Tag Archives: Kenneth Barilari

#HipNJ Celebrates National Happiness Happens Day

By Kenneth Barilari

Today is National Happiness Happens Day, and #HipNJ is here to send some happiness your way. Don’t worry, be happy, and enjoy these quotes about the beautiful thing that is happiness.
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Life can be tough sometimes, but it is important to remember that there is always something to smile about. Happiness is contagious, so celebrate today by walking with a proud smile on your face!

National Watermelon Day

By Kenneth Barilari

Today is #NationalWatermelonDay! Watermelon is always perfect during the hot summer months because of its cool and refreshing taste, whether you’re on the beach or by the pool. However, there are many other ways to utilize this tasty fruit. #HipNJ is here to provide you with 10 unique ways to use watermelon this summer.

  1. Watermelon Feta Salad


This has been all the rage this summer. Fresh watermelon, arugula and mint drizzled with champagne dijon vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil makes for the perfect lunch.

  1. Watermelon Pops


These are the perfect treat for your next pool day!

  1. Watermelon Cake


No need to bake this watermelon cake. Just add frosting and some fruit topping.

  1. Mojito


All it takes is two watermelon chunks, one lime, two teaspoons of sugar, a handful of mint leaves, and two ounces white rum. Add ice and you’re good to go!

  1. Watermelon Salsa


This is the perfect twist to your summer salsa! Get your chips ready.

  1. Homemade Gummies


Gummy candies are always great, and now you can make your own! Make them sour if you’re feeling brave.

  1. Watermelon Water

Food Network Kitchen Infused Water Watermelon Healthy Recipes Food Netowrk

I am sure you’ve had water infused with lemon and lime, so why not try watermelon?

  1. Pizza


Slice up your watermelon pizza-style, and add your favorite fruits as toppings! Add Nutella for some extra sweetness.

  1. Sorbet


This is a healthy alternative for when you’re craving ice cream in the summer heat.

  1. With Salt!


Take a piece of watermelon and add a pinch of salt! Salt makes watermelon taste sweeter by creating a salty sweet contrast that allows the sweetness of the melon to stand out.

All you need now is the perfect watermelon. Here are some of the best Farmers Markets throughout NJ.

Cowtown Farmers Market
780 Harding Hwy.
Pilesgrove, NJ

Sparta Farmers Market
89 Sparta Ave.
Sparta, NJ

Princeton Farmers Market
55 Witherspoon St.
Princeton, NJ

Historic Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market
Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ

Stockton Farmers Market
19 Bridge St.
Stockton, NJ

Now that you know all of these unique ways to enjoy watermelon and where to get some, try some of these out! Post your creations on Instagram with the hashtag, #NationalWatermelonDay!


Wrestling My Toughest Opponent Ever

By Kenneth Barilari

Former Rutgers Prep wrestling star Brett Epps received a kidney donation from Alix Cirigliano, the woman he plans to marry. Kacy Epps, Brett’s younger brother, filmed a documentary chronicling the time before and after the life-saving procedure.

The documentary, titled 5 Ounces, highlights the emotional journey that the transplant had on Brett, Alix, and the entire family. “I wanted the title to be something mysterious, but once you knew what it meant, it made perfect sense,” Epps said. He then told me that five ounces is the average size of a healthy kidney. Mission accomplished.

It has not been an easy journey for the Epps family. Since Brett’s diagnosis two years ago, they have been actively trying to find a perfect match that is able to go through with the surgery. Last year, a match was found. However, due to complications during surgery, the transplant was aborted.

Then, Alix Cirigliano, Brett’s girlfriend at the time, found out that she was a match. The surgery was scheduled, then postponed because Brett’s blood pressure was too high. Brett devised a plan to propose on the day of the newly scheduled surgery. There was another setback, but this did not stop the engagement plan. He proposed in the hospital bed, just as he had planned to do before the procedure was postponed. “There’s no set date yet,” Kacy said. Once the couple gets past recovery, then wedding preparations can begin.

Since the transplant, there have been some bumps in the road. Alix had to go back to the hospital due to complications which have since been resolved. Brett started showing signs that his body was rejecting the kidney, but his medicine was changed and the problems have been solved. He is now allowed to drive and do cardio. “He was able to have his first beer in two years,” Kacy said.

Kacy, a Perth Amboy native, has been interested in film and video production since he was about 9 or 10 years old. He recalls making movies in his backyard. “I love capturing visuals and creating memories,” he said. As time progressed, he started getting more serious. It has since turned into a big hobby.

Kacy says that he doesn’t often plan to film specific projects. Instead, he waits for something to come along and inspire him to create. “I don’t give myself timed deadlines,” he said. “I just do it as it comes to me.”

While this experience has been a roller coaster for the family, Kacy highlights the positives that have come out of it all. “It’s brought us all way closer together. We were a close family to begin with, but this solidified us.” He goes on to say that he has become much closer with his brother’s fiancé, who “has done so much.”

Along with younger brother Cody, Kacy created a Facebook page at the time of Brett’s diagnosis to spread the word that he was looking for a living donor. The page, titled “Wrestling My Toughest Opponent Ever,” has almost 6,000 likes. Check it out to learn more, and watch the documentary above.