Category Archives: Shop

LOLA New York – Now Open in Tuckahoe

LOLA New York – Now Open in Tuckahoe

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I’ve been shopping at LOLA for years.   It began as a private in-home boutique where friends could shop by appointment only.   Denise sourced the trendiest fashion items, mostly bags and jewelry/accessories.   It was a unique experience to shop this way but there were bigger plans in mind for LOLA.    Denise brought on her fashionista/BFF/business partner Dawn, who brings her own background of fashion, retail and merchandising.    Together, the two opened up LOLA New York in White Plains and last week, their second location LOLA New York in Tuckahoe, just opposite the Crestwood Train Station.

Both locations carry unique brands;  Some local and some national.  Each piece has a story, which Dawn and Denise will tell you while you shop.  Things like:  “Those pretty note cards your holding were created by a local artist who just got picked up by Nordstrom.”  (and she did!) 

“These S’well bottles are going to be the next big craze.” (They were right!)

While shopping at LOLA you’ll find what’s “in” for this season and you’ll actually be ahead of the curve, being the first to have the next big thing.  Those cool ripped jeans that everyone is wearing, they’ve had them since last season.  Long tassel necklaces, they had them before most stores carried them.   Anything that I buy there seems to catch on….It’s like they have a magic crystal ball and the inside scoop on fashion season after season.

So proud of Dawn and Denise as they opened their 2nd location in Tuckahoe.  Grand Opening Party was last Thursday!

“LOLA New York is inspired by today’s modern woman, she likes nice things and wears what she’s got with confidence. Dawn and Denise met 10 years ago at a kindergarten roundup for their boys and have grown their friendship with a bond so close they were able to turn their dreams into a successful business. Their love of fashion and savvy business sense has worked hand in hand to get them to where they are today. With five kids between them and supportive men in their lives, LOLA New York was born. With two locations in the lower Westchester area, they are dedicated to offering their clients the very best of what fashion has to offer. The brands you find are hand picked and wonderfully curated for that perfect look. Their taste is undeniable, the boutiques offer the prettiest of accessories along with classic and trendy pieces to make you look and feel your very best.”

Eyelash Extension – My Beauty Treatment Obsession

Eyelash Extension – My Beauty Treatment Obsession

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I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to my make-up regiment.  Especially in the summer months.  In fact, other than a tinted moisturizer, powder and lip gloss my make-up bag is quite small and I usually have my “face” on within 5 minutes in the morning. However, that wasn’t always the case as I would spend a lot of time on my eyes and was constantly on the search for the perfect mascara.  The goal was to make my eyes pop without looking like I was trying too hard.

I’ve tried many products over the years, whether purchased from a department store or drugstore, even trying mascara primers and so-called eyelash growth products, however as a Korean-American my almond shaped eyes would eventually have smudges on the top and/or bottom lids within a few hours of any make-up application and my eyelashes never really looked long but rather clumpy and not very attractive.

I’ve heard about eyelash extensions and I was always tempted to try the procedure but was too scared.  That was until an aesthetician whom I trusted convinced me to try them out.  WOW!  What a difference.  I can’t believe that I had been missing out on this AMAZING beauty service and am now OBSESSED!

When I first started going for regular eyelash extensions there were not that many places in Westchester offering this service.  Now women have many choices.  Though, my favorite place by far is Peony Nail & Day Spa in Scarsdale which I’ve trusted my lashes to for almost 2-years. Fundamentally, this place is a nail salon, however in the back rooms they have ladies who apply eyelashes all-day every day.  My absolute favorite aspect of Peony’s is that while my extensions are being placed on my eyelashes I can have a gel manicure and/or pedicure at the same time – who doesn’t love mutli-tasking and saving time?.  The women are extremely professional and are so good at what they do that I’ve actually fallen asleep many times.  I wake up 60 minutes later not only refreshed from a power nap, but with an amazing set of long, naturally looking eyelashes and a fresh gel manicure.

For those that are still nervous or want to learn more, Huffington Post published a great blog called, “Lash Extensions:  Tips You Need To Know Before Heading To The Salon”.  The article was published a few years ago, however the information is still relevant.

Peony’s is becoming very popular so I would suggest calling to make an appointment.  Normally, they can squeeze you in the same day if you call in the morning.  Give yourself at least 90 minutes for the first set and around 60 minutes for touch-ups after.

Peony Nail & Day Spa – 862 Scarsdale Avenue – Scarsdale, NY 914-472-2230

Top Picks for the Perfect Guy Gift

Top Picks for the Perfect Guy Gift

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Father’s Day is just around the corner and as Korben and I finished our shopping last weekend, I thought I would share my top picks that any guy would love to receive….whether it’s Father’s Day, Birthday or Graduation across all price spectrums.

#1 Timeless & Classic Gifts ($$$)

Can’t go wrong giving a quality classic gift that will last YEARS.  My picks would be the TUMI backpacks, messenger bags or travel kits, wallets and writing accessories from Mont Blanc.

#2 Gift Certificate for Personal Services or Personal Trainer ($$)

Esthetician or Massage Therapy from the Steiner Sisters located at 6 Palmer Avenue in Scarsdale.  Call or text 914-924-7744 to book an appointment with Julianne Steiner for facials and call or text 914-924-7744 to book a massage from Jessica Steiner.  For further detail check out our “Westchester Woman Wednesday” Blog Post.  Purchase a session with a Personal Trainer or Private Pro Lessons (improving one’s game of choice – squash, golf, tennis, etc.).

#3 Bespoke Subscription Box ($)

Why do men have to miss out on the subscription box trend?  Try out BESPOKE which offers a single box for $55.

Westchester Woman Wednesday: Meet Cristin Grogan

Westchester Woman Wednesday: Meet Cristin Grogan

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This month’s Westchester Woman Wednesday is Cristin Grogan.  Among other things, Cristin is the founder and creator of DeskGlam, a subscription box that launched just over a month ago.   And she calls Westchester home.  In fact, she’s a White Plains native, born and raised in the county, attending White Plains High School and currently residing in Scarsdale.

Shawna and I have known Cristin since we launched our blog about 4 years ago.  At the time, she was working as a social media strategist and what struck us when we first met her was how modest she was.   She’s well-educated, uber professional, hard working and quite a fashionista.   In addition to holding a full-time job, she had some part-time ventures of her own, balancing a relationship with her wonderful boyfriend Rob and being “big sister” to her equally adorable younger sisters.

Fast forward and Cristin is still doing great things, which is not at all surprising to us.   Her newest venture DeskGlam is where all of her skill sets come together.  Put together her web design and marketing brain, her communication skills, her creative/artistic brain, her aesthetic and her overall need for “all things pretty” and DeskGlam was born.    (   For Cristin, it’s a labor of love and she’s utilizing all of her strengths.   The first of it’s kind (that we know of) DeskGlam delivers pretty desk and office supplies to subscribers each month.   She supports a lot of independent creative-preneurs (new word for me) and gives them a platform to introduce their products to consumers.  She sources items to share each month and each item has a story.   In her June box, she has a handmade notebook all the way from France– The designer?  She found her on Etsy and they spoke via webcam!

At the end of the day, Cristin is a normal twenty-something.   She enjoys going out to local favorites such as Emma’s in White Plains, Pastina’s in Hartsdale and The Beehive in Armonk.   She loves beauty supply stores and scoring a bargain at Nordstrom Rack.  For fun, she takes classes at pure barre in Greenwich or goes out for a hike.   It will be interesting to see DeskGlam take off in the upcoming months, knowing it all started as one woman’s great idea, right here in Westchester.

Protect Yourself & Your Family from Cyber Attacks

Protect Yourself & Your Family from Cyber Attacks

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The RANSOMWARE cyber attack called WANNNACRY that affected business in nearly 100 countries over the weekend is a wake up call for all of us to protect ourselves so that we don’t become victims of this latest trend of hackers.

What is RansomWare?  Ransomware as defined by Wikipedia, “is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.”

What to do to prevent being a victim?

  1. BACK-UP:  Invest in an external hard-drive and get into the habit of backing up your important files (documents, pictures, etc) on a regular basis.  There are numerous options that one can purchase at Best Buy and Staple for as little as $59.
  2. DONT’T CLICK:  Don’t click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails.  This is the most common way that hackers gain access to your computers.
  3. PROTECT:  Keep your operating system and software updated and protect yourself, your home network and devices with the latest antivirus software.

Fortunately as a Verizon FIOS customer I have access to their Verizon Internet Security Suite of services.  I don’t have to be an IT Security Specialist or Computer Tech to know that I’m doing everything I can to protect my family’s digital life from hacker for less than two Venti Caramel Macchiatos (my favorite drink at Starbucks at the moment).

There are a few different options for customers who can chose to bundle or order service a la carte.  At a minimum, I would recommend their Security Suite Multi-Device Plan which offers antivirus protection on all your devices for as little as $6.99 /month.

Digital Security Pro is Verizon’s more comprehensive security service that combines device-based security, identity theft protection and advanced parental controls for $10.00 /month.

For more information about keeping you and your family safe online, bookmark the below sites and check back frequently…

Verizon Tips: Learn how Verizon is keeping you safe online

Online Safety – Verizon Communications Online Safety – National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)

DeskGlam is #PrettyProductivity

DeskGlam is #PrettyProductivity

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DeskGlam is a wonderful new monthly subscription box service that just launched and Emma Westchester was lucky enough to receive one of their May boxes before they SOLD OUT.  Sign up to get on their waiting list for next month’s subscription boxes.  When you are ready to place your order make sure you use “DESKGLAMVIP” at checkout to receive a special 10% discount as an Emma Westchester reader.


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Mamaroneck’s Food Truck Makers & Market –  April 30th

Mamaroneck’s Food Truck Makers & Market – April 30th

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Kicking off Small Business Week, join the Village of Mamaroneck in bringing together an eclectic mix of local food, artists & artisans in the Industrial Area of Mamaroneck, NY with special highlight on the area’s small businesses.

Sunday, April 30, 2017
(Rain Date To Be Announced)
Noon – 5PM
Mamaroneck, NY
Location Fayette Avenue between Fenimore Rd & Ogden Ave., near the Mamaroneck MetroNorth Station (Entrance Between Majestic Kitchens & Bath & Vincent Service Station, Inc. (Mamaroneck, NY)

The Bott Shoppe – Art Gallery & Gift Store (Mamaroneck, NY)
Chatsworth Antiques & Consignments LLC Lounge (Mamaroneck, NY)
MADE: my art + design experience (Mamaroneck, NY)
Bullseye Glass Resource Center New York (Mamaroneck, NY)
Breadcrumbs Mag (New Rochelle, NY)
Mamaroneck Self Storage (Mamaroneck, NY)
Chocolations (Mamaroneck, NY)

School of Rock Mamaroneck (Mamaroneck, NY)
Artistree Performing Arts (Mamaroneck, NY)

Walter’s Hot Dogs (Mamaroneck, NY)
Longford’s Own-Made Ice Cream – Rye, NY
Boxcar Cantina – TexMex (Greenwich, CT)
HAPA Food Truck – Asian Fusion / Vegeterian (Stamford, CT)
The Souvlaki Truck – Greek (Yonkers, NY)
Dough Girls – Fire Oven Pizza (Greenwich, CT)

Mesh Print Studio – Mobile Print Station (Mamaroneck/New Rochelle, NY)
A Party With A Plan – Glitter Tattoos & Face Painting (Hartsdale, NY)
Henna Tattoo by Naty (Queens) – Henna art
Yard Games & More!

