December 10, 2014

Not many independent companies today can boast a 90-year-old history. Such firms are few and far between on the business scene, and becoming more so, as Big Box stores and chains move in on the independent owners.

Founded by Stanley and George Hutchinson, Hamilton Supply Company (later becoming Hamilton Building Supply Company) opened its doors at 65 Klockner Road in Hamilton, still its current address, in 1924. At that time, it sold masonry products, such as cement and lime. As it expanded, it began to include lumber, building materials, and coal.

In 1967, the company was sold to Jesse Coleman, Jr. and his brother Earl (who also owned the Coleman Buick dealership). Later, Earl sold his share to Jesse, and Hamilton continued to expand, adding pre-hung door manufacturing, a custom millwork shop, a commercial door division, new windows and replacement windows, and a tool rental department. There is also now another location in Newtown, Pa.

“We began to concentrate on building materials, lumber, windows, doors, and custom mouldings,” explains current president, CEO, and owner Keith Coleman, who started working at the company on weekends and after school when he was a boy. He came on full-time in 1986.

Strengths and Specialties

“One of the things I remember is that when I started in the business, there were about 14 lumber yards in Mercer County. Now, by and large, they are gone. I grew up in Clarksville in West Windsor, and my dad was a farmer before he bought the business. He just turned 89, and he is still involved. He likes to keep an eye on me!”

“Our strengths and specialties today include windows, exterior and interior doors, and custom millwork. We have a shop on site. We do a lot of custom work, including for Princeton University, and commercial work, and we work with a lot of different contractors. We are very quality-conscious.

“We are really in a unique niche,” continues Mr. Coleman. “The contractors we work with are also quality-conscious, and the Big Box stores don’t have an on-site shop, for example.”

In its mission statement, the company emphasizes three main concepts.

Create and maintain relationships with customer/partners and vendor/partners in order to achieve maximum long-term growth and value for all parties.

Reinforce client relationships through creative problem-solving, efficiency, professionalism, and a broad offering of services that cater to the individual needs of customer/partners.

Develop the industry’s best workforce by developing the potential of each associate and treating them with respect and dignity.

“We have a slogan: ‘Simplify your life,’” adds Mr. Coleman. “We are really good at taking a look at an existing situation and helping the client to get the right products so their expectations are met. There are so many options out there. The thing about our business is that we have so many different products that you need a specialist to help you with that and to understand your best option. We have specialists for cabinetry, windows, doors, decks, etc.

“And our employees on an average have about 20 years experience here. They are very knowledgeable, and they’re a great group.”

Proprietary Lines

“We are also unique in that we have proprietary lines that are not available everywhere. For example, you can’t buy Marvin Windows at Lowe’s or Home Depot. They are a very important line for us.

“We also carry Zuri® decking material, which is offered only through select distributors, and we have been chosen the exclusive distributor of Zuri® in New Jersey.”

Technological developments in recent years have greatly improved the available choices of decking materials, explains Mr. Coleman. These materials look like wood, but offer very easy maintenance.

“After scouring the U.S., I am convinced that Zuri® is the most realistic and durable. It’s part of Royal Blue Products, and they offer a 25-year warranty. We are sticklers for working with companies that are well-backed, and can honor their warranties. Also, the vast majority of our products are made in the U.S.”

He adds that Hamilton Building Supply is part of a cooperative, LMC (Lumberman Merchandising Corporation), which it joined two years ago. “Throughout the country, independent companies are members of this organization, and they combine their efforts to go to manufacturers and make deals for a better price.”

Hamilton Building Supply’s clients run the gamut, including homeowners and contractors, who are dealing with new houses, remodeling or renovating existing houses, and working on historic replicas.

Big Brand

“Princeton is our primary target market, and also some of our clients have homes elsewhere, including in Cape May and Manhattan,” points out Mr. Coleman. “We work with new homes and a lot of existing houses. The average age of houses in Princeton is 40 years, although, of course, some are much older. Everything has a life span. Exterior trim, wood siding, etc. Hardi Siding is popular now. It looks like wood, but has a cement base. It is very durable and also fire-resistant.”

Windows are a major part of the business, with double-hung and casement both popular. “Marvin is a big brand for us, and we also carry Andersen. A lot of glass is coated today, which reduces fading of items inside the house. That is pretty much standard now, and other coatings are also available. There are always new advances in window systems coming along. We carry many styles, including a wonderful Marvin window system with a built-in pleated shade. We also have the Andersen Tilt-Wash replacement window and the Andersen 400 series Tilt-Wash double-hung insert window.

“We do a lot of replacement windows for existing openings,” he continues. “The whole spectrum, from low end vinyl to very high end. Black is very popular for window frames right now. Many color options are available for windows and shutters and in many styles.

“French doors continue to be very popular,” he adds. “We manufacture our own, and also carry Tru Stile. In addition, we have Therma Tru doors and Andersen storm doors, among others. Almost all doors are assembled and pre-hung on-site, greatly reducing turn-around times.”

Kitchens are another area of expertise for Hamilton, and the cabinetry display is impressive. “Kitchens require a lot of time,” points out Mr. Coleman. “The kitchen seems to be the gathering place of the house, and it’s important to know how people use it. Do they have kids? Entertain? Cook a lot? We really cater to the homeowner and their life-style.

“Our cabinetry lines include Mouser (customized) and KraftMaid. These are classic and traditional, and also Euro-style, which is more contemporary.”

High Quality

Hamilton also offers closet organizing systems, including modular styles with hanging shelves to fit into existing closet openings.

He adds that while Hamilton focuses on high quality products, the company is mindful of a customer’s budget. “Budget is a factor, and we work with people’s budgets. Also, clients often phase in the work. Frequently, for example, they will start with the baby’s room. Also, we don’t charge for delivery, which is unusual today.

“I am thoroughly convinced that at the end of the day, we provide the best overall value and best experience when it comes to purchasing of building products and millwork items for the house. We deliver on value. So many people out there will tell you what they have, and not think about what you need.

“This is a challenging business. We deal with a lot of unique projects, and one of the things that is special about our business is that it brings joy to people. It’s a form of investment for them and a way to enjoy themselves. I am also very pleased to carry on my father’s business and continue the family tradition. That is very important to me.”

Hamilton Building Supply Company is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 4, and by appointment. (609) 587-4020. Website:


December 3, 2014
DECORATIVE DESIGN: “We import the finest Italian plasters and decorations,” says Antonio Ramondini, founder and owner of AR Building Technologies. He is shown with a sampling of the San Marco line of Italian plasters and decorative finishes, suitable for use on walls and ceilings.

DECORATIVE DESIGN: “We import the finest Italian plasters and decorations,” says Antonio Ramondini, founder and owner of AR Building Technologies. He is shown with a sampling of the San Marco line of Italian plasters and decorative finishes, suitable for use on walls and ceilings.

The finest Italian plasters and decorative finishes for walls and ceilings are now available in Princeton to add definition, panache, and character to your home.

These finishes, from the San Marco Group of Italy, are imported by AR Building Technologies, which recently opened in Princeton.

“We provide materials for stylish, one-of-a-kind wall and ceiling decorations, as well as the knowledge and training for their application,” explains Antonio Ramondini, AR Building Technologies founder and owner.

A native of Italy, Mr. Ramondini spent 20 years in the construction business, later living and working in London. Although he has extensive knowledge of the overall construction process, he likes to focus on interior design, renovation, and decoration. Learning his craft in Italy, a country well-known for the striking and stunning interiors of its villas, he perfected his decorative techniques while working in many of the grand houses of Tuscany, as well as in southern Italy. Precision, style, and the allure of Italian design permeate every aspect of Mr. Ramondini’s professional expertise.

Choices and Styles

“I like to deal with people,” he notes, “and I look forward to educating them about the Venetian plasters and why they are so special. I want to see the installation done properly, and I hope to see many more people enjoy having these exquisite products in their homes. We are the only importer here of the San Marco line.”

Mr. Ramondini points out that the wide range of choices and styles of the finishes guarantees that they are appropriate for any type of house — classic, traditional, modern, contemporary, elegant or rustic.

“There are so many colors — at least 60 — and different designs and textures and finishes. There can be a marble look, a more textured feel, shiny, sparkling, matte, metalic, iridescent, mosaic — the range is just unlimited.

Some, such as the waterproof Concrete Art line, and Canalgrande, and some of the lime plasters are especially suitable for the kitchen or bathroom.  There is also the Disegno line of durable and easy maintenane multi-layer resin finishes for floors, which are also a part of the overall AR Building Technologies projects.

He adds that for design purposes “one wall can be an accent, with a different finish and color. Lighting can also make a difference to the look of the finish, and the size of the room can be a consideration regarding the type of finish chosen.”

Mr. Ramondini points out that the San Marco Group products are environmentally-friendly and guarantee the absence of harmful emissions. “Our products are all water-based, and use universal tinting colorants.”

Focusing on both residential and commercial projects, he often works with architects and interior designers, as well as home and building owners. He does not install the plasters and finishes himself, but he recommends appropriate and skilled contractors for the work. A typical job can take one or two days, depending on the size and the materials chosen. After the first step of priming, the finishes can be applied to walls of a new building or to older walls, he notes.

Increasing Number

The customer base is currently in New Jersey and the tri-state area, including the east coast, he says, adding that he is getting an increasing number of clients nationwide and even worldwide via the internet.

The price range typically includes finishes $2 to $15per square foot. “You can have finishes for walls and ceilings of a room for under $1,000, he says.

Mr. Ramondini is very enthusiastic about the future of these unique finishes in homes in the U.S., and he plans to have exhibits and presentations, displaying their variety and combination of style. “We will have an Expo at the Javits Center in Manhattan in October, and we also plan to have several demos in the Princeton area.

“I want people to know they can have a decorative alternative now for their walls and ceilings. Something with imagination and magic that will set your decor apart.”

(609) 751-8934; email: Website:


November 26, 2014
“Susan and I started this place so people can come in either to buy something or just look at nice things. We want them to walk in and feel welcome, and think ‘I really feel good here.’ And we really feel good here ourselves!” Scott Mulhern (left) and his wife Susan are owners of Marvelous Matter in Hopewell.

“Susan and I started this place so people can come in either to buy something or just look at nice things. We want them to walk in and feel welcome, and think ‘I really feel good here.’ And we really feel good here ourselves!” Scott Mulhern (left) and his wife Susan are owners of Marvelous Matter in Hopewell.

“You don’t know you love it until you see it!” said a customer recently upon entering Marvelous Matter, the charming new shop at 33 West Broad Street in Hopewell. Then, she added, “And what you see here is all eye candy! Every time you turn around something else catches your attention.”

Indeed, creativity, imagination, and innovation are on display at this special shop. Owners Susan and Scott Mulhern have presented an intriguingly eclectic display of antiques and collectibles, including furniture, glassware, jewelry, artwork, toys, and general miscellany.

“We like to think we offer beautiful things that were beautifully made, and that are presented in a beautiful setting. That is the focus of the shop,” observe the Mulherns.

Formerly located in The Tomato Factory, the store opened the doors to its new home in July. “We wanted a larger space, and this was available,” says Ms. Mulhern, who is a painter and potter, with a masters degree in ceramics. “I had grown up with antiques. My grandmother was a collector, and I collected as an adult. I had many items, and when we opened the shop in The Tomato Factory, that gave me permission to shop!”

Visual Perspective

Ms. Mulhern comes by her visual perspective naturally, she explains. “I got my good eye from my mother, who had a degree in fashion design. She knew quality and construction. Growing up, I learned about good quality.”

Gathering the collection over the years has been both exciting and satisfying for both of the owners. Before opening the store, Mr. Mulhern was engaged in a series of professions in which he was often exposed to a variety of intriguing collectibles. An actor, yoga instructor, and award-winning wallpaper hanger, he had many opportunities to view items of interest. Now he travels the east coast in search of new additions for the shop.

He also finds time to do I Ching Chinese Interpretive Life readings, and he is a published author of prose and Haiku poetry.

“We specialize in everything at the shop,” points out Mr. Mulhern, “and basically, we buy things we like. The idea is if we like it, maybe the customers will like it too. We also try to listen to what people are looking for. For example, someone wanted model boats, especially sailboats that were well-made and crafted. Someone else came in looking for a window settee, and other customers wanted a certain kind of lamp or game table or other items. They’ll all come in with something in mind, and then they’ll see things they didn’t expect to find. And then they can come upon that really singular item.”

Tramp Art

Mr. Mulhern adds that items are acquired from many sources, including church thrift shops, estate sales, auctions, etc. The Mulherns also accept items on consignment. Customers may send a photo via email, or bring in the item. The pricing arrangement is 60 percent for the customer, 40 percent for the store.

And everything seems to be popular. Tramp art, kitchen glass, carnival glass, and jewelry are all in demand, as is the furniture selection.

“There is a trend toward mid-century furniture now, and people always want antique furniture,” says Ms. Mulhern. “They like old things because so often, they are made better. We tend to admire things that stand the test of time, and there is an artistry to these items and a history. Who had them before? Where did the people live? What did they do? These pieces all have a story.”

“There’s nothing like authenticity,” points out Mr. Mulhern, “and then the history of the piece will continue with the new owner.”

The furniture selection includes several Eastlake items (an American style of furniture especially popular from 1870 to 1890). A wonderful ladies’ upholstered chair, made especially for a woman’s configuration, and noted for being extremely comfortable, is a highlight.

Another Eastlake piece is a maple roll-top desk dating to 1870, which is accented with burled elm wood. A handsome oak chest dates to the late 1800s, and also available are a mahogany high boy, a credenza, and a versatile game table, which folds against the wall when not in use.

Sense of Fun

In one of the store’s windows, a charming display features chairs arranged in descending order according to size, including two small doll chairs. Assorted baskets adorn the chairs, and on one a little doll perches engagingly.

“The idea is always to bring in the child to the adult. Add a sense of fun and whimsy,” explains Ms. Mulhern. ‘For example, we’ll have a very sophisticated item and put a little doll or toy next to it. This is unexpected and creates interest.”

Another window display features a large tomb rubbing on canvas of a knight in full regalia overlooking a pair of Windsor chairs. The window displays are changed frequently, point out the Mulherns. Customers will always find an inviting presentation of a new selection.

Boxes, baskets, and bowls are very popular at the shop, and some of these represent Tramp Art, which originated in in the late 1800s, says Ms. Mulhern. “It started in Europe, especially France, Germany, and Holland, and then came to the U.S., and continued into the 1930s. It was made by unschooled artists, who used boxes and baskets, often cigar boxes. It has a textured or chipped effect and some are also painted. It was done by people who rode the trains, rode the rails.”

Another area very popular with collectors is carnival glass. “This is hand-blown and then pressed, and was originally given away at carnivals,” she notes. “It dates from the early 1900s, and can include dishes, bowls, glasses, etc., and it is often iridescent.

“Kitchen glass also originated in the early 1900s, and is another favorite item. It is very durable, and will outlast anything made in China today.”

The presentation of items in the store is one of the delights of visiting Marvelous Matter. Surprises are everywhere. A 1920s wooden playing card holder reverses to a cribbage board, and sitting next to it is a Thai Buddha. In the corner, a king-size wooden toy soldier in bright red painted jacket stands watch, and nearby are three hollow copper balls in assorted sizes, which make a perfect garden ornament. On top of a shelf is a baby cradle, also a vintage washtub, and across the aisle is a very special hand-painted Tibetan Thangka. On another wall, a beautiful 1920s German tapestry is displayed, and a large wooden screen can serve as both a decorative and functional piece.

Whether customers are looking for picture frames, paper weights, antique sterling silver scissors, or carpets, they will find all of these and so much more, and with prices everywhere from $10 up to $1000s.

“There is so much to know about a specific area, and I get so interested in groups of things that I research everything about them,” reports Ms. Mulhern. “I just love this. I like to look at beautiful things and be around them. And I love accumulating the collection. It’s the thrill of the hunt and the surprises when you come across something you never expected to find.”

Adds Mr. Mulhern: “We have done so many things in our lives, and we thought how can we present the beautiful things we’ve seen, known, and experienced, and put them in this store so that it satisfies us and everyone who comes into the shop.”

Marvelous Matter is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Friday 11 to 8, Sunday 11:30 to 5. (609) 466-1972. Email:

SERVICE AND SUPPORT: “People can count on my work. It’s quality, professional workmanship. And, I am very competitively-priced.” Martin Yonkowski, owner of Yonkowski Plumbing & Heating, is proud of his company’s reputation for excellent service in Mercer County.

SERVICE AND SUPPORT: “People can count on my work. It’s quality, professional workmanship. And, I am very competitively-priced.” Martin Yonkowski, owner of Yonkowski Plumbing & Heating, is proud of his company’s reputation for excellent service in Mercer County.

Someday, you will need a plumber. It’s a given.

When the occasion arises, you want someone who will show up on time, whom you can count on, and who is reliable, experienced, and totally qualified.

Martin Yonkowski, owner of Yonkowski Plumbing & Heating, fills all of these requirements. With headquarters in Hamilton, he has owned his business since 1996. Prior to that, he worked with other plumbers in the area.

Growing up in Trenton, Marty was interested in working in the plumbing industry — even from an early age. “I started vocational school to learn plumbing my junior year in high school, and started working in the field with a plumbing contractor the summer before my senior year,” he explains. “During my senior year, I attended high school until 11:30 in the morning, and then was involved in the work program from the vocational school, working from noon to 4:30. This was a good program, which gave me credit for school, and I was also getting a pay check.”

Quite a Record

“After graduation from high school, I continued working with the same contractor for four years as a plumber’s apprentice while I attended an apprenticeship program two nights a week for four years at Mercer County Vocational School in the adult program.

“At the end of my apprenticeship, I switched jobs to another plumbing contractor, and worked with the company for two years. At this time, I was 24, and I applied to take the state master plumbers exam, which I passed, and received my license in 1994. In 1996, when I was 26, I opened my own company.”

Quite a record — indicative of a young man with a definite plan and purpose.

