Business Review

TREAT yourself to a Cupcake

Posted on July 13, 2010. Filed under: Business Review, Review | Tags: , , |

I am a HUGE fan of baked goods, which is why I have run seven marathons so far. But my all time favorite thing is cupcakes. Why? Because cupcakes combine the concept of cake with the small bite-ness and portability of a cookie or brownie. A total dessert delight. 

Yet, because of my reverence for cupcakes, I am a bit of cupcake snob. The cupcake needs to have the right amount of frosting on top of moist cake. I also like extras on my cupcakes for a crunch, extra chocolatey-ness or a burst of some other flavor. Cupcake nirvana if you will.

So when I heard that there was a new cupcake bar in Needham, I nearly jumped in cupcake joy. Plus, it is a bar. One that, since having a baby, I have not seen in awhile.

Okay, it is not that kind of bar, but you can design your own cupcake from scratch: order one up!  Pick your cupcake flavor, your frosting and your treats to mix in, and you are in cupcake heaven. Seriously.

It is called the Treat Cupcake Bar. From cupcake flavors like the traditional yellow and chocolate, with marble, vegan and gluten free options, to frosting choices like classic, vanilla (gluten and dairy free), chocolate buttercream and cream cheese, it is a cucpake frenzy. But wait, the mix-in treats? How about blox tart candy or pop rocks? Peppermint patties or M&Ms? Coconut or gummy worms? There are over 20 options. In a cupcake conundrum? Pick from their pre-made options like Needham Cream Pie or Red Velvet.

Want to host a party? Treat Cupcake Bar can host birthday parties or other events up to 10 children/people. Having a party at your own house? They do custom orders too.

Located right in Needham Center (1450 Highland Avenue), Treat Cupcake Bar is just steps from Route 128, Route 135 and more. They are open from 10am-9pm EVERY DAY.

So what the heck am I doing still writing this post? See ya people. I am off to ‘treat’ myself to a cupcake from Treat Cupcake Bar. Yummy!

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“Like” Treat Cupcake Bar on Facebook too!

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Blue Bunny Bonanza

Posted on July 7, 2010. Filed under: Business Review, Review |

Often with big malls, we forget about the quaint shops that are extraordinary treasures in little out-of-the-way places. Don’t get me wrong. I love malls. (I live five minutes away from the biggest mall in Massachusetts). But I also love browsing little stores too, like the unique little shop in historic Dedham, Massachusetts called The Blue Bunny.

The Blue Bunny is run by the Reynolds family and offers favorite children’s books, art supplies, toys, puppets, greeting cards, fine art, and creativity workshops for all ages, as well as, signed books and original artwork by Blue Bunny co-owner, children’s book author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.

In addition to the fabulous shop, there are great events for kids. During the summer, there is a free drop-in storytime on Mondays at 10:30am for preschool aged children.  Every Wednesday in July at 11am, there is a special event in store, such as friendship bracelet crafts for kids 8 years old and up ($5 supply fee) on July 14th or make your own fabric tote bags for kids 6 and up ($5 craft fee) on July 28th. There are also other special events through the month with Peter H. Reynolds himself; a special Bedtime Storytime with Peter on Friday, July 16th at 6:30pm (free) or a creativity class with Peter from 11am-12pm on Tuesday, July 13th for kids 7-10 years old. ($20/pre-registration required.)

Keep updated with events at The Blue Bunny on Twitter, Facebook and their very own Blue Bunny Blog.

Located at 577 High Street, Dedham Square, Dedham, MA, this “little shop with a big mission” is just a short, and well-worth-it, drive from Boston and the Metrowest.

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Pregnancy to Parenthood

Posted on April 28, 2010. Filed under: Business Review, Review | Tags: , |

My son is now 6 months old.  I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by.

While there was a lot I did not like about my pregnancy. (Hello, swollen ankles!) There was one thing I loved about it. It was the attention. The feeling of specialness that was bestowed upon me when I walked waddled, belly first, through a door. The glow that radiated from me as I proudly proclaimed I was going to be a Mom.

When I walk through the door now, it is stroller first and, well, let’s just say I hope the door does not slam me on the way in. What radiates from me now is smell of regurgitated spitup and if I proudly proclaim that I am a Mom, no one really gives a hoot.

Unless you are at Isis Maternity.

Scrreeeechhhh.

Isis Maternity?? (It says maternity.)

Yeah, I know.

But you just said you are a Mom.

Yeah, I know.

So why are you going to a Maternity store when you aren’t pregnant?

——–<Sigh> Therein lies the problem.

Isis Maternity is known for its maternity know-how.  In fact, it is the number one childbirth educator in the country. From breastfeeding 101 to childbirth 101, hundreds of Moms and Hospitals refer Isis Maternity as a great pregnancy resource.

Yet, Isis is more than pregnancy and childbirth support.  It is support from Maternity to Mom.

Maternity is just a part of Isis. In addition to the childbirth and infant prep classes, there are classes for newborns, infants, and toddlers. There are playgroups and music groups, new moms groups and new dads groups. There are breastfeeding support groups, sleep support groups, toddler toys and newborn essentials.  All in all, Isis has it covered.  Yet, its name did not cover it all.

Clearly, there was a disconnect.  So Isis Maternity decided to become Isis Parenting. The name reflects the company’s wide range of pre-natal to postpartum support services and products. The new logo replaces the old one, which was a young woman’s silhouette.  This new logo is more inclusive to dads, grandparents and the children themselves.  While Isis has a new logo and a new name, it is still the same great company for parents and kids to age 3.

