Category Archives: Westfield NJ Community Information

Back 2 School

Patricia Perry Salon: A Westfield Experience Dedicated to Curls, Color, and Community!

Patricia PerryI know there are a million NJ hair salons to choose from– so why did I decide to pick the Patricia Perry Salon in Westfield (www.patriciaperrysalon.com)to write about this week? My friend told me about her positive experience at the salon – from the gleaming chandeliers, to the sweet woman who shampooed her hair, the first-class service, and finally how amazing her hair felt and looked! The more I learned about Patricia, her ideals, and what the salon means to her – I had to write this article!

 

Patricia was born in Portugal and came to the United States when she was four years old. She has been in the salon industry since she was 14 years old!! She started shampooing at a friend’s home and has been working in salons in Union County from 19 years old until the present! In fact, Patricia loves the “hair business” so much that she even quit law school for it! She decided to give the salon industry 100% of her devotion and dedicate her career to curls, color, and health conscience hair products! Oh – and don’t forget the community – she and her husband love to give back to the community that’s supported them through this crazy ride!

That’s right – this is a family business which is what I love about our community! Matthew and Patricia Perry met, married, and started this salon business together! They have two beautiful children, Jacob and Emma, and live in Clark, NJ. They opened Patricia Perry Salon in April 2015. She grew her extensive clientele in Union County salons and then came to a point in her career where they wanted to open their own salon and “do things the way we want to do it!” Matthew and Patricia went into this business as a total partnership. Patricia devotes her days to styling, the salon, and education – while Matthew handles the paperwork and marketing. You’ll always find him at the front desk so make sure to say “hi” next time you visit!

 

She decided to make it her mission to conquer CURLS! As she worked in the salons she noticed the curly-haired clients left with wet hair and tons of product while the other women left with a gorgeous blowout. She wanted every client to feel like they left the salon with a “finished product” and equally as beautiful. She made curls her “niche” and her main focus for Patricia Perry Salon. Did you know that 80% of the population has some sort of curl/texture to their hair? Patricia wants women to “fall in love with your hair all over again!” She says, “Love who you are – embrace your curls!”

 

Patricia PerryPatricia has been deemed a “Deva Curl Ambassador” – meaning she has done extensive education on her own and at the Deva Curl Deva Academy in the field of DevaCut, No Poo Transformation Service, and Pintura Highlighting. DevaCurl is a company devoted to curly hair products and stylist education of curl management. Everything you need to know is on their website here www.devacurl.com. Patricia is a “DevaStylist” and other stylists come to her salon to learn how to cut and style curly hair. All the stylists at Patricia Perry Salon are educated on curls and can formulate and prescribe styling regime for each person – it’s very individualized.

 

No harsh chemicals will ever be found at Patricia Perry Salon – even their keratin treatments are formaldehyde-free! “We are extremely environmentally and health conscience about the hair care products we use and sell and we stand behind them 100%. The salon specializes in boutique hair color. They use the “top of the line” Goldwell products (www.goldwell.us)– the standard for luxury hair color. Goldwell, founded in 1948 is “the most intelligent and caring system for creating and maintaining vibrant healthy hair color.”

 

Patricia PerryWhen you walk into the salon you will see a display case of the most beautifully labeled and packaged hair care products. They sell Davines ( www.davines.com) , a family company started in 1966 in Parma, Italy, and the leader in eco-friendly products. Davines is “farm-to-table “hair care. Earlier this year, Davines partnered with the Slow Food Foundation– “a global nonprofit that preserves food and agricultural biodiversity by connecting local farmers with alternative markets- to launch the next generation Essential Haircare. The concept is truly unprecedented. The line is comprised of nine product families. Each contains one specific active ingredient from a Slow Food farm in Italy and the name, face and story of the farmer who grows it with care and passion.”

 

Patricia Perry Salon wants to give you the whole package when you walk in their door. From going back to get your shampoo, to the styling experience, to walking out the door with your fresh, new look. You will be offered your choice of mimosas, wine, champagne, coffee, tea, or infused water! “It’s all about customer service. We stand behind everything we do. We know there are so many salons to choose from – we feel we are bringing something different to the table!”

