Category Archives: Community Information

Be Van You

Have Paint, Will Travel!

Be Van You

You’ve probably have heard of these paint-and-sip shops and events that are trending right now, and for good reason–it’s a blast (I can say that because I’ve done it myself!). But two Cranford moms have a new spin on the paint-night business that will bring the artsy fun right to your front door! 

Be Van YouTammy and Jeanette launched Be Van You this March as a mobile paint-and-sip business that brings painting and crafting parties directly to clients. The name is a nod to Van Gogh–the idea being that even you (yes, YOU) can be an artist, because with Tammy’s expert yet gentle guidance, even those folks who can hardly draw stick figures become something of a Van Gough, and clients marvel over the beautiful art they never knew they could create! Jeanette said, “We want people to find the creativity in themselves. Just like in the movie Ratatouille, where the lesson is that anyone can cook, we believe that anyone can paint!” 

Be Van You isn’t just for adults who want to paint while enjoying a glass (or two … or three) of wine. Tammy and Jeanette offer parties for all ages, including kids, and they also cater to corporate clients as well for creative team-building events. 

What can you expect if you hire Be Van You to host a party at your home or business? Jeanette said, “We bring everything from tables and chairs to all the art supplies … we even have lighting to set up outside for under-the-stars parties, tarps to cover floors, and aprons. The only thing we don’t provide is liquor and food.” An adult paint party costs about $35 a person (8-person minimum at that price), and Be Van You makes everything super easy so that you can include a payment link for guests in your online invitation. And if you don’t want the party in your house, Be Van You will travel to the location of your choosing. 

They have several art party packages for children, and you can choose to add on face painting and goody bags to make it a party that the kids will never forget. These parties are terrific because each guest gets to go home with a work of art!

You can find more information about Be Van You on their Facebook page @BeVanYou or call (908) 324-8364

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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

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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Santa Claus Is Coming to Town!! (Cranford and Westfield)

santa-kidsYou better watch out, you better not cry … oh who am I kidding, any sane child will cry in the face of a stranger dressed up as Santa Claus! But we love subjecting our children to it nonetheless! Here’s a list of places in the Cranford-Westfield Area where Jolly Old Saint Nick will make an appearance to delight (i.e., scare the bejeezus out of) your little ones. 

NOVEMBER 25, 6:00pm

Gazebo at corner of North Union and Springfield Ave, Cranford

Santa lights the tree; photos with Santa immediately after, $3 per child.


Lord & Taylor, 609 North Ave. W., Westfield

Friday & Saturday 1-7pm, Sunday 1-4pm

Free 5″ x 7″ photo with donation of 2 cans of non­-perishable food for the Holy Trinity Westfield Food Pantry. Nominal shipping fee will apply. Additional photos can be purchased.

NOVEMBER 26, 12-4pm

Tiffany Pharmacy, 1115 South Ave W., Westfield

Visit with Santa, enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, and receive 25% off gift department purchases while you’re there! Visiting with Santa is free, but you can purchase photo packages if you’d like. 

NOVEMBER 27, 3:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

Make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at:–studio

NOVEMBER 27, 5:30pm

North Ave. W. Train Station, Westfield

Annual Tree Lighting with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Free.

NOVEMBER 29, 4:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

This is the second event where kids will make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at:–studio

DECEMBER 3, 8:30am

Trinity Episcopal Church, 119 Forest Ave, Cranford

Pancakes, bagels, cereal, muffins, munchkins, juice, coffee & tea will be available. Jewelry, Christmas wreaths & grave covers, photo with Santa, fabulous raffle baskets 50/50 for sale. Breakfast tickets $6.00.

DECEMBER 8, 5:30pm

Giggles, 103 Miln Street, Cranford

$40 first child, $35 each sibling, includes indoor play. Email [email protected] for tickets.

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Cranford’s Chapman Plumbing Came to my RESCUE!!


