Monday, September 26, 2011

You will love The Whole Package! Book Review & Giveaway

I devoured Cynthia Ellingsen's The Whole Package in about three nights--staying up way too late because the novel was such a great read! Cynthia stopped by Rockland Mother as a guest blogger last month and I have done you such a disservice in not reviewing the book until now. You are going to want to run out and read it immediately!

Berkley; Aug 2011
The story: Doris, Cheryl and Jackie are three almost-40-somethings who have been best friends since high school. Life hasn't turned out as expected for any of them: Doris, once a wild and talented soccer player, is now a prim wife, living with a unhappy husband and an ungrateful teenager daughter. Cheryl, who is divorced from her husband after she cheated on him, flits from guy to guy and works her ass off at a male-dominated marketing firm where sexual harassment is the in thing. And, Jackie, once a very promising artist who happened to married a rich older gentleman, has fled to Paris after his death to process her loss.

After Jackie receives a call from her lawyer informing her that her husband's money has run out during her time in Paris, she returns to Illinois to find her friends both in the middle of their own catastrophes: Doris' husband has left her to "find himself" on the seat of a motorcycle and Cheryl is fired from the company she helped build after her boss snoops through her files.

Drowning their sorrows at a local male strip club, the girls have a great idea--why not open a Hooter-inspired restaurant for women called The Whole Package? Why should men have all the fun? Bring on the Adonises in thongs serving goat cheese and apple salads!

Before I get carried away and give away the entire story, let's just say that the rest of the book has to do with the women trying to succeed at opening their restaurant and trying to put their lives back together. And, man, did I have a fun time following these three girls around. They fight and make up, make mistakes and figure things out, just like real girlfriends do. And Cynthia has a way with flirting/sex scenes--I really felt giddy reading them. Nothing too raunchy, but just so so sweet and sexy.

I also loved the pair of gay characters in the book, and one gorgeous man, especially, who helps Doris out or her style doldrums (and doldrums of the heart too). And, there were more than a few scenes that made me laugh out loud--like a geriatric woman dancing suggestively on a chair.

My only tiny problems: the final line of the book seems out of character for a few of the men and something happens to Cheryl at the end of the book that really is more of a big deal than it is made out to be (you will recognize it when you read it, especially if you are a mom).

Thank you Cynthia Ellingsen for such a fun read and thanks to Penguin for providing me with the book to review! I really hope there is more to come from this author soon. Until then, I will remember the characters in The Whole Package fondly, take some of their lessons learned to heart (mainly, you must take care of yourself first before you can love those around you fully), and remember certain scenes in front of a fireplace with a smile.

Leave a comment below by October 3rd to win a copy of the book!! Winner must be in USA or Canada.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Its Apple Picking Time!

I love love love apple-picking, but last year was the first time I had gone in many years. We had a great time at  the Orchards of Concklin in Pomona, NY, which are about a 10-minute drive from my parents' house. We went in late September, and there were plenty of delicious apples to pick. It wasn't crowded at all either, which was a nice bonus, and they didn't mind if you bit into an apple or two while picking (awesome!) And, of course, the orchard has its own country store which sells pies, ciders, and apple cider donuts among other things. 

It really shaped up to be a great apple-picking experience right in our own backyard. Check out their website for their apple & pumpkin picking schedules, events schedule, and more.

This year we're heading a bit farther away to pick apples because we've been invited by family friends and we like to try new things! At the end of this week we're heading up to Lawrence Farms Orchards in Newburgh, NY to pick apples, pears, sweet corn, and lots of other fresh produce. I am told that there are animals on the farm to pet (but not the horse--he bites!) and adorable wooden play houses for the kids to run through. I really can't wait for our visit, and I'll be sure to post about it soon after.

In early October, we'll be heading to the Applewood Orchards & Winery in Warwick, NY. Not only does this location offer apple-picking and home-brewed ciders (alcoholic and non), but they have hayrides and live music and puppet shows on the weekends (check ahead for schedules). I'm looking forward to our visit there as well and will definitely report back...with pictures!

