April 25, 2012
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.


January 9, 2012

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank received a year-end corporate gift of $75,000 from Princeton-based corporation Church & Dwight Co., as well as a $10,000 grant from the company’s Employee Giving Fund for its healthy eating programs.

“We are truly overwhelmed and so very grateful that Church & Dwight and its employees have chosen to support our work to end hunger with such largesse and generosity of heart,” said Food Bank Director Phyllis Stoolmacher, “These dollars will help to ensure that we have the food and the nutrition programs to help children, the elderly, the unemployed, the working poor, and families in crisis to weather these difficult economic times.”

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank is the largest source of government and privately donated food for hunger relief programs in Mercer County. In 2011, Mercer Street Friends supplied three million pounds of food and groceries and nutrition-related resources to a network of 60 food panties, soup kitchens, shelters and meal programs, and helped to feed over 25,000 children and adults facing food hardships.

Church & Dwight Co., Inc. manufactures and markets a wide range of personal care, household and specialty products under the Arm & Hammer brand name and other well-known trademarks.

The Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund is a workplace giving fund which was established in 2005 to meet the desires of Church & Dwight employees to financially assist those that are less fortunate and to actively support and participate in the good works of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to that end.

“Church & Dwight has a deep commitment to supporting charitable organizations where their employees live and work and we are most fortunate to be among the charities they support. We thank them and their employees for their extraordinary confidence in our work,” said Ms. Stoolmacher.

The fourth 16-week series of classes, Princeton Dance for Parkinson, will be held January 18-February 22 from 1-2:15 p.m. at the Princeton Dance and Theatre Studio in Forrestal Village. Classes are designed to empower those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, their partners, caregivers and friends, to enjoy movement, music and dance.

Classes for walk-ins are $10 per person. If a caregiver or spouse or partner participates it is an additional $5. Special discounts for six-class packages are given at $55, $25 for caregivers. No dance experience is necessary, and all levels can start at any time during the series.

Classes on the Dance for PD® started at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn in 2001, and have since been replicated in more than 40 other communities around the world. Only 100 dance teachers in the U.S. have been trained by the Dance for PD® program. All three Princeton instructors, Marie Alonzo Snyder, Linda Mannheim, and Debra Keller, are continuing their training with education workshops.

They will take turns co-leading the 75-minute class. Participants will explore elements of modern dance, ballet, social dancing, and repertory from each of the choreographers in an enjoyable, non-pressured environment that features live musical accompaniment.

For more information, visit mariesnyder@dancevisionnj.org or call (609) 520-1020. The studio is at 116 Rockingham Row in Forrestal Village.

January 4, 2012

LOOK GREAT, FEEL GOOD! “It’s great to have everything under one roof. Facials, massage, waxing, manicures and pedicures, and of course, all the hair services, are here. There is a trend toward a day spa today, where the spa and salon come together in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.” Shown is the team at Copper River Salon & Spa. From left: Pamela Bennett, Shannon LoBue, Agnieszka Ebid, owner Barbara Weigand, Andrea Arriola, and Rachel Medina.

Look and feel like a new you after a visit to Copper River Salon & Spa! It’s only been in town since September, but this new beauty emporium has already made its mark. Located at 6 Moore Street (former site of Merrick’s women’s boutique), the new salon and spa offers a wide variety of salon and spa services, and in addition, is uniquely conscious of the importance of environmentally-friendly practices.

“We are very eco-friendly,” reports owner and stylist Barbara Weigand. “We recycle everything and our products are all-natural, plant-based. We are also part of the ‘Beauty Brigade’ a division of TerraCycle, which emphasizes reducing waste and recycling as much as possible. All our cosmetic bottles, color tubes, and plastic shampoo bottles are recycled. This is a world-wide project. TerraCycle is committed to finding other uses for things that would be thrown away. We believe being eco-friendly is being a responsible business, and we strive to be in harmony with the environment.”

The name she chose for her salon/spa also reflects a harmonious balance with nature, emphasizing the stability and structure of the metal, copper and the natural flow of water: thus, Copper River. The salon/spa is also a member of the National Association of Eco-Friendly Salon & Spas Organization.

Clients are responding both to these environmentally-friendly practices and to the high quality services offered at Copper River.

Master Stylist

Ms. Weigand, a Lawrenceville native, who has specialized in hair styling in the Princeton area for 20 years, is proud to have her own salon and spa. She has gathered an impressive team of stylists, colorists, technicians, and beauty experts, all dedicated to helping clients look and feel their very best.

A master stylist, Ms. Weigand was trained in the cutting techniques of Vidal Sassoon, and continued to hone her skills with the top stylists in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris. From classic cuts to the avant-garde style of the moment, she creates a special look.

“I am strong in both cuts and color,” she explains. “My clients appreciate that they can go longer between services because I truly understand hair-cutting with style and shape. The color supports the shape, is used in the big city salons, and provides shiny lasting coverage.”

In addition, Ms. Weigand is skilled in straight razor cutting. As she points out, “People are looking for something different. They want movement to their hair. I use straight razor cutting, which breaks up the layers, and is appropriate for long or short hair.”

Another very popular service today is hair straightening. Many clients with very curly hair like to have a new sleek look, and a variety of options is available, including Japanese straightening. “This is an alternative to keratin treatments. It works very well, and is permanent until it grows out.” explains Ms. Weigand. “You can go swimming, and the hair will still be straight.”

Bridal updo’s and make-up services are also a specialty of Copper River — for the bride and the entire bridal party. In addition, the salon offers treatments for a variety of hair conditions, such as thinning hair and scalp issues, as well as corrective color for problem situations.

