Author Archives: Sharon Steele

About Sharon Steele

Purchasing a home in the Cranford, Westfield and other areas of the Garden State MLS in NJ is more than just a transaction. I am keenly aware that your new property is at the center of your lifestyle. Understanding what is important to you and your family will stay at the center of everything I do for you as a buyer. As a seller, you need someone that stays firmly on the pulse of market conditions in every neighborhood. Knowing how to navigate markets and apply value to the unique features of a property is also a key factor in determining the value of a real estate professional’s service. Whether a market is up or down, a professional that spends their career gaining insight through experience and relationships can keep money from being left on the table or a listing left lingering on the market. Delivering unequalled excellence to each and every transaction requires focus. At the core of that focus are good communication, accessibility and unwavering integrity. My attention to these issues combine with my exceptional attention to detail to deliver results that are above and beyond, every time. Thanks for visiting my web site. I look forward to meeting you!

Say Bye-Bye to Mosquitoes and Ticks!

We’re well into spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it SHOULD be a wonderful time to get some fresh air! But two things can majorly get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors: TICKS and MOSQUITOES. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my patio without having to worry incessantly about either of those pests!

 

With the large population of deer combined with the rivers and ponds in our area, it’s an unfortunate truth that we have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. The threat of Lyme disease makes ticks particularly worrisome, and their tiny size means that many bites go unnoticed. As for mosquitoes: not only do their bites itch like crazy (and they just loooove biting some people more than others–you know who you are!), they also carry dangerous diseases and can cause secondary infections.

Last Bite MosquitoIn recent years I’d heard glowing reviews of businesses that will treat your yard periodically to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. One friend said it was “life changing,” now that her family was able to enjoy pest-free backyard living after suffering endless mosquito bites in years past. It almost sounded too good to be true. I caught up with the co-owner of Last Bite Mosquito Control to discuss these services and see what all the fuss is about. 

Last Bite is based out of Monmouth County but services all of Union County. They are members of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and will soon be opening an office in town. Twin brothers and physical education teachers Jason and Jeremy Julio launched the company in 2013, after Jeremy’s son had contracted a staph infection from an infected mosquito bite (scary!). They thoroughly researched mosquito and tick prevention, got licensed, and their family company has grown exponentially ever since. 

When it comes to preventing mosquitoes in your own backyard, home remedies just don’t cut it. Jason said, “Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottlecap.” So even if you get rid of a couple of mosquitoes here and there, it takes an expert to locate and treat the breeding areas of mosquitoes. 

The treatment process is described as follows on Last Bite’s website: 

Last Bite Mosquito Control has highly trained and licensed technicians that will survey your yard and identify any high risk areas that could be used as mosquito breeding grounds.  A fine mist of our Barrier Spray (derived from the chrysanthemum plant) will be applied to the perimeter of your home. cThe treatment will include trees, shrubs, evergreens, flowers, foliage plants and all landscaping within the treatment area. Larvicide will then be placed to all mosquito breeding grounds at no additional charge. Our Barrier Spray treatment kills mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to provide protection for up to 21 days. All products we use are EPA approved.

You and your pets can use your yard as soon as 30 minutes after it’s been treated by Last Bite! They offer a package where they will come spray every 21 days from spring through fall; a pay-as-you go plan; or or you can purchase a one-time spray, which could be a life-saver for a backyard party you might be hosting. Jason said, “We encourage our customers to have open communication with us to let us know if there’s ever a problem, and we will always come back to your property. Our treatments are 100 percent guaranteed.” 

I’m looking forward to getting my yard treated by Last Bite this month so I can put my feet up on the patio and relax without having to swat myself every five minutes! 

For more information about Last Bite call 866-742-4887 or visit http://www.lastbitemosquito.com

Stop by Last Bite’s booth at Westfield’s Spring Fling on May 7th and tell them Sharon says hello! 

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6th Annual Miles With Moms 5K and Fun Run 4/23/17

Miles With Moms 5 K and Fun RunThe 6th Annual Miles with Moms 5K and Fun Run is fast approaching, and I’m thrilled to be a sponsor of this wonderful family-friendly race that raises money for the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ. The event will take place on Sunday, April 23rd at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, with the first race starting at 9 am, and it’s sure to be a memorable day for adults and kids alike. 

