Sampling 4 Treats From the House of Cupcakes Food Truck

House of CupcakesI’m not usually one to deviate to sweet food. I usually go for saltier snacks or desserts that aren’t as sweet.

However, I couldn’t resist when I saw the House of Cupcakes food truck at the Edison Fall Family Spectacular. That’s because I noticed that they won an episode of Cupcake Wars, a popular show on the Food Network.

I sometimes watch cooking competition shows since they’re like game shows… aka reality shows without the overproduction and scripting like the Real Housewives or Kardashians. So they already had my respect walking up to the truck.

I decided to get 4 of the cupcakes on their menu since I wanted to try a variety… plus they were only $12 and came in a case, so what’s the harm? I was also sharing them, which helped reduce my caloric intake.

Specialty Cupcakes Princeton NJHere are the flavors I got (going from top left counter-closewise):

  • Peanut Butter Cup: This cupcake was both delicious and definitely the most filling. The peanut butter alone helped do that trick, but the peanut butter cups on top and the thick chocolate cake did their part.
  • Cookies & Cream: This cupcake was the sweetest of the 4. The flavor was very bold and I had to take a bit of time in between bites to not overload on the sweetness. But, this is coming from someone who isn’t a big sweets person.
  • S’mores: I think this cupcake was my favorite of all. I enjoyed the contrast in texture and flavors of the chocolate cake, marshmallow-flavored frosting & graham cracker crumbles on top.
  • Boston Cream: I can tell from the quality of the ingredients that it was a good cupcake. However, I don’t feel like there was enough cream to get the specialty flavor profile through the massive heap of chocolate on top of a vanilla cake. For that reason, it was my least favorite although it was still tasty.

I’d definitely stop by the House of Cupcakes location for dessert when I walk around Princeton NJ one day in the future to try other flavors they have like the chocolate chip cookie dough, banana cream pie and mint chocolate chip.

Business Card Count: 36,355

Another Move Down: The Good & Bad of My Most Recent Home Move

Tom's Automotive Service Old Bridge NJMoving day is always a stressful time since there are so many moving parts. But I doubt I’ve ever had a move as mentally taxing as this one.

That’s because there were a lot of layers to it. For one, I only had 3 days notice doe to my landlord somehow telling the homeowner that we’d be out by the 15th of the month when we agreed on the 1st of the next month.

My landlord also offered to get a truck for us both, but reneged. I also asked for half my rent back and am waiting on it. I would have stayed until I got my money, but the homeowner said they’d clear everything out using a junk removal company on the 15th.

So I couldn’t just stick around. At least I left things behind I didn’t want to carry out. But the landlord complained about that even though she told me I could leave anything behind since leaving excess garbage out would have cost her money.

She even sent photos claiming she’d be charged for the cleaning crew though they’d be brought in anyway. Between no notice and the fact that I haven’t heard from her since the move except for the photos, I hope karma gets her good.

This situation really caused me to panic over finding a truck, which I wound up getting at Tom’s Automotive Service on Old Bridge NJ. The place was far off of my beaten path and looked like such an old-school mechanic in the middle of nowhere.

They only had a 10-foot truck available and I thought that I’d be okay since I downsized a lot. Not enough apparently since I needed to make 2 trips, which led to a longer time moving. But it meant that I got more of a workout since I did a good amount of heavy lifting and walking. I did not go to the gym afterwards. Or the next day.

I also got some good bonding time in with my mother and significant other who both helped me with this move at the drop of a hat. I’m much happier in the new place than the old one since it means a new chapter in my life that I’ve been anticipating for a long time now.

Not to mention the laundry isn’t left in the machine for days and I’m not in a basement where the bathroom ceiling looks like it was chewed by beavers.

Business Card Count: 36,158

Throwback: Smoking Hookah & Eating Good at Persepolis Lounge & Grill

Persepolis Lounge and GrillTaking a trip is all about having fun experiences. And I intended to make my one day in the city of Savannah, Georgia with my significant other just that when I went down to see her family for Thanksgiving last year.

