Tag Archives: Cranford NJ

GaGa Pits

Cranford is Going Gaga Over GaGa Pits!

Gaga PitsAnyone know what these things are? I didn’t either – but I HAD to find out because one magically on a Sunday afternoon at Orange Avenue Pool! Adults were scratching their heads and kids were screaming with delight! You’re about to reach a new level of “cool” with the kids because I’m about to school you on the game of GaGa and how a community came together to give Cranford the hottest new pastime for children!

According to the GaGa Center, “GaGa is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.”

Remember dodge ball in gym? I believe that’s pretty much banned now so they had to reinvent the wheel! With GaGa, about 10 children enter the “pit” and have to avoid being hit by the foam ball. Last player standing, wins. Then it starts all over again. I hear it’s quite addicting! For reference or if you want to look “cool at the pool” – here are some “official” rules that I found online. Of course, our Cranford kids may make up their own “house rules”!  GaGa Official Rules

So how did the GaGa Pit come to Cranford? News travels, folks! The GaGa Pit was constructed Sunday, July 9 and I had the name and number of the “head honcho” within the hour. I called up local Cranford resident, Frank Klapinski to find out how this phenomenon came to be at Orange Avenue Pool.

The story that unfolded is the very reason I love our town. Someone comes up with an idea for the community and, with the power of the people and the kindness of their hearts, it just gets done! Frank and some other local fathers had been to a cub scout event at Camp Speers in Dingmans Ferry, PA. Everyone had a blast with this new GaGa Pit and they all thought, “We need to do this! We have to bring this to Cranford!”

Upon arrival to Cranford, a “team” was assembled and their feet hit the ground running. They scoured the internet and found their desired pit design. Around Memorial Day the team called and met with the Director of Cranford’s Recreation & Park’s Department, Steve Robertazzi. Everyone put their heads together to come up with the perfect spot for the pit. The old tether ball court in the back corner of Orange Avenue Pool seemed like the perfect spot for this new addition! The group continued to meet to develop the plan, fundraise, and construct their materials list.

When they say, “It takes a village” – it truly did in this case! All of the pressure-treated wood came from Home Depot. The fathers and their children met during two nights off and cut the wood and preassembled walls. The Orange Avenue Pool staff, DPW, and the GaGa team took out the preexisting asphalt court and prepped the area for the arrival of the pit. Then all of the pieces were transported to Orange Avenue in pickup trucks that the fathers’ owned. Finally, on Sunday, July 9, they assembled the GaGa Pit in about two hours!

The children who knew about the game GaGa were very excited and soon began teaching the other children at the pool. Everyone came to watch this new game being played! Frank commented that the attraction of the game is that all age groups can be included and the “simple, unstructured rules” are appealing. “It keeps kids constantly active!”

Frank said that this project was a lot of fun. He mentioned, “We had a lot of cooperation – the dads were very excited.” This “GaGa team” (including Frank) consisted of all Cranford dads: Dave Mehr, Steve Kelly, Keith Muccigrosso, Andrew Soytka, Dominick Lanzisera, Cameron Andre, Greg Wofsy, Craig Sjursen, Robert Kelly, Chris Bath, and Joe Uglialoro.

Frank wanted to add a note of thanks to Cranford’s Steve Robertazzi and the pool staff, the DPW, Pat Giblin for supporting the idea, and the spouses for supporting the dads and their idea! He mentioned that the whole GaGa team is “happy to donate a small, fun thing back to Cranford!”

Okay folks – there it is! Read the rules and head over to the pool! See what all the fuss is about! It’s bound to be a great summer over there! Thanks Cranford dads for taking action and adding to our wonderful town. Who knows – you may start seeing more GaGa Pits popping up in unexpected places!

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Cranford Porchfest

Cranford Porchfest 2017: Taking Porch Sitting to a Whole New Level!

Cranford Porchfest

I can’t think of a more perfect union: porches and music! Add our quaint town of Cranford into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect day! Here comes Porchfest 2017 to Cranford! Folks, get ready for October 21st from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm!

A great town begins with people who care and have an invested interest in the happiness of all who reside. Thank you Cranford Community Connection for finding this national phenomenon and realizing that Porchfest is exactly what our town needs! Founded by Lesley Green and Gretchen Hildreth in Ithaca, New York in 2007 – the concept of Porchfest has taken the country by storm. When so much negativity is surrounding us, the need to come together as a community through the power of music and neighborly love is overwhelming.

 

Porchfest is a FREE musical event and completely powered by the “do-it-yourself” concept. It is orchestrated by local volunteers, space provided by homeowners, entertainment performed by musicians donating their time, and a day enjoyed by the community!