I caught up with Miles with Moms volunteer Jenn Gillman to chat about this year’s event. Jenn said, “This is an event that has something for EVERYONE in the family–a 5k race, 1 mile race, free fun run for kids, great music, delicious refreshments, wonderful raffle items, and ways to keep the kids busy. Runners, walkers, moms and dads with strollers, kids, friends and neighbors are all welcome.”

If you’ve been hesitant to do a 5K with your children, this is the perfect “ice breaker” 5K since it’s specifically geared toward families. Jenn said, “We have special crafts, activities, and races just for young kids. Our DJ will be playing fun music appropriate for young listeners; we have a face painter who will be offering free face painting for kids; and Creative Kids from Scotch Plains and Tinkergarten will be back with plenty of hands-on activities for kids to partake in. We also have a free Fun Run for children age six and under where everyone gets to show their speed.”

Besides all the races and activities, there will be refreshments and lots of raffles with chances to win some great prizes. And let’s face it, any event is better when you leave with a prize in hand! There will also be awards given out for the top finishers in several categories of the races.

Based out of Garwood, the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ is a nonprofit that creates and supports a community for all mothers. According to Jenn, “The fundraising done through the Miles with Moms 5K helps pay for our rented space, keeps costs at a minimum so all of our programming is accessible to everyone, and pays for exciting events for our members.” 

The Mothers’ Center has been around for almost 40 years, offering daytime and evening activities for moms and their children, fostering lifelong friendships among Union County mothers. For more information about the Mothers’ Center of Central NJ, visit http://cnj.mom-mentum.org/

To register for the Miles with Moms 5K visit www.njmileswithmoms.org2017 flyerScreen Shot 2017-04-07 at 11.37.52 AM

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Hop to These Events to Meet the Easter Bunny!

It’s almost that magical time again when folks in giant bunny costumes to scare the heck out of innocent children! But seriously, it’s just not Easter without an annual photo of your little ones with the big Bunny, so here is a list of local spots and events in the Cranford Area where your kids can meet the Easter Bunny. Note that some of these events are egg hunts, and I’ve heard a few horror stories about kids crying over not getting enough eggs and parents getting a little aggressive. Please remember to be kind and thankful at these egg hunts, most of which are free and run completely by volunteers. My assistant Christine offered this great suggestion: “Whenever we go to public egg hunts, I pack some extra eggs in my purse in case my kids hardly get any at the hunt!” 

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April 1st, 9:30am; 11am

Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave., Cranford

Cranford Woman’s Club Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, 2 seatings, 9:30 and 11:00am. Tickets are available for $6 pp at the Library and Periwinkle’s, or $7 pp online at http://cranfordjwc.com/

April 1st, 10am

Hanson Park, Springfield Ave.

Annual Colin Maher Easter Egg Hunt with Easter Bunny. Tickets are $8 per child in advance, $10 per child the day of event; parents free. Includes egg hunt, live entertainment, and games. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Colin charity for pediatric cancer research. Get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/7th-annual-colin-maher-easter-egg-hunt-tickets-32410000183

April 2nd, 7:30am-12pm

Cranford VFW, 479 South Ave., Cranford

Cranford Jaycees Pancake Breakfast with the Easter Bunny. $7 per adult, $5 per child, $25 for whole family.

April 8th, 10am SHARP

Orange Ave School, 901 Orange Ave., Cranford

Cranford Jaycees Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny. Admission is a non-perishable food donation for Cranford Family Care.

April 8th, 10am-12pm

Garlic Rose Restaurant, 28 North Ave. West, Cranford

Cranford Area Chamber Breakfast with the Easter Bunny. $10 per child, $16 per adult.Call 908-276-5749 to RSVP. Reservations a must.

CLARK:

April 8th, 12pm

Clark Recreation Center, 430 Westfield Ave., Clark

Open to CLARK CHILDREN ONLY: Clark Recreation Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny, plus games and activities. Free.  

FANWOOD: 

April 8th, 10am SHARP

Forest Road Park, Fanwood

Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny, plus games and activities, for ages 10 and under. Free.

SCOTCH PLAINS:

April 8th, 11am

Augustine Park Village Green, Scotch Plains

Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny, plus games and activities. Egg hunters must be 8 years old or younger. Free.

