Sheila Schieck: Zen Muscular Therapy and Wellness Center

April 19, 2011

Ever wonder how a business came to be, or what inspired a business owner to open it? From our partners at All Things New England, check out this story about a woman on a journey and how a family tragedy led her from a master’s degree in education to the ownership of a full-service spa and wellness center.

Through heartache and devotion, Sheila Schieck is like a butterfly who has embraced changes and challenges in her life, transforming into something new and unexpected with colors that radiate strength, compassion and clarity.

A licensed and nationally certified muscular therapist, Sheila founded Zen Muscular Therapy and Wellness Center in 2001. Located off Route 128 in Woburn, Mass., Zen’s mission has been to help clients gain balance of body, mind and spirit through pain relief, stress reduction and education. The path that led Sheila here is a story unto its own.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education, Sheila spent several years as an alternative education teacher and teaching English as a second language. She later sought out new challenges and growth in the insurance industry, but felt out of her element in the corporate world. It was in the midst of this transition that something terrible happened–something that would deeply affect her and change her life forever. Sheila’s younger sister suffered a severe asthma attack that resulted in a traumatic brain injury, leaving her in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Read the rest of this story at All Things New England.

All Things New England Friday: L.A. Burdick Chocolate

February 11, 2011

It’s All Things New England Friday here and we’re exploring some of the region’s best chocolate, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

The package was waiting for me at the doorstep as we pulled into the driveway. “Quick! Run and get it before the kids see it”, I thought! Like a dog with a bone, I swept up the brown cardboard box  and stole away into the bedroom. This wasmy treat. And I wasn’t sharing it with anyone. At least not right now.

For some, chocolate excites the mind and heightens the senses. For others, it calms and soothes the nerves. For me, it quiets the clatter in my head and, for a moment, the silence is bliss. Whichever way you look at it, chocolate can mean many things to many people and for that it is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to thrive in the U.S. market today.

Similar to that of wine, chocolate taste and quality varies depending on the ingredients and processes involved in its production. Surrounded with so many options, choosing that perfect blend can be a challenging task for the chocolate lover and connoisseur. To run a successful operation in the chocolate business, its important to take the guess work out of the decision making process for the consumer. Having a specialty  niche certainly doesn’t hurt matters either. L.A. Burdick Chocolate knows all this and much more!

Read the rest of this article at All Things New England.

 

Tips to Beat the Cold

January 25, 2011

Typically, on these cold winter days, I’m the only one to wear a scarf and gloves inside. I may have no tolerance for temperature changes, but I can assure you, I’m not the only one freezing her buns off this week– minus 2, anyone? Yum.

Here are some no-fail methods I’ve got for keeping warm.

Get Physical– whether you hit the gym, go for a run, or unroll the yoga mat, movement creates heat (duh). Make this week the one you put that gym membership to use. Or, if you don’t have one, consider Planet Fitness, where memberships cost as little as $10 a month. Or, hey, walk on the wild side and try Boston Pole Fitness— enjoy this 68% off deal courtesy of our friends across the cube at GoodTwo. If you want to try a yoga studio, but have no idea where to begin, I’m a personal fan of the Passport to Prana program. They’re in a bunch of major cities, not just Boston, and offer you one class at a ton of local studios for a mere $30! If you’re crazy like me and hit 15 studios, that’s $2 a class…and lots of OMing!

Drink warm stuff. My household is constantly drinking tea to stay toasting during these chilly months. If you’re looking for a caffeine boost, personal favorites of late have been Starbuck’s Tazo Chai–spicy and earthy– and Twining’s Lapsang Suchong– smoky, with a kick! For something more delicate, try a white tea, or something herbal. Our friends at Ezentea carry over 100 kinds of tea, so we’d recommend giving them a try. Coffee, cider, and hot chocolate are also acceptable hot beverages to bake.