Plumbing. It’s something every homeowner has to deal with regularly, and sometimes it ain’t pretty! I recently had a major sewage backup (don’t things like that always seem to happen at the WORST possible time??), but thanks to the deft and quick work of Chapman Brothers Plumbing, my house survived relatively unscathed!

I was preparing for a trip out of the country, as luck would have it, when our main sewer line backed up, flooding our first floor. Bill from Chapman Brothers came within MINUTES, stopped the water flow, and dug a hole in the yard to cut into the pipe from the outside so that our basement wouldn’t get flooded. He snaked the pipe and used a camera to make sure the flow was clear. And all this was done in the middle of a THUNDERSTORM! I couldn’t have been in better hands.

Originally founded in 1932, Chapman Brothers is one of the longest running plumbing and heating companies in New Jersey! Owners Bill Schinestuhl and Tom Swick are master plumbers themselves, and you won’t find them sitting behind desks but out in the field every day getting their hands dirty, no pun intended. Their services span plumbing, heating, and air conditioning, and they are available 24/7 for emergencies–don’t you love hearing that?!

Bill said, “We’re local, and we try to respond to emergencies as fast as possible. We try to get the people back into business as fast we can, and we like working directly with homeowners. Our goal is to make everybody happy and build value in what we do.”

Chapman Brothers gives back to the community as well. Just this past spring, Bill and his team donated their labor and plumbing supplies to a local family in need that was featured on an episode of “George to the Rescue”! 

The Chapman Brothers offices are located at 36 North Avenue East in Cranford. According to Business Operations Manger Judy Swick, “It’s nice to have a storefront that people can walk into. We still provide customers with that old-fashioned face-to-face interaction, and after all these years, we’re not going anywhere.”

I’m sure glad that Chapman Brothers aren’t going anywhere, because I’ve got them on speed dial now. You can contact Chapman Brothers at 908-276-1320 or visit their website:

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As soon as I saw a photo of the lovely Scotch Plains Fanwood Community Garden, I just knew I had to blog about it. When I see people come together to make a difference in their community, it gets me right in the feelies. 

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LynnSusan Wurzburger of Scotch Plains is a retired attorney and avid gardner, as well as the chairperson of the SPF Community Garden Committee. Along with several other invaluable committee members (Billy Malone, Joyce Johnson, Wanderlan Silva, and Patrice Barth), LynnSusan has put her blood, sweat, and tears into this project of launching a community garden. After their original site location fell through, the Community Garden found its current (and perfect!) home on the grounds of the historic Frazee House in Scotch Plains. 

According to LynnSusan: “The Frazees always treated their property as a gathering place, even hosting meetings during the Revolutionary War. We want to salute them and bring people back to the land. With the Community Garden, we’ve returned part of their land to its original purpose, which was a farm.”

The SPF Community Garden occupies an 80′ by 80′ plot that is fenced in, plus another 20 feet beyond the fence line. The organization Groundwork Elizabeth: Come Grow with Us provided materials for the first 14 beds and set up a helpful irrigation system for the Garden. The remaining 14 beds were built by the committee and volunteers using materials that were donated or purchased using rental fees. In addition to the 28 beds, there are six “demonstration gardens.” 

The Garden officially opened in late July 2016, and already the beds are flourishing! Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, pole beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beets, onions, garlic, parsnips, and a variety of flowers (specifically those that attract pollinators) all are growing in abundance. But the Garden is about more than just plants. LynnSusan said, “We’ve built a sense of community here, and it has been so gratifying to see the gardeners who ordinarily would not have met each other in day-to-day life come together and be so welcoming and helpful to one another.”

LynnSusan went on to tell me about some of the goals of the Garden. “We hope to demonstrate how easy it is to grow your own food. We also want to inspire a sense of charity as we try to establish a giving garden to donate to El Centro in Plainfield. We encourage our gardnerers to ‘grow a row,’ meaning grow an extra row of a vegetable or fruit for donation purposes.” 