 

The purpose of the Cranford Community Connection is to bring the neighborhoods of Cranford together to celebrate community and friendship. The masterminds behind Porchfest are all Cranford residents: Ashley Legg, Randy Geis, Jennifer Geis, Owen Dingelstedt, Chris Lenza, Jackie Carr, and Patricia MacLean. When the group was asked to brainstorm an event that would be perfect for the town, Jennifer immediately thought of Porchfest. The committee’s instant response was, “Wow, we gotta do this – we have to make it happen!” Within the first few minutes of Randy Geis’ Facebook post in December, the “Likes” started pouring in! Everyone wondered what this was all about and the anticipation kept growing!

 

I sat down with Randy Geis to get an idea of their vision for Cranford Porchfest in October and how you can submit your perfect porch or enter your band/music group for consideration! Randy indicated that they want to keep the first Porchfest very simple. “Every porch host, performer, and attendee is in effect a co-creator and real-time manager of the event.” It’s meant to be an afternoon of families walking around Cranford – “enjoying time together and the music we have put together.”

 

He said, “Our goal is to hit the four quadrants in town!” They ideally would like the participating porches to represent those areas with equidistant walking into town. There will be no streets closed, no outside food vendors brought in, and no souvenirs for sale. The committee encourages everyone to put a chair on their back, bring a stroller, ride a bike, or walk the town.

 

The event will take place from 2:00pm – 5:00pm with 8 porches participating in Cranford Porchfest. There will be 3 performances at each home and the set up and take down will all occur within the hour. At 5:30pm the “big act” will perform in the gazebo next to the Cranford Fire Department!

 

The call out is right now for musical acts and porches and all information can be found at their new website Cranford Porchfest

 

So you think you have the perfect porch for a musical act?

Deadline to submit is July 13!!

Pssst! You don’t even have to have a REAL porch! The committee will take into consideration stoops, yards, driveways – anything that allows a large crowd to gather and is street-facing. They ask that you are available the date of the event and are willing to work with the 3 musical groups that will be performing at your home. Also, they hope you don’t mind music goers enjoying your lawn! If you think that you have the hot spot for a band and the traffic on your street is minimal – hurry to submit your home with pictures and address to Cranford Porchest. They will be choosing 8 homes and hope to have porches that represent each section of town. Once selected, you will receive further information from the committee.

 

I have a great band or musical act and would like to be considered!

Cranford PorchfestSubmissions will run from July 1 – September 1

Randy said that the committee wants music from “across the board” – they want to consider everything! You’re in luck! If you or someone you know is in a jug band, church group, solo act, string quartet, kid band, rock band, or can play a mean harmonica – you may just have a chance! They encourage groups from all over New Jersey – not just Cranford. All genres are welcome as long as you love to perform! You must be available on October 21, be able to complete your performance within an hour, and are ready to celebrate music in Cranford! Start by submitting your musical act or band to Cranford Porchfest.

 

The fall will definitely be exciting with the appearance of a new town-wide event that is focused on family, neighbors, and celebrating music within the community. Cranford is host to so many beautiful homes and the fact that music goers can walk or bike the streets of town to congregate on lawns and listen to music is simply heavenly. Cranford residents are all in such anticipation for this October afternoon! Stay posted for a future blog from me highlighting the specifics on Cranford Porchfest 2017 and what porches you’ll be rockin’ on!

(p.s. Sneak peak! The homes posted in this blog are ACTUAL porches that have already been selected!)

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Welcome Home!

Gorgeous Riverfront Home In Cranford, NJ! $665,000

Cranford NJ Home For SaleThe minute you step foot on this special property, you’ll NEVER want to leave! Located on one of Cranford’s prettiest streets, this classic colonial has curb appeal in spades. The entire first floor has newly installed hardwood floors, thick chestnut trim, and oversized windows that let sunlight pour in. Relax in the spacious living room with wood-burning fireplace and a stunning view of the gorgeous grounds and Rahway River. The dining room opens into a totally updated kitchen with granite countertops, ample cabinetry, recessed lighting, and stainless steel appliances. A cozy sun room and powder room complete the first floor. Just off the kitchen, a brick patio extends the entertaining space outdoors, where the parklike backyard and welcoming gazebo at the water’s edge make every day feel like a vacation. The second level offers two good-sized bedrooms, an updated full bath, and a spacious master suite with vaulted ceilings, skylights, walk-in closet plus a double closet, and en suite full bath. The living space continues in the walk-up attic with finished office/4th bedroom and two large storage rooms. Laundry is located in the full basement along with ample storage space. With multiple zone heating and central air, a detached garage, million-dollar views from almost every room, and an unbeatable location close to top schools, parks, and Downtown Cranford … this home has it ALL!

 CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS AND FLOORPLANS!