Go shopping! Not only do some circles consider retail therapy a cardiovascular activity, but you may also find useful winter gear on sale. Need more excuses? Winter hats, scarves, and gloves were spotted at the Wrentham Outlets, boasting sales of up to 60% off.

Be a couch potato. Sometimes, it’s okay to sit around, and when you want to relax, why not pop in a movie or tv show, wrap yourself in a blanket, and enjoy doing nothing? Top picks to catch up on? Flicks The Town, Inception, and The Social Network. TV shows we’re digging lately? Catching up on our Dexter, Mad Men, and Weeds.
And, last but not least…

Go on vacation! If you can swing a little paid time off before spring break season, now’s the time to visit that Caribbean island you’ve always dreamed of! Popular sites Bostonians can refer to for unbeatable travel deals include TNT Vacations and Thomas Cook Travel (psst! that one’s another deal!). Stock up on sunscreen, and hit the playa while all your friends are shoveling. And, if a week away from it all isn’t quite in the cards, I’m personally a huge fan of enjoying a community or private tub soak in the 104 degree hot tubs at Cambridge’s Inman Oasis.

What else do you do to keep yourself warm and sane in the New England winter?

Voucher Etiquette Among Friends

January 21, 2011

We’ve all been there. We’ve bought a voucher to a delightful dining destination(and if you haven’t, here’s your chance: $15 for $30 at OSushi, get on it, now, here) and brought some friends. That’s the point, right? To try a new hot spot or find a reason to hit your tried and true favorite shabby/chic hole-in-the-wall once again. Well, things often get dicey when it’s time to pay the bill.

I’m not talking about the staff at the establishment in question; we’re proud to say our merchants are nearly always gracious acceptors of CoupMes– they sign a contract saying they’ll be nice to you guys! I’m thinking of the friends, significant others, or Aunt Susan that you’ve brought along with. When it comes down to it, and you throw in your $8 for $16 voucher, or the like, what happens next?

Take, for example, a recent dining experience I had at a German restaurant. I bought two vouchers, which we could use since our party was over 4 people, and contributed them. They were actually two “$9 for $20” vouchers, so I saved $40 off our bill. The total came out to $105– this was our cost minus the voucher value, plus a 20% tip we added on to the original bill amount. So, this works out to $21 per person. I had technically paid only $16 for the vouchers, so I was asked to throw in $3. Fair? I guess. Sort of annoying? Also, yes. Mostly, the annoyance was how complicated I made calculating our bill…but at the end of the day, erm, meal, I was more frustrated that on principal, I’d had the foresight to purchase these vouchers and bring these people here, and I was being asked to cough up more cash?!

I threw in the money, but I clearly didn’t let the issue go– this was a night out in October, and the ethical splitting of a tab plus group-buying voucher is still on my mind. So, what to do? Here are some thoughts:

1)If you’re feeling extra miserly (and I’ll admit, sometimes I am!), split the  voucher cost with your posse. This worked out easily when I brought my roommate to Bull McCabe with a CoupMe a couple weekends ago, and since I paid $12, I asked him to throw in $6 before we split the bill. Seemed fair.

2)If you’re feeling generous, use your voucher as an excuse to splurge! Not recommended for dinner at the Four Seasons for ten, but I gave this method a shot when I bought enough CoupMes to Limelight Karaoke. A mere $54 got 4 of us 2 hours of belting out our favorite guilty pleasure tunes, and a coupla shots of sake. They were stoked, and I didn’t mind!

3) Eat alone. Really!  Treat yourself to a “me” date sometimes, not because you want to avoid financial discussions with friends, but because you’d like to spend some time with yourself. Or, if your voucher allows takeout, go nuts and order a ton of food for just you. Hey, you bought that voucher, you’ve earned it!

I really don’t mean to sound like dining with friends and CoupMes need to be mutually exclusive to work. Take method 4…

4) I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Use your CoupMe to Hana sushi for your dinner date tonight, then the next time you go out, make your guy relinquish his voucher for the Baseball Tavern to treat you! Group buying’s all about getting out and trying lots of new places on the cheap, so have fun with the whole shabang!