I loved hearing about how children are welcomed in the Garden. “We have a lot of young families who bring their kids with them. They children learn valuable lessons on how to plant, nurture, and harvest as well as eat what they grow. It’s essential to give kids an appreciation of the earth and teach them how to take care of it.”

Residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood as well as local organizations (one bed is currently being tended by a Girl Scout troop!) can rent a garden bed for $40 for a year. According to LynnSusan: “Next year we’re hoping to add 10-12 additional garden beds. We also plan to incorporate special gardens accessible to the elderly and disabled children.”

In October, the Community Garden will begin accepting applications for spring 2017. Current gardeners have first choice of beds, then it opens up to all the local residents and organizations on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

If you’d like to see the beautiful SPF Community Garden in person, visit the Harvest Homecoming fundraiser on October 1st from 11 am to 3 pm! This fun-filled family event is being cohosted by the Community Garden and the Rotary. There will be live music, food trucks, a petting zoo, face painting, children’s crafts, square dancing, games/prizes, and more! Although admission to the Harvest Homecoming is free, donations are welcomed that will benefit both the Garden and the Frazee House. 

The SPF Community Garden is located at the Frazee House: 1451 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains. If you would like to learn more about the Community Garden, visit their website at, or donate to this wonderful grassroots organization through their GoFundMe page:

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The Cranford-Westfield Area Makes the Perfect Family Staycation!


If you didn’t get to travel anywhere for a vacation this summer, or if you already went somewhere but still have vacation days to take this month, why not enjoy a CHEAP and SUPER FUN STAYCATION before school starts up again? The Cranford-Westfield Area has so many great options for family fun (much of it FREE) … you truly don’t have to go far to have an amazing summer with your family!

Here is a list of just some of the fantastic outings you can take without even leaving Union County. If you know of other interesting places or events nearby, feel free to comment and share!


It ain’t summer without zeppoles, am I right?? Check out these festivals in our area.

Cranford Street Fair & Craft Show

August 21st, 11am – 5pm

Downtown Cranford

Over 200 food and craft vendors, plus kids’ attractions.

Kenilworth Fire Department Carnival 

August 15th-20th 

St. Theresa’s School

540 Washington Ave., Kenilworth


Old-fashioned fun including rides, food vendors, games, beer garden, money wheel, and pay-one-price wristband nights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!

St. Bartholomew Italian Festival 

2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains

September 2nd-5th


This beloved annual festival features exceptional live music nightly, games, Italian food, raffles, and more!

Cranford Canoe Club

 A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:

A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:CRANFORD CANOE CLUB

250 Springfield Ave., Cranford


Not just canoes but also kayaks are available for rent at the Canoe Club. Paddle your way through a scenic and very calm stretch of the Rahway River, and you’ll be reminded of why Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey.” Life jackets are included with your rentals. The snack bar serves some seriously yummy ice cream and snacks as well. This should be on everyone’s summer bucket list!


A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:


Enter from Sprinfield Ave. in Westfield or Mountain Ave near Route 22 in Mountainside

You can spend a whole day at this gorgeous park by bringing fishing rods (the pond is well-stocked), renting paddle boats (only $10 for an hour!), visiting the shady playground, and enjoying a picnic (they have BBQ grills available, plus a full snack bar at the boathouse). And if you have a four-legged friend, bring Fido along to the great dog park at Echo Lake! 

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:


1003 Morris Ave., Union

Hours: Monday – Sunday 10am to 4pm; closed Sundays 

This is such a fantastic option for a rainy or too-hot day! Liberty Hall is very kid-friendly and always has exhibits that appeal to the younger set. Check out the TOYS THROUGH TIME exhibit, where kids can actually play with toys from decades past! Plus there are frequent family-friendly events going on at the museum grounds. Call the museum to reserve a tour. Admission is $12 per adult, $8 per child age 3-17, FREE for children under 3. Call 908-527-0400.

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:


There’s just something about watching a flick under the stars! Some of these movie showings will feature food trucks and even free popcorn!

