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DarbySmart 24 hour PROMO

22 Nov

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Pick anything you want, and enter this code at checkout to reveal your savings: surprise 
Offer expires today at 5PST.

BTW I am starving and just had the most amazing apple pie.

Happy Crafting!

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Equinox Resort Spa, VT (and Backroad Discovery Tours)

10 Nov

Wonderful experience.  I stayed in a townhome which was easily accessible to everything.  It was huge with a modern, sleek design. It has balcony overlooking the mountains and fully equip kitchen.

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The service was outstanding, making restaurant reservations for us and shuttling to and from.  The town itself is full of outlets, so we did plenty of shopping.  Our visit happen to fall upon restaurant week, so we took full advantage of that as well.

I didn’t use the actual spa services, but I definitely got use out of the gym, indoor pool, and jacuzzi located outside.  I regret not taking a in-the-pool fitness class which was no extra charge.  The resort gives you the fluffiest robes to lounge in!

The main building has a restaurant (which I didn’t try because it was pricey) and two bars.  They plan activities but my favorite was drinking by the bonfire.

They make the BEST apple cider doughnuts you will ever taste.

And if you are staying in the area you HAVE to check out Backroad Discovery Tours. I loved the tour guide; she was more like a friend.  We touched upon everything we hoped for, like local histories as well as syrup tasting and cheddar cheese! We even got to play with animals.  I definitely recommend this to anyone visiting the area. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

Great escape from the city congestion, and a wonderful long week to take in the fall.  Or have a wedding! Keep an eye out- this place is always popping up on TravelZoo.

Woodhouse Day Spa, Montclair…. Barbounia, Manhattan

25 Oct

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For my sister’s Bachelorette party I decided to mix a little relaxation in before the crazy.

We chose Woodhouse Day Spa, I’m not really sure why because the prices weren’t the best bargain we could find, but alas, this is where we ended up.

And all in all it was a good choice.

We had a room, it wasn’t private but we were alone for a chunk of it, where the spa provided us with cucumber water (LOVE!) and tea.  We got to hang out on the couches in between our booked appointments (there was 10 f us) and snack on mini quiche, bread sticks covered in salami, fruit, vegetables with various dips, and stuffed mushrooms.  We brought the food in, if that’s what your thinking, but they did set it up and clean it up for us.  We sipped flavor champagne and took pictures.

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I’m a massage newb, so my barely satisfied rating may be based on my pick… the Swedish massage. I was told by the girls it was lame AFTER I expressed my dissatisfaction.  Apparently, you’re supposed to ask your masseuse to go rougher.  All in all, I’ve had friends that have given me better massages without me having to speak up.

But oh how relaxing!  And the bride to be had a blast; she apparently had to sit in a bathtub LOL.

But we’ve now worked up an appetite.

As I am sure by now you’ve noticed, my people are Mediterranean happy, so of course we chose a Greek place in Midtown. People suggested Barbounia to me, but I wanted to be the one to come up with the plans.  And so, after much research, when I discovered Barbounia and got really excited, I then realized it was the same place that was originally presented to me. I sucked up my pride.

I called for the reservation, normally the large party we had would require some sort of pre-fixed delio but the events girl was nowhere to be found so they just gave me a table.

As soon as we came in someone told me that the cork fee was $35.  Wow I didn’t know the place was BYOB, so of course a $35 cork fee was nothing in comparison to city cocktail prices.  I hurried back to the limo to retrieve our bottles only to be told, based on size; they would be charging $50.

I set my budget for the night extremely high, and $15 was not a big deal, but they told me 35 and I would not go down without a fight.

My waitress was a sweetheart, yesing me to death and I drunkenly vented to her.  In fact, they were all sweethearts.. except whoever was from management I had to deal with.  I think he’d had some Russian name I can’t remember.

What happened to the customer is always right?  It’s my sisters Bachelorette party for Heavens sake!  I understand this place is prestigious and could survive without our business, but they could also afford to waive this extra charge and provide me with the original price I was told, or at least send me a friggon free piece of cake as an apology.

No, instead my dinner started off full on arguing with this irritating man, and if you’ve read my other posts, I’m not a fussy being.  But fair is fair.

“Hey, I was told the corkage fee was $35 so I went out of my way to call the limo back.”

