June 20, 2012

SENIOR SERVICES: “We are trying to create an atmosphere of home and an opportunity for residents to age in place,” says the staff at Brandywine Senior Living Center at Princeton. Shown (left to right) are residents Gloria Pyne, Theresa Farkas, and Doris Bishop, taking part in the “Roots of Love” horticulture class.

Princeton is fortunate to have many choices of living arrangements for older adults. From independent to assisted living to long-term or continuing care, the options are abundant.

Choices can diminish for older people generally, notes Ellen Reid, Director of Community Relations at Brandywine Senior Living at Princeton. “We offer our residents a variety of opportunities and flexibility at Brandywine, and they appreciate these choices.”

Brandywine Senior Living at Princeton opened in October 2011 at the former site of Buckingham Place, 155 Raymond Road. Brandywine, which operates 24 senior living communities in five states in the mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S., purchased Buckingham Place’s assisted living and memory facility. The Buckingham Place adult daycare program is still in operation at the Raymond Road location.

As a leading provider of quality care for older adults, Brandywine offers assisted living, including nurses on-site 24 hours every day, as well as a special “Reflections” program for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s-type conditions. It also provides short-term respite care and rehabilitation care.

Life-style Choices

The entire Buckingham facility was renovated, with new decor, featuring the Brandywine signature green and gold colors, as well as new artwork. 124 residents can be accommodated in comfortable studio or one-bedroom apartments, with a number featuring kitchenette including refrigerator/freezer, and microwave.

The attractive outdoor landscaping offers colorful gardens and plantings, and walkways for residents.

Life-style choices, including activities, trips, flexible dining times, abound at Brandywine. “We have all-day restaurant dining, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” points out Ms. Reid. “This is a program unique to Brandywine and enables residents to select whatever time they wish to eat.”

In addition, there is a private dining room in which residents can entertain friends and family for special dinners or parties.

These opportunities for choices help to validate the residents as individuals, adds executive director Holly Minnis. “They decide what they want to do. It’s up to them.”

And, indeed, there is much to do! A library stocked with best sellers, game room with pool table and slot machine, activity room with arts, crafts and cards available, book club, exercise, computer, cooking and art classes, gardening areas, daily on-site movies, as well as outings to museums and theaters are all available.

Residents also have the opportunity to act in the monthly plays held at the center, notes Stephanie Gaber, Director of Activities/Escapades Producer. “Curtain Calls is our once-a-month drama program. The residents audition to be in the play, and then they perform it for the other residents, family and friends. They love this!

“There is so much for people to do here. They love our ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ wheel game held twice a month, and there are real ‘card sharks’ for bridge, poker, and 21. We also have intergenerational programs with children from area schools and organizations. These are very popular, and the residents enjoy being with the kids.”

Special Events

Special events, such as residents’ birthday parties, theme parties, and Valentine’s Day parties for couples (a number of married couples live at Brandywine) are other amenities, she adds. “We had champagne, a strolling violinist, and the couples renewed their vows on Valentine’s Day.”

Entertainers, including “Seniors Entertaining Seniors” come to the center, and trips and outings are also available. “We go to museums, concerts, movies, theater, and to area places, such as Drumthwacket, Bainbridge House, Grounds for Sculpture, Terhune Orchards, Morven Museum and Gift Shop, and restaurants.”

In addition, amenities and services include basic cable TV, complimentary transportation to medical appointments in the area, weekly housekeeping (towel and bed linen service), full service beauty salon and barber shop, personal mail boxes, and a bistro with beverages and snacks available 24/7.

Residents are typically in their seventies up to 100-plus, with a median age of 82 to 83, notes Ms. Minnis. Brandywine gives them the opportunity to remain in their apartment, even as their health needs may change.

“Doctors, including primary care physicians, podiatrists, dentists, and wound care specialists, visit weekly, and we also have a psychiatrist and psychologist on-site. If someone needs a home health aide or ultimately, hospice care, this can be arranged. There are different levels of care available, and our team puts a health plan together for the residents, and continues to monitor their situation.

“Everything is as convenient as possible,” she emphasizes. “If they have an appointment with their doctor here, they don’t have to wait or drive to an office. It’s so much easier for them and their extended family. There is also a wellness center with portable X-ray and lab work service. Physical therapy is available. All our residents’ needs are met. Their apartments are checked every day to make sure everything is all right.”

Motivated and Engaged

“We offer an opportunity for people to be independent, and at the same time not to have to worry about cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and housekeeping, etc.,” points out Ms. Reid.

The Brandywine staff makes it all possible, and sets the tone, note the administrators. Most staff members have been with Brandywine or Buckingham Place for many years. “We are set apart by our staff,” notes Ms. Minnis. “The staff here is the best clinical staff I have ever seen. They are highly motivated and engaged. They really care about the residents. It takes a certain kind of person, and our staff members are patient, caring, and capable.

“In addition, prior to anyone being hired, they are subject to a complete and thorough screening and background check. This is extremely important for the welfare of our residents. We want them to have the best care possible, and they do.”

Deb Shane, Brandywine Senior Creative Director, stresses the importance of continuing training and education for the staff. “We have ongoing education, emphasizing new ways to learn and grow, and there is always something new happening. We want to keep things fresh, as we strive to make a difference in the residents’ lives.”

“I feel we are making a difference in their lives,” says Ms. Reid, and that difference can extend to the entire family, she notes. “When families come in to talk with me, they can be in crisis. It’s amazing what people are juggling today. I am so pleased we are able to help and share these moments in their lives.”

“I originally worked in long-term care,” adds Ms. Gaber. “There was very little assisted living then. This has been a big change, and also, the opportunity for activities has really changed. There are so many options and kinds of stimulation offered now. This is so important.

“I love coming to work,” she continues. “Older people have stories to tell and a history to share. We have fun together. It’s wonderful when someone says they had such a good time at an event or outing. I walk away with a really good feeling.”

For further information about Brandywine, call (732) 329-8888. Website: www.brandycare.com.


June 13, 2012

CAFÉ WITH A CACHET: “Everything here is gourmet, and it is all European inspired. We even play European music during the day.” Adriano Didonato, director of operations, is very enthusiastic about the new Bon Appetit Café in Princeton Forrestal Village.

Bon Appetit in the Princeton Shopping Center is a Princeton tradition. Established in 1964, it has always represented the finest quality in gourmet items from around the world, prepared food, and more than 250 different kinds of cheeses.

Now, owner Bill Lettier has extended its reach to Princeton Forrestal Village with the new Bon Appetit Café. “We had wanted to establish a new location, and we felt something was missing at Forrestal,” explains Bon Appetit director of operations Adriano Didonato. “There is the food court and full sit-down restaurants, but nothing in between. We thought there was a need for healthy gourmet food in a different setting. We could offer a café where you can get the best food, but not have to spend too long. It’s something different.”

The café, which opened last December, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with most of the food brought over from Bon Appetit’s flagship store in the Princeton Shopping Center.

“We already have a loyal group of regular customers, including lots of Forrestal office workers and store employees at lunch time,” says Mr. Didonato. “We get people from the gym, also shoppers, and many from Princeton. On Saturdays, we have a lot of families and kids, including many repeats.”

Big Draw

Bon Appetit’s popular sandwiches, salads, and pastries are a mainstay, but the café offers something new that has proved to be inspired.

“The really big draw is our crepes,” Mr. Didonato reports. “We make fresh crepes, and we’re the only ones in the area doing it. We wanted to offer something warm in the morning, and they have been a big hit. The inspiration for them really came from New York. We went and checked out a lot of restaurants that served crepes there. And we also wanted them to be reasonably priced. We offer both sweet and savory.”

Customers love them all! “These are the best crepes ever. They have wonderful flavor and taste great,” reports an enthusiastic customer.”

“The Classic” with two eggs, ham and Gruyere cheese, “The Monterey Jack”. including scrambled eggs, pepper Jack cheese, tomato, sour cream, and avocado; and “The Southwest”, with roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, and chipotle sauce are all big sellers.

Those with a sweet tooth have even more choices: “Italian Banana” with Nutella, fresh sliced bananas, dusted in powdered sugar, and topped with whipped cream and strawberries; “Spanish Treat” with dulce de leche sauce, dusted with powdered sugar, and topped with whipped cream; also “White Strawberry”, including white chocolate sauce, fresh sliced strawberries, dusted with powdered sugar, and topped with whipped cream are all specialties.

Other equally irresistible choices include “Belgian Classic” and “Fresh Exotic”.

Signature Sandwiches

Also popular are the café’s sandwiches and salads. Classic sandwiches feature bread, wraps, croissants, and foccacia. Signature sandwiches are served on baguettes. Classics range from the ever-popular BLT to chicken curry or tuna salad to ham and cheese to turkey and lingon berries to grilled portobello, hummus, and roasted red peppers on a spinach wrap.

Signature sandwiches include “The Italian” with mortadella, ham, salami, provolone, lettuce and toasted red wine vinaigrette; “Grand Bleu” with smoked turkey, caramel, red onion, blue cheese, arugula, and arugula mayonnaise; classic club; and turkey, brie, and mayonnaise chutney, among many other choices.

Bon Appetit’s fresh baked bread is available, and the wide variety of muffins, cookies, Danishes, and also chocolate croissants are other treats.

Beverages include coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, hot chocolate, and chai tea, as well as organic juices, special sodas, such as Dr. Brown, and also Coke.

Corporate and box lunches are also offered.

A variety of items can be purchased, including teas, nuts, cookies, and candy, such as chocolate-covered espresso beans and chocolate-covered dried fruit.

Prices include $5.99 for classic sandwiches, $6.49 for salads, and $5.99 for sweet crepes.

Down-to-Earth

The café, which can seat 24, with its attractive, uncrowded setting, offers a friendly down-to-earth ambiance. Pictures of artisan cheeses and bread highlight the walls, and large baskets are filled with assorted products, such as Bon Appetit coffees. Windows face the large fountain across from the Westin Hotel, and outdoor tables will be available in the spring.

“We think we are set apart,” points out Mr. Didonato. “Everything we offer is made fresh every day, with fresh ingredients, and some items and sauces are exclusive to Bon Appetit. Our ambiance is different, with an artisanal European feeling. We have sponge-painted walls, and we definitely didn’t want to be crowded.

“We have a really good staff, including general manager Erin Miller, and we have all worked together to make this happen. It has been a real team effort. The original idea was Bill’s, but we all helped with ideas and the decor, etc.”

Mr. Didonato’s own Bon Appetit career began when he was 15. “I did everything and over time, I learned every aspect of the business, and did every job. The greatest thing I can say, as director of operations, is that it’s a big treat to put your own stamp on things and feel you can really have an influence on what happens.

“I try to plan carefully, and we want to keep on improving and expanding what we offer. We will have an ice machine in the summer, so we can have iced tea and coffee. It’s exciting to be involved in a new venture and to keep adding new ideas and items for the customers.

“We are very encouraged. We’re off to a great start, and we look forward to becoming a destination place.”

The café is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 to 6. (609) 454-5683.


BODY AND SOUL: “Gratitude Yoga integrates the physical practice of yoga with mindfulness meditation practices and the cultivation of compassion. Yoga is a vehicle for self-discovery and a means for increasing our awareness of the present moment, cultivating wisdom and compassion, and above all, opening our hearts to love and to serve others.” Gemma Farrell, owner of Gratitude Yoga, looks forward to introducing more people to the benefits of yoga.

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away,

A sordid boon!”

That was what William Wordsworth had to say in 1806. Imagine what he might think today!

Because of a world “too much with us”, many people are enjoying the calm and tranquility available in an hour session of yoga. It has been increasing in popularity, with practitioners participating in a variety of different yoga styles. The desire for calm and quiet is often the initial attraction.

“I just wanted to find a quiet place for an hour, where the phone wouldn’t ring,” says a Princeton resident, who has additionally discovered the benefits of exercise and toning the practice of yoga also brings.

Sustainable Exercise

One of the newest yoga studios on the scene is Gratitude Yoga at 27 Witherspoon Street. Opened last January by certified instructor Gemma Farrell, it offers several types of yoga in an attractive spacious setting at the back of the Holsome Tea & Herbs location.

“People have come to see yoga as a means of exercise that is sustainable,” points out Ms. Farrell. “It combines strength and flexibility, and it emphasizes the core. This is very important.

“There is also a spiritual component. It is very calming and tranquil, and we help our students to be in the moment and to be aware of their body. I love the opportunity to connect on this level and help people develop compassion and understanding of themselves.”

Ms. Farrell focuses on Vinyasa yoga, which emphasizes flow, she explains. She also combines it with aspects of other types of yoga. “Our current approach fuses the alignment precepts of Iyengar with the freedom and creativity of a Vinyasa flow practice, and incorporates the deeper release stretching and meditation aspects of Yin yoga.

Iyengar, power, hot flow, and Baptiste yoga are all available at Gratitude Yoga. Classes include gentle to strenuous, and students of all levels, from beginners to advanced, participate.

“There are typically 30 in my classes, and they are men and women and all ages, from teens to people in their 80s,” reports Ms. Farrell. Classes are usually one hour and 15 to 20 minutes, and are offered in the morning and evening, although there are some afternoon classes, including the popular noon lunchtime 45-minute session.

Seven Days

“Some people come several times a week,” she adds,” and some even come every day. Others come on a weekly basis. It varies from person to person.”

Teachers establish their own hours, and the studio is open seven days.

“Payment is by donation, and people pay what they are able to afford,” she explains. “We have a box for the donations.”

A pre-natal yoga class is also available, as are classes in Pilates, Tai Chi, and martial arts.

Ms. Farrell has been very pleased and encouraged with the response to her studio in such a short time. She is motivated to share yoga’s benefits with as many people as possible. “One of the most important things is helping students to keep in touch with themselves. We are so accustomed to projecting outward. This is a way to look inward and to become more comfortable and compassionate with yourself. And gratitude is so important. Out of the spirit of gratitude, we cultivate compassion for others.

“It is in the spirit of gratitude that I want to share the benefits of yoga so more people can experience it. In yoga, people can practice human connection.”

In addition to the yoga classes, Ms. Farrell is offering the “Gratitude Cleanse, a 21-day program to cleanse your body, open your mind, and awaken your heart.”

Inner Peace

The program, starting on June 1, is based on Ms. Farrell’s new book Gratitude Cleanse, which features daily instruction, nutritional information, yoga poses, spiritual reflections, and many raw vegan recipes. As she notes in the book’s introduction, “In addition to working with food to cleanse your body, you also may want to take these three weeks to incorporate other life-style habits that will promote well-being and a sense of inner peace.

“It is encouraging to know that we possess the potential for growth in many different directions. As you adopt some of the diet and life-style changes recommended in this cleanse, it may be helpful to recall the concept of seed potential. Recognizing and touching the positive seed within ourselves and others is the first step in promoting positive changes and in growing a compassionate, expansive, wise heart.”

For more information on the Gratitude Cleanse and Gratitude Yoga, call (732) 642-9721. Website: www.gratitudeyoga.org. E-mail: gemma@gratitudeyoga.org.