GK Designs Jewelry – Handstamped Metal & Crystal Crfeations (New Rochelle, NY)
Soapz Unlimited – Handmade Soaps (Yorktown Heights, NY)
Three Peas Jewelry – Upcycled Accessories (White Plains, NY)
Cynthia Wyffels – Handkit & Adorned Accessories (New Rochelle)
Yapa Artisanal Collections, LLC – Charity Collective (White Plains)
Spook Bunny Deliriums – Art Prints (Dobbs Ferry)
Hillary Short Photography (Rye, NY)
Dennis Dempsey Illustration – Paintings & Prints (Mamaroneck/New Rochelle, NY)
Half Pak designs – Bow Ties for Men & Kids (Rye, NY)
Grass & Clovers _ Upcycled Home Goods & Clothing (Hartsdale, NY)
Dennis Cucinella – Handmade wooden bowls and furtniture (Mamaroneck, NY)
Arts ThreeSixty – Laser Etched Products (NYC)
Jewelry from Washingtonville Housing Alliance‘s Women’s Artisan Collective (Mamaroneck, NY)

Community Resource Center (Mamaroneck, NY)
LMCTV Public Access Television (Larchmont/Mamaroneck, NY)
Relay for Life of Mamaroneck/Larchmont
American Cancer Society – Relay For Life
Village of Mamaroneck Committee for the Environment
Save the Sound (Mamaroneck, NY)
Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute (Irvington, NY)
YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network (Mamaroneck, NY)
Artisan NR (New Rochelle, NY)
Mamaroneck High School Impressions Magazine

MetroNorth Mamaroneck station, walk, skate, bike.

Limited parking. Check signs for EVENT PARKING, street parking also available in the area including at MetroNorth station. Please check the signs to avoid a ticket.


Our line up is set but if you want to be a considered a vendor for future events? Submit your info on the vendor form here:

Village of Mamaroneck, New York
Village of Mamaroneck, New York – Mayor Norman S. Rosenblum News
— Village of Mamaroneck Industrial Area Steering Committee
Village of Mamaroneck Recreation Department
Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce
Village of Mamaroneck Arts Council
CityBurb Magazine

Spring Styles by cooper & ella

Spring Styles by cooper & ella

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This weather has me wanting to ditch my winter coat and go shopping for spring-  I’ve discovered this brand and decided to share.   Can be found online or in Bloomingdales, Saks and Nordstrom.   Recently too on Amazon!    It’s called cooper & ella and super cute.  Check it out. 

Teacher Appreciation Day Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Day Ideas

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Teacher Appreciation Day is one of my favorite days of the year.   There’s no one I appreciate more than my kids’ teachers.  Having spent 11 years in the classroom, I know that teachers do not need this day to feel appreciated, because most feel appreciated every day in the work they do with their kids.  The simple gestures and interactions are the rewards that parents will never even know took place.  But, I like this day because it’s an opportunity for kids to see others show their teachers just how much they are respected and it gives teachers a special day for themselves.

This year, it falls on Tuesday, May 9th, during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8-12.  Some schools choose to observe the week, the day or not at all.   In some places, PTA’s will organize breakfast or lunch for their entire staff.   I’m lucky to live in a district where families find it to be a meaningful day.  Over the years, I have seen posts/comments where someone comments that they didn’t know this day even existed.  This is why I wanted to get this post out there early, so you can think of fun ways to celebrate the teachers in your kids’ lives.

NATIONAL TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY – Tuesday of the first full week in May

Over the years, I’ve come up with different ideas and projects.  Some years, I was the class mom, and chose to organize a group gift from the class.  Our PTA stresses that the gift should be thoughtful and meaningful and the cost should be minimal.   On years that I was not the class mom, I chose to do small things each day during teacher appreciation week, sending in a small, $5 or less item each day of the week….Monday, nice fine tip markers…..Tuesday, post it notes…..Wednesday, a $5 Starbucks gift card…..etc.

Two of my favorite ideas though, were when I involved the class.   When my daughter was in kindergarten, I sent out this email to the parents of her classmates:

Dear Parents,

Next Wednesday, 4/25 is the day that ABC School PTA has decided to celebrate their teachers, by having a Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.  

While the teachers will enjoy this day with their colleagues, we felt that it would be nice to involve the children in this celebration.   Having the children participate and be involved in this day, helps them to understand the meaning of the word “appreciation.”   Our children learn this by the example that we, as parents, model for them.

With that said, we are asking all of the children to do the following:

  1.   Select an 8×10 sheet of paper of any type. (Printer or construction paper.  Color of their choice.)
  2.   Using the letter that they are assigned (see below) they will make a block letter on their paper.   The paper will be in the portrait/vertical position.  The block letter will be capitalized and will fill the paper.
  3.   The children will color in their letter or decorate their letter in any way they choose: with stripes, with polka dots, in a solid color, with collaging materials, elbow macaroni, etc.  It is their choice.   
  4. Children will bring this paper/letter to school on Wednesday 4/25 (not in their folder, but loose in their backpack.)  Teachers collect the folders as part of their their morning procedures.   This is a surprise! 
  5. At 11am, upon returning from library the children will get their letters out of their backpack and line up in the following order (see below) and it will spell out the message:  Happy Teacher Appreciation Day.    It will appear bright and colorful and the children will love surprising their teachers!  🙂 

I know….this sounds like a LOT of work but amazing when the kids pulled it off.  I assigned each kid in the class a letter starting with H, then A, then P….and so on.   I arranged for the teacher to let me come in at 11am that day so I could give her the gift from the class.   They pulled it off perfectly.  I’d share the pic of each child holding up their letter, but for privacy reasons, I won’t.   The teacher loved it so much that she hung it up in the hallway outside the classroom.








Another year, I sent an email out to the parents asking them to look at the sample Wordle (or word cloud) that my Girl Scouts had made for me.  I asked each parent to simply reply to the email with three words that described their teacher.   I made her a Wordle, framed it and found a printer paper that served as an iron on and ironed it onto a tee shirt for her.    The cute thing about the wordle is that the words that are used most often are larger than the others.  By looking at this Wordle, it shows how many kids called her kind, fun, smart, helpful, etc.    Once finished you can change the font, the color, the size, etc.   I picked colors that I thought she would like.   This one took less time and planning and was managed from my computer.   When they gave her the shirt, I had them sign the back of the shirt with fabric markers.





You can follow this link to use WordItOut to make a word cloud:

Word cloud made with WordItOut

Other Gift Ideas: 

Teacher Appreciation Gift Printable Free

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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I met this vendor at two different holiday events; one in Westchester and one in Greenwich.  I was shocked that these “mommy necklaces” had not taken off in Westchester.   Another vendor in the area sells them too.  I purchased a necklace from each of them and the quality was very different.   I would never name the other vendor, in fairness to them, but I will tell you that Alix Fray Jewelry was the better of the two, by far.

Besides these necklaces, the have an entire line of amazing gift items for moms, graduates, grandmothers, sisters and any female on your list for any occasion.    You can visit her site for pricing and ordering information.  Initial necklaces, leather clutches, mommy necklaces and bracelets and more!    I’m posting this now so you can place your order in time for Mother’s Day delivery.    Happy Shopping.

10 Things To Do in April

10 Things To Do in April

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We don’t keep a calendar of events.   We considered it and realized that every other site has one and that’s where people go for “things to do.”  However, the other sites usually list things for the kids– Not the moms.  So we’ve decided to publish things for the moms to do, alone or with kids.  Each month, we get so many requests to post events, so here’s your “end of the month” blog post: 10 things you might want to do in April.

  1.  Shop the Booked Marketplace Pop-Up on 4/20.  Its being held at LIFE The Place to Be in Ardsley.  Guest will enjoy a unique shopping experience, lite bites, mini-massages and more.   Tickets are $20 per shopper and can be purchased via this link.

2. Visit the Pleasantville Farmer’s Market.

It’s now outdoors, on Saturdays starting April 1st from 8:30am to 1pm.

56 vendors will provide the community with the highest quality regionally grown foods including seasonal vegetables (with 3 Certified Organic producers), humanely raised meat, fresh fruit and berries, prepared foods created with ingredients from regional farms, allergen-free baked goods, flowers, wine, and many other offerings.

Responding to shoppers’ requests, the Market is adding a hot breakfast and a new lunch option this summer, to complement the popular Aba’s Falafel. The Pleasantville Farmers Market attracts an average of over 3000 visitors every Saturday and has become a major regional destination. “Our research shows shoppers come from all over the county for the quality and diversity of vendors present at the Market, as well as the engaging weekly Culinary, Kids and Music programming held throughout the season,” says Steven Bates, Executive Director of Market Operations, Foodchester, Inc, the non-profit operator of the Pleasantville Farmers Market. “Another draw is that the Market is in the center of a walkable Village, close to restaurants, shops and the Burns theater.”   The location is at Memorial Plaza, right at the Pleasantville Train Station.  For more info, visit

3.  Enjoy a Jazz Brunch!   

Starting Sunday April 2nd at East End in Greenwich and Mediterraneo in Norwalk.  So very NYC, finally out here in the suburbs!  (Remember the GIRLS episode where they went to the jazz brunch?  I think Marnie was singing, if I remember it correctly…. )  After watching LaLa Land last week, I am more interested in checking this out.    Menus and pics below.

Guests will enjoy bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and $1 oysters. Live Jazz music will entertain guests every Sunday in April between 12:00-4:00pm. Artists’ featured will include up-and-coming New York City Jazz musicians Margi Gianquinto and Albert Rivera. Reservations are suggested especially for large parties of 8 or more. To make reservations you may call: (203) 229-0000     

4.  Take a Calligraphy Class

Classes are on April 8th and May 6th.    I took this class a few weeks ago and loved it.    By no means am I a calligraphy master but my Crayola Markers are being taken a lot more seriously since then.  Register here:

5.  Mindfulness Workshop at Yoga Haven in Scarsdale- 4/28, 4/29 and 4/30.

Mindfulness Matters Training Class for Parents

6.  Hudson Edit Spring Shopping Event-  4/21 and 4/22.

THE HUDSON EDIT offers Westchester a rotating selection of carefully curated pieces by exceptional designers.

Friday, April 21 10a-3p
Saturday, April 22 10a-3p

Celebrate Spring with food, wine, and fashion! Follow The Hudson Edit on Facebook for more information on our upcoming events.

The Hudson Edit is excited to partner with Meritage restaurant for our spring event! Come browse five incredible lines while enjoying selections from Meritage’s catering menu.   Free admission.


7.  Westchester Children’s Museum Private Playdate- 4/26

Explore the museum and enjoy a special storytime with local author and Scattered Books Bookstore owner, Laura Scott Schaefer. Books will be available for purchase if you’d like to have a copy signed!  Tickets MUST be purchased in advance. $6 per person.  Available by following this link:

8.  Visit One World Trade.

Beautifully written blog post from fifi + hop.   A great day trip for over the Spring Break.

One World Observatory: Complete Visitors Guide


9.   Meet Bill Nye the Science Guy at Barnes & Noble in Eastchester on 4/6.   Wristbands are for sale at 9am and the event is from 7pm to 9pm.  Wristbands guarantee entry for the evening event.  

10.  Book your ticket for Soul Camp on June 10th.

Yes, I am aware that this is not really an April event, but I’d buy now so as not to get sold out!   These events are usually on weekends, but for the first time they are on a single day in this area for NY and NJ folks.    A full day of a variety of healthy, wellness, outdoor activities.

For more info, visit or follow Soul Camp on Facebook, 



Nordstrom Rack’s Tech Finds

Nordstrom Rack’s Tech Finds

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The camera that all the tweens have. Polaroid-style, print your pics on the spot. $69.97, lots of colors. Originally around $99. My daughter and friends all love theirs.
This is the second one for our household. When I bought my/our first one, someone helped themselves to it– so now we have two. Great for keeping in your bag on a train ride, in the glove compartment, etc. Trick is to have it juiced up when you need it.
These are for Ellie…. Love these. Like clothespins with lights for her pics! No one prints pics, never mind framing them! This might encourage her to display some of her favorites in a cute way. 16 clips and mini lights on a clear cord.
Bought this without even know what it was! It’s a cable, for when you don’t have a white USB to phone cable? Does it connect your phone to your laptop? It’s a cute tassel or keychain….with a purpose!!!
Best selection of iPhone cases. Kate Spade and great styles. Way better than the Apple Store or the Verizon Store. And cheap, $14.97 or less. This one w the cupcakes was adorable. I liked the glittery ones!
For my desk. Loved this saying. My mouse pad is so old. It has pics from 2009 before my son was born in 2010. Time to update it to this one.
Guest Blogger:  Lauren Mascia

Guest Blogger: Lauren Mascia

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Guest Blogger: Lauren Mascia

Last month, I was looking at my March calendar and realized that I needed some new and fresh topics.  I needed guest bloggers.   People who would write about topics that women are interested in, related to eating, shopping and playing in and around Westchester.   There’s a lot of topics that I can’t write about myself, because I don’t know enough about them and I fear that I would misrepresent them.  I had a few responses (thank you Facebook) and one was from Lauren Mascia, a local mom, who volunteered to be my first guest blogger.   The rest of this post is in Lauren’s voice.  (Bold text off to differentiate.) 

