Today is #TrainYourBrainDay! Looking to put your brain power to the test? An escape room is the perfect way to actively engage in some brain puzzles with your closest friends and family! The concept is simple—you are locked in room and must solve puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategies to escape in under 60 minutes. I’ve had the pleasure of partaking in a few escape rooms with my family. It was a lot of fun—I highly recommend!
The first escape room I did was The Dorm Room at Amazing Escape Room in Princeton, NJ. As a college student, I thought it was really neat being able to do puzzles in a place that felt a lot like my college home! My first experience in an escape room was tough but definitely a great learning experience for future escape rooms. It laid the groundwork for being able to decipher clues and come up with strategic ways to solve the puzzles and riddles. Unfortunately, my group and I fell just short of escaping. We still had a great time!
The next escape room I did was Lost Jewel of Zanzibar at Escape Room Center in my hometown of Bridgewater, NJ. Set in Africa in 1930, the objective is to find a mystical gem froma powerful warlord before time expires. I really liked the safari-adventure feel to this room. It almost felt like a Disney attraction! With a little more experience under our belts, my family and I were able to escape this room under 60 minutes. Woohoo!
My most recent escape room experience took place in Power Surge at Escape Garden State, minutes down the road from the #HipNJ HQ in Fairfield, NJ. This room takes place in Thomas Edison’s secret office. The goal is to access his secret work before time expires or else it will be gone forever. Personally, I thought this was the most challenging of the three I’ve done. It took a lot of ideas, guessing, and yes some clues from the Game Master, but we were able to escape! It was definitely my family’s most impressive escape yet!
If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to test your puzzle-solving skills, check out any of the locations I mentioned. The staff was very accommodating and the whole experience was seamless, fun, but definitely a challenge!
New Jersey escape rooms can be found in Princeton, Bridgewater, Fairfield, Hoboken, Atlantic City, Cherry Hill, Hackensack, and Freehold.
My loved ones know that my taste in music bends towards the sweet side (I mean, it’s 2018 and *NSYNC was just playing on my iTunes), so I raised more than a few eyebrows when I told them I was seeing Bruce Springsteen‘s wildly successful Springsteen on Broadway. As I explained to their shocked faces, I was merely going to support my fiancé Joe in his Bruce fandom, and far be it for me to skip out on a fabulous New York City summer night that would also include dinner at Capital Grille.
After winning the coveted ticket lottery for the show, Joe made sure to give me a crash course on E Street Band lore so I wouldn’t be like the clueless bandwagon fans I despise during New York Yankees playoff runs. On our way to our favorite weekend getaway spot, we listened to Bruce recite the words to his best-selling autobiography, Born to Run. While some of his music may not have been in my wheelhouse, the man’s writing CERTAINLY was. I appreciated the way he poetically strung together his words so that every sentence would appeal to the five senses. Hearing him tell his tale made the prose all the more powerful.
Upon the book’s conclusion, I started diving into The Boss‘ catalogue. Of course I knew his too-many-to-name mainstream hits like “Hungry Heart”, “Human Touch”, “Glory Days”, “Streets of Philadelphia” and “Secret Garden” (what Jersey Girl doesn’t?) But I discovered other “obscure” ones—songs like “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, “Dream Baby Dream”, “One Step Up”, “Downbound Train”, “The River”, “Atlantic City” and “Trapped”. As I filled my iPod with these tunes, I admitted to Joe that he more than proved his point on why Bruce was the rock ‘n roll G.O.A.T.
The buzz in the air was palpable as we took our seats in the cozy confines of the Walter Kerr Theatre. We were surrounded by all walks of life from around the country, if not the world. People that were seeing Bruce for the 10th time, 30th time…and probably no one else there for the first (oh well). But it didn’t matter; once the house lights dimmed and he sauntered from stage right with his guitar, we were all one in our awe.
From our proximity, it literally felt like this living legend was hanging out with us in our living room, especially whenever he stepped away from the microphone to just be out in the open. Once the music started (first song: “Growing Up”) it gave you that pushed-off-an-airplane-without-a-parachute exhilarating feeling. For over two straight hours, he effortlessly went from storytelling, to cracking jokes, to making you cry, to singing along with his piano, to jamming out with his array of guitars, to strumming his harmonica, and back around again. Every song was reworked to fit the show’s acoustic nature, including the two he performed with his wife, Patti Scialfa—“Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise”—and my personal favorites, “Dancing in the Dark” and “Born in the USA”.
What was evident beyond Bruce’s difficult relationship with his late father, and his great affection for his mother, is his complicated love story with New Jersey. In one breath, recalling the lyrics to Born to Run, he talked about how he viewed his hometown of Freehold as a “death trap” and a “suicide rap” but in the next, mentioned how he currently lives 10 minutes down the road. “I was born to stay home!” He joked. He peppered other Garden State references throughout the show, like how he cut his chops playing for obscure, Jersey Shore-area places like Marlboro Mental Hospital. These “growing up” Jersey (and Italian-American!) anecdotes added another layer of intimacy to an otherwise already-vulnerable performance that included a moving tribute to Clarence Clemons and a reciting of the Our Father.
After the show, I made a beeline for the stage door in the hopes to meet him. As luck would have it, I got a prime spot behind the metal barrier, and he chose my side to bless with his presence.
As I stuck the Playbill out for his signature, I told him how Springsteen on Broadway was the first time seeing him live. Bruce actually stopped signing for a second to react.
“Really?” He quipped, part amused and part shocked.
“I know, and I’m from Jersey too. But I LOVED the show, you were great!”
“Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he smiled, and continued down the line. That was the cherry on top of a perfect evening.
