My Favorite Things: Winter 2020

An Unlikely Oasis

Sometimes it’s frigid and miserable outside, which is fine when you have the bad-weather-work-is-being-nice-please-no-sick-people luxury of staying inside. But after a certain amount of hours, you think you’ll go mad if you spend another minute confined to your walls. Antidote? The Jersey City Newport Mall, a winter sanctuary. The mall is usually quiet even though life bubbles throughout; the mall has nice indoor winter light; and, unlike most spaces open to the public, the mall does not require you to spend any money upon entering. I’ve often just window-shopped or sat in one of the comfy chairs to catch up on a book. And if you need to do other things, you can get your hair trimmed, your nails done, your phone fixed, have a meal or coffee or dessert, get a massage or see a movie in the reclining bed theater. But again, not required to spend.


Snow Ball Gala

January holds some post-holiday excitement for Jersey City with its annual Snow Ball Gala. Hosted by Art House productions, Jersey City’s home base for the visual and performing arts, the black-tie event raises funds for the next season of arts and educational programming. Besides dinner and dancing, there will be silent and live auctions as well. This year, over 350 politicians, community leaders, area residents, and professional artists will be in attendance on January 25, 2020. Tickets here.


Forever Green Hand Salve

I was gifted an amazing winter treat – hand salve by local vendor forevergreen. As someone who suffers from Reynaud’s and also uses works/with her hands all day, I have an arsenal of hand products. This herbal salve in the “Soothe” blend is the best hand salve I’ve ever used, so much so that I gluttonously went through the entire tin in under 10 days (it should last ) Bonus points that the salve is organic and can be used for tattoo care.



photo courtesy of stitcher radio

Hello Monday with Jessi Hempel (podcast)

Elizabeth Gilbert’s breakdown in the beginning of episode “Careers vs Jobs” (Feb. 17, 2020). is similar to how I began to view work/career/9-5 once I entered my thirties. A good listen for those evaluating career and life choices.


305 Fitness

While they do get plenty of press and are not in Jersey City (I frequent 8th St. in NYC), 305 Fitness is a nice break from the grind and the formality of group workout classes. Go for the high-energy, live DJ dance classes in black-light, or, if you just need to relax and unbuckle those muscles, opt for the stretch class, which is 90 degrees, not humid (not slippery) and not formal yoga (no judgment and minimal correcting), in dim lighting. I must be sensitive to light – computer screens? – but, it is oh-so-nice to give your eyes a break while releasing body tension in a warm, calm environment after a long day or week.


South Florida (or your warm winter destination)

Winters in New York City can scrape the insides of your soul. The biting winter wind, the darkness by 5pm, the isolation of the dark/cold/gray days, let alone a major blizzard – replaces this year by a major virus, coronoavirus — all of these can easily cause despair. Sometimes, you wonder if other people live here. So you need to leave. Every 3-5 weeks, you should seek warmth and life, even if only for a few days. Your body heals and feels infinitely better for weeks after you return just from. Better health, better sleep, less body pain.  Then by a month’s time, you need to go away again. Never underestimate the power of D3 from the actual sun, and water and nature and alive flora and fauna and alive people and prioritize your winter trips.


DIY Footbath

In the same arena of winter skin and circulation health, for those times you are too lazy or broke to haul yourself through the throes of winter harshness to the greener pastures of SoJo Spa Club , do like I did and make your own foot soak. Supplies needed: plastic bucket (bought mine at Kennedy’s for $1.99) and one of your gifted bath bombs or indulgent soaps (because how often do you take an actual bath?). Or even epsom salts and essential oils—whatever you have on hand. Just add hot bath faucet water and soak your toes and woes away.


Skinner’s Loft

Skinner’s Loft is as close to perfection as a restaurant can get, according to me, my 13 years here and the things I most value when going out to eat. Perfect ambiance (lighting, decor, flowers!), varied menu of small and large plates that rarely disappoint, and perfectly timed/ super professional yet also friendly service almost 100% of the time (extremely hard to achieve in this industry, in these particularly picky parts of the Northeast.) My greatest joy beyond having the luxury to dine here (when schedule, bank account and plus one or more’s schedule fits/ all the stars align in the very utmost of dead dark days of hibernation non-social season) is the flowers. The fresh flowers. The arrangement in the ladies’ room is usually my favorite, but the bouffant lush florals on the second floor of dining — and elsewhere on the three-floor+ roof space, they switch it up — are quite magnificent and worth your appreciation. Color is everything; life is everything. And this reminds me of myh very favorite restaurant growing up, Radicchio’s in Ridgewood, NJ, where fresh flowers were picked up from NYC daily at 5am along with fresh Italian everything to decide the evening’s menu. Back to the present, Skinner’s loft hugs me like the two living rooms in my childhood Victorian home, sans the two fireplaces yet all of the abundant warmth.


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