Today, Mr. Yonkowski focuses primarily on residential work in Mercer County, although he also does some projects for restaurants and stores. He covers the full range of plumbing, from leaks and broken pipes to installation of new water heaters and oil to gas conversions.

Another important focus is handling installation systems for new construction.

“In 2005, I got very busy working in Princeton with Ugur Kaytmaz of BlueCrest Builders,” says Mr. Yonkowski. “We do a lot of work with new houses and new construction. This is a specialty for me now. I’m geared for newer work, including custom houses.”

He also works on kitchen and bathroom remodels and renovations as well as additions, which often include a bathroom.

Full Spectrum

Mr. Yonkowski continues to remain busy, too, helping homeowners who experience the full spectrum of common plumbing problems. “I work on everything,” he points out. “Leaking faucets, dishwashers, kitchen sinks, washing machines, clogged toilets — you name it!

“I also work on sump pumps, and install back-up sump pumps. I do high efficiency water heater replacement, and underground sewers and water services can also be repaired or replaced.”

Other aspects of his work include conversion of wood-burning fireplaces to gas log systems, and oil to gas conversions for hot water boilers.

Over the years, as many plumbers have, Mr. Yonkowski has come upon a fascinating array of items during his work. “I have found all kinds of stuff in toilets, including multiple sets of car keys, lots of toys, and once, a diamond engagement ring! This was really a ‘feel good’ story,” he explains. “The ring belonged to a woman whose husband had recently died, and she was so upset to have lost it. I was very glad to be able to return it to her.”

Frozen pipes in the winter are a common problem, he adds, and depending on the type of system, water to outdoor hoses should always be turned off in the winter. He also recommends that homeowners turn off the entire water system if they plan to be away for a while. “If people go away, it’s a good idea to shut off the water as a safety precaution. This can be done manually or automatically.”

Mr. Yonkowski notes that the advent of the internet and Big Box stores, such as Home Depot, have made a difference in his work. “Years ago, the plumber supplied everything. Now, customers often buy the items themselves, but then there is no warranty from the plumber. People also get a lot of information on the internet, and sometimes, they think they can solve plumbing problems themselves.”


This doesn’t always work out, he adds.

“Another change I see is that the number of plumbers is dwindling, especially with younger people getting into the trade. The business has become more computerized.”

Nevertheless, there will always be a need for that hands-on plumber to arrive to save the day!

“If it’s an emergency, I will do my best to come immediately, as soon as I possibly can,” notes Mr. Yonkowski. “For regular work, two or three days notice is helpful. I will always call back the next business day, and I have two other plumbers working for me. Payment is by the job, and I come out to assess the situation, and then establish the price. I am very competitively-priced. I offer a year’s warranty on my work.

“The most challenging part of the business is getting the work done on time,” he continues, “and of course, making the customer happy, and that is what I strive to do.

“This has been a very good trade for me. I really enjoy the work. There is something different every day, and it’s always challenging. I meet so many people, and I have many repeat customers. I look forward to the work continuing to be steady. And I want people to know they can always count on my work.”

Yonkowski Plumbing & Heating can be reached at (609) 371-0200; or via e-mail:

November 19, 2014
BEST BIKES: “We cater to biking enthusiasts for whom cycling is a life-style. It’s very important to them. They’re always thinking about their next ride!” Jason Fenton, owner of Halter’s Cycles in the Montgomery Center, is shown by a selection of road bikes.

BEST BIKES: “We cater to biking enthusiasts for whom cycling is a life-style. It’s very important to them. They’re always thinking about their next ride!” Jason Fenton, owner of Halter’s Cycles in the Montgomery Center, is shown by a selection of road bikes.

The thrill of that first bike. Almost everyone can remember the special moment when that shiny new red or blue bike arrived on the doorstep.

Some of that feeling is captured in the new location of Halter’s Cycles, which recently moved to the Montgomery Center on Route 206 North.

Originally opened in Monmouth Junction in 1987, the shop has had many customers from Princeton over the years, notes owner Jason Fenton. “Now, we are only 4.2 miles from downtown Princeton. This is a great location, with easy parking. I want us to be a destination place. This move has given us the opportunity to be more in contact with our customers and closer to the local cycling routes and mountain biking destinations. We are looking forward to establishing a base for a healthy and environmentally-friendly business in Montgomery. It feels really good here.”

He points out that both new and longtime customers are coming to the new location (formerly the site of Friendly’s Restaurant). “They really like the new space. I wanted it to be a special place. We’ve used environmentally friendly materials, including reclaimed wood, LED lighting, and the floor is cement with an epoxy covering, which results in less dust.”

Unique Look

The new store has been extensively refitted by the Historic Building Company of Lambertville, reclaiming materials that emphasize Halter’s commitment to sustainable business. It features beams and woodwork rescued from a local Rocky Hill barn to produce a unique look and experience for the customer, while making good use of these materials.

“Larry Vellensky of the Historic Building Company of Lambertville helped renovate the building, and I wanted it to be comfortable and environmentally-friendly,” explains Mr. Fenton.

And within, there are all those bikes! Two hundred on display. Road and racing bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, and balance bikes for toddlers.

“Each member of my staff is an avid cyclist, and our interests cover the whole range of cycling activity, from leisure and utility cycling to competing at the highest level,” says Mr. Fenton, “Every bike and accessory from our extensive inventory has been tested by us. We only sell what works.”

Mr. Fenton loved cycling from the time he was a boy. He was active riding and racing mountain bikes, and that interest has remained strong. He is a steward of the Six Mile Run Reservoir, and has been instrumental in blazing and maintaining the extensive networks of trails there.

Sharing his love of cycling is a big factor in his commitment to offering the best products to his customers. Among the bicycle brands are Cannondale, Cervelo, Felt, Focus, Salasa, Surly, and frames by All City, Se7en, and other specialty suppliers.

Full Selection

In addition, a full selection of accessories and apparel is available. Helmets, saddles, shoes, socks, shorts, jackets, and jerseys are on display in the spacious showroom.

Mr. Fenton cannot be more emphatic about the importance of wearing a helmet for every cyclist, whatever their age. “I’ve been riding a long time, and even if I go a short distance without a helmet, I feel I’m on borrowed time. You just never know what can happen. It’s really important. Common sense should prevail.”

Just adjacent to the showroom is a full-service work shop. Everything from flat tire repair to annual tune-ups to complete overhauls can be taken care of here. The Halter’s staff recommends tune-ups once a year to check the brakes, gear shifting, and overall function. Tires should be checked by the cyclist weekly or even more often, depending on how often he or she rides.

“Every customer’s requirement is unique, and we strive to find solutions that are appropriate for anyone,” explains Mr. Fenton. “We always ensure that the bikes we sell are the right size and will do the job the purchaser wants. We specialize in customizing and professionally fitting bicycles. We have a special machine that we use to custom-fit the bike to the customer. We make an appointment with the customer to do this, and it is very detailed. There are 11 to 12 different sizes of bikes, and the fit is very important.”

Easier To Ride

“The bikes today are more durable, lighter, and easier to ride than those of the past,” he adds. “We ask the customer about their life-style regarding cycling. How experienced are they? What is their goal? To ride comfortably for hours on end?”

Bikes at Halter’s Cycles start at $400/$500 ($200 for kids’ bikes). Helmets range from $40 to $250.

Mr. Fenton believes he has a bike for everyone. “This is one of the few sports when for not a ton of money, you can have a world class product. Cycling is more popular than ever. I think in some ways it has replaced golf for networking, and it’s healthier with more exercise. There are multiple bike clubs in the area. People are thinking more about fitness, and like-minded people tend to hang out together.

 “I look forward to creating a dedicated place for people for whom cycling is way of life,” he continues. “A comfortable place where they can find information and great service. And, we are a fun place — a bike shop for people who ride bikes!”

Halter’s Cycles is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 to 5.

(732) 329-9022. Website:

October 29, 2014
COSTUME CREATIONS: “I like customers to come here and have fun. I love meeting and talking to people and making them happy.” Amanda Sharpe, owner of The Costume Scene in Trenton, is a vision of pop art a la Lichtenstein in a bright red dress, long yellow wig, and red polka dots decorating her face. “During the month of October, I dress up every day,” she adds.

COSTUME CREATIONS: “I like customers to come here and have fun. I love meeting and talking to people and making them happy.” Amanda Sharpe, owner of The Costume Scene in Trenton, is a vision of pop art a la Lichtenstein in a bright red dress, long yellow wig, and red polka dots decorating her face. “During the month of October, I dress up every day,” she adds.

Medieval to modern, the “Roaring Twenties”, including fashionable flappers, groovy gangsters, and The Great Gatsby; princesses, pirates, and pilgrims, Dracula, dragons, and devils, soldiers and sailors, cowboys and Indians, clowns and cartoon characters, witches and wizards, skeletons, zombies and ghouls, Marie Antoinette and Scarlet O’Hara …. These, and so many more, are all available at The Costume Scene, 1710 Liberty Street in Trenton.

Who doesn’t like to dress up and for a brief moment in time become someone else? Whether for a play, costume party, or Halloween trick or treating, donning a costume inspires imagination and a chance to pretend. Most of all, it’s fun!

This is certainly the point of view of Amanda Sharp, owner of this special shop.

A graduate of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart and Arcadia University, where she majored in theater and costume design, Ms. Sharp both designs and constructs costumes. When the opportunity to purchase The Costume Scene arose last July, she did not hesitate. It was a chance to combine her love of costume and theater.

“I used to come here for costumes and make-up for plays when I was at Stuart,” she explains. “This is an opportunity for me to continue the shop and also for me to continue my own costume design for theater in the area.”

Special Effects

“I had always thought about doing something creative and exciting, and where I could be my own boss.”

The shop, which has been in Trenton for 35 years, has a strong existing client base, an is the foundation on which she hopes to expand, says Ms. Sharp. “I want to expand the connection with professional and community theater, as well as the schools. We have a lot of newer items, and a lot more special effects, including molds for prosthetics, especially scary and gross stuff that the kids love.”

Ms. Sharp can create make-up and special effects pieces for the creepiest Halloween or costume party characters. Make-up, from glamorous to gross, is a specialty. Of course, the more gruesome, gory, and grotesque, the better the kids like it, she points out.

“Blood Buckets” and “Zombie Gutz” enhance an overall grisly effect, with faux cuts, bruises, and abrasions, and nasty-looking “infectious matter” and “body fluids” dripping off some other-worldly creature.

False teeth, fake beards, moustaches, sideburns, and bald caps are all popular, as is the tremendous assortment of masks and wigs of all kinds.

And, the costume selection is unmatched. “We have the largest selection of costumes in central New Jersey and the surrounding areas,” reports Ms. Sharp. “We specialize in theatrical costumes and make-up as well as characters and holiday costumes. This includes time periods and historical figures, favorite animated characters and super heroes, Halloween costumes, Santa Claus suits, Easter Bunny suits, and so much more. Tens of thousands of costumes are on -site for you to try on.”

Hats and Tiaras

“We also carry a large selection of professional make-up, and we do make-up applications for customers attending special events. We also have hats, tiaras, and all kinds of
accessories, including sunglasses and gloves.”

The majority of costumes are available for 24-hour rental, but a selection is also offered for sale, starting at $25 for children and $40 for adults. Rentals are priced everywhere from $35 to $200. Ms. Sharp is also able to design and construct special costumes, if customers wish.

Mascot cartoon characters and animals are very popular for children’s birthday parties and graduations from pre-school and elementary school, she adds. Characters like Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and other favorites are all available.

Adults enjoy the shop just as much as the kids — dressing up is ageless, says Ms. Sharp. Costume parties are great fun, and customers enjoy looking at the extensive sea of possibilities.

Hamilton Square resident Anita Oliver was in the shop recently to find an appropriate outfit for a “Hollywood Oscars” theme costume party. “I decided to go as a 1920s flapper, and I needed to get a dress, headband, and jewelry,” she explains. “This store is so much fun! They have everything I want, and they are all so helpful.”

Theme costume parties are very popular now, says Ms. Sharp. “The Roaring Twenties is a big favorite, and also the 1960s, with the hippies; and different decades generally are often themes, as are Disco and dance, such as ‘Saturday Night Fever’.”

Own Back Yard

Customers come from all over the area, including Princeton, and many are repeats, she adds. “It’s really easy to get here, and we are in a very nice residential neighborhood, with our own parking lot.

“It’s so important for
people to know that we’re here. I want them to enjoy coming and shopping in a small shop where they can see everything, touch it, and try it on. We have four dressing rooms. It’s very important for people to take the time to investigate what is in their own back yard. There is no place like this between here and Philadelphia.

“I am very excited about it,” she continues. “I love everything here, and I want this to be a place where people can come, have fun, and use their imagination. I don’t think people use their imagination enough. Come in and be a clown, or a knight or Batman or a mermaid. The sky’s the limit!

“I just want to keep on doing what I love and sharing it with the customers.”

The Costume Scene is open seven days, Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 394-7788.

Website: www.the



FAMILY FOOTWEAR: “We have always offered top-quality men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes. We make a point of giving customers the right fit. We have always been a family shoe store, and we are still a family business.” Chuck Simone (left), owner of Hulit’s Shoes, is shown with his son Ryan and family favorite “Sonny”.

FAMILY FOOTWEAR: “We have always offered top-quality men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes. We make a point of giving customers the right fit. We have always been a family shoe store, and we are still a family business.” Chuck Simone (left), owner of Hulit’s Shoes, is shown with his son Ryan and family favorite “Sonny”.

There aren’t too many anymore. The friendly family home town shoe store has become a vanishing breed in many areas. Princeton is lucky to have Hulit’s Shoes, a downtown mainstay since 1929, as part of its vibrant Nassau Streetscape.

Celebrating an 85th anniversary is a major moment in the life of a business, and the fact that Hulit’s is a family business makes it even more special.

Opened by Warren Hulit, it has been “All in the Family” ever since. His children, Ralph, Pete, Clara, Nellie, and Lillian were all involved in the store, and another son, Gus, owned The Cummins Shop, a former Princeton gift shop. Today, Clara’s son, Chuck Simone and his wife Phyllis, are the owners of Hulit’s.

The Simones’ son Ryan is also on staff full-time, representing the fourth generation of Hulit family members in the store.

Loyal Patrons

“I worked in the store after school, and on weekends,” recalls Chuck Simone, “and my father Charlie Simone was also at the store. A lot of my cousins worked here too.”

In addition, generations of customers from the same family have been loyal patrons. Kids who got their first baby shoes at Hulit’s now have children or grandchildren also getting their shoes at the store.

“We have very loyal customers. Generations of people. Fourth and even fifth generations of customers come,” says Mr. Simone. “We carry a product that people need, and service is very important here. We fit the foot. This is a major focus at Hulit’s, and is something we have always done. We help customers find the right shoe.”

Princeton has had its share of celebrities, who also need shoes and the right fit. One of the Hulit family’s most cherished memories was the opportunity to fit the feet of the town’s resident genius, Albert Einstein, in 1952.

According to a Time Magazine report, Professor Einstein’s secretary called the store, requesting an emergency house call. Dr. Einstein’s feet hurt, and he suspected ill-fitting shoes. Partner Pete Hulit arrived at 112 Mercer Street with a foot measurer, and a few pairs of shoes. Professor Einstein, attempting to find the source of his discomfort, had sketched a diagram of his shoes, indicating the pattern of foot pressure. One labeled “bad” identified pressure on the outside of his foot.

Mr. Hulit decided that Einstein needed larger shoes. A pair of black shoes were comfortable, and the famous physicist signed his name to his shoe drawing, and gave it to Pete Hulit.

Comfort Features

Shoe styles have undergone dramatic changes since Einstein’s day, and Hulit’s has seen trends come and go. One that seems here to stay is the public’s demand for comfortable footwear. Indeed, comfort is key.

Comfort as an issue has been around for a number of years now, reports Mr. Simone, and it is evidenced in the big selection of walking shoes, athletic shoes of all kinds, clogs, sandals, and dress shoes with comfort features.

“The emphasis on comfort is one of the biggest changes I have seen in the shoe business, he says. “Also, the idea of comfort was in all areas of dress, not just shoes,” he adds. “When I first worked here, we always wore jackets and ties. It’s much more informal today.”

Customers will have no trouble finding a comfortable fit at Hulit’s. A full range of styles and brands in all categories is available for men, women, and children of all ages, including infants.

Choices for children are more abundant than ever. Athletic shoes are popular for kids too. Geox sneakers are favorites for boys and girls, and a very popular line now is Tsukihoshi from Japan, notes Mr. Simone. “Kids love them. The sneakers are machine-washable, and they have a great fit.”

New Balance, Saucony, and that old favorite Converse also offer athletic footwear for children, and the longtime Sperry Topsiders continue to be in demand for boys and girls alike.

Penny Loafers

“Mary Janes” have never gone out of style for little girls, and they are available from Primigi. The Kio Trend line, with its leather lined styles is popular for girls, and Kenneth Cole also offers dress shoes for girls.

Penny loafers for boys are still favored, and laced dress shoes are also available.

Winter boots will soon be in stock, including the ever popular Uggs, as well as well as several brands with Gortex for waterproofing.

New Balance and Saucony offer a complete array of athletic shoes for men and women, and all are big sellers at the store. Tennis, cross-training, running, and walking shoes are available, with running styles the most popular.

Tennis shoes are important too, and as Mr. Simone points out, “Not all shoe stores carry tennis shoes today, and we have a good selection.”

The Sperry Topsider line of boat shoe styles are also a favorite among many male and female customers.


In keeping with the focus on comfort, flats continue to be in demand for many women. “We have flats of all kinds,” reports Mr. Simone. “Both dressy and casual, ‘Stretchies’, which are flexible with a comfort sole. We have a lot of European shoes, including L’Amour Des Pieds from France, Waldlaufer from Germany, and we also carry BeautiFeel, a very popular women’s line from Israel. The shoes are all leather-lined, many with foam inner sole. They are very high quality, both durable and flexible, and available in heels and flats.”

Clarks continues to be a best seller at Hulit’s for men and women, with many styles, from casual to dress. All have comfort features.

