After the busy holiday season I was finally able to catch up with my local business spotlight! I love getting to know all these wonderful people that are an essential part of our community and that make an effort to stand out from the competition by printing their own footsteps and making their own path.
Last Saturday I met Ms Feng and we had the most relaxing and fun chat over a cup of tea! It's funny how we can get so familiar with someone who we don't know but that as something in common with us. I know what it's like to have a business and to want to see it thrive and flourish. In Ms Feng's case it is, indeed, flourishing!
Let me tell you a bit about this captivating young lady!
Ms Feng has a Bachelor of Music Degree with Distinction in Music Education on Piano and Violin from the Eastman School of Music. She was awarded the George Eastman Merit Scholarship and the Schlenkler Merit Scholarship. Continuing her education she received her Master of Music Degree in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music which also earned her the Kanable Scholarship and the Eastman Department Assistant Award. As you can see that in itself is an extraordinary sum of academic achievements.
Besides all of the academic titles, Ms Feng has extensive experience in conducting and performing music. She was in the NJ All-state orchestra Committee for five years and was honored as one of the Governor's Award Judges for five years. Her passion for music and for teaching our youth she became the Orchestra Director of the Affettuoso Tour Ensemble for three years, performing across NJ and the Conductor of the Garden State Philharmonic Prep Orchestra. Please look up Ms Feng further accomplishments over the school's website so you can get the full scope of her professional experience.
Apart from teaching music in the public school system Ms Feng felt that something was missing from her life. With the drive and passion that are a natural part of her personality she decided to open a music school where she could teach, obviously, but that could also give her and her students a greater sense of community. Here, at the Royal Stage School of Music the purpose is to bring people together, through their community and through joint efforts to help other communities even across borders. In each performance there is always the purpose to help a different organization.
When they say music comes from the heart it really means that - music can be the vehicle to achieve greater things, either through church activities, organized donations to people in need or even just focusing on ourselves and how can we become better people with music and through music.
If you go to the school's website here you can access the log of donations and charitable work that has been done since 2015.
If you're interested in knowing a bit more about the Royal Stage School of Music let me tell you that there are several classes from which you may choose:
Both Community Orchestra and Community Band practices take place at the Fanwood Presbyterian Church.
An interesting thing to do is to take your kids to the Parents Night Out that happens once every month at the Royal Stage School of Music and see what the kids come home with! Let them tell you all about their experience and their own curiosity and ideas about music. What's better than let them tell us what they think about music and what they feel after getting to have more contact with it? During these 2 hour events the kids get to try and play some instruments to get a notion of what it feels like. It's an interesting and fun way to see if they are excited about it and if they have a favorite musical instrument! Also, they will be with other children, having fun and the parents get to relax for a while!
Also, I must not forget to mention the prestigious awards that the Royal Stage School of Music has been receiving through the past years. The School has won "Most loved music lessons", from Hulafrog 2017 and students have won competitions and performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Both orchestras won 1st place superior and concert orchestra and received highest overall score award out of the entire competition.
I think we've covered the basis of the school, it's values and how it is structured in different levels and classes to fit everyone. Now, it is your turn to get clicking on the website here and start looking for specific information that might be helpful to you and your children, since the school teaches both adults and children.
I hope you became curious enough to look up some more information about the music school and I would love to have someone leave a comment about their experience, either personal or with their children!
We have a great new place around Scotch Plains to get some delicious and nutritious snacks! I heard about this place on the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Neighbors Facebook group which shows that even us, locals, don't keep up with everything going around us! I decided to take a look and get to know the place so I scheduled a meeting with the owner, Desiree.
To get to Oba Brazil you need to get in the YETI MMA, right next to Bowcraft, on Route 22. As soon as you get in you get a cozy feeling from the simple but tastefully though of decoration. The owner, Desiree, is Brazilian and it was extremely refreshing for me to able to speak Portuguese with someone around here! It's amazing how you can get so familiar with someone just by coming from brother countries, like Portugal and Brazil.
So, with all the warmness typical in Brazilian people, Desire showed me the place around. There are a few tables and chair to sit down and you can sit down at the counter too, if you want to be closer to the action! Behind the counter you can always count on seeing a lot of fresh fruit, organic whenever possible, but always fresh which is key to a business that is focused on fresh produce.