Complete Range

Color is an enormous part of the hair industry today, and Copper River offers a complete range of opportunities — from semi-permanent to single process color to surface or full highlights.

Ms. Weigand points out that many considerations determine the best color route for a client. “Skin tone, original hair color, hair texture, and even life-style are all important. We often like to use multi-colored high lights, which give a natural look to the hair.”

Everyone is in a hurry these days, and clients often like to come in for a shampoo, conditioner, and blow out, she adds. “We also like to educate our clients and we can teach them to blow dry like a pro!”

Providing care and beauty treatments to the body was also an important part of Ms. Weigand”s plan. “I thought it was important to have full body services,” she points out. That was a significant reason she liked the Moore Street location (so close to the corner of Nassau Street). “I liked the fact that it had a second floor. We have three rooms dedicated to the spa — manicure and pedicure, facial, and massage.”

The range of body treatments offers a variety of massages, such as combination of Swedish and deep tissue techniques; hot stone therapy; and aromatherapy — all guaranteed to soothe body and soul!

Facials are customized to the individual skin type, whether dry or oily, and from teen-aged to mature. Cleansing, exfoliation, suitable mask, and soothing neck, arm, and shoulder massage are all part of the package. There is also a “Gentleman’s Facial”, a great gift idea for a special guy you know.

Massage Chairs

Mini-facials and massages are also available, lasting 30 minutes instead of the typical 50 or 75 minutes.

Manicures and pedicures are very popular, and include special massage chairs to increase relaxation during the service. Waxing, from eyebrows to underarm to leg to bikini, is another important service at Copper River.

Gift cards and special customized gift packages are a wonderful way to introduce someone to the therapeutic benefits that await clients at this new salon/spa. In addition, a variety of products are for sale, including the all-natural hair line of Rene Furterer, the Cellex-C skin care products, and the Bubalina line of body scrubs and lotions. Hair brushes, blow dryers, and curling irons are also available.

“My biggest pleasure is helping people look and feel good,” says Ms. Weigand. “It’s wonderful to see the smile on someone’s face when they leave the salon and spa. When they look great, they feel better!’

Copper River is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday until 5, Saturday 9 to 5. Sunday appointments for wedding events are available. (609) 921-2176. Website: copperriversalonand spa.com.

AU NATUREL: “All our ingredients are natural. No preservatives or chemicals. Our dough is made of 10 whole grains, and they help digestion. You feel better with our pizza!” General manager Kevin Brommer of Naked Pizza, which just opened at 180 Nassau Street, has a pizza ready for you! He looks forward to welcoming customers to the popular new eatery.

“We’re naked because we have nothing to hide!”

No, Kevin Brommer is not referring to the inhabitants of a nudist colony. General manager of Naked Pizza at 180 Nassau Street, he is describing the pizza at the popular new eatery. Open November 9, it is rapidly building an enthusiastic client base, all fans of the great-tasting, all-natural pizza, with no preservatives or additives.

“Naked means natural. Our pizza is simply an honest diversity of all-natural whole food ingredients that taste better and are better for you,” explains the Naked Pizza mission statement.

Headquartered in New Orleans, the company was started several years ago, and has recently begun to offer franchises. There are now two in New Jersey, in Princeton and Ewing, both owned by Kathy Vik. She looks forward to this new adventure.

Healthier Options

“Now that my kids are grown, I was looking for something to do. I had read about Naked Pizza in the New York Times Magazine. The founders wanted to be involved in healthier options in fast food. I thought that was a great idea.”

She is delighted with the success both of the Nassau Street Naked Pizza and her other franchise in Ewing. The response in both locations has been all she hoped for. Customers are all across the board — high school and college students, families, parents and grandparents.

“We already have regulars,” says Ms. Vik. “In fact, 40 to 50 percent of customers have been here at least once before.”

So what is it that makes this pizza so special?

First, it’s a testament that food can be both healthy and taste great. The emphasis on healthy, chemical-free and preservative-free ingredients is equaled by the company’s ability to create tastes that customers love.

The pizza crust is available in three versions: skinny, traditional, and gluten-free. The first two are made from the “Ancestral Blend” of 10 grains plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotic (healthful bacteria similar to the ones in yogurt for digestive balance and health).

“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria cultures that enrich your digestive system, help optimize nutrition, promote balance and digestive health,” reports the Naked Pizza company. “A prebiotic is essentially fiber, food for the health-giving bacteria in your gut. Ours is one of the highest quality fibers available, extracted from the ancient blue agave plant, adding a slight trace of sweet without any sugar crash.”

All Natural

All the ingredients in the pizzas — the tomato sauce, cheese, the vegetables, the meats, etc. are also all natural. “Our cheese has no hormones or antibiotics, and the pepperoni, free of hormones and additives, is USDA-certified,” says Ms. Vik.

Mozzarella, cheddar, and feta cheese are available, and the tomato sauce is also natural — nicely spiced and herbed, with no added sugar or citric acid.

Customers can choose from a variety of flavors and 10-, 12-, and 14-inch sizes. Everything from a traditional tomato and cheese pie to a “Superbiotic” with artichoke, spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic, onion, and cilantro are available.

The “Mediterranean”, second best-seller after the Superbiotic, is filled with artichoke, sun-dried tomato, onion, black olive, and feta cheese.

Skinny Crust

Other favorites include “Pima,” featuring black beans, jalapeño, cheddar, and chicken; “Omnivore”, with pepperoni, hamburger, bell pepper, mushroom, and black olive; “Farmvil,” with pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, and ham; “Greenhouse,” offering onion, tomato, bell pepper, black olive, and mushroom; and “Ragin’ Cajun,” with sausage, chicken, garlic, bell pepper, and onion.