June 6, 2012

FAMILY FAVORITES: “We are a true family business. My parents have helped out, and also my husband’s parents and his sister and brother-in-law. Even the children are involved.” Jennifer Smit (left), owner with her husband Rudie of Olsson’s Fine Foods, is shown with family members, from left: Lauren, Charlton, Analice, and Niamh Smit.

Tangy and creamy Triple Creme, Australian Parmesan, Irish blue, semi-soft Pont L’Eveque, semi-hard Tumbleweed (cross between Cantal Fermier and aged cheddar), the unusual “Stinking Bishop” from England … all these and many more are available at Olsson’s Fine Foods at 53 Palmer Square West.

“We have more than 200 different cheeses, as local as Cherry Grove and as far away as Australia,” says co-owner Jennifer Smit.

The shop, which opened in June, 2011, has made its presence felt among cheese lovers. It has consistently received high praise not only for its quality products but also for its knowledgeable and friendly service.

“It can be an educational experience here,” points out Ms. Smit. “We love to tell people about the different cheeses. We also keep track of their purchases on green index cards, so we can make suggestions of other cheeses they might like to try. It’s also nice if someone wants to give a gift. We know what the person likes.”

Taste Sensations

Ms. Smit and her husband and co-owner Rudie Smit have had a long-lasting love affair with cheese and good food generally. They always enjoyed cooking, and when they traveled, they liked to explore new taste sensations, scouting out good restaurants and food and cheese shops.

“My husband is Dutch, and we travel often to see his family. Then, there is always an opportunity to find new cheeses and gourmet items,” notes Ms. Smit

Olsson’s has along history, she adds. Started by Chef John Olsson 25 years ago, it was located in the Trenton Farmers Market. Changing ownership over the years, it was eventually purchased by the Smits.

“Olsson’s was where we bought the cheese for our wedding,” reports Ms. Smit. “When we heard it was for sale four years ago, we decided to buy it. It was a way to take our passion for food and have it evolve into a new adventure.”

Moving to Princeton last year was an opportunity to expand the business, she explains. “We had a lot of customers from Princeton, and they wanted us to be open more often. Having the shop offers us opportunities to bring in cheeses we only dreamed about in the other store. We also sell to a number of local restaurants now and to Princeton University for targeted events.

“When we decided to move, we looked at a lot of locations, and we kept coming back here. We get new people in every day, and we have lots of regulars from Princeton and the area, including Bucks county. We find that many people in Princeton have a sophisticated palate. They have often traveled, and there is also a large international group here. They all enjoy cheese.”

Super Selection

The charming shop offers a super selection, arranged according to category (hard, soft, cow’s milk, goat and sheep), and with helpful identifying — and often whimsical — comments, such as “smooth and pillowy”, “sweet and salty”, suggestions for suitable wine pairings, and other useful information.

The Smits also provide background and history about their cheeses on the Olsson website, offering informative and entertaining “Cheese Thoughts”. For example, “We have a goat’s milk cheese that was once produced solely in the Garrotza area of Catalonia. Garrotza has a white interior with a very creamy texture that is surrounded by a natural mold rind. It has an unusual but mild flavor with a light acidity and a hint of hazelnut”

Another entry: “Port L’Eveque, a classic cow’s milk cheese made since the 12th century, today is still one of the most popular cheeses in France. Its cross-hatched, brine-washed, soft-ripened rind smells a bit pungent and earthy. This is wonderful semi-soft cheese, ready for tasting and bringing home!”

In addition to the cheeses, Olsson’s also offers a variety of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade soups. All are favorites including seasonal specialties, reports Mrs. Smit.

Red Dragon

“The Dragon”, with red dragon cheese, fontina, and bacon; “The Dutchman”, with vlastaas gouda, fontina, salami, and limon blueberry spread; and “The Traditional” with smooth fontina paired with aged cheddar are all in demand. “The Tuscan” and “The Newton” are other popular choices.

The soups include butternut squash with Griggstown Farm sausage; potato leek; tomato; carrot and ginger; and cheesy broccoli, among others. One or two different soups are available each day.

The shop is also filled with an array of tempting gourmet products, including unusual preserves and fruit spreads, organic red rice, English honey and almond cookies, and fig and oat biscuits that pair well with tea. Special chocolate sauce and European Nutella and the traditional Dutch toast-topping chocolate sprinkles are other intriguing items.

Turkish dried figs, apricots, and dates (also chocolate-covered figs) are big favorites, as is the variety of olives, nuts, crisp artisanal Italian flatbreads with olive oil and a hint of parmesan, and the European-style butter.

Wild Hibiscus

“We have wild hibiscus flowers to put in champagne glasses,” adds Ms. Smit. “When they are put in the champagne, the flowers open. It is a great gift.

“Another unusual item is an all-natural honeycomb from Savannah, Ga., which is very nice paired with cheese. We also carry Griggstown Farm and D’Artagnan sausages and meat, and fresh pasta, such as spinach, asiago, and roasted garlic ravioli and other varieties. The ravioli only takes four minutes to cook. In addition, we have small cheese platters to go, and bread from the Witherspoon Bread Company.”

Selected coffees, including espresso, cappuccino, and latte, are offered, as are hot chocolate and tea.

Cheese prices are by the pound, and customers are encouraged to taste before they buy. A small slice could be in the $1.90 range. Grilled cheese sandwiches start at $5, soups from $4.50, and special discounts are available every day. Gift certificates are also offered.

“We are so pleased with our welcome here, both by the customers and the other merchants,” says Ms. Smit. “People enjoy coming in and getting a grilled cheese sandwich and soup, and then taking it out on the Green in nice weather. We’re a small gourmet shop, specializing in cheese, and we hope to continue to build relationships. I enjoy meeting the customers and learning about them. We want to be part of the community and offer a community experience. And we hope even more people will come in and see us. We look forward to bringing in all the wonderful new products for customers to try, and we will have a new series of cheese tastings and classes soon.”

Olsson’s Fine Foods is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday until 8:30, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 924-2210. Website: www.olssonsfinefoods.com.


Every season is delightful at Blue Raccoon, but spring, with its focus on hope, new beginnings, and transformation, is especially notable at this iconic store. With its 20th anniversary coming up next year — a rarity these days when stores come and go so quickly — Blue Raccoon truly can be designated as “iconic”.

Opened in 1993, it moved to its current location at 6 Coryell Street in Lambertville three years later. “When we moved to this location, our lives changed,” says co-owner Nicholas Bewsey. “It was a bigger space, and we could add upholstery. Everything just exploded.”

Mr. Bewsey and co-owner Nelson Zayas had previously worked in retail in New York, and decided to open their own business in a new setting. “We had looked in several places, including upstate New York and New England, and we came to Lambertville at the invitation of a friend,” reports Mr. Bewsey. “We knew right away that this was the place.”

“And in all these years, I have to say I have not lost my respect, regard, and appreciation for Lambertville. This is a small American town. The people who live here shop here. They have made an investment to maintain the town’s authentic charm.”

Sensory Experience

And Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas have also made an important investment. With their remarkable taste and the ability to present it so engagingly, they have focused on a selection that is both practical and imaginative. Everything in the store is pleasing to the eye, and it is obvious that much care and attention has been given to every detail.

“The setting itself is important,” Mr. Bewsey explains. “There are windows on four sides, and the store is filled with light. It enhances the environment we created indoors. We have always spotlighted the sensory experience: light, color, sound, and scent.”

The store is indeed richly textured. Colors abound, whether from hooked rugs, featuring vintage designs, Portuguese multi-colored dish towels, the collection of “Juicy” glasses in bright and cheerful patterns, a colorful new jewelry line, or in the selection of fine upholstered furniture.

Furniture continues to be a big seller at Blue Raccoon, and the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams line is one of the highlights. “We also carry Vanguard Furniture, and we have added DwellStudio,” says Mr. Bewsey. “They are inspired by old Hollywood, with a contemporary twist. The collection includes couches, chairs, and a nifty grouping of tables, consoles, and case goods.

“All our furniture is American-made, and we are now carrying a new selection of farm tables from Lancaster, Pa. that are very popular,” he adds. “They are custom-sized with 20 different paint finishes. Made of reclaimed barn wood, mostly cypress, they are very sturdy. A 6-foot table is offered at $1470, a very good price.”

At the other end of the spectrum is a line of chrome cocktail tables with bleached stone tops. With their six irregular geometric shapes they can be puzzled together to form a surface for drinks, books, or bud vases — whatever your choice.

Bread Boards

Clocks of all types and lamps (floor and table) are welcome accessories and always popular sellers. Kitchen items range from handsome wooden cutting, serving, and bread boards and salad bowls to tried and true flour sack dish towels (three for $12.50) and bar cloths — a good gift for a guy — to Stonewall Kitchen pancake and waffle mix and Maine maple syrup to cookbooks of all sorts, including Glorious Pasta from Italy.

Candles of every size and shape are in abundance, and they always make a welcome hostess gift. Elegant pear shapes in lovely colors and beeswax 9-inch tapers (sets of six) from Ohio that burn for 15 hours are on display, as are scented candles in attractive reusable glass jars in varied colorful designs.

Soap — Blue Raccoon has some of the best soaps in the world! Triple-milled, long-lasting, wonderfully fragrant, and beautifully packaged, they are irresistible. Cucumber and olive oil, rosewater, jasmine, lavender chamomile, all with shea butter, are unforgettable. And, then there is the enormously popular signature sea algae, with its refreshing, revitalizing scent.

“Originally, we had this in just for the summer, but it was so popular, people wanted it all the time,” reports Mr. Bewsey.

Photo frames, coasters, ceramic coffee mugs, CDs (the best pop and jazz), books, and artwork are other choices.

“We have the work of fine art painter and photographer William Sloan of Bucks County,” notes Mr. Bewsey. The black and white photographs on display are particularly intriguing.

“Whisky Stones”

Blue Raccoon always has an array of eye-catching items you don’t see everywhere else. A fun remembrance for Dad on Father’s Day is the “Corksicle”. As Mr. Bewsey explains, “You put it in the freezer overnight, and then place it in the wine bottle. It keeps the wine cool at the appropriate temperature.”

Along the same line is a set of nine “Whisky Stones”. These are also placed in the freezer, then added to the beverage of choice. They don’t melt, so there is no diluting of the drink. They are also available as a set with tumblers.

Gardeners will find items to help with springtime planting. High quality garden tools from England, special sturdy extra long cotton-lined rubber gloves, and gardener’s soap are all available.

Prices at Blue Raccoon cover a very wide range, from $1 and up. Many items are priced from $25 to $35. A furniture sale, including Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, is currently in progress through May 6.

Another important feature of Blue Raccoon is design. “Nelson does the design work, both in the store, and interior design in customers’ homes,” says Mr. Bewsey. “This has become a very big part of our business, and we have projects all over the area and beyond.”

After nearly 20 years in business in Lambertville, Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas still look forward to the next collection and the next season. “You know that the next trip you take, you’ll find another good source and a great new item.

“We are so grateful to our loyal customers, many who have been with us since the beginning. We feel we always want to offer the best for them, and we want the store to look 100 percent every day. We find products that are different and priced properly. And always, we try to provide a welcoming environment that is fresh and engaging, and offers our customers a special touch of inspiration.”

Gift cards and complimentary signature gift wrapping are available, and hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5. (609) 397-5500. Website: www.blueraccoon.com. The website will soon offer a brand new look.

May 30, 2012
NTU Polly 5-16-12

GRACEFUL GARDEN: “I love to work with plant combinations. That’s what makes a garden successful, using different textures and colors.” Master gardener Polly Burlingham, owner of Green Gardens & Polly’s Pots, is seated amidst a display of orange iris and ornamental grass in a garden she designed on Snowden Lane.

“A container garden personalizes things. Almost any plant can go into a container for a limited time, and what’s fun about containers is that you can start over again every year and experiment.”

Master gardener Polly Burlingham should know. She specializes in unique container gardens, including hanging baskets, and she knows what a difference they can make on a patio, terrace, or deck.

As owner of Green Gardens & Polly’s Pots for 10 years, Ms. Burlingham has designed innumerable container gardens for clients in Princeton and the surrounding area.

“I like to design and restore gardens, and I like creating intimate spaces,” she explains. “Most gardens have seasonal interest; things bloom at different times, and this creates variety. There can be fall colors, or interesting bark on trees, or texture that stands out in winter. Every season has something special.”

Master Gardener

Ms. Burlingham says she was always interested in creating beautiful gardens, a talent she shared with her mother. “My mom was a wonderful gardener, and I was a member of the Junior Garden Club.”

When she became a Master Gardener in 2001 (a process which entails a six-month study program, extensive volunteer work, and ongoing education), Ms. Burlingham became involved in the Barbara Sigmund Park. She has devoted many hours of landscaping, planting, and maintenance to the establishment of a garden there, which has provided a charming and colorful vista for the community.

“I also proposed doing a series of hanging baskets to the Borough, including on Nassau and Witherspoon Streets, and the Albert Hinds Plaza at the library.”

Her handiwork can be seen at all of these locations, as well as at the Princeton Shopping Center, the Peacock Inn, and Alchemist & Barrister. She is also known for the beautiful plantings in the elegant urns at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s mansion.

Ms. Burlingham’s clients depend on her throughout the year to combine her unique style with theirs to create a garden design that continues to provide pleasure, whatever the season.

“I enjoy choosing the plants,” she notes. “I’m very visual, and I also change my mind a lot. I shop for plant materials in a variety of nurseries, and find new combinations that I might not have thought of. This is the most fun — discovering a new plant or color combination.”

New Varieties

She adds that there are many more choices available today than in the past. “One of the surprises has been the emergence of so many new plants and varieties that are now available. The plant palette has expanded so much. Every year, there are new varieties to work with. It keeps it interesting.

“For example, there used to be a few types of geraniums; now, there are hundreds. Today, there are many different kinds of petunias. New varieties of old stand-bys keep us inspired.”

Placing a plant in the right location — whether sun or shade, wet or dry conditions — is crucial, Ms. Burlingham adds.

“The most important consideration is putting the plant in the right place. If a plant likes it dry, you don’t put it in a wet area. It’s good to put like plants together — that is, those that do well in similar types of soil and conditions. Although in container gardens, you have a little more flexibility because you can make changes. And, of course, you also have to think about deer-resistant plants.”

The ability to mix and match the plants in container gardens — from season to season or even within a season — creates ongoing interest, points out Ms. Burlingham. “I like to try several new plants every year. It’s great to experiment. I enjoy including more unusual plants. For example, in summer, you could have angelonia, coleus, and plectranthus. In spring, a container garden might include mini daffodils, herbs, such as rosemary, pansies, violas, and grape hyacinth.

“I also like to include succulents; they have so many interesting shapes and textures. And, I’ll use edible plants like herbs, kale, and lettuce. In addition, I like perennials, grasses, and small shrubs in containers.”

Textures and Colors

“I really specialize in interesting plant combinations, making the most of the textures and colors. My hanging baskets are a good example. There can be coleus (which does well in sun or shade), asparagus ferns (for a feathering look), trailing petunias, and upright angelonia. I can also add a big bold leaf like caladium.”

A winter basket could contain decorative branches, pine cones, berries, and evergreens, she adds.