“Ecco is another line for men and women, and it is all comfort footwear. You can walk 20 blocks in New York City with these shoes,” says Mr. Simone.

Picolinos offers popular fashion ankle boots for women, as does La Canadienne from Canada, which also has a line of tall boots. SpringStep also has a line of dress/casual shoes and boots for women. Boots are a big deal in footwear today, and not just to withstand winter weather. In many cases, they are a fashion statement.

When winter does arrive, however, Hulit’s will be ready. Sheepskin-lined Uggs and Kamik boots from Canada?, among others, will keep the toes toasty.

Women (and some men) still like clogs, which continue to be available in a wide variety of choices. Dankso, Birkenstock, and Haflinger (noted for its wool clogs and slippers) are among the popular brands.

Many Options

Men certainly look for comfort these days too, and Hulit’s has many options for them, from dressy to casual. Clarks is a mainstay, as is Johnston & Murphy for dress shoes with a leather sole.

The slip-on dress shoe with a tassel, and the penny loafer from Bass Weejun are always in style, and there is still a call for those time-honored “Bucks” in dusty tan and white.

Hiking boots from Merrell are an important line at the store, and there is a variety of men’s boots for all seasons.

Slippers and socks are other big sellers, with SmartWool the most popular line of socks for the entire family. Available in many colors and designs, these socks are a “must have” for many customers.

Slippers from Uggs, Minnetonka, and Acorn are favorites, and in all categories, color is a big factor today. In particular, women’s shoes display a blaze of color, and this is true in men’s athletic shoes as well.

“We go to shows and keep up-to-date on the latest trends and styles,” reports Mr. Simone. “Everything changes, and many of our customers come in two to three times a year or more for shoes, and we always try to have what they want. We offer a lot of personal attention — we stress service and a friendly face. We want to help people get the shoes they want. I think people like the way they are treated here.

“I really enjoy the people who come in,” he continues. “There is such an interesting variety of people, and many have become friends over the years. We look forward to offering them the best service, and we want to see the store and the family tradition continue.”

In addition to its annual summer and winter sales, Hulit’s offers regular weekend specials.

Located at 142 Nassau Street, the store is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 7, Saturday until 5:30, Sunday 12 to 4. (609) 924-1952. Website:


September 10, 2014
SUPER SUBS: “The response has been even better than we expected. We’ve had a great welcome, and our customers are really enjoying it here. We have already had lots of repeats, and some even come every day.” Dee Curran, owner (left) and Tyler Smith, manager of Jersey Mike’s Subs at the Shops At Windsor Green, are very enthusiastic about the future of their new sub shop.

SUPER SUBS: “The response has been even better than we expected. We’ve had a great welcome, and our customers are really enjoying it here. We have already had lots of repeats, and some even come every day.” Dee Curran, owner (left) and Tyler Smith, manager of Jersey Mike’s Subs at the Shops At Windsor Green, are very enthusiastic about the future of their new sub shop.

Jersey Mike’s Subs has a history and a long connection with the Jersey shore. The original Mike’s Subs opened in Point Pleasant in 1956. At that time, there were very few chain restaurants, and the submarine sandwich was a relatively new item on the American casual dining scene.

Residents, summer visitors, and vacationers to Point Pleasant looked forward to Mike’s special sandwiches, and began to spread the word.

In addition, as an independently-owned “Mom and Pop” business, Mike’s emphasized personal service and friendly attention to customers. People were soon lining up to buy the sandwiches and enjoy the informal and authentic shore atmosphere.

Almost 60 years later, Jersey Mike’s is still going strong — even stronger — with more than 800 independently-owned franchises nationwide.

Strong Believer

CEO Peter Cancro, who purchased the original Mike’s in 1972, when he was 17, is such a strong believer in the product that he has expanded it dramatically, notes Dee Curran, owner of the new Jersey Mike’s Subs at the Shops At Windsor Green.

“Peter had worked at Mike’s since he was 14, and when he heard that the owner was thinking of selling, he decided he wanted to buy it. A senior in high school at the time, he approached his football coach, who also happened to be a banker, and asked if he could help out. The coach backed the loan, and Peter became owner of Mike’s Subs at the age of 17!”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Over time, Mike’s expanded its operation into independent franchises, eventually changing the name to Jersey Mike’s Subs, and the business is more successful than ever. Jersey Mike’s at Windsor Green opened June 18, and Dee Curran couldn’t be happier.

“This is an excellent location, just four miles from Princeton University and on the Route One corridor. We get customers from the area, including Rider University, The College of New Jersey, and many others. Parking is so easy here. We’re right by Whole Foods, and this is a good spot for us.”

What keeps people coming back are the great subs and the friendly service, he adds.

“The sandwiches focus on ‘Mike’s Way’, a combination of onions, lettuce, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, spices, and then the choice of ham, cheese, turkey, roast beef, etc. The secret of the whole thing is the ‘juice’. That is, the combination of oil, vinegar, and the spices. This adds a certain zing. Once you have it, you definitely want it again!”

Fresh Ingredients

Fresh ingredients are a priority, adds manager Tyler Smith. “Every morning, everything is prepared fresh, including fresh-baked bread and cookies on site. We slice the tomatoes, onions, and lettuce ourselves, and we slice the meat right in front of the customer. We also trim, tie, and cook the roast beef in-house. This is the way the original Mike’s did it. Freshness is crucial in our world.

“In addition,” he continues, “it’s all about communicating with the people. Our staff really cares about the product, and they are genuinely engaged with the work and the customers. It’s genuine and authentic.”

Jersey Mike’s offers both cold and hot subs, with a big variety of choices in three sizes. “We’re probably best known for our cold sandwiches, but we’ve developed a specific hot sub business too,” reports Mr. Smith.

Popular cold choices include the Original Italian with provolone, ham, prosciutto, cappacuolo, salami, and pepperoni; the Famous Roast Beef and Provolone, cooked on the premises using only certified Angus USDA top rounds; the Turkey Breast and Provolone, including 99 percent fat-free turkey; and the Veggie, featuring Swiss cheese, provolone, and green bell peppers.

And, of course, “Mike’s Way” is the secret ingredient in all of the cold subs.

Among the hot subs, Chipotle Cheesesteak with grilled onions, peppers, and chipotle mayo is a favorite, along with the Big Kahuna Cheesesteak, including grilled onions and peppers, plus mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, and extra cheese.

Meatballs and Cheese, Chicken Parm, and Grilled Pastrami Reuben are other popular choices.

“Sub in a Tub”

In addition, Mike’s offers wrap sandwiches, including Chicken Caesar, Buffalo Chicken, Grilled Veggie, and Turkey Wrap, among others.

Another big favorite for many customers is the “Sub in a Tub”. “We can turn any sandwich into a salad,” says Mr. Curran. “This is also popular with those who want gluten-free since it eliminates the bread. Choose any cold sub and select your topping. Then, all you need is a knife and fork!”

Beverages include fountain and bottled drinks and brewed iced tea. Chips are also available along with the cookies and brownies.

Jersey Mike’s offers sit-down (for 52 people), take-out, and catering. All are popular, and Mr. Curran notes that they have already been very busy with catering orders. “We have done many catering jobs for local businesses. We expect to do more of this, and of course, we are very busy with people coming in here. Lunchtime is especially busy, and a lot of people also stop in after work to take a sub home.”

Subs start at $5.25, and there is also a children’s special with small sub, drink, and cookie for $4.45. Student plans are available as well.

“We believe we are set apart in lots of ways, including ‘Mike’s Way,” adds Mr. Curran. “An important aspect of Jersey Mike’s is that the company really believes in giving back to the community. We do this in a number of ways. Whenever a new Jersey Mike’s Subs opens (always on a Wednesday), for the five days through Sunday, customers can have a free sub with a minimum donation of $1. We will select a charity, and all the money will go to a local charity or non-profit. For our opening, we chose the Princeton YMCA, and they put the money toward building a new playground for the kids.”

Numerous Causes

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s locations throughout the country have raised nearly $10 million for worthy local charities and have distributed more than 750,000 free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes.

“We are also involved in Wreaths Across America, an organization which places wreaths on military graves at holiday time. We really look forward to becoming an established part of the community; we always want to give back. This is a big part of the Jersey Mikes concept.”

Visitors to Jersey Mike’s at Windsor Green enjoy — in addition to the subs! — the shore-like setting. Posters and photographs of shore scenes are on display, as is an eight foot surfboard suspended on the wall. A giant blow-up of a vintage post card from Point PIeasant adds another fun touch to the atmosphere.

“The product we give out in every way is so important,” points out Mr. Smith. “We want to make sure you are satisfied with the overall experience: the food, the service, the atmosphere, and the welcome you receive.”

Jersey Mike’s is open seven days per week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (609) 799-8094. Website:

FASHION FORWARD: “Fashion Week is a big designer event in New York City from September 11 to the 17th. We were asked to do the hair for more than 20 models taking part in the event.” Amy Kaczowski (right) and Heather Rizzo are co-owners of Salon Pure at Palmer Square.

FASHION FORWARD: “Fashion Week is a big designer event in New York City from September 11 to the 17th. We were asked to do the hair for more than 20 models taking part in the event.” Amy Kaczowski (right) and Heather Rizzo are co-owners of Salon Pure at Palmer Square.

The mission of the stylists at Salon Pure is to help clients look and feel their best. A new haircut and well-defined highlights can do wonders for a new look, as the fall season gets underway.

“We make people happy here. If they look nice, they feel better and have more confidence and self-esteem,” says Heather Rizzo, co-owner with Amy Kaczowski, of the very popular salon.

Opened in 2007, the salon was originally located on State Road, before moving to 31-A Hulfish Street (on the second floor, just above Mediterra Restaurant). Both Heather and Amy are experienced stylists, having worked for several years in the hair industry before opening Salon Pure.

“We wanted to open our own salon because we had another vision,” explains Amy. “We wanted to offer a special atmosphere and the best hair service. We are set apart by the environment we create. Our clients say they feel as if they are on vacation when they come here.”

Salon Pure is a full-service salon, offering haircuts and color, extensions, and treatments, as well as manicures, pedicures, waxing, and make-up applications.

“We have a wide range of experienced stylists and experts in their field who can accommodate different price ranges,” point out the owners. “Our staff is really superior, and we have a lot of continuing education. We train all our assistants for two years in addition to their previous cosmetology education. Everyone goes to New York City once a month for haircutting and color demonstrations, and we also have on-line training.”

The demonstrations are at the Nick Arrojo studio, and this famous hair stylist and TV personality has become an important asset for the salon. “We can create what is really in style because of our association with Nick Arrojo,” says Heather. “Knowing Nick, we are on top of everything that’s new.”

“I had seen Nick Arrojo at hair shows, and I liked his cutting approach,” adds Amy. “It was close to Vidal Sassoon, but edgier. Nick invited us to come to one of his cutting demonstrations, and we have been associated with him for a few years.”

Certainly, access to the very latest styles and trends and the professional expertise of the staff is a real plus for their clients. It has also been noticed by the media. For the third year in a row, Salon Pure has been voted “Best Salon in New Jersey” in New Jersey Monthly magazine.

Long hair, short, curly, straight — all are popular today, although there is a trend back to short, reports Amy. “Short hair is really in right now. You see lots of pixie cuts and also bobs.”

For teenage girls, however, tossing those long locks is still irresistible, and long styles are still popular for their versatility.

“One of the newest looks today is the American Wave,” continues Amy. “This is a ‘New Age’ perm, and it’s great for both long and short hair. This is very new. It doesn’t need styling or blow drying. It can just air dry, or if you want a little different look, it can be blown dry briefly.”

For those in a hurry, who want to “wash and go”, this is a terrific time-saver.

In fact, easy maintenance is a requirement for many Salon Pure clients. “Life-style is a very important factor in deciding on a hair style,” points out Heather. “We have a very in-depth conversation before we start, so we can create the ultimate hair style for the client. Something that is very individual, and is the best choice for that person. We always take facial structure, age, and life-style into consideration. Our clients are all ages, from kids to grandparents. Women, men, and children. We are very family-friendly.”

“There are many ways and techniques of cutting hair,” she adds. “For example, a razor cut gives more texture. The right cutting technique can make the difference between a good hair cut and an outstanding haircut.

“Some people will come in every week just for a blow-dry. Because of a great dry shampoo, they don’t have to wash their hair in between visits. The Nick Arrojo dry shampoo is the best. It takes out the oil, adds body and texture, and men love the fragrance! It’s just a great product, and extremely popular.”

Color, of course, continues to be the big news on the hair scene scenario. For many people, it is a fashion statement today, changing with the seasons. Highlights, lowlights, multi-dimensional color, ombre, balayge, hair painting are all popular techniques, and many clients are not afraid to experiment. Brunettes become blondes, blondes become redheads, and vice versa. Color creates interest and often can contribute to a more youthful look for the client.

And, whether customers want an unaffected, natural shade and style (most do) or a highly dramatic coiffure, they can be accommodated at Salon Pure, where the color experts are prepared to help clients perfect their “look”.

“Color is huge, and it’s fashion today; it’s not just to cover gray any more,” points out Heather. “Coloring products are safer than ever. It’s very safe, and it’s all about the application and the skill of the professional. It is also very individualized, but as people get older, the trend is to go a little lighter with color. The skin tone changes over time.”

Also, she adds, many factors can affect the color result. “Medication is a big factor in color. It really can affect the outcome. Pregnancy can also make a difference, due to hormonal changes.”

In addition, for those who have had a bad “do it yourself” coloring experience, corrective color is available. The Salon Pure color experts have specific products and the skill that can repair the damage.

Hair design and styling for special events are also a major part of the business, as are bridal packages — for the bride and the wedding party. Make-up is another area of expertise, and make-up applications are offered for special occasions and for bridal parties, both on the day of the wedding and for “trial runs” a few months before the big day.

Manicures, pedicures, and waxing are also available, and Heather and Amy emphasize that all the implements used in these services undergo thorough sterilization.

“Shellac is very popular today,” says Heather. “It’s a type of gel, and lasts longer than regular polish. Also, it is very ‘in’ to have the nail art on the ring finger to be different than the other nails. The nail art is really incredible today. As for color, we have everything, but ‘Sugar Daddy’ is a big favorite now. It’s a light pastel color.”

Heather and Amy are delighted with the direction their business has taken. Many of their clients have become friends, and word-of-mouth has been excellent.

“This is a very creative business in all ways,” they note. “It’s very important to keep on top of everything so it all runs smoothly, which also is reflected in a happy staff and happy clients. In keeping with our welcoming atmosphere, we offer coffee, tea, cookies, and other refreshments, and we encourage walk-in customers. We also continue to welcome new staff. We want everyone to get to know us. We want to be really well-known in the community and be a part of it.”

They have indeed worked very hard to become a part of the community, and are pleased to support many organizations and charities in the area and beyond. Some of these include Locks for Love, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and SAVE.

“We will also be part of Wellness Day,’ to be held October 12 on the Green,” says Heather. “There will be a different mix of businesses and organizations taking part, as well as trainers, yoga, and other activities.”

Salon Pure is open seven days: Monday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 9:30 to 8, Friday 9:30 to 7, Saturday 8:30 to 5, Sunday 10 to 4. (609) 683-8384. Website:


August 6, 2014
SIMPLE WONDERS: “I wanted a unique toy shop that represented my view of play as well as reflecting the community. The mission of sticks and stones is to provide children of all ages the tools to creatively explore their world and to embrace the simple wonders of unstructured play.” Jennifer Ghannam, owner of sticks and stones in Hopewell, is shown with a butterfly net over her shoulder and a “Nature House” for “collecting insect specimens, which you capture, observe, and then let go.”

SIMPLE WONDERS: “I wanted a unique toy shop that represented my view of play as well as reflecting the community. The mission of sticks and stones is to provide children of all ages the tools to creatively explore their world and to embrace the simple wonders of unstructured play.” Jennifer Ghannam, owner of sticks and stones in Hopewell, is shown with a butterfly net over her shoulder and a “Nature House” for “collecting insect specimens, which you capture, observe, and then let go.”

