Thursday, November 20, 2014

Save Our Post Office

My home post office is undergoing changes. I'm not much into politics, so I can't speak with knowledge about the inner workings of why things happen, but it seems to me like the most important American institutions are undergoing cuts and changes (police, teachers, post offices).

I am a big proponent of keeping things the same for as long as possible. I know that we are all technologically inclined (not something that I am thrilled about), but some things really should remain as they are. For example, writing. More and more, schools aren't teaching cursive writing, which, to me, is astounding. People write thank you notes and birthday wishes via text and social media. Not only is this less personal, it's less permanent.

The amazing Mountain Lakes Post Office.
While visiting my town's post office today (a friendly, efficient place where everybody knows everybody), I was informed that our carriers will now be working out of a neighboring post office, Parsippany. There will be a few people at the clerk window, but that's it. This is devastating to me. Our mail is sorted through Newark. Less and less is happening at our post office, and soon, if things don't change, it will close.

What kind of America do you want? I want one with small towns and privately owned shops. I want spaces where people feel welcome and others know them by name, creating a sense of familiarity. I don't want more Target Greatlands; I don't want more malls. I want a life with daily interactions that matter, rather than generic checkouts. I want moments to remember. I want a paper trail.

I have letters that my grandparents have written, also cards and old postcards. These things show the character of the writer. Writing style is noted, penmanship, paper choice, all give a peek into the character of the writer. Postcards sent from a specific location show where the person has travelled. Yes, we all post our photos on Instagram/facebook/twitter (whatever), but how can we save those photos to show our grandchildren? Sending mail is imperative.

Had this been an email or a text, it never would have survived.


I asked the local postmaster who I could contact to let them know how much I love our post office and to tell them that I would like it to stay the way that it is, and the postmaster said that while it was fine to try, the wheels of change were already in motion.

I will try.

Please, if you care about writing, sending letters, and maintaining an American tradition, please start walking into your local post office to mail your letters. Buy your stamps at your local P.O. by walking up to the counter and making the transaction with a person (as opposed to buying online).  Write a note, letter, or card today and send it to a friend, via the USPS. (Feel free to send me a letter: Domestic Goddess Files, PO Box 243, Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046)

And if you live in Mountain Lakes and would like to keep our post office alive and thriving, write a letter and let the district postmaster know how much our post office means to you. I know that you are busy, but taking 15 minutes out of your day to write to potentially save our post office is worth it, don't you think?

Send your letter to:
George Flood
USPS Northeast Area Communication Programs Specialist
21 Kilmer Road
Edison, NJ 08899
george.b.flood@usps.gov
732-819-3669

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Tis the Season for Saying No


The holiday season is one in which we get invited to parties, asked to volunteer at school, attend cookie swaps, and buy gifts for family, friends, co-workers (the list goes on). It's tough saying no to these sorts of festive (expected) events.

In an effort to remove stress from my life, I've decided to start saying no. (I'm not sure how yet, or to what, but it has been decided.) The seed was planted by my yoga teacher, Janice Molinari, last week, when she began our class with the practice of saying "no", something she said is uncommon in yoga (I think she said it's usually the yoga of yes) . She explained -- my translation may not be exact -- that saying no to some things of our choosing, gives us space to say yes to other, more important, soul feeding things. Saying no makes space in our life for the good things that are ahead, even if we have no idea what they are. At her workshop at Purple Om on Saturday, she spoke about reducing stress by creating healthy boundaries, one of which was getting enough sleep (there were others, but this has been particularly challenging for me). I decided that I would make a bedtime and value that boundary, regardless of what else might come up. 

The message came through again, last night, when another of my wonderful yoga teachers, Erika Sherger, spoke about aligning your outsides with your insides. She spoke of an accountant who had done yoga teacher training with her and, during training, she quit her job having realized it wasn't matching who she was anymore. This really began to resonate with me. The same message, twice, in as many weeks.


Processing this message with my friend, Tray (whom I attended these classes with, who has brought me back to yoga), she mentioned that she is making changes to her Christmas decorating schedule and shopping plan. She's taking care of herself while still getting things done; she's just doing them in a different way. To the old way, she's said no.

I am playing with where I will choose to say no, being mindful of what I'm choosing and why, and finding boundaries to support my yes choices. The task is something I've chosen not to take lightly, and will be thinking about over the coming weeks.

What might you say no to?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Only What You Love

Are you living the life you love? Are you happy/peaceful/content/excited with the pieces that compose your life? If the answer is no, some of the time, or hmm... I think so, then read on.

Staying at a beautiful hotel or visiting a fabulous restaurant with friends and loved ones brings radiant bouts of happiness. It's not because you are dining out (well, sure, in part it is), it's because you are with people who make you happy in a place that's pleasing to you. 