UNION:

April 15th, 2pm

Liberty Hall Museum, 1003 Morris Ave., Union

Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny. $10 per child (1 free adult per child, add’l adults $5 each). Purchase tickets ASAP (they cap it at 100 kids); https://tinyurl.com/lajs67k

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Comedy For A Cause Hosted by the Junior Woman’s Club of Westfield 3/24/17

Comedy For A CauseWant to eat, drink, and laugh until your sides hurt . . . all while supporting a great cause? Then get your ticket to the COMEDY FOR A CAUSE benefit hosted by the Junior Woman’s Club of Westfield on Friday, March 24 from 7-11pm at the Scotch Plains Italian American Club.

This “Funnyraiser,” as it’s affectionately come to be known, will include stand-up comedy, live music, a full buffet (provided by everyone’s favorite Five-Star Catering), unlimited wine/beer/soda, tricky tray, auction, raffle, and more! Proceeds from the Funnyraiser will benefit High Expectations Inc., a NJ-based nonprofit that provides recreational sports programs for the special needs community.

Event Co-Chair Mary-Eileen Fay explained how High Expectations was chosen as the beneficiary of the Funnyrasier: “Every year the club invites a few nonprofit organizations to our May meeting and we vote on which charity we will support through our major fundraiser. This is always a difficult decision because we wish we could say yes to all of them. We all were so moved by High Expectations, which is dedicated to the enrichment of the ‘whole person’ by providing developmentally disabled individuals and their families with access to athletic, recreational and social activities to supplement their educational and vocational training.”

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Mary-Eileen went on to say, “Both my twin nephews are affected by autism, and if it were not for High Expectations, my nephews would not have played sports. They look forward to practices and games where they could be themselves and never feel judged. It has provided life-long friends for them and their parents. My nephews also love to perform and tell jokes, and that’s how I was inspired to incorporate comedy into the fundraiser.”

After catching one of his hilarious stand-up shows, Mary-Eileen selected renowed comic Rich Vos as the headlining entertainment for the Funnyraiser. Rich has been featured on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, and countless other media outlets. He grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, so it’s great to have a comic who truly understands his audience.

Live music at the event will be played by the local KGB Band. Comprised of former high school friends, the KGB Band has become widely known as a top cover band in the Cranford-Westfield Area. And in case you were wondering, KGB stands for Kevin’s Garage Band! Kevin is also the director of Westfield’s Washington School Show band. 

Tickets to the Funnyraiser cost $75 per person. You can purchase your tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2770089. If you have any questions or would like to become an event sponsor or donate a tricky tray prize, email [email protected]

For more information about High Expectations, visit their team website: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=highexpectations.

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Kick Glass Art Studio in Cranford NJ

Our theme of women-owned businesses continues with the latest artsy addition to Cranford: KICK GLASS ART STUDIO. (Seriously, how great is that name?!)

Kick Glass Art StudioDonna Slevin and Sheila Hughes are co-owners of Kick Glass and have been lifelong friends, having grown up together in Westfield. Donna has an impressive 30 years of experience as a stained glass artist and 10 years working with fused glass. Sheila has trained with Donna in creating both stained glass and fused glass, and with Sheila’s 20 years’ experience in business, these two combine the best of both artistic and business minds.

Located at 536 South Ave East, Kick Glass offers classes in stained glass from beginner to expert, for ages 18 and up. “We have classes in fused (warm) glass from beginner to the tapestry technique. We have had private parties for Girls’ Night Out and Westfield Single Moms. And we offer business bonding opportunities! The studio is very large so people can bring their own food and drinks.”

You’d be amazed at the different types of works you can create with glass at Kick Glass. Donna said, “We offer a variety of ways for you to explore your artist talent using the glass medium. You can create bowls or paint using ground up glass. Our classes are educational. We want you to learn how to master the techniques used in both fused (warm) glass and stained glass.” Besides group classes, Kick Glass offers open studio time for more seasoned glass artists, as well as private one-on-one lessons. 

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I’m passionate about the restoration of historic homes, and Donna shares that passion when it comes to stained glass, which was featured prominently in many older homes. She said, “Stained glass is a centuries-old art form, and I want to make sure it lives on. When walking around the streets, we see many houses with older stained glass windows that could use a little TLC to help restore them to their former glory. We also want to encourage people to add a unique stained glass piece to their own homes.”

Follow Kick Glass on Facebook or visit their website to keep up to date on their upcoming classes and events: http://kickglassart.com. And don’t miss their official ribbon cutting with the mayor of Cranford on March 21st! 

