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Normally, I wouldn’t feature a site like this as part of my Friday series.  However, as you know, Jared and I are in the midst of our house search, and one of the main reasons we went with Weichert had a lot to do with their Web site.  So, let’s take a look!

Weichert is very heavily concentrated in our area, so I can’t lie and say we only went with them because of the Website.  However, I do find their search features to be among the best of all real estate Web sites.  When we were first looking and were not ready to commit to a particular group, Weichert was one of the only sites that would let us see as many details as possible without logging in and being harassed with phone calls and emails.

The best part about Weichert is the search functionality.  My biggest hangup with other real estate Web sites was how long it took the photos to load and the flash-type platforms they would use.  I really don’t have time to click in 1,000 different places to find out information about a house.  Weichert keeps everything within 1 click, allowing you to scroll through pictures in the same screen you’re already in, avoiding pop-ups and flash sites loading and slowing things down.

The only trouble we did experience with the search functionality was that it would often give us listings that didn’t meet the criteria we had selected.  For instance, we wanted 2+ full bathrooms, and we would still get listings with only 1 full bathroom.  There must be a reason behind this, but I have to admit it was annoying.

Once you do establish an account on the Weichert Web site, you’re able to have email alerts sent to you with new listings within your search parameters.  Once the email arrives in your inbox, all you have to do is click on the link to the new house, and you’re taken right to the page without having to log in again.  Love that.  Made looking at new listings so much easier!

In addition to providing a great way to look at listings online, Weichert provides a lot of great area information on their site as well.  We were particularly interested in the school and community information.  By doing simple Web searches, I think that information is hard to come by.   It was nice to have it all in one place.

As we approach our potential closing date of August 30th, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about the service we’ve received from Weichert….stay tuned!

Jared and I are kind of in love with the New Brunswick restaurant scene.  Maybe it’s because I can’t get enough of college towns, but every time we head down there, I’m never dissapointed.  Jared and his coworkers have been to Harvest Moon Brewery before, and Jared was dying to take me.  I read in New Jersey Monthly that they had a new brewmaster, so we decided to go for lunch last weekend.

Harvest Moon’s ambience is not dissimilar to other breweries we’ve been to.  We sat upstairs, and were trying to figure out what the building used to be.  Maybe a factory?  At any rate, the list of beers was also pretty comparable to other breweries.  As always, I went with the lightest beer, the MoonLight Kolschbier, and Jared went with the sampler.

Here’s the one thing I usually hate about samplers-they take up the whole table.  Seriously, at Long Valley, this is an issue for me.  I hate crowded tables.  The sampler at Harvest Moon was perfectly shaped.  You can see it over here on the right.   Jared even remarked that he liked how the shape left room for a plate.  My other pet peeve with breweries is when they are out of almost every beer on the list just because it’s a weekend.  Harvest Moon was only out of 1 beer that was listed, which they were able to replace with hard cider, which worked out well for me.

Harvest Moon Brewery Sampler

I was impressed with the Kolschbier.  Typically, the light beers at breweries, in my opinion, also have the least flavor.  Jared even agreed that this was not the case with the Kolschbier at Harvest Moon.  It was still a light flavor, but was still noticeable in just the right way.

The lunch menu at Harvest Moon was also pretty decent.  I had read great things about their pizza in New Jersey Monthly, so I tried the Chicken Caesar Pizza.  I wasn’t quite sure how I would like it, but it was actually very good.  Not too heavy, and the crust was perfectly thin without being too hard.  Loved eating it during the week as leftovers for lunch too!  Jared had the Fajita Salad, which also looked like an excellent choice.  Can’t go wrong with a tortilla bowl!

As he always does, Jared bought a growler and he actually chose the MoonLight Kolschbier, which was perfect for me, since I loved it.  Usually, he gets a growler filled with something darker that I’m not a fan of, and then it goes to waste.  The Kolshbier growler certainly did not go to waste!