“You can also customize your own pizza with a variety of our toppings,” adds Mr. Brommer. “The skinny crust is very popular, and we offer the traditional thicker crust, too.”

Also available are spinach salad, “Cheesy Breadstixx” (mozzarella and cheddar, chewy Ancestral Blend snacks with prebiotics and probiotics), and a variety of beverages from the New Jersey-based Boyland Company, including root beer, birch beer, cream soda, Cane cola, and diet cherry, as well as iced tea and bottled water.

Keeping Naked Pizza affordable is important to Ms. Vik. “We paid careful attention to our price range. We wanted our healthy pizza to be affordable to people. A 10-inch tomato and cheese is $6.99 and a 10-inch Superbiotic is $12.99. There are also special offers on Facebook and Twitter.”

Fun and Friendly

Naked Pizza focuses on take-out and delivery (nine minute delivery zone: “We don’t want the pizza to get cold!”). It is also in demand for its catering services. In addition, some customers like to linger by the counter to enjoy their pizza in the colorful pizzeria, with its fun and friendly atmosphere.

She is very proud of the Naked Pizza staff, including Mr. Brommer and assistant manager Martin Hancock. “Also, some of our staff is from Westminster Choir College. They have so much energy, and sometimes they sing!

“Our staff is all cross-trained in customer service and pizza-assembly.”

Ms. Vik is having so much fun, she even hopes there could be more Naked Pizzas in her future. “I strongly believe it is important to give people healthier options in fast food.”

“We’re definitely trying to get the conversation moving in that direction,” adds Mr. Brommer.

Naked Pizza is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday 11 to 2 a.m.

(609) 924-4700. Website: www.nakedpizza.biz.

December 20, 2011
Dr Cortese

“A CERTAIN SMILE”: “I enjoy the flexibility and the opportunity to be innovative in how I can take care of the patient. My practice is full reconstructive comprehensive dentistry — a mix of everything, including implants, crowns, dentures, facial prosthetics, and more.” Dr. Michael Cortese of Princeton Prosthodontics, specializes in complete oral rehabilitation.

What is a prosthodontist? First, it is one of nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Second, it is the only specialty that deals with the entire mouth.

“Think of it this way,” explains Angela Cortese, office manager of Princeton Prosthodontics at 311 Witherspoon Street. “The prosthodontist is the captain of the ship. He diagnoses and develops a treatment plan, which can include other specialists, such as orthodontists, periodontists, etc., and he directs it.”

Dr. Michael Cortese, D.M.D., P.A., who established Princeton Prosthodontics in 1987, has recently been listed in the first edition of “The Best Dentists in America”. Out of approximately 10,000 licensed dentists in New Jersey, 256 were selected. Nationwide, 7500 dentists are listed out of approximately 250,000 licensed dentists in America.

“I was truly excited to be nominated because the nomination committee is a group of faculty and dental practitioners that I have a great deal of respect for. To be voted in by such an esteemed group and your own peers is an honor I will strive to uphold.”

Post-Graduate Training

A native of Plainfield, Dr. Cortese received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame and his dental degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University Dental School. He received post-graduate training in maxillofacial prosthetics and dental oncology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. Recently, Dr. Cortese was invited to teach at the New York University Dental School in the Graduate Implant Program.

A member of the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthodontics, a member or associate member of the American College of Prosthodontics, the American Dental Association, and the Society of Clinical Oncology, among many other organizations, Dr. Cortese has received numerous awards and honors, including being named as one of New Jersey’s top dentists by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. He also consults for the New Jersey State Board of Dentists.

Initially, dentistry was not part of Dr. Cortese’s plan. He aimed to be a surgeon, and was on his way to medical school. Plans have a way of changing, however, as he explains.

“In college, I lived with guys who wanted to go to dental school, and they urged me to consider it. I was a bio major, and it was rigorous. Finally, in junior year, I could take an elective, and I chose fine arts. I enjoyed painting and creating things, and found I had an aptitude for it.”

Artistic Skills

This led him to reconsider dental school, although his goal now was to focus on oral surgery. His advisors had other ideas, however, and directed him into maxillofacial prosthodontics, where all of his skills could be put to best use.

A maxillofacial prosthodontist constructs prosthetics to replace portions of the palate, jaw, and face, including eyes, nose, and ears, that are missing due to cancer, congenital defect, trauma, or surgical removal. The prosthodontist performs these supportive services for oral surgeons, dermatologists, opthalmologists, plastic surgeons, oncologists, and otolaryngologists. The work requires the skills of an artist and the techniques of a dentist.

After four years of dental school, Dr. Cortese received three more years of intense post-graduate training in maxillofacial prosthodontics and dental oncology. There are only three accredited maxillofacial prosthodontists in New Jersey and only 400 worldwide.

“After my training at M.D. Anderson, which is the premier cancer treatment center, I wanted to be in private practice,” says Dr. Cortese. “Princeton was right between New York and Philadelphia, and it was a great location.”

Dr. Cortese’s practice includes implants, bridges, dentures, inlays, crowns, bonding, and veneers, as well as teeth whitening (bleaching), treatment of TMJ and TMD, and snoring and sleep disorders (sleep apnea).

“I like being able to help people.” he explains. “If necessary, I can rebuild the whole mouth. Or someone may have lost a tooth and need to have a replacement. Whether to put in an implant or a bridge depends on the state of the teeth surrounding the gap from the missing tooth.”

Overall Health

“Dr. Cortese is looking at the patient’s overall health,” points out Angela Cortese. “Patients will get the best care and get it done right. During every visit, he checks for oral cancer. We are also seeing more TMJ cases now, which can come from over-use of the jaw, and it can be painful. He has also been working with sleep apnea conditions for 20 years. And he treats cleft palate cases, as well as medically-compromised patients, including those with ALS, MLS, and Parkinson’s Disease.”