The “young at heart” of all ages will not want to leave sticks and stones! This charming toy shop, located at 16 Seminary Avenue (just off Broad Street) in Hopewell, is filled with a variety of intriguing items guaranteed to pique the curiosity and imagination of all who enter. “Nature-inspired Toys and Playful things” is sticks and stones’ motto, and it reflects owner Jennifer Ghannam’s concept of what children’s play should encompass. “We are unique in what we offer,” she explains. “It’s things that I have very carefully and thoughtfully chosen. And it provides kids with the tools to discover the world around them.” A mother of twins and a former teacher of elementary and middle school students, Ms. Ghannam initially had an on-line toy business, started in 2012, but she had always hoped to open a shop in Hopewell. “There were no other toy stores here, and there is so much value in face-to-face dialogue with the customers. I enjoy meeting everyone, and we have all ages coming in.” Newborns and Up Customers will find items for newborns on up, with a focus on products made of recycled materials, including wood and fabric. “Also, I try not to put firm ages on everything,” she points out. “Because everyone is different in what they like, and it doesn’t depend on age.” Indeed, there is a plethora of items for young explorers, artists, gardeners, inventors, builders, actors, and naturalists of every age! Items, which cover a price range of $5 to $160, with everything in between, also cover a wide spectrum, from bird and bat houses to model-making kits to assorted arts and crafts to books, blocks, and board games. The variety appeals to customers of all interests, and all the categories are popular, reports Ms. Ghannam. “I seek out things that are unusual, and people have really responded. There seems to be something for everyone.” Fun is a key word, and it underlies much of the inventory. It helps combine learning and education with a real sense of play. When the kids come in, they are very much engaged — as are their parents. Insects and Airplanes Two very popular items are the Needle Felting Kit and the Fairy-Making Kit. With the former, explains Ms. Ghannam, “You shape the felting fabric with the needle. It is a lot of fun, especially for ages 10 and up. They can make all kinds of little animals, and even adults enjoy it. “The Fairy-Making Kit includes wood, felt, and pipe cleaners to make the fairies. This is a favorite for kids from five and up. There are also recycled cardboard kits to make trees, animals, insects, and airplanes. A Pirate Map-Making kit is another favorite, as are the Lille Huset recycled cardboard houses from Grow Studio in Chicago.” Also available are “Edible Chemistry kits”, which kids can use to concoct root beer and bubble gum. “Glux Glow” (Glow-in-the-dark Putty) and Gels and Slime Kits are other favorites and are very popular birthday gifts at $15. In addition, the Yellow Owl Workshop from San Fransisco offers stamp and ink pads, stamp carving kits, jewelry, note pads, etc. Blocks and marbles stand the test of time, and the block sets include themes with insects, nursery rhymes, and the classic alphabet. “We also have a block and marble building kit, with which the kids can create towers and buildings,” she adds. “It’s from the Amish, and is really beautifully made.” Among the many irresistible items on display are “Chalk Rocks” created by Ms. Ghannam, who made them out of sidewalk chalk. The rocks are in all colors and are fun to look at, and then can be used as sidewalk chalk for hopscotch and other games, she explains. Giant Bubbles OGAS sailboats, handmade in Germany, do indeed float; special kaleidoscopes that can be taken apart and then put together for different images; magnifying glasses, telescopes, and “Optic Wonder,” which combines binocular, monocular, signal mirror, compass, and magnifier; and “Bubbles” which creates giant bubbles are all appealing to many ages. The “artists” among the customers still opt for old favorites, such as colored pencils, oil pastels, sketch pads, and modeling beeswax. And 32 Ways to Dress A Cat (or Bunny, etc.) features partly drawn pictures, which the kids can complete. Books, often focused on nature, are available on the second floor of the shop, and appeal to a variety of ages. A Strange Place To Live (Where Animals Live) by Marilyn Singer and On a Beam of Light, A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Byrne are two favorites. Wooden puzzles and board games are also available. “We have cooperative games, ‘Play Together, Not Against Each Other’, where the kids play as a team to reach a common goal,” says Ms. Ghannam. “And we have competitive games as well.” Finger and hand puppets are very popular, she adds, and charming little stuffed animals from Moulin Roty in France are irresistible. Larger items include a Balance Bike, and Ms. Ghannam points out that electronics are not a focus at sticks and stones. “There is one battery-operated toy here. We are kind of ‘unplugged’ in the store.” “Make and Take” arts and crafts workshops are held at the shop the second Saturday of every month, she adds. “The kids come in and participate in a specific project that has already been planned out. For example, they can make little bird houses out of toilet paper rolls and little birds out of paper, etc. I put out the materials, and am here to help with instruction. “I also plan to have birthday parties here. The crafts idea is very popular. Kids really like to make things. I enjoy it when they come in, and have such fun looking at everything and get excited.” In addition, Ms. Ghannam has a display of “Happy Faces”, photos of many of the children who enjoy coming to her shop. “I love it when people send over photos of the kids, and when they have made something from the store. We have lots of pictures, including one of a boy who got a pond kit, then went to the pond in the park, caught a fish, and came back to show me. It just made my day! “I look forward to the shop, not as just a toy store, but evolving into a destination for people to do creative things, such as workshops, parties, puppet shows, etc. As sticks and stones evolves, it is my goal to provide, as much as possible, products that are friendly to the environment. You will find more and more products created by hand, made of recycled materials, and made right here in the U.S.A. “I also want to be community-based. I want the shop to become part of the fabric of the Hopewell community.” Sticks and stones offers on-going sales, gift bags for all purchases, and can be easily identified by the decorative colored yarn adorning the nearby trees outside the shop. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday noon to 5 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. to 5, Friday and Saturday 1 to 6. Sunday hours will soon be established. (609) 466-6536. Website:

July 30, 2014
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: “When you start a new school, it’s a new adventure. It’s exciting, and it’s on-going. We are still sorting out ways of doing things.” Lesley Skousen, PhD, history teacher at the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, is shown on the attractive grounds of the new school.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: “When you start a new school, it’s a new adventure. It’s exciting, and it’s on-going. We are still sorting out ways of doing things.” Lesley Skousen, PhD, history teacher at the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, is shown on the attractive grounds of the new school.

The love of learning is celebrated at the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science (PRISMS). Located at 19 Lambert Drive, former site of the American Boychoir, the school recently completed its first year of operation.

Thirty-three enthusiastic, intellectually curious, and committed day and boarding students from the U.S. and China in 9th and 10th grades were challenged and stimulated by PRISMS’s unique learning experience.

“The mission of the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science — a visionary, intercultural research community educating and inspiring high school students through rigorous scholarship and personal responsibility — is to ignite a passion for inquiry, innovation, and investigation that will instill a compassionate commitment to enrich the quality of life in school, community, and country, and make an enduring difference in our world,” says Head of School Glenn McGee, PhD.

“We believe that our model of inquiry-driven education can be an exemplar for both independent and public schools worldwide. Data from parent and student surveys show that this first year we succeeded in our goal to ‘illuminate powerful ideas, nurture a compassionate community, and inspire profound inquiry.’”

Learning Experience

Dr. McGee, formerly president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), is a veteran educator. During his 40 years as an educator, he has served in many spheres, from teacher to school superintendent of education for the state of Illinois. IMSA is known as “the world’s leading teaching and learning laboratory for imagination and inquiry, for its innovative inquiry-based curriculum and student research program.”

Supported by the Bairong Education Foundation, which purchased the campus, PRISMS is associated with a “sister” school in Beijing, a high school affiliated with Renmin University (RDFZ). Dr. McGee is enthusiastic about the chance to offer such an outstanding learning experience in Princeton, which offers its unique location and variety of opportunities.

“Princeton University, the greater Princeton community, and New York City all offer countless resources and opportunities for our students. They have talked with artists in Manhattan studios, been mentored by professors at Princeton and professionals at Ernst and Young, engaged with exceptional innovators, and been able to attend numerous cultural events that were not available in their home communities. Very few places in America, let alone the world, can provide students with these experiences. This region has enabled students to learn so much outside the school day and beyond the campus boundaries.

“Our goal was to combine the best of the Chinese educational system, specifically the academic rigor and work ethic, and the best of the American educational system, its innovative practices and inquiry-driven teaching and learning,” continues Dr. McGee. “We managed to do it and do it well this first year. I especially enjoy seeing students from different cultures working together on projects as well as enjoying free time together. These students have learned so much about global collaboration that I have no doubt they will be leaders in their fields — and in fields that don’t even exist yet — because they have a deep conceptual understanding of the subject matter and the ability to work as true partners with students from around the globe.

“Solving our current and future global problems will require global collaboration, and the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science is where students will first experience the opportunities, challenges, and successes of working with talented peers from around the world both on campus and through interactive research with students and scientists thousands of miles from our home. Our young scholars will develop the habits of mind to excel in future demanding educational endeavors, to become ethical, responsible leaders; and to succeed in their pursuit of chosen careers.”

“There has been so much enthusiasm among the students to get to know each other,” adds PRISMS history teacher Lesley Skousen, PhD, formerly of IMSA. “ A real sense of international enthusiasm has developed. At first, the Chinese kids and the American kids tended to stay among themselves. Then, we had a big Halloween party, and they started getting together. We also had a camping trip in the appalachians as a combination field trip for the Wild PRISMS survivalist club and the astronomy club. We visited an observatory sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomy Society, and our students were allowed to use a solar telescope for observing solar flares. They really enjoyed themselves.”

Rigorous Curriculum

“Another thing that is so special about PRISMS is the emphasis on inquiry-based learning,” continues Dr. Skousen. “Instead of lectures, we ask questions. For example, I’ll say ‘What were the causes of the American Revolution?’ I also have students write essay questions. To write a question, they must have knowledge about the subject. We have lots of class participation, which stimulates discussion. We have very active learners, and it’s personalized learning. Our classes are small, with 10 to 12 students. There is no place to hide!”

These high-achieving students pursue a rigorous curriculum. A full range of disciplines, including math, physics, science, history, English, several languages, and art, is offered. Another very important aspect of the educational opportunities at PRISMS is the focus on independent year-long research projects.

“The students meet one day a week for dedicated research,” explains Dr. Skousen. “There are no classes that day. The research program is essentially graduate research in such fields as chemistry, political science, astronomy, and economics. Our students can participate with older established scholars at other institutions, and I also hope to see publication of their work and their participation in conferences. I am confident about their ability to do this.”

Dr. McGee agrees, and points out that “This program is an important way in which PRISMS is set apart from other schools. Every student is required to complete a formal research project that will culminate in a published paper or formal presentation at a major conference by the time they graduate. Our faculty mentors help students identify projects that interest them, and then we try to pair them with researchers and practitioners in the field who help them develop their proposals, conduct their research, and prepare formal posters, papers, and presentations.

“Also, every Wednesday, we invite a professional to conduct a seminar for our students or hold our in-house Global Studies Seminars. The quality of the students’ projects is impressive. In addition, we are able to personalize learning to assure that every student has opportunities to accelerate in areas in which he or she has special talents and receive additional support in areas in which he or she struggles.”

Life on the PRISMS campus, in addition to the academic focus, offers a broad learning experience. The nearly 18-acre campus was designed by world-famous landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead (designer of New York’s Central Park), and currently includes four buildings. Expansion will feature a state-of-the-art laboratory, fitness center, and a new dormitory.

Life Skills

“With students’ rigorous academic schedules, it is important to keep other aspects of life in perspective, especially in these habit-forming years,” points out Dr. McGee. “We want all of the students to be able to work together, to have fun, and to learn to respect each other. Community life is not just about behavior in the dorms, where students live together; it includes the way we act in the classroom, in the dining hall, and in common spaces in general. The life skills learned through the boarding experience here are just as important as the academic experience.

“We expect students to be respectful of other students, of faculty and staff members, and of the campus. We expect that students learn to collaborate with others, and to be interested in finding the best way, not just in having their own way. We expect them to learn that, to be heard, they must listen. We hope that students will graduate with a much more mature understanding of balance between mind, body, and spirit, to be further cultivated throughout their lives.”

After having launched PRISMS and achieved its first year of success, Dr. McGee will leave to embark on yet another new learning adventure. In the fall, he will become superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District.

“With its 17 schools and 13,000 students, it provides an opportunity to make an enduring difference on a very large scale,” explains Dr. McGee. “I will still be working at PRISMS as a consultant and even mentoring a research student. It is my fervent hope that I can connect students in Palo Alto with our students here in Princeton on some significant research projects that ideally will engage mentors from two of the top universities in the world, Princeton and Stanford.”

He adds that Matthew Pearce, formerly of the Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology, will assume the position of PRISMS’s executive principal in July.

PRISMS is currently accepting 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students for the fall term. (609) 454-5580. Applications are available on-line at


Durable Driveways: “Customers can rely on us to do the job right the first time. We are reliable, experienced, thorough, and affordable.” Glenn Layendecker, owner of Budget Paving in Lawrenceville, is shown with the fleet of his paving vehicles, which must be continuously maintained to provide the best service.

Durable Driveways: “Customers can rely on us to do the job right the first time. We are reliable, experienced, thorough, and affordable.” Glenn Layendecker, owner of Budget Paving in Lawrenceville, is shown with the fleet of his paving vehicles, which must be continuously maintained to provide the best service.

If your driveway is beginning to take on a grayish tinge, and telltale cracks and weeds are visible, it’s probably time to consider a re-do!

Glenn Layendecker, owner of Budget Paving, located at 34 A Black Lane in Lawrenceville, is ready to put in a new driveway, add a seal coating finish, or do needed repair work.

Driveways are a specialty, but his company also provides services for parking lots, as well as patio hardscapes and walkways, power washing, etc.

“We offer professional asphalt maintenance at affordable prices,” says Mr. Layendecker. “And we pride ourselves on prompt, reliable service. We’re a fully-insured company, and we perform our services on residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial properties. Our services include seal coating, paving, patio work, crack repairs, and line striping of driveways and parking lots.”

In business since 1999, Mr. Layendecker began with a focus on seal coating (a topping to protect against water seepage, cracks, and winter damage), then added paving as a major service in 2007.

“The life span of an asphalt driveway is 10 to 15 years,” he explains. “Seal coating once a year or every two years, depending on the condition, will help keep it from cracking and also give it a nice look.”

The majority of his driveway work is with asphalt, but he also uses concrete, pavers, and Belgian blocks on some jobs. He works on every size and shape driveway, including flat, inclines, curves, straight, double drives, and circular.

“The busiest time for paving is spring into summer,” he reports, “and this takes a lot of careful scheduling. That can be a challenge because of weather conditions. If there is a lot of rain, things can get backed up.”

The busiest time for seal coating is the end of fall, he adds, because people want to protect their driveway from the possible ravages of winter weather, including from snow plows, etc.

When customers inquire about paving their driveway, Mr. Layendecker visits the property, and provides an estimate. Once the job is underway, he is on site regularly.

“Most paving jobs take one or two days,” he explains. “I enjoy the interaction with the customers, and every job is different. I am proud of my excellent staff. Everyone who works for me is good-hearted and cares about the job. There is a skill to putting the paving down correctly. There are many components to be considered, including making sure there is proper drainage. This can be a problem. You want the run-off water to go toward the street, not toward the house.

“Our company stands out because we are straight-shooters. We do the job the right way; we are very thorough, and we don’t cut corners. We offer a one-year warranty on paving jobs. The challenge is to compete with people who ‘low-ball’ prices, and who then don’t do good work.”

Paving jobs typically start at $1500 for new asphalt, and seal coating is $100 to $275, depending on the size of the driveway.

“I’d say we’re in the middle price range,” points out Mr. Layendecker. “We give you the most value for the money. Size is an important factor in establishing the price, and, of course, the materials. Concrete, Belgian block, and pavers are more expensive.

“One point I’d make to customers is that when choosing a company to take care of their asphalt, be sure to ask questions and feel comfortable with the people. It’s not always about the lowest price. And, also, it’s good to invest in a local contractor. If they are local, their reputation depends on doing a good job.”

In addition to paving and seal coating, Mr. Layendecker works on hardscapes for patios and walkways, power washes houses, surface cleans store fronts (that is, power washing sidewalks). And in the winter, when paving jobs are not normally on the agenda, he often keeps busy with snow plowing projects.

Customers are in Princeton and the surrounding area, and excellent word of mouth continues to expand the customer base. As Mr.Layendecker says, “People know they can count on us.”

Budget Paving hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for appointments. (609) 586-5600. Website:


July 23, 2014
COMFORTABLE ELEGANCE: “We specialize in custom design, and we call it comfortable elegance. This is reflected in the ambiance of the shop. There is a certain image geared to people who want to look nice.” Nick and Jennifer Hilton, owners of Nick Hilton Princeton, offer the finest apparel for men and women.

COMFORTABLE ELEGANCE: “We specialize in custom design, and we call it comfortable elegance. This is reflected in the ambiance of the shop. There is a certain image geared to people who want to look nice.” Nick and Jennifer Hilton, owners of Nick Hilton Princeton, offer the finest apparel for men and women.

Sophisticated, elegant, and tailored clothing for men and women is the specialty at Nick Hilton Princeton. This unique studio/store at 221 Witherspoon Street, opened in 2001, and has become an important resource for Princeton clients looking for fine quality styling.

Long known for its outstanding menswear, the store added women’s clothing in 2006. It became such a success that the studio/store expanded its space in 2013 to accommodate additional items for women, as well as more room for men’s made-to-order, custom clothing.

“The biggest change is the size of the women’s section,” notes Mr. Hilton. “The expansion actually gave women their own store. There are really now two separate stores under the same roof: men’s and women’s. The women’s section is no longer just a corner in the men’s store.”

Of course, gentlemen continue to count on finding the highest quality apparel as well as helpful, knowledgeable service. Mr. Hilton is an expert in all areas of menswear, including customized design, featuring comfortable elegance.


The award-winning stylist represents the fourth generation of his family to dress American men. The client list includes U.S. presidents, statesmen, captains of industry, entertainers and sports figures. Mr. Hilton’s classic yet individual designs have been featured in GQ Magazine, among others.

“My great-grandfather Joseph Hilton and his brothers came from Russia in the 1880s, and started a custom-tailoring shop,” recalls Mr. Hilton. “They opened a series of shops called Joseph Hilton & Sons, and eventually, there were 10 stores in New York and New Jersey. The name was later changed to Browning King & Co.

“My grandfather Alex Hilton and my father Norman Hilton continued in the business. After graduating from Princeton and serving in the Navy in World War II, my father later created the Norman Hilton Country Line. He established a wholesale business that we never had before.”

Nick Hilton wasn’t quite sure whether to follow in the fashion footsteps of his forebears, but in fact, the interest was there, and he started out in Italy, working for a trouser manufacturer. When he returned to the U.S., he became a salesman for the family business, and found that he was to wear many hats.

“By 1975, I was head stylist, buyer, and salesman, and in 1980, I became president of the company.”

His real interest was in design, however, with a focus on softer tailoring and subtle patterns. His designs emphasized an international updated traditional style. “It’s not fashion in the sense of anything trendy or a novelty,” he notes. “We reinvent and update tradition.”

Formal Wear

When he opened his own studio, sports coats, trousers, shirts, and ties were available all with the Nick Hilton label. Eventually, Hickey Freemen suits, sports coats, sweaters, and jeans were added, as well as pajamas and robes.

The holidays — as well as weddings and other special events — are a popular time for formal wear, even in an increasingly informal society. Tuxedos and accessories are available, as well as a handsome black velvet jacket, suitable for a tux or even as a smoking jacket.

“We also have private label dress shirts from New England, and our shearling coats with cashmere outers are very popular for the winter. They can be sporty or dressy, and some of the coats are waterproof. In addition, we have high-quality Canali suits and sports coats from Italy. This is a very fine Italian line. The quality and styling of Italian tailoring is outstanding, and it creates an appreciation for high quality among customers.”

The store also offers a selection of Santoni shoes from Italy, adds Mr. Hilton. “These are light-weight, and often have rubber soles. They are stylish and very comfortable.”