FanwoodTuesday August 16th, 8:30pm at LaGrande Park, showing “The Good Dinosaur.”

Scotch Plains: Fridays August 19th (“Up”) and 26th (“Zootopia”) at dusk on the Village Green.

SummitMonday August 22nd at dusk, 356 Broad Street, showing “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”


I’m continually blown away by the talent of local musicians. BYO lawn chairs and blankets and listen to great music!

Clark: Summer Arts Festival, featuring yoga and live bands at Oak Ridge Park, Wednesdays August 17th and 24th, 6:30 pm. Rain cancels.

Rahway: Summer Concert series, Thursdays August 18th and 25th, 7:30 pm in front of Union County Performing Arts Center. Beer garden on site! If raining, concert is moved inside to the main stage.

Westfield: Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, Tuesday nights through August 30th, 7 pm. Rain cancels.


165 Hobart Ave., Summit

Hours: open from dawn till dusk 7 days a week

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

This is a hidden gem of Union County–13+ acres of lush gardens and woods, perfect for leisurely hikes and bird-watching. Once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, the arboretum is now listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Join a FREE TOUR of the grounds on Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from now until October. Kids will enjoy the DISCOVERY SATURDAYS on August 20thand 27th in the Stackhouse Education Center: drop in anytime from 9 am to 1 pmfor stories, games, crafts, and a mini exploration! Discovery Saturday events are free for members, $5 per non member child; children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Here are THREE different spraygrounds to choose from in our area, and all of them are FREE to visit. Heck, you could probably visit all three in a day! Generally, the sprayers turn on when temps reach 82 degrees.

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Ponderosa Park

Cooper Road, Scotch Plains

Huge spray area and sprawling playground structures for all ages, restrooms, shaded picnic benches, and bike path. The ice-cream truck visits almost daily. Note: there is no shade in the playground area so bring hats and ample sunscreen and beware of hot playground equipment! Water shoes might be a good idea for the kids.

Snyder Ave Park

240 Snyder Ave., Berkeley Heights

Adorable fenced-in spray area adjacent to a cute playground, plus restrooms. Note: there is zero shade!

Warinanco Park

Entrance at St. George’s Ave in Roselle

Such a great park featuring a large, newer sprayground, plus two playgrounds and a pond with paddleboats (which you can rent for $10 per hour). 

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:


452 New Providence Road, Mountainside

Hours: Open 12-5pm, 7 days a week

With over 4,000 square feet of nature, history, and animal exhibits, Trailside is a great place to spend a rainy day with the kiddos! And in nice weather you can make a day of it by visiting the ginormous Watchung loop playground or taking a hike into Watchung Reservation.

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Child Development course offered at Cranford High School

                                              Cranford High School                                    I’ve always been a fan of elective high school classes that teach real-world, practical skills. The Child Development course at Cranford High School is an outstanding program that gives students hands-on practice with child care and education as they plan lessons and interact with preschool “Cougar Cubs,” who in turn get to experience a fun-filled and educational class all year!

Annamaria Bellino oversees the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Cranford High, and the Child Development Course/Cougar Cubs Program is part of that department. According to Annamaria: “The Child Development course is a full-year elective open to students in grades 10-12, with the Cougar Cubs component running from October through May. Students who take the class have the Child Development course 5-days a week for 43 minutes daily. There are three sections of the class with 15 students in each class. On Mondays and Fridays, the high school students meet as a class to lesson-plan and work through the curriculum. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the preschool aged Cubs report from 9:15-11:15am as the three class periods cycle through the high school schedule (resulting in the Cubs working with a total of 45 high school students each day).”

Annamaria continued, “There is a certified Cranford High School staff member that teaches the class for high school credit and provides supervision to the high school students when they work with the Cubs.”