Treating such a wide range of patients, typically within the ages of 35 to 75, Dr. Cortese spends a great deal of time with each individual case, including those patients who are afraid of dentists!

“We have ‘dentophobics’ who come, and they are really afraid to come in the door,” says Ms. Cortese. “You have to have patience to deal with the patients! Dr. Cortese is very good at establishing a relaxed, calm atmosphere and positive relationship with each patient. This is very important to him. We have patients from all over the state as well as Delaware, Philadelphia, New York, and even abroad. People find him on the internet”

“We enjoy getting to know our patients and their individual needs,” adds Dr. Cortese. “Our first goal is that our patients are comfortable and understand all of their treatment options. Additionally, we assist with convenient financing arrangements so that every patient can have the care they deserve.

“I really enjoy the challenge of my work,” he continues. “And it means a lot when people say ‘I don’t know what I would have done without you.’ Dentistry today is the best it has ever been. There is more flexibility now, and especially with the Branemark implant. It was a paradigm, a real shift with those devices. It opened doors to what we can do and be able to preserve what the patient has and restore it in a more natural and permanent way.”

Princeton Prosthodontics is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 683-8282. Website: drcortese.com

NTU-Iris

DECORATING AND DESIGN: “People are staying home more, traveling less because of the economy. They are looking for someone to help them decorate and make their home look nice and reflect their own style.” Iris Houlihan of Iris Interiors LLC enjoys helping clients realize their vision to make their home a haven.

What is your style? Traditional? Modern? Sleek and sophisticated, warm and cozy, something in between? Perhaps you are not even sure.

When it comes to interior decorating, the choices can be daunting. Fabric, furniture, colors, carpet, window treatments, accessories — how to select the best choices for your life-style, taste, and of course, budget.

Increasing numbers of homeowners are opting for professional help. More women work out of the house today and often have little time, inclination, or expertise to expend energy and effort into coming up with a design scheme for their home.

“People don’t want to make a major and expensive mistake, or perhaps they want a different look in their home, but don’t know how to do it,” notes Iris Houlihan of Iris Interiors LLC. A certified interior decorator, accredited home stager, and professional organizer, Ms. Houlihan enjoys helping clients achieve everything from a complete design change in their living space, to a color consultation about paint, to a re-design or rearrangement of existing furniture and accessories to add new interest. The results can bring new life and energy to a room or rooms, creating even more enjoyment in one’s home.

Unusual Turns

Vocations can take unusual turns, and Ms. Houlihan’s ultimate career in design is just such an example. Born in Germany, she came to the United States and attended Virginia Tech University, earning a degree in biochemistry. She later worked in the pharmaceutical industry in marketing and project management.

“I was always very visual and very interested in decorating,” she says. “As a girl, I moved the furniture around in my room, and reorganized everything. Later, I also enjoyed helping my friends decorate their homes.”

When she married, she and her husband moved to Hillsborough, and she took great pleasure in decorating their house. “I loved to work in design. I could always see beyond the existing contents of the house. Our first house definitely needed work, which was good for me. I wanted to add my own touch, and I liked having a challenge.”

A self-described “Type A” personality and multi-tasker, Ms. Houlihan was able to balance the many components of her life. These involved working in the pharmaceutical industry, running the household (which included three children and numerous dogs and cats), as well as continuing her decorating work as a hobby, and taking design classes.

“I believe if you really want to do something, it’s not work,” she explains.

She was pleased when the family moved to their next home, which was new construction, providing an empty canvas for her decorating talents. She welcomed the opportunity to decorate the new home in her own style and design.

Design Work

It became clear that decorating was her true calling, and she started part-time, then opened her own decorating business full-time a year ago. It has been a resounding success.

Her experience in the corporate world has helped her new undertaking, she adds. “My marketing experience proved very useful in running my new business, as was my general business background. Also, my husband encouraged me. I think he was glad that I could concentrate on other design work beside repainting our guest room every year!”

Ms. Houlihan decided to enter the decorating field gradually, first by becoming a professional stager. “I started staging houses that were for sale. With staging, you do what the house needs to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. It goes beyond cleaning and de-cluttering; it helps potential buyers imagine themselves living in the house.”

Therefore, she points out, it is important to de-personalize the setting; neutralize and balance paint, carpet, furniture, etc. “We will rearrange, remove, and reduce the furnishings and decor in your home so that it will appeal to the most buyers and show the house at its best.

“90 percent of people search on line for a house,” she adds. “So, it’s important to have pictures that will appeal to these potential buyers. I like the staging. It’s about transforming the space, and it doesn’t take as long as the interior decorating projects.”

Interior decorating and re-design (or mini make-overs) are a big part of her business, however, and she helps clients throughout central New Jersey and beyond.

Client’s Personality

As a certified interior decorator, Ms. Houlihan does everything from one room to an entire house. “It is very important that the house reflect the client’s personality and taste,” she points out. “The budget is the beginning, and if someone is flexible, we can do more with less money. It doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money. Amazing looks are created by layering, mixing, and adding texture and color.”

First, Ms. Houlihan helps to define the client’s taste and life-style. Do they entertain, cook? Are they formal, informal? Are there children, pets?

“Some clients have very specific ideas, but don’t know how to execute them,” she explains. “Others don’t always know what they want, just that they want something different. I definitely need to come and ‘meet’ the house. I’ll ask clients to tell me what they like or don’t like. Is there anything that they want to keep?

“It’s important to know how they use the room. The goal is always to make it beautiful, but functional. I also like to include some little unexpected designs that create interest.””