In addition, new this year are “Heal Goods” socks for men designed by Princeton resident Grant Ward. “He decided to go into the hosiery business,” explains Mr. Hilton. “The socks have been very popular, and offer great designs in cashmere, wool, and blends.”

The variety of scarves, including cashmere, leather gloves, and belts, offers many sought-after accessory possibilities.

Total Look

Mr. Hilton enjoys helping his customers achieve a total look. “Men don’t always like to shop or change their style. I enjoy exposing them to something new and educating them. We help them with the total outfit. They typically buy three or four items rather than one. We can put it together for them.”

Indeed, the shop includes a number of displays featuring ensembles which Mr. Hilton has coordinated to show how different colors, textures, and patterns can work together.

And the displays for women are just as appealing. Sophisticated, elegant, tailored clothing that their customers enjoy wearing are the focus of the women’s department, notes co-owner and women’s buyer Jennifer Hilton. “We have a lot of new lines, including Dara Lamb, which we will offer in the spring, as well as a Max Mara boutique. Max Mara has been very popular for us, and we currently carry two of their lines — Weekend and Studio.”

She points out a lovely Max Mara double-faced fabric jacket and a charming lightweight leather jacket, also a Max Mara design.

Cambio jeans continue as customer favorites, she adds, “And we have had fabulous novelty printed designs on the jeans, tone-on-tone and printed on velvet. We’ll be getting more of them for spring. Prints generally are very big now, including in printed dresses. Cropped pants from Italy are also big sellers.”

Another popular seller is a soft, lightweight goatskin jacket featuring a stretch side panel for fit from Gimo’s of Italy. A selection of lovely cashmere sweaters in a palate of pastels is available for winter or spring.

Life and Color

“Scarves add life and color to any outfit,” points out Ms. Hilton, and the store offers a wide assortment. A beautifully soft and filmy lightweight wool is in an “Ombre” design with a “lobster” red and “chalk” blend of colors.

A gorgeous line of extra large silk scarves features dramatic designs and stunning colors, with nature motif, including birds and flowers. “They are 42 inches square, and I wanted them to be large enough so they don’t slide off the shoulder,” notes Ms. Hilton. “Made in North Carolina, they are in crepe de chine, and are extremely dramatic with extraordinary clarity of color”

Quality is the key to Nick Hilton Princeton, and both Mr. and Ms. Hilton are proud of what they have offered their scores of customers of all ages over the past 12 and a half years. “We offer fit and style that is appropriate to all ages,” notes Mr. Hilton. “We don’t have the most expensive items, but we do have the best quality. Quality is not just about durability and how it feels. It has to do with beauty and an aesthetic. And we think in terms of style, not fashion. Style remains; fashion comes and goes.

“I’m enjoying myself thoroughly,” he adds. “What I do as a retailer is my real passion. It is most enjoyable interacting with customers all day. What is most satisfying is helping people with their lives. Helping to give them enjoyment, confidence, and satisfaction. Clothing is evidence of one’s personality. And it is nice to help someone select an outfit they can enjoy.”

Mr. Hilton also looks forward to focusing more on design in the year ahead. “We are planning to work with a tailor shop, which will make clothing only for us. It will basically be our design. In addition, I will be designing men’s sport coats and trousers. Custom work has always been our hallmark, and we will focus on this.”

Customers who visit Nick Hilton Princeton will find a store filled with beautiful clothing for men and women in an atmosphere of friendly, knowledgeable service.

Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 to 5. 609-921-8160. Website:

GREAT TASTES: “We are set apart by the quality of our ingredients. We use all organic vegetables and chicken, and we have special recipes. We also offer customers a beautiful artistic setting.” Lisa Shao, owner of the Peony Pavilion, looks forward to introducing more diners to her Asian fusion restaurant.

GREAT TASTES: “We are set apart by the quality of our ingredients. We use all organic vegetables and chicken, and we have special recipes. We also offer customers a beautiful artistic setting.” Lisa Shao, owner of the Peony Pavilion, looks forward to introducing more diners to her Asian fusion restaurant.

“We offer our customers a special experience: delicious Asian fusion cuisine in a wonderful, beautiful setting. This is a special place.”

Lisa Shao is owner of the Peony Pavilion, the new Asian fusion restaurant at 20 Farber Road, near the MarketFair Mall. She is proud of the restaurant’s reputation for high quality cuisine and also, its exotic, dramatic interior design.

Named for a famous 16th century Chinese opera, the restaurant focuses on the peony — a Chinese symbol of peace, nobility, and prosperity. Replicas of the flower are prominent throughout the spacious restaurant, which can seat 200. Suspended jewel-like red pendant peony motif etched glass chandeliers and elegant red lacquer wood peonies are displayed throughout the lavish setting.

A panel of copper peonies creates the backdrop for the framed kimonos and 200 photos and images relating to the opera that are exhibited in many areas. Gorgeous red and black hanging lanterns enhance the Peony Pavilion’s exotic Asian ambiance. Customers can enjoy dining in booths or at tables in several settings.

Leisurely Dining

Ms. Shao’s artistic interest and background played an important role in creating this intriguing interior design. “I wanted the entire atmosphere to be very artistic,” she explains. “It reflects the cultural aspect of the opera, and combines that with Asian fusion food, and it is complemented by soft western jazz, adding a relaxing touch. Especially, we want people to be relaxed and enjoy leisurely dining here.”

Ms. Shao, originally from China, also owns Szechuan House in Hamilton. Interested in opening another restaurant in a new location, she decided to focus on sushi as well as blended Asian fusion cuisine.

“Our unique menu takes its cue from time-honored Asian cuisine, including Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Korean flavors, with contemporary approaches, using the freshest, finest ingredients we can find. The Peony Pavilion provides the opportunity to experience food with a rich history.

“Our presentation of the food is also very important,” continues Ms. Shao. “Our chefs showcase the dishes in very special ways. Even our plates are different for different dishes — round, square, and oval.”

“Absolutely the best sushi around!” reported a customer, just leaving the handsome 10-seat sushi bar. Indeed, reports Ms. Shao, “Sushi is a big favorite for us. Yoshi, our master sushi chef from New York, creates wonderful choices, which can also be customized. We have the freshest fish available, and the sushi is always extremely popular.”

“Yoshi” sushi, named for the sushi chef, is always in demand, she adds. It features crunchy, spicy tuna, avocado, and asparagus, wrapped with soy seaweed, topped with salmon, tuna, yellow tail, and Wasabi soy sauce. Unlike most sushi, it does not contain rice.

Many Variations

“Peony Sushi” includes toro salmon (the fatty cut of the fish) and yellow tail, asparagus, and red peppers, wrapped with soy seaweed, and jalapeno spicy yuzu sauce. The “Angry Dragon” features shrimp tempura and avocado, topped with spicy King Crab orange, edamame, and eel sauce.

Many variations and combinations are available, including sushi and sashimi, sushi and assorted rolls (California, tuna, spicy salmon, peanut avocado, to mention just a few).

Rice and noodle choices, Pad Thai (hot rice noodles, with choice of beef, vegetables or seafood), and Peony fried rice with chicken, beef, shrimp, or vegetables are also very popular. Ms. Shao notes that homemade Wasabi crackers are served with spicy tuna and caviar.

In addition, appetizers offer many choices, such as soup (creamy butternut squash is a big hit) and salads (seaweed to crispy calamari) and special hot appetizers, such as eggplant tofu (sauteed Japanese eggplant with basil crispy tofu).

Hot entrees range from organic grilled chicken to Chilean sea bass to Szechuan rack of lamb to Peking duck and Thai bacon filet mignon, among many other choices.

Also available are special lunch boxes, served with soup and salad and appetizers, incuding chicken or salmon teryaki, tempura shrimp and vegetables, and ribeye steak teriyaki, as well as a variety of sushi favorites.

Daily Specials

Daily specials are offered, and on weekends, the popular Chinese Dim Sum is served from noon to 3 p.m.

The Peony Pavilion offers catering, and a party room for special events. Prices cover a wide range, with lunch specials (including any two rolls for $10 and three for $13); lunch boxes are $12 and $13, appetizers from $5, a la carte sushi from $3, and entrees from $20.

The Peony Pavilion also features a special Chinese Tea Ceremony, featuring appetizers, traditional Chinese music, and of course, tea.

“We offer high quality English tea from Harney & Sons,” notes Ms. Shao. Other beverages include coffee, soft drinks, and juices. Desserts, such as molten lava cake (served warm with vanilla ice cream), tempura ice cream, creme brulee in three different flavors, and cheese cake lollipop tree, are popular with many diners.

The Peony Pavilion is BYO, but it also offers the purchase of wine by the bottle through an association with the Alba Vineyard.

“I am so encouraged by the response to our restaurant,” says Ms. Shao. “We already have many regular customers. I enjoy it so much when people come in and say how much they appreciated dining here, and I look forward to even more people enjoying our unique dining experience. We also support local Princeton and area events. We believe giving back to the community is important.”

The restaurant offers lunch, dinner, and take-out, and delivers to local businesses in the area. Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday 11:30 to 10:30, Sunday 11 to 10. (609) 580-1850. Website:


July 16, 2014
RICH TRADITION: “You can feel the richness of the tradition of our club in our warm, friendly atmosphere. It is inviting and welcoming. At the same time, we are very fresh and contemporary with our membership. We are current with the times.” Leslie Conover, membership and marketing director of the Trenton Country Club, is shown at the clubhouse entrance.

RICH TRADITION: “You can feel the richness of the tradition of our club in our warm, friendly atmosphere. It is inviting and welcoming. At the same time, we are very fresh and contemporary with our membership. We are current with the times.” Leslie Conover, membership and marketing director of the Trenton Country Club, is shown at the clubhouse entrance.

History is alive and well at the Trenton Country Club. At the same time, the club is current, contemporary, and up-to-date.

Established in 1897, it is located at 201 Sullivan Way in West Trenton, not far from the Mercer County Airport. Set on 110 acres, the clubhouse was once the private home of the Woodruff family, prominent both in New Jersey and in association with the then new federal government. Today, it offers an exceptionally handsome colonial-style clubhouse, surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds, including two small bridges overlooking a pond and fountain.

Originally known as “Oaklands”, a portion of the current clubhouse was built as a private home in 1808. An early owner, George Whitefield Woodruff of Trenton, established it as his summer home, after he had relocated to Georgia at the request of President John Adams to serve as U.S. District Attorney for the state of Georgia.

Eventually, after the last Woodruff descendent died, the house was rented (later purchased) by a group of area businessmen, who envisioned a country club and nine-hole golf course.

“One of the Finest”

Golf continues to be a major focus of the club today. Current members proudly note that in 1914, when additional land was acquired, James “Jimmie” Norton, a well-known golf pro and course architect, designed the 18-hole course. Mr. Norton was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, home to British Open courses, Royal Troon and Prestwick.

According to Club historian John Burne, “Trenton Country Club’s new course was touted in the local paper as ‘one of the finest in the East,’ and was played by many noteworthy golfers.’ Two-time U.S. Open champion John McDermot played here immediately after becoming the first American to win the championship with Norton. President Woodrow Wilson was a member here, and helped usher the game’s popularity into the American consciousness.”

In addition, an interesting cross-section of famous visitors, including John Jacob Astor (1901), Theodore Roosevelt (1901), John D. Rockefeller (1911), and Charlie Chaplin (1919), signed the Trenton Country Club’s leather-bound registry, either to enjoy a round of golf or to dine with colleagues in one of the club’s fine restaurants.

In the early days, the club offered golf, skeet shooting, and polo, notes general manager John Case, who has been with the club for 25 years.

“Today, in addition to golf, we have three swimming pools, five clay tennis courts, paddle tennis in winter, and a fitness center. There are golf and tennis pro shops, and we have two restaurants and a poolside snack bar.”

The club currently has a membership of 600, he adds. “Forty have been members for more than 45 years. We also have 550 kids here, who are children of members. We are very family-oriented, and we have many activities for kids.”

“Princess and Pirate”

Among these are tennis and golf camps with private, semi-private lessons, and clinics; summer camp including golf, tennis, swimming lessons, cooking, arts and crafts, group exercises, meals, and snacks. The club is part of the Princeton Area Swim & Dive Association (PASDA), and the team usually competes in six meets.

In addition, the Trenton Country Club offers baby sitting for 3-year-olds and up every Friday all year, and Tuesday through Friday during the season. Also, the annual “Princess and Pirate” party is a favorite of the younger club members.

Golf is the focus for many members, and the layout is a classic parkland course designed to use every club in the bag, challenging golfers of all levels of ability. A driving range, putting green, and separate short game area are all available. Some people like the challenge of the entire course, others enjoy the front nine, or just a few rounds, or they can come to practice, notes Mr. Case. He adds that three holes are currently undergoing renovation.

The club hosts the Capital Cup, one of the area’s premier invitational events. “This is a special qualifying event for top-notch players,” points out Leslie Conover, membership and marketing director.

Tennis players love the HAR-TRU (clay) courts — so much easier on the knees — at the club. The courts are carefully maintained daily, says Mr. Case. “We sponsor a lot of events here in connection with the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL), which was founded by Arthur Ashe to encourage and give opportunities to inner city kids to play tennis.”

In addition, in August, club members will have a chance to play with former Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander, who will hold a clinic.

Heated 6-Lane Pool

The tennis and golf pros are always on hand to help members with the finer points of their respective games, and — especially — to enjoy themselves, adds Ms. Conover.

The three-pool facility offers something for everyone: a heated six-lane pool with diving board; a 3-foot by five foot leisure pool; and a zero depth-entry baby pool, as well as playground, volley ball court, and poolside snack bar. Swimming lessons are available for all ages, and four lifeguards are always on duty.

The club’s fitness center features a variety of cardio machines, plus all the equipment needed for strength and resistance training. Personal trainers are available, and certified instructors lead group exercise classes, such as Pilates, yoga, Zumba, and more. A massage room is also nearby.

An abundance of social activities is also offered to members. Events range from elegant wine dinners to family-friendly occasions. Two restaurants offer quality cuisine. The Stockton Room features a panoramic overview of the golf course, with outside dining also available on the terrace. The low key Tavern affords members a relaxed, comfortable dining experience.

Every major holiday, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day, etc. is celebrated, notes Ms. Conover. A highlight in December is the Holiday Ball, with three bands in each of the dining rooms. Another favorite evening is “Passport Night”, including a “trip around the world” with exceptional food, spirits, and themed music from 12 countries.

“We host many functions for members and non-members alike, adds Mr. Case. “Weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, business lunches, charity events, fund-raisers, showers, brunches, etc. Our ballroom holds 400.”

In addition, the club offers a book club, bridge, and wi-fi, among other amenities.

Most Opportunities

Members, who are all ages, come from Princeton and the area, as well as Pennsylvania, he notes. “We get new members all the time, and we offer three different memberships. (1) Golf, which also includes all the other sports and social activities; (2) sports: swimming, tennis, fitness center, and very limited golf; and (3) social activities only. The golf membership is the most popular, since it offers the most opportunities.

“Memberships include family, couples, and singles, and there is an application process to join. We always look forward to welcoming new members. We are the oldest continually-operated country club in the area and beyond. The quality of our food and services is outstanding, and we have exceptional loyalty from our staff members. Many have been with us for more than 25 years.

“I have to make sure that it is a wonderful day every day for the members, and to make sure they enjoy themselves,” continues Mr. Case. “I enjoy making everything work smoothly, and also meeting all the people — both staff and members. We look forward to being here for all of the members, including the next generation.”

“It’s wonderful when people come back and thank us and say how much they appreciate being here,” adds Ms. Conover. “We are presenting great opportunities for our members, and we want to continue the longevity of this historic club.”

The clubhouse is open Tuesday through Sunday. The pool is open every day during the season from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; tennis courts 6 a.m. to 11 pm., and golf from 7 a.m. until dark. (609) 883-3800 Ext.104. Website:


June 25, 2014
NTU Pr soccer exp 6-25-14

SOCCER FEVER: “We are a soccer specialty store, and I believe we are filling a need here in Princeton,” says Tibor Teleky, owner of Princeton Soccer Experience. Mr. Teleky (far right) is shown with his staff: Freddy Villanueva, Mike Peguero, and Tania Gomes. Not pictured is Dave Clavijo. All are wearing the USA home and away team soccer shirts. Staff members all speak Spanish, notes Mr. Teleky.

“It’s soccer here, but in the rest of the world, it’s football — not to be confused with our own American football. By whatever name, it is zooming in popularity, and players of all ages and every skill level, are eagerly participating. And now, with interest at peak excitement during the World Cup, the Princeton Soccer Experience shop at 190 Witherspoon Street is a focus of attention.

“Because of the World Cup, this has been our busiest month ever,” reports owner Tibor Teleky. “The interest is huge. We have lots of new customers because of it, including from other countries. They want to support their team.”

Mr. Teleky is a long-time soccer enthusiast, both player and coach. He currently coaches the West Windsor Soccer Association teams for boys under 16 and under 11. He believes his store, which opened in early 2013, is a perfect match with Princeton. “There was really a need for this kind of store. There is nothing like it in Princeton, and the interest in soccer is so strong now. Kids start playing at very young ages.”

Mr. Teleky, a graduate of Rutgers University and recipient of an MBA degree from the Central European University in Budapest, has also worked in the corporate world with Merrill Lynch. He decided to pursue his dream to open a soccer specialty shop, however, and he definitely wanted it to be in Princeton.

International Aspect

“I like the international aspect of Princeton, and I wanted to have the shop here in the downtown, where there is a lot going on. People here are really interested in soccer, and I have many regular customers. I have a growing clientele. It’s everyone — kids, teens, parents, and older people. If people have played regularly, they can continue to play in their 70s.”

The shop features a wide range of of soccer equipment, clothing, and accessories in a light and bright setting, which also offers a large TV screen, showing soccer matches, including the World Cup.

Items are available for men, women, and children, and include balls, warm-up clothing, soccer shirts, T-shirts, team jerseys, shorts, shoes (“cleats”) and socks.

