Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's Try Simply Delicious Dinners!

One day it hit me that I was going to have to decide what to make for dinner for the rest of my life. Sure, we'd have the occasional night out to eat, or maybe pizza or Chinese food, but for the most part, that lingering question would always be there. I've heard about services that send you meal ingredients or even recipe cards, but they all seemed kind of expensive to me for what you got. But then I was contacted by a new local business called Simply Delicious Dinners. They're based in Central New Jersey, and they provide ready made meals to their customers. They arrive frozen, and all you have to do is heat them up. Can you imagine how excited I was to try them out?


Monday, December 28, 2015

What is Greenberg's Train and Toy Show? A Jersey Momma Review

You've probably seen the ads or received postcards in the mail for Greenberg's Train and Toy Show.  It is held a few times a year, usually in the NJ Expo Center or the Garden State Exhibit Center (two different places, mind you, and I always confuse them!).  And if you have a little train lover (or even a big train lover) in your house,  you might wonder what this show entails.

We have been to the Greenberg Train and Toy Show several times over the years, and each time we go it's a little bit different.  So just a disclaimer to let you know that what I describe here might not hold true for every show.  What I can tell you about the show is just what it's like, in a nutshell, but keep in mind that each show might feature different vendors, attractions, etc.

Mr. Jersey Momma helps the boy get a better look at the trains.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kawaii Box Review and Giveaway!

In Japanese pop culture there is a term for everything cute, and that term is KAWAII! Sanrio characters like Keroppi frog and Hello Kitty were a huge part of my childhood.  Even today I have a hard time resisting Kawaii items in stores (pencils with smiling bunny tops, puffy food stickers with little eyes and noses drawn on them- need I say more?).  Kawaii is an art form, and it's one that my heart appreciates.  Mr. Jersey Momma says it's one thing he doesn't understand, but what does he know?  Anyway, if you happen to have the same Kawaii obsession that I do, you might appreciate this fabulous service called Kawaii Box.  Read all about it below, then enter to win a Kawaii Box of  your own!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Simple Little Vanilla Cake Recipe

I was looking for a basic and simple dessert to make for my mom, since she's not a huge fan of heavy frosting or too much chocolate.  When I came across this recipe for a little vanilla cake from SimpleBKitchen, I was so excited!



Monday, December 14, 2015

A Review of Roadside America - What's Inside?

Somewhere in your travels between New Jersey and Pennsylvania (especially on your way to or from Hershey from Central or Western New Jersey) you might have noticed a little place by the side of the road, aptly named Roadside America.  Have you driven past there, wondering, what exactly is Roadside America?  Well, now you can find out!  Come with us as we visit Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania!


Monday, December 7, 2015

A Review of the Planetarium at RVCC: The Alien Who Stole Christmas

Last year I purchased a Groupon for the Planetarium at Raritan Valley Community College.  This is literally a stone's throw away from where I live, and after reading about it online, I figured it might be fun to try.

What is the Planetarium at RVCC?

Raritan Valley Community College is located in Branchburg, not far off of Rt. 78, 287 and 22.  It's very easy to get to.  The planetarium offers star shows, laser light shows and an observatory open on select days for viewing.  My review is based on one of their public star shows, The Alien Who Stole Christmas, which is offered throughout the month of December.

What is the Planetarium Like?

The Jersey Momma's Boy was four when we took him to the planetarium.  He loved the idea that he was going to a college campus, and it was exciting for him to see the college buildings, the planetarium, and the dome of the observatory.  Upon entering the planetarium, you'll see what looks almost like the tunnel of a spaceship.  My son was in awe of this!


You'll check in at the lobby, get your tickets, shop if you like (there is a very small case of souvenir goodies you can buy if you're so inclined).  The Jersey Momma's boy was fascinated by the coin drop- one of those giant contraptions where you throw your coins in and watch them spiral to the bottom:


Once you venture into the "space tunnel," you can view some space displays and glowing windows of space facts.  The lights are pretty dim once you get through that tunnel, preparing your eyes for the planetarium itself.  I don't have any pictures for you from here on in, because the lighting was not really suitable for photos.