We spent the day doing a scavenger hunt, going on a haunted tour (because Savannah is pretty much built over graveyards of old) and enjoying Southern delicacies like pralines.

We decided to cap off the night at the one hookah stop we could find on Google/Yelp: Persepolis Lounge & Grill. We were conveniently about 3 blocks from it, so we gave it a whirl.

And man, did it pay off! The place was almost empty for no good reason since the ambiance was intimate and classy. The owner and waitress we had were both wonderful.

The owner recommended an amazing port wine that we had a couple of glasses of. The food was also to die for… We had a chicken dish with some rice that really stood out in a good way.

We wound up staying at Persepolis Lounge & Grill for a couple of hours just enjoying our adult night out. This was our first long trip as a couple and there was some arguing, so this day in Savannah GA and meal/hookah experience really helped make the trip special.

Business Card Count: 36,137

Taking My 1st-Ever Painting Class at Wine & Design in Rahway NJ

Wine and Design Rahway NJI’ve never viewed myself as artistic. But my significant other recently found art as a passion of hers. She took in my passion of wrestling with open arms, so I decided to do the same with painting for her even though I was very intimidated by the aspect of putting the brush to the canvas.

I found a local paint studio near us called Wine & Design in Rahway, New Jersey and decided to book us in a class as a romantic date. And it worked like a charm since I bought a bottle of Dornfelder red wine to have between us as we painted.

Turns out the class was A LOT more intimate than I thought since it was only myself, my significant other, the teacher Stephanie and another girl Christine who painted often with her significant other who was at a bachelor party for the weekend.

The paintings at Wine & Design are traced out, so I felt a lot better about my lack of art skills. The wine helped also, as did having all of the colors right there and Stephanie’s slow & well-taught instruction.

Painting Class Rahway NJ

I chose this exact painting since it combined the look of Van Gogh’s Starry Night with our love of wine. I embellished some parts of the original artwork (and messed up others), so mine came out a bit different. I even added my signature on the napkin to make it look like I own something monogrammed like a classy person.

I’d definitely take another stab at doing an art project and I’ll definitely be less nervous going in next time. If you’re looking for a painting class in the Rahway NJ area, I’d recommend giving Wine & Design a try… especially if Stephanie is teaching.

Business Card Count: 36,109

Finding Old Business Cards & Much More During the Home Packing Process

Old Business CardsPacking can definitely be tough, especially if you intend on downsizing for the first time. That’s the case for my move.

I held onto a lot of things I brought into the house & got from the divorce since they were mine. But I know that I needed to downsize a good amount. I was hesitant to do it at first, but I found it therapeutic and emotional as I was doing it.

I found things that I forgot I even had, including some duplicate business cards in a random bag. Shockingly, there were some bigger-ticket items than these cards.

After it was all set and done, I purged the following items:

  • Old VHS tapes that can be found digitally
  • Old games I don’t play anymore
  • Old paperwork/bills from accounts I closed as long as 10 years ago (shred, baby shred)
  • Clothes that don’t fit me anymore (anything 2x and/or I didn’t wear was donated)
  • Old greeting cards/books/non-photo memory keepsakes collecting dust & not being looked at after 2 or more moves
  • Anything I haven’t used in at least a year or was later found to be broken or there wasn’t space for

Overall, the packing & downsizing process was very eye opening for me. Seeing past bills from when I was in credit card debt, old statements from places I used to live, cards from old birthdays/holidays & sympathy cards from my dad’s passing and other things I honestly forgot I had brought up memories.

But getting rid of them helps me to leave my past in the past and concentrate on building the future that is the next chapter in my life.

Business Card Count: 36,098

My Food Eating Experience at The Pizza Parlor in Wyckoff NJ

Pizza Parlor Wyckoff NJA new pizza place opened up recently by my job in Wyckoff, New Jersey aptly named The Pizza Parlor. It took the place of another pizzeria that either changed its name or sold their business.