“Yes but your bottles are bigger than standard and we have to make some kind of profit” (as if $35 to open a bottle isn’t a profit)

“Listen I work in the restaurant business myself, I know you have some leeway here” (Even I had leeway and I only waitressed)

“Oh you work in the restaurant business? Good for you.”

“Are you giving me an attitude?”

“No.”

He might as well of snorted. Full on attitude.  Listen dude, you may work at a really nice restaurant  but at the end of the day it’s still a restaurant.  You are not above me. You are here to serve me.  How dare he look down on me like that?!

I walked away.  I was already getting vibes from the other girls that me being difficult is only going to ruin my sisters day.

We shared some appetizers among the table. I think it was spicy feta, hummus and roasted eggplant.  The bread was TO DIE FOR.  We also ordered fired calamari.

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And I split a lamb entree with one of the other bridesmaids.  I couldn’t tell you exactly what we ordered, seeing as I wasn’t even hungry at this point I just volunteered to share whatever she picked.  It was very good.

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My sister LOVED the food.

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She kept insisting we  go on a double date with me there.  In fact, I believe she did come back with her future husband months later.

It was a good time.  Besides the wine incident, the service was very nice and the place was beautiful. The goal was to spoil her so I did just that.

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But personally, after my issue with the management, I think I’ll pass and go somewhere I feel appreciated next time.

Palm BBQ Grill, Englewood

18 Oct

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I would not recommend this place. I read bad reviews, but Joe and I are on a Mediterranean kick so we figured what the heck, its close to home and on a main street.  We even did a drive by, looked normal.

So I didn’t have high hopes for this place, but Joe was excited. We walked in and chose our own seats. A young, friendly man, that later events would lead me to assume is the owner, brought us menus.  I regretted almost instantaneously not asking for a drink, it took ten minutes for him to come back, but I don’t think he was really there to wait tables.

The waitress was by herself, but the place is small and she only had 3 or 4 parties.  The man must of sensed my displeasure because he finally took our orders.  We ordered soft drinks and an appetizer, Chorizo, which was a spicy sausage.  The soda’s came in a can, no cup, and the sausage was pretty decent.

As an entree Joe had ordered palm mixed grill (shawarma..[chicken or beef, he chose chicken], kofia kebab, chicken kebab, beef kebab) and the waiter claimed it didn’t come with rice as noted in the menu.  Whatever. I ordered lamb & beef shawarma.  We didn’t actually understand what we were ordering, but we seek adventure on our date nights. You are able to choose two sides.  Joe chose grilled vegetables and fries, whereas I chose a salad and grilled vegetables as well.

Eventually, the designated waitress asked us if we were being helped.  She was cute, polite, and friendly, but once a waitress myself I can honestly say she needs to learn to HUSTLE.

The food came shortly after.  She announced “beef shawarma” as she placed the large plate in front of me.  “I asked for beef and lamb” I informed her.  After a confused glare at my plate she went to discuss it with the young man.  Moments later, she came back and claimed it was beef and lamb. They must think I am an idiot.  It didn’t look like lamb, it didn’t taste like lamb, even she didn’t think it was lamb.  But I’m not one to cause a scene.

The food was mediocre at best.  And the waitress must of asked us 6 times how we were doing, which was 5 times too many.  Where was this dedication when we first arrived?  The owner did offer me a new plate, seeing as I barely touched mine, but I politely declines. What I should of did was ask for lamb.

And here is the real woozy.  It literally took us twenty minutes to get our change back after we paid the check.  Remember, I said there was 4 tables tops.  We watched her and I still don’t understand what took so long.  It was on the brink of raining and we had parked so far that after a few minutes it was a relief to  catch her eye and have a look of remembrance sweep across her face.  She held up her finger and motioned that it would only be a minute longer.  But then what did she do?  CLEANED TABLES. This girl needs to learn to prioritize.

And it case you were wondering, we did catch the rain.

Nisi Estiatorio, Englewood … Charthouse, Weehawken

4 Oct

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 I wanted my sisters bridal shower to be something very special, I wanted to WOW the guests.  She’s had it rough and I really felt it was a time to celebrate her and her happiness.