Any other funny stories about using your CoupMes? Ever tried to use one on a first date? We’d love to hear more…

Wacky Weather!

January 19, 2011

Not sure about the rest of you, but I was most definitely not expecting the snowy mess this morning to turn to rain! Maybe it’s not so inconceivable, but this somewhat odd weather pattern got me thinking about other interesting anomalies. So, for your reading pleasure, here are some more crazy things the weather has done throughout history.

1816-The Year with No Summer! If you think this cold season is bad, at least be thankful it will change. Evidently, a volcanic eruption in Indonesia on April 15, 1815 caused some bizarre shift that left Europe with no summer. French grapes froze (read: no wine was produced that year), Switzerland declared a state of emergency, and much of China’s vegetation was destroyed by rain and flooding.

1922-It’s Getting Hot in Herrrre! Libya experienced the highest temperature reading on record on September 13 of this year. The magic nunber? 136 degrees Fahrenheit! Maybe we should throw on another scarf and stop whining…

1956-It Rained and Poured…for one Minute! On July 4th, 1.23 inches of rain fell in Unionville, Maryland. It’s been raining since approximately 2 pm, and it’s now 6, so that would mean…hmm…that’s 295.2 inches(nearly 25 ft) of rain! That would make taking the dog out a challenge!

1986- Be glad it’s not Hailing! Bangladesh boasts the largest hailstone on record (who measures these things anyway?), weighing in at 1 kg.

Our advice here at CoupMe? Take a deep breath, have some tea, and just image the view from you office window looks a little something like this:

Can’t hurt, right?

Any other interesting weather facts we missed? Let me know!


Ski Season is Here!

January 17, 2011

Why, good morning! Glad to see everyone has survived the blizzard that was last week – 26 inches of snow, can you believe it? Well now that the streets are cleared off and you’re finally done shoveling, what is there to do with all that snow on the ground? Sure, you could have another snowball fight and make a few more snow angels, but that tends to get old rather quickly. Well, you’re in luck ’cause CoupMe’s got an activity for you that never grows old, and that my friends is skiing! Today’s awesome deal scores you major discounts on New England’s favorite winter activity and you can purchase tickets now. Interested? Read CoupMe’s insider tips so that you can make the best of your first ski trip of the season!

1. Be on the Look Out for Deals: Group Buying sites like CoupMe have phenomenal deals for ski trips this time of year. So before you pay the full price, make sure you surf the web for a good deal! Also, many resorts tend to run specials – sometimes even half off – on certain days, so do your research first.

2. Layer Up! It’s all about the layers this time of year. It’s no lie the weather is frigid lately- yes, sometimes in the low teens. Make sure you layer up, so that way if you get hot you can always take a few layers off. Always better to be too hot than too cold, after all!

3. Pack Snacks: Ski resorts tend to have extremely expensive eats, not to mention the food is never really that great either. Pack some snacks for you and the gang so you don’t have to leave with a hole in your wallet by the end of your trip. Homemade trail mixes, nuts, granola bars, cheese and crackers, PB & J sandwiches, and breakfast cereal are all great choices!

4. Take Breaks: Skiing and snowboarding takes a lot out of you, as it is quite the full body workout. So don’t try to overdo it! If you need a break, don’t be ashamed to take one (or three). Hot cocoa breaks at the top of the mountain is one of my favorite things to do during a long day of skiing.

5. Borrow before you buy: Before you spend loads of money on ski gear and rentals, check with friends and family to see if anyone can lend you some gear. Or, if you’ve always been a skier but you’re dying to try snowboarding, trade for a day with your best friend. You’ll both get to try a new sport without doling out the cash!

6. Have Fun! The most important lesson of all…have fun! It’s just you and the mountains; enjoy it!

~Rachel, CoupMe

All Things New England: A Peak Inside Bar Harbor Maine

January 14, 2011

All Things New England takes a New England getaway to remember to Bar Harbor Maine. Enjoy your virtual vacation CoupMe fans!