I tried the previous business’s pizza and it was nothing to write home about. And they didn’t have a business card either, which is always a disappointment in my book. However, The Pizza Parlor does have a business card and some good food.

I tried a slice of their plain pizza along with a Tuscan panini (grilled chicken, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella & balsamic vinaigrette). The pizza was a good-quality slice, which is the norm for the NJ area, and the panini tasted good.

However, the peeve I have is many restaurants’ definition of a panini. Like others, The Pizza Parlor put the Tuscan panini contents in between pita bread. Pitas are flimsy and putting a lot of content on them makes the bottom soggy, which is what happened with mine.

The ideal bread for a panini, which I first tried in Europe, is either focaccia, ciabatta or baguette since they’re thicker & can handle being toasted while the juices of the meat & condiment flavor the sandwich. This is why I try to avoid ordering paninis here in the US.

However, that doesn’t stop me from recommending The Pizza Parlor, a name which I love because I used to call my childhood pizzeria a “pizza parlor” and it reminded me of how excited I got walking to the parlor & getting a slice or my parents picking it up for us. The staff I dealt with is a family that seemed to be very nice. It’s always good to see family-run businesses and I’m proud to dine at local restaurants as opposed to chains.

Business Card Count: 36,076

The Used Car Shopping Experience at Enterprise in Iselin NJ

Anita Y PeeleI haven’t been used car shopping since my mother helped me find my 1999 Dodge Intrepid in college, which incidentally died right after I paid a toll on the Tappan Zee Bridge. But this experience was different since it was my significant other purchasing her next vehicle.

And the place she chose was the same one she got her last vehicle from: the Enterprise car sales location in Iselin, New Jersey. I’ve worked with car dealerships for a number of years through my full-time job, so I know how they operate and which vehicles were the safest choice & worth the money.

Enterprise is a little bit different since they have a no-haggle pricing policy, which means there’s no need (or room, depending on your point of view) to negotiate. I was honestly skeptical at first until I arrived at the dealership and met with our salesperson Anita Y. Peele.

The Enterprise Experience With Anita Y. Peele

Enterprise Iselin NJ

From the very beginning, Anita treated us very well and helped get the right SUV that met all driving needs & the budget. Between needing added space for 2 young kids, their respective booster/baby seats and other cargo, a 2015 Chevy Equinox they had in stock was the best bet.

Problem was that it was on Long Island instead of being in NJ. Luckily, Anita made some calls to the Huntington location to secure the vehicle and get it delivered quickly. To make sure that we liked the Equinox, we got to sit inside of a different model they had in stock with fewer miles & see the features the vehicle.

Once the Equinox arrived to our nearby Enterprise location, Anita called to let us know we can pick up the vehicle. That’s where the real challenge came in since we picked up the SUV with the kids as well. Luckily, the dealership was practically empty since it was really late.

Let me tell you: keeping kids entertained is not easy at a used car dealership, but somehow Anita got the job done between stickers, bubbles and a big box of snack food that I wound up wolfing down Rice Krispie Treats from. But that was only part of the goodness, as Anita kept making calls between the lenders, insurance companies and more to ensure that we drove home in the Chevy Equinox that night.

And we did. If you’re shopping for a used car in the Iselin NJ area, I’d definitely recommend going to Enterprise and asking for Anita Peele since she’ll go the extra mile with a smile on her face.

Business Card Count: 35,998

O&M Landscaping Taped Their Business Card to My Mailbox

O and M LandscapingI’m sure you’ve seen many things put in your mailbox in an effort for a company to promote their business like pamphlets, menus and enveloped mail. I recently saw one of the more unique approaches for self promotion: a business card taped to the mailbox.

O&M Landscaping was the culprit. Someone from that company went around house to house to scotch tape their card in an effort to get customers during the summer, presumably that business’s busy season.

