Valentine’s Day Dinner Spots in the Cranford-Westfield Area

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Love is in the air, folks! Have you planned a Valentine gift for your sweetie? Forget flowers or a cheesy card–the best gift is FOOD, baby. Specifically, a delicious dinner out on the town that you can enjoy together. Here’s a list of restaurants in the Cranford-Westfield Area that are offering Valentine’s prix fixe meals and specials that will make for a DELICIOUS and romantic date night. cNote that prices listed do not include taxes and gratuity (be kind to your servers!).

Bar Americana
24 N. Ave E, Cranford, NJ
(908) 276-3664
www.baramericana.com

Three-course dinner of pear salad, filet mignon or snapper, and berry-topped cheesecake (plus a sorbet palate cleanser) includes champagne toast; $45 per person.

 
Chez Catherine
431 North Ave., Westfield
(908) 654-4011
www.chezcatherine.com

Three-course dinner features lobster bisque, filet mignon, and chocolate mousse cheesecake, and coffee; $80 per person. Reservations begin at 5pm and are a must.

Ferraro’s
14 Elm St, Westfield
Three-course dinner with so many choices, including shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus salad, lobster risotto, chilean sea bass, and chocolate-covered strawberries, plus complimentary champagne toast and soft drinks/coffee; $65.95
per person.
Le Petit Temptation
19 Eastman St., Cranford
Five courses include cauliflower velvet, la homard mousse, monkfish or chicken, grapefruit and champagne, and dessert; $75 per person. BYO
Mulberry House
415 Westfield Ave., Westfield
(908) 233-3562
www.mulberryhouserestaurant.com

Five-course dinner includes truffled potato soup, root vegetable salad, roasted salmon, seared filet mignon, and a Valentine’s dessert plate; $75 per person. Seatings are available at 7pm or 7:30pm. BYO

Pairings: Palette + Plate
10 Walnut Ave, Cranford
(908) 276-4026
http://pairingscranford.com
Four-course dinner with such choices as viking village scallops, duck risotto, beef tenderloin, and navel orange mousse; $98 per person. BYO

Tablespoon Cafe
21 N. Union Ave, Cranford
(908) 276-1900
www.tablespooncafeonline.com
Four-course dinner featuring such choices as lobster bisque, escargots, and braised lamb shank; $65 per person. Reservations begin at 5pm. BYO

 
Xocolatz
235 Elmer St., Westfield
(908) 232-3962
www.xocolatznj.com

Four-course dinner plus complimentary nonalcoholic mimosas; $40 per person.
No, I didn’t forget A Toute Huere, but they are completely booked! Their sister restaurant 100 Steps has limited seating left, although no Valentine’s specials. For more information visit: www.localrootscranford.com. Many other restaurants in our area will be offering a la carte specials that night as well, so you almost can’t go wrong wherever you go! If you hear of any great specials, please SHARE!! 

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North side Cranford Colonial For Sale! Open House 2/5/17 1-4pm

608 BROOKSIDE PL608 BROOKSIDE PL, CRANFORD

Spacious living meets fantastic location in this updated 3-bedroom, 3-bath Cranford colonial! c Enjoy cozy nights in front of TWO fireplaces, one in the living room and another in the adjacent family room. The cook’s kitchen with cherry wood cabinetry, stainless appliances, and granite countertops opens to a fabulous solarium breakfast room overlooking the parklike backyard with patio, pergola, and shed. A formal dining room and an accessible full bath complete the first floor. Upstairs are three bedrooms, including master suite with full bath, and an additional updated full bath. This move-in-ready home also features central air, alarm system, freshly painted interior and exterior, new and refinished hardwood floors, new carpet, basement laundry, full attic storage, oversized attached garage, and a corner lot location close to top schools, downtown Cranford, and NYC transportation, NOT in a flood zone!

 

PRICED AT $589,000   OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, February 5, 2017 FROM 1-4 PM

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This Gorgeous Westfield Home Just Sold!

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Congratulations to my clients Jim and Christina on the closing of their GORGEOUS new home in Westfield, NJ! cTalk about curb appeal–this Tudor style home is a stunner from every angle. The interior doesn’t disappoint either, with the character of an old home meshing beautifully with modern updates and spacious additions, including a gourmet cook’s kitchen. With four large bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, first-floor laundry, dedicated office space, finished basement parklike property, and an unbeatable location close to top schools and Downtown Westfield … would you believe this dream home sold for less than $1 million and never hit the MLS? It pays to have a realtor who is searching EVERYWHERE for the perfect home for you!

There are more wonderful homes on the market right now that will fit your budget! You can search for properties directly on this site… check out the search tool on the right! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to be the FIRST to know about homes that will be available soon!

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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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Another Iconic Cranford Home Sold!