Located on the incredible Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor ended up being a slice of home for me hundreds of miles away from it.  In the same vein as Nantucket, Bar Harbor is a hugely popular tourist destination, especially during the peak months of April through October.  It is also the home to a large part of the picturesque Acadia National Park but that spot is worthy of its own article.

I stayed overnight in Bar Harbor as it is a good two hours’ drive up from Owl’s Head.  I stayed at the Edenbrook Motel on Eden Street.  It was a perfect area for a base camp as it was very close to the main drag of Bar Harbor: Cottage Street.  Although not quite the same, Cottage Street has a lot of the charm that Main Street on Nantucket has, minus the cobblestones, of course.  There are so many little shops and restaurants that are unique to Bar Harbor, I found myself parking in an off-street lot and taking the time to walk up and down Cottage Street and the surrounding area just to see these spots.

I won’t be able to name all of them but I could not help but stop and smile at places like Cool As A Moose with its moose in sunglasses logo and Debbah Gifts with its lobster logo and Bar Harbor spelled out ‘Baa-Haa-Baa.’  A walk along these streets, even in October, was a great experience even if they were tremendously crowded.  I found out why later in my trip…

Continue reading this article over at All Things New England

Winter Fun Survival Guide

January 13, 2011

It always sounds fun at first. Your date (who else is under the pressure to get this creative) wants to do an outdoor activity in this winter wonderland that Mother Nature dumped on us yesterday. Or your kids can’t take one more day of being cooped up outside, so you’ve got to get their energy out somehow. And that’s why you ended up outside in the freezing cold, hoping that moving around a little bit will warm your frozen toes.

If you’re taking advantage of today’s CoupMe Deal for skating and rentals at the Kendall Square rink (a pretty fun thing to do in the middle of the city!), you’ll need to keep warm. And so we present to you, the winter warmer survival guide.

Our first suggestion is to make some hot drinks to bring along with you on any cold winter’s day. Anything will do–a big thermos full of Swiss Miss is a welcome warm-up after a few rounds on the rink–but if you want to get a little more creative, try Ellie Krieger’s Ginger-Spiced Hot Chocolate. A healthier spin on the traditional hot cocoa, this won’t totally destroy any calorie burn you got doing double-axels. If you don’t have ginger on hand, add some cinnamon instead–it’ll spice it right up. And for those of you on dates (or those of you with the kids, if you want to pack a “Mom’s thermos”), you’ll get a big thumbs-up if you add a helping of Kahlua, Bailey’s, or whatever you have on hand to add a little extra warmth.

Beyond the obvious bundling up (don’t forget your hat!), there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, socks do matter. Get the thick wool ones, and don’t be ashamed. Secondly, while they may make you feel like a second-grader, mittens are better than gloves (your fingers can, in fact, warm one another). And third, don’t be ashamed to take a little bit of help from technology. Look around the convenience stores and hardware stores for Hand Warmers and throw them into your gloves. If you have a little time, try getting some reusable hand warmers (the environment will thank you).

Then of course, there are the post-winter activities that are key to warming up. I’ve never been the type that could swig a beer right out of the cold, but if you can, more power to you. For the rest of us, here are some cozy spots in Kendall to warm up after skating:

  • The Friendly Toast: A great spot for the kids, this spot is open for breakfast and all the way through to late-night eats and drinks. Grab some pumpkin pancakes to get you into the season spirit, or a Caribbean Waffle to make you forget that this winter is even happening.
  • aThe Blue Room: If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, try The Blue Room. It has a great bar with modern twists on classic drinks. If you, like me, don’t think a cold drink can warm you up, a drink called the Smoke Monster is probably a good thing to try! Pull up a chair and have some drinks while you warm up on spicy snacks like fried plantains with chipotle ketchup, chili-marinated olives, or a cardamom creme brulee.
  • Cambridge Brewing Company: If you’re up for something a little more causal, try the local beers at the Cambridge Brewing Country. They brew all their own ales, and always have some special seasonal stuff. Try the 2010 Blunderbuss Barleywine, the Snow Day IPA, or the Harvey Milk Stout for something a little different, yet familiar. And don’t forget to give the food a try too–it’s delicious!