Ms. Houlihan notes a number of interesting trends in design today, including darker, richer colors. “We see dark brown, even black walls in rooms. Dark, dramatically-lit interiors with paint colors of navy, black, brown, and red are trends. You can also choose to have neutral colors but more vibrant accents. Keep the walls neutral, then decorate and accessorize with color. Tone-on-tone is also popular, especially with lighter colors — pale blue, yellow, etc.”

In addition, she continues, “There is more and more of a trend to modern. Transitional was the favorite for a while but now there is more interest in modern, and also, an eclectic look. This allows you to keep what you have but then add something new. You don’t have to have matched sets. You can break up a set and put one piece in a different room.”

Creative New Ways

This type of rearranging of furniture and accessories is often the focus of a re-design project, another favorite part of Ms. Houlihan’s work.

“It’s a bit like staging. You take whatever the homeowner has and use it in creative new ways. Bringing things from one room into another, for example. Sometimes, it can be hard for people to see outside of existing rooms; then I can help.”

Ms. Houlihan enjoys working on all sizes and types of projects, and all budgets. Costs are based on the scope and complexity of the job, and can be hourly or flat fees. The time frame can range from one day to months.

She also points out that some clients like to plan a project over time. “We have to know how much money they are comfortable spending. I can start a job and continue it over time. Someone might say, “I can spend $10,000 over three years, but let’s start with a certain amount now.

“I love what I do,” she says, with a smile. “I am getting more and more calls and many referrals. There has been great word-of-mouth, and I am very grateful to my clients. I am so happy to be able to help them realize their dream of what their house can be. I look forward to the opportunity to help them do something different and make their house even more comfortable and beautiful for them.”

Ms. Houlihan’s hours are by appointment, including evenings and weekends. (908) 265-7688. Website: www.iris-interiors.com.

December 15, 2011
Double Brook Farm

FARM LIFE: This sheep and lamb at Double Brook Farm in Hopewell are from the Katahdin breed, also called “hair” sheep. They do not have wool, but a coat of hair. The farm also raises cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and vegetables.

In 1910, 40 percent of the United States’s population grew the food that fed the rest of the population. Today the percentage of the population that feeds the rest of the country has been reduced to two.

It’s true that American farms have been disappearing as quickly as developers can snatch up the land. Robin and Jon McConaughy, owners of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, are exceptions to this trend, however. They are doing all they can to bring the farm-to-table concept of local, sustainable farming to our area.

“It really all began because we were interested in having animals for our own food, showing our children where food comes from, and connecting with the land,” explains Robin McConaughy.

So, in 2003, the couple, both corporate executives, purchased 60 acres in Hopewell, with the idea of raising beef, chickens, and sheep for their own consumption.

Local Products

“We found we would have more animal meat than we needed,” continues Ms. McConaughy. “There was also great interest from friends and acquaintances in purchasing the meat and eggs, so expanding seemed the right direction. We also sold to some area restaurants. Then, we thought, ‘why not open a store and have a legitimate operation.

“I think more people definitely want local products, and healthy food today. They want to know what’s in the food and where it comes from. That demand for local, all-natural, pasture-raised products has defined the direction of our farm.”

The McConaughys discovered that distribution and procurement were key. “Distribution is a problem for the local farmers, and restaurants say they could not get quality and consistency. So we thought we could close the link: farm, market, restaurant.”

With this in mind, the now former corporate executives-turned full-time farmers, decided to go forward with plans for Brick Farm Market to open on Broad Street in Hopewell this winter, and Brick Farm Tavern, a restaurant to open in a renovated farm house on Route 518 and Amwell Road, in late spring.

“Nearly everything for the market and restaurant will be produced on the farm, and we now have 37 acres designated for vegetable farming,” reports Ms. McConaughy. “The market will have a butcher shop, eggs, cheese, seasonal vegetables, charcuterie, chocolate, juice bar, and Jen Carson’s pastries from Small World.”

Of course, it all begins with the farm, the animals, and the vegetables. Double Brook Farm has 300 head of cattle, 240 sheep, 150 pigs, as well turkeys and chickens. Most of the animals are for meat, some are breeding stock, and some chickens are for eggs. The McConaughys now own 265 acres of land and lease another 200.

100 Percent Devon

“The cows, which are 100 percent Devon, are completely grass-fed, which is healthier for them,” notes Ms. McConaughy. “And the composition of their meat is healthier. It has healthier properties. We have rotational grazing, and we move the cows to new grass every day through most of the spring, summer and fall. This helps the regrowth of the grass. Also, two to three days after the cattle leave the pasture, the chickens come in as the ‘clean-up crew.’ They scratch through and distribute the manure, replant seeds and add nitrogen to the soil.”

The farm has four different breeds of pigs: Hampshire, Berkshire, Old Spots, and Ossabaw. The sheep are the Katahdin breed, named for Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine.

The chickens, which are pasture-raised, are Rhode Island Reds for eggs, and Cornish Cross for meat. The turkeys, Standard Broad-Breasted and Heritage, are also pasture-raised. They are kept in a free-range pen until they are big enough to defend themselves against predators.

With their emphasis on being as self-sustainable as possible, the McConaughys are also developing a mobile slaughterhouse. This is for humane purposes and also so that farmers will know that they are actually getting their own meat, points out Ms. McConaughy.

Cows are kept on the farm for 24 to 30 months, and as long as people are going to eat meat, this is by far the most humane way for them to live. “It’s about choices,” says Ms. McConaughy. “Our cows are very healthy. I want our children to see that treating the animals humanely and also having a respect for the environment are important.”

Regarding the environment, solar panels are used on the roof of the barn and other buildings; diesel farm machinery runs on converted cooking oil, and all fertilizer comes from the animals themselves.