Parents who are interested in signing up their preschool age children for the Cubs program should contact Annamaria at: [email protected]. Children must be 3 1/2 years old at the start of the program (no older than 4), and must be potty-trained. The cost is $175 to enroll your Cub for one semester (October-January or January-May) or $325 for the entire year, plus a $25 registration fee. If you’ve priced out traditional preschool classes, you know this is a STEAL! You can download the application forms here:

Below is an in-depth description of the program. For any students who are thinking about becoming teachers someday, this sounds like a wonderful foundation. And for parents who are looking to introduce their preschool children to a social and education setting, Cougar Cubs is the perfect stepping stone! Annamaria said, “This program is embraced by the entire Cranford Community. Many of the high school students who take Child Development were once participants in the preschool-type program and are eager to sit on the other side of the desk!”


Cougar Cubs: “Teens Teaching Tots and Tots Teaching Teens” Service-Learning in Child Development

Child Development is a service-learning elective in the Family & Consumer Sciences Department that introduces high school level students to the child education and care profession through a careful, psychology-grounded study of child development. It is designed to increase understanding of the basic concepts of child development and the developmental characteristics of children. This course is the foundation for planning appropriate activities for and establishing appropriate expectations of children, while offering an opportunity to study the various developmental domains (social, emotional, cognitive/language and physical). As part of the course, under the direction of a qualified teacher, there are regular opportunities for high school students to observe and interact with three and four year old children in our community in an early childhood setting of free play and child-to-child & child-to-teen interaction. 

Class Objectives for High School Students

  • To provide students with an opportunity for applying theory learned in the classroom.
  • To train students to use instructional strategies found effective in early childhood education. 

Goal for Cougar Cubs:

  • To provide a developmentally appropriate, hands-on learning environment that is not a pre-school but an opportunity to promote social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth in preparation for formal schooling.
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Yoga Studios in the Cranford/Westfield Area of NJ

Ohhhhhhm … Are you a YOGA lover? Or someone who has always wanted to try it? There are so many great yoga studios in our area for seasoned yogis and novices alike; it’s truly just a matter of finding what studio and style you suit you best! Here is a list of many of the yoga studios in our local area where you can experience the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of

this ancient yet still evolving practice. Namaste!


Alluem owner Gina Pachkowski (left) and manager Karen Gilmour (right):

Alluem owner Gina Pachkowski (left) and manager Karen Gilmour (right):

Alluem Yoga

347 Lincoln Ave. East, Cranford


Classes include: Chair Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Gentle/Yoga Nidra, Beginner, Slow Flow, Flow, Flow 2, Rock Yoga, Mixed Level, Ashtanga Inspired, Family Yoga, Kids and Teens, Prenatal Yoga. Free adult class on Sunday 8/7 (9 pm) at Whole Foods Clark Commons, and free Yoga in the Street 8/12 (6pm Post Office Plaza, Cranford).

Hot Yoga Revolution

200 S. Ave East, Cranford


Classes include: Beginner Hot Power Vinyasa Yoga, Hot Power Vinyasa Yoga, Flight School, Hot Yoga Boot Camp, Hot Vinyasa.


Aquarians Yoga

812 Central Ave. #1, Westfield


Classes include: Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini for Beginners, Power Vinyasa Flow, Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Sound Healing, Hatha Yoga for Beginners, Mixed Level Vinyasa Flow.

Bella Vida

401 W. Broad St., Westfield


Classes include: Core Strength, Power Groove, Renew and Restore, Power Basics,  Soulful Power, Power Flow.

POE Yoga

128 Elm St., Westfield


Classes include: Poe Gravity, Poe Moon, Poe Earth, Poe Sun, Poe Air, Poe Wind, Poe Fire.

Satsang Yoga Studio

235 E. Broad St., Westfield


Classes include: Liquid Flow, Satsang Basic Flow, Flow Hour, Beginner class, Sunrise Flow, Meditation, Flow & Align.