She bluntly told me what she wanted.  Vintage, pink, bling.  She sent me a link to name cards holders and told me to find crystal perfume bottles as favors. She also informed me she didn’t want the typical “penne and vodka” type of party… but it was best to stick Mediterranean as to please the more authentic family members.

Well, she got the vintage, pink, and bling theme.  She got the name holders (only we used them as table numbers) as well as the crystal perfume favors.  It’s the not wanting a “penne and vodka” type of party is where the problem was.

Nisi was a raved about Greek restaurant in our area.  After a test run during her fiance’s birthday, we decided the food was fabulous. I mean the parking sucked, and the party room was tiny (although it had a private entrance and fireplace,)  but  Michael, the owner or whoever he was, was a typical business man.  He was a shmoozer.  We finally won him over (or was it the other way around?) and rented out beautiful main dining room. It was just an afternoon after all.

However, the handful of times we met up were a waste of time.  Nothing was established, not even this menu.

So I guess I will never know if it was finalized, but I thought we (with a ridiculous amount of effort on the my, as well as her fiance and his sisters, part) were able to negotiate beyond amazing prices (I’m young & on a budget!):

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But, as I’ve alluded, it was a painful process.

Michael was impossible to get a hold of.  He wouldn’t answer his emails. He would be ‘busy’ and unable to speak to me when I stopped in the restaurant, even if we had set up the time.  He basically refused to sign the contract, even after agreeing on it.  He refused a deposit as well, so, naturally, this made me nervous.

Seriously, imagine for a second that you couldn’t get a hold of, and when you did, couldn’t even stand to deal with the man who was in charge of your bridal shower.  Imagine this only months before the so called booked date… and with NO SECURITY.

It was not long after I came across a newspaper article saying Nisi would be moving th NYC. I don’t fully blame the management, their lease was up, but it would of been nice to be informed via Michael or anybody at the venue.  It makes me wonder if they would of ever told me.

When I called to ask for reimbursement on the invitations (the only thing I could think of)… he pretty much said “not my problem.”

I really hated him even prior to this so I tried to look at the situation as a potential blessing in disguise.

And thankfully, Vistaprint has a better attitude toward their customers and were generous enough to redo the invitations free of charge.  Even shipping was waived.

It was, however, impossible to find anywhere else that would match the prices, and after the hardship I had gone to get to the point we were at, I didn’t have the energy to try.  I went with what I feel is a staple, The Chart House, a penne and vodka kind of place.. but prestigiouser than she’d expect.  It came with a hefty price tag in comparison; since this was corporate there was no negotiating.  I think they may of let us waive the cutting fee (we brought in homemade cookies and a cake from an outside source.)

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The view was a deal breaker. The place is literally on a dock, overlooking the beautiful skyline. The room we booked had windows in place of half the walls.  We were able to choose the linen color (pink) and the event planner was even nice enough to let us stick a hook on the wall.  Plenty of extra tables, as requested, were provided, and the service was on their A game, cleaning up after us and making sure we were OK.

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The party favors were mini crystal perfume bottles shaped like hearts that luckily came in gray boxes with foam keeping them snug.  I got them cheap on Etsy. I added flowers and ribbon to the boxes to make them pretty.  We put the table numbers inbetween wine corks, also made pretty with flowers and ribbon.  I think the decor looked much more expensive than it was because I had the help of some crafty family members- AND bakers!!!!!

My only problem was a birthday party was going on in a room nearby and the confused guests kept coming through our room!  Even the sign in front of the building only made mention of their party, not ours.

We did an AMAZING job decorating.

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We made a dress with styrafome, tulle, and flowers.  We pinend the name cards to it with tiny pink clothes pins!

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The guests signed in on what will be part of a picture frame.

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The display above are some gifts. The sisters (me and the groom’s two) made a  gift basket with day of things. His parents bought her a bedroom set (displayed int he picture frame) along with some vintage bathroom acessorie’s that had once caught her eye and the bridesmaids chipped in for her chinaware, which we left a setting out.  My dad got her engraved uinity candles which we will use in the church, and my aunt brought a basket with prayer roses she made and we displayed them in the second basket.

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The food was mediocre.  I wish I could of afforded the steak! But my sister, as well as our guests, were sincerely delighted all the same.

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We had our little italian momma’s make tons of pasteires as well as cupcakes decorated to look like tea pots. We left boxes out for our guests to take home the goods in.

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