July 23, 2014
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: www.peonypavilionprinceton.com.


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: www.trentoncc.com.


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: www.princetonse.com.

—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 Pr.lifestyle.women 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: www.cafeviennaprinceton.com.

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: www.hannahshop.com.


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: www.amblesidegardens.com.


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: www.zastra.net.

—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: groundsforministry.com.


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: marketroost.com.

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


Recycling and repurposing have become the watch words for many in our community today. These environmentally-friendly practices have been adopted by increasing numbers of people who are looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint, lessen the impact on over-burdened landfills, and tend their gardens without chemicals and  pesticides.

One of the most important and popular repurposing projects today is composting. Whether one chooses to create an individual compost project in the back yard or to participate in the Princeton Curbside Organic Program, the opportunities for composting are on the rise.

Started in the Princeton Township Public Works Department (PWD) in June 2011 as a 3-month pilot program for curbside organic waste collection, the Princeton Curbside Organic Program is here to stay. 900 households have already joined in, and the numbers rise daily, notes Janet Pellichero, CPR, recycling coordinator, Department of Public Works, who oversees the program. In 2013, participants kept nearly 325 tons of organic waste from reaching the Pennsylvania landfill used by Princeton. In addition, the program has won an award for innovation from Sustainable Jersey.

“There are many benefits to composting,” notes Ms. Pellichero. “Composting diverts materials away from landfills, which are an expensive and unsustainable method for our waste disposal. Buried waste in a landfill creates methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to global warming. Waste in a landfill can sit there creating the gas for hundreds of years.


“Huge amounts of organic waste and a special GoreTex cover are incorporated so the compost piles get very hot,” continues Ms. Pellichero. “This means that compost can be made using items that can’t be easily composted in a back yard, such as meat and bones, fish skins, pizza boxes, waxed paper, pits, and yard waste, including sticks and branches. Organics become compost in just 80 days after you put them out for weekly collection. The organic waste is turned into a nutrient-rich and beneficial soil amendment. Our compost is a beautiful material, fine, dark, and full of wonderful nutrients.”

Paticipants in the program receive a 32-gallon wheeled cart with attached lid, a kitchen container, and free compost every spring. The collection fee is $65 per year, and residents can join anytime throughout the year.

This program is separate from the Mercer County recycling program for glass, paper, cardboard, and aluminum, adds Ms. Pellichero, and people would continue to take part in that program.

“Our organic program is a wonderful complement to the County program,” says Ms. Pellichero. “Organic material makes up approximately 20 percent of our solid waste. Removing it from the solid waste and turning it into compost helps increase recycling rates here in Princeton and in Mercer County.


“Our program is very eye-opening,” she adds. “I have spoken to many individuals, organizations, commercial institutions, and municipalities in New Jersey and surrounding states. Even the EPA has contacted us about our program. All are interested in doing similar programs, and realize this truly is the ‘low hanging fruit’ that can easily be captured and diverted from landfills. Over time, municipal solid waste disposal costs will decrease, recyling rates could increase, and valuable landfill space will be created. It really is a win-win program! It benefits our soil and air, our own back yards, and the environment as a whole.”

In addition, Ms. Pellichero encourages residents to continue their own back yard compost projects as well. “Composting is a natural process that turns organic material into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Gardens with healthy levels of compost need less water and fertilizer to give just as much growth as a garden without compost. Our Public Works Department has distributed Earth Machines to our residents over the years. We encourage any method our residents utilize to compost.”

Many homeowners enjoy composting in their back yard. Leaves, fruit and vegetable cuttings, coffee grounds, and tea bags can all be used to create back yard compost. If leaves are used, it is best to shred them, since they break down more easily than whole leaves. Also, mix them with manure (four parts leaves to one part manure). Manure contains nitrogen, which helps the compost to break up and decompose.

Sustainable Princeton is a big supporter of composting, both individually and of the Princeton Curbside Organic Program. “In 2012, Sustainable Princeton applied for and was awarded a $20,000 grant from Sustainable New Jersey to support Janet Pellichero and the PWD in increasing the number of sign-ups for the Curbside Organics Program,” notes Diane Landis, Sustainable Princeton Executive Director.

“Build a Bin”

“Sustainable Princeton also has a back yard compost program called ‘Build a Bin’. There is a design for a back yard compost bin on our website that can be made out of palettes for very little money. One of our board members is a LEED Accredited Architect, and she created the design which has been used to build bins all over town. First by Sustainable Princeton volunteers and staff, and then by Anthony Teng, a high school senior who built bins at the public schools, Princeton University, and homes for his Eagle Scout project. He was awarded his Eagle Scout badge last fall, and received the Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award this February.”

An enthusiastic advocate of composting herself, Ms. Landis has her own back yard composting project. “I would not used cooked foods or meats in a back yard compost bin for fear of rodents. So, if you keep it to veggie and fruit cuttings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and mix it with leaves, the pile will heat right up and turn into black gold! You do want a mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich). The list of what to put in can be found on our ‘Build a Bin’ website.

“Also,” continues Ms. Landis, “you want to turn the pile of materials two to three times in the spring and fall. Keep it moist but not wet, or it will get slimy. In my case, I have a rolling compost bin. It looks like a side-ways barrel with an opening that locks shut for food scraps, and has aerated openings to help the food compost. I can easily spin it, and it creates lovely compost, but it’s not enough for my whole garden, which is why I love the curbside organic compost we get by being in the program. I love the dark rich soil that comes from the program, and I grow my kale, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, and peas and flowers in it.”

She echoes Ms. Pellichero’s point that the landfills will soon reach the cut-off point, adding, “Our ground water also gets contaminated, and why not create something usable from what we consider waste? As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, ‘Organic waste composting is the final frontier of recycling.’”

For further information on Princeton’s Curbside Organic Program, call (609) 688-2566 or consult the website: www.princetonnj.gov/organic/CurbsideOrganics.html.

Information regarding Sustainable Princeton’s “Build a Bin” program is available at www.sustainableprinceton.org.

In addition, Smith’s Ace Hardware in the Princeton Shopping Center offers a variety of composting devices and containers in assorted sizes for do-it-yourselfers. The store also sells bags for the Princeton Curbside Organic Program and compost from that program.

—Jean Stratton

April 2, 2014
GOOD SPORTS: “We are teaching kids from kindergarten through eighth grade how to compete with good sportsmanship — and at the same time to have fun. We also pride ourselves on safety. We check each kid in and check the child out to see that they are met by a parent or designated adult.” Johnny Rooney is director of Hit ‘n’ Run Sports Academy and Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp.

GOOD SPORTS: “We are teaching kids from kindergarten through eighth grade how to compete with good sportsmanship — and at the same time to have fun. We also pride ourselves on safety. We check each kid in and check the child out to see that they are met by a parent or designated adult.” Johnny Rooney is director of Hit ‘n’ Run Sports Academy and Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp.

A co-ed day camp experience is available year-round from Johnny Rooney’s Sports Camp Academies. A safe, structured environment gives children the opportunity to enhance their athletic skill and compete while having fun and making new friends.

Choices include the Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp, weekly XFL camp, and JR’s Hit ‘n’ Run Academy. Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp programs are held at the Otto Kaufman Community Center on Skillman Road in Montgomery Township. The Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball camp will be in action this summer at the Montgomery Baseball Complex in Skillman.

A graduate of Montgomery High School (with a post graduate year at The Hun School) and C.W. Post College with a degree in elementary education, Mr. Rooney has been a teacher and coach for 17 years. He currently teaches physical education to pre-K through second graders (including handicapped students) at Orchard Hill Elementary School in Montgomery Township. He also trains a number of Robbinsville LL softball teams, coaches the Jersey Outlaws, a 14 U travel team, and helps recruit future college softball players for the Mercer County Community College softball program.

Mr. Rooney’s first camp, Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball, began in 1998, and Fal-Rooney, with co-director Mike Falco, was opened in 2006.

Biggest Benefits

“Our camps’ biggest benefits for the kids are building confidence, making friends, and promoting good sportsmanship,” explains Mr. Rooney. “They have a chance to play, learn, compete, make new friends, and have a great time. And each of our Academy coaches consistently emphasizes the importance of teamwork.”

At the Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp, kids participate in many sports and activities, including kickball, basketball, dodge ball, ping pong, soccer, and dance, among others. They compete as members of a team, which includes all ages playing together. As Mr. Rooney explains, “When they first come in, the kids just play, and then we pick the teams. They are thoroughly balanced, with first and second graders and sixth, seventh, and eighth graders all on the same team. They meet new faces and form new friendships, and the younger kids look up to the older ones as leaders.