*This property is listed for $665,000 with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Westfield West Office 908-233-0065. 

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The Nearly NewYorkers

The Nearly NewYorkers… A Cranford Culinary Workshop

Let’s face it–everyone loves to EAT, but not everyone loves to cook or knows how to do it well! Two savvy Cranford mothers came together to launch The Nearly NewYorkers, a culinary workshop that will light up your kitchen, enhance your cooking techniques, and bring your loved ones together for an evening of full bellies and lively conversation. 

 

Erin Reilly and Sydney O’Hagan both were born elsewhere and found themselves living in Manhattan. With all the joys and changes that children bring, they independently took the big leap and decided to move to the suburbs and each fell in love with Cranford…and the very same street. Sydney moved to Cranford in 2014, while Erin and her family moved in the following year, and Erin said, “We got along really well right away.”   

As Erin and Sydney’s friendship grew, they found they had a mutual love for wine, food, adventure dreaming, running, and travel. They started training together for a half marathon, and during the long runs they’d pick topics to discuss. On one such occasion, “dream vacations” was the discussion … for 11 miles. Each took her turn, and Sydney revealed her secret desire was to attend a culinary workshop hosted by renowned food writer and French chef Mimi Thorisson. Later that night Sydney sent Erin the details of the workshop: it would take place the Thorisson family’s 19th century, 27-room, sprawling French chateau nestled in the countryside of Médoc, France. (Discover Mimi’s stunning blog at thttp://mimithorisson.com/). With Sydney being the “dreamer” and Erin the “doer,” the trip was decided! It took a year of planning and funding along with a whole lot of support from friends and family, but soon they found themselves ready to board a plane to France!

The four-day workshop in the gorgeous French countryside was a dream come true for both of these moms as they sampled the very best of French wine and food and learned to create phenomenal dishes. Sydney shared, “We had an incredible time and we came home and were like” –as Erin finished her sentence–“it just followed us, the feeling. We had all this stuff we brought home … we thought we should have a dinner where we bring France home to everyone!” “As a thank you to them,” Erin added. “We tried to emulate what Mimi did.”

The concept of their business was easy. Sydney mentioned, “We constantly share meals with each other–eating each other’s food all the time. We know how the other person cooks.” The two families are always together eating lunches, snacks at the pool, dinner prep collaborations–the total advantage of living so close! They set out to create their workshop, focusing on what they thought was current and poignant to today’s households. Erin said, “This was a combination of the two interests – entertaining in a beautiful way to make people feel loved and special … and a workshop where we can teach people how to do something and maybe make it a little more easy, or fun, or try something they’ve never tried before.”

Why the name The Nearly NewYorkers? Don’t be offended thinking that they live in the suburbs yet are longing for their old NYC life. Just the opposite. They are loving the location of Cranford in such a rich, cultural environment. “You can have the best of all worlds here,” they agreed.

Their concentration is spot-on; how to cook meals using fresh and wholesome ingredients and stretch your dollar as far as it can go. They both grew up being taught that you “don’t throw things away – no one has the budget for it.” Sydney added that they want to teach you “how to use a product and get the most out of it.” And cooking novices need not fret; Erin said, “We’re not technical – we try to be ‘easy’ and ‘useful.’”  

The Nearly NewYorkers

Their first workshop focused on cooking with CSA produce, and the feedback they received from attendees was glowing. Erin said, “After our first night – it was literally roaring in here — everyone having such a good time– it was exactly as we wanted it to be! We want them to come in and be chilled out – have a cocktail and get to know each other.”

Have I piqued your interest now? Go to www.nearlynewyorkers.com and click on “Workshops.” Each workshop costs $40 ($5 off if you bring a friend) and includes cocktails and food pairing, cooking demonstrations, hands-on food prep, learning how to extend the ingredients into other meals, and an adorable take-home recipe package. These intimate workshops are held at Erin’s beautifully renovated Cranford home with an open concept great room that opens into a picturesque backyard deck and outdoor space perfect for entertaining!

Now here’s the scoop for what’s in store for the summer:

Canning and Fermentation Workshop (July 15): You’ll sample cocktails based on the theme – we’re talking Bloody Marys and “Red Beer” (secret recipe from Sydney’s mother!). Learn how to make homemade kombucha, pickled vegetables, kimchi, and sourdough bread. You’ll come away learning the entire canning process for preserving fruits/vegetables and how to store those more difficult liquids (broths, soups). Expect a memorable dessert – a little birdie mentioned sourdough waffles …  yum!