 

Back 2 School

The salon also has an awesome “Back to School Drive” scheduled for Wednesday, August 30 –  between 10 am and 7 pm bring in a new lunchbox and your child will receive a free haircut! All proceeds benefit the YWCA of Union County. Please call the salon in advance to make an appointment for that day! “The community has completely embraced us and we want to continually give back to them!”

 

 

Trust me, I’m not trying to change anyone’s loyalty to their NJ local hair salon – but if you are looking for a new salon to experience or you haven’t had the best “curl” treatment – why not stop in? Every stylist at this salon is amazing and a true artist! You won’t be disappointed!

302 South Avenue East, Westfield, NJ 07090

 908-301-1001
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NosVino

NosVino: The Euro Café Brought to Westfield

NosVinoHave you ever exited a restaurant at night with half a bottle of wine still waiting to be finished? (Ok, it doesn’t happen to me very often, either!) You get my drift, though, right? The party has broken up and you still want to keep the evening going! Chris LoBrace, manager of the new NosVino in Westfield, has the answer to your evening woes!

 

The new outdoor seating at NosVino, an upscale wine and beer store on Central Avenue, is a welcomed sight to the Westfield restaurant goer searching to find a seating area to complete the evening.  Re-opened in August 2016 under a new look and new name (formerly Cool Vines), the process of obtaining a sidewalk café license was a bit of a process. But now that the bistro and chairs are in place – everyone is wondering what to expect! This store is ground-breaking, being the first wine store of its kind to obtain an outdoor café.

 

“To be honest, this is a good town for couples and families, but there isn’t much public space to enjoy alcohol and just sit outside!” commented Chris.  

 

So, what exactly is this café connected to the store? Chris stated, “We wanted people to behave the same way as restaurants, but with our store.” A big dream, some bistro chairs and flowers, and the space was created. Here’s how it works. You purchase an adult beverage of your choice from inside the store and hopefully some of their delicious charcuterie (more about that later).  After that, the experience is all yours. They recommend bringing your own method of keeping your wine chill, your own corkscrew/bottle opener, and glasses – whatever accoutrements you would bring to an outdoor picnic! Then pick a spot outside and enjoy the scenery and the company of the people who came with you!

 

Basically, once you exit the store you are in downtown Westfield and have entered Café NosVino! Folks- this is not a restaurant, a bar, nor are they serving booze. What you do have is a “self-service café”, mentioned Chris. The employees at NosVino are “not allowed to handle the alcoholic products in any way.”

 

“We have a lot of cool stuff!” added Chris. Yes, they certainly do! NosVino means “our wine”. Owner Erick Garcia has truly hand-picked an impressive array of domestic and imported wine and beer. You can find the best rosé, microbrews, champagne, and ciders all cooling in their refrigerated section! The shelves are stocked with Asher’s chocolate products from Pennsylvania, Plymouth Artisan Cheese from Vermont, domestic pre-sliced prosciutto, figs, and chorizo.

 

NosVino’s vision for the present: They want to cater to restaurant goers who are frequenting the BYO’s in town. The store wants to provide an outdoor space for those who still “want to enjoy the evening in Westfield and finish their bottle of wine!” commented Chris. “We want people to have the Euro experience – that is how you kill the time- outdoor with friends! Maybe you go for that 2nd bottle of wine!” They also want to be that “rendezvous” point for parties.  “Start the night at NosVino and treat it as a “welcoming café!” said Chris. 

 

Plans and wishes for the future? They want to further define the café and individualize it. NosVino is planning formal food pairing suggestions with in-store wine and beer available for purchase. Streamed music outdoors is also in the works! 

 

Other notable features of the store?

·      Their Beer Club/Wine Club started this month. 

·      Free spirit/beer/wine tastings inside every Friday and Saturday.