You can choose from a pretty good variety of pitaya and açaí bowls, depending on what you like the most. The frozen pitaya and açaí used are 100% organic and can really boost your metabolism - help promote skin and heart health, contain healthy fatty acids, are powerful energy and immune system boosters and are packed with vitamins.
At OBA Brazil you can choose between five different bowls:
I tried the "Salada de Fruta", salad fruit bowl and it really was something! The fruit really is extremely fresh and super tasty. The whole thing ended up looking like a piece of art. Just take a look at it!
Do you see that flower on top of the bowl? It's super cute and delicate and it's made from frozen peanut butter. Desiree also had ones made from chocolate and I think it's the perfect final touch for such a beautiful creation. It truly adds a personal touch which is what keeps me coming back to a pace like this - feeling like the person there is really committed to it and tried to pass along something personal, besides the product that is being sold.
Shakes are also part of the menu and the flavors are all so interesting that the real issue is which one to choose! I went there with my kids, after this day, and they loved the smoothies, are we're most used to calling them. Desiree is all about costumer service and getting things done the way the client likes it; my daughter was able to get a personalized shake because there are some ingredients that she dosen't like that much so she had one specially made for her! How cool is that? If you have a particular ingredient that you don't like just tell Desiree about it and she will change it for you, for sure!
There are 6 different shakes and, although they all have protein powder on them, you can ask them without it if you don't want it, just ask!
As you can see it's like a tropical paradise by Scotch Plains!
There are also some truly delicious treats to eat alongside the shakes. There are "coxinhas de galinha" which are a kind of salty chicken appetizer, available in different flavors, like buffalo, broccoli or plain. They are covered in bread crumbs and fried and they are sold like bites (individual size snacks). You can get a dozen for $12 and you're able to mix and match the flavors. If you're planning a get together try these out. They won't last long and everyone will ask you where to buy them!
There's also "pão de queijo", Brazilian bread cheese. A delicious and mouth watering appetizer that comes straight out of the oven and melts in our mouth! These are sold by $1.5 for 3 units. When I was there Desiree also had these Brazilian dessert called "brigadeiros" - a chocolate bite size dessert for the chocolate lovers! There's also something new to try out at OBA Brazil!
I hope I was able to get everyone curious about the new smoothie/bowls place and that I'll get some of the locals to try these delicious treats. Pa a visit to Desiree, she's extremely nice and always ready to welcome new costumers. Also, if you've never been there she will offer you a discount for your first purchase!
With the cold days ahead get some nutritious shake or bowl and warm up with a Brazilian hot snack! Trust me, try it out and let me know what you had. I'll just leave you my bowl again for your own delight!
Carrying on with the purpose of getting to know the people in our community I found out about Soothcare through Facebook. I got to know Samantha and we had a really pleasant morning sipping a cup of coffee and just chatting about life and about the product she created.
Samantha is a certified Holistic Health Coach, having received her training from the Institute for Integrated Nutrition in New York City. She is married and a mother of 3 children. We discussed the importance of healthy eating and healthy habits in children being that the both of us are so interested in food and health.
Soothease is a brand of natural candies created with a specific purpose: having been through a very hard time in her life, Samantha battled against cancer and today she is, proudly, a cancer survivor! We all know of someone who's been through this disease and hear about all the side effects of treatments. While going through chemotherapy for cancer she experienced several side effects, as it is typical with this kind of therapies. One of the main issues was the mouth discomfort - the permanent feeling of dry mouth and the recurring mouth sores became a struggle.
Dysgeusia (changes in taste) is pretty much common during chemotherapy and radiation therapy and it can occur in up to 50% of patients. The changes can be caused by damage of the taste buds, dry mouth, infections or dental problems. In consequence, foods may seem to be tasteless or may not taste the way they did before the treatment.
Being a holistic chef, Samantha believes in the power of natural and earth-based foods and has been practicing a vegan diet in her household for a long time. Getting the correct, safe and beneficial foods can get us to a more healthy place, both spiritually and physically.
After several experiences with many organic ingredients, Samantha came up with a great tasting candy that promotes comfort and supports the human body's ability to maintain normal taste sensation.
Every ingredient of these candies is organic, natural, non-GMO and was carefully chosen for it's natural supportive properties. If you would like to know something more about these products and where to buy them, look up here the store locator.