Ms. Burlingham also provides the container for the plants, and this is another important part of the visual effect. “I use glazed containers, clay pots, wooden boxes, and unusual pieces of logs handcrafted by area artist Peter Soderman.

May and June are especially busy, but Green Gardens & Polly’s Pots is an active year-round operation. Ms. Burlingham has a part-time staff for digging, planting, and installation.

“Fall can also be busy,” she adds. “It is an excellent time for installing new gardens because traditionally, it’s a little wetter. Also, you can put in beautiful grasses, fall-blooming perennials, and a chrysanthemum as an accent. I often start with new clients in the fall, and it’s nice, too, because a lot of the containers are on sale.

“I have a real mix of clients,” she continues. “Some like to be very involved hands-on gardeners. Others just like to sit back and admire the lovely garden setting.”

Of course, budget is always a consideration in terms of the plant material and size of the project. In some cases, projects are on-going and done in increments, continuing over time. A work in progress can be very engaging, and more people seem to be taking an interest in improving their outdoor space, reports Ms. Burliingham.

“In some cases, people are not taking such expensive vacations as in the past, and they want to make their home environment more appealing. I love to help them, and I love to visit all the gardens. Many times, the clients have become good friends, and I really think of it as visiting my own garden!”

Green Gardens & Polly’s Pots can be reached at (609) 947-1015. Website: www.pollysgreengardens.com

—Jean Stratton

NTU Cafe 44 5-16-12

GREAT TASTES: “We thought it would be a good idea to have a place that offers breakfast all day and have a space that is easy to get to, with a down-to-earth atmosphere, and reasonable prices.” Jennifer Jefferis, owner of Cafe 44, and manager Matthew Miller, are happy their new coffee house is off to a rousing start.

“The best French toast ever!”

“The best ham and sausage omelette I’ve ever tasted!”

“It’s a great addition to the town — a real neighborhood gathering place.”

“Super food and friendly staff!”

These are just some of the rave reviews that are making the rounds about the hot new coffee house, Cafe 44 on Leigh Avenue.

Opened in March by Jennifer Jefferis, it is located in the former space of Tortuga’s Mexican Village, which has moved across the street, and which Ms. Jefferis also owns.

Great Response

‘We’ve had a great response,” she says. “There has been great word-of-mouth. People like to come, and they seem to enjoy everything. We have a friendly atmosphere; it’s fun, down-to-earth and good value for the money.”

Manager Matthew Miller has had extensive experience in the cafe business  and is a barista. “We roast our own coffee, and it is very popular,” he reports. “People are really commenting on how good the food is, and we have lots of repeat customers. Our staff is excellent, very reliable, and capable.”

The space, which is inviting and relaxing, was totally renovated, he adds. The new wood floors are handsome, and a side room, featuring leather sofas, comfortable chairs, and book shelves, attracts customers who appreciate a cozy “library” setting in which to sip coffee and also take advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi.

“The main dining room’s tables and chairs can accommodate 34 people. Together, both rooms provide seating for nearly 50.

The cafe also offers rotating artwork, and on June 3, an artist’s reception will be held for Bucks County photographer Donna Lovely from 2 to 4 p.m.

Other than diners, not many places offer breakfast all day, and this has been a big draw. As a neighborhood customer reports, “There was a need for a place like this to serve breakfast all day. And what they have is delicious — generous portions and very high quality. I love to come for brunch. And you never feel rushed, even when it’s full of people.”

Fresh and Local

Fresh and local ingredients are emphasized, adds Mr. Miller. “This is important. We are a local establishment, and we support area farmers and vendors.”

“Some of the most popular items are the challah French toast, the peasant omelette (with red potato, onion, cheddar cheese, and bacon, ham, sausage or pork roll), and the home fries,” says Ms. Jefferis. Other favorites are pancakes, Belgian waffles, and the variety of omelettes, and scrambled or fried eggs.

Weekends are especially popular for brunch, but lunch is another option, and lunchtime customers are increasing in numbers. “We want people to see what a great place this is to come on week days, too. Parking is not difficult, and you can walk here from nearby offices. It’s just about a 10-minute walk from Nassau Street.”

Soups, sandwiches, and salads are on the lunch menu, and favorites include grilled turkey, brie, and green apple; also, the avocado BLT (with avocado added to the traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato). Other choices are grilled chicken with bacon, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard dressing, and grilled veggies with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Spinach, chef’s, Caesar, and mixed greens are all popular salads.

Cafe 44 is also noted for its scrumptious baked goods from Sweetmama. Muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, brownies, cupcakes, and cookies are all big sellers.

A variety of coffees covers the spectrum, from a cup of Joe to espresso, cappuccino, latte, au lait, mocha, and macchiato, among others. Assorted teas, juices, sodas, and smoothies are also offered.

French Toast Fans

Prices include two eggs any style for $5, pancakes and French toast at $6, grilled sandwiches from $7, and salads from $6.

Take-out and catering service are also provided, and while Ms. Jefferis and Mr. Miller are very happy with the response to their daytime hours, they are looking forward to providing dinner within a few months. “We plan to be open Thursday through Sunday, and we also hope to have live music on Friday and Saturday nights.”

The focus is on Princeton customers, but as word gets out, people are coming from the surrounding area as well. “They really like the unpretentious atmosphere, quality food, and reasonable prices, note Ms. Jefferis and Mr. Miller.

Cafe 44 is very family-friendly, and many parents come in with children. The edibles and the surroundings attract all ages!

The reviews and critiques continue to be excellent, both in person and on-line, such as on Yelp, the user review website.

“We’ve had a great response, and I really enjoy connecting with the people,” says Ms. Jefferis. “I like to see them enjoying themselves. All they have to do is come in and taste what we have, and they’ll be back!”

Cafe 44 is open Tuesday through Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (609) 924-3900. Web: www.cafe44princeton.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/cafe44princeton.

May 23, 2012

CREATIVE CUTS: “Our specialty is Vidal Sassoon precision cutting. All our stylists have trained in a Sassoon salon center. We are set apart by our precision cutting, manageability, and style.” Tere Villamil, owner of La Jolie Salon Spa, is proud of its longtime success as a premier salon in Princeton.

Creative cuts and color are key to La Jolie Salon Spa, along with facials and massages, and attentive personal service.

All this and more has made La Jolie one of Princeton’s premier salons for the past 30 years. In addition, it has recently been named one of the top 200 salons nationwide by Salon Today Magazine.

“Jolie was the first female owner of a business in downtown Princeton, and I am the third female owner of the salon,” reports Tere Villamil, who purchased La Jolie in 2010.

“I had been a client for many years, and had 20 years experience in the hair industry,” she continues. “I was in the marketing and advertising end, and had also established a successful day spa in Manalapan. It had always been my goal to have my own business. My father and grandfather had owned businesses in Cuba, where I was born, and they always urged me to establish my own business.”

On-going Education

Ms. Villamil could not be happier with her own turn of events. Mindful of La Jolie’s tradition and reputation, she has fully respected that, while building on it to create a modern, up-to-date, fashionable salon in all ways.

“I have a great relationship with all the manufacturers and artists,” she points out. “They come here to give demonstrations, and we have continual training and on-going education courses in the latest styling techniques and product advances. We have an in-house education team, directed by Laura Benson, and our stylists have training sessions all over, from New York to Miami to New Orleans and abroad. Our products, including L’ANZA and Aveda, contain the most organic and healing benefits for hair available.”

Vidal Sassoon precision cutting is a specialty at the salon, as is the latest in creative color. La Jolie’s stylists include specialists in both areas, and the salon’s “level” system also includes intern/apprentices, recently graduated from cosmetology school, who train for six months to a year in La Jolie’s specialized, challenging program.

Long hair, short hair, mid-length, classic bobs, pixie cuts, curly hair, straight hair, perms, relaxers — everything is popular today, says Ms. Villamil.

People also like easy maintenance, wearable styles. Cuts today are so versatile, they can provide texture and volume and various styles to offer the easiest care.

“We are also known for our ‘up-styles’, up-do’s for special events, weddings, and parties,” she adds. “We do hair and make-up for bridal parties, and other groups or individuals.”

Season-to-Season

La Jolie’s services are for all types of hair texture and ethnicity. As Ms. Villamil points out, “We have many multi-cultural guests with different hair texture.”

Color, of course, is a hugely important part of a salon’s business today. Certainly, it is a long way from the days when it was a means to cover gray (although that is still one function). But, now it is seasonal — season-to-season color! Many guests opt for a total change — brown to red, red to blonde, etc. Highlights are another popular way to add interest, and lowlights offer still another option.

“Color is very safe now,” Ms. Villamil reports, “and we use the highest quality products with the safest ingredients. We also have corrective color for people who may have had a problem with home color experiments. In addition, we have products to help thinning hair. Sometimes, people may be undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments that can affect their hair.”

Both with color and cutting, careful attention is paid to a client’s facial structure, skin tone, eye color, and life-style. It is all about the individual at La Jolie, and each guest is given personal attention and focus.

This is true when they have spa services as well. Facials, massages, body treatments, waxing, pedicures and manicures are all available, and the spa setting will soon undergo expansion to offer an even more appealing atmosphere.

“Our facials are especially popular,” says Ms. Villamil. “We do active facials and hydrating facials, and they are all skin-specific.”

A spa service is an excellent gift, she adds. With proms, Mother’s Day, and graduations coming up, a gift certificate is a welcome way to remember — and often introduce — someone to the benefits of a facial or massage.

A variety of gift packages, offering savings, is available. In addition, all services can be mixed and matched for a custom gift.

Prices include manicures from $14, cuts from $50, facials and massages from $85.

Ms. Villamil is delighted to have so many clients who have been fans of La Jolie over the years, as well as newcomers. They are all ages, including children, and 40 percent are men!

Loyalty and Dedication

She looks forward to continuing to build on La Jolie’s success. “I think we are set apart by our technology and the ingredients of the products we use, and of course, our stylists. Not only are they talented, but they seek ongoing advanced education, and they demonstrate great loyalty and dedication to the salon and our guests.

“I strongly believe in building employee morale. We do this in many ways. We have 36 employees, and we have a wonderful management team, including Emely Molina, our general manager.”

Ms. Villamil adds that she is happily anticipating the salon’s “re-do.” “We’ll be going green in every way — in products and decor. We will have a wonderful new look!”

What is not new is the salon’s prominent place in the Princeton downtown, and Ms. Villamil is a strong supporter of local businesses. “We have a great relationship with the local people in town, and I love the networking. I love our location downtown, and Princeton is a great place to be!”

Ms. Villamil also makes a point of giving back to the community by La Jolie’s support of area foundations and organizations, including the Princeton Public Library, Autism Speaks, and AIR Foundation, among others.

La Jolie is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday 11 to 8, Friday 10 to 7, Saturday 9 to 6, Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 924-1188. Website: www.lajoliesalonspa.com.


FINE FORM: “I love teacher training. It is so important. The teachers are passionate about what they do,” says Deborah Metzger, founder/director of Princeton Center for Yoga and Health. Shown is teacher Lesley Haas, demonstrating the Warrior I pose in the Amethyst Yoga room, featuring bamboo flooring.

“I love to see people get into harmony. My aim is to create a safe, welcoming, peaceful environment, and a sense of community. People can come here and feel safe and free and in harmony.”

Deborah Metzger, founder and director of Princeton Center for Yoga & Health (PCYH), is pleased that the center, which she opened in 1996, has been featured as one of the top five traditional yoga studios in New Jersey by New Jersey Life Magazine. It continues to attract many adherents, both longtime students and those new to yoga.

It has recently moved to a new location in the Orchard Hill Center at 88 Orchard Road (just off Route 206) in Montgomery. Ms. Metzger wanted more space for her growing operation, and she also wanted to offer a particular type of setting.

“This location is more like a retreat, with that kind of serene ambiance,” she explains. “You look out of the window and see wonderful views of the countryside.”

Gathering Room

The existing building has been renovated to accommodate the various types of yoga, meditation, and holistic services PCYH offers. There is also a shower, changing room, and gathering room for refreshments as well as assorted retail items for sale, such as essential oils, yoga mats and towels, etc.

Clients need only their own comfortable clothes, however, explains Ms. Metzger. PCYH provides all the mats and props necessary for the yoga session as well as complimentary teas and snacks.

Students come to PCYH for many reasons, reports Ms. Metzger. Yoga is a known stress reliever and a chance for quiet and calm, which is certainly a big plus in today’s fast-moving society. Some clients like to stretch and exercise; and still others like the challenge of hot yoga and the more vigorous classes.

Whatever the reason, more and more people are discovering the benefits of this ancient Eastern discipline.

“With yoga, you can find who you are. All the answers are inside — it’s the moment of silence within yourself,” explains Ms. Metzger, who came to yoga herself in the mid-1980s. She trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. The experience was so positive, including helping alleviate respiratory problems, that she determined to become a teacher and was certified in 1991.

“Here at PCYH, yoga is not simply a form of exercise, it is a life practice,” points out Ms. Metzger. “By establishing a regular practice, you can realize a deepening connection with your spirit. Each class deepens your connection to your true self. We offer different levels, traditions, and challenges.”

Yoga Styles

Classes at PCYH offer different levels, traditions, and challenges and are available in many types of yoga, from gentle to vigorous. They are all traditions of Hatha yoga, and they emphasize physical postures, alignments, breathing, and meditation. These postures or poses help to strengthen, stretch, and tone muscles, massage internal organs, and promote relaxation.

Other yoga styles at PCYH include Kripalu, the more vigorous Astanga, Vinyasa, and Soma yoga, among others.

The classes emphasize letting go of the stresses of the day, all those “To Do Lists”, and allowing them to fade away. Concentrating on breathing, on the physical poses helps to focus on “now” — present time consciousness. By doing so, a sense of calm, peace, and well-being is created.

“Be in the moment!” stresses Ms. Metzger. “The past is gone, we don’t have a clue about the future; we really only have this moment. When you focus on the sensation of the body and the breath, it brings you into the present moment.

“A number of things make yoga so popular now,” she adds. “Some people may have a health issue, such as stress, and they decide to try yoga. Or they may be involved in an active sport, such as tennis and golf, and yoga can strengthen and stretch their muscles in a way to help avoid injuries. Yoga also massages the glands and organs — it’s good for the whole body. You feel better afterwords, and it is not competitive. This is just about you.”

Poses can be modified and adjusted so that everyone can participate, guided by a well-trained teacher. As Ms. Metzger notes, there is never a sense of competition or pushing one’s body too far. The focus is on each individual’s sense of what is helpful and appropriate for that person. Therapeutic classes for people with specific physical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, shoulder or spine problems, or injuries, are also offered.

Singing Bowls

In addition to yoga; meditation classes, singing bowl workshops, and drum circles are available, and all-day retreats will also be offered.

Ms. Metzger co-leads two meditation classes with Dr. Jeffrey Rutstein. These include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.

In the first case, she helps people prevent stress from getting the upper hand. “I teach people not to be on automatic pilot, but to pause and take time to be in the moment. In the second case, I help give people the tools to learn to prevent a relapse into depression, including by identifying the early warning signs.”

A variety of other meditation sessions is also offered. “Studies have shown that meditation can help the brain to function better, and can even help people become more optimistic,” reports Ms. Metzger.

