Not In Jersey: February 2018 February 2018 - Not In Jersey

What I’ve Been Reading #169–Girl Unknown

Friday, February 16, 2018


sI received a copy of Girl Unknown by Karen Perry from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. This book reminded me a bit of another book I read, Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. Both books feature girls who enter an established family and throw things around a bit. In this story, Zoe’s presence changes everything.

“David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years―raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply. Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, ‘I think you might be my father.’ And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat―but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?”

This book takes place in Ireland and the dialogue can almost be heard as being said with an Irish accent. While it’s meant to be a thriller, the book was actually more of a family drama, told from the alternating viewpoints of Caroline and David. The author is in fact a pen name for two writers – Paul Perry and Karen Gillece – and I wondered if they wrote alternating chapters as well. Zoe is the one character whose thoughts would have been interesting to hear, but of course, we are meant to keep guessing what her true motivations are. The children in the book are important, but we don’t hear their viewpoints until the end, which does include a surprising twist.

What have you been reading lately?


The Walmart Museum

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Walmart Museum

Our next stop in Arkansas after we visited Crystal Bridges was the Walmart Museum. The original Walmart, which was called Walton’s 5 & 10, was opened in Bentonville AR in 1950. This original store is still there and is also the location of the museum.


The museum is arranged in order by the decade and there are a few interactive things to keep kids busy throughout. I enjoyed the maps which showed how Walmart began very locally and eventually expanded worldwide.


Here you could print out a Walmart name sticker. The kids made their names and then some silly ones like Simon made one that says “I’m #1.”


This is apparently the best spot for a selfie in the museum. Zachary was busy sending pictures to his class group text.

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A display of Walmart buttons:


At the end of the museum is a little ice cream parlor.


While I wouldn’t say you should visit Bentonville just for the Walmart Museum, it is worth a stop if you are in town already!


Ways I Take Care Of Myself

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


This month’s topic for “How We” with Mix and Match Mama and A Little Bit Of Everything is “how we take care of ourselves.” Because this week I shared about my husband and about my kids, I thought sharing about how I care for myself fit right in!

As moms, our lives tend to revolve around our kids and our homes, am I right? We always have to remember to do some self-care as well. Here are some of the ways I take care of myself on a daily basis.

1. Start the day with something you love. For me, it’s coffee and blog reading!

2. Exercise. I hate it, but I need it, so I do it.

3. I long ago realized that if I eat sweet cereal for breakfast, in a few hours I get a sugar drop that makes me feel awful. So I make sure to eat the right type of food for breakfast.

4. Speaking of food though, I definitely treat myself when I feel like doing so! Starbucks anyone?

5. I also treat myself to new clothes sometimes, even though I probably have enough. I do find myself wearing my favorites over and over again, but that’s ok, because they make me happy!

6. I quite often find myself thinking there is no point to putting on makeup when I’m not going anywhere important. Only I now realize I like how I look when I wear just a little on a daily basis! I’m working on a daily makeup routine and so far my go to products are Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation in dark sand (oh my, I did not know how expensive it is!) and Rodial Smokey Eye Pen.


I also received a sample of Dermalogica Calm Water Gel and Barrier Defense Booster from Influenster and I’m enjoying moisturizing my face with these products!


7. Another thing I am working on is streamlining my grocery shopping so that I don’t go to the store so many times each week. So far I’m doing a little bit better! Going to the store too often annoys me, and I try to avoid doing things that annoy me!

8. I do things that I like in order to relax, like binge watching too much TV and playing too many games on my phone!

9. I read every night before I go to bed. I love to read and it helps me fall asleep!

10. I try to forgive myself for the times I do things I’m not “supposed” to do or for just being me!

How do you take care of yourself?



My Loves

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Today I’m joining in with some of my fellow blog friends to talk about our loves. Since I wrote a bit about Dave yesterday, today’s “Meet My Loves” post will focus on my three kids. I feel like you already know a lot about them, so hopefully you’ll learn something new here today!