Every day, we make choices that define how we are going to feel. We choose where we live, work, who we live with, what to wear, and the things that surround us. All choices. And we may think we need to live, work, or wear what we do, but we can make changes. Can we just walk away from our job, or buy an entirely new wardrobe? Well, no. Not all at once. But, as my yoga teacher has said, we need to make space in our lives for what's ahead. And sometimes, that means taking an uncomfortable leap of faith.


I've been there. I stayed in a shitty, somewhat emotionally abusive and confining relationship with someone who really didn't offer me much. Yet we didn't live together, share finances, or do much that kept us bound together. I loved his family and his children, and because of that, I was terrified to let go. I was worried I'd never find love again, never have a big family. I was a 42 year old single mom, and the possibilities of meeting someone new, who had awesome kids, seemed limited. In the end, I found myself choosing my emotional and physical (the stress was literally beginning to kill me) well-being over the fear of loss, and I left. A year later, I found the love of my life, who happens to have three great kids and a wonderful extended family. I'd never have thought it possible, and now it's mine.

It's the same with anything. Jobs, homes, friendships. Most of us can't revamp our lives at the snap of a finger. Our budgets (and our hearts) don't allow. But we can slowly replace things (and release toxic friends), piece by piece. In regards to living space, begin by getting rid of what you don't absolutely love. Your space may look bare. That's okay. (I've recently done it... be warned, it's initially overwhelming.) Allow the space to remain open until you find something you really love to fill it.

I've sold lots of things, lately. Not a fan of Craigslist, I started a facebook page that is basically an online yard sale, and I've kept it local. Having it local is easy for transactions to occur, and is generally safe (we live in a pretty small, quiet area). In this group, I've sold hundreds of dollars worth of items, and bought other people's things (at a fraction of the retail value) that suit my home. Most recently, I found two vintage copper pots at a neighbor's house sale; one was used for washing clothes, the other as a garbage bin. They just happen to perfectly match the copper of my mailbox and are now holding firewood on my front porch. I couldn't have hoped for anything this perfect. Search for things that make you feel good, and when you find something that does, even one piece (even if it goes with nothing else), buy it. Designers always say that if your house is filled with things you love, the space will flow. 

Toxic friendships/relationships aren't as easy to drop. Walking away from someone you've been friends with forever, or for six months, isn't as easy as donating old clothes or selling a car. At some point though, you have to honor your spirit, despite what they may feel. If someone is draining you, making you feel bad, or using you, why keep them in your life?

Honoring who you are will make you a happier, healthier person. As I get older, I've begun to realize that life is too short to be in a place that doesn't feed your soul. Create the life you desire by starting now. Get rid of one thing, however small, that doesn't make you feel good. There you will have put into motion the change you wish to occur in your life.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A New York Minute With Kikay's Lea Faminiano

As a connoisseur of quality handmade items, I've finally found my favorite jewelry maker, a woman named Lea Faminiano. We are fortunate to be carrying some of her handmade jewelry in our shop, Domestic Living Comforts.  You'll love her jewelry and, after reading this Q&A, you'll find that she is equally wonderful.


Lea, who is currently residing and working in New York City, got her start in Mountain Lakes, NJ
Just a sampling of the fabulous jewelry that Lea designs (I happen to own the turquoise one myself).


Company Name: Kikay

Tell us a little about who you are personally: 
I'm originally from Mountain Lakes, and moved to New York a little over two years ago while I was at graduate school at Parsons. Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be an artist, and have always been involved in some sort of creative project...painting, drawing, calligraphy, graphics, animation, I love it all! Currently, I am a food and drink editor for a blog, a freelance writer/graphic designer/illustrator, and I occasionally teach art classes in NYC.

What made you decide to start your own business: 

I love jewelry, but I mostly like wearing pieces that really mean something to me. So I started making jewelry just for myself. I had a lot of free time back then, because I was between jobs, and to be honest, I couldn't afford the beautiful pieces I saw in shops, so I tried to recreate my own! My friends began asking for their own pieces and started urging me to open up an Etsy. I figured it would be a great way to make money on the side doing something I loved, and everyone has been so supportive. It's been really fun to watch Kikay grow.

What is your process for making your products?: 
I make everything at home, either in NY or NJ. I draw inspiration from everything, and I only make jewelry that I would wear, so you know I'm always 100% behind my product! It doesn't feel like work at all - most of the work that I do outside of Kikay is based around a computer, and it feels great to get away from it from time to time and do something creative with my hands. 

Do you think it's important for people to buy American handmade?: 
Yes! I'm always attracted to handmade products because I truly believe that love and care is an important element in any product.

Favorite quote: 
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Shop for Kikay items on our website by clicking here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

America the Imported. Buy American.