The Alien Who Stole Christmas

The planetarium doors open a few minutes before show time.  It is important to note that once the doors of the planetarium are closed, they cannot let you in, so don't be late to your show (they suggest you arrive 20-30 minutes before show time).  Also, if you need to leave to use the restroom, they cannot open the doors to the planetarium to let you re-enter, by order of the fire marshall.  So do your business before you head in there!  The show itself is cute, but a little hokey.  Don't expect superb graphics and computer animation. These are just cartoon images projected onto the ceiling, narrated by your host of the show, who is in the room with you, reading into a microphone.  The story revolves around some aliens kidnapping Santa, but it's nothing scary and recommended for ages 6-10.  My son was only 4 and he was okay with the show, but not all little ones are the same!  Think ahead to what your child will like best.  The seats are comfy enough, and they are tilted back so you can look up at the giant pseudo-sky without hurting your neck.  The whole show runs about 40 minutes.

What You Need to Know
  • This is a planetarium, so it will be dark.  Sometimes, very dark, as you need to be able to see the night "sky" above you.  If your little one has issues with the dark, just keep in mind that this might not be the right event for them.  If you have to leave during the show, just remember that they won't let you back in.
  • As of the publication date of this entry, tickets are $8 each, or you can watch two shows for $14 on the same day
  • They recommend that you call ahead to reserve a seat, although there are no assigned seats once you enter the theater
  • This was a great learning experience for my son.  He was able to experience a real planetarium at a low cost and learn a little bit about the solar system in the process.
  • We once attended a different show in the summer and it was a nice change on a hot day, perhaps an alternative to a movie?

Jersey Momma Tips
  • Be on time!
  • This is a small planetarium on a college campus, so as I usually say, don't expect it to compare to larger, more costly planetariums in museums.
  • If you think the Alien Who Stole Christmas might not be right for your child, check out what else they have to offer.  There are other star shows and music laser light shows, too, all of which look like a lot of fun.
  • The planetarium also offers events for children with autism.  Check their event listings page for more details.
  • Head over to their Facebook page or sign up for their email list for more information.



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Picture Book Month: Making Pupcakes for A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan

Did you know that November is Picture Book Month?  Here in The Jersey Momma household, we're picture book enthusiasts.  I have so many picture books that they're overflowing down the stairs (and some are even stored in boxes in the basement!).  So I am more than excited to join my fellow bloggers in celebrating this fantastic event.  Many thanks to Krystal of Healthy Happy Thrifty Family for inviting me to participate!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

DIY Thanksgiving Turkey Wreath

If you're looking for a fun and easy craft that you can do at home with your little ones, check out this Thanksgiving turkey wreath idea. It makes a cute decoration for Thanksgiving dinner, and constructing it can keep the kids occupied on a rainy (or cold!) day. There's not much to it and you can easily cut corners by taping down the pieces instead of gluing. It also makes a cute gift to give to someone, especially a teacher. You can jazz up the turkey, too, with clothes or a name across the belly.



Monday, October 26, 2015

More Cookie Decorating with Sweet Dani B

You might recall me writing about Sweet Dani B in the past, praising her amazing cookie decorating skills and fun workshops.  I was fortunate enough to attend her Summer Cookie Decorating Workshop in Asbury Park, as well as previous Valentine and Christmas workshops in Flemington.  She never ceases to amaze me.  Take a look at the fun we had during Sweet Dani B's Halloween 15 Monster Mania Cookie Workshop at Porta Pizzeria in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  Then make some plans to attend one of Dani's workshops  yourself!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Fun: Let's Visit The Last Fling Pumpkin Sling

When it comes to Fall fun, you can find it all- pumpkin picking, apple picking, hayrides, corn mazes, apple cider, cider donuts, haunted hayrides- you name it, we've got it, and within local driving distance too, for the most part.  But if you're looking for something a little, say, unique this Fall season, why not give the Last Fling Pumpkin Sling a shot?  (ha!  That was a play on words and I wasn't even trying!)


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Jersey Momma: Let's Try Enjou Chocolat!