Gabbie will be 13 in about 6 weeks. She is in 7th grade. She gets good grades in every subject, but she says she doesn’t like math or science very much. She does like English and Art. She is creative and likes baking, sewing, drawing, and graphic design. She always has big ideas about things she wants to create or buy or do. Gabbie didn’t start to walk until she was 17 months old, but she started dance at age 4 and plans to do so for awhile. She talks about being a dance teacher or starting a dance school when she is older. She is also interested in decorating and design. Besides dance and creative activities, Gabbie likes watching YouTube, traveling, sleeping in, and reading. She hates when people chew loudly. She is a good friend and big sister!



Zachary is 10.5 years old. If ever there was a middle child, it is Zachary. He is so different from his siblings! He loves facts and finding out how things work. If he gets your attention, he will tell you everything he knows. He does things on his own time, no matter how many times I ask him to do something. Yet, he loves to help out and volunteer. He loves Harry Potter and electric cars and he doesn’t like when his plate is wet or when I take his photo. When he doesn’t get his way, he whines and carries on. Sometimes he wants to be a big kid and begs to sit in the front seat of the car and other times he wants to be held like a baby.



Simon will be 7.5 tomorrow. As the baby of the family, Simon aims to please. He loves to pose for pictures and help out. He shares interests with other members of the family so that he has something to bond over with each of us. He isn’t quite old enough to entertain himself for long periods of time and he loves playing with others. He still wants me to read to him every night at bedtime. He loves dogs and younger kids. He always makes us laugh with his silly spirit!

Find more "Meet My Loves" stories here...

Sarah | Johannah | Whitney | Stephanie
Sarah | Dara | Heather | Beth

I hope you enjoyed learning about my loves here today!


10 Everyday Memories With My Husband

Monday, February 12, 2018


This month’s topic for 10 on the 10th with Perfectly Port is 10 Memories With Your Spouse. Now, in the past I have written 12 Things I Love About My Husband, which also included photos of us through the years, and a list of 22 things we have done together or been through together.  I think most of our big memories are already shared in those posts! So I thought should I elaborate on some of those memories? Share things that I remember that are smaller things that I may not have mentioned before?

Then, I came across this article on 10 Ideas for Making Memories with Your Spouse. The point of the article is true – we have our daily routines where we get up each morning, take care of the kids, go to work, come home, etc., and every day is the same. How do we make memories in our daily lives? The article goes on to provide 10 ideas for making memories on a daily basis. Following that list, here are some of our memories created out of our every day lives.

1. Every day since May, although not now that it’s been too cold, we have been taking nightly walks together. Some of these walks are more memorable than others, such as when we saw a raccoon, or the times it has started to rain, but just as a daily activity it connects us, both to each other and to the kids when they come along. Gabbie has gone from refusing to walk with us to really wanting to go every evening!

2. I have mentioned a few times that Dave is the cook in our house. Many of the times I post recipes here he is the one who has made them, especially the barbecued ones! Hanging out with him while he cooks so that I can take photos for my blog creates memories that we normally would miss out on.

Beer Can Chicken

3. Sharing meals together out of the house is something we try to do every so often, especially when we are in NJ or Florida and there are so many kosher restaurants we can go to. I have fond memories of the times we have gotten food in NJ and brought it to a local park to eat picnic style. This past summer, we did this while only Simon was with us, so we created a memory with him as well.

4. As you know, we travel a lot. This past summer we had an epic road trip to NJ and back, and more recently we road tripped to Arkansas. Dave is the driver in our family! We have so many memories of the places we’ve visited on these trips as well as of the hotels we’ve stayed in along the way! While road tripping may not be an every day activity, getting out and visiting nearby towns on the weekends is always fun too.

5. We actually have not gone camping as a family, but I always have said I’d like to! I do have happy memories of camping out in Israel while Dave and I were studying abroad in college. We camped with our fellow students a few times, and Dave and I camped by the Dead Sea one night as well. Dave said he couldn’t sleep though because he was worried about the other people camping nearby!

6. Also in Israel, we biked 30 miles around the Sea of Galilee with a few friends of ours. I complained the entire time! It was not easy! Now though, our whole family have bikes and we enjoyed going on family bike rides this summer. Hopefully when it warms up again we will continue to do so!