Overall, Harvest Moon is a great option for lunch, and I’m sure dinner or any other outing.  I’d be interested to see how the atmosphere changes when Rutgers is back in session.  But maybe most college kids aren’t fans of craft brews.  😉

My Rating:  9/10

Harvest Moon Brewery
392 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ

Last weekend, we had a free Saturday for once.  Shocking, I know.  Since we moved to Bedminster, I had seen signs last year and heard tons of ads this year for the 28th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.  I’ve never really seen hot air balloons up close and personal, and thought it might be fun to see tons of them launch into the summer sky.  So, off we went.

If you plan to go next year, I’d recommend buying tickets online.  Our tickets online were $17 each plus a service charge of $3 each, as compared to the $25 at the door.  I’ll admit, I thought this ticket price was a bit steep to simply watch balloons.   I looked on the Web site for the festival and could tell they had vendors and concerts, but I wasn’t sure how robust this would be.

The Festival FAQs specifically say that traffic gets bad around 4:30 p.m.  We found out that the balloons can only go up at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., since this is when the wind is at its best for flying.  We decided to get to the festival around 3:45, and had no trouble getting in and parking.  The lines to have tickets scanned were not long at all.

The festival was pretty packed.  Not in a bad way,but there were definitely some lines to look at things in booths.  We were pretty pleased with all of the free samples (Dr. Pepper, Haagen Daaz, Turkey Hill, M&M/Mars to name a few) and were able to get those without a problem.  While a lot of the booths ran out of samples before we got there (pretty poor planning, I guess!) we still felt like we got a decent amount.

From a vendor perspective, I thought the festival was lacking variety.  There were a lot of home renovation type booths, such as windows, cabinets, etc., but not a lot of craft vendors.  The ones that were there did not really spark my interest, but maybe it was just me.  There were some cute balloon crafts if that’s your thing, but other than that, nothing too interesting.  For kids there were a lot of cute carnival type rides, and if we had kids, this is definitely a great place to take them.  The concert tents were also fun, along with the air conditioned Quick Chek tent that actually was like a little mini store!!

The launching of the balloons certainly lived up to my expectations.  It was really a very beautiful thing to watch.  I can’t say for sure how many balloons were there, but it must have been at least 40, if not more.  There was an announcer that kept us informed as to what would happen, and the “Master Balloonist” was on the air waves with her too, sharing information about how the balloons worked.  It was really very informative and just a cool thing to watch. 

Up, Up, and Away!

On our way home, we actually got to see some of the balloons landing, since they were near our house!  We did leave about 3/4 of the way through the launches to avoid the traffic build up. At first I was mad that Jared wanted to do this, but when I saw how cool it was to watch them land, I forgave him.  🙂

This is definitely a worthwhile event for the whole family.  While it’s not guarenteed you will see the balloons launch if the weather is poor, we got lucky and definitely got the full experience.  Another great local event to add to our list for next year!

Can your skin gets used to certain products?  Although most will argue that it can’t, I’m not sure I necessarily agree.  I spent a lot of time raving about Clearasil’s facewash before our wedding.  After going through 2 bottles of it, I thought maybe it was time to try something new.  I had a coupon for Biore, which is honestly what drove my purchase of the Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser.  That, and it’s warm in our house without AC, so I thought the “ice” part would be refreshing 🙂

Ice, Ice, Baby

So far, so good.  But maybe that goes back to my belief that switching it up product wise always has a positive impact on your face for a short time. I’ve been using the cleanser for about 2 months now, and I’m pretty pleased that I haven’t had any major breakouts during the times I usually would.  The product uses salicylic acid, which I learned a long time ago I need to use daily, as well as lavendar and eucalyptus to soften the blow of a strong cleanser.  In the past, I had to move away from salicylic acid cleansers because they were too harsh on my face. However, cleansers without it didn’t work very well for me.  This is a great combination of power and softness.