Every now and then I like to give a shout-out to local New Jersey businesses, especially when you can find their products outside of New Jersey, too.  I had the opportunity to sample some chocolate from Enjou of Morristown, thanks to the fine people over at Chocolate.org.  Yes, yes, I might have received my chocolate for free, but I swear to you that I would not recommend something to you that I totally didn't love!!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Baby Mantra for Sensitive Skin: A Quick Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by Baby Mantra to see if I was interested in reviewing their gentle, personal-care products.  My first thought was, 'Sigh, The Jersey Momma's Boy is not a baby anymore! He's seven!' But they were quick to point out that their products are not just for babies, but for children (recommended for aged newborn to 8) and can be very helpful for children with sensitive skin, which just so happens to be The Jersey Momma's Boy.  So I agreed to try their line and let them know what I thought.  And for the record, even though this is a sponsored post, I would not suggest you try a product that I didn't approve of myself. That's not how I roll!




About Baby Mantra

Right from the source:  "Baby Mantra’s earth-friendly range of extremely gentle personal care products for children (newborn to 8 years old) are made with all-natural skincare ingredients. Baby Mantra products have been certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA), are gluten-free, allergy-tested and cruelty-free.
You can find Baby Mantra products across the country at Babies R' Us retail locations, and stores like Albertsons, Jewel Osco, Walgreens, Duane Reade and Meijer. We recommend using the store locator on the company's website to find a store nearest you. In addition, Baby Mantra can be found online on websites such as Amazon.com, Babiesrus.com (and retail stores nationwide), Drugstore.com, Walgreens.com, and Diapers.com.
You can read about the founders of the company here. You can also follow and like Baby Mantra on Facebook. On a side note, I totally love their pretty logo. :)



Baby Mantra's Products

We tried Baby Mantra's 3-in-1 Bubble Bath, Shampoo and Wash. I, personally, loved this because it literally does three jobs in one! What more can a momma ask for? A little goes a long way- we just needed a small drop to give us lots of bubbles. The Jersey Momma's Boy wasn't crazy about the smell, but I thought it was gentle and soothing- a touch of lavender gave it a really fresh scent without it being overly 'baby scented' (I didn't want my seven year old to smell like baby powder- well, at least I didn't think he'd want to smell like baby powder!).


It has some terrific ingredients in there like lavender oil, aloe vera and honeysuckle. It's allergy tested, cruelty-free and vegan. It's also NPA certified and gluten free! The Jersey Momma's Boy had no itchiness, dryness or ill-effects from the Baby Mantra 3-in-1 Bubble Bath, Shampoo and Wash. Two thumbs up from us! It left his skin soft and smelling wonderful.



If you prefer a shampoo separate from the 3-in-1, try Baby Mantra's Newborn Shampoo and Body Wash. Again, great smelling like the Bubble Bath (very similar scent between the two). The scent is also not over-powering, which is nice! But let me tell you why the Jersey Momma's Boy loved this. It was low foaming, which made it easier to rinse out of his hair and off of his skin. He hates rinsing his hair and getting water and soap in his eyes. This was such a natural product that it easily rinsed clean and left no residue. Kudos for that, Baby Mantra!!


We also tried out the Baby Calming Lotion. Lord knows the Jersey Momma's Boy could use some calming! Hee hee. But honestly, I was eager to try this one because The Jersey Momma's Boy tends to get itchy skin, especially after baths, and is prone to little rough and bumpy patches. The calming lotion contains oils and natural extracts, so the consistency is a little bit thinner than some lotions I know. This is great for babies because it won't leave a greasy or heavy feeling on their delicate skin. But this might have been a little too thin for The Jersey Momma's Boy, who ran off to bed yelling, 'My butt feels squishy!' after using this.


I loved the pump feature of this lotion, since it can be difficult with a newborn or infant to juggle a bottle of lotion while trying to apply it!