·      Stop by for free wine tastings during Westfield jazz nights

·      Free delivery to all downtown restaurants Thursday-Sunday 5-9 pm

·      Schedule a private event for you and your friends for wine tasting classes, wine pairing seminars, whiskey sipping, and beer education!

 

For now, NosVino simply asks that you make use of this al fresco sidewalk café and do what the Euros do – sip the hours away enjoying the company of those around you!

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Blende

Custom Beauty Right Around the Corner

BlendeTwo Westfield mothers and professional makeup artists, Kiera Karlin and her business partner Nikki Tardibuono, celebrated their grand opening of Blende on May 2. Keira has made quite a name for herself in the celebrity makeup world. For over 25 years she has been using custom blending with some of the hottest celebs on set for popular TV shows and movies. Nikki is equally known in the industry and is a licensed esthetician certified in cutting edge techniques that bring a unique draw to the business.

What’s funny is that Keira and Nikki met as mothers in the Westfield school system when their children were little. For the longest time, they didn’t even know the other was a makeup artist! Once they established that connection they set out to open a custom blende makeup studio because they craved a home base. 

Kiera said, “It was just sort of a natural progression…I wanted to bring it home. I wanted to make it available for everybody – not just celebrities. We started talking and both wanted to have it in Westfield- we just love this town. This location just fell in our laps! We have the exact same tastes, the exact same aesthetics, we put out the same image – it just works!”

 

Why will you crave their products? The highest quality of ingredients goes into all of their products. Everything is paraban-free and vegetable and mineral based. Whatever you desire is custom-made to your liking from foundation, concealers, primers, highlighters, eyeliners, lipsticks, and glosses. 

“Everything can be tweaked and tuned to take care of any issue that anyone has – specific to them – no more hit-or-miss makeup purchases!” Kiera said. Whether you have under-eye circles, acne, fine lines–your makeup can be made with ingredients that help to correct these common issues. They take into consideration your entire profile when designing your custom makeup – eye color, skin type, hair color, coverage needs, everything! Did I mention the studio is equipped with the SAME makeup lighting found in the Hollywood trailers?  If you look amazing in the store, you look amazing everywhere!

 

Blende beauty care starts with the teenage years. While the rage right now may be heavy makeup, these women stress that “less is more” for teen beauty. The key is to “enhance” their natural beauty and learn how to conceal issues they may have with “as little makeup as possible.” Under eye circles and acne can be treated with tea tree oil or other natural compounds mixed into the makeup. Keira stated, “Teach them early that they are beautiful the way they are!” 

As for us “women in our prime” who may be seeing a few wrinkles and lines creeping in and may wonder where to start, Nikki says, “Everyone should start with skin care. Start with a canvas that is right and that will help your makeup look better!” Blende carries an amazing Swiss skin care line called Luzern Skin Care and they will guide you to the best product for your current skin care situation. These ladies can teach new moms how to “get out of the house in 10 minutes with a face that looks fresh” and provide “over 60+ women with skin care products and makeup that can take years off!” 

 

In addition to the custom blende makeup services, Nikki has a multitude of unique services. She offers “microblading,” which is a new form of tattoo artistry where eyebrows are created with a handheld tool that produces fine hair strokes that appear as actual hairs. This is “great for fill-ins and women who need whole brow reconstruction”, stated Nikki. There’s also a new method to “eyelash line enhancement” that produces thicker lashes. The pigment is deposited directly in between the lashes and not drawn on as an eyeliner. Nikki commented that this gives the “look of fuller and darker eyelashes” and is perfect for women with lighter skin and hair color. 

What excited me is a new procedure called “Dermaplaning.” With a blade held at a 45-degree angle, Nikki removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells and fine hairs, and the end result is a “beautiful canvas for makeup.” She recommends this procedure for anyone experiencing acne, blackheads, fine lines, and wrinkles. This procedure may be desired more than those at the dermatologist because it’s all done by hand–no machines, more precision, and no downtime!

 

Finally, their parties sound so fun – I want to book one for this weekend!