While I can’t see that I necessarily feel as refreshed as the “ice” description had me hoping I would in this heat, the product does what it promises.  And right now, that’s good enough for me!

Last weekend, Jared and I decided to head out to our Alma Mater to attend the Hops, Vines and Wines Festival in Selinsgrove.  We were really excited to see that Selinsgrove had an event like this.  There are so many great wineries and craft breweries in PA that we were sure the line-up would be fantastic.  And for $40 a person plus a 3 hour+ drive, we were hoping the trip would be worth it!

We bought the tickets the first day they went on sale.  They sold out pretty much the next day, meaning my friends who were thinking about attending would not be going this year!  This worried me a bit. We’ve been to a lot of festivals like this where you end up waiting in a huge entrance line only to elbow people  just to get a few ounces of beer/wine.

I can say with great pleasure that this was the best beer and wine festival we’ve ever been to.  Due to some unexpected road closures early in our trip Saturday morning, we didn’t arrive until after 2.  We were worried the line would be halfway down the state by that point.  But it wasn’t. We walked right in!  The volunteers were very friendly, handing us our complimentary tasting glass and letting us know that all the food was free, and that water bottles were free as well.

The best part of the festival was that we walked right up to all of the vendors.  The layout was perfect, allowing people to move around while still getting to hang out around their favorite booths.  And, as expected, the breweries/wineries in attendance were fantastic. The beer vendors were also very generous with their samples, which is always a plus.

I think the best part of the festival (besides seeing a lot of great people I haven’t seen in awhile!) was the fact that all of the food was free.  They had sausage sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, veggie wraps, chips, etc.  While I think they started running out toward the end, it was nice to not have to worry about paying for food-and the lines for that weren’t long either!

Susquehanna University should definitely consider doing something in conjunction with this event.  For the younger crowd, it’s certainly a reason to make the trek back for those of us that are further, and it would have been nice to be able to interact with more people while we were already out there.

Overall, the Selinsgrove Beer and Wine Festival gets major points for understanding their limits as far as the crowd is concerned.  Even though I’m sure they could have sold more tickets and made more money, the main attraction of this event was that it wasn’t overcrowded, which made us feel like we got the full experience for what we paid.  We’re definitely marking our calendars to buy tickets early again next year-we would hate to miss out on such an awesome day or beer and wine!

I’m a Jersey girl, through and through.  And I also love to read.  Last year, I got a promotion in the mail to receive New Jersey Monthly at a very reduced rate.  I figured since Jared and I are interested in events around the state, and since I could blog about them, I should start reading up.  🙂

A lot of magazines these days are doing a decent job driving people to their web sites.  However, that’s actually something I forget to do most days-when I’m reading, I rarely ever have a computer by me and by the time I’m at a computer, I’ve forgotten what I want to look up.  Yet New Jersey Monthly is a site I find myself visiting pretty often.

My favorite feature?  The Towns and Schools section, that includes the 2010 list of the Best Places to Live in New Jersey.  Since we’re doing our house search, this feature has been invaluable to us.  (Although, Bedminster, where we currently live, is #1, so we’ll only be going downhill no matter where we go….)

New Jersey Monthly also does a great job with its e-newsletters, something I typically never subscribe to from magazines. I usually find that these are a re-iteration of articles I’ve already read.  However, I’m definitely loving Side Dish, as I’ve mentioned.  Since we’re always looking for great, non-chain restaurants, Side Dish does a great job of continuing the awesome restaurant features in the actual magazine without being repetitive.

Finally, if you’re looking for events in an easily search-able fashion, the New Jersey Monthly events section is the perfect platform for finding activities in your area and beyond.

From the extended event and restaurant listings to the fun, personal stories of other restaurants, New Jersey Monthly has done a fantastic job bridging the gap between print and online.  Enjoy, my fellow Jersey kids, and have a great and safe Jersey Fourth of July Weekend!