Our economy is in a very bad place. More and more, I hear people complain about how high their taxes are, how low their income is, and how we need to turn this economy around. But then, we shop at places with rock bottom prices like WalMart and buy things that are made in other countries.

For me, WalMart is a great place to buy window cleaner, movies, things like that. Living in this country, with our crapped out economy, it makes sense to save money buying something at the cheapest price possible. However, buying gifts, home goods, accessories, pots and pans, clothing? I just can't.

Less and less can we find things made in America. I walked through WalMart the other day, to see how many items I could find that were American made. Nothing I picked up was made in this country. But it's not just WalMart. It's everywhere. As a proponent of shopping locally, I've walked into small, family owned shops in an attempt to put my money where my mouth was and often times, I was saddened to see that many of the cute little things I picked up were made in China, Thailand or India. Did you know that the Fort Wayne, Indiana based Vera Bradley moved their manufacturing plant to China?* It devastated the workers in Indiana, where bags were originally made, and over 700 Americans lost their jobs. Vera Bradley said that they couldn't handle the business so they had to send it out of the country. But other businesses, like Alex and Ani, keep their businesses (and their money) in America.

Vera Bradley, made in China since 2008.

My beloved New Jersey catstudio pillow was made in India, and my Jersey Shore dish towel was made in Thailand. The pillows and towels feature countries and prized U.S. destinations, yet they are made in other countries? I'm confused.

My New Jersey catstudio pillow was made in India!

Very little is made here in America. Even Craftsman tools are now, mostly, being made overseas. On the occasion that I find something made right here in America, I feel elated. Bath and Body Works are all made in America, unless otherwise marked. If everything we bought was made in our country, our economy would turn around quickly.

I have pledged to only buy American made items. Saw a cool silicone flower that goes over your mug to keep your coffee warm, $10. The bottom was stamped Made in China so I put it down. What a difference we all could make if we only bought American made items. Try it for a few days. See how hard it is to find American made items, and how good it feels to put things down that are mass produced in other countries.

The realization that buying American is a tough job for consumers drove me to open a small online shop that sells American made items. Everything is made right here in this country. It makes me feel good to support American small business while providing consumers with quality items. Find out more. Visit my shop by clicking here: Domestic Living Comforts [American Made].

*Want a bag similar to Vera Bradley but made in America? Try Stephanie Dawn. Read more about Stephanie Dawn here.

Tiffany Palisi is the owner of Domestic Goddess Ltd., a company that specializes in hand poured, scented candles. On the side, she searches for products/recipes/ideas/shops that she loves, then shares them with her friends on this blog, and sells American made items online at Domestic Living Comforts. She resides in New Jersey with her boyfriend, their four children and two rescued dogs. She can be reached at domesticgoddessltd@aol.com. 

Please follow her on
twitter: @DmstcGoddessLtd
Instagram: DomesticGoddessCandles and DomesticLivingComforts
facebook: DomesticLiving Comforts and DomesticGoddessLtd

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Skinny on Coconut Oil

I've always been a fan of coconut oil. Before Dr. Oz and other big hitters were touting it's ability to help us lean up, I was a fan. Raised by parents who took me, as a kid, to our local health food store, Jandi's Nature Way (now Jandi's Natural Market), for a treat, natural peanut butter, sesame seed sticks and Tiger's Milk Bars were my version of normal. It's because of them that I gravitate toward health food stores.

I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer. For years, I used it every time I got out of the shower, used it while out in the sun (never burned, btw), and as lip balm. I sometimes used it to cook with, but I was more attached to using it for body care.

While browsing OpenSky, I saw coconut oil in a cool package and wanted to try it. Skinny Coconut Oil looks luxurious.

Skinny Coconut Oil. It's as good as it looks.
Well, in this case, looks are NOT deceiving. This stuff is incredible. It's solid, but the minute it hits your skin, it melts to a smooth liquid. It is not greasy, but is very moisturizing. I used it on my body after the shower and my skin immediately felt nourished. I used it on my lips which is great because it's totally edible and makes kisses taste good, too.

Just a few days ago, while adhering wicks into my empty candle glass, a bit of hot glue dripped from the glue gun and landed on my right hand. As I attempted to pull it off with my other hand, it attached to my finger and began to burn. Within seconds, the pain became excruciating and I ended up with a second degree burn.

Ouch. Burns hurt.
I know that you aren't supposed to put certain things on a burn (like butter), so as I was crying in pain (seriously, those burns hurt), my called for my boyfriend to search our house for burn cream. We didn't have any (who does?). I said no to Neosporin, no to similar options. I didn't want something to prevent infection. I wanted something to make the pain go away. And then it hit me. The coconut oil. To me, coconut oil is like magic (as is coconut water). I asked him to please get the coconut oil to put on the burn. Now, I did have my finger soaking in water for quite a while, but every time I'd take it out, it would sting. I applied the coconut oil to the burn and, boom, just like that it felt much better. Given that coconut oil is anti-bacterial, I've continued to apply it to the burn daily.