 

SIP AND BLENDE PARTY:  take over their store, BYO cocktails, play your fav songs and choose a custom blende product to be designed for each of your BFFs!

 

MAKEUP LESSONS PARTY: using a mirror and a set of their vegan brushes their makeup artist does half of your face and then you try to match the other half using the techniques you were taught during this amazing group lesson. Perfect for Sweet 16, birthday parties, and Ladies Night!

 

GLAM AND GO PARTY: the store is closed for you and your closest friends while you sip cocktails, listen to music, and snack on apps. Everyone gets a personal makeup artist creating their custom look before you all hit the town! Perfect for girls’ night out and bridal parties!

 

I know what you may be thinking right now…gleaming storefront, custom makeup, cutting-edge services…all of this has to cost a fortune, right? You’d be surprised that the answer is shockingly the opposite. How many times have you shopped at a major beauty supply store and just DUMPED products into your basket knowing that half of it probably wouldn’t work? Usually half wasn’t the correct color and it couldn’t be returned. Tons of dollars just wasted! Ladies, think of Blende as an investment that won’t break the bank. Their foundation is $50, lipstick $32, and mineral eye shadow $24. Very comparable to the other major makeup lines and it’s all made for YOU! Visit their studio at 106 Elm Street or go online to BlendeBeauty.com to schedule online.

 

These women have created the answer to a makeup issue we have all been facing since our teenage years! I’m very excited to walk back through those doors, where it’s like a grown-up candy store – I’m not sure where to start!

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If These Walls Could Talk….

There’s just something about old houses. Besides the character you find in the beautiful craftsmanship of older homes, there’s an energy and a visceral feeling you get from walking the same floors, touching the same walls, looking out the very same windows that others did for generations before you. And every once in a while, if you’re lucky, you find actual, tangible history in an old house, just as Melissa Fahy did when she found a letter from the 1940s hidden within her walls. 

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A teacher at Westfield’s Roosevelt Middle School, Melissa was surprised to receive a text from her husband in the middle of her work day, detailing the discovery. Melissa said, “My husband texted me a photo of the letter, and he didn’t know what it was at first. I was so excited to read it and see what it was. It’s so well preserved, it almost looks fake. We realized that the letter must have fallen through the floor boards of the attic and become trapped behind the stairs.”

IMG_9527The letter was written by an adoring woman to her husband Rolf Christoffersen while he was abroad. And the letter itself is pure poetry! In an age of quick texts and emojis, it’s so moving to read a heartfelt handwritten letter. After she read it, Melissa was determined to find whom it belonged to. “It felt like a scene from ‘The Notebook’ or a movie. I just knew I had to get the letter back to the owners. I posted about it on the Facebook Westfield Moms page. I have a one-year-old, so I had no time to do research. One of the people who commented on my post had somehow known who Rolf’s son was, so I got in contact with him and said, ‘I have something that might belong to you.'”

Rolf Christoffersen Jr. replied to Melissa, “Actually, I believe that letter belonged to my father.” In a whirlwind conversation, Rolf Jr. told Melissa that his mother, Virginia Rose Fitzgerald, was one of the early residents of the home when Virginia’s father purchased it in 1940. Four years later, Virginia married Rolf Christoffersen, and they lived in the Westfield home until 1959, when they moved to California with their three children. Rolf Sr. was a Norwegian sailor who was part of the North Atlantic convoys during World War II, and no doubt it was letters from his beloved wife that kept him in good spirits. 

It turns out Rolf Sr. is still alive and in his 90s! Melissa got the letter back to Rolf Jr., who read it to his father, and both were delighted to have this piece of Virginia back. Rolf Jr. said that all the other letters between his parents from that time period were lost when they moved to California. He called it a “miracle” that this letter has now come back to their family. Incredibly, this might have been the very first time Rolf Sr. had read this letter, since it had been “returned to sender” all those years ago, and who knows when it got lost in the walls of the home?