“Kids are exposed to a lot more today in so many areas,” continues Mr. Rooney. “We like them to be able to participate in the good old games that are fun. Even with all the high tech and the digital society, kids are still kids. This is a chance for them to be active and have fun. We work very hard to stay creative, and it’s great to see how excited the kids are and how they look forward to coming. The day ends with the entire camp dancing together. We also provide water and healthy snacks for them.”

The average number of kids in the program is 60, he adds, with 14 to 20 staff members. “A lot of the coaches, whom we call role models, are my former students and athletes,” he adds.

Playing Fair

Because of the strong emphasis on good sportsmanship, campers learn early that bullying is not tolerated. “The kids come up with great slogans,” points out Mr. Rooney. For example: “If you care, you’re playing fair!” “If you had fun, you won!” and “At Fal-Rooney, we don’t bully, we buddy!”

In addition to the camps, Fal-Rooney has introduced birthday parties, offering a variety of sports and games. Parties are an hour and a half, and have become very popular.

Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp currently meets once a week on Wednesday at the gym in the Otto Kaufman Community Center for an hour and a half. Its program is extended in the summer, with camps during the weeks of June 24, July 7, July 14, and August 11, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-camp care starts at 8 a.m., and post-camp care is available until 5 p.m. This program is for boys and girls entering grades first through eighth.

Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball camp will be held at the Montgomery Baseball Complex in Skillman the week of July 28-31. Also co-ed, the camp is for kids entering first grade through ninth grade. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration for summer camp is available March 1st.

“We are set apart because we have a different dynamic,” notes Mr. Rooney. “We’re not focused on just one thing. We offer a real variety. I always look forward to getting together with the staff for planning, and then seeing the kids come for the first time. There are lots of new faces, but also many repeats. We have lots of siblings, too, and I see  many kids grow up over the years. I love kids. I really enjoy seeing them laugh and have fun.”

For further information, call (908) 672-9398 or consult the website: www.falrooney.com.


March 12, 2014
FINANCIAL FINESSE: “The advice I would give to everyone is to come to a qualified professional with experience and a good reputation. We distinguish ourselves from other CPA firms by offering personalized one-on-one service.” Thomas McNulty, CPA, looks forward to helping clients with their financial needs.

FINANCIAL FINESSE: “The advice I would give to everyone is to come to a qualified professional with experience and a good reputation. We distinguish ourselves from other CPA firms by offering personalized one-on-one service.” Thomas McNulty, CPA, looks forward to helping clients with their financial needs.

No one wants to think about it, but it’s on the way! Even in the midst of winter, we are one day closer to April 15 — the day procrastinators love to ignore.

Nevertheless, it’s getting closer, and if the thought makes you nervous, help is at hand. Thomas McNulty CPA, LLC is a certified public accountant with a master’s degree in taxation. He has practiced for 17 years, and currently has offices at 20 Nassau Street.

“Originally, I was in marketing, but then I realized I wanted to make a change,” says Mr. McNulty. “I had always done well in accounting, and liked the process of keeping track of debits and credits. I became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and then went to graduate school and got a master’s degree in taxation at the University of Philadelphia. Now, I specialize in small business accounting, helping to relieve clients of the financial headaches of their daily business. This includes bookkeeping, business strategies and planning, business structure, and taxes.”

Mr. McNulty’s clients include a variety of small businesses and individuals as well as those for whom he provides tax help.

Profit and Loss

“I work on a regular basis with my target market, preparing a monthly financial statement to include profit and loss, balance sheet, and a general ledger. If a company needs to get a loan, banks want to see that statements have been checked by a licensed CPA, and that the certified financial statements adhere to the generally accepted accounting principles.

“In addition, I do taxes for 400 individuals and 30 different organizations and companies in the Princeton area and beyond.”

Mr. McNulty has many clients of long-standing, and often if they have moved to a new location, such as California or even overseas, they still retain his services. “My clients are really a mix of people — all ages and backgrounds. They include Princeton University students and foreign students, as well as older people. I help them and plan strategies for them. All my clients are valuable to me, whatever their income level and financial situation. I treat everyone the same.

“When it comes to accounting, most people, even when they’re very smart, are off the grid. I help them to get back on the grid, and try to make sure they don’t veer off. I assist them with budgeting, financial analyzing, and I also partner with the best local financial companies to set up a financial plan and investment strategy appropriate to my clients’  goals. I also help with start up business planning.”

Mr. McNulty also points out that continuing education is part of his job focus, and this includes 40 hours a year. Business rules and regulations can change, as well as the tax code.

“I look forward to the tax season,” he says. “It’s important to help people through it. I try to help them save on their income tax legally. Also, I find that a big factor in the business is with people who have gone to companies such as H & R Block, whose employees are really part-timers. Their customers often ultimately pay more in additional fees or in correcting mistakes. I get clients who have done this, and I need to fix their returns. There are also people who try to do it on their own, and it gets too complicated, and then, they come to me. According to a study done by the U.S. government, 77 percent of all tax payers believe that they benefitted by using the services of a professional tax preparer.”

Solid Foundation

Mr. McNulty is especially busy from February right up to tax time in April. “The real challenge is that I’m hit with an enormous amount of work in a very short time, but I welcome the opportunity to help people. Overall, I really enjoy helping clients succeed in life and to reach the goals they want to achieve. I lay out the framework and a solid foundation for them to get there.”

He looks forward to becoming part of the Princeton community and building his practice further. “I want to be like the the family physician of old whom you could always count on to be there for you. I believe I am set apart by my background and education, experience, and the continuing education I participate in. And also, the fact that I work with the best local professionals in the U.S. is a plus.

“I look forward to growing the business, helping more clients, and keeping the impeccable reputation I have established. Helping clients to keep their finances in order, and put systems in place in which they can grow their own business and lead to further job creation is my priority.

“Also, we realize that money is tight in these tough economic times. To accommodate our customers and make our services more affordable, we may be able to provide you with several different payment options and a plan that suits your budget.”

Mr. McNulty is available by appointment Monday through Friday (seven days during tax time). (609) 497-1040. Website: www.mcnultycpa.com.


March 5, 2014

A  new look for a new year is available at Sofia Lido Salon and Blow Out Bar.

Everything from trimmed bangs to blow dry to highlights to tint backs to formal up-dos to CHI relaxers, as well as waxing treatments is offered at this brand new salon.

Located in the Shoppes at Pennington, 21 Route 31 North, it is owned by stylist Bernadette Reed, and opened in January.

“I am so encouraged,” says Ms. Reed. “I have really been surprised by how quickly customers have found us. I already have a growing clientele. Also, this is an excellent location. I looked for a place for quite a while. This is great. It is new, and very well
maintained. There is also a lot of foot traffic here.”

The arrival of Sofia Lido on the hair salon scene has a unique history. Ms. Reed’s previous career could not have been more different. After graduating from college, she worked as an institutional equity sales trader on Wall Street, and was a survivor of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

New Perspective

“This changed my outlook, and gave me a new perspective,” she explains. “I wanted to do something else. I had always enjoyed getting my hair done, and was interested in hair stying. I have difficult hair. It’s very curly and frizzy. So, I decided to enroll in Concord Cosmetology School in Ocean Township. I thought I’d give it a try and see if I liked it.”

After the 10-month course, Ms. Reed received a license from the state board of cosmetology, and worked for several years at a salon in Marlboro. “That was a very good experience,” she recalls, “and I got a lot of continuing education in cutting and color.”

She is now a Redken-trained colorist and stylist, and has completed advanced training in Matrix, Colorly, Goldwell, and Socolor color systems. She is also certified in the John Sahag dry cutting method, and has had extensive training and experience in the CHI Japanese straightening and Keratin straightening systems. She is enthusiastic about having her own salon and the opportunity to share her expertise with customers.

“There are so many aspects to this work,” she notes. “I think the salon is set apart by my training and my love for what I do. I really enjoy the blow out. It’s very creative. You can create so many looks, and that is why I decided to have the Blow Out Bar, offering a variety of different blow out opportunities.”

Fashion Statement

In any salon today, of course, it’s all about color. Coloring hair is seemingly for everyone — almost all ages, and men as well as women. Although it is still often to cover gray, its use has gone far beyond that. In many cases, it has beome a fashion statement.

“Color is very big,” says Ms. Reed. “People are using hair color at younger and younger ages. Some people actually change color with the seasons. Spring and summmer tend to be lighter with highlights. Winter can be darker with lowlights. The ombre look is still seen for longer hair, but it’s not quite as popular as it once was.

“We offer both ammonia-free and low ammonia color choices. I like to use foils for highlights. I like the end results. Also, color products have a lot of conditioners today.”

She adds that when considering hair color changes, it is important to take into account the client’s natural hair color and skin tone. “People tend to go lighter as they get older because their skin tone changes. And most clients are trying to achieve a natural look. Another thing, some people are also opting for Tint Back — a return to a darker color, either with a complete change or by removing highlights.”