Classes for yoga and the other services are held throughout the week and weekend, most often in the mornings, evenings, or late afternoon. Drop-in yoga classes are $17, and there are many packages available, offering various savings. A first time try-out class is complimentary.

Approximately 50 classes are held each week, with 20 teachers, all certified in the various specialties. A full schedule of classes, including times and prices, is available on the PCYH extensive website. www. princetonyoga.com.

Ms. Metzger looks forward to introducing even more people to the benefits of yoga. “Each time you do a yoga pose, it’s different because the body is different,” she explains. “We offer a safe, warm, inviting place where like-minded people can meet and explore different paths to health, healing, and personal growth.

“I am so pleased that they are giving me the privilege of sharing what I love with them.”

For more information, call (609) 924-7294. Website: princetonyoga.com.


May 2, 2012

FEELING FIT: “One of the differences between us and other fitness centers is that at CrossFit you always work with a coach (trainer) and in a group environment. This is group fitness.” Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau, is enthusiastic about the CrossFit training method.

Couch potatoes, take note. There is another way to get up and get moving. If the traditional gym and fitness centers did not do it for you, it’s time to get off the couch and into the “Box”!

What is that, you may ask?

Here’s the deal. The CrossFit workout facility is called a “box”, not a gym.

Originally, it was kind of like a warehouse, explains Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau and CrossFit Mercer. “It’s like a big space. We don’t have the machines you typically see in a gym. We do have exercise bikes, dumbbells, gymnastic rings, boxes, medicine balls, pull-up bars, jump ropes, and kettle bells, but the emphasis is on using your own body weight in the workout.”

Training Methods

Founded in 1995 by Greg Glassman in California, CrossFit now has more than 3,400 affiliates worldwide. Its focus is on strength and conditioning by using a combination of training methods. Sessions usually include 12 to 15 clients (or CrossFitters), guided by a coach (trainer). Police and fire departments, and the military have all included the CrossFit method in their training, as have Olympic and professional athletes. Mr. Geurds is pleased that members of the women’s Olympic rowing team will come to train at his Princeton facility in the spring.

“Initially, CrossFit was for elite athletes, and then it became more about a community of people at all levels of fitness,” explains Mr. Geurds, who opened the CrossFit Nasaau affiliate at 255 Nassau Street (former site of Wild Oats) in early February. He has also owned CrossFit Mercer in Hamilton for the past three years.

“I had always been active in sports, including tennis, skiing, and soccer, and I had gone to different gyms,” he continues. “But then I happened to read about CrossFit in as magazine, and I thought it was something I wanted to know about.”

He was intrigued by the notion that function underlies much of the training. Exercises, such as sprints, lifting, pulling, and pushing, are movements that people often use in their own lives. The idea is to develop their strength, stamina, and agility, so they can perform these functions in daily life with ease.

The CrossFit concept is founded on 10 principles: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

“These movements build on each other,” explains a CrossFit report. “We all possess strengths and weaknesses and range of motion issues. Coaches can scale the workout, manipulating weight, distance, repetitions, and intensity to your correct capability.”

Exercise Series

Mr. Geurds also liked the variety offered in the training. Each day’s workout is different (exercises for the day are posted on a wall), and this clearly helps prevent boredom from setting in. The idea is to complete a series of exercises within a specific time period. For example, a workout program could include five pull-ups, l0 push-ups, and 15 squats every minute for 20 minutes; or doing five rounds (sets) of three specific exercises as quickly as possible for 20 minutes without stopping.

That would certainly be demanding, but the workouts can vary in intensity, depending on the CrossFitter’s level of fitness. Thus, the program can be appropriate for all ages and levels of conditioning.

“Everyone in the group does the same exercise program, but some people will do it more slowly,” explains Mr. Geurds, who sees clients from five to 80 years old. “All our coaches are trained in the CrossFit method, and we are bringing the best kind of fitness to the world. We have taken the things that worked best, and combined them into a program for a range of people. It certainly can be high intensity, but it is all about scalability, moving within a scale, and modified to the ability of the each individual. The group includes people at different abilities together, so scalability is adjusted. The program is very flexible.

“We have people with special physical conditions, such as arthritis, injuries, etc. There is a CrossFit program for seniors and for unconditioned people. We help to strengthen the muscles, spine, and core, and this helps give people confidence.”

When people see that they can accomplish something difficult or that they thought they couldn’t do, it is very empowering, he points out.

CrossFit training offers a variety of benefits, from improving athletic ability to weight loss to better health, he adds. “We have had clients who have not only lost weight, but have been able to discontinue their medication. They lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol. I enjoy helping people in this way. When someone scales down 20 pounds and their cholesterol lowers, it makes a change in their life. I love seeing kids lose weight and be able to do the exercises, which helps to build their self-esteem. We have a special CrossFit kids’ program.”

Speedy Workouts

Workout sessions range from five minutes to 25 minutes, with 20 being typical. The speedy workouts mean less time in the box, he adds. “Everyone is in and out of here within an hour.” Introductory sessions are also available for those new to exercise and fitness.

Payment is $185 a month, with no initial membership fee. During the month, people can come as often as they wish. Three to four times a week offers the best results.

“I am very encouraged by the response,” says Mr. Geurds, who also underscores the social aspect of CrossFit. “Once you get to know the people in the group, it becomes relationship-based. You push each other. And it can extend out of the box. People get together elsewhere, such as Girls Night Out, etc. But they have the common thread of CrossFit tying them together. We are a community and a coach, and that relationship grows.

“This is THE way to train,” he emphasizes. “I want more people to benefit from it. We are really like a sport, the sport of fitness.”

Classes are held Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Exact times are available on the website or by phone. (609) 498-5221. www.crossfitnassau.com.


April 25, 2012
NTU Bai

BAI BELIEVERS: “This truly has the potential to become an iconic product. It embodies all that is healthy — it is packed with antioxidants, has nothing artificial, and people like it because it tastes good, with a bold fresh-fruit flavor.” Danna and Ben Weiss, owners of bai Brands, are enthusiastic about their popular new product, a rising star in the beverage industry.

bai believers — bai guys — bai buyers — bai triers: they are all over town!

In case you haven’t heard, bai is the hot new soft drink that is packed with all the good stuff. 100 percent natural, with no chemicals or preservatives, it is rich in those vital antioxidants (so important to good health) that chase away the bad free radicals.

And, what is more — it tastes great!

Not only that, points out co-owner, Danna Weiss, “bai was born and raised in Princeton — a real hometown product and business.”

The creation of Mrs. Weiss’ husband, founder Ben Weiss, bai was introduced in 2009. It has an intriguing history, he notes, and it all began with a special ingredient, the secret coffee super fruit: the hitherto discarded fruit of the coffee harvest.

Super Fruit

“I had been in the coffee industry for many years. Energy drinks were popular, and I thought we could do better and create a health and wellness beverage that tastes great. Over the past two decades, I have cupped coffee from the hilltops of exotic regions across the globe in search of the best-quality green coffee available. When I learned that local farmers from these regions have always used the whole fruit of the coffee bush to make high energy foods and beverages, I knew that I had stumbled on coffee’s untold secret.

“While the bean has always been harvested, the fruit was left to perish because it was simply too delicate to process. Yet, filled with phenolic components that are found widespread throughout the plant and concentrated in the coffee fruit, it is truly an extraordinary antioxidant-packed super fruit.”

Voila! Mr. Weiss realized that he had the makings of something special, and he embarked on an intense research and development program to harness the coffee fruit into a marketable product. Mixing coffee fruit with exotic fruit juices, he developed a healthy, antioxidant-rich, low calorie beverage that — importantly — tastes good.

The Weisses named the product bai — for botanical antioxidant infusion, and “bi-product” of the coffee fruit. “Also, in Mandarin Chinese, bai means pure,” points out Mr. Weiss. “Pure ingredients, pure taste, and pure goodness. Just one bottle of bai contains the same antioxidant levels as a bowl of blueberries and provides 100 percent of the FDA’s Daily Recommended Intake for antioxidants.”

“Ipanema baitini”

Suitable for children and adults, it does contain a very small amount of caffeine from the white tea extract included in the ingredients, which is also an antioxidant source. For adults, who may wish to add a little octane, the “Ipanema baitini” is easy to create with the addition of a splash of vodka to the Ipanema Pomegranate bai5 or any other of your favorite bai choices.

Initially, the company produced three flavors, containing 70 calories: Tanzania Strawberry, Mango Kauai, and Jamaican Blueberry, all lightly sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice.

There are now 11 flavors, including bai5, the new 5-calorie drinks, infused with erithritol a natural sweetener. Red and black bottle caps differentiate the two choices. In addition to the original flavors, new tastes include Kenya Peach, Congo Pear, Ipanema Pomegranate, Sumatra Dragonfruit, and Costa Rica Clementine (and brand new bai’s continue to come along!).

“Every bottle touches the soil of a faraway place, from South America to Asia,” says Mr. Weiss, “and every ingredient is pure.”

The company, now headquartered in Hamilton, has experienced remarkable growth in a very short time. The product is manufactured and bottled in South Brunswick, and distributed along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Virginia, also in south Florida, and southern California.

New York is an excellent market, and so is Princeton, point out the Weisses. bai is offered in many establishments here, including Olives, D’Angelo’s Market, Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Co., Bon Appetit, Chez Alice, McCaffrey’s, Main Street, Whole Earth, Whole Foods, and Hoagie Haven, among others. It will also soon be available in Wegman’s.

Major Distribution

“From 2010 to 2011, we tripled sales, and from 2011 to 2012, we are increasing 5-fold. We have formed partnerships with major distribution companies, such as Canada Dry and Snapple Dr. Pepper, and we now have 32 employees,” says Mr. Weiss.

“Our customers are incredibly loyal,” adds Mrs. Weiss. “All of the stores that started with us originally are still with us today. We love what we do. The whole family has been involved — our parents, and kids. The kids are so proud of it. They love bai! It’s become a life-style. We also plan to have a stand on Communiversity Day, Saturday, April 28.”

Both the traditional bai and bai5 are flourishing in the market place, and the Weisses are very optimistic about bai’s future. “This is basically an affordable luxury. It’s supernaturally good for you! It’s healthy, it’s relevant, and it’s interesting. For you, it means pure ingredients, pure taste, pure goodness. For us, it means sharing the goodness of coffee’s super fruit with the world. Pure and simple!”

For further information, email: info@drinkbao.com. Website: www.drinkbai.com. Facebook.com/drinkbai.

NTU red barn

MAGICAL MISCELLANY: “People like antiques because they’re getting a little slice of history. They just like older things, and that’s one reason my furniture restoration business here is also important.” John Balestrieri, owner of the Red Barn Antique Shop in Blawenburg is shown by a five-gallon early 1900s stoneware jug and a Tiffany-style lamp, two of the many items available in the shop’s eclectic selection.

A 1903 Underwood typewriter, a 1920 clarinet (with case), an 1890 school house wall clock, vintage fountain pens, late 1800-1900 oil lamps, vintage toys, collectible spoons … the list goes on … and on!

All these — and so much more — are available at the Red Barn Antiques Shop in Blawenburg.

Owner John Balestrieri opened the shop 10 years ago, when he and his wife received an inheritance of furniture.

“We asked the Elks if we could use their barn to sell the furniture” explains Mr. Balestrieri, a Princeton native, who is also a cabinet-maker and former contractor.

That was the beginning of a new venture, which has grown into a full-fledged antiques and collectible business, and is still located in the Princeton Elks barn on Route 518.

Functional, Decorative

Lamps, framed artwork, glassware, china, pottery (including Buffalo blue and white, often used on trains in past times), antique jewelry, vintage toys, clocks, fireplace equipment, Stangl pottery, Hubley dog doorstops, old butter churn, vintage wash basins and pitchers, collectible Life Magazines, Baldwin Brass, old tools, candle sticks, humidors, soup tureens — all these are part of the eclectic selection.

“Our accessories are both functional and decorative,” points out Mr. Balestrieri. “For example, we have a silver plate coffee pot, along with a collectible Horsham doll, duck decoys, an old rotating Shaefer beer sign, hand-blown cobalt blue vase, pitcher, and bowl, milk glass items, and a “House” cannister set.

“A real conversation piece is the ‘Beermatic’, a container that holds six cans of beer or soda. Just press a button and the can is released. It’s a great idea for a party.

“We also have 33 LP record albums as well as old 78 records, and fountain pens are very popular. People also like to collect keys, old coins, spoons, license plates, and post cards — it’s really everything. In addition, we have cabinet photographs from the 1880s and early 1900s and an important 19th century lithograph collection.”

Baseball Legends

Vintage toys, especially little metal cars and trucks, are always in demand, and there is a fun casino game in a large wooden box, featuring “gambling” games, including roulette, black jack, and others. The collectible “Baseball Legends” poster offers a collage of baseball card photos of many of the greatest players through the years.

Furniture remains an important part of the Red Barn inventory, with children’s desks and smaller bookcases currently very popular. Customers will find a complete variety, including chairs, tables of all sizes, dining room sets, and a unique and very useful 1910 oak “hall set” or stand, combining mirror, pegs to hang hats, and “chair” storage area for gloves, etc.

Mr. Balestrieri continues his full-scale furniture restoration business, including caning. His projects range from walking stick restoration to repairing and refinishing chests, chairs, and cabinets. He recently restored a trunk from the 1920s, and relined it with cedar.

“I love to see something old that I can bring back to life,” he says. “This is an important part of my work.”

Quick Turnaround

Customers, including many regulars, are from the area and beyond, he adds. “Because of our website, we are now getting people from all over, including New York City. We also get a lot of word-of-mouth in the Princeton area. Summer is the busiest time, but it’s steady all year, and we have a quick turnaround, with new items all the time.”

Mr. Balestrieri obtains items from estate sales and auctions in the area, and individuals also contact him offering pieces to sell. He also receives requests for all kinds of items, from chairs to collectible toys, and he tries to fill them when he can. The shop has an ongoing “Wish List”.

Prices range from $10 up to $1500 for the hall set, and everything in between. There is something for everyone’s pocketbook.

“We try to keep prices reasonable,” he notes. “I really enjoy meeting the people who come in, and I look forward to continuing to do this and offering our products. Sometimes, what we have reminds customers of things their mother or grandmother had. And one time, a man came in, and bought a lot of little metal toy cars, which were replicas of Ford models. He had been employed by Ford, and had actually worked on the real cars. Something like this makes it special.”

The shop is open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 638-0494. Website: www.RedBarnAntique
Shop.com.


April 11, 2012

FASHION FORMAT: “We want to enhance our customers’ existing wardrobe. We have so many regular customers, even multi-generational now. They are all ages, and we want to help them all look their best.” Barbara Racich (left) and Anne Merrick Mavis, owners of Merrick’s too, are delighted with their location at the Princeton Shopping Center.

It’s spring at Merrick’s too!

“Actually, this is our second spring,” notes Merrick’s Anne Merrick Mavis, co-owner, with her mother Barbara Racich.

After 25 successful years on Moore Street, Merrick’s re-opened as Merrick’s too at the Princeton Shopping Center in September 2010. It arrived with a distinctly new format: open six months of the year, three months in the spring, three months in the fall. Although the shop itself is closed during the remaining summer and winter months, Merrick’s too is always available to help customers, notes Ms. Mavis.