GelPro Elite luxury comfort mat is designed to add comfort and joy to holiday cooking and parties (and all year long). It’s a life saver in the kitchen, plus with all the colors and patterns, it adds pizzazz to any home décor.
GelPro Elite luxury comfort mats are the only gel-filled, anti-fatigue mats for the kitchen. The mats have beveled, no-curl edges, non-slip bottom and stain-resistant top surface. GelPro Elite mats come with a five-year warranty. GelPro Elite mats start at $119.95 for a 20”x36” mat; they are sold direct at GelPro.com and at select national retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon, as well as many kitchen specialty stores. $119.95, GelPro.com
Extravagonzo offers high quality, infused culinary oils and vinegars. We are founded on a deep commitment to create infused oils and balsamic vinegars with only whole, high-quality ingredients to maximize flavor, color and consistency. We use absolutely no flavorings, extracts or essential oils in our products.
If you are looking for the perfect hostess gift or just want to treat yourself to amazing flavor, grab their Variety Pack Gift Set. It includes their Sofi-Award-Winning Jalapeno Lime, Blood Orange, Roasted Garlic and Meyer Lemon Culinary Oils as well as a Dark Balsamic and White Balsamic Vinegar. $39.99,extravagonzofoods.com.
Shotsticks is the ultimate party accessory! It is an interchangeable shot glass/beer glass shotski perfect for ski, sun and any party goer. The company, based in Freehold, New Jersey, strives to get everyone out there in the partying community to do a unified shot and beer chug. The Party Pack comes with 2 SHOTSTICKS, 6 acrylic shot glasses, 6 acrylic beer glasses, 4 end caps, and 2 connector clips. $55.00, Shotsticks.com
Still looking for the perfect gift for your dad? Stevenson Almonte of Manna Ejoined Maria Falzo to discuss his made to measure business. “We decided to take this unique designing experience to the mass consumer,” Almonte says. The customer is left with a limited quantity piece that they can’t find anywhere else made specifically for them. Products sold include suits, shirts, ties and hats, with tie prices starting at $55.99, MannaEstore.com
Danielle Forte, creative director of 828 Clothing and wife of New York Jets star running back Matt Forte, stopped by the #HipNJ studio to discuss her stylish and versatile line.
828 Clothing includes pieces that encourage and enable mothers to retain their style identity during and following their pregnancy. Further, their babies can be stylish in playful galaxy print and signature onesies featuring tongue-in-cheek quotes created by NFL star, Matt!
Shop 828 for the holidays and receive 20% off your order by using promo code HIPNJ. Visit 828Clothing.com to order now.
Need a stocking stuffer for the beauty guru in your life? The CRLabMild Shampoo cleans and hydrates without damaging the scalp. Its gentle formula enriched with hydrolyzed wheat proteins nourish hair for it to stay healthy and strong.
Follow #HipNJ on social media to learn how to enter to win a Transitions Hair Solutions experience! Transitions Hair Solutions is the exclusive New Jersey provider of the CRLab® trichology line from Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories of Italy. The winner will receive a complimentary Trichotest ($175 value) to determine which of the 3 trichology lines is best for the winner. They will also provided 1 free treatment ($150 value) from whichever line best suits the winner: Hair Loss Prevention, Sebum Regulating, or Moisturizing Anti-Dandruff. Total giveaway value is $325. The Trichotest and trichology service will take place at Transitions Hair Solutions located at 1860 Highway 35, Suite 3 Wall Township, NJ 07719.
Moonlite is an easy-to-use storybook projector for your mobile phone that turns your child’s favorite storybooks into an immersive and magical experience. Stories come to life with vivid projections, sound effects, background music and more when paired with the Moonlite app. $39.99, MyMoonLite.com.
Here’s a gift for your favorite chef! Gotham Steel is the newest technology in non-stick cookware. Made with ceramic and super strong titanium, cooking with Gotham Steel is like cooking on air! $29.99, GothamSteel.com
Bibo is THE ULTIMATE™ cocktail machine, giving you that great libation, previously only perfected at a bar or restaurant, at a much lower cost and at home. Debra Walker, owner and inventor of the BIBO®, demonstrates the easy-to-use product to #HipNJ’s Maria Falzo.
Bibo is available for purchase at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Amazon.com and other retailers! $179.99, BiboBarmaid.com
Here’s the perfect #HipHolidays 2017 present for the new mommy and baby in your life!
Rookie Humans produces whimsical, hand drawn, 100% cotton sheets by international designers for stylish parents and their sleeping babies. Mompreneur Gabriela Anggono, who lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, was a successful advertising executive turned stay-at-home mom after her husband moved them all to Paris for his new job opportunity. After spending HOURS taking pictures of her children in their cribs, she wondered ‘Why aren’t crib sheets more imaginative?’ She returned to the U.S. and launched Rookie Humans nursery brand.
The line is available in two sizes, US standard crib mattresses and mini crib mattress and Made with soft 100% cotton sateen, 230 thread count. These sheets have been featured on the Today Show, Pregnancy Magazine and many other outlets! $34.99, RookieHumans.com.
Drink and be merry this #HipHoliday season! Steve Fette, craft spirit specialist development specialist for Allied Beverage Group, talks to the #HipList’s Maria Falzo about the different ways you can (safely!) enjoy Clyde May’s Whiskey! Check a retailer closest to y
Giving back is always in season! Learn the heartwarming story of Jane Hoffman, a Westfield, New Jersey-based mother and founder of A Birthday Wish, a non-profit organization that grants the birthday wishes of children in foster care. Donate yours today by visiting ABirthdayWish.org.