Regarding styles and cuts, choices are very varied and individualized, reports Ms. Reed. “We are seeing a lot of long to short — you see this with some celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. There are many techniques for cutting. But, of course, long hair is never out of style. Generally, people with curly hair want to have it straightened. We offer straightening techniques, including CHI Japanese straightening and keratin straightening, with no formaldehyde.”

Easy maintenance is always desirable, but Ms. Reed points out there is no such thing as no maintenance. Most people at least blow dry their hair at a minimum. “The point is we help to educate our clients about caring for their hair, showing them the correct way to blow-dry. etc.”

Special Savings

In addition to hair service, Sofia Lido offers a variety of waxing treatments, including eye brow, lip, chin, neck, ears, and sideburns, beginning at $5.

Women’s hair cuts are $60, wash and blow-dry $35, blow dry only (arrive with hair washed and wet) $25, and a variety of other blow dry packages is offered. Children’s cuts (10 and under) are $25, and men’s $30. Single process color is $60, highlights $85. Special savings packages are available, and a 10 percent discount is offered for clients 65 and older.

In addition, the salon offers baby sitting opportunities. As Ms. Reed explains, “We work directly and exclusively with The Village Leaning Center in Pennington. They offer our clients a discounted hourly rate of $12. The Village Learning Center is a half mile away from the salon.”

Not only is Ms. Reed delighted with the successful opening weeks of the salon, the clients are equally pleased. As one new customer, who had come in by chance, noted: “I am very happy. I love the way my hair looks, and I am impressed with the care and attention to detail that Bernadette provided. I will definitely come back!”

Ms. Reed looks forward to introducing many more clients to Sofia Lido and offering them high quality service. (609) 737-7770. Website: www.sofialido.com.

Jane Brady, Owner/Audiologist

Jane Brady, Owner/Audiologist

“I  love working with people and helping them to hear better. The technology has changed incredibly, and there are so many hearing enhancement device choices and styles today. These can help individuals to hear better, thus helping with relationships, helping them at home, and at work.”

Dr. Jane Brady AuD, owner of Horizon Audiology, wants people to be aware of the many opportunities available to help them correct hearing loss.

Although wearing glasses is commonplace for the millions of people with vision impairment, and few resist wearing glasses, many people hesitate to obtain a hearing aid. Whether it is associated with the aging process or they are reminded of their grandfather’s bulky and often malfunctioning device, there is a decided reluctance for many even to investigate the possibility of a hearing aid.

The fact is, however, that hearing loss is occurring at younger ages than in the past and for various reasons, points out Dr. Brady. “We are definitely seeing more hearing loss at younger ages. Even with teens, there can be early signs. The very loud music young people listen to has been a factor. Hearing loss can also be a result of illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, and childhood illnesses. I have patients from newborns to geriatric, and my typical patient is a Baby Boomer in his or her 50s or 60s.”

Distinct Differences

Dr. Brady, who has a doctorate in audiology, has been practicing for 21 years. She opened her own practice at Horizon Audiology at the Medical Arts Building on the Princeton-Hightstown Road (Route 571) in East Windsor in 2007.

Prior to opening her own practice, she had worked in Princeton with physicians, and she is aware of the medical issues that may be a factor in hearing loss. She sees patients of various ages from all over the Princeton area, and Dr. Brady has noticed distinct differences both in her patients’ motivations and expectations.

“It is important to know how the different generations are wired and what they expect. Baby Boomers have a mindset of wanting things to be fixed — whether it is a shoulder or knee problem from sports, or hearing loss. Also, you can’t assume about someone’s life-style because of their age. Ask them questions. People of all ages are living very diverse life-styles. Ask what they do and what their weekends are like. Do they travel? Attend lectures? Concerts? A person may be a teacher or business executive; their situation and environment can vary and be a factor in their level of hearing frustration.”

Noisy environments obviously create more stress than if one works in a library, for example.

Best Style

When a person decides to consult an audiologist, either as a referral from a physician or as a result of their own decision, the hearing professional will test and evaluate their hearing and then discuss the results.

Even if someone has decreased hearing, they may not yet need a hearing aid. If the hearing loss is significant, however, a device may be indicated. Dr. Brady works with them to determine the best style for their needs.

“Certain types of devices are better for certain people,” she explains. “The fit of the ear, if there are medical conditions, their sensitivity to the device are all factors. Dexterity can be another issue. Someone might have vision problems or arthritis and have difficulty operating the device. It also depends on their level of frustration and what their preconceived notions may be. Some people don’t want any fuss. The New Lyric device is inserted into the ear by the audiologist and stays there, and then is replaced when necessary. The client never has to think about it.

“The audiologist chooses the minimum level of technology that will help the person hear better.”

Hearing aids vary in cost, anywhere from $900 to $2000, depending on the level of technology.

Continuing Education

Dr. Brady, who is board certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, is very involved with continuing education, attending classes and seminars to keep up with the latest advances and trends in the industry.

“The technology changes so rapidly, with state-of-the art advances coming along all the time. Now there is a tiny computer to adjust the sound level of a hearing aid. In the beginning of my practice, I used to do that with a mini screw driver! I even see a time when we can do adjustments over the phone — tele-audiology.

“It is an amazing time, and our level of service keeps up with all the new developments. Helping our patients is always uppermost for me and my staff. There are three audiologists and our office management staff, who are all so knowledgeable and dedicated to serving the patient.”

In addition, Dr. Brady provides services for the community, including free screenings at health fairs, and volunteering at “Ask the Doctor” programs at senior centers.

“It is important for patients to realize that if they are having a problem with hearing loss, we are here to help them. They can call an audiologist on their own without a doctor’s referral.”

Horizon Audiology offers a full range of quality hearing aids from many manufacturers. It is open Monday through Friday 8:30 am. to 4 p.m., and every other Saturday.

Call (609) 448-9730 or visit them online at www.horizonaudiology.com

January 15, 2014

“Italian food is comfort food. It tastes good. I could eat it seven days a week!”

Ben Sanford, manager and co-owner with chef Joe Egitto, of Cugino’s Italian Specialties in Pennington, loves what he does. “I just like the idea of food. I’ve been in the food industry for 14 years, and we are very enthusiastic about Cugino’s.”

The Italian Specialty shop, located at 2566 Pennington Road (near the Pennington Circle), has become a popular gathering place for customers from all over the area. Its wonderful displays of tempting Italian specialties and gourmet items are an irresistible combination, and many diners come more than once a week.

Cugino translates to “cousin” in Italian, an appropriate name for the establishment whose owners are indeed cousins. They grew up enjoying Italian dinners at the Egitto family home in Staten Island, and the idea of having their own restaurant took hold early on. “I always liked cooking,” explains Mr. Egitto. “My mom and dad were both good cooks, and I paid attention. I really always hoped to have my own restaurant.”

Italian Market Place

When the opportunity to open Cugino’s came along, he and Mr. Sanford did not hesitate, and it was a very hands-on family effort. They designed and built most of the interior themselves, laying the wood floor and spackling the walls to look like an old Italian market place. The rustic wooden tables holding the imported gourmet items were built by Mr. Sanford’s father, and Mr. Sanford and Mr. Egitto installed the tile in the L-shaped countertop.

“This is such a great location, and we wanted it to have an old-school neighborhood shop feeling. The atmosphere is definitely reminiscent of Italy.”

Cugino’s is primarily a take-out establishment, but seating for about 10 is available at a counter and a nearby table.

Then, there is the food! “We use the freshest ingredients, and we try to get local products whenever they are available,” point out the owners, who also recently opened Cafe 72, an American-style restaurant in West Trenton.

“At Cugino’s, all our retail items are from Italy or New York. Everything is very high quality, and it is extremely important to maintain the quality of the products. Consistency is a high priority.”

Cugino’s is home to all sorts of fresh options and indulgences. The menu offers a variety of panini sandwiches, pasta bowls, personal pizzas, and numerous fresh salads.

Many Favorites

“Eggplant parmesan is very popular, and our antipasto platters, and paninis are stand-outs for us,” reports Mr. Sanford. Among the many panini choices, some favorites include the Italian Combo with capocollo, Genoa salami, sopressata, mortadella, prosciutto, provolone, romaine, tomato, and Italian dressing; the Bruschetta chicken with grilled chicken, bruschetta, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella; and the eggplant parmesan, including breaded eggplant, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella.

The variety of individual 10-inch pizzas offers many favorites. The San Genaro includes Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions, pomodoro, and fresh mozzarella; the “Grandma” offers pomodore, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and garlic. There are also vodka, white, meatball, and vegetable pizzas, among others.