“We’re here even when we’re not here! We have access to clothing all the time, and can get items for customers year-round if they have special requests. It’s really personal shopping in a boutique. The timing of our being open coincides with the patterns of shopping and women’s shopping needs. They tend to shop less in the summer and winter.”

Unique Formula

Merrick’s too’s unique operating formula resulted when they needed to leave their former Moore Street location, explains Ms. Racich. “We thought perhaps the cosmos was trying to tell us something. It was! Reinvent yourself!”

So, they have. During the time the shop is open, they offer a full selection of high quality clothing and accessories from New York, European, and area designers. Because they don’t have a permanent inventory, there is a constant flow of new items available.

“We get all new merchandise from the designers since we hold no inventory,” explains Ms. Mavis.

“And since they are only here six months, I come in all the time to see what’s new,” reports an enthusiastic regular Merrick’s too customer.

What’s new is a striking spring selection that is filled with color! “It’s all about color this spring,” says Ms. Mavis. “Beautiful vivid colors — orange, yellow, hot pink, sky blue, emerald green, magenta. A rainbow of color is with us this spring.”

Offbeat and Unexpected

Colorful dresses and sun dresses, versatile tunic tops, skirts, pants — in every design: floral prints, stripes, geometrics, pleats.

Style is very individual today — the offbeat and unexpected can flatter and forecast at the same time.

“People wear what they want now — pencil-slim to palazzo-wide pants, short skirts, long skirts. It’s everything,” points out Ms. Mavis “Things can be casual or more formal, whatever someone is comfortable wearing. We have beautiful clothing that is informal as well as dressy. Cotton fabric, lightweight linen/cotton, and wearable silk are all favorites, with washable silk extremely popular.”

You will see women in metallics, lamés, organza, and lace this spring. But they may also step out in a feminized version of the bomber jacket, or wasp-waisted, full-skirted dresses and sheaths from the ’60s. It is truly a buyer’s choice, and Merrick’s too has many options. Beautiful handpainted silk dresses from Carter Smith are stand-outs, truly eye-catching designs, and there are long gowns for formal occasions.

Lines include the designs of Shirley Fang, owner/designer of Redwood Court, whose headquarters are in West Windsor. She will have a trunk show at the shop April 19th. Also available is the selection of jewelry from Bea, an area designer, whose red coral necklace is a stunning complement to a summer sun dress.

In addition to the jewelry is a collection of fabulous scarves, any one of which offers a wonderful embellishment for a spring outfit. Crinkled silk in all colors from Redwood Court, and gorgeous two-toned ombré in a multitude of colors from muted yellow and apricot to pink and magenta are just a sample of what is available.

History and Reputation

“The designers know our history and reputation,” reports Ms. Racich. “We also have new designers contacting us, and some are exclusive to us.”

Customers are a wide age range, she adds. There are many of long-standing, and many new ones since the shop moved. “Service has always been a big part of Merrick’s. We have a warm, friendly atmosphere, and we are always truthful with our customers about how they look in an outfit. I know they respect us for that. I enjoy the customers so much. We also have many of the same employees everyone got to know, as well as new ones. And, we have a dressmaker here seven days.”

“We are very encouraged,” adds Ms. Mavis. “Even with the economy, we have a constant flow of customers. It’s exciting. Each season is totally new and different. It’s an all new selection, which customers love, and each season is just like Christmas morning!

“We are also so pleased to be in the shopping center. This is a great space, a perfect spot for us. Parking is easy, and we have two entrances to the shop, from the courtyard and from the parking lot.”

“And while things may be a little different, the fundamentals won’t change,” says Ms. Racich “We will continue to focus on family service, impeccable quality, and clothes that adhere to the qualities of ‘timeless elegance’, ‘real clothes for real women’, and ‘fun’.”

Sizes are zero to 22, with a price range from $24 to $2000, and everything in between.

Merrick’s too will be open through May 20, reopening again in September. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 8:30, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 921-0338. Website: www.merricksprinceton.com.


FRESH FLAVOR: “It’s the freshness and flavor. Americans are drawn to Thai food because of the combination of flavors and the fresh ingredients.” Clark Reed (left) and Da DeToro, owners of Da’s Kitchen & Catering, are shown in the restaurant and are delighted by the enthusiastic customer response.

Sweet and salty, mild and spicy, pungent and piquant — the combination of these flavors comes together in a savory-nuanced blend of delicious dishes at Da’s Kitchen & Catering.

“Flavor is very important in Thai cooking, explains Da DeToro, co-owner and chef at the restaurant. “Combining fresh flavors in a unique way is a Thai specialty.”

Located at 21 East Broad Street in Hopewell, the restaurant is co-owned by real estate executive Clark Reed. A native of Hopewell, Mr. Reed has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, and is a fan of the cuisine. He sampled Da’s Thai food in the small restaurant she had at the YWCA in Princeton, and knew he had discovered something special and authentic.

He wanted to establish a restaurant on the 21 East Broad Street site, and asked her what it would take for her to move to Hopewell.

State-of-the-Art

Without hesitation, she replied, “ A state-of-the-art kitchen!”

That was do-able, and Da’s Kitchen, opened in November 2011.

An immediate hit, the restaurant welcomed diners eager to sample the cuisine for lunch, dinner, and take-out. “I thought we’d start a bit slower, but the customers came right away,” says Da. “It has been very busy.”

“Everything is made fresh every day, and every dish is made to order,” explains Mr. Reed. “Da is a Royal Thai Certified Chef, having studied at Le Cordon Bleu and at the Royal Thai Culinary School in Bangkok.”

She learned to cook from her great-grandmother, who taught the traditional Thai cooking techniques to the young girl. Da opened her first restaurant when she was 18, and later studied Italian and French cuisines as well as Thai. She worked in many top-of-the-line restaurants in the area, including Rats.

Now, she is delighted to have her own restaurant and first class kitchen.

“I love creating these special dishes, and I am very sure of our flavors. Our Thai curry powder is different from that used in Indian food, for example. It’s a different flavor. We have many duck dishes, as well as chicken, and seafood, and they are all unique.”

Dietary Needs

“Da has great duck dishes, crispy and delicious,” reports Mr. Reed.

The restaurant is authentic in every way, he points out. “All the staff, the assistant chefs and waiters, are Thai, and Da has very high standards. She trains all the chefs in the proper preparation of the Thai food.”

There are many vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, he adds. “We can accommodate any dietary needs or restrictions.”

Customers, including many regulars who come more than once a week, are very willing to explore new tastes, reports Da. “They really like to try new things, and sometimes, they let me decide for them.”

Those wanting to try something different may opt for Squid Phad Nam Prik Pow, which features fresh squid in Da’s sweet special aromatic sauce.

Popular dishes at the restaurant include Meang Kana, an appetizer with self-rolled Chinese broccoli leaves, filled with fresh ginger, lime, shallots, chilies, peanuts, and Da’s homemade coconut paste. It is especially known for its refreshing combination of flavors.

Som Tom, the green papaya salad, is considered the national dish of Thailand, and is slightly different in every region. With shredded green papaya, chilies, garlic, peanuts, and tomatoes, it can be served sweet, mild, or spicy.

Unique Flavor

Another favorite dish is duck in red curry, Da’s boneless crispy duck, is cooked in red curry sauce with coconut milk, pineapple, and bamboo. Also popular is Kao Soi, a northern Thailand specialty, with medium egg noodles in a light yellow curry coconut milk sauce, very lightly spiced, and topped with lime, shallots, and pickled radish. Chicken, pork, and tofu can be added.

In the near future, sushi choices will also be available at the restaurant.

Popular desserts include sticky rice with mango and fried ice cream, among others. Special Thai iced tea is known for its unique flavor, and both Thai iced tea and coffee are roasted with anise and cinnamon, and served over ice with milk and sugar.

Customers come from all over the area and beyond, including New York City. An international ambiance is often apparent at the restaurant, with people from Thailand, England, and other countries enjoying a leisurely dinner. Da’s is also popular with families, and children love the food, notes Mr. Reed.

Open Kitchen

The restaurant, which can seat 48, has also been host to many private parties. The decor is Thai-oriented, with photos of Thai children decorating the walls, and a series of tapestries with elephant motif (Thailand’s signature animal), and authentic wooden sculptures.

The configuration enables customers to see the open kitchen, which was important to Da. “I wanted people to be able to see the kitchen. I want our chefs to be proud of themselves. Also, I am not only creating the food the way it was when I was growing up, but I am presenting the Thai culture.”

“Da has a real following,” adds Mr. Reed. “People love her personality. She interacts with everyone.”

Customers enjoy bringing wine or beer, and in the spring, outside dining will be added. Catering for all size events has also become a growing part of the business.

Da and Mr. Reed could not be happier with the restaurant’s success. “When customers try my food they really enjoy it,” says Da. “I guarantee that if they come once, they will come back again!”

Da’s Kitchen is open Monday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Tuesday. (609) 466-THAI (8424). Website: daskitchenhopewell.com.

March 21, 2012
NTU Doerler

LANDSCAPE LONGEVITY: “I enjoy meeting the clients. I’m a people person, and we meet all kinds of people. We have had many regular customers over the years. I’m working with people now who had worked with my dad years ago. They may be down-sizing now, and need a new landscape plan.” Steven J. Doerler, owner and president of Doerler Landscapes, is proud of his company’s reputation and longevity.

Building a reputation for high quality work and service over five decades is an outstanding achievement. So many businesses come and go so quickly these days that Doerler Landscapes’ 50 years in business is the exception not the rule today.

“People know they can count on us,” says owner and president Steven J. Doerler, a certified landscape architect. “For 50 years, they have seen our orange trucks in their neighborhood, and for that same 50 years, we have worked hard to be a leader in our industry and in our community.”

Doerler Landscapes has been recognized with numerous design and business awards, including “Landscape Award of Superior Excellence” from the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association; “Landscape Design Excellence” from the New Jersey Builders Association; “Conservator of the Year” from the Mercer County Soil Conservation Service; and “Community Excellence Award” from the Hamilton Area YMCA, to name just a few. The company was started in 1962 by Mr. Doerler’s father, William K. Doerler.

“My dad studied landscape architecture at Cornell, and then after working in a landscape company, he decided to set up his own business in Yardville. I started working in the nursery when I was 12. My dad put me to work!” says Mr. Doerler, with a smile. “I began working full-time in 1984, after I graduated from college.”

Landscape Projects

In 1986, the company moved to its current location at 5570 South Broad Street in Yardville. The property is a 175-acre farm, and serves as the base of operations for the landscaping and is also the home of Crosswicks Tree Farm, another part of the Doerler family business. The tree farm grows a variety of nursery stock for use in Doerler’s residential and commercial landscape projects.

Steven Doerler became owner and president in 2000, and he has reinforced and enhanced the company’s prominent place in the landscape business. Doerler Landscapes covers a complete range: landscape architecture, construction, maintenance, lighting, and irrigation services.

“We can design and install everything except swimming pools and tennis courts,” he explains. “Although we also do help with designs to locate pools. If someone is planning to build a pool, it’s a good idea to call a landscape architect and have them locate the pool in the proper setting.”

Plantings including trees, shrubs, and flowers; and hardscapes, such as patios, terraces, decks, etc., are a big part of Doerler’s business. “We advise clients on plantings and the best placement regarding sun or shade, those that are low-maintenance, and also specimens that deer don’t like. More people want low maintenance now. Fewer people seem to want to do hands-on gardening.”

Outdoor Entertaining

What is big, however, is outdoor entertaining — and with all the bells and whistles!

“Current trends are outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, and water gardens.” he reports. “Absolutely one of the biggest trends in the last 10 years has been the increase in outdoor kitchens.”

Some clients want a landscape geared for entertaining, and others are interested in a tranquil, serene garden setting. “Lots of people have bird feeders and bird baths, and I have put in butterfly gardens, perennial gardens, cutting gardens, vegetable gardens, grasses, and bat houses!

“Also popular today is the pondless waterfall. With this format, the water flows onto river stone, with just a few inches of water over the stones. This is nice because it is versatile, and can be placed in a small area, such as on a terrace or patio. People like to have water gardens, fountains, etc. because it is very relaxing.”

Mr. Doerler handles projects of all sizes, both residential and commercial, with many in Princeton. In addition, Doerler landscapes are seen all over the area and beyond, in Northern New Jersey, Bucks County, and at the shore.

“Our real specialty is residential work, although we do a lot of commercial projects, too, including landscape management and irrigation for corporations, such as Church & Dwight in Princeton.

Design Center

“We are a design center,” he continues. “First, we go to the site and get the homeowner’s or company’s ‘wish list’. Then I’ll put together a conceptual idea and plan. The client comes in to look at the design, and we can make immediate changes on the computer.”

Budget is a key factor, of course. “Budget drives the materials,” he notes. Projects can last for a couple of days to a couple of years. Very large jobs are often completed in phases because of budgeting requirements.

“Sometimes, clients may start with plantings for the front of the house; other times, if they want a pool, they’ll do that first, along with the patio. With our plantings, we strive to have something in bloom and colorful from early spring to late fall. In design, it’s a textured look, and can include varying shades of green.

“Flowering trees are always popular, and right now, everything is ready sooner this year because of the mild winter. We are very busy in March, April, and May, and we can be busy in the fall too. We work year-round.

“We have all kinds of projects, and I especially like working on older houses with quaint gardens. Of course, every project is unique. Our goal is always to enhance the home environment and to complement the architecture of the house. The landscape needs to match the architecture.”

The company also does repair and remodeling work for hardscapes as well as installing new ones. “We can also transplant or ‘repurpose’ plantings and even move plants from a current house to a new one. We often work on a client’s second home, such as a beach house.”

Finished Product

“This is very gratifying and fulfilling work, says Mr. Doerler, “and I like seeing the finished product, seeing the plan come to life.”

Doerler Landscapes’ concept of a family business extends to the employees, he adds. “They regularly attend professional development and continuing education courses, and we have in-house training. We have a strong internal culture based on team work and family. Many employees have been with us for a long time, 20 years and more.”

Mr. Doerler also believes strongly in giving back to the community, and he serves on several boards. Doerler Landscapes supports various charities and organizations. “I do in-kind service work, and we also established the Miracle League, and built a barrier-free baseball field in Yardville for disabled kids. We now have six teams in the league.”

Doerler Landscapes can be reached at (609) 585-7500. Website: www.doerler.com.


NTU insideout 3-14-12

ACTIVE ACHIEVEMENT: “I enjoy so many things about what I do. I really love helping people realize what they are capable of achieving. I look forward to continuing to learn and gain knowledge to empower myself to be the best trainer I can be, so I can help my clients reach their potential.” Maryalice Goldsmith, owner of InsideOut Fitness, is shown lifting a barbell.

Maryalice Goldsmith wears many hats. She is a certified personal trainer, Spin instructor, TRX trainer, and boxing fitness trainer. In addition, she has a degree in social work and is a nutrition specialist.

All of these areas of expertise come together in her role as founder and owner of InsideOut Fitness. Established in Kingston in 2008, the program offers one-on-one personal training, partner training, group-focused “boot camp,” boxing, and nutrition guidance.