My story is one many of you can most likely relate to.  I had a successful career in Buying and Planning with a large retailer.  I proposed a flextime scenario when I first became a mom.  At the time, I was turned down and told that they were worried it would set a precedent.  Forward many years and several unfulfilling part time gigs and a health issue; a commute and an office job would be difficult for me.  Beautycounter’s mission resonates with me and the products are incredible, so becoming part of the company was a no-brainer. 

I’m about to tell you something that you don’t want to hear.  But it’s really, really important.  The average American woman uses 12 products a day, which may contain cancer causing, endocrine disrupting chemicals.  This is what lead me to Beautycounter, a company who’s mission it is to get safer products into the hands of everyone by educating consumers and as a business, to support and help pass better public health protective laws. I was so impressed with the company’s efforts and products that I decided to become part of it.  We are on a mission. 

Beautycounter is doing all it can to get Congress to enact health protective laws in the beauty industry.  We are actively involved in discussions with our elected leaders in our country and in Canada.  I am excited and energized to be attending a meeting with Charles Schumer’s office next week. 

I will be at Athleta Scarsdale on Friday March 10th and I would love to meet you, and for you to see and sample our products.  You can you can also email me at and/or check out my website and hey, if this resonates with you I am always looking for passionate people to join my team.

To learn more about our health and skincare products, read on. We are a DISRUPTIVE brand.  Why? We are disruptive because our products are not only safer, they are high performing. Our sunscreen was on my radar before I joined the company.  For years I drove my kids crazy by not allowing them to use any of the widely available drugstore brands.

My reasoning for this is that most of these brands fall into 3 categories: 1) Chemical Sunscreens- like those with the ingredient Oxybenezone, they absorb through the skin and may disrupt the hormone system.  2)Nanoparticles- they’re extremely small molecules, one billionth of a meter and are often found in mineral sunscreens.  Although zinc or titanium nanoparticles do not easily penetrate the skin, they may cause lung damage if inhaled in spray sunscreens.  3)Retinyl Palmitate or Retinol- these forms of Vitamin A may speed the development of skin tumors when applied to sun-exposed skin.  So what to do? Look for non-nano mineral sunscreens such as those using non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  My problem was that a lot of these sunscreens I tried were hard to rub in and leave you looking white and chalky.  Not ours! Beautycounter sunscreen goes on easily and is sheer.  It smells yummy and it’s water resistant.  It’s even kid approved! You can choose from the All Over Sunscreen, the Protect Stick Face, The Protect Stick Body, (all SPF 30) and the Protect Lip Balm (SPF 15).  We also have a fantastic Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 that comes in 5 shades also an ALLURE Best Of Beauty Winner. 

  If you’re a new mom concerned about what products to use on delicate, vulnerable baby skin or you’re looking for a baby gift, look no further.  We have a full line of wash, oil (which can double as mom eye makeup remover or as a carrier for essential oils. I love multi-use products!), Balm (which can also be used for eczema, cracked heels, etc.), Rash Cream and a super functional diaper bag (which can double as a bag for the market, pool or beach, picnics, tennis, etc.)  All items are sold separately and in fabulous collections or sets.  VOGUE listed our products among their Favorite Baby Shower Gifts in 2016 and REAL SIMPLE voted us #1 Best Skincare Products for Babies in April 2016.

I could go on and on about all the transformative skincare, super mascara, fun lip-glosses, body and kids line but I know you don’t have all day so I’ll tell you about one more must have product that I’m addicted to.  Our Lip Conditioners.  Either Peppermint (peppermint & rosemary oil) or Calendula (calendula and chamomile oils-soothing, softening and anti-inflammatory).  They’re thick and nourishing without being sticky.  Get one for your car, nightstand, desk, bag, etc.

Hope to see you on Friday afternoon at the Emma Westchester Shopping Event.   I’ll be there from 4-6, available to answer questions, show you the line of products that Beautycounter has to offer. You can purchase, sign up for a hostess party of your own and if nothing else, learn about the steps women just like ourselves are taking to make products safer for all of us!

Custom Framing is Now Easier, More Accessible and Less Expensive

Custom Framing is Now Easier, More Accessible and Less Expensive

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Twitter has become my new Google.  It used to be that when I needed something, I went to good old Google, searched and found what I needed.  Now I go to Twitter, especially if I am looking for a business.  Twitter is a great way to interact with businesses and they respond to inquiries so quickly.

Years ago, my husband came home with this painting from an art store in Manhattan. He is not typically a gift giver; in fact, most gifts are ones that I buy for myself and let him know about once they are purchased. But this painting was in a store window on Madison Avenue and he went in and bought it for me. I asked why and he said, “Because this is my view every morning when you are getting ready for work.” Very sweet and thoughtful and typical of my husband.

As I have been redecorating my house in the past couple of months, I found this painting and remembered that I had intended to have it reframed after the original gold frame broke when we were moving in 2011. It has been on the top shelf of a cabinet ever since. The color scheme in my new family room is “shades of blue” and when I was looking for artwork, I remembered this piece and thought, this would be the perfect time to have it reframed! I went to Twitter…searched “frames” or “framing” and up popped Framebridge; a relatively new business, with a great site, a video on the steps in the process and I was sold.

Framebridge allows you to enter the dimensions of your print, select a frame and they mail you a postage paid box to send it to them, they frame it and return it to you framed, ready for hanging. My print was just under 8×10 and the cost was $79, postage and all included.

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When the postage paid box arrived, I was amazed at how easy it was. The same box (or tube) that is sent to you is what it is returned in.   They include the postage-paid label as well as instructions and everything down to the tape needed to reseal the box for shipping. I wrapped up my painting in the plastic, sealed the box and dropped in the UPS box less than a mile from my house. Now…I wait. I dropped the package in the box on Friday afternoon and I anxiously await the returned package to my front door.  🙂

If you have a digital photo that you would like to upload from your computer, there is also the option to “upload now” and send the print over that way.  They will print it out and frame it for you.  Does it get any easier??

As I think about the ease of this process, I recall many visits to local framing stores, even Michael’s where the frame material, colors and choices all come with a different price tag. The pricing is inflated and you feel like you’re saving a bundle with your 40% off framing coupon. Most items that I have had framed over the years have cost between $150-$400 for the framing once I was finished.  I love the upfront pricing.

I am looking forward to the return of my beautiful artwork and displaying it on the shelf in my new family room. The real test is to see how long it takes my husband to notice….

Framebridge, Inc. was founded in 2014 by Susan Tynan, Framebridge aims to take away the cost and hassle of traditional custom framing – the upselling, the overwhelming selection of styles and the multiple trips to the store – by offering a limitedselection of frames, inspired by current interior design trends, online and through an iPhone app. For more information visit or follow Framebridge on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

This review is based on opinions of the reviewer.  Emma Westchester was provided with framing free of charge by Framebridge in exchange for an honest review.  No other type of compensation was received for this review.   

914PopUps Spring Fair: 3/19

914PopUps Spring Fair: 3/19

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Save the Date!

914PopUps created by Sarah Schaeffer-Roth and Melissa Tomlin launches with its

Spring Fair on Sunday, March 19

from 12-3 at

Koi Creative Space in White Plains.

Come discover vendors and workshops focused on wellness as we move into spring.

Spring fashion, health, beauty products, food, personal and home accessories as well as talks on nutrition and much more!

Here’s just a few of the vendors: Britten Couture Home ,Brushed Up, Coriander,

The Cookie Republic,  Drybar,  IBG Nutrition,

Eye Gallery, Faye and Florie, Ilyse’s Pieces, Jea Jea Sport, Lulu Roe, Mantana Jewelry,  

Pure Juice, Mo You, Smoke and Ore, Sup Om Yoga, Tarbay,The Twisted Branch,

Jolie Gotique, Rie and Ryn, Hosha, Vitawall and more……

Shop with #MomsLikeUs at Athleta Scarsdale on 3/10

Shop with #MomsLikeUs at Athleta Scarsdale on 3/10

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A couple of times a year, Emma Westchester and Athleta Scarsdale team up to bring out some #momslikesus for a Shopping Event.   It’s a nice way to get to meet some local women, who are starting businesses or working as independent consultants.  The common theme is that they are all wellness, health or fitness related.   Shoppers at Athleta are usually like-minded, in the fact that they like to know the latest trends in health and wellness.  Meeting these vendors enhances their shopping experience so Athleta welcomes guests like this to the store regularly.

While shopping for clothes for spin class, you might want to know that there are supplements that will give you increased energy, aiding your workout.  Lori Aliberti will be available to answer questions about Pruvit’s KetoOS products on March 10th.   She swears by them and recently gave her day job her 2 weeks notice to fully concentrate on this.

You might want to learn about a pilates studio that is set to open up in March.   Club Pilates owner Heather Rhyu will be taking reservations for free trials/demo classes during the month of March, before the official Grand Opening in April.   For more info about Club Pilates, follow this link:

Lauren Mascia, is a local BeautyCounter consultant.  I had honestly never researched this company too much, but Lauren has offered to share her products and her extensive knowledge of toxins in products and ingredients in a guest post next week.  She will be at the event with her products for shoppers to learn about.  I’m most interested in the sunscreen with the spring and summer months around the corner.

Shawna and I will be there, of course.   While we don’t have a product to sell, we just like the network of interesting women, sharing ideas, working together, supporting one another and of course shopping with our readers.  It’s always fun to connect in person, off the computer and we thank Athleta Scarsdale for giving us the venue for such an event.   Hope to see you there!

Luminoodle LED TV Backlight

Luminoodle LED TV Backlight

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What started out as the search for a “white elephant” gift for Erin’s holiday party last year, turned into an item that I didn’t know that I needed but now absolutely LOVE….it’s the Luminoodle LED TV Backlight.  An inexpensive (under $20) item, ordered online that Frank easily installed on all our TVs in our house.  Not only does it look cool, but it makes for a more enjoyable TV watching.

Below is an exerpt from article posted on How-To-Geek where you can learn more about Bias Lighting (TV backlighting) and why you should be using it.

There’s a good chance you’ve been watching television and working at your computer for years in a way that fatigues your eyes, increases your chance of headaches, and overall decreases your enjoyment and comfort.

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Why Screens Strain Our Eyes

When we watch television or use a computer work station in a completely dark or significantly darkened room we create a less-than-ideal viewing situation wherein our eyes are staring very intently at a small window of very bright light that is floating in a sea of darkness. Despite the fact that we accurately perceive the screen to be very bright in relationship to the rest of the scene our eyes take in, our eyes attempt to adjust based on the average brightness across the entire field of view and not the average brightness of the screen (or, conversely, the dimmer off-screen area). As a result our eyes become rapidly fatigued and with extended exposure we experience dry eyes, general discomfort, watery eyes, and even tension headaches radiating out from the temple area. In worst case scenarios with extended exposure some people experience ocular migraines, extreme headaches that result from intense eye strain.

How Bias Lights Relieve Strain

So how do we avoid our inevitable exposure to bright light in the form of TV viewing and workstation time frying our poor eyes? The key is to increase the general luminance in the room without introducing problems that arise from just indiscriminately flipping all the lights on.

In your typical living room/workspace you have ceiling lights, floor lamps, and table lamps, all of which are typically located either above (as in the case of ceiling lights) or located in front of the screen at roughly the same height as the viewer’s head like the table and floor lamp seen in the image above.

While turning on these lights while viewing the television does in fact mitigate the issue of the bright screen framed against a very dim room it introduces a whole new host of problems. Lighting that is to the side or behind the viewer projects light onto the viewing surface and decreases contrast, introduces glare and haze to the image, and creates its own kind of eyestrain as a result. It may not be as intense as the kind of eyestrain you get staring bleary eyed at a bright TV in the dark, but it’s eye strain nonetheless and it makes the picture look worse.

Bias lighting is the lighting that is placed behind the screen you are viewing such that it raises the ambient light levels in the viewing area without directly shining light toward the viewer nor shining light past the viewer toward the screen (where it could create reflections and other viewing problems). Because the light originates outside of the sightline of the viewer and is not in a direct path to reflect onto the screen, you get all the benefits of increased luminance in the room without the problems of glare or light shining directly from the source into your eyes.

