Belleville Business: State Fair Seasons Halloween

Image from  bestofessex.com

Image from bestofessex.com

I generally try to stay in Hudson County for our featured businesses, but when offered the opportunity to play in the "World's Largest Halloween Store", I'm certainly not going to turn it down. Plus I think every Hudson County-er can handle a 20 minute drive. Family owned and operated, the State Fair brand is also behind State Fair Meadowlands (your favorite NJ State Fair), and certainly understands entertainment for the whole family.

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Walking into State Fair Seasons Halloween, is like walking into an absolute Halloween wonderland. It's the kind of place where I'd happily spend money with reckless abandon. Firstly, it's HUGE! Take about three of your NYC Halloween pop-up stores and maybe that will give you an idea. It's also open all year long-- some of the inventory may be switched to cater to Christmas or the Summer pool season-- you can always expect to find a good amount of costume inventory. 

When I meet store representatives Steve Solomon and Michelle Tartaglione (a part of the family that owns State Fair) in the store, they're lovely and excited to show me around. I'm ready to dress up, because, well, there are few things that get me as excited as dressing up. We start at decorations that span from small rubber spiders, to life-size animatronic scary women that evil-y cackle with fervor. There are aisles of tombstones, ghosts, scary things that make noise, you name it. 

Next up we check out the mask/ hat/ wig wall. Rest assured, I'm not lumping these in together because there isn't enough inventory-- in fact there's so much it takes up three major walls in the store. Masks span from licensed characters like the South Park kids and Avatar, to scary, to weirdly obscure turkeys and hairless cats. Not to mention there're hundreds of different hats and wigs that will work any costume you're planning.  

The store is stocked with costumes and accessories for everyone in the family from infant, to Plus Sized Adult, to pets. They have couples costumes, costumes for the whole family, and not to mention the kids section is a whole entire separate room. There're shoe walls, aisles of accessories, walls of pantyhose and tutus, and basically anything you could possibly need. Want to build a costume from things in your closet, and just need a few chosen accessories? State Fair has it. Need a full deluxe costume with alllll the trimmings? This is your place. 

On top of all of that, they invite local makeup artist, and also part of the State Fair family, Catherine Cramer to do Halloween makeup tutorials. I definitely walked in not knowing what to expect, but hoping it was going to be the kind of gory makeup I've always tried to accomplish, but lack the skills to achieve. Catherine delivers and then some. Through a special effects zipper piece, cotton balls, liquid latex, fake blood and Ben Nye makeup (did I mention the makeup selection is extensive?), she managed to make my face look like it was coming undone. I was so happy I drove home with my makeup on.

Make sure you check out State Fair Seasons for all of your last minute Halloween costume and decorating needs, as well as their website here and their Instagram here. And don't forget to follow Catherine here, where she's doing her #31daysofHalloween challenge and ABSOLUTELY KILLING IT!

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Hoboken Business: The Winston

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When I heard a new Speakeasy was opening up in Hoboken I was so excited. Nothing at all against the Hoboken crowd, but we needed a bar that could refresh the Hoboken bar scene. More cocktail bar than Speakeasy, The Winston helps fill that void. Sure, there’s still Bud Light on the menu, but you can get a really nice looking and tasting cocktail also, and that’s really the focus.

Hector Noelle, Beverage Director, designs the cocktails, and as he says, likes to “get weird” with them. He takes classic cocktails and gives them a fun new spin, which I found to actually be well executed. I even appreciate the classic Hoboken bar offerings (Bud Light, Coors Light, Patron) because it makes nice cocktails accessible to everyone. 

Hector first makes the “Seeking Perfection”, a play on the classic Gin and Tonic. In his version he uses Hendricks Gin, simple syrup, lavendar bitters, tonic, and an amazing thing called b’Lure Flower Extract. b’Lure is an extract that starts blue and changes to purple based on the Ph levels of what it’s mixed with. In this instance, the tonic water triggers the color change reaction, which is why the cocktail is presented in two parts: in an oil and vinegar cruet— separating the booze components with the b’Lure and the tonic and lime juice component— and the empty coup glass garnished with a lemon slice and burnt Rosemary for the aromatics. The cocktail is definitely showy, but it actually tastes good. I’ve never been much of a gin person, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Next up was the “Dunkirk", a Oaxaca take on an Old Fashion. Hector starts by torching a cinnamon stick and turning a glass upside down over it, smoking up the glass. He then mixes habanero shrub, orange bitters and agave, replacing the muddled orange slice, maraschino cherry and sugar from the classic recipe. He then adds El Buho Mezcal and Patron Silver. I genuinely loved this drink. The cinnamon smoke and mezcal give the drink the smokiness you expect and want from an Old Fashion, while the habanero adds a nice little extra burn. It’s the perfect fall day drink in my opinion. 

I’m personally happy to see that Hoboken Nightlife is starting to shed its Frat boy image, even if just a little. Make sure to give The Winston a try because we need more establishments like it in town! For more information check out The Winston website here, and their Instagram here.

Hoboken Business: Bum Pilates

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When I found Bum Pilates on Instagram I was all about the aesthetic. Between the millennial pink, the butt puns and the general imagery, I was all in. It's what a few big workout chains do with their imagery and advertising, but when you go to a class or meet the owners you discover it's all a shtick. As soon as you meet Cait Kolibas, the owner, it becomes abundantly clear how authentic it all is. Cait has long blonde messy hair, she's covered in the coolest tattoos, and did I mention she has the body we all wish we had? This place SCREAMS Cait, and it's cool AF.

I had never done a pilates reformer class before. Sure, I've tried some floor pilates classes at the gym, where women are essentially piled on top of each other, while Techno played, but this was different. Between my gym experience, and the image I had in my mind of Gwyneth Paltrow in an overpriced perfectly white workout outfit, sipping Moon Juice while some New Age music plays, I've just never had any interest. Pilates always seemed like something that just wasn't my speed. Maybe it was the tranquility, or pretentiousness, but it didn't sound fun. When we talk, I tell Cait that these are the images I've had in my mind and exactly why I've never had any desire to try Pilates. 

But Bum is entirely different. There's hiphop music I actually listen to playing, the space is cute and pink, there's a calm pit-bull sleeping on the sofa, and Cait's teaching in Adidas leggings and a vintage soccer shirt. She's saying things like "this one makes your ass burn, right?". Not to mention the workout actually kicked my ass. 

I tell her I've recently (a year ago) had a baby, and haven't really been working out. And that's when she unloads some knowledge on me-- Pilates is one of the best postpartum workouts. Pilates is perfect for strengthening the pelvic walls that lose their strength after birth. The same walls that make peeing when you sneeze or laugh a possibility. The same walls that ache after a day of walking around. And after one class I can feel that it's true. But let's not forget about your butt. I'm sure Pilates is a great overall workout, but between all the squeezing and tightening and extending, my lower body is where I feel it all. Cait also uses TRX in her workouts which I've always found fun and hard. It brought in an ab element I didn't really get from the reformer exercises, and from what I've heard, is rare in a Pilates class. 

Cait and Bum Pilates make working out fun. In an hour I felt toned, strong and like I had actually done something really good for me. It doesn't hurt that the body you're aspiring to have is teaching the class, which is a lot of motivation to keep going when it starts to get too hard. For some exercises watch our episodes below, or go take a class. I assure you, you will feel good afterwards.

For more information on Bum Pilates check out the website here, and the Instagram here. And don't forget, we've partnered with them to giveaway 1 personal training session with Cait herself.