Moxie Pilates & Yoga owner Emily Miranda-Thompson

Moxie Pilates & Yoga owner Emily Miranda-Thompson

Moxie Pilates & Yoga

300 South Ave., 2nd Floor, Garwood


Classes include: Basic Yoga, Open Yoga, Gentle/Restorative Yoga, Pre- and Post-natal Yoga, Kids/Teens Yoga, Special Needs One-on-One Yoga.

Nicole’s Yoga Center

95 North Ave., Garwood


Classes include: Yoga 1, Yoga 2, Vinyasa Flow, Yoga/Pilates Fusion


House Yoga owner Christa Lapinig strikes a pose:

House Yoga owner Christa Lapinig strikes a pose:

House Yoga

144 N. 14th St., Kenilworth


Classes include: House Flow, House Flow Basics, Hot House, Yoga Stretch & Rejuvenation.


Bikram Yoga

1115 Globe Ave., Unit B, Mountainside


Classes include: Bikram, Hot Vinyasa, Bikram Express


Heads & Tails Yoga

1049 Raritan Rd., Clark


Classes include: Yoga Flow, Yoga 101, Friday Night Yoga, Yoga Flow 2, Midweek Restorative Reset, Slow Flow/Restorative

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Cranford’s Gertie The Beagle is an Internet STAR!!

Gertie The Dog

Must. Love. Dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I like cats too, but dogs just slay me! Recently I came across the cutest darn beagle on Instagram who stole my heart. Turns out Gertie the Beagle hails from Cranford, and she’s quickly becoming a little celebrity on the Internet and in town.

If you are on Instagram, have a gander at the account by the name of Gertie_The_Beagle. I dare you not to fall in love with this dog! Every time Gertie’s owner Nicole Caputo posts a photo of Gertie, I see so much personality come through the photos–it’s as if Gertie is looking RIGHT AT YOU. And clearly I’m not alone, since the account has more than 1,200 followers!

Gertie The Dog

I recently spoke with Nicole about her beloved four-legged friend. Gertie had a rough start in life. Nicole said, “Gertie is three and a half years old. She was born in a testing lab. I adopted her when she was 14 months old from Happy Paws Rescue NJ, who specialize in taking in beagles after labs are finished testing on them. They are amazing at what they do.”

Gertie The Beagle

As many of you know, adopting a rescue dog has its challenges. According to Nicole: “When I first adopted Gertie, she didn’t know how to be a dog. She didn’t know what grass was; she didn’t know how to walk on a leash or anything, so I basically had to teach her how to be a dog.” It pains me to think of any dog treated the way Gertie had been treated, and thankfully there are people like Nicole who’ve given Gertie and other rescues a second chance at a REAL life.

What is Gertie like now, a couple of years after living with Nicole? “She loves going to the park and seeing her dog friends, and she absolutely LOVES cheese and chicken jerky. She enjoys car rides except when they are to the vet. She’s a very happy girl. My favorite quirks of hers are when she begs, because that means she wants to be picked up and held like a baby. She also sings when you sing to her and when she doesn’t wanna do something she plays dead. It’s quite hilarious because she won’t move for anything and I have to pick her up and carry her home.” I knew this dog had serious personality!

Nicole went on to say, “Gertie loves to go the bank, to Pizza House Pizza Chef in Cranford, Pet Valu in Garwood . . . basically anywhere she can see people and greet them. She is so friendly to everyone.”

Gertie is also part of the “Grumpy Beagles United” group on Instagram. “They are actually not all grumpy, and it’s like a family. They send gifts and mail and positive thoughts. It’s a great family to be a part of.”

Nicole was born and raised in Cranford, and she currently lives here with her fiance and Gertie. In the two years since Nicole adopted Gertie, they’ve formed the unbreakable bond that we dog owners know and cherish. “She is my baby, my love, and my best friend. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her in this world. I’m grateful every day that I have her, and if it’s even possible I love her more and more every day.”

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Scotch Plains’ Tiki Love Farm Is A GREAT Place To Visit!