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Cranford Home For Sale $459,000 Open House 3/12/17 1-4PM

 

361 Walnut Ave Cranford         OPEN HOUSE 3/12/17    1-4PM

 

361 Walnut AveUpdated from top to bottom, this move-in-ready 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Cape Cod in an unbeatable location will not last long! The spacious first floor boasts a freshly painted living room and formal dining room with beautiful hardwood floors and sunny bay windows.

 

 

361 Walnut AveYour dream kitchen awaits, with gorgeous quartz countertops, farmhouse sink, timeless white cabinetry, and glass tile backsplash. Relax in the roomy family room with vaulted ceilings, skylight, and built-ins. A bedroom with double closets and a stunning remodeled full bath complete the first floor. Upstairs you’ll find two more bedrooms, a brand-new powder room, and plenty of storage. The finished basement adds more recreation space, as well as a new full bath and laundry area. Additional amenities include central air, newly painted deck, attached garage, and fully fenced yard with over a quarter of an acre to enjoy. Located close to Walnut Ave School and less than a mile to the train station and vibrant Downtown Cranford, you won’t find a better home at this price!

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Strong As A Mother Fitness in Cranford NJ

We mothers have all been there–trying to get our post-baby bodies to look like they did pre-baby! But STRONG AS A MOTHER FITNESS classes are helping local moms gain strength and fitness (and quite possibly fit into those old jeans), all while bonding with their babies! 

Jenna Rosa and Dana Ryszetnyk launched Strong as a Mother Fitness in September of 2016, offering mommy-and-me exercise classes to the local community. “Each of us was drawn to postpartum fitness after the birth of our first child. We recognized that this type of fitness class was missing from our community.” Both Jenna and Dana are certified group exercise instructors, and Dana has been teaching pre- and post-natal exercise for 10 years, so she is an expert in this field. 

Jenna and Dana host classes indoors at the Strength and Fitness Club located at 570 South Ave E. in Cranford, and they also conduct outdoor classes at Unami Park during warm weather months. All fitness levels are welcome in Strong As a Mother Fitness classes. According to Dana, “It doesn’t matter if you worked out until the day you gave birth or if you have never stepped foot in a gym. We offer modifications to meet everyone’s needs and our classes are a judgment free space. We like to say strong mamas aren’t born, they’re made.” 

Mothers may attend the classes as soon as they’re cleared by their doctors or midwives to return to exercise (generally at least 6 weeks postpartum). Each mother brings her baby, and the ages range from 6 weeks old to 2+. Dana said, “Our moms like the balance between getting a good workout and tending to their child’s needs. We have eliminated the need for childcare, which they love. Beyond the physical health benefits of our classes, our moms appreciate the comaraderie of the group. We organize monthly events for our students outside of the gym. This further promotes our sense of community.”

Classes cost $18 each for drop-in, and there are significant savings if you buy bulk class packages (5 classes for $80, 10 classes for $150, unlimited monthly classes for $120). The fact that you don’t have to pay for childcare while getting a workout makes these classes such an excellent value. 

The Strong As a Mother class schedule can be found on their Facebook page @Strongasamotherfitness as well as on their website: www.strongasamotherfitness.com. You must register to attend each class by 8:30 am the morning of the class: https://strongasamotherfitness.com/classes/

Best of luck to all the mommies out there who take the leap and try a workout with Strong As a Mother Fitness . . . I’m sure both you and your bundle of joy will enjoy it immensely! 

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Opportunity Knocks In Cranford NJ!! 629 Lincoln Park E For Sale

Open House 2/26/17 1-4pm

629 Lincoln Park E, Cranford

$659,000

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Opportunity knocks with this rare find: an exceptionally spacious 4-bed/2.5-bath colonial on a quiet street close to everything Cranford has to offer! The first floor boasts a roomy entry foyer; huge living room; formal dining room with built-ins; extra-large eat-in kitchen with center island, pantry, and sunny breakfast nook; family room with beautiful wood-burning fireplace; and powder room. Upstairs you’ll find the master suite with large full bath and walk-in closet, three additional oversized bedrooms, and a second full bath. Laundry and storage space are located in the full basement with high ceilings, which has the potential to be finished. You’ll be thrilled with the ample closets throughout the home, 2-zone heating and cooling,   two-car garage, and welcoming deck overlooking the private backyard. With close proximity to downtown Cranford, NYC transportation, and major highways, this terrific home simply awaits your finishing touches!

OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 1-4PM

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What Are “Ono Bowls”? They Are DELICIOUS!! And They Are In Westfield!