If Melissa loved her house when she bought it, now she’s grown even more attached to it. “It’s so cool to find a piece of history like this. You see so many houses torn down, and to find a house like this to fix up–you’re apprehensive at first, but then you realize the value of having a house with so much history.”

Melissa told the incredible story to her students, and it’s wonderful to hear that the younger generation was wide-eyed with awe over the story of a long-lost love letter.

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Rolf Jr. asked Melissa if the sun porch was still there on his old Westfield home. “It is, and we’re renovating it,” she told me. I can’t help but get misty-eyed thinking about a couple in love, holding hands on the sun porch 70 years ago, and another couple in love, holding hands on that same porch today. Old houses are amazing.

Check out the NBC News story about this amazing story!  NBC News Story

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The Gift of Heart Failure

Westfield’s Dan Weiniger Publishes a New Book: The Gift of Heart Failure

I’ve always admired people who are able to see the glass as half full even amid adversity. My friend, and Westfield’s eternal optimist, Dan Weiniger will inspire you with his newly published book The Gift of Heart Failure, in which he shares his hard-earned lessons on how to turn obstacles into opportunities.

The Gift of Heart Failure

Many of you might know Dan from his successful local business Home Video Studio (http://www.homevideostudio.com), which I’ve used myself and highly recommend! Having already endured a quintuple bypass earlier in life, Dan suffered another nearly fatal heart attack two years ago. Doctors declared that his heart was 80% dead, and he had extensive surgery in which an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) was implanted to keep his heart functioning while he awaits a heart transplant. His friend Doug Lynch helped to raise almost $9,000 to install a whole-house generator in Dan’s home to ensure that his LVAD will function even in power outages.

After recovering from that heart attack, Dan began volunteering for the NJ Sharing Network, a non-profit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life-saving transplant. He started speaking at events, like the Heart Fair Symposium, and soon he felt compelled to get his story down on paper to spread the word to more people. About a year ago he began writing the draft for The Gift of Heart Failure. Dan said, “The words just poured out of me. I didn’t even know what I would do after finishing the book. I just thought my experiences might help anyone through anything by showing the value of having the right perspective.”

Dan didn’t write his book in the traditional way of putting pen to paper. He said, “I seem to write best when I’m driving in the car alone, dictating into my phone, and then later going back into the studio and writing. Talking allows for freer flow of thinking. You go places you never imagine.”

family

In The Gift of Heart Failure, Dan discusses 12 tools to help you to accept any situation in life, no matter how seemingly insurmountable. Among those tools are appreciating the little things in life, developing an insatiable curiosity, being kind, and turbocharging your enthusiasm. You’ll have to read the book to find out the other tools! Along the way you’ll be uplifted by Dan’s humor, truth, and endless encouragement. Rumor has it, you will not be able to put the book down (and aren’t those the best kind?).

 

You can order The Gift of Heart Failure on Amazon as a paperback:  https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Heart-Failure-Fundamentals-Opportunities/dp/0692877320/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493053073&sr=8-1

And it’s also available for the Kindle: 

https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Heart-Failure-Fundamentals-Opportunities-ebook/dp/B071YCN8YX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493053073&sr=8-1

Follow Dan on Facebook @TheGiftOfHeartFailure, and stay tuned for local book signings with the big-hearted (pun intended!) man himself. Dan will be donating a portion of the proceeds of his book sales to the NJ Sharing Network and other organizations.  

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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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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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Westfield Resident Pens a Page-Turner

Few things bring me as much pleasure as a GOOD BOOK, and when I enjoy one, I like to spread the word about it. You might have heard of the bestselling novel “The Memory Box,” but did you know it was written by a Westfield resident? I caught up with the author to get the scoop on how her riveting debut novel came to be!

Eva Lesko Natiello Eva Lesko Natiello has lived in Westfield for the past 15 years with her husband and two teenage children, and only started writing creatively 12 years ago. Eva said, “I actually never planned on writing a book, but one day I read in the ‘New York Times’ an article about people Googling themselves. This was back when people just started Googling themselves. The article told the story of a teenager who Googled himself and discovered he was on a missing persons list. He didn’t know that he was kidnapped when he was two years old, until he Googled himself. When I read that article I thought it would be a great idea for a psychological thriller. ‘The Memory Box’ is about a NJ suburban mom who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember.” If that isn’t a great premise for a suspenseful novel, I don’t know what is!