Many of you are familiar with Dreyer Farms in Cranford and Watchung Stables in Mountainside, but did you know there’s another farm in our area that has BOTH a vegetable farm and horses? It’s called Tiki Love Farm, and it’s one of those hidden gems that I just love discovering!


Located on Raritan Road next to Ashbrook Park in Scotch Plains, Tiki Love Farm is owned and operated by David and Lucy Pritzker, along with their sons Abraham (Abe) and Ben. Several of the Pritzkers had experience with farming and animal husbandry before starting Tiki Love. Lucy lived on a horse farm in Upstate New York after college. Abe went to a boarding school that had a working farm, and he gained considerable experience with sustainable farming and holistic agriculture. Ben has been horseback riding since he was about eight years old. With their shared love of horses and farming, the family started Tiki Love Farm in mid-2015.

But why start a farm of all things? According to Abe: “It has always been a family dream to live in the countryside on a small farm, so when the opportunity presented itself to us without having to move out of the area away from all of our friends, we swiftly took it. Our mission is to teach sustainable farming and to share our love of it.”

You might be wondering how an animal farm co-exists amid suburbs and right next to a county park. Abe said, “Tiki Love Farm is lucky to be situated in such a beautiful area in New Jersey, but we don’t take it for granted. We are meticulously careful about how we use our land. Part of sustainable farming is not taking more from the land than it can handle. The animals fertilize the fields by grazing on the them all day (if the weather is permitting). All of the manure from the horse stalls goes to our garden, so as not to pollute the gorgeous forest with harmful fertilizers.”

Caring for Tiki Love Farm takes a LOT of work and many hands. There are a lot of local folks–young ones especially–who are just dying to lend a hand and learn how to care for animals and farmland. Abe said, “We have a quite a few farm hands who range in age from eleven to sixteen. They are learning how to take care of animals in safe, sustainable, and loving ways. At Tiki Love Farm, we have three priorities: the safety of our human friends, the safety of our animals friends, and the long-lasting safety of our big friend mother nature. To ensure the safety of our farm hands, we have at least one responsible adult present at all times when there is someone at the barns, as well as numerous other safety measures. While many of the farmers at Tiki Love have critical experience with animals, if any of our horses are looking sick or are acting odd or unusual, we give a call to our veterinarian.” 

Abe went on to assure all the animal lovers out there: “I cannot stress enough how imperative the issue of animal well-being is to us here at Tiki Love Farm. I can completely assure you that our animals have the highest quality of life possible.” Hence the word LOVE in the name of the farm! 

So what does a typical day look like at Tiki Love Farm? To be sure, it’s a labor of love, but in the very best sense! Abe ran through their typical day for me: “First, we feed and water the horses, barn cats, and rabbits. Then the horses are let out to the fields where they peacefully graze all day. We have two miniature horses, one mini donkey, and two standard horses at the farm. The two standards are ridden practically everyday to get proper exercise and to give our riders practice. If it’s been a dry few days, we give the garden a quick spritz. We also pick any ripe crops. Since it’s still pretty early in the growing season, we haven’t gotten too much yet, but we are so excited for when we do! After all of the daily chores are done, we do odd jobs like fixing the fences, or building a new hutch for our three rabbits. Oftentimes we take the mini horses (and donkey) for a walk around the property. In the evening, we do our night chores, which typically are the same as the morning, just in reverse. We bring the animals in, make sure they are all doing well, give them night grain and water, and say good night!” 

TikiLove4Would you ever have thought that a suburban family was living this kind of simple yet hardworking farm life right in our neck of the woods? The Pritzkers are a fine example of how we all can get back to nature and find joy in getting our hands dirty.

Visit the website and go to the “contact us” section to schedule a visit to the farm, or email [email protected]. The Pritzkers hope that more children and adults alike will want to volunteer on the farm. Abe said, “We will bring in anybody who wishes to put in the work for the most satisfying opportunity in the world.”

Don’t forget to follow Tiki Love Farm on Facebook for announcements of upcoming events on the farm!

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