Farm Manager

Everyone knows that farming is just about the most difficult career path one could follow. The hard physical work, the unpredictability, the weather, the insects and other pests all take their toll. The McConaughys are doing their best to make it a success — to the benefit of everyone in the area who appreciates healthy home-grown food. They have gathered a staff of knowledgeable people to help them.

“David Sherman is our farm manager,” says Ms. McConaughy. “He oversees everything. We also have a vegetable manager, cheese manager, restaurant manager, and farm hands.

“We had a plan in the beginning, and the most pleasant part has been working with people who are excited about what we are doing. Being around people who are so passionate about what they do and about what we are creating here is the biggest pleasure.

“Now, I look forward to seeing everything materialize — the market and the restaurant. It all takes hope, optimism, and determination.”

She is also anticipating the farm’s special Christmas event to be held Wednesday and Thursday, December 21 and 22 from 11 am. to 7 p.m. and on Friday, December 23 from 9 to 1. “There will be fresh turkeys, frozen cuts of meat, fresh eggs, fresh vegetables, and Jen Carson’s sweet confections,”

Eggs and other products are currently available at the farm. (609) 466-3594. Website: doublebrookfarm.com.

One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery

MANY CHOICES “We are the only consignment shop that focuses on furniture and large furnishings, and we have many choices at a fraction of their original cost.” says Jan Gutowski, co-manager of One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery in the Princeton Shopping Center. She is shown by a Habersham Plantation hutch, featuring a display of English Romantic Staffordshire dinnerware (c) 1840.

“I can always find the perfect gift — unique, appropriate, and at the right price. It can be a real surprise too. I might never have suspected what I would discover, and yet it is perfect!”

This long-time customer of One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery in the Princeton Shopping Center is always delighted to find the right item for any occasion. She stops in often because the selection is always changing.

Indeed, a treasure trove of choices awaits customers at this charming shop, which is set up for easy and convenient browsing. There is something for everyone and for every taste. Furniture, artwork, rugs, lighting, tableware, silver, crystal, decorative items, and everything from antiques to the latest styles are on display. The focus of the merchandise is gently-used items, but there are also occasional new pieces, such as the set of four Hickory chairs with Bergamo mohair fabric in bold black and white geometric design.

Opened in 1999 by interior designer Altina Noel, it has become a mainstay for area shoppers. “It’s all about recycling” notes Ms. Noel, who realized that when her clients wondered what to do with pieces they were replacing, there could be an opportunity for a consignment shop.

Interesting History

“We provide a real service for people who are down-sizing or moving,” adds co-manager Jan Gutowski. “They can bring items to us, and we’ll find a home for them. Customers like everything — from functional pieces, such as desks and dressers, to tableware, to rugs, and jewelry. They often like the quality of the older items, and the fact that something has a history.

“We had one piece that had a very interesting history,” she continues. “It was a ladderback chair that had come from Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park N.Y., and that had her signature on it. She had established a guild for artisans to supplement their incomes by making furniture, metalcrafts, and woven goods.

“The inventory is all styles and ages, as long as it is well-made of fine quality, and in excellent condition. Marketability is also a factor. Our space is limited, and we have to be selective. We aren’t able to take everything. I enjoy learning about all the different items, and a lot of thought and effort goes into pricing things.”

People come in regularly to see the latest, she adds. “We’re on a first name basis with 50 percent of our customers. They often come in once a week to see what’s new. We always say ‘Don’t hesitate. If you see something you like, buy it. If you wait, it could be gone, and there is not another one!’”

The selection does change all the time. “We have an extremely wide price range, from $15 to $50 and up to $9,000 for a new Baker dining room table with eight Chippendale-style chairs.”

Sofas, upholstered chairs, and beds share the space with tables, chairs, and an array of tableware and decorative items. Vintage Lalique, Herend, and the enamel-on-copper Halcyon boxes — all very collectible — are available, as is an antique French oyster plate, vintage 1950s sterling tea set, Portmeirion platter, Waterford crystal biscuit jar, beautiful hand-blown cobalt blue powder pot with brass feet (c) early 19th century, and most unusual, a goat-pulling-a-cart napkin rings.

Rocking Horse

A lucky boy or girl will love to find the wonderful handmade vintage rocking horse under the tree on Christmas morning, and the beautiful backgammon set with uniquely intricate inlay is a special gift for someone on your list.

All sizes and styles of rugs — runners to large handmade Persian — are available, as is an intriguing selection of chairs. An antique caned Lincoln rocker with figured maple back, four charming antique French salon chairs, an original 1810 comb-back Windsor chair with mixed woods, and a set of four very modern molded wood chairs offer a variety of handsome choices.

Then, there is a terrific drop leaf gate-leg dining table, which can also fold down to become a long, narrow console table against the wall; also, the appealing small English corner cabinet, and the antique oak jelly cabinet — all special pieces.

The list goes on. The incredibly eclectic selection offers an amazing number of options: antique prints, along with fun DVD cabinets, the popular Byers’ Choice Carolers, and a nice selection of vintage and new jewelry. “And, for the holidays you can come in and find a silver-plated serving piece or extra wine glasses,” points out Ms. Gutowski.

50-50 Split

“We also have another special service where we provide audio and video transfer for old records and home movies onto CDs and DVDs. It’s another great way to recycle.”

The consignment arrangement is a 50-50 split between the consignor and the store, she explains. Items are kept for 90 days; there is a 15 percent reduction if they have not sold after 45 days, and if at the end of 90 days, they still haven’t sold, they can be returned, if the consignor wishes.