307 Prospect Ave Cranford

 

Sometimes I can’t help but fall in love with a home that my clients are buying or selling. Just take one look at this stunning colonial on Prospect Ave in Cranford, and you’ll see why it was such a pleasure to help my clients Amy and Rich purchase this dream house! It is truly an iconic home with so many standout features that this family will get to enjoy for years to come. My personal favorite feature is the AMAZING sleeping porch at the top of the grand staircase! Currently used as a fantastic family room, it is not difficult to picture it being used during warm summer evenings long ago. It is so charming! And I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful town for anyone to buy a home in…that is why I love living and working in Cranford!

307 Prospect Ave Cranford

If you’re not living in your dream house yet, don’t worry … IT’S OUT THERE! And I can help you find it. You can search properties through this site, but better yet, give me a call or email me so we can discuss your goals. I’m always one step ahead of the market trends and often I know of properties before they hit the MLS. Let’s schedule an appointment to meet to discuss YOUR specific needs! Coffee on me!

 

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Check Out Kidoolo….A GREAT New Kid’s Party Place in Springfield!

A Party Place Like No Other!

kidoolo

There’s a new PARTY PLACE in Springfield, and it’s just what the doctor–okay, the kids–ordered! I had my assistant Christine check out the space with her two children ages 7 and 6, since mine are a wee bit too old for this spot, and her kids are already begging to go back!

Kidoolo (pronounced KID-uh-loo) opened on Route 22 in Springfield this past fall. Owned by husband-and-wife team Trish Stephens and Marc Turner of Westfield, Kidoolo doesn’t look like any other party place in our area. You won’t be accosted by crazy, swirly, brightly colored patterns on the walls and carpets when you enter. The interior design of Kidoolo is sleek and modern, clean as a whistle, and actually pleasant for parents to look at. Christine said, “I found myself asking where they got the cool leather benches for parents to sit on!”

There is a main sitting area for parents, with an adjacent “bar” where you can order light snacks and beverages. When Christine and her family were visiting, they were offered free ice water, which was a nice touch. Off the main lobby are our different play areas:

  • A climbing structure and toys.
  • An interactive dance floor area (not a separate room) featuring games projected onto the floor and a twinkling disco ball above.
  • A state-of-the-art laser tag arena, styled to look like New York City.
  • A video game room with 8 flat-screen TVs, various game consoles with tons of games, and bench seating, similar to the interior of a Game Truck.

Kidoolo was Trish’s vision, after receiving her MBA and working for 20 years in business and marketing for such companies as Nickelodeon. Trish said, “I  saw a void in the market when I was s earching for great kids’ play venues that provided awesome parties that weren’t overly crowded and were a little swanky . Also based on families hectic schedules, I wanted to offer exceptional services that made party planning stress free and extremely easy.”

 

Christine’s kids were able to play in all but the video game room, which wasn’t operating at that time. Christine said, “My kids actually did play on the climbing structure for a few minutes, but I would definitely say it’s best suited for children under age six. It’s a great spot for younger siblings to play while older siblings enjoy the other play areas.” 

She went on, “The dance floor was a lot of fun for my kids–they’ve seen this at other indoor play areas, but this one was actually working correctly, whereas similar floors at other locales seem not to work as well. They even played a successful faux soccer game!”

Kidoolo According to Christine, laser tag was the biggest hit with her family. “We were ALL dripping sweat and cracking up by the end of it; we had the best time doing it together as a family. The room is very dark, lighted by black lights, with lots of New York landmarks and buildings to hid behind, and it looks really snazzy. Music and sound effects blast through while you’re playing. All of our laser guns worked perfectly, which I imagine could be a concern. My daughter was a little scared at first because of the darkness and the loudness, and the manager was kind enough to turn the sound down for us! Each laser tag game lasts 8 minutes. You can purchase just one game, or an hour of games, which is what we did.” 

With a private party room on site and various all-inclusive theme party packages, Kidoolo seems like a terrific choice for any kid’s birthday celebration. A great way to check out the facilities before you book a party is to bring your kids for open play or open laser tag. Open Play (which only includes the climbing structure and dance floor) is held Tuesday through Thursday from 10am-4pm, Fridays from 10am-8-m, and Saturdays during select hours as listed the Kidoolo Facebook page (@Kidoolo). Laser Tag is available Friday evenings and select Saturday hours as listed on Facebook. 

Look out for a GRAND OPENING event on Saturday, January 28 from 12:30-3pm! 

For more information about Kidoolo, visit their website at http://www.kidooloplay.com.

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Cranford Resident Creates GORGEOUS Floral Arrangements… Flowers By Maggie

Flowers By Maggie

Who DOESN’T love fresh flowers?! Whether it’s a simple vase of tulips on a kitchen table, a dramatic arrangement at an event, or a classic bouquet held by a glowing bride, flowers make everything more special. No one knows that better than Margaret Iacovano of Cranford, whose business “Flowers by Maggie” provides truly breathtaking floral arrangements for weddings and special events.