    Happy skating, and stay warm out there!

My Weekend With CoupMe (and beyond)

January 12, 2011

In recovery mode from some serious recent holiday spending, I looked to my group buying vouchers to find some ways to have a good time on the cheap this weekend.

On my to-do list for the past three months was to make use of my Limelight Karaoke voucher, which I bought so myself and three friends could enjoy a couple hours of shameless private karaoke. So, that was Friday night. With liquid courage in tow, we made our way to Tremont Street and rocked some Elvis, No Doubt, Sir Mix-a-Lot (!) and Elton John like the best of ’em.

On Saturday, I made use of a competitor’s deal (don’t tell my bosses at CoupMe, please!) for a sweet mani/pedi and paraffin treatment, all for $22 plus tip! It was a great deal, and since I know ladies love getting their nails did, I will do my best to push our sales reps here at CoupMe to score us gals some more nail deals in the future. I also visited a sushi joint with a voucher (you’ve got til noon today to snag one from us in Cambridge at Hana Sushi btw) that made for a great meal, but it sure was a hassle printing it first! Note to self: make sure to print these things at work, or be prepared with ink in the printer at home. Woops!

Finally, on Sunday, my roommate and I dined at CoupMe-sanctioned local pub Bull McCabe’s. With a $12 for $30 voucher, we more than got our money’s worth! We enjoyed a beer and a delightfully medium rare burger each for little more than the cost of the voucher. There, I learned they offer trivia on Mondays and $4 burgers from Tuesday through Thursday! No voucher needed; I’ll be back!

In sum, I feel I truly utilized the power of group buying, cashing in 4 vouchers to have a pretty fun time on a budget. So, buy now– have fun later!

And do share any other great experiences you’ve had using your CoupMe vouchers at local businesses here.

Cheers,
Allison

More Sushi, Please!

January 11, 2011

It’s safe to say you’ll never go hungry in Boston…well unless you run out of money, but that’s another story. From burger joints to fine dining, it seems the restaurant scene takes over the city. Coming from a girl who loves to eat, it’s always fun to try a new cuisine. But there’s one type of food I’ll never grow sick of, and that my friend is sushi. That’s why I jumped for joy when I saw today’s CoupMe feature at Hanu Sushi in Cambridge.  Hey, sushi can get expensive so when there’s a deal, you bet I’m buying it. Check out today’s exceptional sushi offer and read on for some dining tips for next time you hit up Boston’s sushi scene. Enjoy!

Spice it Up With Wasabi: There’s nothing like spicing up your sushi with a little old-fashioned wasabi. Just don’t make the mistake I did my first time I had sushi and mistake it for avacado – I plopped the whole thing in my mouth and nearly caught on fire. Ouch. Do my favorite nifty trick and mix the wasabi into your soy sauce for some yummy dipping.

Share With The Table: If you’re like me, it’s difficult to settle for just one roll. There are just so many, and it can become overwhelming. Instead, order a variety of fun rolls to share with the table! If you head to Haru, go for their Yellowtail Jalepeno Roll, Rock Shrimp Avocado Roll, or Spciy Seafood Tempura Roll. The options are endless.

Sake, Sake! If you’re with a fun group, spice it up with some sake for the table! This rice- based alcoholic beverage has an interesting bite to it, making it the perfect sushi pairing.

Pace Yourself: Just because sushi pieces are small doesn’t mean they aren’t filling. Take your time and enjoy your sushi, and limit yourself to one or two rolls plus a few tasty appetizers. Then you’ll even have room for a drink or dessert!

Do you enjoy sushi? What is your absolute favorite roll?


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