We also tried out Baby Mantra's Detangling Conditioner. Again, a great, fresh smell since it's made with coconut oil and lavender. If you are using this on an older child, they won't be smelling like baby powder! I loved that it was made with all natural ingredients, especially the shea butter, which is one of my favorite scents. Just like their other products, it's NPA certified, gluten free, allergy tested and vegan! Some other conditioners we've used leave hair a little bit limp, and this one did not do that. I also noticed a shininess after using it, which was an added plus!



I was psyched to hear that Baby Mantra will be coming out with a sunscreen. This is something we totally need, since The Jersey Momma's Boy can only use one very expensive sunscreen on the market right now, since all others seem to give him a skin rash. We're counting on you, Baby Mantra!


Where to Buy

As stated above, you can use Baby Mantra's online store locator to find the products near you.

Want a coupon code? Of course you do! If you sign up for their newsletter, you can earn free coupons each month. Want to win some of their awesome products? Visit The Jersey Momma Facebook page to sign up for the Baby Mantra giveaway!

You can follow Baby Mantra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so go show them some love!

Disclaimer: I received this product for the purpose of this review, however, I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. These are my own opinions and they have not been influenced in any way by Baby Mantra. And you know I wouldn't recommend anything I didn't love myself, right? Okay, glad we got that straight.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Best Adult Coloring Books

The best adult coloring books can really work wonders. If you're looking for a relaxing, quiet hobby (you, yes you, not your kids, not your family, you!) then adult coloring books might be right up your alley. Coloring in coloring books was always fun as a kid. Now there are coloring books geared towards adults, with more complex patterns and more 'grown up' illustrations.You can choose whatever medium you like (it doesn't have to just be crayons!). Colored pencils are my medium of choice at the moment. Sharp ones! They say coloring is a stress reliever and a great way to find some 'quiet time.' It's also something you can do with your kids, in your own way.

Here are some of my favorite picks for adult coloring books. I've included some affiliate links if you want to jump ahead and purchase them, too! If you like these choices, be sure to check out my other posts about the Best Adult Coloring Books and Mediums, Part 2!


Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

This coloring book (along with its companion mentioned below, Secret Garden), have become so popular that they are often hard to find. At one point the manufacturer actually ran out of copies and the book had to be reprinted to fill demand. You can even visit Johanna Basford's website to see what she's cooking up next or just view her amazing artwork. She also has a coloring gallery so you can get some ideas on how to color her books.

The pros about Enchanted Forest:  adorable illustrations (think mushrooms, cottages, woodland friends, birds and more). The pages are big and the sizes of the illustrations vary, so some are more detailed than others. Enchanted Forest is also an 'inky quest,' which means there are little search and finds and games hidden within, too. But you can ignore those if you'd rather just color!

The cons about Enchanted Forest:  the pages are not extremely thick, so some markers tend to bleed through the other side.

Enchanted Garden coloring book by Johanna Basford - a fabulous coloring book for adults!
A fabulous Enchanted Garden piece by The Jersey Grammy. She added the mushrooms and butterfly

If you're lucky you can find Enchanted Forest at your local bookstore, or if it's in stock, you can use my Amazon link below.

                                                                  

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford has also been in demand for a while now and might be hard to find (I did include an affiliate link below, though, so give it a shot!). It's very similar to Enchanted Forest but it has more flowers and fairies. Equally beautiful and has pretty much the same pros and cons of  Enchanted Forest, mentioned above.

The Secret Garden adult coloring book by Johanna Basford is super popular!

Johanna's books are paperback but they're a heavy duty quality with a thick cover.  Johanna published some recommendations about pencils and mediums to use on her blog.

The Jersey Grammy was not finished with this page yet but I still thought it was beautiful!
The Jersey Grammy used colored pencils for these flowers from Secret Garden

Here's an affiliate link for Secret Garden.  If it's available, get it while you can!  They sell out quickly.


                                                                     

Doodle Invasion by Zifflin and Kirby Rosales 

Doodle Invasion is by FAR my favorite adult coloring book of all time. I found it thanks to an article on one of the coolest sites, Bored Panda. This paperback book is filled with whimsical, silly illustrations, all swirled together to create one image. Sometimes it's a moon, sometimes it's a big whale. I love sitting and coloring all of their little faces and discovering funny things about each drawing as I color it. There are 50 pages. The pros are the wild illustrations and funny drawings. The cons are that the ink is a little thin on the pages and it will sometimes smear or look like it's smearing. This didn't bother me much but it bothered The Jersey Grammy a little bit, who had just come from the thicker pages of the Johanna Basford books.