Grilled chicken and chicken and tuna salad can be added to the many salads available. Especially popular is fig salad with mixed greens, prosciutto, and sun-dried figs. Also favored are antipasto with mixed greens, Italian meats and cheeses, olives, and roasted red peppers; grilled chicken Caesar with romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan reggiano, homemade croutons, and roasted chicken. Cugino’s house salad features arugula, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and roasted peppers.

Other popular dishes include stuffed portabellos, manicotti, chicken rollatini, lasagne Bolognese, Chef Eggito’s father’s homemade meat balls, and prosciutto-wrapped artichokes.

There are also very popular daily specials, including, Monday: Italian meatloaf; Tuesday: roast pork panini; Wednesday: shrimp chef selection; Thursday: veal chef selection; Friday: fresh fish selection.

Assorted pastas, sauces, a variety of Italian cheeses, 15 different kinds of olives, and Italian-style breads (arriving daily from New York) are also favorite take-home or sit-down choices. And, coffee, cappuccino, latte, and espresso are all on the menu. “We have a local coffee bean roaster,” points out Mr. Egitto.

Ahead of the Event

“Catering has become a big part of the business,” adds Mr. Sanford. “We do all sizes of parties and events, and we get very busy for the holidays, especially with lots of Christmas Eve dinners, and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day. It is best to order catering three or four days ahead of the event.”

Catering specials include panini trays, antipasto platters, pizza platters, and fruit and cheese trays, among others.

Tiramisu, Italian cookies (including Mostacciola specialty cookies), biscotti, assorted Panettone for the holidays, pizelle waffle cookies, specialty Perugina chocolate, and Torone nougat candy appeal to customers with a sweet tooth. The selection of Italian gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars, honeys, jams, and gift baskets all provide wonderful hostess or holiday gifts.

Food prices are typically $7 to $12 for sandwiches, salads, and pizzas.

“We want to remain a simple place, not at all pretentious,” says Mr. Sanford. “This is our creation, and we choose everything very carefully. We are definitely hands-on owners.”

Adds Mr. Egitto: “Cugino’s is very special for us. I love cooking and also being out with the customers. They appreciate our years of experience and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Cugino’s is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 to 5. (609) 730-4100. Website: www.cuginospennington.com.


January 8, 2014
EATING RIGHT: “This is a totally different approach to integrating nutrition, de-stressing, and attitudes toward food,” explains Veronique Cardon, MS, director and facilitator of The CogniDiet program. “It is cognition, de-stressing, healthy nutrition, and exercise. People will feel so much better.”

EATING RIGHT: “This is a totally different approach to integrating nutrition, de-stressing, and attitudes toward food,” explains Veronique Cardon, MS, director and facilitator of The CogniDiet program. “It is cognition, de-stressing, healthy nutrition, and exercise. People will feel so much better.”

“I  have been on a diet so many times, but the weight always comes back.”

“I know all about calorie counting, fat content, portion control, so why am I still not losing weight?”

“I have spent so much money and so much time struggling on diets, but nothing has changed.”

“I am so tired of yo-yo dieting. I want to change my life-style.”

If these comments sound familiar, it may be time to consult Veronique Cardon, MS about The CogniDiet(TM) program. Not a quick fix, this program is not about calorie counting and getting on the scale. It is about changing one’s attitude toward food and approach to eating. It is a life-style change.

“People need to eat less and move more,” says holistic nutritionist Ms. Cardon, who is the creator and facilitator of The CogniDiet(TM) program.

Extensive Knowledge

With a Masters of Holistic Nutrition from the Clayton College of Natural Health and a commercial engineering degree from the University of Belgium (Brussels), Ms. Cardon worked as a nutritionist at the Princeton Integrative Health Center for four years.

Previously, she had worked as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry in New York, and gained extensive knowledge about neurology, brain chemistry, depression, obesity, diabetes, and addictions, including smoking.

In addition, Ms. Cardon had struggled with over-eating and the stress accompanying a demanding career for many years, finally stabilizing herself by following a healthy diet, exercise, and controlling stress levels.

Because of this background, she decided to share her own experiences with others and try to help them establish a healthier life-style and attitude toward food.

Her program is based in part on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. “This is a science that helps people change the way they think and therefore behave. It focuses on helping people deal with anxiety, depression, and weight loss” she explains. “I studied this, and I thought if I could educate people about nutrition, cognitherapy could be adapted to focus on weight loss and alleviating stress.”

Ms. Cardon believes that we are in the midst of a “perfect storm” today. “Some of the weight problems have to do with the commercialization of food in the U.S. and the prevalence of processed food. The brain gets accustomed to this. It’s a perfect storm: the super-sizing and processing of food, and lack of activity.”

Every Five Minutes

The ongoing stress level in our high tech society today is another factor, she adds. “Long ago, stress levels rose when there was imminent danger. Stress rose when someone confronted a lion, for example, but then once the risk was over, the stress diminished. Today, people see the lion every five minutes!”

Whether it is job-related, being stuck in traffic, always being rushed — whatever the situation, people frequently find themselves anxious and stressed. And, as Ms. Cardon notes, when it’s under stress, the body craves carbs.

So, why do people eat when they are not really hungry?

You had a bad day: the boss didn’t appreciate your efforts; the kids were impossible; your boy friend found another! Maybe a little ice cream for comfort? Some potato chips? Whatever your favorite snacks to help you through the bad times and take the edge off.

These are all reasons why people eat when they are not really hungry — out of disappointment and unhappiness, also boredom and addiction. In addition, if you are in a hurry, you can pick up something on the run that more often than not is full of calories and is the least healthy choice.

Ms. Cardon wants to change this scenario. “So many people eat much more than they actually need, and the brain begins to expect it. The advertising today is all geared to getting people to want food, especially snacks. Snacks are definitely a culprit.”

Over Time

“We help the client change her attitude toward food and realize that ‘my current eating habits are not good for me.’ At CogniDiet, we think of losing weight over time, not a quick fix. I encourage the clients to have a goal. What are the benefits to them of losing weight? They learn to be more centered on what is good for them generally.

“Some people are involved in too many activities, for example. What is crucial? What is important, and also, what activities and projects can they say no to? This is a way of relieving stress. Every time you do something, the brain registers and remembers it. We need to rewire the brain.”

This requires determination and dedication and a 12-week program, points out Ms. Cardon. “It’s a step-by-step program to retrain the brain, and we go slowly. During this time, I can guarantee that clients will become more attuned to their body and hunger level. They will keep a record of what activities they are involved in, what they do, and when they feel tempted to eat, even if they are not really hungry.”

It takes 12 weeks to learn new skills, she explains. Weeks one to six will focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotional Brain Training. There are no diet or eating guidelines during the first six weeks. We will gradually introduce some healthy nutrition tips and activity level recommendations.

“Weeks seven to 12 will help you to solidify your brain skills and teach you more about healthy nutrition and active life-styles. We will equip you with the tools to maintain weight over the long term.”

Ms. Cardon offers both one-on-one and group (six to eight) sessions. Initially, she has an interview with the client to identify goals and establish a specific plan. Once a week sessions — one hour for individuals, two hours for groups — are available.

Strong Guide

“In the group, they learn from the other people, and they also share their own experiences,” she notes. “My clients are all women, generally 40 and up, and they have tried everything,” says Ms. Cardon. “One client said to me, ‘I’ve tried many times to lose weight, and this time I feel that I have a strong guide to help me.”

The fact that Ms. Cardon had struggled with her own weight problem as well as coping with stress resonates with clients. They know she understands their dilemma. “When they come to me, they really want to change. I’m asking them to do hard work, but they are ready, and they want to feel better. Everyone can have a plan, a strategy. We look at how she should shop and plan meals, even when she is very busy. I offer nutritional tips and also some recipes.

“During the second week, someone might report that they made one healthy nutritional decision. Maybe they had an apple instead of a cookie. I notice that the clients almost always have an ‘aha’ moment. They begin to feel better, are getting their energy and power back, and are taking charge of their life.

“The challenge is for them to find time to focus on it. This is a journey, and they must make it a priority. It’s a matter of exercising the brain. This is a life-long practice.”

“Loving Saboteur”

Also, advises Ms. Cardon, beware of the “loving saboteur”: those friends who urge you to have that second piece of chocolate cake, pecan pie, or other desirable second helping. This is a time to focus on what is best for you.

Changing one’s eating habits of long-standing is not easy, she acknowledges, but the benefits are so important to one’s overall health and well-being.

“This is a totally different approach of integrating cognition, healthy nutrition, attitudes toward food, de-stressing, and exercise. People will feel so much better. Also, when someone finishes the program, we have an on-going support group, offering on-going encouragement.