Eva revealed that living in Westfield greatly influenced “The Memory Box.” She said, “‘The Memory Box’ is a fictionalized version of Westfield, which I called Farhaven. The opening scene at the schoolyard was inspired by the grounds of Franklin School. Some streets in the book were unintentionally named after streets in Westfield. When I was in the throes of creative inspiration and the writing was coming fast, I would use street names from town just as place holders for when I’d have time to really think about names. I never wanted to interrupt writing flow with naming, but in the end I never went back to change them. People think that some of the characters are based on locals, and they will stop me in the grocery store or at a party to tell me their theory of who the characters are based on. That’s always funny for me. None of the characters in the book are based on real people. But they are definitely relatable.”

Admit it: if you haven’t already read the book, you want to now!

The Memory BoxI enjoy interviewing creative people, because I get a sneak peek into the inner workings of their minds, almost like a magician revealing the secrets behind his tricks. Eva described a little of her writing process to me: “My current routine is to write 1500 words a day, and I usually write first thing in the morning and I will typically stop by noon. After noon, I work on the business side of being an indie author: marketing, public relations, distribution, etc. I also blog, so that needs to be fit in somewhere. I do have loose outlines for the novel in progress. It keeps my first draft organized and on target, but honestly, once the writing flows it can take me in directions I’d never planned. So it’s important for me not to stay too committed to the outlines. The characters always have their own ideas!”

If you’re an aspiring writer, you’re sure to be motivated by the story of how “The Memory Box” came to be published, because it did NOT happen overnight. Eva recounted, “When I finally finished writing and editing ‘The Memory Box,’ I queried literary agents in hopes of getting representation. Unfortunately, after about three years of writing to agents, I was rejected 81 times and could not find one to work with. This was a tough time for me because I thought if I couldn’t get an agent, the book would never be published. So I put it away for over a year and worked on other projects. Then one day a book called ‘Gone Girl’ was published, and after reading that book and seeing its success, I realized ‘The Memory Box,’ which is in the same genre, had a potential audience out there. That’s when I decided to self-publish. It took a long time to learn about self-publishing and cover designing, and copyediting, and distribution, marketing etc. It finally was published in June 2014 and is available worldwide. I have also started to sell the foreign rights to the book, which is very exciting. And last spring, the audio book rights were sold at auction. You can imagine how happy I am that I didn’t leave it in a desk draw to collect dust!”

“The Memory Box” went on to become a New York Times bestseller and even reached #1 on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com,  and it’s been one of the top ten bestselling books at The Town Book Store in Westfield for three years running. Eva had this to say about the wild success of her novel: “Honestly, it has surpassed my wildest dreams. And I’m additionally proud of its success because it’s self-published. It’s very difficult to author a book and then do all of the business behind it as well. Indie authors, these days, are called authorpreneurs. It’s the perfect name for what we do.”

So many of us are members of book clubs (which is where I first learned about ‘The Memory Box’), and Eva is no stranger to them and has visited with dozens of book clubs to discuss her book. She makes sure to acknowledge those that have contributed to the success of ‘The Memory Box.’ “I am very grateful to the community for all of their support. I am sure that ‘The Memory Box’ would not have been as successful without the enthusiasm of the community, book clubs, and readers who have been so excited to spread the word. Thank you, readers!”

You can follow Eva and read her blog on her website: https://evanatiello.com. If you’re a fan of ‘The Memory Box,” please comment! 

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“Wood”n’t You Love A Handcrafted Gift?