This was the first illustration I completed from the book and it was all done using Crayola colored pencils (along with a really good pencil sharpener!)

My first completed coloring page from Doodle Invasion

This one was done by The Jersey Grammy:

Colored by The Jersey Grammy - Doodle Invasion adult coloring book

Look for Doodle Invasion at your local bookstore or you can purchase it through my Amazon link below.

                                                                   

You can also visit Kirby's cool website and see all of his awesome artwork, as well as read more about his books.

Movie or TV Coloring Books

There is a cool trend to add favorite movies and television shows to the coloring book craze. They now have Harry Potter coloring books, Game of Thrones coloring books, and even Star Wars coloring books! Series like Outlander and Dr. Who have also jumped on board.


Owls by Noelle Dahlen

Owls is more of a cartoony type coloring book. If major details are too time-consuming for you, you might appreciate a book like Dahlen's instead. These are bold, cute illustrations, and are good for kids, too. The pros are the adorable pics, the thick pages and the price (you can't beat that!). Cons are that it's more kid-like, and less pages than the other books.

Owls is a cute coloring book, and not overly challenging to color for adults
Inside an Owls coloring book!

You can't beat the price of this Owls book! Check out my link on Amazon:

                                                           

There are a ton of owl coloring books out there, so if this one is too simple for you, you can check out some of the other owl ones available on Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Mandalas Collection by Alberta Hutchinson

Mandalas are really fun because of their circular patterns. There are SO many Mandala coloring books out there with all kinds of themes. I bought this one for The Jersey Grandpa because I really liked the illustrations in it. It's called Mandalas Collection by Creative Havens (Alberta Hutchinson is the illustrator).The Jersey Grandpa is the master colorer, and I learned all of my blending skills from him.  You should see the art he can create with crayons alone!

One of my favorite Mandala adult coloring books
A mandala coloring page completed by The Jersey Grandpa
Another mandala created by The Jersey Grandpa

Here's a link to the exact Mandala book where these came from. Did I mention these make great gifts? I purchased this one as part of a Father's Day gift and it was a big hit with my dad.

                                                                        

Pixelations by Arkady Roytman

I chose Pixelations as one of my favorites because it's so unique. There are only 32 pages but it's a great price. Again, this one is meant for older kids, but if the details of the adult coloring books are too stressful for you, this one is a different choice. Everything is drawn in square pixels, much like a video game. My Minecraft loving boy also took a liking to this book, and was delighted to find that he could transfer some of the ideas of the drawings to his favorite video game! Pros:  price, thick pages, unique drawings. Cons: really made for kids, not very long so you will finish it quicker than the others.

Pixelations is for kids, but it's still fun to color as an adult!
The Pixelations book features sea creatures, robots, animals and more

Just like the Owls coloring book, if you're not sure about the whole coloring thing, you can't beat the price, just to try it out.

                                                                        

Mediums (What to Use)

This is really a matter of preference, and sometimes the best mediums vary based on what kind of books you are coloring. Each book seems to have different pages, so depending on the thickness and smoothness of the pages, you might want to experiment with different mediums. So far I actually love Crayola colored pencils. But my parents prefer markers at times, and they like a variety of different kinds. Check out my affiliate links below for some suggestions.







