Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 2, 2016

5 Years

Mark reached a new record – 5 years at one company. Yes, he switched jobs last year, moving to the mothership, but it’s the same company. The fanfare does not include a party or them throwing more money at him, but it does include a gift choice.


For the record, they include a pen/pencil set, a crystal frame, a mobile device battery charger, a clock with the corporate name on it, an MP3 speaker, and a crystal bowl that might hold nuts or M&Ms (it’s pretty small). It was a tough decision. Truly.

When I had my 5 year anniversary at Norcal Mutual Insurance Company, I chose a Kitchenaid mixer, which was much more useful. Especially since I was convinced I was never going to find the right guy and get married. Better get that mixer while I could!

Of course I met Mark the next month, and returned the Kitchenaid mixer that my aunt bought me as an engagement gift 10 months later since I already had one. I’m still using the mixer (and the hubby is still around too). I just got my annual pension notice from Norcal. Yes, I actually have a pension when I retire. It’s not much, but it will pay my cable or cell phone bill each month in retirement. While I didn’t know what a defined benefit plan was in my 20s, I know what it is now.

I know you’re all wondering what Mark chose from this list of corporate 5 year gifts.


Yup, he’s the proud new owner of a pen and pencil set. Happy 5th anniversary, Mark!

And not that we’re still sore about it, or anything, when he got laid off from his previous employer, who spent a kazillion dollars to move us (and 200 other families) to New Jersey and then demolished his department 16 months later, his official end date was one month before his 5 year anniversary. So that means they owned him nothing on his pension. Yeah, thanks for that.

By the way, this is one of the anniversary gift choices for those who make it 15th years at Kaplan Ink: 5 carat diamond earrings from Tiffany & Co. Oh wait – I’ve already passed that anniversary. Time to order the earrings!


Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 3, 2016

My romantic husband

For our 18th anniversary, Mark gave me this:


I know! So romantic! Not only does it fit my car perfectly, but it’s my hubcap. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 2, 2016

Weird stuff I’m getting as a writer

I get some odd press releases. Recently:

-crowd-funding for microwaveable soul food

-a press release offering me an interview with a celebrity masseuse, whose techniques include “biting, invigorating Argan infused oils and firmly pulling the hair at the temples to release tension.”

-a vendor offering me (in exchange for a review), samples of pine bark extract which they say reduces wrinkles, as well as treating circulation problems, allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure and muscle soreness/pain.

-Another vendor selling essential oils offering me a sample and discounts to my readers.

-a bill for a flu shot. I did a sponsored post about flu season for a drug store, and we received flu vouchers to use. It took the nurse 30 minutes to enter them, and one didn’t take, and in the meantime, patients were stacking up in the hallway – not a good experience for anyone – especially when I got an unexpected bill. Good thing I wasn’t writing a review about how inefficient the voucher entry was.

-an offer for 4 pounds of pasta and sauce so I can post a picture on social media about Ravioli Day, on which is on March 20 (though you can post for a month – hooray!). Since I don’t have to post on my blog about this, just social media, I’m in. Tonight it’s #ravaraviolichallenge dinner since the FedEx cooler pack arrived on Tuesday with 4 bags of ravioli and 2 containers of pesto.

-a press release about “why now is the time to visit Hawaii.” Seriously? Is there a BAD time to visit Hawaii? It goes on. “There are typically two things that come to mind when you think of Hawaii: honeymooners and surfers. But Hawaii has so much more to offer travelers of all kinds – adventure, relaxation, family bonding, millennial getaways, culture and culinary experiences.” Again, seriously? They’re pitching me because I’m a travel writer. What travel writer thinks of Hawaii only as a place for honeymooners and surfers?

-“(COMPANY) is looking for a first-class mommy blogger to make a Demo video for our product–battery operated nasal aspirator,  in exchange we help you to expose on our social media accounts and brand website. If you are interested about this, please reply this email, or tell us via twitter. If you just want to get paid, please let me know how much you want.” Dear Company – I want $10,000. Now.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 1, 2016

Mitzvah Fair Fun

It’s hard to believe that after going to so many mitzvah fairs for my daughter, I waited until 4 months before my son’s to hit the circuit. Granted, we already have almost all the details nailed down for his, so I don’t need a new photographer, venue, photo booth, watermelon carved head or centerpieces. In fact, I’m reusing centerpieces from my daughter’s luncheon for my son. I hope no one notices. At least the tablecloths will be a different color.


Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | January 24, 2016

Blizzard 2016

The storm is over. It’s a beautiful, sunny day now, unlike yesterday’s windy snowy day. We couldn’t even get good views of what was happening outside, as the snow stuck to the windows. We figure we got at least two feet of snow, though maybe it was more.


The view from inside the house.

The big news in town was that our local Trader Joe’s roof partially collapsed, with its walls buckling. See the video here. That’s sad for a number of reasons, like the loss of business for them and employee jobs. Personally it’s sad for me because I shop there weekly and there are quite a few items I only buy there. Just checked the site – there’s another one maybe 20-25 minutes away, so I may have to check it out until this one gets rebuilt. I know, first world problems.


The wind was blowing! Our garage was only open so Mark could put the garbage and recycling in. We did some major purging during the storm.

I took the quiet day at home as an opportunity to clean up the attic and basement a little. Even though they don’t look much different, we got rid of a bunch of bags of things, mostly the kids’ stuff they stored in the attic and some craft items in the basement that were partly used and no longer needed.


As a bonus of doing this, Dori found a winter hat she lost and Zack found some Pokemon cards. And I found my winter boots.


Mark went outside to shovel twice. This was before the first shoveling, because you can still see the planter. The screen door obviously wasn’t shut fully because we got snow inside the door and on the screen handle. Later we had to exit through the back because it was impossible to push this door open.

Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 19, 2015

Kaplan Family Bat Mitzvah Spotlight

For those who following this blog and our Bat Mitzvah journey, you may remember that I often referenced They do Bar/Bat Mitzvah profiles. I have no desire to be featured there, but I did want to do a similar profile here. If you haven’t read theirs, you might want to do so before reading this, otherwise this post will make very little sense.

Some examples:

Jessica’s Shoe Gallery Bat Mitzvah

Brooke’s Bat Mitzvah

The Candy Bat Mitzvah

Okay, so now that you’re primed!

The Kaplan family of New Jersey celebrated Dori’s Bat Mitzvah.

The Theme

Dori decided not to have a theme (other than “I’m reading from the Torah and becoming a member of the Jewish community”). When pressed at mitzah fairs, though, she contemplated telling people she chose a “cow” theme.


Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 3, 2015

Deer: a Love Story

Something unique happened today. Two deer spent several hours in our yard. We’ve seen deer in our suburban town before, but not at our house and rarely on our street (I can think of two or three occasions in six years when I’ve heard of deer on the street). So this morning after a late shower (late meaning 8:15 a.m.) I came downstairs to make breakfast and I got quite startled in the kitchen. There was a male deer outside the window. He was looking at me. I was looking at him. And then I was rummaging through my purse to get my little camera and my phone.


I looked around and saw his companion on the back lawn. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | October 26, 2015

Zack on Good Morning America

Zack got his second shot at fame on Good Morning America today. I wrote a long post about the experience over at Jersey Kids, so please head over there for my story, lots of photos and video links.

Zack and 19 other kids on Good Morning America with Jeff Kinney.

Zack and 19 other kids on Good Morning America with Jeff Kinney.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | September 8, 2015

First day of school – 2015

Well, it’s back to school again – even though it seems so late and there are leaves on the ground. The kids are at different schools at least for the next two years.


We had a little snafu this morning. High school starts ridiculously early. Dori managed to get up on time to leave for school. She went to her friend’s house to pick up her friend, only to find out that school started 45 minutes later today. Huh? Nothing on the school home page. Nothing in recent emails from the school (update: a friend mentioned a recent PTO email. Just went to look and bam, they did list the opening/closing time for school today. My bad! Granted they didn’t note that this was a change in the original schedule, which is probably why I missed it). Nothing from the freshman orientation. One mention in the back to school letter sent mid-August. Yes, I should have seen that. But would it hurt to make mention of it other times as well? Especially for the freshman? Because the other local schools (elementary/middle) don’t start late on the first day. Oh well. At least she wasn’t late.

And Zack was off to middle school. And he was on time too – a good start to the year. May it last.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 19, 2015

The Last Letter

I figured camp letters were over for the season, but today, less than 24 hours before the kids arrive home, we got one last letter from Dori. Here are highlights:

“Last Saturday evening during Havdala (end of Shabbat), they always have a slideshow of pictures that they took of people during the week and it’s really cool. They have categories like “in the pool,” “photo bomb” or “group photos.” I FINALLY got into the slideshow! But guess what category I got in? Awkward photos!”
Read More…

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