One of my favorite words is HANDMADE. I admit I’m quick to fall in love with pretty much anything that’s been made by hand with tender loving care. I’m not crafty in the slightest, and maybe that’s why I’m all the more impressed by the talented local artisans we have in our midst, like Stephanie Mattielli of Westfield, whose woodworking business is taking off. 

westfield woodworkingStephanie’s business–eponymously named Stephanie Mattielli Woodworking–officially launched this past October, but her experience with woodworking goes way back. Stephanie said, “My dad taught me how to use tools at a young age, so I’ve always had an appreciation for building and tinkering in the workshop. My family actually built my parents’ house, and it took us five years. We worked on the weekends and after school. It took us six months alone to clear the land of the trees. My dad would cut the trees down, then into fifteen-inch sections, which would then be split into firewood. So part of my chores growing up would be to split and stack wood. I also worked with my dad in the summers in his business as his ‘apprentice’ working on everything from decks to roofing. I think because of this I’ve always enjoyed just putting on a tool belt and going to work.”

I have so much respect for anyone who works with their hands. And to be a woman excelling in a formerly male-dominated field like this . . . well, that just knocks my socks off! 

Using her woodworking expertise, Stephanie creates a variety of rustic-chic pieces that compliment any decor, including wooden slab trays, hostess trays, platforms, chargers, coasters, and stump tables. “My hairpin tables seem to be a fan favorite,” she said. 

All of the wood used in Stephanie’s pieces comes from her parents’ land in South Jersey; most of the wood is oak, but some pieces are made with cedar or birch. Stephanie cuts all the wood in her father’s workshop, but then she adds the finishing touches in her Westfield home. I was curious to know what tools she uses to create these beautiful works of art. “We use just about everything depending on the piece; chainsaw, planer, table saw, band saw, router, drill press, different sanders, etc. I probably spend the most time sanding as it feels like it’s a job never quite done.”

Wood is a material that will never go out of style, and if you browse Pinterest, Houzz, or design magazines, you’ll see just how popular natural wood furniture and accents are right now in the world of interior design. Stephanie said, “I love the joy in natural wood, which is everything from the grain to knots to organic cracks, and my work shows that. With my stump and hairpin tables, no two pieces are alike as they come from different parts of the tree so they can’t be recreated.” Stephanie’s pieces are unique conversation-starters, but they are also practical, and that combination makes them such wonderful additions to any home. 

You can shop the Stephanie Mattielli Woodworking collection on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StephanieMattielli. Follow her on Facebook @stephaniemattielliwoodworking for updates on new products that might be coming down the pike, such as cutting boards and coffee tables. If you have something in mind that you don’t see on her Etsy site, contact Stephanie, because she gladly takes on custom orders! 

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Open House 8/28 1-4pm 5 Bedroom Westfield Colonial!

646 Fourth Ave Westfield

646 Fourth Ave Westfield

OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY 8/28 1-4PM

This beautiful 5-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath classic Westfield colonial (646 Fourth Ave) has all the charm and character of an older home combined with stylish updates and spacious additions for today’s buyer. The recently painted exterior oozes curb appeal, while a rocking-chair front porch welcomes you home. Inside you’ll find exquisite woodwork, from the gorgeous chestnut columns to the timeless hardwood floors with inlays. A large living room opens into the dining room with exposed beams. The bright kitchen has been updated with butcher block countertops and stainless steel appliances. Just off the kitchen is a cozy breakfast nook that opens onto a welcoming deck. The first floor continues with a fabulous expansion that includes a powder room, an expansive master suite (currently being used as family room) with gas fireplace and cedar-lined closet, and a gorgeous en suite full bathroom. This could easily become an in-law suite.
Four more bedrooms and a full bath are located on the second floor, and the huge walk-up attic offers limitless possibilities for expansion. The living space continues on the lower level with a massive recreation room featuring hardwood floors and high ceilings, which opens onto the picture-perfect patio and fully fenced yard with lush, level lawn. A generous mud room and an oversized unfinished storage and laundry area complete the lower level.

With its convenient location close to NYC transportation, downtown, and schools, this home has everything you’re looking for and is priced to sell at $609,000.

 

See the MLS information below:

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