The Additional Benefits of Bias Lighting

If you still need some convincing that extends beyond saving your poor eyes from fatigue, then consider the benefits of bias lighting beyond simply relieving your eyes. In addition to warding off eye fatigue there are two great benefits. First, the additional indirect lighting provided by the bias lighting increases the contrast of the on-screen image.  Eye fatigue reduction, better looking images, and a longer life for your monitor’s backlight? What’s not to love about bias lighting?

Sizing Up Sophie Kinsella in 10 Minutes

Sizing Up Sophie Kinsella in 10 Minutes

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When Random House asked me to promote the Sophie Kinsella event at Barnes and Noble last week, they offered me the opportunity to have a 10 minute interview with Sophie herself.  Since I had just come up with the idea for interviewing our favorite Westchester Women, I decided to use this method of questioning and get some experience with it by asking Sophie Kinsella (only a New York Times Bestselling Author) my questions about eating, shopping and playing. Since she’s from England, her answers are going to be very different so I thought, in 10 minutes, I will be able to get a sense of who she is, what she likes and place her in the part of Westchester, if she were ever to live here, that she belonged.

In my 10 minutes, based on my questions and her answers, I think Sophie Kinsella would be best suited for Bedford; although probably not full time.  She’d have a NYC address and a home in Bedford.  Schools would be tricky.  She has 5 kids and I get the sense that she would like community schools, so maybe her primary residence would be in one place or the other and she would go the private school route, regardless.   I see her living in a sprawling English Colonial, on at least an acre, with a game room, a tennis court and plenty of space for her family of 7.  (She has 4 sons and 1 daughter.) On weekends, I see her flying from Westchester Airport to Martha’s Vineyard rather than packing up the car for the Hamptons.

This type of home is what I see being Sophie’s style….in a town like Bedford.


Sophie didn’t hesitate when I asked her about her favorite place to eat.   It’s called The Wolseley and to use her lingo, it’s “quite posh.”   I did some research on The Wolseley and it seems like a high-class establishment, located right on Piccadilly. Sophie enjoys the all-day menu and by the photos on the website, it looks proper, complete with silver teapots and platters, served by waiters in crisp white cloth gloves. She enjoys cooking and recently started learning to make her own jam and meringues.  At the end of her many hours in the kitchen, she realizes there’s no meal, but she’s enjoyed learning to make some new things.  Overall, her cooking is “patchy.”  (direct quote)

WolseleyOutside WolseleyInside

I then asked her about where she likes to shop and commented on the beautiful dress she was wearing.  She said she bought it in the airport, where she power shops to and from cities on her book tours.  She likes airport shopping mainly because it’s the only time she has to herself to shop.  The dress was made by an Italian designer, Pinko and she was happy to have found it in her travels. I checked out their dresses and they are to die for.  She’s got an eye for style, for sure.  She’s happy to have an Anthropologie in London and finds herself buying things she didn’t know she needed (hence the Shopaholic series of yesteryear.  Deep down, I think she’s a closet compulsive shopper!)

PINKO412efaa539e8ffc8cb0613b5ff92f4a9 plogo_wplogo_wHer free time is spent with her family.  They love tennis and they’ve enjoyed ballroom dancing, trying many styles of dance, tango being “rubbish” (yes, she said that.)  Her kids like playing board games and watching a movie together at home.  She finds it hard to find something “suitable” for all kids to watch and I told her that Shawna had once posted an article on media/movie choices for all ages.  She asked if I’d share it with her. Common Sense Media might help her choose appropriate titles and she might enjoy knowing the themes in advance, as well as the age groups that will enjoy it.

What amazed me after talking with her is that she’s so British and has managed to grab the attention of so many American women over the years. In fact, 100 tickets were sold to this event on Tuesday night and most of the women (like myself) had been following her for almost 20 years.  I commented that many American women my age had been following her for years and remarked at her following.   When we began, we were single shopaholics, looking for the right man and most of us are now married women, like herself.   Her advice to #momslikeus is simple. “Enjoy your children.  Stop worrying that you’re doing something wrong.  They’ll be fine.” She remarked that in raising 5 kids, she’s learned over the years that worrying and stressing is not worth the headache. According to Sophie, “We’re all doing a fine job.”




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Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 10.01.57 PM.pnglaurieberg.valetines17




at Wyatt Lily Boutique

Friday, February 10, 2-6pm

1 Chase Road in Scarsdale


Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day!


Come in to shop our Lilies and Lace Trunk Show, be fitted for your bra and champagne! 


Socks With a Purpose

Socks With a Purpose

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My 11yr old son has no interest in fashion and could really care less about what he’s wearing, that is with the exception of socks.  Yep, I said it socks.  Korben has always had very specific opinions towards the socks that he wore.  They had to “feel” a certain way, and he would prefer stripes and patterns over plain white or black socks.  He’s outgrown his current collection and I was about to order more from BODEN which he has been wearing since he was a newborn, but have decided to try two new companies that I recently learned about, one from his school teacher and one from a fellow mom.

In Korben’s elementary school, his technology teacher encourages kids to express themselves on Fridays with what he calls “Crazy Sock Fridays”.  I asked Korben where this came from and he mentioned that there were two students from his elementary school that started a sock company called Balitello and then recently during a play-date one of Korben’s friends had some interesting looking socks that I asked his mom who introduced me to Bombas (thanks Gina C.)

Technology teacher received these socks in his July subscription box order. Thanks Mr R!!


The below brands not only have unique styles, fun colors and feel good on the feet, they are conscientious businesses… giving back to the homeless, making products in the USA and follow ethical trading practices and packaging using recyclable and renewable products sourced from sustainably managed forests.  Feel good and have fun with fashion while shopping for socks for your son, husband, father…or any man in your life.

GIVING BACK…Bombas “Derived from the Latin word for bumblebee.  Bees work together to make their hive a better place. They’re small, but their combined efforts have a big impact on the world.”

MADE IN THE USA…Balitello “We decided to listen to people and put an end to this travesty. Being quality made in the USA allowed us to work closely with our manufacturers, and create what is now coined the Performance Dress Socks™. We have eliminated all those complaints and then some! Our goal is to allow people to be stylishly-comfortable and more active in their day-to-day life.”

TOTALLY RANDOM:   The Eastchester Daily Voice posted an article about Balitello this week too!  Completely unplanned and coincidental….so had to share!

ETHICAL TRADING & RENEWABLE PACKAGING…Boden USA “Set of seven socks is bursting with bright colors and bold designs. Choose a different pair each day from a selection of sea creatures (plus a hippo), stars and stripes. Their sporty designs are cotton-rich, so toes will stay cosy.”

Balducci’s Rye Brook Location is Now Open

Balducci’s Rye Brook Location is Now Open

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Last month, we posted this article about Balducci’s in Scarsdale, with the news of their second Westchester store opening in Rye Brook. 

Well, Rye Brook’s location is open and it’s amazing!   Shawna and I checked out their Grand Opening last week and it was everything we expected it to be.  It was funny how each of us approached the sections, as we are two different types of moms.  Shawna’s the full-time working-mom who doesn’t like to cook but enjoys good food, usually from a restaurant.  Her refrigerator looks like mine when I’m emptying it out before a vacation.  Just the basics– milk, some store bought items, a few leftover containers and nothing but ice cream in the freezer.

I’m a mom who can cook and will cook, but I’m not above “hunting and gathering.” I go to 3 supermarkets each week to get my grocery shopping done– and that’s after a weekly home delivery of basics for things like paper products, cereals, water bottles, milk, eggs and snacks for the kids school lunches.  My cabinets are always overflowing and I throw away unused things that I didn’t get around to using in time.  My trips to Balducci’s are usually for high quality meats and vegetables and some prepared items for nights I have to go out and leave a nice meal in the refrigerator for my husband to heat up for himself.   This is usually something I wouldn’t prepare myself.  I’m not the type to make chili in the crock pot on a weekday.  I’d sooner buy it ready to go and reheat, get him a bag of blue chips and call it an easy dinner!

Between the two of us, we managed to find what we needed.  There’s pretty much everything from a hot bar, a deli, a cheese section, flowers, gifts, candy, prepared food items, a ramen noodle bar (yes!) a Mediterranean bar, salad bar, amazing bakery…..and more.    A grocery store with mini stores inside.  Make a coffee while you shop, or meet a friend for lunch and eat in the store.

Quick Gourmet Meals:  Easy meals don’t need to sacrifice on quality and taste. Simple Balducci’s recipes will have your family wanting more.  Complete RECIPES can be found ONLINE.

Alternatives to Pizza Night/Take Out:  Looking for a healthy alternative to family pizza night or take out?  Here are a sample of a recipe videos available from Balducci’s.





Westchester Woman Wednesday:  Meet Cassandra Caruso

Westchester Woman Wednesday: Meet Cassandra Caruso

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Last month, Shawna and I had one of our working breakfast meetings and we had a list of people we wanted to get together with in the new year.  Some that we have worked with for years, others we’ve met in the past couple of months.   “Let’s do lunch,” is an annoyingly overused (and grammatically improper) phrase. Sometimes, it’s even an insincere way to exit a conversation.  We really LIKE having lunch.  We like trying new places and finding ways to collaborate with others, so we decided to plan some lunches with our favorite Westchester women and feature them on our Westchester Wednesdays, today being the first one!

Cassandra was our natural first choice because she’s someone that meets our criteria for “favorite people.”   We love her work, we’ve both ordered her products and she’s truly one of the most humble people out there.



Because she’s a full-time working mother of two, lunch was hard for her.   So we decided to meet for coffee and catch up, see what she’s up to and ask her to be the first interviewee for this new project of ours.  Instead of a Q&A format, asking silly questions, we decided to stick to our three main topics (eating shopping and playing in Westchester) and see how goes.

Cassandra is a Silver Lake Girl.  This means that she’s from West Harrison, which is not White Plains nor Harrison.   West Harrison residents call themselves Silver Lakers.   She loves being from a community where everyone sticks together and shares the feeling of hometown pride.  Her first job was at an ice cream shop in town, Scoops. Cassandra’s now working as a graphic designer and has her side business Hello BeYouTeeFul where she designs and makes custom items of all types, from tee shirts to paper products for kids, brides, bachelorette parties and even my daughters Halloween costume this past year.  She takes an idea and turns it into a reality.

Ellie and her friend wanted to be “social media” for Halloween. She made these dresses and headbands so they could be “Instagram” and “Snapchat.”


Where does she like to eat, shop and play?   She likes cooking at home and loves her crock pot and a tiramisu from Martine’s in Scarsdale is her dessert of choice.  She loves H&M for jeans and her go-to outfit is a denim shirt, leggings, boots and a scarf.  Besides going shopping at Michael’s for paper products and craft inspiration, we learned that she visits the H&M location in the city because they have a home furnishing department (we had no idea).  As a 20-something, she enjoyed clubbing and dancing (we were shocked, due to her reserved demeanor) but fun in her 30s is up-cycling things she finds on Craigslist.   She loves spray painting the most and credits her dad who worked in an auto body, for this skill.   Here’s a before and after project of hers.

DIY Project– Upcycled table, spray painted.

Her work speaks for itself and there’s really nothing she can’t do.  You can find her online at

Tees she made for my daughter and I when we took a girls trip to San Diego
End of the year gift to my Girl Scouts. Peace Out Girl Scout on the front and their names on the back.
Party favors….for a fox themed party.
Yes. You can really order this! RHoWC
Mother and baby tees/onesies. Not exactly matching, but coordinating for moms who don’t want to be too matchy.


Siegel Bros. Marketplace Grand Opening Feb 2, 2017

Siegel Bros. Marketplace Grand Opening Feb 2, 2017

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Fourth Generation Family Owned and Operated Marketplace For How People Are Eating Today

January 17, 2017, Mt. Kisco, NY: Lots of activity has been seen through the window wrapped storefront of Siegel Bros. Marketplace this past week. Large refrigerator cases were stocked with domestic and imported charcuterie and wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Jarlsberg cheese. Prosciutto was hung from above and the guys could hardly contain themselves when they received grass fed beef from Ease Acres Farm in Berne, NY, pasture raised lamb and pork from Arcadian Pastures in Sloansville, NY, ready to be hand butchered and trimmed to order, and 100% all natural antibiotic hormone free chickens from Free Bird Poultry out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“The Guys” are brothers Doug, Jeremy, and Chef David Nevins, and butcher/fishmonger Don Meyers, the driving forces behind this fourth generation owned and operated specialty food market which picks up where Abram Siegel left off in 1912 when he first opened his kosher butcher shop in Woodbine, NJ. Adding to this family affair is Siegel Bros. co-owner and seasoned hospitality industry professional Ed Costa.