“I really enjoy feeling that I am helping people, and that they can benefit from what I learned from the struggle I have been through. I look forward to helping even more women, and making a positive difference in their lives.”

The CogniDiet Program can be reached at (609) 921-8980; or via email: thecognidiet@gmail.com.

Hours are by appointment. A pilot program is currently underway, with the full program to begin in January.

NTU Cranbury design 12-25-13“Our clients count on us. They know that we do what we say we are going to do.”

Kim Evans, general manager, strategic marketing (and former founding partner) of Cranbury Design Center, is emphatic about the firm’s reliability, reputation, and quality work.

“We project manage our jobs. We sit down with the customers, and everything is planned out. We pay attention to every detail. We are in constant touch with the clients and let them know what is happening throughout the process.”

Known for its kitchen and bath design and build projects, Cranbury Design Center is located at 146 West Ward Street in Hightstown. Owned by Frank O’Leary and Charlie Rini, it was founded in 1999. Refreshing, remodeling, and renovating are the firm’s specialties, and they can advise clients on the latest trends in the industry regarding cabinetry, appliances, finishes, hardware, etc., while keeping in mind budgetary requirements.

Existing Footprint

If clients want to keep their existing cabinets, but would like a new sink and stove, then a “refresh” is the choice, notes Ms. Evans. This is popular, but even more typical is a remodel.

“In this case, we keep the existing footprint, but add new cabinetry as well as new appliances. In the case of a renovation, everything is new and often completely rearranged. This can also include an addition to expand the area. We do all size jobs from powder rooms to full spa-type baths, and small to very large kitchens. The kitchen is the heart of the home. No matter how big or small its size, people like to gather there. We have done some very charming small kitchens.”

People choose to make an investment in kitchens and baths for various reasons, she adds, and this can underscore their selection. “If they are planning to move, they may decide on a refresh, just to make the bathroom or kitchen appealing to prospective buyers. People who are not moving may decide to fix up the bath or kitchen if an appliance has worn out or perhaps they just want a new look and something more up-to-date. Interestingly, new owners often call us as soon as they move in because they want a remodel or even a renovation.”

Ms. Evans has seen a lot of changes and trends in kitchen and bath design over the years. There has been a definite trend toward a more open look, with one room flowing into another without doors. This is very true in the kitchen, she points out.

“No matter what size the kitchen is, people like it to be open and not shut off from the rest of the house. Often, family rooms are adjacent to the kitchen, without any demarcation except a kitchen counter.”

Kitchen Islands

Ample storage space and functionality are other factors that are important to clients today. “We also see the styles moving away from the traditional, heavily decorated look to more contemporary clean lines. It can also be a transitional look. Some people like an avant-garde feel, with stainless steel backsplashes, for example. There are just so many choices today.”

Kitchen islands are a must, and they are getting bigger, reports Ms. Evans. “They’re multi-functional now. People eat there, set out food for entertaining, etc.”

Wood floors in the kitchen are in demand now, although tile is often favored by many homeowners. Granite continues to be the number one choice for countertops but other options, such as Corian, silestone, natural quartz, and laminates are all available.

“Granite is king,” says Ms. Evans. “It is known for its durability, and there are more choices in the variety of colors now. People seem to like a combination of colors and contrasts. For example, you can have a dark island and light cabinets. Or the island can have a different countertop — wood with granite around the perimeter.”

Both light and dark cabinets are popular, and they can be as customized as the client wishes. Choices include stock cabinets, which can also be customized, and typically take three and a half to four weeks to be delivered and installed; semi-custom, which are not standard size and can have some modifications, with a time frame of eight weeks; and fully customized cabinetry, which takes eight to 12 weeks.

Customers like the cabinets to have convenient features, such as sliding drawers and lazy susan corner slides for easy access. “All our cabinetry is high quality at whatever price level,” notes Ms. Evans.

Up-to-Date Styles

“Lighting is also important, and under cabinet lighting is in demand today.”

Many of the same features seen in the kitchen are also desirable in the bath, she reports. Ample storage, easy access, and up-to-date styles, including clean, contemporary lines, are all important. “Granite and marble countertops are popular, and the floor is nearly always tile. Some of the tile can even look like wood.”

In some cases, clients are also opting for larger showers, and even eliminating tubs.

The Cranbury Design Center’s staff focus is to ensure that the client’s kitchen or bath refresh, remodel, or renovation progresses smoothly from start to finish, says Ms. Evans. “At the outset, co-owner Charlie Rini goes to see the client’s house and asks specific questions regarding life-style, and how long they plan to stay in the house. Depending on this, they select different cabinets and appliances. I also love going to the house and helping the client through the process. It can be very creative.”

And the clients are from all backgrounds and walks of life, she adds. “Some clients come in with the complete shopping bag. They know exactly what they want. Others may have some idea as to color but don’t have too many specifics in mind. Still others don’t have a clue — they just know they want something different. We do our best to help them find the way to the best kitchen and bath design to fit their needs.”

The firm’s many repeat customers and referrals are testimony to its long and valued reputation.

Cranbury Design Center’s handsome show room with many sample kitchens and baths on display is open Monday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday until 5, Saturday until 2. (609) 448-5600. Website: www.cranburydesigncenter.com.


December 26, 2013
TREASURE TROVE: “We have new items all the time in all the categories. And one of the joys of an independent store is that you can bring ideas to it, and it also has its own tone and personality.” Owner Barry Weisfeld (right) and general manager Jon Lambert of Princeton Record Exchange, look forward to introducing even more customers to their great selection of CDs, DVDs, and LPs. Mr. Weisfeld holds just one of the many thousands of jazz records available at the store.

TREASURE TROVE: “We have new items all the time in all the categories. And one of the joys of an independent store is that you can bring ideas to it, and it also has its own tone and personality.” Owner Barry Weisfeld (right) and general manager Jon Lambert of Princeton Record Exchange, look forward to introducing even more customers to their great selection of CDs, DVDs, and LPs. Mr. Weisfeld holds just one of the many thousands of jazz records available at the store.

“We are here to recycle CDs, DVDs, and vinyl into the hands of music and movie lovers who can appreciate it all over again.”

Barry Weisfeld, owner of Princeton Record Exchange, is enthusiastic about the success of his longtime business, neatly tucked away on South Tulane Street.

Within, customers will find an amazing treasure trove. 150,000 new and used CDs, DVDs, and LPs fill every shelf and rack in the store. Every musical taste can be satisfied. “We buy new stock every day, with thousands of titles arriving every week, so our stock changes constantly,” says Mr. Weisfeld. New releases, rock, jazz, classical, imports, oldies, blues, world, shows, soundtracks, and folk are all well-represented.

One of the largest independent music and movie stores in the country, the spacious, well-lit Record Exchange carries a truly wide-ranging inventory in excellent condition at reasonable prices.

Great Staff

“We get 600 to 700 people coming in each day,” points out general manager Jon Lambert. “Also, we have a great staff. Their dedication, knowledge, hard work, and insight are outstanding. Many of them have been here more than 15 years, and they share their knowledge with the customers. And also, the customers like to share information with us. We have ongoing give and take. That is one of the great things about an independent store.”

This remarkable story began in 1980, when Mr. Weisfeld first opened Princeton Record Exchange at 20 Nassau Street, following a successful — and strenuous — career buying and selling records at college book stores along the east coast. A stop at the Princeton University Store introduced him to this area, and after subsequent visits, he decided to settle here.

When he first opened the shop, it was stocked with 15,000 recordings, many of which were hard-to-get or discontinued selections. In addition, ¾ of the inventory was new. This is a reversal of the situation today, in which 75 percent of the inventory is used, 25 percent new.

Business began to take off early on, as customers soon found they could turn in their own records for cash or credit toward a new purchase, and have the fun of seeking suitable replacements. Word got around, and the Exchange became so popular that records and customers almost seemed to be vying for the available space.

“Space was clearly an issue. We definitely needed more,” points out Mr. Weisfeld. So in 1985, they moved to the current South Tulane street location.

Customers love browsing through the incredible selection, even sitting down on the carpet to get a better look at the lower shelves, he adds. “Some stay all day, and then come back the next day.”

Music Lovers

In the classical section, CDs, LPs, and DVDs of orchestral works, string quartets, piano sonatas, chamber music, operas, 20th century, and vocals are available. In the DVD section, there are over 20,000 DVDs of music, TV, children’s, Disney, sci-fi, action, thrillers, comedy, drama, classics, foreign, avant-garde, and documentaries.

Bargains abound for the serious or casual music lover, many who visit regularly, not only from the Princeton area, but from such places as New York City, Asia, and Europe to check out the large, ever-changing inventory. There is ample room to look around, check covers, and shoppers are encouraged to browse and meet other knowledgeable customers.