A long-time advocate and practitioner of fitness, Ms. Goldsmith has completed several marathons and half-marathons, and a triathalon.

“Fitness has always been important to me,” she explains. “But it is not just physical. My concept of fitness includes nutrition, mind, and spirit, as well as physical conditioning. The name of my program, InsideOut, reflects that. If you are not OK on the inside, you won’t do as well. Nutrition is hugely important. In fact, I believe 70 to 80 percent of progress really depends on nutrition, and this is the big issue for many clients.”

Full Analysis

After an initial consultation, usually by phone, Ms. Goldsmith meets the client for a detailed assessment, including measurements, body fat evaluation, heart rate, etc.

“It’s a full analysis of the person, their current level of conditioning and fitness,” she explains. “I will also ask if they have any medical issues and what their goals are. With women, it is often to lose weight; with men, it’s to bulk up. I also ask about their nutrition and what they eat.”

Based on the results of the evaluation, Ms. Goldsmith creates a custom plan for the client, which includes specific nutrition guidance in addition to the physical workout.

“For example,” she points out, “if their body fat is too high, there can be a nutrition problem. The biggest problem I find is that people don’t eat enough! They’re often on the run and don’t have time for a balanced, healthy meal. Then, by 9 at night, they’re hungry, and can end up eating junk food.”

Interestingly, she adds, when one doesn’t eat enough, the body stores fat because the brain thinks there isn’t enough caloric intake. The body goes into starvation mode! So even with less food, one may not lose weight.

“I give people menu suggestions. I advise them to keep it simple, healthy, and nutritional. Try to make things ahead of time. Pick a day, perhaps Sunday, and make enough to have for a week. People can often be tired and stressed if they are not eating properly.”

Many Benefits

One-on-one workout sessions are an hour, and start with cardio warm-ups and stretching. It can then include weight-lifting, working with dumbbells, exercise balls, balance balls, TRX equipment, and various other exercise tools. It is geared to each client’s current fitness level and ability, and to his or her goal.

Boxing classes are held on Wednesday and Friday. There are many benefits to boxing, including strengthening the core, points out Ms. Goldsmith. “The core is so important. It is your main foundation.”

“Boot Camp” includes group activities for a minimum of six and maximum of 14 participants. “It is a total body conditioning class. It can be everything, including weights, TRX, and kickboxing,” Ms. Goldsmith explains.

Many clients participate in both one-on-one personal training and the boot camp classes.

Current clients range in age from 13 to 65, and many are committed to improving their overall fitness, she reports. Some come as often as five times a week, others three, and some twice a week. “You should try to come in at least twice a week to make real progress. With that commitment, you can see improvement within two weeks.”

During the course of the workout, conversation is a key element, she adds. In her role as social worker, Ms. Goldsmith is able to help people who may be struggling with underlying issues that are keeping them from reaching their fitness — and other — potentials.

Happy and Energetic

“My fitness approach includes conversation. How is the client doing and feeling? Sometimes, clients don’t have a sense of their own value and self-worth. I want them to know they are not just average, but that they have value and can achieve more than they think they can. They are happier and more energetic when they have accomplished something.

“Also, sometimes, if someone is very stressed out with all the pressures that exist today, I tell them that it is important for them to take at least 10 minutes off during the day, just for themselves.”

It often takes a while for clients to commit fully to the nutrition part of the InsideOut program, she adds. A client can progress by engaging only in the physical workout, but without the overall success that participating in a healthy diet, coupled with physical exercise, will bring.

As Yoshi Lassiter of Trenton, who has been a client for more than a year, and who is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, notes, “The biggest benefit of Maryalice’s fitness program is education. She is a great motivator, and training is never boring or repetitive.

“It was getting harder for me to meet the requirements of my bi-annual Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), and I am delighted to share that I have taken two APFTs under Maryalice’s tutelage, and the last one was the best I have had in my entire Reserve career. I felt so good!

“It gets even better,” continues Ms. Lassiter. “For the first 12 months, I had not changed my eating habits. On February 1 of this year, I decided to listen to her in terms of getting serious nutrition. Since I started following her guidance, I dropped seven pounds in less than three weeks, and the pounds are still off. Maryalice does not support anything that is not conducive to the entire well-being of her clients — not just physically, but emotionally, and even spiritually. The sessions have been so therapeutic.”

Adds Kathy Grmek of South Brunswick, a client of one year: “Maryalice has changed my life. I feel healthier and stronger than I have in years.”

Classes are available Monday through Friday, and three payment packages are offered. Installment payments are available. The more sessions taken, the more economical the plan.

Interactive Relationship

Establishing an interactive, communicative relationship with clients is very important to Ms. Goldsmith. Every week, she sends them emails, news of upcoming workouts, a tip of the week, and a recipe.

“As a personal trainer, fitness is a big part of my life.” she points out. “I work out six days a week. But it takes work and focus. I understand the challenge of trying to live healthy. We all face the same obstacles of lack of time, running a home, working, and simply enjoying food! It’s not easy to get those daily workouts in. But I also know that without them, I would be an entirely different person. Fitness has made me happier, more energetic, and grateful for the body God has given me.

“This is what I want to convey to my clients. Fitness is a commitment to the value of who you are, and it’s an important investment. I want them to know it has been such a privilege knowing them, working with them, and seeing them become all they can be. I am so happy when my clients make progress.”

Ms. Goldsmith can be reached at (732) 616-1853. Website: www.insideoutfitness.net.

NTU windrows

COMMUNITY LIVING: “Princeton Windrows is a real community. We have all read about the disintegration of communities today. At Windrows, there are different committees on which residents serve. There is strong encouragement for residents to offer their views, and there is an enormous number of activities and events. The location and service are excellent.” Princeton Windrows residents Russell and Patricia Marks are shown by their collection of Pre-Columbian Peruvian pottery.

It’s about choices.

At Princeton Windrows, the independent retirement community for people 55 and older, residents have many options. Life-style, type of dwelling, meal choices, participation in activities, attending events, pets (Windrows is very pet-friendly) — it is all up to the residents. They have complete control of how they wish to live within a worry-free, easy-living setting.

No more snow shoveling, leaf-raking, house-painting, house cleaning, etc. Instead — more time to focus on what is important at this point in one’s life.

Located on 35 acres at 2000 Windrow Drive, four miles from downtown Princeton, and adjacent to Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton Windrows offers 294 homes — apartment-style condominiums in Windrows Hall, 1-story villas, and 2-story townhomes, individually-owned by the resident.

Windrows Concept

“I have been working here two and a half years, and I believe in the Windrows concept,” says marketing director Mary Ann Bond. “I had worked in the senior living field before, and Windrows is different. It’s unique, a 55-plus hybrid, a full-service community. Many of the 55-plus retirement communities don’t have the range of services and activities we have. Also, you can truly age in place here.”

Princeton Windrows is not an assisted living facility or a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). As its name suggests, the latter offers a range of health care services depending on the resident’s needs. Also, at a CCRC, residents do not own their own homes.

At Princeton Windrows, residents own real property, which they can choose to upgrade or sell at any time.

Princeton Windrows health care services, while not the complete care offered at a CCRC, include a wide range of services. Doctors and medical professionals hold regular hours at the Wellness Center. A registered nurse is on-site seven days a week; an internist, physiatrist, and psychologist come weekly; and an audiologist and podiatrist also have appointments on-site. The registered nurse is available to visit residents in their homes, if needed.

The Wellness Center offers services, such as blood pressure monitoring treatments, injections, and lab work (with doctor’s prescription), medication delivery from local pharmacies, and emergency 24-hour call response.

Programs, such as tai chi, balance, water aerobics, yoga, and strong bones classes, are designed as preventative options. Fitness trainers and massage therapists are available, as are health care education and disease-prevention programs.

Priority Access

In addition, the site of the new University Medical Center at Princeton is located just two miles from Windrows.

Should a resident’s health needs change, options are available to stay in place, notes Ms. Bond. “You can stay here and bring in help, such as a home health aid, or even hospice, if needed. We also have priority access to other care facilities in the area, if someone needs additional support elsewhere. If someone broke a hip or had a knee replacement, for example.”

Walks of Life

Residents at Windrows come from all walks of life and from many professions. A number still continue to work as well.

Retirees include CEOs, members of NYC Opera, NYC Ballet Orchestra, and American Symphony Orchestra, master gardeners, engineers, former president of NYU, a Broadway and TV actress, economists, scientists, clergy, missionaries, stock brokers, and publishers, among many others.

Windrows and the wider community offer many opportunities for involvement and continued learning, points out Ms. Bond. “Many people audit classes at Princeton University, and go to concerts and lectures there. They attend plays at McCarter Theater in Princeton, and go to the many events offered by Windrows, including to New York, Philadelphia, to museums, plays, operas, etc.

Book Club

“There are an enormous number of activities,” notes Russell Marks, “and many of them have been started by the residents themselves.”

“For example,” adds Mrs. Patricia Marks, “a group of women got together and wanted to read books, so we started a book club. Others wanted to organize a drawing club.”

Other residents wanted to continue their outside activities, add the Marks. “There are 17 members of the Old Guard, also the Present Day Club, and Beden’s Brook Country Club, and Springdale. This is a community within a community.”

Mrs. Marks, a published author, with a Ph.D. from Princeton University, is working on a second book on Peruvian history, and serves on the Council of the Friends of Princeton University Library.

Open House

An annual Open House is held each January for prospective residents and this year it also included an opportunity to see displays of items residents have collected over the years. Among the collections were the vintage keys of Bill Barger, which he accumulated from all over the world; the Marks’ Latin American collection; a unique display of owls in fine porcelain and crystal; also, antique bottles; and rare glassware.

Ms. Bond adds that Windrows offers two-day “Try Out Stays” for people who are interested in sampling the Windrows life-style at no charge. This can include the many amenities Princeton residents enjoy, including several different dining opportunities, from elegant to casual settings as well as take-out.

Many residents comment on the experienced and congenial staff, notes Ms. Bond. “The staff is outstanding — they are the most caring and friendly people. Many of them have been here 10 years. There is also always someone at the front desk 24/7 for security and if anyone needs help.”

Princeton Windrows offers studio apartments starting at $145,000 with monthly fees from $1,109 to $1,471. One bedroom apartments begin at $252,000, with fees from $1,281 to $1,997; two bedroom apartments start at $355,000, with fees from $1,698 to $2,235. Townhomes begin at $298,000, with fees from $2,700 to $3,320. Villas are priced from $392,000, with fees from $2,181 to $2,855.

For further information, call 609-520-3700. Website: www.princetonwind
rows.com.


NTU Cake it up 2-29-12

STANDS IN DEMAND: “A beautiful cake needs a beautiful stand to display it. The cake is showcased and enhanced by the stand.” Beth Carnevale, founder of Cake It Up, LLC, is shown by a grouping of her custom couture cake stands.

“Everyone is saying this is such a great idea, and thank goodness it’s here!”

Beth Carnevale, founder of Cake It Up, LLC, is delighted by the response to her new custom couture cake stand business.

“It all started with my daughter Nicolina’s wedding last August,” she explains. “I have always been very visual and have enjoyed decorating since I was a girl. For the wedding, we coordinated everything, and it was custom throughout — from table numbers and place cards for the reception to flowers to monograms for the ring bearer pillow.

“Then, I realized that there was no really nice cake stand for the wedding cake. It was a beautiful cake, and should be really beautifully displayed. I asked my husband Nick (Princeton architect Nicholas Carnevale) to build a box, and I bought couture ribbon and bridal satin, which I cut and ironed, to cover it. The box was made to architect’s specifications, and was very strong and solid. Everyone was so impressed with it — it blended beautifully with the cake.”

Creative Vision

Clearly, an idea whose time had come!

Ms. Carnevale’s creative vision and innovation has launched a new career for her. After the wedding, requests came in for boxes — one is displayed in the Chez Alice window in Palmer Square and another in Cramer’s Bakery in Yardley, Pa. — and she decided to explore this uncharted territory.

“I told Nick that I had to do this, and he has been very supportive. I launched it in FaceBook in January, and now have a website. We have already had responses from around the world, including Belgium and Italy, as well as close to home. I think this is really filling a need. The presentation of the cake is so important, and I don’t know of anyone else doing custom cake stands here.

“My design consultant, Laura Bair, is my right hand, and we are very busy going to bridal shows and other events. In fact, I am so busy, I am looking for an intern to help out!”

The boxes, which can become keepsakes, vary in size and style, with most, typically 18 inches by 18 inches. They are covered with different fabrics, such as satin, raw silk, moiré, and basket-weave cotton/linen. Grosgrain ribbon, rosettes, bows, and jewelry, especially brooches, are all used for trim and accent. All the high quality materials can be monogrammed, including the exquisite embroidery, for further customizing.

“Gray and taupe are very popular colors for weddings now, and also blush and ivory,” points out Ms. Carnevale. “We can do whatever color the bride wants. I always ask if she has a special theme, and then, we can carry that theme and style through with the cake stand.”

Elegant Bow

She has a series of sample stands available for customers to view in her studio and on FaceBook and her website. They vary considerably in style, including the sophisticated black and white “High Society”; the signature “Aisle Collection” in ivory moiré or bridal blush with rosettes; “Sweetheart” in pale pink with rhinestone heart accent; and “Chanelesque” in ivory with creamy ribbon and elegant bow, among many other choices.

Ms. Carnevale points out that the cake stands are not limited to wedding cakes. “They are very versatile, and can be for special anniversaries, birthdays, showers, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, Mother’s Day, etc. The stands can also become keepsake and memory boxes, and I have made presentation boxes for the place cards and table numbers at wedding receptions.”

Another example of her design skill includes a series of charmingly customized wedding ring/cake plate keepsakes, which she does in collaboration with ceramic artist Nancy Pirone-Tamasi.

“Icing It Up”

In addition to the variety of brooches and other jewelry used as trim for the boxes, Ms. Carnevale is offering “Icing It Up”, a line of jewelry, including bracelets, pins, earrings, necklaces, and accessories. She has also designed her own collection of one-of-a-kind large simulated gemstone and rhinestone rings, very reasonably priced at $25.

Cake stands begin at $125 for a 12-inch by 12-inch model, and Ms. Carnevale suggests three weeks notice for a custom design. A 10 percent discount is available for stands already in stock. A large bridal satin box, encrusted with rhinestones, is available to rent.

“This is such a happy thing,” she says, with a smile. “I love working with the brides, and it’s another way for them to express their own style. I feel I have taken everything I have done in my life, including so much of the design sense I’ve gotten from Nick, and it has all come together.

“It has really all come out of love. My daughter Nicolina was the inspiration, and now, it is my passion!”

Ms. Carnevale is available by appointment. (609) 216-7677. Website:www.cakeit
upstands.com.

March 14, 2012
NTU Karyn Bristol

FINDING THE WAY: “I see clients of all ages who are dealing with anxiety, depression, sexuality issues, family problems, etc. My goal is to help the person explore what it is they really want. It is not always easy to know that.” Karyn Bristol, LCSW, practices in Princeton.

It’s an intense world today.