You can also order Soothease candies online, on Amazon (affiliate link):
At the moment, there are 4 flavors available. The present challenge is to take out the sugar from the recipe and replace it with something healthier. I'm sure Samantha will be able to get a perfect substitute and offer a no-sugar variety in the near future. When you're a chef you are constantly trying to find different combinations of ingredients to improve your ideas!
Samantha was kind enough to offer me a package of the Chocolate Flavored Brown Rice heart candies and I tough it tasted great. A very smooth flavor that even my kids loved! I think it's great for anyone that is looking for some kind of comforting solution for the mouth. I tried it after burning my tongue when tasting food (I'm always in a hurry!) and it helped me to get a feeling of relief.
Chocolate Flavored Brown Rice -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic brown rice, organic cocoa powder, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Orange Flavored Barley -
Made with ingredients that help support the body's ability to regain the sense of taste: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic light corn syrup, organic barley malt syrup, organic orange extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Honey Lavender Flavored -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, organic honey, Aloe Vera water, organic lavender extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Peppermint Flavored Barley (New!) -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic light corn syrup, organic barley malt syrup, organic peppermint extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
All of the varieties are available in heart shape and lollipop shape
I hope this post will help everyone to get to know this candies because I'm positive that most of us know someone that will benefit from them. Even for ourselves, not having a medical condition, taking these candies may be a way to help our mouth to be comfortable and to have a soothing experience on these cold months ahead.
I had a great time getting to know Samantha and learning about her life story and I hope we can all keep sharing about all our great entrepreneurs that we have in the Scotch Plains and Fanwood area.
About two weeks ago I was thinking about how life has surprised us, with its twists and turns. Moving from Portugal to the US about a couple of years ago and having had my own business really were turning points in my life.
I used to own a small business, a small beauty store, selling makeup, cosmetics, perfumes and accessories, in a small town. I loved all the aspects of the business - managing the store, making sure that the store was fully stocked, having brand representatives at the store for marketing campaigns but, essentially, talking to people and helping them choose the best products for themselves and helping them to feel happy about it!
It lasted seven years and then the European economic crises hit and we were no longer able to compete with the big department stores that are always filling the market with lower prices and bigger promotions. The store closed and I became a stay at home mom for my two beautiful children.
My love for small and local business remains and it got me inspired to use my blog as a tool to share local businesses around me, in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, New Jersey. Since we've moved here we came to know a bit more about this community and everything about the place really is appealing for families and, truly, the people that live here ARE this place!
Not so long ago I noticed a new business in Fanwood and it immediately caught my attention. From the exterior I could see the inside through the glass windows and door and it looked like a welcoming place, perfect to take my family out to lunch! It was crowded which is always a good sign when we're talking about diners and restaurants.
I contacted the owner of the Fanwood Grille, John Mooney, who was extremely open to the idea of having his place reviewed by me and posted on the blog and on social media. After all, even I had heard wonderful things about their food, on Facebook!
All the opinions expressed are my own and, although I didn't pay for any of the products I tasted, I'm writing my sincere and honest opinion on the subject.
The place has a really cozy feeling, not overcrowded with tables and mainly decorated with wood accents which always gives that comfort feeling. The brick wall, I thought, is also a very nice feature and complement perfectly the rest of the decoration. It's somewhat a new, modernized version of a diner, with the home made food and welcoming environment.
When we go in we can immediately spot the kitchen area, which is always a good sign! If someone's comfortable enough for the costumers to see what's happening in the kitchen, all the time, it can only mean that the ingredients and the food have great quality and there is absolutely nothing to hide!
There's also the counter area where you can see a display of several items depending on the special of the day. Salads, soups, fresh fruit cups or parfaits. I'm only using photos with no people on them to protect people's privacy, after all, I'm reviewing the establishment and I didn't intend to disturb anyone.
The menu has all the usual items that you can find in such eateries like burgers, hot dogs, breakfast options and also "Signature items" that promise to surprise and excite your taste buds! From the lobster roll to the crab cake, the Gerry Cooney Prime Steak Sandwich, the Cowboy Tony Hot Dog, the Waldorf Salad with Guinness cheddar cheese there are plenty of options to satisfy the most demanding costumers. The overall prices are pretty good ranging from $5 to $18 and, of course, the most expensive dishes are the signature items due to the great quality ingredients that are used.
So, let's talk about the food! For starters I tasted three soups. All soups are made from scratch at the Fanwood Grille. They're made fresh every morning and with careful picked ingredients to guarantee the best tasting soups and great quality from start to finish.