I've shared the coconut oil with my dogs, whose coats already seem shinier. I've applied it to my frown lines, my cuticles, and to my lips after brushing my teeth. Being a former smoker (I know, gross, right?), I worry about lines forming above my lips, but I cannot imagine the idea of using Botox to make them disappear (that immobile upper lip on Courtney Cox is disturbingly distracting).  Instead, I'm slathering the coconut oil there, as well. The options are endless.

Skinny Coconut Oil uses a process that, the company info explains, is "not duplicated by any other coconut oil manufacturer in the world." It's a process that "extracts the 100% RAW coconut meat by cooling and dehumidifying" their hand picked, virgin coconuts. They go on to teach that heated coconut oil makes is "less effective and more difficult for the body to absorb. Unfortunately, the majority of oils on the market claim to be "cold pressed" when it is only the final step... that uses a cold pressed system."

I am happily becoming dependent on the jar of Skinny Coconut Oil that's sitting on my bathroom shelf.  Just $24.99 for 16.7 oz., it's easily beats out the price of good face creams, is far more effective... and all natural.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Croissant Class Confessional

I've always had a love of baking. I used to make weekly banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, and a fabulous pumpkin bread recipe my mother got from her neighbor, Peggy Chang. In summer, along with my decked out, red white and blue patriotic home decor, I make low-fat blueberry muffins. I can make a mean egg less chocolate cake, and a cream cheese pound cake that starts in a cold oven,  requires tending to every 20 minutes bringing up the heat, in timed increments, until it's done. Outside of that, I have little skill.

My boyfriend and I decided to take a croissant baking class at Chocolate Ciel, a baking studio that recently opened in Cedar Grove (just minutes from Montclair). The owner, Colleen Klabin, is a pastry chef who trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

We begin with a recipe & instruction packet, a rolling pin, and dough.

We arrived ten minutes late because, try as I might, I have no concept of time. Walking in quietly (as the class had already begun), Klabin came to us to catch us up to speed. We learned how to make dough, roll it out, envelope the butter, then fold it into layers to create the flaky goodness that makes a croissant. Music played softly in the background. We were all new to croissant making; some came out of a love of baking, others (like me) with a desire to learn new techniques.

Jeff Burrowes gave his girlfriend, Sandy Morales, this croissant making class for her
birthday, which happened to be on the exact same day that the class was held.
Klabin taught to our level and spoke in a way that helped us understand what we were and why, explained where room for error was allowed (rolling it out too big or imperfectly), and what techniques required being precise.

My boyfriend rolled out his dough perfectly. Mine was so
poorly shaped that I chose not to photograph it :)
Measuring and marking where to cut for a perfect
croissant, his execution was unmatchable.

She provided an instruction booklet, complete with drawings and the croissant recipe. Additionally, we got to make a second batch of dough to take home with us. I learned that you should roll/knead the dough with just one hand, to get it into a ball quicker, but that I can also do it with my KitchenAid mixer. Guess who's making more croissants today?

Here, Dave Oscar puts egg wash on the croissants while his wife,
Diane Esty, watches intently as Klabin roll chocolate into croissants.

Chocolate Ciel does have specific classes for children, and also offers Mommy and Me classes, but mature children are welcome to take these sorts of baking classes. 

Dana Oscar, 9, attended class with her parents. She has a love of baking that
her mother, Diane, said "she gets from her father."

While the croissants were baking, we were treated to cheese and nuts. We snacked and talked, and got to know the other people in the class. The mood was relaxed and inviting. We each left with a box full of croissants that we'd baked, freshly made dough to continue our baking at home, and the recipe so that we could do it again.


One of the many croissants that I made yesterday.
This morning, for breakfast, I had one of yesterday's croissants. Absolute heaven. And knowing that I made it myself is that much better.

Chocolate Ciel's instructor and owner, Colleen Klabin.
Chocolate Ciel is located at 9 Sand Park Road in Cedar Grove. Class listings and other information can be found on their website www.chocolateciel.com. Be sure to check them out on facebook, as well.

Tiffany Palisi is the owner of Domestic Goddess Ltd., a company that specializes in hand poured, scented candles. On the side, she searches for products/recipes/ideas/shops that she loves, then shares them with her friends on this blog. She resides in New Jersey with her boyfriend, their four children and two rescued dogs. She can be reached at domesticgoddessltd@aol.com. 

Please follow her on
twitter: @DmstcGoddessLtd
Instagram: DomesticGoddessCandles