Texting, tweeting, e-mailing — everyone is wired up, geared up, and constantly connected. The technology is so all-pervasive that one has to make a determined effort to turn off and “un-connect.”

The benefit of high tech notwithstanding, it is also a stress-producer. The sheer speed of life today does not allow for much reflective thought, let alone down-time or relaxation. The temptations of the smartphone, iPod, iPad (and whatever is coming next!) are often so addictive that many people feel uneasy without these “tools”.

Even the youngest among us are affected by the high tech world. In fact, it is really all they know, points out licensed social worker Karyn Bristol. “The kids can’t turn off the hallways of school when they come home,” she notes.

Difficult Times

Helping people navigate through difficult times, whether due to anxiety, depression, sexuality issues, or marital problems, is the focus of Ms. Bristol’s work.

While specializing in anxiety issues and adolescents, she does see clients of all ages, including children as young as five. As a licensed social worker, she helps clients deal with a range of issues from bullying in school, to marital problems, to the  loss of a job in today’s challenging economy.

In addition to her own practice, one day a week, she works with Princeton gynecologist, Dr. Maria Sophocles. “I will see clients who may be in emotional distress,” explains Ms. Bristol, who opened her practice at 20 Nassau Street in May 2011.

“It is very important to make the person feel comfortable and safe, whatever their age,” she points out. “I am a ‘comfortable stranger’, someone they can talk to in complete confidence.”

Ms. Bristol was always interested in helping people, she adds. A good listener, she was there to help friends with their problems, and this was true during her eight-year career in public relations in Manhattan.

“I enjoyed that time in New York,” she reports, “but then I felt I wanted something different, and I went back to school, to Boston College, and got a master’s degree in social work.”

She then spent one year in a community mental health clinic, working with all age groups. She also spent a year as a therapist in a school for troubled boys, and 10 years as a school counselor in a private boarding school.

Counseling Service

Ms. Bristol later worked two years in another community mental health clinic, which also served as the counseling service for Babson College near Boston. During this time, she opened a private practice, working with children as young as five, adolescents, adults, and couples.

“To become a licensed social worker, one must work in the field for a certain number of years, and then pass an exam,” she explains. Achieving that goal, Ms. Bristol was able to move forward in her practice.

“Being a good therapist is not just about listening,” she points out. “We’re working on a problem together through discussion and planning. Each session is completely tailored to the individual. My work is challenging and rewarding in so many ways. I find something new every time I sit with a client. I can gain a new perspective, and the client may also have an interesting and different way of dealing with their problems. Also, people are more resilient than they often realize.”

Ms. Bristol finds interest and satisfaction in treating all ages and offers approaches suitable to each age.

Worries and Feelings

“With a 10-year-old, I’ll begin by telling them about myself,” she explains. “That I’m a person who can help them with their worries and feelings, and that I want to help people feel better. We can also use very concrete strategies if a kid is stressed about school. For example, we may create our own board game as a strategy to determine how they feel and how they can come up with ways to handle the situation. I can also make a book with the child, or we’ll write a song together or use their iPod as a means to address the problem.

“If it’s a case of bullying — being bullied or doing the bullying — we’ll try to look at the reason. Why is someone doing the bullying? Has he or she been bullied themselves? If the child or teen is the object of bullying, we’ll try to find ways to work on their self-confidence and inner strength. Bullying is definitely an issue for kids today.

“In the case of an adolescent, I’ll usually start by asking what’s on their minds. They generally speak right out about it. ‘My parents are driving me crazy!,’ etc.

If some are more reticent, Ms. Bristol tries to find ways to draw them out. We may start by talking about their friends, interests, what they like. Safer subjects. Sometimes, I’ll also suggest that they keep a journal — it’s a good way to get their thoughts out and is very private.”

Self-Awareness

Helping clients discover new ways of dealing with situations can be an important part of the process, she adds. “I think with many problems, people are still trying to use solutions they used a long time ago, but are not helpful now. They need to find new ways to handle it. We tend to look at the ways we tried to solve something in the past, but that is not serving us now. We need more self-awareness.”

Ms. Bristol typically sees clients for 50 minutes (it can be less for children) once a week. How long the therapy continues can vary, depending on the individual situation. “If it’s an immediate problem, such as a divorce or lost job, or out-of-control child, we can work to address that particular issue and perhaps get to the bottom of it relatively quickly.

“On the other hand, it may also be good to explore the underlying issues, and that can take longer. It’s self-exploration with the goal of self-knowledge and self-reliance.”

It may take a month, six months, a year or more, she says. “It varies so much from individual to individual. It depends on what the person is looking to do and to accomplish.”

Ms. Bristol also points out that, even in our stress-laden society, some stress is healthy. “It gets you moving. It’s bad when it starts to impact you negatively and interfere with your life. It can cause a number of physical problems, including loss of sleep.”

Exercise can be helpful, she notes. It’s good for one generally, of course, and a good way to control anxiety. “Even a 10-minute walk can be helpful. And it’s also important to take some time for yourself — to do something you enjoy, or just some quiet time.”

Ms. Bristol is very happy in her chosen profession. Helping to make a positive impact on someone’s life is greatly important to her. “I feel so lucky when I am sitting down with someone, and I think ‘I love what I’m doing!’ In my work, I look forward to helping people to grow, to change and to feel better. I feel people are amazingly interesting, and I love to learn about them.”

Ms. Bristol sees clients Monday, Thursday, and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday until 7 p.m. (508) 561-5536.


NTU Luxaby

KIDS’ CORNER: “This is a happy place. People love to come in — kids, moms, and grandmothers. They all find a fun atmosphere, and I also will soon be setting up a children’s reading corner.” Molly Vernon, owner of Luxaby Baby & Child, is shown with a copy of her newly published book, “Luxaby Lily”. (Photo by Thea Creative)

Luxaby Baby & Child is a Princeton success story. Opened in 2009, it has become a favorite of mothers looking for high quality, age-appropriate apparel for their children.

“My philosophy is that I want kids to be kids,” explains owner and Princeton native Molly Vernon. “All the clothes are age-appropriate. The kids don’t dress like little adults, and I think this sets us apart.”

Everyone is very happy about that, she adds. “The kids, parents, and grandparents — they all love the clothes.”

The idea for the store, which offers clothes for newborns to age 10, began with a series of trunk shows that Ms. Vernon held at her home. “Friends were interested, and I also had a website and an on-line business. I really felt there was a need for this type of children’s clothing — timeless, classic, and well-made.”

More Space

“I always had thought I would like to open a store, and this has been such a pleasure. I am so happy to get to do something that I love.”

And that is so successful! The popularity of the store continues to grow as more customers discover the appealing selection. In fact, Luxaby Baby just moved to larger quarters at 19 Hulfish Street to accommodate the need for more space.

“I have added the Isabella Oliver line of maternity clothes and a fitting room,” says Ms. Vernon. “People had been asking for maternity clothes, and we will have everything, from dressy to casual.

“In addition, with the added space, I am planning to have a children’s reading corner, so they will have something to do when they come in with their mom.”

Mothers love the store because of the high quality, often irresistible, clothes for boys and girls. Of course, the place is a treasure trove for grandmothers!

“Grandmothers are my favorite customers,” says Ms. Vernon, smiling.

Spring Line

The Luxaby spring line is now available, and navy is the hot color both for boys and girls, reports Ms. Vernon. “We have navy blazers for boys, and the nautical look is very popular, including tops with navy and white stripes. There are navy and white dresses with big ruffled bows at the shoulder for an accent. Girls love this.

“Pink is still the color girls love best,” she adds, “and we have pink raincoats for them, as well as many other items in pink. A big best seller for boys is the Petit Bateau yellow raincoat, with blue and white striped lining.”

Merchandise at the shop includes both American and imported lines. Baby CZ, Petit Bateau, and Rachel Riley, among many others, are very popular.

Natural fabrics, including cotton, are emphasized, and Ms. Vernon points out that “I do try to buy items that can be machine-washed.”

Adorable dresses for little girls are in assorted colors and styles, and prove irresistible to grandmothers! The one-piece shortalls for boys, ages three months to 24 months, are also very popular.

Sweaters, skirts, shorts, and jackets are all offered, as is the fun “Black Squirrel” line of T-shirts, and hats. Pajamas from Petit Bateau and the organic line of New Jammies are available for both boys and girls.

Custom Design

Items for newborns and babies include everything — layettes, receiving blankets, hooded towels, adorable onesies, bibs, booties, and burp cloths.

“We also have custom design blankets,” says Ms. Vernon. “I choose the fabrics, and then the blankets are made for us in Louisiana. In addition, everything in the store — clothes, gifts, layettes — can be monogrammed. It’s done locally by Toggle Home Monogramming & Design.”

Organic baby soaps and lotions are available from Noodle & Boo, and the same company also offers a line for mothers.

Piggy banks and selected toys are on hand, including the adorable line of Angel Dear “Blankies”. Buttery-soft tiny blankets with little animal accents are suitable for infants and up. A companion line of Angel Dear soft rattles is also on display.

Ms. Vernon attends shows in New York to see what is available and to keep track of trends. “I try to figure out the new trends, and I now have a sense of what my clientele likes, and the price range. It is very important that the clothes I offer are high quality and well-made, and that they will last. That way they can be passed on to other children in the family. This kind of recycling is very significant.

“I love everything about the store,” she adds. “My first favorite part is choosing the items, and the second is opening the packages when they arrive. It’s like Christmas!”

Luxaby Lily

The mother of two small daughters, Ms. Vernon is very busy balancing family and the store. “I think the challenge for moms who work is making sure you enjoy and make the most of every moment where you are.”

In addition to meeting this challenge, Ms. Vernon has found time to write a children’s book, which was recently published. “Luxaby Lily” is the story of a charming 5-year-old fairy, living in the fairy town of Luxaby. It is based on bedtime stories Ms. Vernon told to her oldest daughter, when the little girl was two.

“In the story, the fairy is shy and insecure, and afraid she can’t do things as well as others,” explains Ms. Vernon. “She learns that she is able to do whatever she wants, and that the magic is within her. The book is concerned about children’s self-esteem. I want children to feel good about themselves. It helped my little girl see that she could do things and not be afraid.”

The book, which is wonderfully illustrated by Rachel Styner (who is also manager of Luxaby Baby), is appropriate for ages K-5, and is available at the store and online.

Luxaby Baby has a very busy online business, and sends items all over, including California, Montreal, and London. The store itself is a flourishing operation, where customers rarely leave empty-handed.

“We have so many wonderful regular customers, who are amazingly loyal,” says Ms. Vernon. “I want everyone to know I look forward to the shop being here a long time. I am here to stay!”

Luxaby Baby is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday until 8:30; Sunday noon to 5. (609) 921-0065. Website: luxabybaby.com.

March 7, 2012

SAY CHEESE! “We love to see the way people react to the pictures. We’re creating happy moments and happy memories.” Leslie Marrazzo and Jeff Ficarro, owners of All Stars Photobooth in Hamilton, are shown next to the open air photo booth.

No one is camera shy when they see the All Stars Photobooth. It reminds everyone of the photo booth at beach arcades and in movie complexes, where you and your friends posed for a few minutes, were captured on film, and got a strip of pictures to put in your scrapbook.

These photo booths were a guaranteed source of fun, and that is what Leslie and Anthony Marrazzo and Jeff and Maria Ficarro, owners of All Stars Photobooth, want to offer, but with a portable, more flexible booth and the most advanced, state-of-the-art photographic technology.

It all began last August, when Ms. Marrazzo, whose career had been as a physical therapy assistant, saw a photo booth at a wedding reception. “Everyone was having such a good time with it that I began to think it was something that could work for us.”

Discussing it with her husband and friends, Jeff and Maria Ficarro, who had also been interested in photography, Ms. Marrazzo began to realize that an opportunity had come along.

A Lot of Fun

Jeff Ficarro, who had been a police officer for 25 years (and will retire in May), and who had taken photography courses, researched portable photo booths, and found they had been available in the U.S. approximately five years.

The team decided to move forward, and as Mr. Ficarro recalls, “The equipment, including two trunks, with camera, flash, and computer, arrived last August, and we started going to functions to let people see us in action. In October, we did a school event and a ‘Sweet Sixteen’ party. The kids all had a lot of fun.”

These events were followed by a Halloween Hay Ride, a “Quinceanera” — 15th birthday party, and a 30th anniversary party in November.

“People especially enjoy the funny and silly pictures,” says Ms. Marrazzo. “All ages can have fun with this — from kids to retired people. We can even go to the retirement homes. Our system is very versatile and could be great for residents in a wheel chair, and we have special backdrops.

Indoor and Outdoor

“We also have props they can use, including hats, wigs, boas, and over-sized sun glasses. The crazier they are, the better the party will be!”

“It’s great when they can all relax in front of the camera and just have fun,” adds Mr. Ficarro. “When they first see the booth at a party, they say ‘Look! A photo booth! It sets the mood. Also, the booth is so versatile, and we can accommodate both indoor and outdoor settings — for example, poolside — with various types of booth enclosures; full, partial, or open air. If it is open, then the other people can have fun watching as the pictures are taken.”

All Stars Photobooth provides customers with two high resolution photo strips (three or four poses) in color or black and white. Another option is a four by six photo with up to four poses. Album and flash-drive/DVD copies are also available.

“One of us is always attending the booth,” notes Mr. Ficarro, “and we can accommodate up to 15 people in the booth. We focus on quality photos, and we have the best quality machine and film.”

All Stars Photobooth offers pictures for a variety of events, from birthdays, showers and weddings, to school and corporate events, to bar/bat mitzvahs, and graduation parties. Mercer County, including Princeton and Hamilton, and the surrounding area are covered.

Cost is by the hour, with a minimum of two hours required, although events can be longer.

Positive and Fun

Both Mr. Ficarro and Ms. Marrazzo have had challenging and demanding careers, respectively in law enforcement and health care. At times, focusing on people who have broken the law or others facing serious illness, although important work, can be mentally and physically taxing.

“I think we were both looking for something positive and fun to do, something that would bring pleasure to others and ourselves,” points out Ms. Marrazzo. “We are so pleased that we already have great word-of-mouth, lots of referrals, and even repeat customers. I want to continue to spread joy to people and create happy memories for them and for us.”

“I am very happy to have the opportunity to work with photography and give people pleasure,” adds Mr. Ficarro. “It’s fun to hear them laugh about the photos.”

“It’s guaranteed that if they’re not smiling when they come in, they will be smiling when they leave!” says Maria Ficarro — with a smile.

“So, call to book a date and check out our website. You can come as elegant or as silly as you want.”

All Stars Photobooth can be reached at (609) 306-6399 or (609) 516-9485. Website: allstarsphotoboothnj.com.


PLUS FOR PATIENTS: “It can be a long way to get to New Brunswick. This is more convenient for patients and referring doctors.” Dr. Alan M. Graham, Chief of Vascular Surgery and Chairman of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Medical Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group, points out the importance of having the multi-specialty off-site center at 800 Bunn Drive, so that patients can be seen by specialists from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group (RWJMG), the faculty practice of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is one of the largest multi-specialty groups in New Jersey. It is comprised of 500-plus physicians with expertise in more than 200 sub-specialty clinical programs.