I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING all the healthy choices you can find in Cranford and Westfield eateries nowadays. With my busy work schedule, I often grab meals on the run, and it’s a bonus if I can eat healthfully while still enjoying the convenience of quick meals. Ono Bowls recently opened in Downtown Westfield, and it has become a favorite spot for a fast but healthy and yummy meal! 

Tricia Caminos launched Ono Bowls this past November, but she’d been enjoying smoothie bowls for many years beforehand! A Cranford resident who’s been juicing since she was 19, Tricia is married to a native Hawaiian, who introduced her to the juicing trends of Hawaii. Tricia said, “I was eating smoothie bowls for 10 years. They became popular in Hawaii and California, and are only just becoming a thing on the East Coast. ‘Ono’ means ‘delicious’ in Hawaiian!” 

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Ono Bowls is located at 107 Quimby Street, next to the forthcoming Salad House. The menu has raw juices and smoothies typical of a juice bar, but the ono bowls are truly what set it apart. Each ono bowl consists of a thick smoothie base (often made with acai or pitaya for added heath benefits), topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey, and other delightful toppings. I sampled the PB&J ono bowl while I was there, and it was super tasty and filling. Tricia uses organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Something I loved about Ono Bowls besides the great menu is the atmosphere! There’s a large room in the back with plenty of comfy seats for lounging, a table where you can enjoy your ono bowl while getting some work done, and even cute coloring books and such strewn about for kids (and kids-at-heart)! It has a definite “chill” California vibe that is such a welcome addition to Westfield. 

I was thrilled to hear that Ono Bowls has been super busy since day one of opening! Tricia said, “All the kids come in after school throughout the week. We’ve even hosted parties here for Girl Scouts and other groups. We’re looking into offering catering services in the future.” 

You might spot some of Tricia’s family members working in Ono Bowls–two of her three kids work there part time! I love supporting local businesses that are a family affair. 

Ono Bowls is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6, Sunday from 10-5. Look for expanded hours in the spring. You can follow Ono Bowls on Instagram @ono_bowls and visit their website http://www.onobowls.net/index.html to view their full menu.  

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Move Over, Hallmark …… These Locally Made Greeting Cards Are Sure To Delight!

The Paper Cicada

Oh. Em. Gee. I recently found the most ADORABLE and clever stationery while I was browsing on Instagram, and it turns out that a Scotch Plains resident is the talent behind it all!

Gabbie Sosnowski owns The Paper Cicada, which is a line of her hand-drawn cards that would bring a smile to anyone’s face. She lives in Scotch Plains and graduated from Rutgers with a BA in French Literature, but despite not formally studying art, Gabbie said, “I’ve been fiddling with paper and drawing since I could hold things in my hands.”

Gabbie started making cards for friends and family back in elementary school. “I always preferred personalized cards to anything I could find at the store. Usually my cards would just be an illustration of our inside jokes. I still give handmade cards to my boyfriend and family for most occasions.”

Every one of Gabbie’s cards reveals her wry humor (and I love the idea of framing them for a touch of wit and whimsy in a home). She said,I’m inspired by anything that makes me laugh or think. I spend most of my time thinking about food, so I suppose that is why the majority of my work is food puns.” I can’t get enough of those food puns! 

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Gabbie officially launched The Paper Cicada in September 2016, though the idea had been on the back burner for years. I asked her about the company name, and she replied, “The Paper Cicada name comes from the folklore of the region of France in which I spent time studying and working while an undergraduate at Rutgers University. In Provence, cicadas are viewed as a symbol of ease and affability. They take the time to enjoy life, singing and playing, without working themselves to death. Despite their relaxed attitude, they still manage to thrive. I am inspired by this philosophy — I hope to make my life and my business mostly play, and to enjoy all the small moments.” 

I suspect there will be much growth with The Paper Cicada now that Gabbie’s designs are attracting such a following. She said, “I would love to see my cards and prints in brick-and-mortar stores, and to continue making people laugh at the markets I attend.”

It’s not too late to buy the best Valentines you’ll ever send. You can shop The Paper Cicada line directly through Gabbie’s website: www.thepapercicada.com. Send her a private message to arrange for local pickup!

Make sure to follow Gabbie’s biz on instagram (@thepapercicada) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thepapercicada/), both of which she updates daily with new designs, markets she’ll be attending, and special deals!

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