Margaret has lived in Cranford for 17 years with her husband and three children. (I’m always amazed by the number of talented artists who live a stone’s throw away from me!) Her skill in floral design was honed through years of education and practice. Margaret said, “I studied Ornamental Horticulture at SUNY in Farmingdale, NY. While in college I worked part time in a small mom and pop flower shop that serviced my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Later, I spent some time designing atriums in office buildings. I quickly developed a love for flowers. After graduation I worked on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in a high-end floral event company. I went on to manage other businesses in New York. I have also studied interior decorating and have a passion for creating beauty indoors and out.” 

As so many of us moms know, it’s not easy finding a balance of work and home life. Margaret found that balance by starting her own company, initially on a very part-time basis. “After having my family, I started doing events for friends and neighbors, and formally started my own freelance event company on a part-time basis. My business has grown primarily through word of mouth. Teachers in my children’s schools, nurses from the hospital where I gave birth to my babies, sisters and coworkers of my brides, etc.” 

The fact that Margaret’s business has grown so much just from word of mouth proves that her services are topnotch! Only when people are continually THRILLED with your work does word of mouth help build a business. 

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Flowers by Maggie is known for its stunning arrangements not only at weddings but also Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet 16 parties, bridal and baby showers, birthday parties, fundraising events, corporate events, gifts, and holiday decorating. I asked Margaret what makes her business different from other floral design companies. She replied, “I do 100% custom work. Each and every event is different. I feel it’s my job to get inside my client’s head and bring their vision to life, which means I spend time and ask many questions. I also tend to use more seasonal and interesting flowers, greenery, and plants. The thank-you letters and cards that I receive confirm that I am doing just that. I was recently told that I made a bride’s ‘dream come true.’ I take pride in everything I do and strive to make the process as easy and fun as possible.” 

I always like to hear about the unique experiences of local business owners, and Margaret certainly has had quite a few of those! Some of the surprising jobs she’s done for clients: A four-foot-tall wedding cake that involved three 12-inch layers of flowers and three separate meetings with the pastry chef . . . A Bar Mitzvah with a hockey theme, including 30″ vases filled with hockey pucks, “ice” and flowers arranged into a hockey skate . . . And making a flower collar for a bride and groom’s cocker spaniel dog!

Clearly, Flowers by Maggie can do anything! 

To book a service or see more of Margaret’s amazing work, visit her website at www.flowersbymaggienj.com. You can follow Flowers by Maggie [email protected] and reach her by phone at 908) 653-9255. Tell her that 365 sent you! 

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Turn-key Cranford Cape Cod For Sale $339,000! Yes, PLEASE!!

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There’s nothing to do but unpack your bags in this immaculate Cranford cape cod! First floor boasts gleaming hardwood floors, living room, formal dining room, updated kitchen with contemporary gray cabinetry and farmhouse sink, bedroom, and charming full bath, with a beautiful neutral paint scheme throughout. Upstairs are two additional bedrooms and bonus area. Attached garage, laundry in basement. Close to schools, downtown, NYC transportation, and major highways.

OPEN HOUSE ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2017 FROM 1-4PM

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For Sale! 338 Warren St, Scotch Plains

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Look no further than this 4-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath colonial in Scotch Plains that has the curb appeal, living space, and location you’re looking for! Gorgeous hardwood floors highlight the open floor plan of the first floor, with large living room, updated kitchen with center island and breakfast area, formal dining room, bedroom/office, and powder room. The second floor boasts a spacious master suite with full bath, two additional large bedrooms, and second full bath. The partially finished basement offers exceptional recreation space and laundry room. A parklike backyard, quiet corner lot location, extra deep attached garage, and central air complete this move-in-ready home. Conveniently located close to NYC transportation and within 1 mile of vibrant downtown Scotch Plains!

Priced to sell at $659,000 Fill out the form below for more details and to schedule a private tour!

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Hey 2016….. THANKS!!

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Here’s a number for you: 47. Nope, that’s not my age (that ship has sailed!). Forty-seven is the number of homes I helped my clients buy and sell in 2017! I feel so fortunate to have guided these people through one of the most important and–yes–stressful decisions of their lives. I do not take that privilege lightly; I know it requires a lot of trust to put one’s future in the hands of a REALTOR®, and I want to thank my clients for trusting me.

I worked incredibly hard this year, no doubt about it, but I genuinely love what I do and where I do it, and I’ve enjoyed meeting so many different folks in different phases of their lives. It’s not just houses that drive the real-estate business: it’s the people behind those front doors. The grandparents looking to downsize…The young couple just starting a family… The city dweller who finally wants a yard to tend… The single person beginning a new era…It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your situation is, I am happy to help! The fact that I can help people make the leap to a new life phase … well, it’s just truly a blessing. 

I look forward to working with clients (both new and repeat) in 2017. This year is going to bring GREAT things, I can feel it already! 

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