The group is committed to providing quality healthcare throughout the state in partnership with community physicians. It now furnishes the specialty care found only at the top academic health centers at off-site practices, including at 800 Bunn Drive in Princeton.

This is a tremendous convenience for patients, notes Dr. Alan M. Graham, Chief of Vascular Surgery and Chairman of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Medical Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group.

“The patients love this. They appreciate the ease of parking at Bunn Drive and that they get more one-on-one personal attention. Especially with the recession, patients can be reluctant to drive long distances. Some are older, and may need to get a family member to take them.”

Six Specialties

Opened in April, 2011, the Bunn Drive center offers six specialties, including cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, pulmonary, dermatology,? infectious disease, and travel medicine. Specialists from these fields are available to see patients Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Each specialist is typically at the site once or twice a week.

There are four examination rooms, and a Registered Nurse and front desk medical services assistant are also in attendance.

“Our physicians are in the forefront of medicine,” says Damaris Battaglia, Department Administrator of Off-Site Practices, UMDNJ, RWJMG, RWJMG. “The patients are excited about seeing these specialists in their neighborhood. We are providing specialty services where they are needed.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group has another off-site practice in Monroe Township, and plans to open another in Somerset, reports Dr. Graham. “Everyone is doing this now. The outreach is really keeping the business going. You have to have off-site center practices now. It really has to happen. An academic medical center has to have an off-site center to survive today, and referring doctors don’t want to be far away.”

Perfect Location

The Bunn Drive facility offers services both for new and follow-up patients, he notes, and some treatments, including vein procedures, can be performed on-site.

Both Dr. Graham and Ms. Battaglia are enthusiastic about the benefits of the Bunn Drive center and multi-discipline off-site practices generally. “I enjoy being able to work with the physicians in their various specialties,” says Ms. Battaglia. “This is such a convenience for Princeton patients and others in the area, and we are continuing to grow. Bunn Drive is a perfect location, and everything is new, modern, and up-to-date.”

Dr. Graham looks forward to continuing in his role in helping to build the off-site practices. “I’ve been chief of vascular surgery for 20 years and operating for 27 years. Being involved with the off-site practice was something new. It is rewarding and a nice addition for me.”

He is particularly pleased to offer area residents a complimentary vein evaluation at the Bunn Drive facility on Thursday, March 8. Call for information (609) 688-6859. Patients can also call this number to make appointments with individual specialists. Website: www.RWDMG.com.


February 15, 2012
NTU endocrinology

MEDICAL EXPERTISE: “We have really brought big city medicine to suburban New Jersey. We are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of clinical thyroidology.” Jason M. Hollander, MD, founder of Endocrinology Associates of Princeton, LLC, is aware of the latest developments in the field to help his patients.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Chances are many people are unaware of that, and perhaps have not given much thought to the thyroid either.

Jason M. Hollander, MD, founder of Endocrinology Associates of Princeton, LLC, wants to change that. As an expert in diagnosing and treating thyroid problems, as well as diabetes, he wants people to be informed and aware.

“We are committed to building strong doctor-patient relationships based on mutual respect and open communication. We hope that every treatment plan is the product of collaboration between an informed patient and a knowledgeable physician.”

Dr. Hollander loves what he does, and he strives to be as knowledgeable and expert a physician as possible.

Focus on Excellence

That focus on excellence has been evident from the time he was a student at Princeton Day School, and later graduated with honors from Princeton University. He received his MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), again graduating with honors, and was awarded membership to Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the highest honor bestowed on a graduating medical student.

Dr. Hollander completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, and served as chief resident from 2003-2004. After working as an emergency room physician in downtown Manhattan, he returned to Mt. Sinai to complete a Fellowship in endocrinology. He is board-certified in endocrinology, internal medicine, pediatrics, clinical nutrition, and clinical nutrition support.

Completing the Fellowship in 2007, he returned to Princeton, where he had grown up, and was intent upon bringing academic endocrinology to suburban New Jersey. He opened Endocrinology Associates of Princeton at 601 Ewing Street in 2010.

“The reason I like endocrinology is that we practically never give a patient bad news,” he explains. Most thyroid conditions, for example, can be controlled by medication, and if it is thyroid cancer, the thyroid can be removed, offering a very encouraging outlook.

Endocrinology is the study of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is comprised of glands, which are organs that produce hormones, such as insulin, testosterone, growth hormone, epinephrine (also know as adrenalin), and thyroid hormone.

“The bulk of my practice is treating thyroid problems and diabetes,” says Dr. Hollander, while noting that osteoporosis and low testosterone are other conditions often seen at Endocrinology Associates of Princeton.

Positive Results

Thyroid problems, including under- and over-active thyroid, are common, more so among women, he reports. With proper diagnosis and treatment, they can be controlled, and Dr. Hollander’s expertise and methods are helping numerous patients gain positive results.

“I’m a clinician,” he points out. “It’s hands-on, not research. I see patients six days a week, every week. The more patients I see, the more I learn, and the better physician I become. I always look forward to that very unique case that you may see once in a lifetime.”

Dr. Hollander brings the most advanced knowledge and the most advanced equipment to the practice. His emphasis on providing the best care is evidenced in his being the first endocrinologist in the region to perform ultrasound-guided fine needle aspirations of suspicious thyroid nodules. He was also the first physician in New Jersey to employ a novel gene classifier to reduce the number of unneeded thyroid surgeries.

He has earned the prestigious ECNU certification, a professional certification in the field of ultrasonography. ECNU is recognized by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, a pre-eminent national accreditation body for ultrasound practice. It allows those with the ECNU accreditation to be directors of ultrasound laboratories.

Fastest-Growing

“I love endocrinology,” he states. “I’m very interested in thyroid cancer and the future of genetics relating to it. The incidence of thyroid cancer is the fastest growing of any other cancer. We are picking up much smaller cancers by the advanced technology of today.”

Nodules, which are lumps in the thyroid gland, are very common, and most are benign. If a nodule is malignant, the thyroid gland is typically removed surgically, explains Dr. Hollander, and the outlook is usually very good.

Thyroid nodules are usually discovered by the family physician, patient, or sometimes when the patient has a carotid artery test or MRI of the neck. Once it has been discovered, and if it is suspicious, Dr. Hollander will perform ultrasound tests and fine needle biopsies to determine if it is malignant. He personally performs every neck ultrasound.

As this is Thyroid Awareness Month, he recommends that individuals “be aware of any symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain, and hair loss. It is also good to have the doctor examine the thyroid during your annual physical check-up. And, if people have a history of thyroid cancer in their family, they should have an ultrasound.”

Dr. Hollander is proud of his work and that his practice has grown to two locations, the Princeton office and another at 3100 Princeton Pike in Lawrenceville.

“I hung out my shingle in 2010, and now, there are three of us in the practice, with a fourth physician coming in the spring. It is very rewarding to do something I love to do and find that people are so appreciative.”

Endocrinology Associates of Princeton is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 to 1. Princeton office: (609) 924-4433; Lawrenceville: (609) 896-0075. Website: www.princ
etonendocrinology.com.


NTU neurac 1-11-12

PERFECT POSITION: Jamie Kornbluth, PT and Certified Redcord Neurac Practitioner (top) guides professional dancer Kelsey Burns into proper biomechanical alignment during a side-lying hip abduction exercise with Redcord equipment at the Neurac Institute, 800 Bunn Drive.

Chances are you haven’t heard of Neurac — or Redcord. If you have a knee, shoulder, or back problem, or other chronic condition that just doesn’t get better, or if you need post-surgery rehabilitation, or if you are an athlete looking to improve strength and stamina, you will certainly want to know about this innovative center for neuromuscular rehabilitation, wellness, and fitness.

The Neurac Institute for Physical Therapy, P.A. opened at 800 Bunn Drive in 2010. As the first accredited Redcord Neuromuscular Activation clinic in the U.S., the Neurac Institute utilizes the cutting edge Redcord suspension therapy system in combination with other progression/regression techniques that provide high levels of neuromuscular stimulation and strength and restore one’s normal movement patterns, explains Brad Gulick, Neurac’s Director of Operations.

Begun in Norway 20 years ago, the Neurac method and Redcord equipment were established in the U.S. by Tyler Joyce and Ian Kornbluth, both physical therapists, who founded the Neurac Institute for Physical Therapy, P.A. Physical therapist Jamie Kornbluth, who specializes in Pilates, is the third partner.

“Musculoskeletal disorders typically involve muscle inhibition and over activity in response to pain, injury, over use, disuse, or inactivity,” explains Mr. Gulick. “This results in further restriction in movement, deficits in performance, and often chronic pain. These conditions represent a major treatment challenge for therapy professionals. They compromise quality of life, and they are a significant risk factor threatening a long and successful career as an athlete.”

Positive Results

Mr. Gulick speaks from experience, and can attest to Neurac’s positive results. Plagued by back pain as a result of sports injuries, he had been unable to obtain relief through traditional physical therapy. Hearing of Neurac, he decided to give it a try.

“I struggled so long with these injuries, especially my back, and I wasn’t able to enjoy my sport (rowing). After treatment here, the results were amazing and immediate. It returned my identity as an athlete.”

What sets Neurac (short for neuromuscular-activation) from other physical therapy methods is its utilization of the Redcord suspension therapy system in combination with other progression/regression exercise techniques. Progressive/regression involves moving forward and backward with the patient.

Neurac restores impaired or altered neuromuscular coordination patterns and can often provide immediate pain relief and improved physical function.

Now used in 40 countries around the world, the Neurac/Redcord system treats all ages. Unweighted with bungees, slings, and rope supports, patients can exercise in almost any position in a safe and painless manner.

At the beginning of treatment, the Neurac therapists (five at the Princeton location) identify muscle imbalances and then “activate” deep stabilizing muscles in the core and joints with corrective exercises and high levels of neuromuscular stimulation that promote core control, joint stability, extremity strength, coordination and balance, and every day function.

One-on-One

Using the patient’s own body weight and controlled instability, Redcord gets effective, fast results. Depending on the severity of the condition, freedom from pain is sometimes immediate. A course of treatment is typically one hour for three to four weeks, with most patients coming twice a week.

“Unlike other physical therapists, Neurac PTs do not rotate among patients,” notes Mr. Gulick. “They remain with the patient, one-on-one for the entire session.”

Common conditions treated by the Neurac professionals include ACL injuries, arthritis, balance problems, headaches, neck pain, knee problems, shoulder injuries (torn rotator cuff), and tendinitis, among many others.

Pilates, which focuses on core control, extremity strength, posture, flexibility, balance, coordination, and joint and bone health, is often used in combination with the Redcord equipment. Hands-on manual therapy is another technique utilized to enhance mobility of joints, stretch and release soft tissue, and help to improve circulation.

In addition to treating patients, the Neurac Institute is the national education center for Redcord’s neuromuscular activation training and continuing education courses for health and other professionals.

“Doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, personal trainers, endurance athletes, sports coaches, and Pilates instructors all come for training in the Neurac method,” points out Mr. Gulick.

Those who come for help include people six years-old to 90, and all ages can be helped, he adds. In addition, athletes often come to concentrate on special training, incorporating the Redcord equipment.

“I never cease to be amazed at the results. And, now, we are getting more and more referrals from doctors, including pediatricians, as well as chiropractors and sports coaches, too. We are very encouraged.”

Health Professionals

Co-founders Tyler Joyce and Ian Kornbluth are very busy with their hands-on therapy, overseeing the operation, and educating health professionals at the Institute, on speaking tours and at conferences.

“When I first learned of this methodology, I was interested right away,” reports Mr. Joyce. “I saw amazing results. To see people get better so quickly is great. As a physical therapist, you really want to help people get better.”

Adds Mr. Kornbluth: “When we were doing traditional physical therapy, we were looking to see what was missing, why people didn’t get better sooner. We were missing the exercise component. Then, Tyler found Redcord. This is something new, and it’s challenging. We really help people to improve their quality of life.”

Referrals from a doctor or chiropractor are needed for Neurac/Redcord treatment. Pilates sessions are available without a referral.

Once a patient has finished treatment, and has been trained in the Neurac/Redcord method, the Redcord Mini, portable take home equipment, is available for maintenance.

The Neurac Institute is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (609) 683-1010. Website:www.NeuracPT.com


February 8, 2012
NTU Pr Diamond 1-11-12

QUALITY AND VALUE: “We are a factory-type jewelry center, focusing on diamonds and custom design. We offer the finest jewelry at wholesale prices that are fair to the customer,” says Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. Shown is an 18K gold diamond pendant, which Princeton North Diamond had repaired and restored with high quality diamonds.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” says the song, and they can be a jeweler’s best friend, too, notes Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. in the Princeton North Shopping Center.

He and his brother, the late Orlando Olaya, a respected gemologist, originally opened the store in 2003. Hector took charge of the store after his brother’s death last year, and is continuing the family tradition.

“We have been in the jewelry business for 25 years,” he explains. “Diamonds are our focus, and we give everyone in the Princeton area access to the top jewelry craftsmen that New York City has to offer. They are all experts with long experience. The diamond cutters are very precise and know every millimeter of the piece. We can do all kinds of custom work.

“We offer the finest quality diamonds, and create custom pieces, including rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins. We also redesign older pieces into more modern settings. The diamond dealers work directly with us, and we have the ability to get items from all over. We eliminate the middle man, and can supply fine jewelry at wholesale prices. We have jewelry for everyone’s budget, and we offer great value.”

Full Selection

Diamond engagement rings are always popular, of course, and wedding bands to match the engagement ring are in demand now, reports Mr. Olaya.

In addition to diamonds, the store offers a full selection of precious and semi-precious stones, as well as fashion jewelry. “The trend is toward big and bold stones,” he points out. “Big semi-precious stones in necklaces and earrings are popular, often with sterling silver accents.”

Pearls are classic and never out of style. Strands, bracelets, and earrings are all available, as is restringing.

Customers will find everything from cameos to cuff links to giftware in the store, with displays conveniently and attractively arranged.

State-of-the-Art

Princeton North Diamond also offers a large selection of antique and estate jewelry and high end, slightly-used watches. “We are one of the few stores in the area to specialize in antique jewelry repair. All the antiques have a story,” notes Mr. Olaya. “We repair, recondition, and remodel. We also buy jewelry, gold, and silver from customers, and we trade watches. Cleaning and repairing watches is another service.”

The store offers full repair service, with state-of-the-art laser machinery available.

Mr. Olaya, who is also a real estate broker and formerly involved in the restaurant business in Princeton, is now fully engaged in Princeton North Diamond. “One of the things I like about this business is that jewelry, because of its inherent value, is an item that you can recycle, trade, and bring back. So, it works in a good economy or when times are harder.”

Providing quality products and attentive service to customers is very important, he adds. “We are going to take care of you here. We take time with customers. Sometimes, people think they have to go to New York for fine jewelry, but they can trust us. We invite anyone with questions about jewelry to come in and see us.

“We are a real part of the community and want to be known as the jeweler people think of in the Princeton-Montgomery area for professional service and fine quality jewelry at fair prices. We have many regular customers from the area and beyond, and we look forward to continuing to offer them the best service. We do things the right way here.”

Princeton North Diamond also accepts items on consignment, offers appraisals, and fills special requests.

The store is open Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 924-9400.