Whatever books you choose, I can attest that coloring for adults really is a stress relieving, fun activity. I love taking the books outside with me to color on the deck. I keep my pencils in a little tray so I can see them better, and I take such pride in each picture I finish. I love sharing them on Facebook, so check out my page for the latest updates on my creations! Or just go make your own!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Finding 'Me Time': Visiting TRU Salon + Spa in Branchburg

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a simple gal.  I consider myself 'hair challenged' and so it's sometimes always in a ponytail (this is my signature look).  I never even blow dry my hair.  I just let it air dry and then I use a flat iron on it.  I wait until the last possible minute to book my hair appointments (which means my roots look like a dark highway through my head), and I have not had a manicure since my wedding day in 2005.  So when Debbie, a general manager at TRU Salon and Spa, contacted me about their business, I was excited (and scared- I am so not a salon regular!).  She asked if I'd like to visit them and share my experiences with my readers (that's you!).  So I'm going to tell you what it was like for me to give the salon experience a chance, and to visit a local New Jersey business that I truly enjoyed.  I'm also going to tell you why I think 'Me Time' is so important, and how you can find some of your own.



Find Some Time for Yourself

I think, as moms, we give so much of ourselves to others- be it our children, our husbands, our families, our schools, our jobs- that there is so little time left for ourselves.  And gosh, maybe we've even lost ourselves somewhere in there along the way.  I will be honest in telling you that I am the worst offender.  I never leave a moment for myself and I don't think taking care of myself at the salon is any true priority.   I know a lot of moms agree with me. Many don't want to spend the money on themselves or take time away from their families to take care of themselves. Joanne from RealityMomBlog made me chuckle when she said, 'I feel bad spending so much money on my hair and my nails.  When it gets to the point where I look really rag-a-muffinish, I go to the salon for the sake of all those who actually have to look at me.'  Ha ha! So true in my case, too.

But why do we do this to ourselves?  My friend Jennifer had some wise words of wisdom as a mom:  'As soon as I had my first child I gave up all of my favorite things- hair, nails, clothes, makeup.  I wanted to spend every dime on making my kids look cute...But looking back now I have some regret.  My kids have everything.  They are fine.  I have to keep living as well.  Moms need to not forget that.  We need to find a way to keep our true identity throughout motherhood.  Lately now that my kids are older, I'm starting to feel like Jennifer again, not just Mom.  And it literally feels good!  And the kids love seeing me happy.  So to those new moms out there, keep making your appointments!'  So maybe the salon isn't the first place all moms will run to when they want a moment of peace, but it is actually a good place to start, because looking good outside does really help you feel good on the inside, too.

Finding TRU Salon and Spa

TRU Salon and Spa has two locations- one in Warren and one in Branchburg. I visited the Branchburg location, which is right on Rt. 28, across from Raritan Valley College.  It has been there for almost eleven years (the Warren location has been there since 2012).  Many of my mom friends don't like taking time away from their families to get a manicure or have their hair done. Jasmine from HappiestMama says she likes to schedule her pedicures at a shopping center so her husband can go off with the kids for a little while.  TRU in Branchburg is in a great location because it is sandwiched between a Starbucks and Frozen Falls (one of our favorite self-serve frozen yogurt places).  If you feel guilty about leaving your kids to visit the salon, you could actually bring the whole family along on this one.  Daddy can take the kids over to Frozen Falls while you get your manicure. OR take it a step further and visit the planetarium at RVCC afterwards for a kid show and some full family time.  It's a win-win!

TRU Salon and Spa in Branchburg
Frozen Falls in Branchburg=YUM

What to Expect at TRU Salon and Spa

I received a friendly greeting as soon as I walked into TRU.  I don't usually care too much about what the salons have on display to buy (I told you I'm hair challenged), but they had a lot of unique products on the shelves (I picked up a bottle of Surf Infusion by Bumble and Bumble that actually looked like sea waves inside). There were jewelry items and scarves and lots of other things to look at while you waited.  I didn't wait long- not even five minutes, I don't think, so that was a relief.  But that also meant I didn't get to shop much.  Ha!


Here's another honest mom moment for you.  Sometimes I avoid going to the salon because I feel like a slob when I go in there.  Seriously!  The people who work there always look so put together and I come in wearing my ponytail and jean shorts.  I know I'm not alone in this.  Heather, a mom friend of mine, said, "I have to say I don't feel all that comfortable in a salon in general.  All these women are so pretty and dolled up and I feel rather plain and frumpy in comparison.  I'm definitely not a fashionista and just don't fit in well in that sort of environment."  We are our own worst critics.  I think Heather is beautiful (and certainly not frumpy!), but I totally know what she's saying.  But honestly, TRU was a comfortable place. Some salons are over the top fancy and you do feel like a hot mess going in there, but I didn't feel that way here.