Back to School Lunches and Dinners Workshop (August 26): “Our kids like to cook and are adventurous eaters – they are interested in food. If they make it, they are more prone to eat it. School lunches are a good opportunity to engage kids in their food.” This workshop will focus on how to give kids their “protein” when many schools are nut-free, how to prepare fun bento-style lunches versus boring sandwiches, how to make the most of meal-prep Sundays, and “what tools are essential, and how to really stretch your dollar.”

  

What’s their vision for the future: bridal showers, Couples Night, Kids Baking Parties, Cooking Essentials for New Parents, What Every Newlywed Needs to Know, and more. And while their gorgeous and inviting homes are perfect for the intimate gatherings they currently offer, their big dreams may lead to their own commercial space one day. In the meantime – it’s another brilliant concept put into place by two moms with small kids who dreamt big and made it happen.

“Food is the central thing to everything– how we show our family we love them, how we entertain, how we take care of people. That’s how I want people to feel making food with us – they feel welcome, warm and special.”

Let The Nearly NewYorkers help you be the cook and entertainer you always dreamed to be!

 

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Cranford Home For Sale! $539,000 Open House 6/4/17 1-4pm

406 Central Ave Cranford Open House 6/4/17   1-4pm

This charming three bedroom dutch colonial situated on a tree-lined street in the heart of Cranford is the perfect place to call home! High ceilings, hardwood floors, and period details beautify the first floor, which includes an entry foyer with closet, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, den, powder room, and spacious eat-in kitchen with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Enjoy outdoor entertaining on the covered deck and patio. The second floor offers three bedrooms and an updated full bath. A walk-up attic provides ample storage space and the possibility for expansion. A recreation room, office, and laundry can be found in the partially finished basement. Detached 1-car garage. Don’t let this one slip away!

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View more photos and floorplans here: 406 Central Ave, Cranford

*This property is listed for $539,000 with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Westfield West Office 908-233-0065.

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Cranford ROCKS!

Cranford ROCKS! A New and Fun Tradition!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock... she tells her kids "Don't forget to be awesome!" before every soccer game!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock… she tells her kids “Don’t forget to be awesome!” before every soccer game!

A Cranford mom (and one of my favorite clients EVER!) has brought an adorable new tradition to town that is making people smile left and right! It’s called Cranford Rocks, and it has nothing to do with music.

Kristen Mider moved with her husband and children from Brooklyn to Cranford 3 1/2 years ago. Back when she lived in Brooklyn, her family participated in something that is unofficially known as Kindness Rocks, where people of all ages paint rocks and hide them in the neighborhood for people to find. Kristen said, “The idea is that someone will stumble upon one of the rocks, and it will brighten their day.”

 

 

One of Kristen’s friends lost her son to suicide and asked that people create Kindness Rocks in his memory, and that further inspired Kristen to continue this activity.

 

Around 6 months ago Kristen launched the Cranford Rocks Facebook  group to introduce the Kindness Rocks theme to our town. “We were the first to create the rocks in Cranford, hide them, and post about it on Facebook, and as soon as we did, it just took off. The page went from having just a few followers to several hundred.”

Kristen stresses that everyone is welcome to participate–even adults who don’t have children have painted and left rocks. The rocks are often painted in very bright colors, sometimes with messages on them such as  “Let the Sun Shine” or “Be Kind.” 

Kristen’s kids have found rocks at Lincoln Park, Unami Park, Nomahegan Park, and even Eastman Plaza in Downtown Cranford. And they’ve made sure to hide just as many rocks as they’ve found. Kristen said, “It empowers the kids–I want them to know they have the power to make the world a nicer place and lift someone’s spirits. They get so excited when people post photos of their found rocks online.” 

So go out in your backyard, find a rock, paint it, and leave the rock where someone will find it and then hopefully pay it forward! 

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123 Besler Ave Cranford

Exclusive! Rare Multi Family Opportunity in Cranford NJ

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The possibilities are endless in this bright and airy 2-family Cranford home! Lower level unit features 3 bedrooms, 1 full bath, living room, dining room, and kitchen with lots of cabinets. Upper level unit has been totally updated with 3 bedrooms, beautiful full bath with dual sinks, living room, dining room, and modern kitchen with cherry cabinets, new countertops, and stainless steel appliances. The finished basement is accessible from both units with spacious recreation area, laundry room, and gorgeous full bath. Hardwood floors and central air throughout, 2-car garage, and fenced backyard. Just over 1 mile to downtown Cranford and .5 miles to Garwood train station, close to parks, and top schools. Not in a flood zone! Great income opportunity!

*This property is exclusively listed for $575,000 with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Westfield West Office 908-233-0065 

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Kick Glass Art Studio in Cranford NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Strong As A Mother Fitness in Cranford NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open House 2/26/17 1-4pm

629 Lincoln Park E, Cranford

$659,000

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

OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 1-4PM

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