The most popular sellers right now are classic rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix), modern jazz, and classical, says Mr. Lambert. Trends come along all the time as to what is popular, but these three categories remain strong.

Regular customers come in all the time — both buyers and sellers. “We buy and sell tens of thousands of items every month,” he reports. “And our customers are all ages, anywhere from 15 to 80! There is a core group of guys in their late 20s to 50s, who are serious collectors.

“Also, every April on the third Saturday, there is ‘Record Store Day’, when we’ll have new releases that have only been released to independent record stores. Hundreds of people line up outside the store waiting until we open. We also get a big crowd on Black Friday after Thanksgiving for limited editions and audiofile vinyl.”

In addition, he points out that the store can receive as many as 30 collections a day, when people bring in their CDs, DVDs, and LPs. “People can bring in items for us to look at if they have less than 100 pieces. If there are more, they can call, let us know what they have and make an appointment. We examine everything very carefully, and we guarantee everything against defect. In fact, one half of less than one percent of items we sell are ever returned. The customers who bring in items are often moving or downsizing, and sometimes it’s an estate sale.”

Big Selection

“I like going out and buying a big selection,” adds Mr. Weisfeld. “You never know what you’ll come upon.”

Mr. Lambert agrees. “I’ve been here 24 years, and every single day, I see a title that I’ve never seen before. It is never dull!”

Both Mr. Weisfeld and Mr. Lambert are proud of Princeton Record Exchange’s growing reputation. It has been named in the top 20 record stores in Rolling Stone; in the top 10 in GQ; top 10 in Time; and in the top five in the Wall Street Journal.

“We went from a little store to a thriving operation, which is getting national attention. Three things set us apart: breadth of selection, low prices, and quality control.”

Customers will find an array of prices, including more than 50,000 CDs, DVDs, and LPs priced at $4.99 or less. The store is currently paying up to $4 per disk for strong-selling CDs and DVDs in excellent condition; up to $2 for strong-selling LPs in excellent condition; and up to $100 or more for rarities in great demand.

Princeton Record Exchange is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 to 6. (609) 921-0881. Website: www.prex.com.


FULL SERVICE: “We do every type of job, from the smallest to the biggest. Customers know they can count on our reliability, knowledge, and service.” Mike Twarkusky (left) and Anthony Tallone are co-owners of Cifelli Electrical Inc. The firm handles everything from installing smoke detectors, surge protectors, ceiling and paddle fans, and flat screen TVs to exterior lighting to full residential and commercial electrical renovations.

FULL SERVICE: “We do every type of job, from the smallest to the biggest. Customers know they can count on our reliability, knowledge, and service.” Mike Twarkusky (left) and Anthony Tallone are co-owners of Cifelli Electrical Inc. The firm handles everything from installing smoke detectors, surge protectors, ceiling and paddle fans, and flat screen TVs to exterior lighting to full residential and commercial electrical renovations.

Knowledgeable, reliable service is the hallmark of Cifelli Electrical Inc., which has been a mainstay on the Princeton business scene for 40 years.

Located on Airport Drive, right by Princeton Airport, the company handles every size of job, both residential and commercial. From minor repairs to service installation and replacement and renovations, Cifelli Electrical provides customers with the help they need.

“This work is never boring,” reports co-owner Anthony Tallone, who went to work with previous owner John Cifelli in 1987. “I’m an ‘honorary’ Cifelli,” he says, smiling. “Both my co-owner, Mike Twarkusky, and I started at Cifelli then, and we became owners in 2004. I was still in high school when I began working for John. Then, I went to Mercer County Vocational School for five years to become an electrician.”

From the time he was a young boy, Mr. Cifelli had always been interested in understanding electrical systems and how things were put together. “My father was an iron worker,” he explains, “and when he finished our basement, I enjoyed watching this process. I liked seeing how things all came together. What I like most about the electrical work is the combination. You not only have hands-on, but you’re also building something. And, it’s a thinking man’s job. You have to figure things out, and there is also trouble-shooting. It has everything.”

Every Situation

Cifelli truly covers every kind of situation, including setting up electrical systems in new houses, replacing old wiring in existing houses, installing smoke detectors, and dealing with emergencies, adds Mr. Tallone.

“We’ve had calls from people when half of the house is without power, and 40 people are coming to dinner! Also, sometimes, people have trouble with space heaters. They don’t realize how much power they take, and people overload the circuit.”

Regarding safety issues Mr. Tallone notes that “with older homes, the best bet is to change the devices; that is, the plugs and switches. You want to be sure there is a tight connection. Loose connections and old frayed cords are potential fire hazards. If it’s an old beat-up cord, throw it out.

“When it comes to extension cords, there are three things to be mindful of: (1) The number of cords to use on one spot, don’t overload; (2) The type of cord, whether it is for indoors or outdoors, and (3) The proper wire gauge for the application, that is, use heavier duty cord for heavier duty needs.

“Also, the newer LED technology has helped with cutting wattage down for holiday lighting consumption.”

Mr. Tallone has seen many changes in the business over the years, especially in the area of technology. “The technology has changed so much in every way, he points out. “With smart phones, there is now instant access. It has changed our business. You can take a picture of something on site, and send it back to the office. I remember when people just had beepers!”

Changing Technology

“Because of all the changing technology, we have continuing education. Keeping up to date is the biggest challenge, especially with the code book changes. I am very excited, though, that the lighting quality and technology is constantly progressing. It keeps us on our toes. It evolves and changes all the time. We can be in a small house fixing a light one day and be on a ladder on Nassau Street installing electrical tubing in a building the next day. Every year, we do the holiday lighting for the Lewis School too.”

In addition, notes Mr. Tallone, with the advent of the recent severe storms, including Irene and Sandy, Cifelli is doing a lot of business with generators. “This has really taken off. People want to be prepared for an emergency. They are afraid of losing power. We are a Kohler dealer, and we do the most business with automatic generators, although we have portable ones too. In any case, it is important to have maintenance by a professional to avoid glitches. It is true that an automatic generator will increase the selling value of a house.”

Interestingly, he adds, “We had always done work with generators on a larger scale for businesses, but now homeowners want them. In many cases today, houses have become small businesses in terms of power, because of the technology and the amount of power they consume. Houses used to take 100 amps; now they take 200 to 300 amps.”

Busiest Season

Mr. Tallone emphasizes that Cifelli is ready to take on any size job, and when possible, even solve problems over the phone. For example, “We’ll talk with people on the phone and learn about the problem. I can usually give them a price, depending on the time needed and the materials. And sometimes, if it’s a minor situation, I can help them fix the problem over the phone.”

Cifelli’s busiest season is from October to January, he adds. “Homeowners are getting ready for the holidays. They’re buying new light fixtures and often want help hanging chandeliers, etc. Then, things slow down for us from January to March, before it picks up again.

“Mike and I have been in this business for more than 25 years, and there is always a surprise. I’ve seen houses that have a basketball court inside! We go from a two-bedroom house to a nine-bedroom mansion, and everything in between. It’s all across the board, and in this town, there is always something out of the box. We meet all kinds of people with different backgrounds and experiences. It’s a great job!”

Cifelli has been given the highest rating by the Better Business Bureau, and is a member of the Central Jersey Electrical League, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

It is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (609) 921-3238. Website: www.cifellielectrical.com.


December 18, 2013
HOME DECOR: “We are surrounded by beautiful things, and we hand-pick the items. We get new merchandise in every week, and we really enjoy seeing people buy lovely things for their home.” Painter Fay Sciarra (left) and her business partner Linda Sciarra, are delighted with the success of their gallery Umbrella in The Tomato Factory.

HOME DECOR: “We are surrounded by beautiful things, and we hand-pick the items. We get new merchandise in every week, and we really enjoy seeing people buy lovely things for their home.” Painter Fay Sciarra (left) and her business partner Linda Sciarra, are delighted with the success of their gallery Umbrella in The Tomato Factory.

A visit to Umbrella at the Tomato Factory is a visual pleasure. Filled with the colorful and intriguing art of Fay Sciarra and an eclectic selection of antiques and home furnishings from a number of dealers, this “gallery and more” is a haven for collectors, buyers, and browsers.

Located on the second floor of the 100-year-old Tomato Factory, an antiques cooperative at 2 Somerset Street in Hopewell, Umbrella recently expanded, doubling its space, which provides an opportunity to display the collections of even more dealers.

“We call it ‘Umbrella’ because it is a collaborative group of creative people,” explains Fay Sciarra. “We wanted people who could think beyond the traditional; people who could create a wonderful environment.”

“We have a very eclectic selection, including unusual items you won’t find everywhere,” adds Linda Sciarra. “We sell such a wide variety. Each dealer has his or her own enclave or ‘vignette’ and their own aesthetic but everything blends together.”