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Taking its cues from an era gone by, Siegel Bros. Marketplace embraces their real food mantra of providing humanely and sustainably raised animals that are grass and grain fed and raised without hormones or antibiotics, therefore providing their customers with the best tasting, most tender, and healthiest meat and poultry possible. These same practices are applied to the fish department; sustainably raised farmed products and seasonal fresh wild caught fish are sourced from the most reputable seafood suppliers from here and abroad, guaranteeing the best products in the market today are being offered. Customers can look forward to MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified sustainable options.

Siegel Bros. also features an expansive cheese counter and charcuterie selection featuring imported and domestic cheeses cut straight from the wheel, as well as cured, smoked and dried meats such as salumi, prosciutto, and braciola. A select line of olive oils, accoutrements and seasonal items will also be available.

The Siegel Bros. food experience is further enhanced by a robust, from scratch, prepared foods section spearheaded by Executive Chef David Nevins in their on-site kitchen. In keeping with the practices and principals of the quality food items found at Siegel Bros. Marketplace, a seasonal and revolving selection of land and sea, vegetarian and gluten-free, comforting and healthful dishes will be offered.

Siegel Bro. Wine & Spirits, located adjacent to the market, opened over the holidays. Stemming from prominent pedigree within the wine world, the Nevins brothers were strongly influenced by their father Bruce Nevins (Abram’s grandson), a renowned wine importer and retail giant that made a name for himself as the owner of Hay Day Wine Market in Ridgefield, CT and Grand Harvest Wine in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.  Siegel Bros. is the Perfect Paring of Food and Wine

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Marketplace – 39 S Moger Ave
Wine & Spirits – 41 S Moger
Mount Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 864-0690

Inside Car Buying – They Negotiate, You Save (No Risk)

Inside Car Buying – They Negotiate, You Save (No Risk)

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Who doesn’t want a great deal?  How about a deal that could save you $1000s of dollars with no risk and offering a 100% money back guarantee – WHAT?  I’m a skeptical New Yorker who is extremely weary of such offers, however the service that I’m talking about is the hiring of a car broker whom I recently used called Inside Car Buying.

When I first met Erin she mentioned she was having a car delivered to her house and how she used a Westchester native, Tommy Taylor, a professional negotiator and owner of Inside Car Buyer.  The  more I learned the more I was convinced that when our lease was up on our current car I would be calling Tommy for assistance.

I never expected Tommy to obtain such an AMAZING deal.  Frank was even more SHOCKED.  We had been going to the same dealership in New Jersey, working with the same sales person for our past two cars who was highly recommended to us – someone whom I believed would give us the best deal without a lot of back and forth negotiation.  Well, I was wrong.

When is the best time

Once Frank and I determined the car that we wanted (X5 xDrive40E iPerformance Hybrid), we received a quote from the New Jersey dealership and presented it to a local dealership to try and beat the price, they did.  Both dealerships had indicated that they could only offer us a 2016 model based on what we wanted to pay.  I then called Tommy Taylor and within 48-hrs he was able to negotiate a deal that saved us $1000s on the downpayment, secured a monthly payment that was exactly what we wanted (and what the dealerships indicated they couldn’t extend) AND this was all on a custom ordered 2017 model.  Why or why didn’t I call Tommy sooner?  Instead of spending a few weeks on the back and forth negotiations with two dealerships, the stress (and yelling at Frank) that we weren’t going to get the car we wanted I could have simply called Inside Car Buying.

Back of BMW

3-Ways to save with Inside Car Buying, but I highly recommend the only way to go is with option #3.

  1. Simplified Car Buying eBook ($23.95)
  2. Do-It Yourself (DIY) Dealer Report ($97 – $181)
  3. Hire the Expert Negotiator ($499)

See the full guarantee and read other extremely satisfied client’s testimonials on Inside Car Buying’s website: and check out Tommy Taylor’s expertise and some top tips…But, if you really want the BEST DEAL, simply HIRE THE EXPERT!


Contact Tommy Taylor


Sophie Kinsella Comes to Westchester

Sophie Kinsella Comes to Westchester

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I’m so Westchester.  A 30-minute express train could get me into Grand Central with ease, but it seems like such a hassle to go into the city for things.  Plus, I like my car.  The traffic is a headache and the parking is worse.  So I just avoid it.

Invitations like these ones have been coming across my email screen for a while now.  Probably the best one was Emily Giffin, an amazing chick-lit author and I was so thrilled, until I saw the address.  I reserved a spot and thought, I’ll suck it up and go for Emily Giffin.  I never went, because it was on a hot, disgusting day in June and it wasn’t in Westchester.

Lucky for us, Westchester has the first Barnes & Noble concept store in the country.  An added bonus is that I can walk to it.   A concept store, complete with a restaurant (and a well respected chef) and a bar, a patio with a fire pit and bocce balls.  It’s amazing and it’s going to have events that you’d expect to find in the city, right here in our backyard.   My friend Aleesia wrote this article about the store: 

unnamed-1Sophie Kinsella has been writing for us ladies since we were in our 20s.  She’s the author of the Shopaholic series we all enjoyed reading.  She will be at B&N in Eastchester on Feb 7th for a signing, wine and snacks and whatever else a concept store offers their loyal readers and shoppers. You can purchase tickets by following this link.

I’m thrilled too, that I’ve been asked to interview her prior to the event.  I need to spend the weekend figuring out exactly what one asks a best-selling author when given the opportunity.  This will be a first!

From #1 internationally bestselling author comes a new novel that is part love story, part workplace comedy, and part witty critique on the judgments we all make in a unnamedsocial-media obsessed culture

Admit it – we’ve all been guilty of tweaking our online lives. Whether it’s the post of the perfect cake (while the first several attempts burned in the oven) or staging the ideal selfie (after softening the lights and changing the angle), we can all own up to styling and re-styling our online lives at some point.

With more than 35 million copies in print and nearly 500,000 followers on Facebook, #1 internationally bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has won praise and fans across the globe for her sharply observed characters and uncanny ability to tap into the zeitgeist. In her new novel, MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE (A Random House Hardcover to be published on February 7, 2017), Kinsella takes on our complicated relationships with social media and the age-old adage of the grass always being greener—especially if you can use the right filter.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for—particularly her boss Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh London townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she tries to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in her not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she firmly believes that one day, she will have that real life if she just works hard enough. But when Demeter suddenly fires Katie, she must put those dreams on hold and moves back home to her family’s farm, where she helps them set up a luxe “glamour camping” business. Worlds collide when Demeter and her family unexpectedly turn up as a guests and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her storytelling gifts. In MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE, she brings us the relatable heroine, Katie Brenner and her pursuit of that perfect, styled life—IRL or online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                                                

In addition to the Shopaholic series, SOPHIE KINSELLA is the author of the standalones I’ve Got Your NumberCan You Keep A Secret?The Undomestic GoddessRemember Me?Twenties Girl, and Wedding Night.She lives in England with her family, where she is working on her next standalone novel.

Balducci’s in Scarsdale; Rye Brook Next

Balducci’s in Scarsdale; Rye Brook Next

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My husband is a very modern, forward-thinking guy.  If I had to pick one way that he’s traditional (or let’s say old-school) it would be in his appetite. He likes a nice dinner when he comes home.  Breakfast is usually on the go each morning after his 7 am workout and his commute to the city.  Lunch is wherever he is during his work day. So dinner is his only sit-down meal of the day.  Not to say that I slave over a hot stove (I don’t) but I try to make him meals that I know he will enjoy and appreciate.  When there are weekends like this one coming up, where I have overscheduled myself, I find myself going to Balducci’s for some “cheat meals” for when I’m gone.

My 10 year old is dancing tomorrow at Lincoln Center which has turned into an all day affair from drop off, to dress rehearsal, a lunch break and then a 2pm performance.   Sunday is a small family get together during the day and then Monday, I’m organizing an outing for 120+ Girl Scouts. I want to know that when I am in and out of the house all weekend, that there’s plenty of things for him to snack on.  My son….he’s fine; yogurt and cereal, a turkey sandwich, some goldfish- standard 6 year old food will do.   So today after running some errands, I made a stop to Balducci’s and got some essentials for the weekend.

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At the last minute, I made myself a tea to-go and picked up a small thank you gift for the dance teacher, saving me a trip to another store afterwards.  A beautiful chocolate covered pretzel platter, complete with Caspari napkins and a Papyrus card!   Only the best, down to the paper goods!IMG_3605


At Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, taste comes first with hand-selected produce, prime cut meats, fish flown in fresh from the wharves, restaurant-quality Chef Prepared foods and exceptional imported cheeses and patisserie treats. What started as a produce stand run by “Pop” Balducci, has now become a food powerhouse, with stores located in Maryland, Virginia, New York and Connecticut.

Balducci’s is more than a quality market, it is a destination for the food lover, the adventuresome pleasure-seeker who knows that eating is more than just a part of living life – it’s part of enjoying life.  Below are a few of our exceptional services.

  • Catering: We make our restaurant-caliber meals available for catering. Balducci’s in-store chefs have crafted a menu of fabulous foods including everything from starters, sides and entrees to baked goods and custom dinners. Additionally, our catering team offers party planning capabilities perfect for any event or occasion. Whether you have business lunches or lavish receptions, our consultants can assist you in choosing impeccable offerings for your next soiree.
  • Team of Experts: The heart of our gourmet markets is our team of chefs, cheese professionals, butchers, fishmongers, pastry chefs and bakers. We have an Executive Chef, butcher and specialty food experts in each of our locations who assist customers with their selections, from hand-cut cheeses and quality meats to fresh seafood and delectable desserts.
  • Gift Baskets: For all of life’s special occasions, celebrate with great food. Make a memorable impact on friends, family, or colleagues with a variety of traditional and gourmet treats delightfully packaged in one of Balducci’s Gift Baskets.

Pad Thai Squash Tofu Bowl Salmon Quinoa Lentil Bowl Squash Noodle Ramen and Flank Steak Bowl








Balducci’s Chef Prepared Items

  • Balducci’s specializes in healthy and indulgent Chef Prepared entrees and side dishes that will satisfy everyone in the family. Stop in, grab a side and save time in the kitchen!
  • A seasonal highlight includes our new Chef Prepared grain and noodle bowls that are deliciously wholesome. Enjoy the taste of vegetable noodles, ramen or quinoa mixed with a variety of fresh toppings. Packed with protein and filled with fiber, you can choose your favorite combination of meats, seafood or tofu for a filling, grab-and-go meal!


New Rye Brook Location 

Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market is excited to share its love of food with Rye Brook, NY at its newest store location at the Rye Ridge Shopping Center.  The grand opening celebration will take place on Friday, January 27th and will launch with a commemorative bread cutting ceremony, in-store tastings, chef demonstrations, prizes, and advice from a nutritionist with the festivities continuing throughout the weekend.

And for the foodies, who really like recipes to follow….Balducci’s is sharing one of their favorites with us.  It meets the 10 ingredients and under rule that I like to follow so I decidd to post it and I might try it this week.   I suppose the sauce could go with any pasta, for those that don’t like ravioli.


Serves: 2


One 9 oz package Balducci’s chilled Gluten Free Four Cheese Ravioli

2 tbls butter

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

3 tbls chopped fresh basil

3/4 cup good quality dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

Parmesan cheese shavings


Cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and stir until slightly darker and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pecans to small bowl. Add shallots and basil to same skillet. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and cream. Increase heat and boil until sauce is reduced to generous 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes.

Add ravioli to sauce; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between bowls. Sprinkle with pecans and Parmesan.