So, where do you do your apple-picking? And, do you have amazing apple recipes to send me? I'm going to have bags full and I promised my dad a delicious apple pie (don't let him down!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Pickle at the Renaissance Fair Edition

Doesn't he look a bit like a red-headed Al Pacino with a pickle cigar and a sword? Fun props courtesy of the NY Renaissance Fair (ends on Sept 25th!) 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Personal Trimmer Fail at The Adult Toy Shoppe

I think that all bloggers feel pretty much the same when it comes to receiving products for review: we're really so grateful for the opportunity and we really hope we'll like the product so that we can write a positive review. No one is happy to write a bad review when folks have been so generous as to send them a product, but we must write the truth. 
The folks at Adult Toy Shoppe have been generous to send me a couple products to review over the past few months--and this is one of those occasions where I feel bad about writing a bad review. They recently sent me their His and Her Personal Trimmer to try out, and, sadly it was a dud. 
Personal TrimmerI was really hoping it would work. I don't have much time to go to a salon for a wax and, after a few incidents, I'm getting more and more afraid of getting anywhere close to my lady bits with a razor. But, this trimmer is not anywhere near a solution for me. Both of its two shaving heads didn't work properly for me--the large shaving head (pictured) didn't shave at all and the smaller shaving head (small like a nose trimmer) worked when pushed directly onto one hair, but didn't shave close to the skin. And, really, who wants razor sharp stubble down there?  
So, I'm back to looking for an at-home solution that does not involve dangerous blade-wielding or 2nd-degree-burn-inducing hot wax. Any suggestions? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Best Bath Crayon You'll Ever Want to Steal from Your Kid

Star Crayon in the Tub
$6.99 - Alex Rub a Dub Star Crayon
We've only got a shower and in the pursuit of expediency and not stinking, I bring the little guy in with me each morning. At first, the novelty of the shower was enough to keep him occupied, but then he started getting bored and trying to escape. Once he discovered the door opened, nothing--not duckies, not foam letters, not toy trucks--was going to keep him in. Until I remembered they made bath crayons!

We've tried a bunch of bath crayons and the Alex Star Crayon is hands-down our favorite. Its palm-size star shape is super easy for Andrew (20 months old now) to hold and saves me from having to pick up a million tiny bath crayons. It writes wonderfully and brightly on our smooth tile walls and textured shower floor. And clean up is a breeze with a sponge or washcloth. (Skip Alex's traditional Draw In The Tub Crayons--they don't write as well and aren't good for smaller children.)

We have so much fun drawing with this crayon in the shower that Andrew wants to stay in longer--and I get to actually wash my hair! I also like to leave my husband notes on the shower wall like "I love your" or "I'll kill you the next time you leave the toilet seat up."

My only gripes: the crayon heads can wear down quickly when you have a toddler grinding them into a textured shower floor and the $6.99 replacements can burn a hole in your pocket quickly. Regardless, we'll be keeping these crayons in stock at the Rockland Mother residence--how else will I get to shave my legs??

Sunday, September 11, 2011

God Bless America - September 11, 2011

I was in downtown Manhattan on September 11th, a sophomore at NYU. I was so lucky to be a safe distance away from the World Trade Center and to have not lost anyone close to me, but the fear and pain of that day still resonates within me 10 years later. All I can do is pray for those who were lost, pray for those of us who are still in and live under the threat of terrorism, and pray for those fighting for our freedom each and every day.

God bless us all and God bless America.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Make'em Jealous of your Address Labels (plus 10% discount code)

Lacey Personalized Round Stickers
Lacey; 50 for $21
I am seriously coveting the circular personalized address labels over at Fun and Sassy Designs. How cute would they look slapped on the back of your next birthday invitation, thank you note, or Christmas /holiday card? I stumbled upon the Fun and Sassy website because Mama Bargains has a selection of their circular Halloween labels priced at 50% off today ($4.25 for 20). But, I'm really more in the market for everyday labels and Christmas labels, like these here beauties.