Here’s why this is a good idea: this type of self promotion will surely get noticed, as opposed to putting it in the mailbox where it might not get grabbed.

It also cuts down on costs of other print advertising. This business card is well done since it presents the key info: the O&M Landscaping name, phone # and main services performed.

Here’s why this is a bad idea:

  • The tape could deface someone’s mailbox, which could anger someone who might be that particular.
  • The tape is very hard to separate from the card without damage being caused to the card, though this isn’t as bad since they only used a small piece at the top.
  • The card could very well fall off or get damaged due to weather conditions like the rain or high winds.
  • People might not notice if they’re on their phone or distracted with kids while just grabbing the mail. This card was taped to the front of the box and not on the top lid.

I’ve never used or knowingly met anyone from O&M Landscaping, so this is not a reflection of their work. This is just a look at the way they advertised their services.

Business Card Count: 35,969

Almond-Milk Swirl FroYo and Foot Fetishes in Westfield NJ

Almond Milk Swirl Frozen YogurtI had 2 of the most unusual experiences of my life at FroYo in Westfield, New Jersey. Both of them are very different in terms of why they were weird.

I feel the best way to describe this is chronologically. I entered the frozen yogurt stop since I wanted a small cool down.

I was promptly greeted by the man who was serving the FroYo… I’m not sure if he’s the owner or an employee. As I was deciding on what flavor to sample, he started just giving me samples of a bunch of flavors.

Almond-Milk Swirl

FroYo Westfield NJOne flavor I got to sample was the chocolate version of Almond-Milk Swirl, a vegan frozen yogurt alternative. They call themselves a creamy dairy-free soft serve.

What’s cool about the business card itself is that it lists the ingredients and nutrition info about the product. However, the product itself can’t replicate the exact texture of frozen yogurt.

Even though I like almond milk, the product tasted like a more solid version of chocolate almond milk. So not my cup of tea, but I can see it as a vegan alternative that’s healthier.

Possible Foot Fetish Request

I ultimately chose a small cup of graham cracker frozen yogurt with a multi-cookie topping. It tasted great and was smartly layered with yogurt-topping-yogurt-topping.

And at a $3.50 price tag, I would have went back to FroYo if I was in the Westfield area. Except for the interaction I had with the employee as I was leaving.

He requested to take a photo of my shoes (or the bottoms of my shoes). I asked why he wanted to and it took him some umms & pauses to respond with “for a collage.”

I immediately felt uncomfortable since I didn’t see said collage anywhere in the store and politely declined. I walked out and drove away as fast as I could with FroYo in hand.

Business Card Count: 35,941

How It Feels to Get Pseudo-Evicted From My Apartment

Well, I was given 2 months notice to move out of my apartment. My living situation is a little bit complicated.

You see, I live in the basement of a house and I pay rent to the landlord who is a mother living with her son and boyfriend. 2 separate people, just to avoid any confusion.

The house is owned by a married couple in their 80s who I’ve never met. They have decided to put the house on the market, which has created upheavel.

Kenneth Kawash Eva Mok

Realtors have been coming frequently, such as Eva Mok from Next Age M3 Realty. She was speaking in an Asian language (I don’t want to sound ignorant by saying the wrong country or dialect) to her client & both were polite.

The complications come in when my landlord doesn’t get notice and people just show up, like an incident of them walking in as she was getting out of the shower.

Eventually, my landlord got fed up and said she can’t live like this and was moving out by September 1st. I did get almost 60 days notice, which is nice.

I was planning to move, so the stars aligned. But I was still mad though since I didn’t like how I couldn’t control my fate. I felt that way in my marriage and would have liked the option to be the one to say “I’m done” instead of being pseudo-evicted.

It feels like I got laid off at home, which has happened to me twice already in my work career. It really felt like I was getting some secondary treatment though the notice was a good amount of time.

I’ll talk about the move itself in another blog post in the near future.

Business Card Count: 35,915