PureWow:  Tips for Wearing Tights Like a Grown-Up

PureWow: Tips for Wearing Tights Like a Grown-Up

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While I was commuting on the train into the city, I stumbled across a website called PureWow that I’m currently obsessed about. This site, is “dedicated to finding ways to make your life more interesting, beautiful and manageable. PureWoW is the place you go to find out what book to read, what awesome dish to serve at your next party and how to rock your ankle boots with every single outfit.  It’s like the fun girl in the office who always has the best hair…but isn’t too proud to tell you her secret. (She conditions first.) 

I live in tights during the Fall and Winter and have gotten into a rut wearing the same black and grey leggings, however these three simple tips from PureWow are a sure way that I can make simple changes that will drastically change my outfit and have me looking pulled together without a whole lot of effort.


The more leg you show, the heavier the weave should be. By wearing thicker tights you’ll not only visually elongate your gams but also minimize the risk of showing an inevitable run.



When only a sliver of leg is showing, a pair of silkier tights will help separate your skirt from your boots.



Lacy designs and fishnets are best seen from the calves down. Save them for your sleek pencil skirts and longer overcoats. Your ankles will be the stars of the show.


For more fashion tips and life hacks check out PureWow

Trunk Shows at LOLA in White Plains

Trunk Shows at LOLA in White Plains

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It’s no secret that I love LOLA.  Since I discovered this boutique years ago, even before the opening on Mamaroneck Avenue, it was my go-to place for fashion finds and gift items. What I have noticed about LOLA over the years, is that they always have the “in thing” first!  They find the best items and are always ahead of the trends. What you’ll find in LOLA appears 6-12 months before everywhere else.   It’s a healthy blend of clothing and accessories, including jewelry, hats/scarves/gloves and bags. They also carry gift items, such as candles, soaps, cards, stationery, Swell water bottles and home decor items.  You never know what you’ll find when you walk into Lola.

lolany_26-2048x1536 dawnanddenise12_ahimo9yxr4we4xycdhsy-711x533-dm-crop_88_0_711_533_an6l

Denise Elias and Dawn Pasacreta have grown their love of fashion into a flourishing boutique in downtown White Plains, NY. What started as a hobby quickly turned into the Lola New York storefront. Denise and Dawn aimed to share their enthusiasm with a wider audience. Since opening their shop in 2014, Lola has become something more, inspiring fashion lovers throughout the local region and beyond. Every piece, from scarves and jewelry to clothing and handbags, is selected with a keen eye. After a single trip to our boutique, you’ll get a real sense of our modern aesthetic. Lola New York wants you to look great and feel even better – whether you’re planning a casual day around town or an elegant night out.

Two upcoming trunk shows are posted below.   Laurie Berg and Linda Richards are two local designers that are LOLA regulars.They are both going on this weekend, December 16th and 17th.   If you miss the Laurie Berg trunk show, there’s always pieces in stock to choose from.

With about a week left of shopping, you’re sure to find something you will love.  Not necessarily as a gift, but to wear to your own holiday parties.  lbtrunkshowlindarichardstrunkshow


7 Best Things to Buy Before (and immediately After) Christmas

7 Best Things to Buy Before (and immediately After) Christmas

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Sharing from an online site providing insight and tips on great deals.

December is the month when most people can’t avoid shopping. You may have skipped Black Friday, but the holiday season is a different beast altogether, with gifts from loved ones, friends, and people you barely know coming at you from all angles.

Maintain lots of holiday cheer by shopping wisely with our December buying guide. We’ve pored over the extensive DealNews archives from years past to guide you in your quest for the most savvy purchases in December.

And while you’re at it, consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletter to get a daily recap of all our deals. You can also download the DealNews app for mobile savings.


Buy in December

Gift Card Freebies

A popular promotion throughout the month of December — especially among restaurants — is to offer a gift card at a price that’s lower than the redeemable value. For example, last year we saw Papa John’s, Applebee’s, and more all offer gift cards that were worth more than what shoppers paid for them.

A popular promotion throughout the month of December — especially among restaurants — is to offer a gift card at a price that’s lower than the redeemable value.

Retailers, on the other hand, are more likely to offer a gift card with purchases that reach a certain order threshold, or bundled with a specific product. For example, last year Target offered $100 gift cards with Apple Watches, while Dell Home gave $200 gift cards with 55″ TVs.

Discounted iTunes Gift Cards

December is by far the best month to find discounts on iTunes gift cards. The most frequent deal was $100 in iTunes credit for $80, but we saw another offer for $75 in credit for $55. Buy some as easy gifts for the holidays, or stock up for yourself and effectively save 20% on everything you download in the coming year.

Tools & Hardware

Does Dad want a new drill for Christmas this year? Perfect! December is an excellent time for tool and hardware deals. We’re expecting 50% more tool deals than in January (and even more than we saw in November), and a higher rate of Editors’ Choice deals, too. Look for significant discounts on power drills, wrenches, general tool sets, and more.

Christmas Decorations… After Christmas

At this point, it’s common knowledge that holiday decorations see their greatest discounts after the holiday in question has passed, and this is no different for Christmas. If you wait until December 26, you’ll see discounts of 40% to 75% off seasonal goods. However, if you absolutely must buy decorations before the big day, look to Home Depot, Crate and Barrel, and JCPenney for inexpensive options. Also, keep in mind that any seller with fresh-cut trees is likely going to start discounting them around December 20.

TV Deals

But wait, doesn’t DealNews spend all year saying that Black Friday is the best time to buy a TV? And didn’t that just pass? Yes and yes. But awesome TV deals linger into December. On the first weekend in December last year, 75% of the TV deals we saw earned our Editors’ Choice distinction — that’s an even better rate than we saw from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. There are fewer deals overall in December, but the ones that do appear are generally a great value.


Here’s the bad news: Jewelry deals aren’t very good in December. The good news: They’re better than in any of the upcoming months. So if you want to get a present for the holidays, or are even thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, check out Szul and Diamond Princess for deals on diamonds, and Kohl’s for discounts on its jewelry section. And don’t forget pearls, which are often more affordable than many realize — pearl necklaces started at $8 last year.

After-Christmas Sales for Clothing

After-Christmas sales are a great chance to get what you really wanted for the holidays, and they are dominated by clothing and shoe deals. Check out Nordstrom Rack, Nike, and Tory Burch for up to 92% off select items.

Wait to Buy

High-End Electronics

At this point, if you’re interested in tech that typically gets updated around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show — high-end laptops and fancy TVs, for example, are often unveiled at the show — then you might be better served waiting until 2017 models are announced. This way, 2016 models will start to hit record low prices. (Of course, not everything follows this cycle; smartphones tend to be announced in late spring, while Apple products keep their own individual annual schedule.)

If you’re interested in tech that typically gets updated around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show, then you might be better served waiting until 2017 models are announced.

CES technology now goes well beyond TVs, gaming laptops, and ultraportables. In the wake of the event, look for deals on everything from smart home appliances to fitness trackers to tech for pets.

A New Car

The end of the calendar year is generally a good time to buy a car, as dealerships are eager to clear out old inventory. But found that December 31 specifically tends to see the strongest average discounts of the year. In 2013, New Year’s Eve saw an average discount of 8.8% off. There are other ways to maximize your savings, too, including negotiating effectively.

Exercise Equipment

Sporting goods retailers know that many shoppers are making fitness-related New Year’s resolutions, and they want you to shop at their store, not the other guy’s. To this end, January is a great time to get exercise equipment and apparel. The sales do start right after Christmas, but don’t really pick up until next month, when we’ll see twice as many deals and almost twice as many Editors’ Choice sales.

Clearance Sales on Winter Apparel

If you need a new parka or wool scarf, expect sales to liven up in January, when we see 50% more clearance sales on clothing and accessories than in December. If you really can’t wait until the New Year, at least wait until the After Christmas sales, which comprise most of December’s clearance deals.

Ready to put this information to use? Sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter or download the DealNews app in order to keep abreast of any and all of these best buys in December.

Bath & Body Works:  Perfect Stocking Stuffers (Under $10)

Bath & Body Works: Perfect Stocking Stuffers (Under $10)

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I have not been in a Bath & Body Works in a very long time, in fact I’ve never stepped into the store at The Westchester Mall.  How can that be?  Well, it’s because I have a son and this store is all girl – with products ranging from candles and home fragrances, to hand and body soaps to hand and body lotions.  Frank and Korben would never enter this store.


I decided to tag along with Ellie so that I could check out this store and I’m glad that I did.  The prices are very affordable, the packaging and presentation of the items are bright and cheerful and there is such a wide variety of items.


I asked Ellie, if she had to pick one item what would it be and…her answer, “The PocketBac, which really are the perfect stocking stuffer or anytime gift.”


Just to give you an idea…here are just a few sample PocketBac Sanitzers and Holders that one can choose (so many more to choose from at the stores and online).

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-9-45-11-pm screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-9-45-29-pm

Custom Gifts at Wyatt Lily

Custom Gifts at Wyatt Lily

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My kids are now 10 and 6.   When they were babies, I spent many hours (and dollars) shopping at a trendy kids boutique in the Scarsdale Village which is now Wyatt Lily.   It was great then, but even better now.  It’s usually my first stop when I have a baby gift to buy for a new mom, because you’re sure to find something special or unusual.   They stock the brands that I love and I always find fun things for my two while I’m there.  James loves the wacky junk food-type/rock and roll/ retro-ish tee shirts and there’s no shortage of emoji themed clothing and gift items for Ellie and her tween friends.

What Wyatt Lily has now, that the former store owner didn’t have, is the ability to make up custom gifts right there on site!   Big sis/little sis tees and onesies and other really adorable personalized items. Hanging in the window when you walk by are some cute examples of what they can make.  Tees that say, “Ladies Man” or  “Living The Dream” and other cute sayings that just fit the kid in mind.

Fashion onesies and baby tees for the chicest baby on the block – from Wyatt Lily’s own signature collection.  Wyatt Lily makes custom items while you wait – onesies, tees, dresses, tanks, and more. You can write whatever you want – we have loads of ideas to get you started. The perfect gift!

Newborn to 14, boys and girls

1 Chase Road, Scarsdale


Please follow the @wyattlilyboutique Instagram feed for all of the freshest looks – then call us or stop by the store to buy!

LuLaRoe Leggings

LuLaRoe Leggings

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static1-squarespaceI didn’t want to like LuLaRoe leggings.   I first saw them over the summer when a Facebook friend hosted an online Pop Up Party one night from 8-9pm, but curiosity got to me and I had to see what they were all about. Lots of big prints, polka dots, each one louder than the next. It was sort of like walking through JoAnn’s fabric store and thinking, ugh, at each roll of fabric. Who wears this?? But, I made my obligatory purchase and ordered a pair in the most tolerable pattern I could find. They’re just OK.  They were $25 or so and if I wear them a few times, it works out.  If I had a pic, I would post, but I never took one.

They are super soft and stretchy.  Everyone who wears them swears by them. Truly, it’s what we are all looking for and wearing black yoga pants has become a joke!  When buying, OS means one size fits all from size 00 to size 12.  Which means, my 10 year old and I wear the same size in them.   The next size is TC, which means Tall and Curvy, sizes 12-24.  Quite a range.  There’s “tween” too which my daughter should be wearing at 10 years old and under 100 pounds, but she likes the OS patterns more.  Obviously.

Fast forward….November/December 2016 and they’ve really grabbed my attention.  Way nicer prints than I had seen months ago and like a bridal gown, you can’t really see if you like it and can’t truly appreciate it until you put it on. With black boots and an oversized black sweater, all that’s peeking out is a little color. So many of us dress in black, black, grey and more black.   A pop of color is not the worst thing.  So I bought my first pair that I actually liked.  I loved this Moroccan pattern and thought they’d go great with a navy wrap sweater and tan boots.   img_2402

This past week I walked into my Monday morning pilates class and my instructor (and friend of 15+ years) had them on.  I said, “Mary!  Are those LuLaRoe??”   I wasn’t 100% sure but I usually know where things come from when I see them on. They weren’t her usual Athleta leggings.  They were awesome.  I looked closely and noticed they were shinier than my LuLaRoe leggings and she said, “Yes!  They make an exercise line.”   I had not seen these before but I am now on a mission to get the same exact ones!    On Friday morning, she had a different pair on.   Pictured below are Mary’s exercise/running leggings.  Not quite compression leggings, but thicker and more appropriate for working out in.