Pinkwheel Personalized Round Stickers
Pinkwheel; 50 for $21
Fun and Sassy also has a slew of other items if you're not into the circular, from traditional labels, to cards and gift tags too. There's free shipping on orders over $50 and you can currently get a 10% discount with code 2KL4SKL. Also, for a limited time, all orders of over 60 address labels will be doubled for free. Awesome.

Shop on, friends!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Birthday Parties at The Playroom in Nyack

I've already told you guys how much I love The Playroom in Nyack and how we're planning to have Andrew's 2nd birthday party there this winter. Well, we had another great visit to the Playroom this week--Andrew made a great new friend in Playroom staff member Sunshine who so sweetly indulged him dragging her around by the hand to play!--and I picked up their birthday party details flyer to share with you all!

For $250 for a minimum of 10 children ($15 per additional child) the Playroom provides:

  • Use of their beautiful party room for 2 hours. What's great is that the party room is not actually a sealed in room but a private area separated from the main play area by a small stair case and banister. (See this gallery of photos for a better idea.) This means that kids can go back and forth between the play area and the party area and parents can keep an eye on them from the party area as well. Also, after your 2 hours in the party room are up, kids are still welcome to hang out and play. 
  • 10 party invitations ($1.00 for each additional invitation). And these are no ordinary invites--they are beautiful Dr. Seuss-themed invites. The invitation graphics are beautiful and the text is actually a Dr. Seuss-esque rhyme based on "Oh The Places You'll Go." Extremely adorable and truly special! 
  • Pizza, a snack pack of guest's choice, and water or juice for each invited child. Food for adults is not included in the party package but there are a number of local eateries from which you can order.

Taxes are included in the prices above and a $125 non refundable deposit is required to hold your date.

Playroom owner and Party Co-Coordinator, Lauren, is also available to help you customize your party in a variety of ways. From hiring a clown and procuring party paper goods, to booking live music or a photographer, she's got you covered. Just contact her at 845-512-8265 or for more info.

I hope you will check out The Playroom soon and maybe book a party there as well! My family loves this local play place and we want to have it around for a good long while! It is such a bright and cheerful venue, and one that I feel much more comfortable in with my 20-month-old than those with enormous (dangerous) inflatable toys or crowded arcades. I know you'll be just as smitten!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Irene & Me: A love/hate story

Well, hi! I've missed you, blog friends! Irene kicked our (electrical) butts which meant no lights and internet for a good 4 days. Then, since our basement-level abode was dark as a dungeon and I didn't have Dora the Explorer to help me occupy Andrew, it looked like the INSIDE of our place was hit by a hurricane too. All of this goes to explain my blog silence -- not that my feeling the need to nap every day didn't hurt as well.

The worst part about not having internet, though, was that I wasn't able to thank wonderful author Susan McCorkindale (see previous post about 500 Acres and No Place to Hide) for her generous offer of a signed bookplate to the winner of her book giveaway. A huge thank you to Susan for not only being hilarious and awesome (read her books!), but very kind.

Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light, TurtleBut while not having electricity/internet was a pain in the butt because of the above and we lost basically all of our refrigerated food, there were some wonderful things that came out of Irene's wrath. First, we spent a lot more time playing outside than usual and we made like pioneers at night and went to sleep with the sun at 8 (sooo refreshing!) Andrew slept in bed with us each night and it was so nice to have family cuddle time. And we actually got a lot of good use out of the Twilight Turtle we just bought (right). Going to bed with stars and the moon projected on the ceiling was so peaceful and the turtle was a lifesaver when I needed to see Andrew in the pitch-black.

That said, after the earthquake and hurricane in one week, I'm wishing for a milder fall and winter. Let's cross our fingers. Until next time!