“We have USA home and away jerseys, and they are very popular,” reports Mr. Teleky “They are in all sizes for youth and adults. Girls and women’s shirts are also available now. In July, the new designs for club jerseys come out, and that creates great interest. Warm-up jackets are favorites too, especially those from the U.S. and Brazil, and we have many others.”

A variety of balls in different colors and designs, weights, and sizes, including the small “skill” balls, sizes 3, 4, and 5 for kids, are all available. “We also have the special World Cup design ‘Brazucca’ ball by Adidas,” notes Mr. Teleky. Regular balls are typically $20 and $30.

Shoes, including special designs for the World Cup, are from Nike and Adidas, and feature bright, contemporary designs. They range from $60 to $120. “Most people have more than one pair of soccer shoes,” points out Mr. Teleky, “and we can definitely accommodate them.”

Huge Buzz

Colorful fan scarves and flags, representing different teams, are on display, along with assorted accessories, including the very popular Panini World Cup stickers, which kids love for $1 a pack. With the continued growth of soccer in the U.S., Mr. Teleky is very optimistic about his store. “Interest in soccer is growing all the time in the U.S., ever since 1994, when the World Cup was held here. Every time there is an international game, the stands are packed. There’s a huge buzz about soccer.

“Important U.S. Clubs are Red Bull in New York, the Philadelphia Union, and New York FC. This last one is co-owned by the New York Yankees and the Manchester City Soccer Club in England. It shows the potential for soccer in the U.S. The opportunity is here for it to grow and grow.”

And he believes that will translate to more and more interest in the Princeton Soccer Experience. “We have people from Princeton and the area, and I enjoy meeting all of them. We talk about soccer and the different teams, and we try to give customers a good experience. Everyone likes the personal touch.

“We always work hard to improve our service and the quality of the merchandise,” he adds. “We want to be the ‘go to’ Princeton soccer specialty shop in the area.”

Mr. Teleky also points out that his Witherspoon Street location is not far from the library and just a short walk from Nassau Street.

Hours are Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 10 to 7, Sunday 10 to 3. (609) 580-1924. Website:

—Jean Stratton

June 18, 2014
TIME SAVER: “Time for Dinner will provide you with recipes for five simple, healthy meals, including side dishes each week. Meal plans are created to be efficient and eliminate waste. We also include an organized shopping list, cost estimates to help keep you on budget, a list of pantry items you will need, and guides to meal preparation.” Trish Ryan, founder and owner of Time for Dinner, enjoys shopping for healthful meals.

TIME SAVER: “Time for Dinner will provide you with recipes for five simple, healthy meals, including side dishes each week. Meal plans are created to be efficient and eliminate waste. We also include an organized shopping list, cost estimates to help keep you on budget, a list of pantry items you will need, and guides to meal preparation.” Trish Ryan, founder and owner of Time for Dinner, enjoys shopping for healthful meals.

What’s for dinner? Finally — that age-old question has been answered. Time for Dinner, the new on-line subscription food service has solved the problem!

It provides weekly menus, recipes, and a shopping list to relieve the family cook of the need to do all the time-consuming planning.

“There are two things we can all agree upon as parents — we are busier than ever, and we wish we had more time with our families. Dinner time is one time each day when we can slow down and connect with our families. Our goal, at Time for Dinner, is to make dinner happen. We have made the dinner process easier, so you can enjoy sitting down together as a family.”

Trish Ryan, founder and owner of Time for Dinner is determined to help families enjoy a relaxed, healthy meal, and spend this important time together.


Mother of three (ages 16, 13, and 9), she had always focused on family dinners, she reports. “I believed that the most precious time of the day was when everyone came home and sat down to eat dinner. It became our safe haven; electronics were turned off, and our kids really looked forward to it. It’s time to be together and have face-to-face conversation.

“As we became accustomed to eating together, every Sunday night, I’d sit down with my cookbooks, and plan the meals for the week ahead,” she continues. “When you have a plan, everything is much easier.”

As time passed, Ms. Ryan sought a way to share her family’s experience with others. She came up with the idea of an on-line subscription food service, and last August, Time for Dinner was launched.

“With our easy meal-planning service, we’ll save you (1) from staring at a pantry full of food with no idea what to cook; (2) trying to make a favorite family meal, but realizing that you don’t have an essential ingredient; and (3) ordering yet another take-out meal for the second or third time in a week.

What Ms. Ryan offers is five menus a week, a complete, detailed shopping list of ingredients with cost estimates, and cooking instructions.

“Our plan features five meals: three meat (chicken, beef or pork), one fish/seafood, and one vegetarian each week. We also offer ingredient substitutions to make each meal gluten-free. Eventually, we plan to have three separate full menus each week: classic, vegetarian, and gluten-free.


“The dinner serves four people,” she continues, “and I also provide information on how long it takes to prepare the food. With our on-the-go shopping list, you’ll be in and out of the store in 20 minutes, spend less than $100, and be ready for the week ahead.

“And we don’t just grab random recipes and call it a meal plan. We mix and match the list of ingredients to create balanced dinners that play off each other. Also, the recipes are child-friendly, and get our family stamp of approval before they are added to our weekly menus.”

Customers who sign up for the subscription service have the choice of a 3-month plan for $18 or a yearly plan for $60.

Sample meals for a recent week included spice-rubbed tilapia with stuffed zucchini; black bean and sweet potato tortados; Jamaican pork tenderloin and zucchini rice; flank steak with roasted vegetable orzo salad; and red curry chicken stir fry.

Ms. Ryan points out that some parts of each meal can be prepared at the beginning of the week, unless otherwise noted, to save time on meal nights. She also includes specific information on preparation time and actual cooking time.

Customers are not only from Princeton and the area, but from as far afield as Florida, Alabama, and California, reports Ms. Ryan, and they are very enthusiastic. Positive comments keep coming, as word-of-mouth grows.

Recipe Repertoire

“We keep getting more people all the time, and they especially love the variety and all the different possibilities. For example, you’ll have chicken again on the menu, but it will be prepared differently. Typically, most people have 10 to 12 meals in their recipe repertoire. There are no repeats in my house! Sometimes, if the kids really like something, they will ask to have it again.”

Ms. Ryan is finding her new adventure to be a real pleasure. As she says, “When you do something you love, you don’t mind the work. And I love sharing this with people. It is a real time saver, and can help everyone to be more relaxed at dinner.

“Even when your are busy, one thing you can do is cook your own food. It is so much healthier. When everything is planned ahead, it takes less time than you think. And imagine the end result! It is so essential — to feed your family a healthy dinner and all sit at the table together and enjoy it. I look forward to helping more families to do this all over the country.”

Customers can sign up on the Time for Dinner website, where they can also access the menus. Information is also available on Facebook, and Ms. Ryan provides a frequent blog featuring cooking experiences and tips, and  the pleasure of eating together as a family. Website: www.timefordinner


June 4, 2014
NTU only photos

HEALTHY LIFE-STYLES: “Our goal, as physicians practicing lifestyle medicine, is to reduce the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases and even death through promoting and supporting positive life-style changes in our patients’ lives. We are very excited to emphasize healthy lifestyles with the goal of preventing diseases rather than just treating diseases once they have developed.” Dr. Barbara A. Brown (left) and Dr. Lynne B. Kossow have opened Princeton Lifestyle Medicine in addition to their long-time internal medicine practice.

Primary care physicians Dr. Barbara A. Brown and Dr. Lynn B. Kossow have added a new dimension to their practice at 731 Alexander Road: Princeton Lifestyle Medicine.

“Lifestyle medicine interventions, including diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress reduction, have been shown to help prevent and/or reduce the incidence of many diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity,” explain the doctors. “There is now an ever-growing body of evidence showing the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions for lowering the rise of developing chronic diseases, as well as for assisting in the management and possibly the elimination of many existing chronic conditions.”

An important aspect of lifestyle medicine is that it is evidence-based. Drs. Brown and Kossow emphasize that a substantial amount of scientific evidence exists demonstrating that positive life-style changes can indeed make important differences in one’s health. This is not holistic or alternative medicine, they add.

“It is estimated that lifestyle factors, such as chronic stress, poor diet, obesity, physical inactivity, lack of connectiveness and support, cigarette smoking, and excess alcohol consumption, result in a 72 percent increase in deaths from heart attacks and strokes and a 44 percent increase in deaths due to cancer,” notes Dr. Kossow. “Research has shown that physician counseling about these lifestyle factors can help patients reduce the incidence, and reverse or slow down the progression of these diseases.”

Long-range Changes

Several medical institutions are now including lifestyle medical education opportunities. Among them are the Harvard Institute of lifestyle Medicine (affiliated with Harvard Medical School), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, and the Cleveland Clinic.

The goal is to reduce or eliminate many prevalent diseases by helping patients adopt changes for the long-range that will benefit their health. The idea is not a quick fix, but a sustained, on-going focus on exercise, healthy diet, and stress management.

For example, weight is an issue for many people today, notes Dr. Brown. “People can lose 10, 20, 30 pounds on a diet, and then gain it all back. This happens frequently. They are basically still doing the same thing. What we do is take time with the patients to help them understand what underlies the problem and together, with them, devise a change in their lifestyle.”

The active engagement and participation of the patient is crucial, emphasizes Dr. Kossow. “The idea isn’t that I am going to tell them to exercise 30 minutes a day. That’s obviously not working. Instead, we delve deeply into what is making it difficult for them, and then, the idea is to come up with a plan they feel they can stick to and enjoy. Perhaps they can squeeze in 10 minutes of exercise during their lunch hour. But I don’t know about their lunch hour. They do, and so, together, we can come up with a plan.”

Dr. Brown agrees: “We are not telling them what to do. We are asking them what they feel they can do.”

No doubt, many physicians advise their patients to eat healthy diets, engage in exercise, stop smoking, and adopt stress-relieving techniques. What is different about lifestyle medicine is the time element, the opportunity to spend more time with a patient, points out Dr. Kossow. “There is never enough time today. A typical office visit is often 15 minutes, and the doctor is often rushing to diagnose and prescribe treatment. There is little time to talk with the patient about the underlying problems.”

Internal Medicine

Indeed, time vanishes quickly today. Our increasingly high tech society emphasizes speed. Everyone is rushed, and this affects many areas of one’s life — from time management to eating. As Dr. Kossow reports, “There are many difficulties today. An example is that so many people are in a hurry, so they emphasize take-out or fast food instead of preparing a healthy meal at home.”

Board-certified in internal medicine and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Kossow has practiced for more than 20 years. In addition, she is an attending physician at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine.

A graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, Dr. Brown is also board certified in internal medicine, practicing for 19 years. She is an attending physician at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Both physicians are members of the American College of Physicians as well as the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Practicing together for 16 years, they wanted to find a way to spend more time with a patient in order to discover in detail what he or she is facing, and to help the patient truly engage in positive lifestyle changes.

“We have really been trying to do this for years, but were always so limited by the amount of time we could spend with a patient,” notes Dr. Brown. “We decided to take a course at the Harvard Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, and this led us to add this concept to our practice. Now, we can focus on a different way of helping patients. We work as healthcare coaches, asking patients what it is they want to change, and counseling them.”

Lifestyle Choices

With positive lifestyle choices, there can be less reliance on medications. When appropriate, however, Dr. Brown and Dr. Kossow prescribe medicines, as well as all needed vaccinations.

A patient who enrolls in the Princeton Medicine Lifestyle program pays an initial fee of $1,000, which is not covered by insurance,  but can be paid in installments. In addition to a medical evaluation, this entitles the patient to specialized care and counseling. As the doctors explain, “In order to practice lifestyle medicine, we will need to spend significantly more time with each of our lifestyle patients. We will begin each program with an initial one-hour consultation. This will help us to understand your lifestyle, including your eating habits at home and in restaurants, your work habits, exercise habits, and the factors influencing the amount of daily stress you experience.

“We need to understand details about your life in order to customize a comprehensive individual lifestyle medicine program that will work for you. We will then add extra time to your non-urgent follow-up visits and yearly physicals to support you through any individual obstacles you may encounter, and to help you sustain these changes as you succeed over time. We will also be available to you via email and telephone on weekdays to help you with the lifestyle changes you are choosing to make.”

So far, most of the lifestyle medicine patients are those whom the doctors have been treating in their regular practice. However, the Princeton Lifestyle Medicine program is open to everyone, including individuals who are seen by other primary care physicians.

“This is much more personal medicine,” notes Dr. Kossow. “We help each patient understand that lifestyle changes can profoundly affect their health and that it is based on scientific evidence. I love the close relationships I develop with patients, and it is wonderful when I see the different generations in the same family: grandparents, parents, and kids after they are 18. What I really love about the practice of medicine are its challenges and mysteries. I want to help people live healthy lives, and we find that the patients are thrilled when we are now able to spend a lot more time with them, and that we can come up with a plan to benefit their health.”

Dr. Brown echoes that view. “I love the medical relationship and partnership with patients, and getting to know them as people. And one of the awesome things about practicing medicine is that there is always something new.”

In the case of lifestyle medicine, it may be a new approach to the practice of internal medicine today; however, its underlying concept goes back to the very beginnings of medicine, to the days of Hippocrates, who said: “Let food be your medicine … and walking is man’s best medicine.” Some ideas do stand the test of time!

Princeton Lifestyle Medicine offers hours by appointment. (609) 655-3800. Website: www.princetonprimary

—Jean Stratton

NTU Cafe Vienna

OLD WORLD SPECIALTIES: “I want to put a smile on people’s faces! I want the customers to feel comfortable and welcome, and be able to experience the flavors and aromas of a European café. Many people come in and say, this reminds them of home.” Anita Waldenberger (right), owner of Café Vienna, is shown with staff members Nathan Besteman and Berline Jean-Louis.

The buzz all over town is about Café Vienna. Just opened in April, it already has a legion of fans, who are captivated by the delicious coffees and pastries to be found within.

Located at 200 Nassau Street (the former site of the Piccadilly), it truly is a touch of the Old World, reminiscent of the cafés and coffee houses in Europe. This is the mission of owner Anita Waldenberger, who grew up in Austria.

“When I first visited Princeton in 2002, I liked it right away and felt at home. I have now lived here 11 years, and it has a wonderful international atmosphere. There are people from all over the world.”

When her brother and his family visited from Munich, he mentioned he couldn’t find a coffee house similar to the cafés in Europe, she reports. This encouraged Ms. Waldenberger to open such a place.

Relaxed Atmosphere

In Austria, she had visited many coffee houses and cafés, and also completed an apprenticeship at Kurhotels Warmbaderhof in Warmbad-Villach, a 5-Star luxury resort in Austria. In addition to her background in the hospitality industry, Ms. Waldenberger worked in real estate and banking for several years, and brought all these experiences to her new business venture.

The café, which has five tall café tables and chairs inside, as well as five places at the counter, also offers five tables outside. It provides the same relaxed atmosphere found in the European cafés; customers are never rushed, and can enjoy the opportunity to linger over delicious coffee and pastries.

Ms. Waldenberger was determined to offer the highest quality to her patrons. She worked with a German baker to adapt her family recipes to the pastries, and selected special Colombian coffee beans, roasted in Italy. “Our pastries, which are all preservative-free, are typical of Austrian pastries, and all are my mother’s recipes,” she notes.

Pastries include many of the old world favorites, such as apple strudel, sacher torte (Viennese dark chocolate cake with apricot filling), black forest cake with cherry filling and whipped cream, 3-tier marzipan cake with raspberry filling, butter cream and almond paste,  marble cake flavored with lemon, and cheese cake.

“We also have a gluten-free fennel cake that was my mother’s recipe,” adds Ms. Waldenberger. “We are always introducing new products such as linzer cookies and flourless chocolate cake.”

In addition, Café Vienna serves a breakfast and lunch ham and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce on a croissant or baguette. This is especially popular as a brunch on weekends, but is available every day.

Special Blend

The special blend coffee, served in over-size cups, is rich, smooth, and flavorful. Choices include regular, cappuccino, espresso, café latte, also café mocha (hot chocolate with a single shot of espresso), and Viennese hot chocolate with whipped cream.

“Our baristas make great coffee,” reports Ms. Waldenberger.

Tea aficionados will be pleased to find a selection of Earl Grey, including decaf breakfast blend, as well as organic breakfast tea, and organic green tea. The tea is served in an elegant single portion china pot and cup. Iced coffee and iced coffee with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream are also on the menu. Other beverages include juices, Coca Cola, and Pellegrino sparkling water.

Prices start at $3.25 for regular coffee, $4.25 for cappuccino, $4.50 for marble cake, up to $6.25 for marzipan cake. Sandwiches are $7.

Ms. Waldenberger says that customers are enjoying everything. “It’s really across the board — all the coffees and all the pastries. They just like everything! And everyone, including the other merchants, has been so friendly. We have had a very warm welcome. Princeton people are very friendly.”

She is delighted that the clientele represents all ages and people from all over, including many regulars, who come in often.


“My husband and I love it here,” says a Princeton resident, originally from Switzerland, who stops in more than once a week. “We relive our childhood memories here. It feels and tastes like home!”

The hospitality industry is known for the time-consuming and painstaking effort needed for success. “You have to have a passion for it,” notes Ms. Waldenberger. “We work hard to offer the best quality and product line. People deserve the best for their money. My philosophy is that when people spend good money on a product, they can expect the best we have to offer. Our products speak for themselves.

“People will know they can count on getting the best here. I always want to be humble and never take anything for granted,” she adds. “I do quality control every day, and we taste everything. I have a wonderful staff, who enjoy coming to work, and say they have fun here. We want to be a place for everyone to come and find pleasure. They can take time out to relax. I think it is very exciting to start something new. I am also developing a business clientele. People can enjoy coming in, sitting down with coffee and a pastry, and have a business meeting.”

Take-out is also available at the café, and in addition, customers can purchase whole cakes if they order two days ahead.

Ms. Waldenberger says she looks forward to being in Princeton a long time. “I want to make our customers happy and give them a touch of the Old World. I look forward to offering the community the very best we have to offer. I am so very happy to be here.”