And that’s just the leggings.   There’s an entire line of items, from dresses to maxi shirts to tunics, vests and more.   Those run on different sizing charts, but it seems each item has a fit and a rule.  (If you’re buying the “Irma” you size down, things like that.)  I don’t know a fraction of what the consultants know. I bought this cute outfit for my sister for the holidays.  An Irma (she’s a M, but bought her a S) and a pair of OS ornament leggings.img_2388

LuLaRoe leggings can be found on FB Page/Groups and I have a few local women that are selling them via Pop Up/Online Parties.  You simply type “sold” and pay by Google Invoice and they’re shipped to you.  In my case, they are delivered to my front door.   Kim is local and she’s hosting pop ups weekly.  Nicole is another consultant, who has different merchandise and will upload lots of albums when she gets her next shipment on or around 12/17. For some reason, everyone has different items in stock so it pays to shop around and see who has what!

Kim Giannelli is based in Bronxville and Nicole Kohloff is based in Greenwich.  Both of them will ship to you. You can find them on Facebook and you will see for yourself that what one has, the other might not.  You might get your tweens or OS from Kim and your exercise ones from Nicole. Join both groups and see what you like.

You can find Kim on FB:

You can find Nicole on FB: 

When you think they aren’t for you, imagine them with your favorite tops and boots.   Happy Shopping!

Solar Panels for Your Home

Solar Panels for Your Home

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Just over two years ago, I had solar panels installed on my home. I’ve heard the same question from dozens of friends and neighbors over the past six months.   “If they’re so great, why isn’t everyone getting them?”   For that question, I have a few answers:

  1.  Because people don’t have enough information about them.
  2.  Because they are behind the curve.
  3.  Because they are not “in style” and trendy in your area.

In some parts of the country, they are very “in” and to your surprise, a lot of your neighbors already have them….you just don’t know about it!  That’s why I’ve become a SolarCity Ambassador, which is ironic because, admittedly, I am not as “green” as I should be.  Sure, I recycle my papers and bottles and cans the way most good citizens do but I am guilty of using paper or plastic bags when I food shop (not the reusable ones) and I know next to nothing about gardening or composting.  I have a family of 4 and I drive a gas guzzling Land Rover.  I did however purchase energy efficient appliances and light bulbs for my home which has to count for something, but I confess: my carbon footprint is larger than most. I am certainly not the Queen of Green, so those who know me should find it amusing that I am a “SolarCity Ambassador.”  Read on to find out why.


Six months prior to installation, I was greeted at my front door by a door-to-door saleswoman who was going around the neighborhood to sell people on solar panels.  In the past, I have received phone calls about “solar energy” but never asked any questions as I was too busy rushing them off the phone.  Since the woman was there in person, I decided to ask her some questions about it and it sparked my interest. After a few back and forth calls and emails with her company, I decided not to go with her company, due to the very aggressive nature of these companies.  (I am refraining from naming this company, as I try not to post negatively about businesses.)

A neighbor of mine has them and I remember my husband saying a while back that he wanted to inquire about them.  Since I was now on a fact-finding mission, I decided to knock on their door and ask who they used, if they were happy and so on.  They had nothing but wonderful things to say about the panels, the process, the cost and savings, and honestly, by looking at them, their four beautiful kids, their well-maintained home and luxury cars in their driveway….I automatically trusted them and their decision to go solar.  I asked who they used and consulted SolarCity that afternoon.

SolarCity is not at all aggressive in their approach.  I dealt with a salesman by the name of Shu Yang, located out in Northern California, which was great because most phone calls fit in with my schedule.  His 9-10 am was my 12noon-1pm which was always a good time to talk.  I will say this:  Shu is one of the most patient people on the planet.  I had a LOT of questions, because I need to understand things thoroughly before making any decisions.  He answered all of my questions professionally, going above and beyond, sharing maps and articles and statistics with me.  After a few phone calls, sharing my Con Edison bills with him and doing my own outside research, I decided that I would go forward with SolarCity and start this process, which took 4-5 months from start to finish.

The first step was to see if I even qualified.  To get solar panels, you need to have a south, east or west facing roof, without obstruction/blockage from trees.  He was able to see my house on Google Earth and tell me that I was a candidate.  He analyzed one years worth of Con Edison bills to determine how much energy I used and recommended that I have 26 panels placed on my roof.  When I asked if I had space for them, he immediately sent me a photograph of my house, with the 26 panels placed exactly where he planned for them to go.  They would absolutely fit and they would likely produce about half of my energy.  He scheduled a site visit for a local SolarCity rep to come out and schedule the appointment to confirm that what he thought was correct and of course it was.  There were also some questions about the condition of my roof, if I owned my home and if I had good credit.   All checked out fine so we were ready to move forward.

The next step was paperwork, which I was dreading.  I received a thick Fed Ex envelope with directions on how to complete the papers.  All forms were completed, with my name, address and all other details needed, completed by Solar City.  Papers included permits for the town and permission to install the panels and so on.  It took me less than one hour to complete!    There were sticky notes showing me where to sign and there was a pre-paid envelope enclosed for me to send all of the papers back in.  Done.

Final stepwas to wait for the installation.  This took a good 6-8 weeks but every week or so I was updated via email that the process was moving along.  The communication was fantastic.  Just when I would forget about it, I would receive an email that the permit was submitted, approved or some progress had been made on my application.  I did not have to make a single trip to the building department because SolarCity handled the entire process.  I was notified in June that my installation would take place and it took one day to install.  The next step was for it to be inspected and then finally turned on. I turned the system on and can begin monitoring my use online as often as I’d like.

So… the dollars and cents of it… the savings is what everyone asks.  How much can I anticipate saving per month?   The way the bill varies each month, the savings will vary as well.   After crunching the numbers, it looks like I will save hundreds of dollars per month, depending on the time of the year.  I expect to save between $100-$250 per month.   Of course, that is just one home and everyone’s formula is different, but it cost me $0 out of pocket to have them installed so to me, it’s a win.  While Con Ed rates can and will go up, I am locked into the same rate with SolarCity for 20 years.  Besides the monthly savings, New York State gives back up to $5000 in tax rebates!  You can write off 25% of what you pay to SolarCity each year for as long as it takes you to earn your $5000 without going over 14 years.   New York is one of the ONLY states that has this.  Having solar energy reduces our reliance on oil, which is an obvious bonus.

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Make Solar Power More Affordable for Homeowners and Businesses 

So, I asked my friend Shu what some people have asked me.  If solar panels are so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?  He said, not everyone knows the benefits and takes the time to learn about it, but it is catching on in some places more than others.   Arizona has the highest percentage of households using solar energy.  I asked if they had the state tax credit.  No.  They just believe in it.  It was then that he asked me to become a SolarCity Ambassador and help spread the word.  I happily agreed and told him about the Emma Westchester blog!  I asked for a map of the area just to see how many households in this region have solar panels.  It seemed that NY/NJ/CT were behind other parts of the country.   

He said, not everyone knows the benefits and takes the time to learn about it, but it is catching on in some places more than others.  He compared it to cell phones and digital cameras.  At one point, they were new too.  Then they caught on and he expects solar energy to catch on similarly.

If interested in finding out if you qualify for this type of savings, contact Solar City or get a free quote ONLINE.  Of course, if you have questions, feel free to email me at and I will get back to you.   Shu has since left Solar City, but Todd Granat can answer any questions you may have too.

Todd Granat | Energy Consultant | SolarCity | T: 702-703-8923 | |



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This post needs very little text to accompany it.  If you want to shop for everyone on your list, you can do it at Melissa and Sarah’s Holiday Shopfest on Monday, 12/5 in White Plains.   They’ve lined up amazing vendors and you’re sure to cross a few names off your shopping list at this event.  You may even find a little something for yourself while you’re there!    I find this meme fitting for this post.  Happy Shopping Ladies!




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When I had my first baby in 2006 I was amazed at how many people gave me gifts.  I had a baby shower prior to my daughter’s arrival and received all of the basics;  the car seat, infant seat, exersaucer, high chair, playpen and other things that I am glad have escaped my memory.  Baby stuff is the quickest way to clutter your kid-free home and takes some getting used to in the early days of new motherhood.   So many contraptions, carriers and devices crowd your home (and your counter space) basically overnight.   Ten years later, I miss the fun of my beautiful infant Ellie, but I don’t miss the mess that came along with said infant!

Ellie was born in early March and I went back to work in late May.   I was a very eager, young teacher who could not let the school year close out without being there for those final days in June.   It helped that it was a short 4-5 weeks until summer vacation, so very manageable.   In those weeks, I could not believe how many gifts came through my classroom door.  It was then that I realized, this is what moms do.  Moms shower new moms with presents for their babies.  I suddenly felt very guilty for all of the babies that I did not give presents to in the years before when I was a single woman.  Now as a mother of two kids (aged 10 and 6) I love showering a new mom with a gift for her new baby.

So here are my favorites:

1.   Gift for Mom– Why?  Because they don’t expect it!   I love going to a baby shower and bringing a bottle of champagne for post-delivery consumption…..Or a gift certificate for a prenatal massage….or a nightgown for mom to wear in the hospital.   Most pregnant women stop shopping for themselves (or at least curb their spending) once they become pregnant, so these items are treats for the mom-to-be.

2.   Sneakers– Why?  Because they are expensive!  Some sneakers for an infant can run you $40-50 per pair!  I usually buy baby Converse or baby Nikes.  In fact, I buy 3-4 pairs of Converse at a time so I have them on hand for when I need them.  (Nordstrom Rack often has them for $24.99)

3.   Patriotic Clothing-– Why?  Because a new mom probably won’t want to buy an outfit for ONE holiday.   But really, there’s Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, Fourth of July in July and Labor Day in September.   My kids have patriotic clothing in their wardrobe all year long as there is always an occasion for it.  Osh Kosh, The Children’s Place, GAP/Old Navy, CWD Kids and lots of others carry red/white/blue clothing regularly.

sp13-main-images2-14.  Angel Dear Blankies– Why?  Because they are as soft as can be and helped soothe my babies.  More importantly, both of my kids learned to self-soothe with the help of these blankets.  With Ellie, it was the pink bunny and with James it was the brown monkey.  I bought 3-4 of them, because I know that a lost item can be a problem.   The company actually came out with a package of 3, calling A Pair and a Spare.

When my little ones would go to sleep in their cribs awake, as the books suggested, I would watch them on the baby monitor as they covered their eyes with their Angel Dear blankets.  Not kidding.   Those blankets were a life saver.   All of the Angel Dear products are quite nice.

I buy these 5-6 at a time so I have them for when I need them.   They are about $13 each and $38-$42 for the set of 3 if you buy them together…. Amazon carries them, as does

5.   Magnetic Onesies by Magnificent Baby– Why?  Watch this video and see how easy it is to change a baby when there are no buttons or snaps!  The closures are magnetic.   Once carried in Lord & Taylor, but have had a hard time finding them recently.   Buy Buy Baby carries them, as well as the higher end baby stores.

Also on

I know I said Top 5, but I am sneaking in a 6th….. Trumpette Socks.

These were pretty new in 2006 and I introduced them to every new mom once I discovered them.  The originals were socks made to look like shoes…A Mary Jane shoe actually.   Everyone knows that babies hate shoes!  So the socks give the appearance that the baby has a shoe on.  Over the years, they have made them for girls as well as boys and to look like sneakers, flip flops, ballet slippers and lots more!  Still one of my favorite gifts to give.




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There are many emotions that one has when moving, for me it’s pure excitement.  I absolutely LOVE moving.  In fact, when I sat down to write this blog, I hadn’t realized that I’ve been moving almost every 3-5 years for the past 20 years.  It took a little longer than I had expected to move into our current home, and Frank is thankful that our moving days are behind us (for now) as I’ve finally achieved that illusive suburban trifecta that I have been searching for…perfect house, in a great neighborhood with amazing schools…THANK YOU ERIN BAKER!

The one area of anxiety that I do have when moving, is choosing the right colors.  I am horrible at making a decision when there are too many options, and there are just too many options of floor stains and paint colors.  I prefer to have someone else narrow down the choices before making the final selection.  The re-staining of the floors and choosing the right color is fairly easy.  I simply let Frank choose.  This year Korben helped out and gave his stamp of approval on which stain would be selected.


Selecting paint colors is hard.  I dread looking through numerous paint chips, purchasing samples to try out on the walls, and never having the full confidence that the colors will ultimately go together with our current furnishings, the floor stain and with the connecting rooms.