“We make a big effort to help people,” says Ms. Gutowski. “We are very proud of our service, and we try to make things easy. We’ll go to someone’s house to look at larger items, and we also work with a transportation service that we recommend.

“The top reasons for consigning with us and buying from us are: it’s green; you’re moving out and can’t take everything with you; you’re moving in and can’t fit everything in the new house; you want to part with estate pieces; you like the quality and craftsmanship of vintage and antique items and the value we offer.

“We really have one-of-a-kind items here at very special prices, and we go out of our way to help customers find things that are right for them, “ she adds. “And, you never know what’s coming in. It’s like Christmas morning every day! I look forward to being here every day, and I can’t wait to see what people are going to bring in.”

One-of-A-Kind is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 to 4. (609) 924-1227. Website: www.oneofakindconsignment.com.

December 1, 2011
NTU Savory Spice

SIGNATURE SPICES: “We get the spices delivered every week, and you can come in and buy as little or as much as you want — starting at half an ounce.” Owner of the Savory Spice Shop at 15 Spring Street, Jon Hauge (second from right) is shown with his son Alex, wife Janet, and daughter Olivia.

There’s a spicy new look on Spring Street. Just added to the street’s popular mix of stores, businesses, and restaurants is the Savory Spice Shop, which opened November 21.

“I wanted to open the shop in Princeton, and Spring Street was my favorite space of all that we saw,” says owner Jon Hauge.

Formerly in the corporate world, Mr. Hauge worked in the purchasing department of a building products company. When he had an opportunity for a career change, he knew he wanted something related to cooking. “Several years ago, I went to visit a spice shop in downtown Denver. I’ve been an avid cook. I always loved to cook, and I was very interested in all the spices.”

When he learned there was a franchise opportunity with the Denver-headquartered Savory Spice Shop, and that it could be independently-owned, he decided to make the move.

Fresh Spices

“There are 14 Savory Spice Shops in the U.S. and only one other in New Jersey, in Westfield,” he notes. “I always thought it would be great to have my own business, and my background in purchasing has been helpful.”

What especially appealed to Mr. Hauge about the Savory Spice Shop operation was the freshness of the spices, the attention to high quality items, and the focus on customer service. “Savory Spice Shop is built on the principles of providing you with innovative, high quality products and excellent customer service. The spices are ground weekly, and we get them delivered fresh every week. We have a range of common to exotic herbs and spices and more than 140 blends. There are also baking extracts, organic spices, hard-to-find spices, and more.

“Also,” he continues, “I want people to understand that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the quality of what you eat. The addition of spices and seasonings can make a big difference, and we are happy to offer advice to people. We also have lots of recipes to share.”

The array of fresh spices includes traditional cinnamons, curries, salt and pepper, to exotic herbs and spices, such as grains of paradise, saffron, kaffir lime leaves, pomegranate molasses, achiote paste, and other specialties. There are signature seasonings, barbecue rubs, chicken and seafood blend options, dip and dressing mixes, salt-free seasonings, chili powders, and other flavorful mixing spices.

The visually appealing shop is conveniently arranged for browsing and buying. “We set up according to category, color, and appearance,” reports Mr. Hauge.

Enticing the senses is important in a shop like this, and every effort has been made to tempt the taste buds. Aromatic mulling spices are available to sample in hot libations, cinnamon rolls and dips have been offered, as well as freshly made popcorn.

Truffle Salt

“We have a popcorn popper and have popcorn with truffle salt for people to try,” says Mr. Hauge. “We also have a wonderful coffee-based blend, Baker’s Brew, to use for a barbecue rub, and a great cheddar cheese dip with a baked smoky flavor.”

There are so many treats in store: cinnamon sticks, Mayan cocoa, Mexican cocoa, Dutch cocoa powder, Chai spices, pizza and pasta pairings — and so much more.

Special advice is offered with cards featuring “Top 5 Spices for Pork”, “Top 5 for Seafood”, and “Top 5 for Steak”, and recipe cards are available for people to take home.

Mr. Hauge is very pleased with the number of customers coming in and calling as well. “People have been coming in from the beginning, and now they’re calling too. They want specific spices. One person called asking for sumac, a middle eastern spice — which we do carry.”

Related items, such as pepper mills and mortar and pestle sets are also available, and Mr. Hague points out that the spices, including a variety of gift sets, and the other products make excellent housewarming, hostess, holiday, and teacher gifts. In addition, there are fun seasonal items, such as small sachets of frankincense and myrrh, suitable for incense-burning.

“We can customize a gift set, and there are also tubes filled with different spices for $5, a terrific stocking stuffer and a way for someone to explore a new spice and flavor. We have a big price range, from $2 up to $50, and everything in between. Right now, if you buy five or more gift sets, you will get 15 percent off the price. Gift cards are available too. Spices are available in resealable plastic bags, small 2-and 4-ounce glass jars, and 8-ounce plastic bottles.”

Adult School

Mr. Hauge is happy to be in Princeton, and is already taking part in community activities. “I am teaching classes in spices at the Adult School, both now and in the spring.”

The enthusiasm, both of students in the classes and customers at the store, has been especially pleasing to him. He has also been warmly welcomed by the other merchants.

“I’m doing this because I love doing this, and I want people to have the same experience,” he says. “I like talking to customers and sharing information about spices. I often learn from people too, who have traveled and know about different spices. They like to share their recipes. And it is particularly nice that customers seem to enjoy talking to each other about spices in the shop.

“I felt that Princeton would be a great match for my shop. I knew that people here appreciate food and wine and dining experiences. I hoped to build a good solid customer base, and I think I’m off to a great start!”

He is happy, too, that his family has been part of this new adventure. “It’s really like a family business. My wife, Janet, who is a librarian at the Princeton Public Library, and my son Alex and daughter Olivia all help out.”