My Experience at TRU 

Debbie, the general manager, offered me a basic manicure and a blowout (wash and blow dry), so my first stop was visiting with Sam, a colorist at TRU who sat with me first and asked what I wanted ('Something nicer than this!' I joked to her).  I also really liked that she asked me a lot about my hair and how I take care of it.  What shampoo I used, if I ever blow it dry myself, how I like it to be styled.  She had suggestions when I asked her about different shampoos I could use, and she didn't try to push any products on me. Everything was super clean and inviting.  It wasn't overly crowded or loud and each stylist seemed to be taking time with each client.


And this is going to sound totally silly, but TRU had really comfortable sinks.  Sometimes it's awkward to sit with your head tipped backwards into a sink, but I felt really comfortable in theirs.  The girl who washed my hair was super nice (and I forget her name but I think it was Kate?) and I was grateful that she talked to me and didn't spill water down my back or anything like that.  I am horrible because I totally forgot to tip her, even though I had the money in my pocket.  I am so sorry! 

The center of the salon area was their coloring station, and I thought it was neat that they had a flat screen TV there for you to watch if you were waiting for your hair to be done. I did not take any pictures of this section, though, because there were women getting their color done there and if you've ever had your hair colored then you know you wouldn't want anyone taking your photo and putting it on the internet while your head was full of foils or color.


Before and After Hair

I don't have a before picture of myself, and I wish I had taken one.  But you can get the general idea of me from Exhibit A here:

Isn't that a fab outfit and great hair?  Can you see the scrunchie?  This is me at Field Day.  Thanks, Jen R. for the pic!

And here's the after.  Goodbye, scrunchie!  I love how Sam did my hair and she even asked if she could part it differently.

Hi there, Jersey Momma!

Manicures

As I've said before, I have not had a manicure since 2005.  I am fortunate to have very healthy nails and I don't do much to them.  They tend to grown very long and then I just file them poorly, like this:


And again, here's one of those moments where I thought 'Manicures are never worth it for me.' But as Melissa was doing my nails they looked so awesome!  I loved how nice they were coming out and I didn't feel awkward at all (which I thought I would, kind of like a 'hurry up' feeling).  My friend Leigh Ann summed it up pretty well when she said, 'Time for yourself is important.  The kids and your husband should see you feeling your best so if that means a good haircut, nails, the gym, etc., you can take a little time.  Do it during nap time or preschool.  Swapping free time with a friend is a great way to squeeze it in if you don't want to be away from the peeps too long.  If Mom feels good, then everyone wins.'

The After shot!  I chose pink.

I worried a little about how I was going to get home with wet nails (how do women do this?) but they had dryers to put my hands under that worked really well.  At this point I should mention that I splurged to buy the hand scrub they used on me.  All I had to do was wipe it around my hands and rinse it off and my hands felt so soft!  So I gladly purchased it at $15, which I thought was a bargain because it's a fairly large jar, you only needed a tiny bit for your hands, and you can also use it on your feet and body, too.

Cuccio Naturale Milk and Honey Sea Salt Scrub

TRU will be remodeling the manicuring room over the next few months.  Their goal is to create a 'fresh new area with more retail space.' Even though I experienced my manicure before their planned renovation, I still found it to be clean and comfortable, with plenty of polish colors to choose from.

Incidentally, I had just seen a special on Dr. Oz about cleanliness in nail salons.  You'll be happy to know that TRU sterilizes all of their nail implements with a sterilizing solution and then again in ultrasonic and UV sterilizing units.  Dr. Oz would be proud!

The back area of TRU was a massage and spa treatment area.  They are a full-service salon so you can get everything from waxing, make-up and massage to hair color, cut, style, etc.