Café Vienna is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 to 8. (609) 924-5100. Website:

May 28, 2014
ALL ABOUT ACCESSORIES: “I like color, and I like texture. We specialize in scarves, jewelry, and handbags. My mix of accessories is culled from my own love of the items as well as listening to what my customers want.” Hannah Schussel is owner of Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories, the new shop on Chambers Street.

ALL ABOUT ACCESSORIES: “I like color, and I like texture. We specialize in scarves, jewelry, and handbags. My mix of accessories is culled from my own love of the items as well as listening to what my customers want.” Hannah Schussel is owner of Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories, the new shop on Chambers Street.

Accessories complete the fashion statement. They also add flair, fun, and flourish.

Now, there is a shop in Princeton that is all about accessories. Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories opened in March at 6 Chambers Street, and is ready to help with that special look.

“I love being a retailer. This is what I do,” explains owner Hannah Schussel. She certainly has experience. Former owner of Toys …. The Store on Palmer Square for several years, Ms. Schussel went on to wear many hats at the gift shop at McCarter Theater. “I created, managed, and bought for that shop for 12½ years. When it closed last year, I realized that I missed it. Just as I felt all those years ago when we began our toy store, being a retailer is part of me. I love the interaction with people it allows me.”

“I especially wanted to be in Princeton. Being part of the Princeton community of merchants feels as if I’m back home with family. And it’s great just being two blocks away from McCarter.”

Special Focus

Ms. Schussel wanted to focus on accessories because “people love them. We have items from around the world, including the U.S., Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. I decided to start with 20 of the most popular lines we had at McCarter, and see what people liked.”

So far, they seem to like everything, with a special focus on scarves, she adds. “The scarves are mostly from Italy, with some from local textile designers as well, and we will also be getting others from Africa,” she reports. “They are silk, cotton, and viscose (natural fiber), and the very large ones are especially popular. They range in price from $29 to $97.”

The selection includes a variety of over-size multi-colored choices in gorgeous designs as well as smaller sizes. “We also have vintage scarves with fabric from the 1920s and 30s, with fringes done by women in Bolivia,” says Ms. Schussel. “And, people are buying more than one. A woman came in recently, got one as a gift for a friend, and then bought one for herself. This happens all the time.”

The eclectic jewelry collection is also intriguing customers, she adds. “It’s like eye candy! We offer up-to-the-minute costume jewelry always based on seasonal fashion colors. And our prices are for everyone — a very wide range, including crystal studs from Germany for $19. We have items from Patricia Locke and also Anne Koplik, who designs all the jewelry for ‘Dancing With the Stars’. In addition, the jewelry from Pink Powder in England incorporates semi-precious stones and very avant garde styles.”

Clip-on Earrings

“Another line from Detail includes antique brass and cabochons, that is, cone-shaped multi-surface glass, which is polished to offer multi facets. There are necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and they are striking.”

Ms. Schussel also wants customers to know that she offers a selection of clip-on earrings.

Handbags are in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors, including leather designs from Latico; a new clutch line by the designers of Big Buddha bags; and Mei vintage bags with vintage kimono fabric will be available soon. A lovely selection of evening bags is also offered.

Related items include charming purse hangers in assorted colors, which can attach to the edge of a restaurant table, effectively concealing the handbag below the table. Attractive Ponchee purse inserts are also in several colors, with spaces for cell phone, wallet, etc. They are pretty enough to be used as a small purse, offered at $35.

AirQuart see-through travel plastic cosmetic bags from Flannabag are popular at $21, and the same company offers jewelry pockets.

Ms. Schussel notes that rolling travel bags will also be available soon. Small eyeglass magnets — the glasses attach to the magnet, which is worn near the shoulder — are another popular choice, and there is also a nice selection of hair accessories.

Engaging Collection

Men are not forgotten, and wallets and cuff links are available for them. In addition, a selection of greeting cards — all handpicked by Ms. Schussel — rounds out the engaging collection of items in this charming shop.

“I look forward to having a shop that people will go out of their way to visit and spend time in,” says Ms. Schussel. “Our customers are all ages, and we have a price range for everyone — from $15 to several hundred dollars. I want people to feel comfortable and at home — just as they did at the toy store. They can try things on, sit down, and see what they like. I really enjoy the interaction with everyone, and I am so glad that people are finding me.”

She adds that special 10 percent discounts are available for former McCarter Gift Shop customers and for first time customers to Hannah! In addition, a special “Celebrate Princeton” discount will be offered to Princeton University alumni wearing orange and black during Reunions weekend.

Hannah! is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, Friday until 7, and Sunday noon to 5. (609)921-2490. Website:


May 14, 2014
SPRING PLANTING: “After nearly 50 years, we are still true to our initial intent of offering unusual plant material and horticultural enjoyment to our customers.” David Scudder, owner of Ambleside Gardens & Nursery, looks forward to sharing Ambleside’s outstanding selection of plants, trees, and shrubs, all ready for springtime splendor.

SPRING PLANTING: “After nearly 50 years, we are still true to our initial intent of offering unusual plant material and horticultural enjoyment to our customers.” David Scudder, owner of Ambleside Gardens & Nursery, looks forward to sharing Ambleside’s outstanding selection of plants, trees, and shrubs, all ready for springtime splendor.

Named for a village in the Lake District of England, Ambleside Gardens and Nursery was opened in 1965 by Townsend and Mary Scudder. Located on Route 206 in Belle Mead, it was a smaller version of what it is today: a thriving family-owned nursery and landscape center.

When the Scudders opened Ambleside, there were no other garden centers in the area. They offered a garden shop, fully stocked with plants, trees, and shrubs, and also a landscaping service. In addition, an international gift shop, filled with items from around the world, became a uniquely popular part of the Ambleside scene.

The Scudders developed a loyal and growing clientele over the years, with customers coming not only from Princeton and the area, but from New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Ambleside has been the subject of articles in books, magazines, and newspapers, and has also won numerous awards, including five Governor’s Trophies for Best in Show at the New Jersey Flower Show.

When Mr. and Mrs. Scudder retired to Vermont last year, Ambleside remained in the family. Their son David had taken on the reins of ownership earlier, and is determined to continue the Ambleside legacy. Formerly in charge of the landscaping service, he has a long history and strong interest and expertise in horticulture.

Busiest Time

“I helped out here as a boy. We all did — my brothers and sister — and I developed a liking for it,” he explains. “I came on full-time in 1982, and I helped people with the design and organization of their landscapes. What grows well where, what plants like sun or shade, and when and where they should be planted. It’s important to put a plant where it wants to be, whether it’s in sun or shade. And if a plant will grow to be 20 feet, don’t plant it under a bay window!”

This is the busiest time of year — from April until the beginning of June, adds Mr. Scudder. “People are interested in gardening, and even though there are a lot of things competing for their free time, gardening remains a popular activity.”

Among other things, it is a great stress reliever. In this high tech age, when everyone seems so rushed, the hands-on experience of digging in the soil is very basic. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, gets people outside, provides exercise, and can be a family activity. It can also be a special awakening moment for children.

In the words of Townsend Scudder, “What’s more exciting than putting in a seed, and seeing the miracles that happen? From seeds grow gardens of miracles!”

Gardening is a welcome activity for all ages, including the older generation, he adds. “it gives people something to look forward to, to remain curious about, and keeps them young.” He may be on to something. Supporting evidence comes from an expert. “But though I am an old man, I am but a young gardener,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1811. Mr. Jefferson lived to be 83.

Gardening does take some effort, however. As Mary Scudder noted, with a smile, “A lot of people want a beautiful garden without work or with low maintenance. That just won’t happen. Low maintenance means on your knees! Of course, we can help with information on what plants grow well where, and what needs a lot of maintenance, what will take dry soil, wet soil, etc.”

Time Schedule

It is also helpful to know which plants can be planted early and which should wait for guaranteed warm temperatures. The knowledgeable Ambleside staff is ready to provide information to customers regarding the appropriate time schedule.

“Pansies are popular now, and they like cool temperatures, as does alyssum,” notes David Scudder. Roses can be planted now, and also, cold weather vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach. Flowering trees, including cherry, dogwood, pear, and plums are very popular, and can be planted now, also forsythia, azalea, hydrangea, and rhododendron.

A number of perennials, such as primroses, bleeding hearts, Christmas and Lenten roses, and foxglove, can also be planted in cooler temperatures.

“To be safe, wait until May 15 to plant many annuals, including geraniums, petunias, snapdragons, and impatiens, when there is no risk of frost,” advises Mr. Scudder. “Also, these are all popular for hanging baskets and container gardens on decks and terraces.

“This winter was very hard on plants and trees, especially newer ones,” he adds. “The ground was frozen for such a long time, it was hard on the root system.”

One of the major issues facing gardeners and those who enjoy their flowering landscape is the deer problem. If fencing is not an option, there are ways to discourage the deer, whether by using deterrent products or incorporating plants unattractive to them.

Deterrent Products

“There are many plants deer don’t like, including perennial geraniums, ferns, ornamental grasses, and Siberian iris, as well as such shrubs as boxwood, gold cypress, and spirea,” points out Mr. Scudder. “In addition, vinca and lantana have become popular annuals because the deer don’t like them.”

Among the deterrent products are Deer-Off and Milorganite, and it is a good idea to alternate them for the best results.

Ambleside has long been known for its collection of unusual plant material, and this continues to set this garden center apart. “We try to have a niche, and people know we have rare and unusual plants, including many dwarf evergreens, dwarf pines, and dwarf spruces. Our collection of Japanese maples is very well-known, and we have 100 different varieties. I like introducing people to something different, unusual plants they have never known about.

“And I like helping them learn where to plant so the garden will flourish,” continus Mr. Scudder. “We have a complimentary landscape consultation service here. Customers can bring in a printed photo of their property and a scaled diagram, and we will help them establish a garden.

“I am always pleasantly surprised when I meet younger people interested in plants and gardening. Sometimes, we get second generations of customers, who came here as kids, then moved away, and now have come back. They like to bring their children to see the fish in our pond, but they are interested in learning about the plants and gardening.”

Customers will also find a varied selection of garden ornaments and statuary, wind chimes, and bird feeders, all popular items in the spring. “We are always happy to find items made in the U.S. and be able to offer them to customers,” says Mr. Scudder. “Our gift shop, although especially popular at Christmas, is open every season, and we try very hard to find things from all over the world, including the U.S.”

Ambleside, with its current vista of color, attractive and convenient arrangement of plantings in appropriate settings, and with descriptive maps and informative charts, is a delightful place to visit. Never more so than in the spring.

A welcoming place for all ages, it is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 8, and Sunday 10 to 5. (908) 359-8388. Website:


April 29, 2014
NTU Zastra 1-15-14

FASHIONABLE LOOK: “This jacket features hand-sewn sequins. If you have a black dress, you can add the jacket for a fashionable look. It’s a great way to dress up your outfit.” Aruna Arya, owner of Zastra, the new women’s boutique on Palmer Square, is shown with a selection of her own designs, including this gold jacket with unique sequinned handwork.

“What you love to wear is fashion!”

Aruna Arya should know. As a fashion designer and owner of Zastra, the new women’s boutique at 28 Palmer Square East, Ms. Arya is an expert on the latest styles and trends in today’s fashion.

It is about comfort, individuality, informality, and versatility. Unlike times past, when the great fashion houses of Paris, London, and New York set strict guidelines about styles, skirt lengths, and the like, today it is up to the individual.

“Some women are looking for something totally different, unusual,” points out Ms. Arya. “I have always been attracted to comfortable clothing myself, and I incorporate that in my designs — free-flowing and often cotton, with an informal theme and lots of color.”

Originally from India, Ms. Arya earned master degrees in fashion design and fashion business administration in the U.S. and India. She worked for several years as a designer in San Francisco, where she developed a network of colleagues in the fashion industry.

“I worked with designer Joseph Domingo, and I learned a lot from him,” she notes.

Vivid Colors

India is known for its stunningly vivid colors and color combinations, and Ms. Arya’s styles often reflect this intriguing mosaic. “My knowledge of Indian fashion helps me in selecting a fine fabric, experimenting with colors, and achieving the highest quality of hand embroidery.”

Formerly owner of the women’s shop, Miss Simoni, Ms. Arya opened her new boutique in November, offering her own designs as well as those of others, all under the Zastra label.

“Beaded items are special for me,” she explains. “I love to design them; they are hand-sewn in India, and the garments are one-of-a-kind. The workmanship is unique.

“Also, from the time I started Miss Simoni, I established myself as a fashion designer for private clients in town. I’ve had a lot of referrals and word-of-mouth. I did two wardrobes for one client, and another woman wanted me to design a dress when she was presented with a lifetime achievement award. She wanted me to include a variety of her other awards and logos into the dress. It was quite a challenge! I am currently designing a bridal outfit for a bride in Princeton.

“My designs appeal to all ages,” she continues. “If I’m feeling youthful, I’ll do youthful sketches. If I am feeling more established and mature, I’ll do other kinds of sketches. Generally, the sizes run from extra small to extra large.”

Dresses and jackets in a variety of styles are on display in the charming shop, and many feature hand-sewn beading. Sophisticated styling is prominent, including an elegantly individualized red jacket which can add sparkle to a black dress. Another look is a military-style jacket, also one of Ms. Arya’s designs.

Exceptional Scarves

Assorted outerwear, including wool coats and jackets, offer a variety of styles for the winter, and the selection of scarves is exceptional. Gorgeous lightweight wool choices, often with fringe and tassels, feature digitally printed designs in beautiful color combinations.

“The scarves are highly popular,” notes Ms. Arya. “A scarf is something you can always wear; it can enhance any outfit, and complete the fashion statement. We have all kinds and sizes of scarves, starting at $40. People love our scarves so much!”

Jewelry is another favorite at Zastra, with a variety of colorful choices from $25. “Jewelry is a great quick gift,” she points out, “and our necklaces have been especially popular.”

Handbags, also important accessories, are another specialty, including striking designs in leather.

Ms. Arya adds that she is very pleased that many customers from Miss Simoni are coming to Zastra, as well as many new clients.

“I saw all the colorful items in the window,” reports Princeton resident Lisa Granozio, who came into the store recently on impulse, and purchased several items. “The shop has such a nice open space and an eclectic look, and I love supporting new local business owners.”

Zastra always has a number of promotions and events, including shopping parties with refreshments and music, adds Ms. Arya. “Friends and customers come in to celebrate birthdays or other occasions and have a fashion night out. I always have a promotion for the party with discounted prices. The person who is having the birthday asks the guests not to bring presents, but to buy something, and I donate a portion of the sales to a charity of her choice. These have been very popular and a lot of fun.”

Team Effort

Ms. Arya is delighted to be off to such a good start at the Palmer Square location, and is grateful to Palmer Square management.

“I want to say that it is a blessing to be here on Palmer Square. The management is so helpful. They work with you, and it is a real team effort. I also appreciate all the ladies — customers and friends — who believed in me. They gave me the courage to do this. They make me feel like a Princetonian!

“I think customers find that Zastra is set apart by the fact that everything here is very original, and many items — more than half — have been designed by me,” continues Ms. Arya. “A lot are also made in the U.S., and many of the other designers are young, just beginning, and have new and fresh ideas. A lot of customers, including tourists, who come in, say they only want to shop in a local, independent store. They are looking for something different, and appreciate our quality designs and the unique materials we offer.

“Zastra means ‘art’ in Sanskrit, and I wanted to make the boutique like an art studio.”

The boutique is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 to 8:30, Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 924-5752. Web:

—Jean Stratton

April 23, 2014
SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: “I am an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister, and also a spiritual director, sometimes called spiritual guide or spiritual companion,” explains Reverend Laura Craig. She offers spiritual guidance to people of many backgrounds.

SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: “I am an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister, and also a spiritual director, sometimes called spiritual guide or spiritual companion,” explains Reverend Laura Craig. She offers spiritual guidance to people of many backgrounds.

Reverend Laura Craig wants to assist people on their spiritual journey, share their doubts and questions, and ultimately help them discover the spiritual path that is right for them.

“The focus of interfaith ministry is that everyone’s path is legitimate, holy, and good for them,” explains Reverend Laura.

An interfaith/interspiritual minister and spiritual director, Reverend Laura traveled her on own journey before she found that her life work was in helping others achieve spiritual well-being. Growing up in Westchester County, New York, she attended the Catholic Church and Catholic schools, and her best friend was Jewish. “I went to her family’s Seders and other religious celebrations, and I was always wondering about different faiths at a young age,” says Rev. Laura.

Majoring in biology at Fordham University, she found that she was focused on other areas, and “my spirituality was on the back burner for a while.”

Spiritual Awakening

After graduating, she married, had a child, and later went on to earn a masters degree in food science at Rutgers University. Then, several years ago, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome, which forced her to stop working due to severe exhaustion and other symptoms. During this time, she consulted physicians, therapists, herbalists, and a number of other specialists in her search for a means of recovery.

“I was so exhausted that I was basically unable to do anything,” she explains. “However, my spiritual life blossomed during my illness. There can be a spiritual awakening during a low period of one’s life.”

Gradually, her energy returned, and she set up a monthly support group at St. Joseph’s Church in Hillsborough to help people going through a divorce. “It was anywhere from eight to 12 people, and it was helpful to them and me,” points out Rev. Laura. “I had something to do and was entering life again. In time, the group expanded to weekly meetings.”

“At one point, a woman called, and wanted to be part of the group. She was Jewish, and this was a Christian-based program. I said I would try to make it more interfaith-oriented, but she felt she couldn’t participate. So, I thought I could develop my own interfaith program. I decided on three 13 week group sessions during the year, and it went very well.”

“Every week, there was a different topic. Divorce is like a hurricane — everything is torn apart. We also had an opening and closing prayer, which I wrote. By this time, I was healthier, and after getting a part-time job, I decided I wanted to go to school to become a spiritual director. I had found that my own spirituality was becoming more and more important to me, and the desire to be a spiritual director came out of my experience with the support group. I saw that people could surely benefit from spiritual direction.”