7. Dave talks about how he hasn’t been to a movie in years! The most recent time he remembers going to a movie was when he took the boys to the Lego Movie. I often take the kids to movies and Dave doesn’t come. Awhile back when we lived in NJ, we did go to a drive-in theater together. Going to a drive-in is something I’d like my kids to experience, if only they would play the kids movies on the earlier shows and not the 11 pm ones!

8. For #8, the site suggests making home-made ice cream. I actually did this with the kids this summer, but never with Dave. Also, this seems similar to #2, cooking together. Here’s another idea – have a book discussion! Dave likes to read the books that I finish and feel he would like. Sometimes we actually talk about the books we’ve both read and enjoyed.

9. On our anniversary, Gabbie took photos for us. We love taking photo booth photos too. Taking photos helps us remember the memories we have made!


10. Being a part of a community provides us with a lot of opportunities for memories as well. We generally attend synagogue services every week and there are often other events happening as well, such as the annual dinner we recently attended. We participate in volunteer activities for the community with the kids and it is always nice when we are both involved in programs together.

As you can see, every couple has their big memories like how they got engaged or their best vacation together, but little things can create memories too! What are your ideas for creating every day memories?


10 on the 10th link-up-2

What I’ve Been Reading #168–Sisters Like Us

Friday, February 9, 2018


qI received a copy of Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. This is officially the first book I finished in 2018! Sisters Like Us is a Mischief Bay novel. I had previously read another Mischief Bay novel but I don’t think any of the characters overlapped. I think the common thread of the books is the location. This book is about sisters, and also mothers and daughters. The book is told from the view points of sisters Harper and Stacey, as well as of Harper’s daughter, Becca.

“Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she's scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies. Spending half her life in school hasn't prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.
Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings.”

Harper and Stacey struggle with living up to their mother’s standards for them. Harper has her own business, which is successful and keeps her very busy. Still, she knows her mother expects her to decorate for each season and holiday and she does so to avoid an argument. Stacey is a doctor, having always been into science over creativity. She is pregnant but she is overly concerned that she won’t be a good mom – she didn’t have a very good role model after all. She is also nervous to even tell her mother she is pregnant. Sure enough, when the news comes out, Bunny is upset at everyone for keeping her in the dark.

Becca is a typical teenager struggling with losing her friend who has recently moved. When Stacey’s husband’s nephew moves in with them, Becca becomes close with him and they have a sweet relationship. Also, a great-aunt leaves Becca three Doberman pinchers! Stacey adopts one and Harper’s friend Lucas adopts one, while Becca keeps one herself. I just love the descriptions of the dogs and how loyal they were to their humans. I also loved that Becca was able to find a new hobby when she signed her dog up for agility lessons. Becca doesn’t have a close relationship with her father, but she finds a father figure in Lucas, who becomes important to the rest of the family as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the various relationships in this book, as well as the relatable characters and story lines.

What have you been reading lately?


5 Helpful Parenting Tips

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Parenting is not easy, but good parenting is even harder. It’s the hardest job you will have as an adult. But, at the same time, it’s also one of the most rewarding. That said, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Many people place such unrealistically high standards for themselves in this regard. The best that you can do is to ensure that your kids are healthy, loved, and well rounded.

But how can you do this? How do you raise great kids without completely messing it up and sentencing them to years of therapy? There’s no easy answer to this. Focusing on making your kids happy isn’t the right move since happiness is so fleeting. Instead, the best thing you can do as a parent is to equip your children with the tools to experience and handle negative emotions.

The real question you should be asking is how to raise successful kids with a strong sense of self-worth. You can find plenty of great tips for this at Cynical Parent. That said, here are 5 of the top ones to get you started:

1. Lead by Example

Research has shown that parents are the biggest influence on their children’s moral and emotional development. That’s because kids observe and listen to everything you do. We’ve all experienced kids listening in to the grownups talking, only to repeat the conversation verbatim at the most inappropriate time.

So your first goal should be to lead by example. Be the best person that you can be so that your kids have the best role model to emulate. Show strong examples of integrity and empathy too. This will affect what kind of person your child will be. It will define how they communicate their feelings and treat others – traits that will be vital to their future success.

2. Make Them Feel Loved and Valued

Good parenting means being warm, attentive, and patient with your kids. It’s important to show them that you appreciate what makes them unique and give them a safe support structure to express that personality.