Pricing at TRU Salon

The cost of salon visits was a big concern for my mom friends.  Many of them don't want to spend the money on themselves.  And I am guilty of that, too.  I'd rather buy my son a toy than spend the money on a haircut for myself!  Isn't that sad?  I mean, happy and sad, I guess.  But here are a few things I really appreciated about TRU, and I'm not just saying this.  They gave me a little menu which contained the majority of their services and pricing.  I have been to salons where the prices seem kind of nebulous. They're not really posted or they have a 'varying' price or 'see your stylist,' since the price varies by hair length.  I liked that everything was mapped out for me in TRU's Menu.  That menu is also available online, so if you don't want to call for pricing or you're embarrassed to ask, you can check it out in advance.

Price and Service Menu from TRU Salon and Spa

Another cool option at TRU is their Guest Rewards Program.  Every time you visit their salon you earn points, and you can use those points towards product purchases in the store.  You also earn points for referring customers, pre-booking, and purchasing products.  It's nice to feel valued as a customer, and know that the business appreciates you and wants you to come back.

'Me Time' Tips and Suggestions

If you're like me and you struggle to find a moment for yourself (or you feel guilty about taking a moment for yourself at all), here are some tips and suggestions from other moms that might help.

-My mom friend Andi suggests (as do many moms) to schedule the appointment every four weeks, no matter what.  Do it while you're at the salon so you don't wind up forgetting or putting it off (or letting a dark highway form on your roots).  Andi says the salon time is a must for her.  She can even catch up on gossip magazines, her guilty pleasure (this is true, too, I never get to read some of these magazines except at the salon!).  Sitting in the salon gives us a chance to decompress and do that one thing that we might not allow ourselves time for, like just drinking an iced coffee or reading a book, or playing a game on your phone.

-My mom friends Christine and Cher love scheduling 'Mommy AND Me' time with their daughters, sitting side by side for manicures or pedicures so that they can take care of themselves and enjoy time with their girls at the same time.  My friend Justine even convinced her son to go with her for a pedicure once! Jody from Easy Peasy Mom said 'it's a good excuse for a girls' outing!'

-Courtney from Mom Upside Down (who is also a Jersey mom!) gives herself a 'vacation day.'  She said, 'As a SAHM, I deserve a vacation day, too.  I use this day to get my hair done, run personal errands, etc.  I hire a babysitter for the day and schedule it while the big kids are at school.  This way I really get a vacation/personal day!'

-Not everyone needs salon time for their Me Time, but I suggest it because I know moms sometimes tend to put their own appearance at the bottom of a priority list.  So do what makes you feel good!

-And finally, I got kicked out of a 'Mommy Blogger' group on Facebook for posting this question, asking for personal input about this me time subject.  I guess that group was not about sharing ideas and opinions, 'just links to ONE blog post.'  So I apologize if I was unable to quote or mention all of the people who offered opinions, since I could not return to the group to retrieve your answers!  But here are the fabulous ladies I recall who offered me their input:

Jasmine from Happiest Mama
Natalee from Natalee in the City
Stephanie from Sharing A to Z
Leah from My Crazy Ever After
Courtney from Mom Upside Down
Jody from Easy Peasy Mom
Jennifer from Reality Mom Blog

And many thanks to all of my friends on Facebook and elsewhere for the input they offered and allowing me to quote them!

Finding TRU Salon and Spa

If you would like to visit TRU Salon and Spa, you can check out their website or Facebook page for more information.  They have salons in Branchburg and Warren.  Sam did my hair and Melissa did my nails.  I highly recommend both of them!

Doesn't this Jersey Momma look happy?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Robot Birthday Party and Robot Party Favors

The Jersey Momma's boy is a big fan of robots.  He specifically loves the movie Wall-E and all of its crazy characters, so when he asked if he could have a Wall-E Robot themed birthday party this year, I thought, why not?  If you recall, we had an Art Themed Party for his 5th Birthday, and that was a huge hit!

I put together a whole party for him in our basement, complete with robot games, activities and crafts.  I didn't think all of the kids would know who Wall-E was, since the movie came out in 2008, so most of the games were named after Wall-E but were more just robot themed.

Do-it-Yourself Robot Party Favors