She attended Oasis School in Pennsylvania, which offered a two-year program. “You study all the different religions, looking at how people pray and how they relate to their God,” explains Rev. Laura. “One of the important lessons was that they said you have to let go of everything you know and learn how to listen. This is an ancient concept.”

Same Truths

“I learned more about all the religions, and my whole world opened up. There was a new awareness of how other people pray and practice their faith. Actually, the central part of every religion is really the same, with the same essence: faith in a higher power, and all stress the same truths, including goodness and righteousness.”

As a spiritual director, Rev. Laura can serve as a companion to anyone who is on a spiritual journey. “Basically, the only requirement for spiritual direction is one’s desire and openness to discuss, express, or grow in intimacy with God,” she explains. “You, the directee, decide what to discuss. Whatever is going on in your life is the entrance way for us to explore together where God is taking initiative and your responses to God’s actions. As director, I allow time and space for discussion, reflection, and prayer.”

Rev. Laura notes that many reasons prompt someone to see a spiritual director. “Feelings of spiritual emptiness, unconnectedness, restlessness, and the realization that one’s childhood faith is no longer enough are all reasons. Sometimes, one might have a powerful experience of the Divine, and need to discuss what has happened with someone who would understand.”

Rev. Laura is also a member of Spiritual Direction International, which has a website, offering information and guidance.

Continuing to seek ways to offer spiritual help to others, Rev. Laura discovered the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City in 2008. “Looking into it, I felt it was the right place for me. The two-year program consisted of lots of reading, writing papers, and going to different houses of worship. We spent a month on each of the major religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Native American faith practices. “We would worship with the people of all these different faiths, saying the prayers, reading the scriptures, and learning about them. It was complete immersion.”

“Interfaith ministry and interspirituality are relatively new terms on the spiritual landscape,” she continues. “Interfaith ministry enables one to minister to people of all faiths, when traditional venues cannot meet their needs. Interspirituality means that whichever spiritual path is mindfully chosen by someone, it will lead to the same Divine Unknown, the same Creator, the same God.”

Personalized Ceremonies

“All authentic spiritual traditions, at their core, are committed to the common values of peace, tolerance, wisdom, compassionate service, and love for all creation. Beneath the diversity of theological beliefs, rites, and observations lies the deeper common ground built on a clear understanding of authentic spiritual experience.”

Ordained as an interfaith minister, Rev. Laura can perform christenings, weddings, and funerals. “It is very personalized,” she explains. “I create the ceremonies for the people, and it is very individualized. An interfaith/interspiritual minister can meet the needs of someone’s life circumstances when traditional religions may not. For example, a couple not practicing any particular spiritual path may want to publicly welcome their baby and not know anyone to officiate at their ceremony. An interfaith/interspiritual minister will create and personalize a service that is meaningful to them and their guests.”

Reverend Laura also hopes to offer a series of retreats, including music, meditation, and reflection,  which will be held at her location at the Fellowship in Prayer at 291 Witherspoon Street. She is a member of the Princeton Clergy, and is also involved in prison ministry.

As she says, “We are all human, and all have the same needs and longings and frustrations. I witness that over and over again. My job as a spiritual director is to listen beneath the words to show them where God is working in their lives. I am a spiritual person, and I want to walk with people on their spiritual journey.”

“My highest aspiration as interfaith/interspiritual minister is to become a bridge between people of different faiths, enabling them to respect and honor each other’s traditions in an effort to bring some peace into our very broken world.”

Rev. Laura can be reached at (908) 281-6776. Website:


FAVORITE FOOD: “There is a lot of expertise here. We are very well-educated about food. We make everything from scratch, and we really pride ourselves on the depth of our flavors.” ­Carol and Norman Todd, owners of Market Roost in Flemington, are proud of their establishment’s 33-year-old history.

FAVORITE FOOD: “There is a lot of expertise here. We are very well-educated about food. We make everything from scratch, and we really pride ourselves on the depth of our flavors.” ­Carol and Norman Todd, owners of Market Roost in Flemington, are proud of their establishment’s 33-year-old history.

The Market Roost is a Flemington treasure! Located at 65 Main Street, this caterer, restaurant, and gift gallery has been pleasing its customers since it opened in 1981. Situated in the Flemington historic district, it offers professional service in a friendly and charming setting.

Then, there is the food!

Owner and chef Norman Todd is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and served as chef in many fine restaurants in California and Florida before opening Market Roost. His co-owner and wife Carol Todd is the pastry chef, food stylist, and catering event planner, as well as overseer of the eclectic gift selection.

“The business really evolved,” notes Ms. Todd. “Originally, we had planned to be a market, and then we decided to have a restaurant too. People would come in to buy items, and then stay to eat. The 1980s were a time of a renaissance in food.”

Brunch and Lunch

“The catering business came along a bit later. We started as an eatery for brunch and lunch. Then, eight months after we opened, a customer asked if we could cater her wedding. Now, we do all kinds of catering — corporate, private, and lots of weddings. It’s all across the board, and everything is customized. We do the total package. We have an in-house floral designer, and we work with a great rental company.”

With the advent of the internet, the Market Roost’s reputation, already well-established, has spread even farther afield, reports Ms. Todd. “Recently, an independent film  company from Brooklyn, N.Y. found our website, and contacted us. “They were in Hunterdon County for a project, and they wanted catering for their company. They were very pleased with the results!”

The Market Roost is available for every kind of party and event, from picnics to elegant galas — both residential and corporate. “We did a Texas-style barbecue and then a corporate event for 1000 guests. It really varies. We start getting very busy in March with engagement parties and showers, and St. Patrick’s Day events. Then, of course, in the spring, summer, and fall, there are lots of weddings.

“Menus can be theme-oriented to include foods of Tuscany, Caribbean and Latino foods, French and Asian influences,” continues Ms. Todd, who also specializes in menu development. “Menus are developed by the customer’s food wishes and budget. We are very flexible, and work closely with our clients. Many catered events are held at private homes, offices, or at one of Hunterdon County’s historical sites. We have access to many off-site locations.”

The Market Roost has a very loyal clientele, both for catering and dining at the restaurant, and they come from all over, notes Ms. Todd. “We get people from northern N.J., New York City, and even California, when they are in the area.”

The enthusiastic critiques the Market Roost has received in the local press, as well as in The New York Times and Star Ledger, among others, has reinforced its reputation. It was also featured on the Food Network for a year on Dining Around, and its recipes were included in specialty cookbooks, and the Zagat Dining Guide.

Thanksgiving Dinner

“We often have young couples and professionals from Manhattan who come out to enjoy weekends in the country,” notes Ms. Todd. “They become repeat customers here. One of our regulars in Manhattan sent his chauffeur to pick up Thanksgiving dinner for 12. Locally, we have a lot of people from Princeton and Montgomery Township.”

Open for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea and pastries, the Market Roost is especially known for its super Sunday brunches. “Our special Sunday brunch menu has been reviewed and rated by many food critics as one of the best Sunday brunches to be found,” says Ms. Todd. “Each item is individually prepared by Norman with the infusion of many flavors. Everything is made from scratch. The Eggs Benedict with freshly-made Hollandaise sauce are extremely popular. Also our Kahlua French toast includes thick sliced egg bread, is egg-dipped, pan-cooked with clarified, unsalted butter, topped with Vermont maple syrup and toasted almonds, and choice of bacon, sausage, or ham.

Other brunch specialties are corned beef hash (house-cured beef brisket, Idaho potato, Italian parsley, and cracked black pepper), served with a poached egg; baked croissant with French brie, Granny Smith apples, and honey mustard; fresh pineapple corn fritters, with Vermont maple syrup, choice of bacon, Pennsylvania linked sausage, or ham; and a variety of omelets, specialty pancakes and Belgian waffles.

The lunch menu is equally popular, featuring salads, sandwiches, and assorted chef’s specials. “Norman’s veggie and grain burger with creamy honey curry dressing, green salad, tomato dill dressing, multi-grain flatbread with melted cheddar is a real favorite,” says Ms. Todd. “By the way, we have 12 different salad dressings made from scratch.”

Salads and Sandwiches

Other popular choices are quiche with hand-rolled parmesan crust, roasted root vegetables or caramelized onion and bacon, Gruyere cheese and custard, green salad or fresh fruit; jumbo lump crab cakes with cole slaw, tartar sauce, and corn muffin. The Market Roost’s international theme is evidenced by its inclusion of spanakopita, with Greek style spinach and feta cheese enveloped in filo with Greek salad.

Salads include chicken breast; Caesar; seasoned warmed roasted vegetables over fresh mixed greens; organic grain (high protein grain with veggies, and hummus); Oriental spring rolls with mixed greens; and tapas platter (including Green salad), among others. Salads and sandwiches start at $7.95, and chef’s specials range from $9.50 to $14.50.

Pastries and baked goods have always been a strong part of the Market Roost’s business, and all baking is done from scratch, with the finest ingredients, emphasizes Ms. Todd. “Our baking is European-style. We baked croissants early in the 80s when the American public was just beginning to know what a croissant was. Muffins, scones, sticky buns, pies, quiches, cakes, tortes, wedding, and special occasion cakes are made with fresh fillings and European-style butter cream.

“We are food artists,” she adds. “We love what we do. A woman has been coming in twice a week to bake with me for the past 25 years. Baking is very labor-intensive. It can take eight hours to make a wedding cake.”

Popular baked choices include Granny Smith apple cake with sour cream, lemon pound cake, black velvet flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee Cheesecake, and carrot cake. Four kinds of biscotti, various brownies, cookies, and cupcakes are other tasty treats.

Pies are another big focus, and Ms. Todd is especially noted for her fruit pies. “There is more interest in fruit pies now, and I fill my pies with an abundance of fruit. Cherry is a real favorite.”

Coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and a variety of teas are also available.

Gift Selection

Ms. Todd adds that generally, people are interested in healthier diets today, and have moved away from some of the richer choices that were previously popular. “We have always emphasized farm to table. There is so much local produce here in the summer that we have always been able to offer the freshest products.”

In addition to the food, including cheeses, baked goods to go, gift baskets, handmade chocolates, and an eclectic home accessories gift selection are available. The shelves are filled with everything from pottery from Tuscany to candles and napkins to platters and teacups to a very popular jewelry selection.

Providing a pleasant, relaxed environment is important to the Todds. “Customers say they feel good when they come here,” notes Ms. Todd. “I always tell them to relax and take their time. We want them to take time to savor the taste!”

Among those who have done just that was the late Julia Child, who had a home in the area. “She enjoyed coming in to eat and spending time here” recalls Ms. Todd. “I like the interaction with the customers who come in to eat and also those who want catering service. We enjoy educating people about food, and I look forward to introducing even more customers to the Market Roost and seeing our business continue to grow.”

The Market Roost is open Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9:30 to 5, Sunday 9:30 to 2 for brunch, and 2 to 3:30 for lunch. (908) 788-4949. Website:

For catering service, Ms. Todd recommends six months to a year notice for weddings, and at least two weeks for other events.


April 15, 2014

Now that “the winter of our discontent” seems finally to have faded into memory, area residents look forward to getting outside.

Spring cleaning, gardening, and landscaping are all on the agenda, and in addition, this is often the time to target the patio, terrace, or deck. Outdoor living space is the focus of many homeowners, as they look ahead to spring, summer, and fall outside activities.

Bringing the inside out is popular with many people today — they are opting for outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, and a variety of entertainment features on their patios. “Overhead structures have become extremely popular with our clients,” says Steven J. Doerler, owner and president of Doerler Landscapes Inc. in Yardville.

“Our clients are looking to extend the time period that they utilize their outdoor rooms so overhead structures, including roofs and pergolas. are very popular. Overhead structures provide a sense of enclosure and act like a ‘ceiling’ for an outdoor room. The structure then lends itself to the addition of ceiling fans, lights, and infra-red radiant heat. Kitchen stations, fire elements, water features, and seating walls are also popular features. Of course, with our digital society, many of our clients incorporate flat screen TVs, music, and mood lighting that can all be remote-controlled.”

Potential Patio

Greg Powers, owner of Re New Masonry Repair and Renovation in South Brunswick, also points out the popularity of outdoor living reflecting the home’s interior. “Patio designs have changed over the years. I see patios as an extension of the inside of the house. The layout is designed much like an area in the home. You can have a sitting area, similar to a living room, a designated kitchen area, a bar — anything you can imagine.

“Sometimes, a client has a hard time envisioning the size and space of a potential patio. I tell them to go inside the house and look at their living room or kitchen. Measure it, look at what’s inside, how many sofas, tables, chairs, etc.? This can be helpful when designing the patio to determine the size that would best suit the client’s needs.”

Mr. Powers adds that patio sitting walls are favorites with many people today. “They can turn a flat ordinary patio into a comfortable courtyard. Pillars with lights on them are are very popular as well as built-in barbecues.”

The addition of plants and flowers to the patio goes a long way in enhancing its appeal. Many options are available today, as Ronni Hock, owner of Ronni Hock Garden and Landscape in Lawrenceville, points out: “Patio containers are a wonderful idea to add that special touch and color to the patio. I always suggest using plants that grow well in tight spaces. Not all annuals perform well in containers over a longer period of time. Be sure to ask the experts at your garden center if they will last through the summer into the fall.

“Also, use plants that attract hummingbirds or butterflies, such as Salvias, Nicotiana, Lantana, Phygelius, and Verbena, to mention a few. I recommend starting with a large container (18 inches or larger) to be sure the root system of the plants has plenty of space to mature over the summer.

“Using small flowering trees is another favorite of mine. Hydrangeas work well, and smaller Crape Myrtles, evergreens, or a tropical plant called Brugmansia, which will grow into an eight-foot tree in one season, are all good.”

Good Soaking

In addition, continues Ms. Hock, “Use a good mix of potting soil and fertilizers to be sure the plants have all the nutrients they need. Larger containers need less watering. Just give them a really good soaking once or twice a week — especially when the extreme heat kicks in.”

Ms. Hock designs patios of all shapes and sizes, often using natural stone or pavers. As she notes, “Many of my clients in the Greater Princeton area prefer bluestone or a Pennsylvania fieldstone to achieve the historic ‘look and feel’ indigenous to our region. Some people want extensive landscaping or gardens surrounding these outdoor living spaces, which I am delighted to create. Others want a more simple, elegant approach to decorating their patio.”

Steven Doerler reports that many excellent materials are available for patios and terraces today. “The materials that we recommend are often related to the architecture and time period in which a house was built. For older or more traditional homes, we try to incorporate brick, bluestone, or other natural stone products. Newer homes lend themselves to traditional products as well as some of the newer paver products. As a design-focused firm, we concentrate on the utilization and form of the terrace or outdoor room, which will help determine the size and shape of the space.”

Greg Powers notes that the most popular materials with his customers are concrete pavers, clay pavers, and natural stone. “Concrete pavers come in all shapes and sizes, and many colors. They also require more maintenance than clay pavers or natural stone. Clay pavers look like the classic brick that are on many homes. Often they are orange/reddish in color with different variations. They will last decades.

“Natural stone is the most durable of all material and comes in a variety of colors and textures,” he continues. “The one thing that can preserve all of these materials is waterproofing. The freeze/thaw cycle is the culprit in many renovations I do, whether it be steps, retaining walls, or patios and walkways. Not allowing your brick or stone to absorb water will greatly increase its longevity and beauty.”

Both Mr. Doerler and Mr. Powers incorporate 3-D imaging to help customers visualize the finished patio. “Our firm encourages a collaboration approach with our clients, and one of the tools that we utilize to communicate our ideas is 3-D imaging,” points out Mr. Doerler.

“On the Spot”

“It allows us to work with our clients on a myriad of conceptual ideas, which helps us to refine the project scope and budget. With 3-D imaging, we can make revisions ‘on the spot’ relative to materials, so that our clients can fully envision what the finished project will look like.”

“It takes a lot of the guess work out, and customers can get a better feel of what to expect when their patio is complete,” adds Mr. Powers. “I provide a complimentary 3-D design for all customers who are interested in building a patio. Most of the time, it is hard to envision the finished patio from a sketch or from ideas in a book or catalog.

“However, I always maintain a lot of flexibility during the building process because as the patio starts to take shape and all the colors, textures, and dimensions come together, this is when the customers can realistically get a clear picture of their patio. A collaboration is the most gratifying approach to designing and building a patio for the customer and for me. I love feedback. Two creative minds are better than one!”

All sizes and shapes of patios are part of the professional services of Mr. Powers and Mr. Doerler. As the latter notes, “We custom design outdoor space of all shapes and sizes. Recent projects have included removing an old deck and replacing it with a raised terrace. In our case, we are a design/build landscape architectural firm. In our 51st year, we feel that by building the projects we design, we have a great deal of experience with a full range of surface products, their costs and limitations. Being involved in the project from the beginning to the end is very fulfilling when we see the finished project and watch the plan come to life.”

Dream Spaces

“I design everything that I build,” adds Mr. Powers. “It’s a wonderful form of expression. I like to think of myself as an artist first, with good masonry and construction skills to make what I design and build last. I offer a lifetime warranty on all my masonry. I am that confident that if you do it right the first time, there is no reason that the patio can’t look just as beautiful decades from now.”

Costs vary considerably depending on the size and scope of the job and the materials chosen. “Project budgets can range from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars,” points out Mr. Doerler. “One thing that is important to note is that many outdoor spaces can be constructed in phases so we encourage clients to communicate their dream spaces to us and then allow our firm to help guide them to design and implement their dream, whether it is all at once or over time. The more important component is to have a plan. There is the old adage: failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Mr. Powers agrees. “I have done small, intimate sitting patios to large, several thousand square foot brick paver driveways and multi-level patios. Cost is dictated by patio size, elevation, type of materials used and what types of features the client wants, such as outdoor kitchen, walls, pillars, sitting walls, etc.”

Whether it’s a small fix-up or a total redesign and anything in between, with the help of these professionals, you will be able to enjoy your patio for many seasons to come. Your outdoor living space can be transformed into a visual pleasure, integrating the natural beauty of the surroundings. It will be the “go-to” place for you, your family, and friends.

—Jean Stratton