Vintage Coco Chanel

Among the dealers who are represented are Maria Gage Antiques, Robert Evans Antiques, Russell Hutsko and Richard Hoffman Antiques, Nancy Furey Design, Jeffrey Henkel Antiques, and Gary Gandel Antiques.

“For the holidays, we have items from Katy Kane, the vintage couture and clothing dealer,” says Ms. Sciarra. “It’s a special selection of vintage Coco Chanel, a Hermes handbag, Gucci alligator belt, Christian Dior necklace, Chanel-style gold cuff bracelets, and beaded and sequined evening bags. We want people to know they can come here and see different things. We want them to be visually stimulated.”

Of course, Fay Sciarra’s art is a highlight. Noted for her vibrant use of color, rich texture and patterns, and imaginative whimsy, she works in many media: acrylic on canvas, reverse painting on glass, mixed media, sculpture/assemblage, and collage.

“I’m a painter and assemblage artist, so I know a lot about famous post impressionists and modern artists whom I’ve studied,” says Ms. Sciarra. “But Umbrella has opened my eyes to iconic furniture designers like Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, Vladimir Kagan, Le Corbusier. I’m learning every day about antiques. And then there are interior designers like Tony Duquette, Nate Berkus, Anthony Barrata, and Kelly Wreastler.

“The amazing thing is that some of them (the ones who are still living) are customers of ours because of the internet. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that we have created such a thriving business tucked away on a side street in Hopewell!”

Customers enjoy the engaging display of home furnishings, antiques, and accessories, including one-of-a-kind lighting. A ceramic “asparagus” table lamp and vintage sconces are appealing specialties. Unexpected and unusual items are creatively exhibited in the spacious quarters. For example, visitors will find an industrial coatrack, recycled from a Manhattan art school. With numerous hooks, it is perfect for a family mudroom. Very popular, only one is left of the four initially available.



“We enjoy offering recycled items from the nationally renowned ‘architectural archeologists’ Olde Good Things,” says Linda Sciarra. “They are one of the largest salvage companies in the U.S., and really became known for making farm tables out of wood, such as pine, that comes from old buildings. There is a lot to be said for repurposing old items.”

Among the popular pieces from Olde Goode Things is tin wall art recycled from a tin ceiling, she adds. “They also wrap tin on wood, and make small decorative pieces, as well as mirror, which become art objects. This is really creative recycling. The company makes chandeliers out of old globes, which are terrific. We also have chandeliers in lucite, iron, crystal, and wood. We have lamps made from vintage grape and olive buckets, and the buckets can also be used as magazine and newspaper containers. This company is so inventive.”

In addition, Umbrella displays a large table top of galvanized steel, with industrial iron legs, from Olde Good Things. The company has also provided handmade chalk boards made of real slate. Another intriguing item is a vintage Buick grill, a perfect addition to a “Man Cave”, whose inhabitant loves old cars.

The custom farmhouse tables are very popular, notes Ms. Sciarra, and customers can select the top they prefer. A number of other antique tables are also available, including a large elm, burlwood, and mahogany dining table (c) 1940s, featuring lions’ claw feet.

“We have mid-century (1950s) one-of-a-kind furniture from all over, including the U.S., France, and England,” she points out. “It is really beautiful, including a very impressive George III-style partners desk circa 1940s, in mahogany with leather top. An 18th century French provincial farm table is another outstanding piece.”

A variety of decorative pieces include animal replicas: a terra cotta horse’s head, an Italian terra cotta lion (ready to pounce!), and a pair of marble lions, each playing with a marble ball. Two carousel horses, old-time ceramic piggy banks, brass telescope, giant brass candlesticks, and vintage 1930s/40s suitcases sporting travel stickers, decanters in assorted styles, and a large mirror from the Marx Brothers estate are all part of the very eclectic selection.

On the Road

“We go on the road to find things, often in New England, and also, people find us,” says Linda Sciarra. “They may be downsizing and need to part with some of their belongings. We find that comfortable chairs are very popular. People are always looking for a pair, especially vintage club chairs.”

Umbrella also has a flourishing on-line business. “This supplements our in-store business very nicely. We are on 1stdibs.com, which has a huge customer base throughout the world. It is one of the largest on-line retail sites. We have now shipped throughout the world — to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, among other far away places. It really gets our name out worldwide, and we’re becoming known to important decorators at Umbrella.1stdibs.com.

“We also have a store front on e-bay, and we have gone on-line with Houzz, the number one on-line site for decorators. Someone can go there and say ‘I’m looking for ideas to decorate the family room.’ It’s a great source for people wanting to decorate.”

Umbrella will have its fifth anniversary next April, and both Fay and Linda Sciarra are enthusiastic about the gallery’s future. It already has a large customer base of regulars and repeats.

“We have really become a destination place, and people can find such a variety here. Sometimes, a shopper will come in and be looking for a particular item, but then see something else that catches their eye. And the inventory changes all the time, so there will always be something different to see.

“We are also very much hands-on owners. One of us is always here. We believe in having control of the business, and this has been a very successful concept for us.”

Customers will find a wide price range, from $25 up to $1000s, and everything in between, add the owners. “We have wonderful aesthetic pieces that will beautify the home, and we have met so many wonderful people. We want even more people to know about us, and we look forward to having them come to see what we have. We continually update our website, and we are also on Facebook.”

Umbrella is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 466-2800.

Website: www.umbrelladecor.com.

“Rest Traveler Rest And Banish Thought of Care;

Drink to Thy Friends And Recommend them Here.”

These words were originally found in an old English inn near Oxford. Now carved above the mantel in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room of the Nassau Inn, they have cheered guests here since 1937, when the Inn was rebuilt on Palmer Square. The fireplace beneath is lit during the winter months, adding welcoming warmth and a glow to the informal pub setting.

The Tap Room’s name is derived from the unique 13-foot Norman Rockwell mural of Yankee Doodle situated above and behind the bar. It is the largest Rockwell mural, was commissioned in the 1930s, and was a gift to the Inn from Princeton University. The mural took just over nine months to complete in the Rockwell studio. He thought it would be fitting to paint Yankee Doodle because of Princeton’s strong connection to the Revolutionary War. It is a big attraction at the restaurant.

Guests at the Tap Room find themselves in good company, as evidenced by the gallery of famous faces who have visited the Nassau Inn. From John Foster Dulles and Adlai Stevenson to Jimmy Stewart and George Gallup to James Baker and George Shultz to Thomas Kean and astronaut Pete Conrad to Bill Bradley and Ralph Nader to Brooke Shields and Michelle Obama and many more, the portrait gallery covers a wide spectrum of Princeton University graduates over the years.

Culinary Creativity

History and culinary creativity come together at the Tap Room. Michael LaCorte has returned as executive chef after a hiatus of 20 years. “I had been a chef at the Nassau Inn for some years back then,” he recalls. “At that time, I worked at Palmer’s, one of the inn’s three restaurants. It was a happy experience, and I met my wife there!”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mr. LaCorte had always been interested in cooking. “I liked to look through my mom’s cook books and I also enjoyed watching ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ TV cooking show. I tried my hand at making some dishes and I also worked at an Italian restaurant during high school.”

His later experience included time at the River Cafe in New York City, and then as a corporate chef in the business world. “I wanted to solidify my base,” he explains. “It’s very important to be able to execute. You can have all the proper ingredients, but then you have to execute. This is crucial. Here at the Inn, we make a point of hiring new people, with fresh ideas. I have two sous chefs and one line staff for the Tap Room, and one sous chef for catering. I cook, do prep work, and also administrative work.

“Catering is a big part of the business, with banquets, weddings, corporate events, etc. With the holidays coming up, we will be very busy from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and then we have a break until Valentine’s Day.”

Chef LaCorte is very happy to be back at the Inn, and he especially enjoys the Tap Room experience. “We are repositioning ourselves as a ‘Gastro Pub.’ The choices have expanded and evolved, and we have American-focused food, including a bar menu, regular menu, and children’s menu.”

A variety of choices for breakfast, lunch (also Sunday brunch), and dinner is offered every day, and diners are enjoying everything, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The “Princetonian”

“We try to satisfy all dietary needs,” says Mr. LaCorte. “We are especially getting known for the best burger around. It’s a blend of chuck, short ribs, brisket, and choriza (Spanish sausage). We call it the ‘Princetonian’, and it won first prize in the Mercer County ‘Burger Mania’ 2013 contest. It is topped with smoked mozzarella cheese and port wine onion marmalade, served on a toasted sourdough roll, with fries, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle.”

Three other hamburgers are also available, including a mushroom and barley veggie version.