Thankfully, not only did Erin help me find this house, but she also connected me with Pia Rivera who is the owner of Violet Interior Designs.  Pia normally takes on clients who have large scale projects (renovations, extensions, redesigning/redecorating rooms), though she just returned from maternity leave and was willing to work with me as a color consultant.  Pia met with Frank and I, took pictures of our existing furniture and discussed what our likes and dislikes were.  Within an hour, she knew exactly what we wanted and was able to select the paint colors that we would use throughout our new house.   A few days later, Pia sent along a reference guide that we gave to our painter. The perfect no stress way of of choosing just the “right” colors for our new home.


I love the color selection (below are some before and after pics) that Pia provided and after we’ve settled and lived in the house for awhile, I’ll definitely be calling on Pia to help in the next phase…redoing our living room.



More Information About Violet Interior Design:


VIDI is a multi-faceted interior design company in which creative and technical solutions are applied to achieve a functional and aesthetically pleasing living environment from the ground up. The style feeling is both transitional and eclectic with the focus on ageless design. Responsible for developing plans and designs for the interiors of both residential and commercial spaces based on the needs of the client. Development of architectural drawings, presentations and cost estimates. Coordinates and collaborates with other design professionals who may be retained to provide additional services, including architects and contractors.

Pia Rivera ( #914-803-2998

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

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As I was putting my son James to bed last night, he asked me, “Mommy….what’s the next holiday?”

“The next holiday is Father’s Day,”  I said.

Isn’t that how it goes??   Not a day to recover from one long weekend before thinking about what’s next.   This inspired me to write this post today on Father’s Day gift ideas, a little earlier than I had planned.    I spent an entire week on Mother’s Day last month, but I’m going to make this one long post on my 10 gift suggestions for dads.   Not a lot of pics, just a list and links to some great things for the dads.   Some are things I have bought for my husband, others I bought (or will buy) for my own dad and thrown in are things that have come across my email, things I have found online or in catalogs over the last month or so.

So here it goes.  I am doing this without any notes written down.  I hope I can make it to ten!

1.   Jeans.    I have had the best luck with mens jeans at Men’s Wearhouse on Central Avenue in the Scarsdale/Greenburgh area.  Today I realized that I missed the 2 for $100 designer jean sale, but they always have great sales.   I think now they are regular priced and the second pair is half off.   Still a good price for the brands they carry.  The jeans are cool enough for modern dads without looking like your 40 year old husband is headed to a club. Or worse, looking like the male equivalent of “mom jeans.”  Jeans, and sneakers, can totally make or break your husband.   My husband loves the slim Lucky Brand jeans and they actually have the 36 inseam in stock for tall men.   Most stores have X32 and X34 in the store but for the tallest men who need the 36 inch length, Men’s Wearhouse has them.  Actually, their whole big/tall section is great.  My husband is 6’5″ and it’s hard to find him clothes in the normal stores.   The true Big and Tall stores assume he is big AND tall….When really, he is just tall.   34×36 is always in stock and the sales people are helpful without being annoying.

2.  Steak Dinner (or Staycation) at The Time Nyack Hotel.    I visited last week and loved it.  I plan on taking my husband for dinner one evening when the weather looks nice.  Check out the menu below and/or my review of the visit and tour from last week.   Sunday Jazz Brunch will start soon!   Waiting on an exact date for that.    

3.  Food.   Face it.  Guys like weird food.  I call it weird because I am a plain Jane.  My husband would love Mantry items.  Finally a cool subscription box for guys!   They have sauces, spices, snacks and more.  The bonus:  Mantry donates 1% of sales to City Harvest, helping rescue over 20 tons of food and redistributing it to families in need of good, fresh food.   I wish it was more than 1% but it’s better than other companies, I suppose.

4.  Anything from The Grommet.   Really, anything.   It’s gadgets galore and you go through the website wondering if these things are even real.  Check it out and see for yourself.   There is something for everyone! 

5.  What I Love About Dad Book.  I bought this book and let my daughter write in the pages, answering the prompts about what she loves about her dad.   It’s nice to have the kids handwriting, their words and their spelling.   I picked it up at The Paper Source at the last minute a couple of years ago and it’s one of those gifts my husband treasures.  It’s really from her heart.   Sentences to fill in such as:  I love when you ___________ and The best thing we do together is ______________.   The best $10 you will ever spend!   When I go into my husband’s desk drawer looking for batteries or a screwdriver, I usually see this placed near his special items.   And she’s only 10.  Imagine how he will feel about it when she’s older.

6.   Driving Experiences.    Found often on Groupon and discount sites, your husband can drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini 5-10 laps in a parking lot.   For most husbands, that is cool and all but you can rent a car for an entire day on Imagine Lifestyles.   Only in certain cities, luckily, NYC is one of them.   For the guy that can’t just ride for 10 laps and call it a day, you can rent an entire day.

7.  A waterproof bluetooth speaker for the pool.  Can be controlled with your smartphone. It also makes a nice light show in the pool.   So there’s a robot to clean the pool and now this so you can have your music too.   Someone reading this will buy this– I am certain.!bluetooth-speaker/is5kk 

8.  UV Clothing.   Dads expect lots of shirts and ties and they are always a safe bet for the grandfathers and father in laws.   These are great for summer, can be worn immediately and protect the skin from the dangers of the sun.  They are not just swim shirts– They have polos, golf shirts, hoodies and jackets– even shorts.

UV Skins website:   and all the stuff just for Men: 

9.  Personalized Items from Zazzle.  They are offering 30% off right now, until Friday.   15% off sitewide and 30% off Father’s Day Gift items.   Last year I got my husband some funny tees…. His favorite was the iDad tee, play on words for iPad.   I know, geek humor.  There’s literally something for every dad– The beer drinking dad, the golf dad, the superheroes loving dad and more.  I actually loved their personalized (photo) ties and think they make a nice keepsake.   or visit 

il_570xn-893878726_6as110. Last but not least, cards.  I found this seller on Etsy via another source, possibly Time Out New York.  It’s called Crimson and Clover Gift, based in Brooklyn but don’t let the innocent name fool you.   Many of the cards are suggestive, inappropriate and rather raunchy.   I found a clean one, but if I was looking for a risque one, I’d have had a number of choices!    Here’s the link to their Etsy Store.  Don’t judge!

My son and my husband are both Star Wars obsessed recently.   Thought this was cute for him to give him.

And because I always sneak one extra in….. I just bought matching monogrammed Polo shirts for James and little James.   I always have luck with matching items for them on their site.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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My inbox is flooded with ideas for Mother’s Day gifts for moms; the sporty mom, the organic mom, the busy mom, the gardening mom, the glam mom and more. I’ve decided to spend this week sharing things for mom as a result. After all this is a site for moms (#momslikeus) and we all have different likes and interests.

Because I like things in threes, I am going to share 3 things that I came across this week.

1. Check out these cool baseball caps for moms, $25 each

2. How about some getaway weekends for Moms:

I visited Club Getaway last summer with my family on a family weekend. But Club Getaway is really a summer camp for adults. It’s a full weekend filled with activities that resemble summer camp. If you know someone who loves the outdoors, sleeping in cabins, kayaking and campfire songs, Club Getaway is a great gift. I wrote about it last year and loved going to visit it last summer. The two questions people have for me are about the cabins and the food. Both are surprisingly OK. The meals are catered by the Connecticut Culinary Institute and the cabins are air conditioned with private bathrooms. They have a calendar of events all summer long and they do have some family weekends later on in the summer.

Here’s the article with pics from last year:


Along those lines, I learned about Zaxfit Camp for Adults recently too. I am sharing the link to the site as well as the link to the one-day pass offered on Gilt City. This one is coming up soon though!

3. Look At Us Now, A Creative Family Journal, $16

look-at-us-now-coverartThis adorable book, by Bernadette Noll was just published in May 2016 and it serves as an interactive diary for families to complete together. It has creative questions to engage parents and kids and captures the day-to-day of family life. It’s not like a baby book, where a family keeps records of milestones like birthdays and ceremonies; It’s for the things that seem like routine things like inside family jokes, strange happenings and things that are specific to just your family. It’s a great way to foster connection, reflection and creative fun for the whole family.

The author, Bernadette Noll created this book for families to start anytime. If you have not started a baby book, you can start it now. It keeps track of small moments between you and your family, capturing snapshots of times you wouldn’t otherwise document. Because time flies, she wanted to collect the memories of day-to-day life with her family. 🙂

Some sample pages from the book:

My Summer Wish List….All Things Cobalt

My Summer Wish List….All Things Cobalt

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My Cobalt Wish List


Emma’s Favorite Housewarming or Hostess Gift & a little lesson from Emily Post

Emma’s Favorite Housewarming or Hostess Gift & a little lesson from Emily Post

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Choosing a community is a big decision. You’re choosing more than the house; It’s the commitment to raise your kids, socialize with others like yourself and be a part of something as a family. A friend who was searching for a place to live in Westchester County after spending years in NYC said, “I want the suburban trifecta.” By that she meant three things of equal importance: good schools, a nice neighborhood and an overall sense of being a part of a larger community. A wonderful way to celebrate the choice of a new home/community is through a personalized housewarming or hostess gift.

I have given this gift to about a dozen people so far. It was given to me my one of my favorite people on earth and I have to credit her for this fab find! Most recently, I purchased this for a friend who relocated to West Point, NY. The Longitude and Latitude Personalized Sign (L.L.Bean) comes in four colors and retails for $39.95. Some others that I have purchased over the years….Will look familiar to some of you. Others will want it for your own homes.

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Because I love the topic of etiquette, the following are some of Emily Post’s Wisdom on hostess gifts and housewarming gifts.

Should I Bring A Hostess Gift?

A gift for your host or hostess is a lovely way to thank them for their hospitality and is always appreciated. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; simply consider the nature of the occasion and local custom when making your choice. In some parts of the country, a hostess gift is considered obligatory, while in other places a gift is brought only on special occasions. If it’s the first time you’re visiting someone’s home, then it’s a very nice gesture to bring a small gift. If you have a few extra minutes to wrap it, even if you only use tissue or a decorative bag, it adds to the gesture.

Wine, flowers, specialty food items, and small items for the house all make good hostess gifts. Flowers are terrific too, but if you want to go beyond Etiquette 101, bring them in a simple vase (a Mason jar is fine). You could also offer to put them in water yourself when you arrive so your host doesn’t have to arrange them. If you bring wine, don’t expect your host to serve it that evening- the wines may have already been chosen for the meal. And don’t bring food for the meal unless you’ve been asked to. Otherwise you risk putting your host on the spot and upsetting the menu. Here are a few tips on what to bring when:

Casual dinner party

Dinner party guests usually bring a hostess gift unless they are close friends who dine together frequently. Gift possibilities include wine, Champagne, flowers (preferably in a vase), a potted plant, chocolates, specialty food items such as jams and jellies or other condiments, fancy nuts, olives, olive oil or vinegars, or items for the house, such as cocktail napkins, guest soaps and lotions , a picture frame, or a scented candle. A CD or book is also appropriate if you know your host’s taste.

Formal dinner party

Gifts aren’t usually taken to large, formal dinners, especially if you don’t know the host well.

When there’s a guest of honor

If it’s a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or shower, bring a gift for the honoree.

When you’re the guest of honor

Bring a gift for your host or hostess, or send flowers before the party. After the party, send a thank-you note.


It’s customary to bring a gift to a housewarming. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be something lasting for the house. Possible gifts include guest towels, a houseplant, a patio or garden plant, glasses, dish towels, a picture frame, specialty foods like a great olive oil or preserves, or a cheeseboard and/or cheese knives. Update an old-fashioned housewarming tradition of giving salt, and bring fancy sea salt and/or a saltbox or saltcellar. If the housewarming is for a neighbor new to your town, consider putting together a welcome kit containing area maps, the town paper, restaurant menus, bookmarks from your favorite bookstore, transportation schedules, and information on local parks and recreation facilities- anything that will make it easier for her to feel welcome and at home in her new community.

Weekend visit

Either bring or send a gift. Your gift of choice will depend on the length of your stay and how elaborately you’re entertained. While you don’t have to break the bank, your gift should be sincere, thoughtful, and personal.