I am an Isis Mom.  I began my Isis journey in the New Mom’s program when my son was just 4 weeks old.  I walked into the center on a chilly November morning – sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  I left still sleep deprived, but re-energized.  It was here that I felt special. It was here that I felt like someone understood what I was going through and could give me the non-judgmental emotional and educational support to get through each day.  Each week, the class got me out of the house. It made me learn to navigate a stroller, car seat, and diaper bag when I used to carry a fancy purse the size of a postage stamp. Now my gear is a whole postal code.

I made great friends, and continue to meet great people, that I hope will extend beyond our children’s first birthdays.  For many Isis grads, the friendships are part of the Isis experience.  For me, it was also the things I learned: Feeding facts, travel tips, and sleep strategies. Which sling to try, stroller to handle, pacifier to get, swaddle to soothe and toy to dangle. It was because of Isis that I got to breastfeed longer than I thought, got my son to sleep longer than I could have imagined, and learned play ideas to use at home.

All I can say is that I probably would be the Mom I am without Isis.  But I can say that I am happier Mom with Isis.

So if you are a soon-to-be parent, a new parent, a parent of 2 or more, or a parent of three years and have not yet experienced Isis, go to their website.  Head to one of their 4 Boston area locations (Arlington, Brookline, Boston, Needham) for a drop-in playgroup or to ask for suggestions for a new toy.  Better yet, take a look at their extensive class schedule and sign up for one. But note that these are not your ordinary classes.  Take a look at the staff. These are child development experts. The classes and seminars are top-notch.

When you are there, you will understand why many of us make Isis part of our parenting experience. It’s because Isis Parenting makes us all feel extraordinary: spitup, tantrums and all.

Therein lies the specialness of Isis…and I am so happy to be a part of the family.

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Penny Wise

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: Business Review, Review |

When I saw today’s topic for the best of 2009 blog challenge, I really did not need to think about this one.  Anyone who has a baby knows where a “mom-to-be” spends most of her time…and most of her money.  I won’t even name names since I hold my head down in shame.
Yet where I spent most of my money wisely was a great store in the Massachusetts area called Magic Beans.  Magic Beans is a store that sells high quality toys for all age levels. All the toys are evaluated so every toy on the shelf is safe and inspires creative interactions. Magic Beans also sells baby gear like cribs, mattresses, baby carriers and car seats.  Regardless of what you are looking for, it is the ‘best of the best’ at each price point.
For me, that was the best part of being an first time expectant mom.  Knowing that when you walked through their doors, local parents had carefully selected what they were selling.  Even if a toy or baby item was recalled, the owners were on it.  It was a great feeling to know that Magic Beans has your back at every step of the parenting way.
Now as a new mom to a baby boy, anytime I need a new item on my “Mommy journey”, I immediately think of Magic Beans.  I will check to see if they carry the item and what they have to say about it.  Magic Beans has the best descriptions of items they sell.
For example – one of the first items I bought from Magic Beans was a Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat.  Here is the description of the car seat from a leading chain (please note that I am not endorsing the Chicco Keyfit 30):
“The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is designed for safety, comfort and convenience. With its removable newborn insert, the KeyFit 30 Car Seat accommodates babies from 4 to 30 pounds. The thickly cushioned seat includes a 5-point safety harness and is lined with energy-absorbing foam for increased safety and comfort. The base’s spring-assisted level foot, 2 precision bubble levels and Center-Pull LATCH adjustment allow quick and correct installation from either side of your vehicle and give you confidence that your child is safely secured in your vehicle.”
And here is the description of the same car seat from Magic Beans:
“Magic Beans is proud to carry the popular Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat. Like the name implies, the Keyfit holds infants up to 30 pounds or up to 33 inches in length. Since your petite passenger will be rear facing until he’s one year old and at least 20 pounds, the Chicco Keyfit is a smart investment. Best of all, it’s an amazingly light seat, weighing in at just 9 pounds.

With all the worries parenthood throws at you, don’t spend time fretting over the safety of the baby gear you depend on. The Chicco Keyfit’s energy-absorbing EPS foam liner offers additional side-impact protection. Apadded insert lines the car seat and supports an infant’s body and head. The 5-point harness is simple to adjust and easy to secure, and the base is complete with a bubble-style level guide on each side, making installation a cinch.

The Chicco Keyfit boasts a full, multi-position canopy to provide maximum protection from the elements. Parents will love the ergonomically designed handle that makes it more comfortable to carry your little bundle, whether it be from the car to the house, or toting him through the grocery store. The Chicco Keyfit car seat leads the pack as one of our favorites because it’s so user-friendly, safe, and long lasting.

Features and Benefits:
Accommodates kids weighing up to 30 pounds and 33 inches
5-point harness with one-pull adjustment
Compatible with Cortina and C1 strollers
Weighs about 9 pounds – Lightweight design
Centrally located tightening strap – Allows you to easily secure seat in place
Spring-loaded leveling foot
Liquid level indicators to insure correct installation and placement of base
Angled base fits into seat more securely, increasing safety
Full hood – Protects your child from the elements
Height adjustable platform
Soft infant insert for kids weighing 4 to 11 pounds – Keeps young babies supported
Sealed underside protects car seats and keeps debris out
Double bubble-level guides – Indicates proper position”

See what I mean?

Seriously, if you are in the area, stop by one of their four store locations. Don’t live near here? No worries, they have a great website. They also have free gift wrapping and free shipping on orders over $100 – at all times!! No gimmicks. Their customer service is top notch too- they even have a stroller quiz to help you find the stroller that is right for you.

Hands down, I am lucky to have heard about this store and to live close by. I am even more honored to have briefly met the owners along the way – real people. That is why Magic Beans is the place I wisely spent my money in 2009 and will be honored to do so in 2010 too!

(Photos from tinypic.com and mbeans.com)

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