (like my ginormous Beyonce chicken). I told her how we went to and were in the parade and she said- "We really have to start doing stuff like that. It's important". If walking her dog by my house just reminds her daily that she wants to teach her kids about diversity, then I feel like putting myself out there is all worth it.

Oh, and all three of us were wearing shirts I had made for any PRIDE events. You can get them too or a version of them here:

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pierre & Michel

All my desserts have been eliminated from Garden State Plaza over the past few years. I like to eat my dinner at Grand Lux Cafe there, then get a dessert to take home. I used to get a chocolate chip cookie cake slice from a kiosk like Mrs Fields. That place closed. Then they had a Woops kiosk for French Macarons that was there for a few years but now that's gone too. Even my jelly bean store is gone. I'm over Baked by Melissa, so I got nothing. I need dessert. My nights don't end without it. Like with everything else, I'm specific though with what I want.

Two or three weeks ago, as we were leaving the mall after dinner, I quickly looked up French Macarons because I was jonesing for them. This bakery basically on our way home came up. I'd never seen or heard of it, but saw it was open until 9pm, so I told B that's where I wanted to go.

It's a little off our beaten path up Broadway just past Fair Lawn, in Elmwood Park. We found it, parked and went in.

Wow. Good stuff. They have all kinds of French pastries, especially the kind I like, with just whipped cream vs custard. I hate custard and it's really hard to find bakeries that have anything without it. Cream puffs and eclairs should be made with cream, not custard! Or have cream as an option!

I had something the first time with both cream and custard- I just ate around the custard. It was still really good. But I had something this past weekend that was fantastic. It was some kind of puff pastry shell with hazelnut inside and hazelnut buttercream. THAT, is right up my alley. I could've eaten five more until I exploded. I wish I took a picture of it. I just didn't feel like explaining why I was taking pictures, so I snapped a few really quick of the whole display case.

They also have French Macarons. They are delicious and less expensive than anywhere I've gone. They have a decent variety of flavors and they're $1.75 each. Most of the places I've gotten them from have been $2-$2.25 each. That's a big difference when you're getting a bunch. When I get six in NYC at Macaron Cafe, it costs me $15. Here, it cost me $10.50. If you're like me and get into streaks of craving the same thing daily or weekly, cost is a factor, especially for six cookies.

I had the raspberry and I felt it was more flavorful than any other raspberry one I've tried. I tasted chocolate too, and it was good, but I'm not a chocolate person to begin with. E got some French Macarons too and fell in love. Now he's been introduced to this sometimes expensive habit.

I don't know what B had but he liked his stuff too. He doesn't really care about food though, so he's the wrong one to ask.

People come in just to take out, but you could sit there too. They have tables and real plates and silverware. It's sort of like sitting in someone's den. It's definitely kid friendly. They also serve coffee and other beverages. Go check them out!

Pierre & Michel