Other favorite dishes include seared salmon with roasted butternut squash, served with Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, bacon lardon, and toasted quinoa; also salted duck breast with sun-dried cherries, root vegetables, and roasted sweet potatoes. The roasted all-natural semi-boneless chicken with rosemary, and served with bread pudding, local vegetables, and pan gravy is gluten-free. Braised boneless short ribs in red wine and chipotle, served with cipollini onions, horseradish, with beets and olive oil mashed potatoes is another popular dish, as is Orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe, including spicy Milford Farms all natural pork sausage, with garlic, and “little ear” pasta.

Specials are also available every night for dinner.

Appetizers include cheese soup, featuring a blend of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, smoked Gouda, and blue cheese with smoky paprika; also, hummus, Nassau wings (gluten-free), and Tap Room sliders (mini burgers on toasted mini sourdough buns with cheese and pickle).

In addition, “Small Plates” are available, notes Mr. LaCorte. “These are larger than appetizers, but smaller than an entree. They are very popular, because people can sample a variety, such as fried basil risotto balls, stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese; duck confit stew, simmered in roasted garlic sauce, cipollini onion and parsnips; and sauteed shrimp and cheesy grits, with garlic, tomato, mushrooms, preserved lemon, and chorizo.”

Molten Chocolate Cake

The variety of salads is very popular and chicken, shrimp, and steak can be added to the greens for more substantial fare. One of the most popular is fried goat cheese with toasted almonds, balsamic vinaigrette, fall greens, and roasted baby red and golden beets.

Everyone loves the Tap Room’s desserts, from the creamy Tiramisu and the classic crème brûlée to the warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream to the individual pumpkin pie, and of course the molten chocolate cake. Assorted ice cream, gelato, and sorbet are also offered.

In addition, coffee, cappuccino, and espresso are on the menu, along with a variety of after dinner drinks.

Diners can also enjoy a wide selection of beer, wine, and spirits, notes Mr. LaCorte. “We have 22 world beers, including some from micro breweries, on tap and a variety of wines and cocktails.

“I think we are set apart because we have found our niche and offer quality food. We have the freshest ingredients and special recipes. Of course, presentation is important. You want the dishes to be pleasing to the eye. We try to focus on local farms, and we get our produce, beef and chicken locally. We also change the menu twice seasonally, for fall and winter, and spring and summer.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served seven days. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. With late night in the bar until 11 Friday and Saturday. (609) 921-7500. Website: www.nassauinn.com.


December 4, 2013
MAGICAL MUSIC: Boys in fourth through eighth grade come from across the country and around the world to pursue a challenging musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School. The Choir has long been recognized as one of the finest musical ensembles in the U.S. Here, members of the Choir are shown in one of its acclaimed performances.

MAGICAL MUSIC: Boys in fourth through eighth grade come from across the country and around the world to pursue a challenging musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School. The Choir has long been recognized as one of the finest musical ensembles in the U.S. Here, members of the Choir are shown in one of its acclaimed performances.

Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1937, The American Boychoir (originally the Columbus Boychoir) came to Princeton in 1950, and has been an important part of the cultural life of the town ever since.

Established by Herbert Huffman, the Choir is considered to be one of the finest choirs of its kind in the United States and among the finest in the world. It is currently under the guidance of Litton-Lodal Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz.

The objectives stated in The American Boychoir School’s original charter are as important today as they were in 1937.

“(1) To build character in young boys and prepare them for good citizenship.

(2) To provide an exceptional training program for musically talented boys, regardless of their religion, social or financial circumstances.

(3) To make this unique opportunity the motivation for general educational attainment.

(4) To help enrich the cultural life of the nation and to produce a musical organization that is recognized throughout the country as the finest of its kind.”

Special and Unique

“This institution is special, unique,” notes American Boychoir general manager Christie Starrett. “It is wonderful to watch a child’s development, and the Choir takes boys from any background. 60 percent of the boys are on scholarship. They might be from a family with no musical experience or from a home in which both parents are musicians, and then their voices are melded into this wonderful Choir.”

Boys aged nine to 14, in grades four through eight, attend the American Boychoir School. They come from across the U.S. and from abroad. Typically 45 to 50 boys comprise the student body, both boarding and day students.

In January of this year, the school moved to the Princeton Center for Arts and Education, the site of the former St. Joseph’s Seminary at 75 Mapleton Road in Plainsboro. Five buildings, including classrooms and rehearsal space, a chapel, and gym on 47 acres offer expanded space for academic studies and music rehearsal.

In addition to the Boychoir, the location is home to The Wilberforce School and the French American School of Princeton.

“St. Joseph’s was formerly an educational institution, and when we found it was available, it seemed like a good fit. It offered us the right kind of space,” says Dr. Kerry Heimann, PhD, the Choir’s assistant music director and accompanist. “The chapel is outstanding and can serve as performing space.”

Boys who are interested in joining the Choir and attending the school audition in an informal setting. No previous musical experience is necessary, explains Dr. Heimann. “We have very simple auditions. The boys don’t have to prepare music. We are interested in hearing their tone, range, and getting a sense of their personality and interest in music.”

Natural Progression

Even if their voices change, the boys remain in the Choir, adds Ms. Starrett. “We emphasize that the voice change is a normal part of life. It is a natural progression of a male human being.”

A fully accredited middle school education, with instruction in language arts, math, social studies, science, and Spanish, is available with the advantage of small classes for more individual attention. The boys’ day is long, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Music study and rehearsal encompass three to four hours a day, reports Dr. Heimann. “They study music theory, learn to read music, and also take a year of piano instruction.”

They also have physical education and exercise options, as well as a one-hour rest period during their intense daily program.

The curriculum of The American Boychoir School is uniquely structured so that the boys gain their education not only in the classroom but also during their tours and travel experience and their musical performances.

“Part of the learning experience is experiential learning,” points out Ms. Starrett. “The boys can read about the Alamo, and then actually be at the Alamo when they are on tour. They come away from the school not only as musicians, but as informed citizens.

“Also, another component of the boys’ education here is the school’s heavy emphasis on manners and character development. This is very important. The boys meet people all over the country and other parts of the world. They have to be able to converse and be comfortable with people of different backgrounds and cultures, and be courteous and polite.

Musical Excellence

“The major pillars of the tours are cities,” continues Ms. Starrett, “but we go all over the U.S. and perform in small towns as well. The boys stay in private homes and have opportunities to be with people of different backgrounds, culture, etc. This broadens their horizons.”

The Choir is highly regarded in music circles as well as among the general public whose appreciative audiences greet the Choir warmly. The Boychoir’s standing as pre-eminent ambassador of American musical excellence is maintained through an extremely busy tour schedule, both nationally and abroad, and through frequent television and radio guest appearances.

The Choir typically schedules five tours during the school year, often for three weeks at a time. During the tours they keep up with their academic studies, completing assignments and homework. Nearly 100 peformances are scheduled throughout the year.

The Choir is also often invited to join internationally-known artists on stage, including great classical artists, such as opera stars Jessye Norman and Frederica von Stade, jazz headliner Wynton Marsalis, and pop icons Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney.

The boys also perform regularly with world-class ensembles, including The New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Boston Symphony, among others.

The Choir’s legacy is preserved through an extensive recording catalog, which includes more than 46 commercial recordings. Its most recent release, Journey On, was hailed by Fanfare Magazine as “a fabulous recording, encompassing a remarkable range of music and styles, all of it performed with an astonishing accuracy and élan, conveying at every turn a sense of discovery and an utter engagement with the music.”

Upcoming Tours

The focus of the Choir’s repertoire is classical music, but the boys also enjoy performing lighter selections. “Ten percent of our boys sang with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” notes Dr. Heimann. “This was a very different musical experience.”

Upcoming tours and engagements include trips to various locations in the U.S. In addition, the choir recently returned from a concert tour to South Korea. Many Princeton residents look forward to the Choir’s annual Christmas concerts in the Princeton University Chapel and Richardson Hall in December, this year to be held Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15.

In addition, the public is welcome to attend Friday afternoon rehearsals held in the chapel at the Arts and Education Center.

Many Boychoir graduates continue in the field of music as adults, notes Dr. Heimann. “Some have gone into performing, teaching music, and arts management. Most retain a strong relationship with music and the arts throughout their lives.”

“During Alumni Weekend, a lot of graduates come back, and they enjoy singing with the boys,” adds Ms. Starrett.

Both Ms. Starrett and Dr. Heimann have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the mission of The American Boy Choir School and to watch the boys develop into superbly talented musicians and outstanding individuals. “Seeing the boys develop as musicians, become polite and cooperative people, and be aware of the world around them is a pleasure.”

For further information, call (609) 924-5858, or visit the website: www.americanboychoir.org.