Savory Spice Shop is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 454-5627. savoryspiceshop.com.

New To Us: Taste of Mexico

TEMPTING TASTES: “Mexican food has that spice, that tropical feeling. It not only tastes good, it makes you feel good. There is a fun feeling about Mexican food.” Leslie Paredes (left), general manager and Felipe Cruz, owner of Taste of Mexico are happy to welcome customers to the restaurant’s second location at 180 Nassau Street.

“Mi casa es su casa,” as they say in Spanish. “My house is your house.”

Nowhere has that sentiment been more happily translated into a restaurant setting than at the new location of Taste of Mexico at 180 Nassau Street. No one is a stranger here. The warm, friendly atmosphere welcomes customers, inviting them to enjoy the southern Mexican cuisine.

“I love restaurants! I sleep and eat restaurants!” says owner Felipe Cruz, who is also proprietor of Taste of Mexico in the Princeton Shopping Center and El Oaxaqueño in New Brunswick.

“I had been wanting to expand,” he explains, “and then the opportunity to move here became available. It was perfect. I think it was meant to be.”

New Things

The location is the site of the former Calico Restaurant, just behind Cox’s Market. Cox’s came with the restaurant, so Mr. Cruz is now also running the deli as well as all of his restaurants! He is not daunted by this challenge. With many years experience in the food industry, including managing restaurants in New York and the Princeton area, he looks forward to the opportunity.

“People in Princeton love to try new things,” he points out. “They have traveled and have experienced other cuisines. We are encouraged about the customer base that we are building. We already have regulars. The town has also been very welcoming to us.

“Another thing, the advantage of having multiple restaurants is that if you should run out of something, you can always get it from one of the other places.”

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Mr. Cruz came to the United States when he was 15. He always enjoyed cooking, and from his early years in the restaurant business, he looked forward to having his own place. His first, Taste of Mexico in the Princeton Shopping Center, has been a success for 16 years, and El Oaxaqueño for eight years.

He has every expectation of that success continuing at the new Taste of Mexico. “We have a unique product, the most authentic Mexican food around here. We have our own special recipes that have been passed down, and our chef’s recipes are one-of-a-kind. In authentic Mexican cooking, we use the freshest ingredients — cheese, vegetables, meat.

“We very much focus on healthy eating. Most of our items are grilled, and we use olive oil and very fresh vegetables. It’s healthy food, but with all the great flavor. I try to keep the originality of the flavor and the food with our recipes. We definitely stress our own way of doing things, our own special way of cooking and preparing dishes. You won’t find our kind of cooking everywhere. It’s our own special touch.”

Authentic Mexican Food

Two Princeton University students, one a repeat customer, one sampling Taste of Mexico’s dishes for the first time, agreed. “This is really great authentic Mexican food, and there is also a really nice atmosphere here.”

Many customers have already found their favorite dishes, reports Mr. Cruz. “Mole Oaxaqueño, the traditional dish with chicken and mole sauce; enchiladas with soft rolled corn tortillas with chicken or cheese, and green or red sauce; and fajitas, and tamales are all in demand for lunch and dinner.”

Among the appetizers, guacamole is a clear favorite, reports Mr. Cruz. “This is a real specialty for us. It is one of the most popular dishes, and people want it all the time. We also have a lot of vegetarian dishes, and more and more customers are wanting them. They are available in burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, fajitas, tamales, and enchiladas. Also, all our dinner and lunch specials are served with chips, salsa, rice, and beans.”

Special low fat platters are also available, including grilled quesadillas, shrimp, chicken, and steak, as is a variety of salads.

Lunch, dinner, and take-out are very popular, and on Saturday and Sunday, breakfast is also served. “Breakfast is getting more and more popular,” says Mr. Cruz. “We have specials like breakfast burritos, breakfast quesadillas, and also pancakes, waffles, French toast, and fruit platters. Orange juice is hand-squeezed.

“Two of our most popular breakfasts are Huevos Ranchero with fried eggs, black beans, and ranchero salsa, topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese), and flour tortillas; and the Spanish Continental, with fried eggs, black beans, and tomato salsa, topped with queso fresco, served with fried plaintains and flour tortillas.”

Breakfast Dishes

A variety of Mexican sodas and juices is available, and customers are welcome to bring wine and beer.

Prices include breakfast dishes at $6.99, appetizers from $5.99, lunch specials at $7.99, and dinner specials at $10.99. A children’s menu offers items from $4.99.

Catering is another specialty of the restaurant and also Cox’s Market, points out Mr. Cruz. “We cater anything, and we do a lot of lunches. Cox’s has the best panninis! We do a lot of catering for Princeton University.”

He is pleased, too, that even within the intimate setting of seating for 31 (with additional outside patio dining in seasonal weather), the restaurant has been able to accept groups and private parties. “We do our best to accommodate everyone, and that includes groups.”

Mr. Cruz looks forward to more people enjoying Taste of Mexico’s unique atmosphere with its bright and vivid decor and beautiful ocean mural, and of course, its signature cuisine. “People who come here will have the most authentic Mexican food. It’s the real deal! I am very encouraged, and the best thing is that people are coming back again. It’s everyone — all backgrounds, including lots of families, kids, and Princeton University students.”

Owning and operating a restaurant involves long hours, dedication, and determination. As Mr. Cruz points out, however, “Warren Buffet has said that if you find out what you’re good at and find your passion, you will be successful. Then, you don’t mind getting up early and staying late. You have found your passion.”

Taste of Mexico is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday until 10, Saturday and Sunday 8 to 10. Call (609) 924-0500 or go to www.coxmarket.com.