Often times, many parents implement the “my way or the highway” system of doing things in the home. This might be appropriate for some things, but shouldn’t be used to stifle your child’s opinions or viewpoint. After all, a child that feels loved and valued is one who feels that their parents acknowledge, understand, and respect them.

3. Allow Success and Failure

When your kid does something well, praise them and not the achievement. Complimenting their effort in learning a new skill is a great way to build their self-esteem. It will give them the motivation to know that they can achieve anything as long as they put their mind to it.

But it’s also important to let your child fail. Making mistakes and feeling disappointment will make them a stronger person. It gives them the chance to face problems, find creative solutions, and learn how to take calculated risks. Ultimately, these traits will help them succeed later in life.

4. Encourage Creative Play

Play is vital to your child’s healthy brain development. When they are young, kids learn best through creative and meaningful play experiences. So focus on activities that encourage creativity, communication, and problem-solving. Believe it or not, such play will also help improve your child’s motor and emotional development.

5. Focus on Physical Health

As a parent, one of your main jobs is to ensure that your kids are healthy. That means you have to promote good nutrition and physical activity. This will form a strong basis for continuing a healthy status even later in life.

Thank you to the writer for this article!


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art


Over Martin Luther King Day, we took a mini trip to Bentonville, Arkansas. Three hours south of us, Bentonville is known because it is the birthplace of Walmart. There is a Walmart Museum, an art museum, and a hands-on science museum, all of which we visited. We went to the museum when we first arrived in town, and we all really enjoyed it and want to go back! There is an outdoor art trail which we walked on a bit, but would be best to visit in warmer weather. Best of all, it is free to visit!

Stainless steel tree, title: Yield.

Large spider, title: Maman. There are “eggs” inside the spider’s abdomen!

We headed inside first, with more outdoor exploration later!


Wednesday, February 7, 2018


It’s February everyone! Does that mean it’s almost spring? Today I’m  linking up with Anne In Residence for her Currently link up. February’s prompt words are: finishing, subscribing, wishlisting, watching, and hearting.


I mentioned a few times the knitting project I was working on for my new baby nephew. He arrived on 1/26 and I met him on 2/2. I finished the Kermit blanket I was knitting sometime in between those two dates! I taught myself double sided knitting so that the back is reverse of the front, there are no strands showing where I switched colors, and the squares are double thick. I really liked how the squares came out, but I was not as pleased with my attempt to attach the squares together and the borders I added! However, I think my sister-in-law and brother really liked the blanket in general!



I’ve been “meeting” some new bloggers through various link-ups and I’ve subscribed to some of their blogs via bloglovin’. This helps me remember to read their new posts! Here’s a hint for those of you who are new to my blog: My commenting system is through disqus. If you go to your disqus profile, you can edit and add your blog url to it so that when you comment here, I can visit you back!


Since I’m working on my photography this year, I’m interested in adding a few more things to my collection. I recently purchased a tripod! I’m also thinking of getting a crystal ball to take photos through and a set of magnifying lenses to take macro photos with.


I also tend to live in this one soft hoodie I bought in San Diego and I would love more similar pieces! Maybe one of those double hooded hoodies or a Sherpa lined hoodie?


This Is Us – Best Show on TV. I felt a little let down by the Superbowl episode. I guess because there wasn’t all that much newly revealed in it. The acting was amazing though!

The Good Doctor – I love Shaun, he cracks me up when he says exactly what he’s thinking.

Chicago Shows – I watch all 3 but I’m a little bored by Chicago P.D. at the moment!

Criminal Minds – I’m all caught up and will continue to watch weekly!

The Fosters – I really like this show and how it addresses current newsworthy things. It’s ending this season, but there will be a spin-off featuring Callie and Mariana!

9-1-1 – I just started watching this one and I’m liking it so far. I mean Tami Taylor and Adam Braverman in one show? Awesome.

Grey’s Anatomy – I really need to quit this show. Last week’s episode was so annoyingly preachy with Miranda going off on how women are treated differently than men, blah blah, yeah we know!


I’m probably going to post these photos in a separate blog post when I get to it, because there are a lot and I love them all! But this weekend I fell in love with my new baby nephew! (His big sister is quite adorable too.)


Now tell me something you are currently doing!