Tag Archives: Fun

Little Free Library 07090

Message in a Bottle: A Feel-Good Story at the Perfect Time!

Like many of us this past week, Sara Liptack of Little Free Library 07090 in Westfield and her family were saddened and upset by the recent violence in our country. A message from two best friends in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina quickly changed Sara’s mood and she felt the need to share her incredible experience with the entire community!

Little Free Library 07090

During a fun night out with Cross Fit friends over the summer – Sara decided to keep a unique bottle of coconut rum that her friend had brought back from his hometown in Puerto Rico. Being an Earth Science teacher at Westfield High School, she was fascinated by ocean currents and how messages in bottles have been used in scientific studies. Sara, her husband, and her daughter Lyra decided to take that bottle and have some “good old-fashioned fun!”


They wrote a letter on August 18, 2017 and told of the location of drop-off in the sea, their excitement to see how far the letter would travel, and shared their contact information. The family rolled it up tightly and placed it in inside. Sara’s father “Pop-Pop Steward”, an avid fisherman, went out on his boat about 6 miles from Manasquan Inlet and tossed the bottle into the sea on September 7.



Time passed and heavy tropical storms came and went. Sara said she was talking to her husband just the other day as they were collecting sea glass at the shore. Both wondered when or if they would ever find out about the bottle. She anticipated it could be even a decade before she would hear anything. Sara worried that perhaps someone would just see it and think the bottle was trash.


Literally one week later she received an amazing text. Best friends Wende and Christine from Kitty Hawk, a very small beach town in the Outer Banks of NC, had discovered the bottle during one of their morning walks on October 5! This was less than one month from entry into the ocean! They thought the bottle was cool and then realized there was a message inside. They fell in love with the fact that someone was on the other side of a heartfelt story and quickly texted Sara.

Sara was utterly amazed that these two women had not only found the bottle – but in the exact opposite direction as she had speculated! She was so happy that they were also happy to connect with her! She figured the intense tropical storms were the cause for the interesting direction of the message’s path into NC. The crazy part of this whole story is that Sara’s aunt, uncle, and cousins live in this small town of Kitty Hawk yet neither family knew each other! Maybe now they can all remain friends and visit!


Sara commented that this has been such an exciting experience. Wende and Christine wrote a new letter and included everyone’s contact information. They tossed the bottle back out to the sea. Sara was able to share with her class the interesting news and her students have been eager to investigate the history of using communication and science experiments through bottles. She feels that in this digital age, it’s a true “old school adventure”. She wants her students to realize that there is more to experience in life than just on an iPhone or iPad.


This is definitely a “stay tuned” type of story. I can’t wait to see where the bottle turns up next! With the craziness in the news this week, Sara’s impression on this story is one that we can all take to heart – “it happened to the right people at the right time”. Perhaps one small story of connection can motivate others to do the same.


You can visit on Facebook at Little Free Library 07090 or stop by to grab a book at 710 E Broad St in Westfield!

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End of Summer Bucket List 2017 – It’s Not Too Late!

It’s crunch time! Summer is slipping away and the kids officially go back to school next week! I always feel like I need to do one last thing before the hustle and bustle of fall arrives. Spontaneous day trips are sometimes the most memorable adventures and there are a ton of fabulous things to do in our wonderful state of New Jersey. I love finding special places to share with everyone! Do one or all of the things listed on this “2017 End of Summer Bucket List” and have a wonderful closing to summer!


Deep Cut Gardens (152 Red Hill Road, Middletown, NJ): Spend the day and bring a picnic Summerlunch/dinner! One Trip Advisor wrote, “Deep Cut Gardens is a treasure and worth going out of the way to visit. Situated on land once owned by crime boss Vito Genovese and only minutes from the Parkway!” Enjoy 52 acres of gardens and greenhouses in this “living catalog of cultivated and native plant materials to be observed throughout the seasons.” You will literally be in awe as you walk through lily ponds, “umbrellas” of hemlocks, meadow walks, natural ponds, rose & boxwood mazes, Japanese gardens, and bonsais! These are just some of the magnificent natural scenes you will experience on this adventure! Oh – and bring some of your painted rocks to hide along the trails – it’s a big deal at these gardens to find hidden rocks! Open 8 a.m. till dusk year-round, FREE admission, FREE parking. Website: Deep Cut Gardens Website


South Mountain Fairy Trail (Entrance at Locust Grove picnic area across from Millburn Public Library – GPS location is 197 Glen Avenue, Millburn): The whimsical world of fairies Summerhas taken the country by storm – and it’s not just for girls and small children. Creating “magical worlds” out of natural materials found in the woods and adding a little swing or front door for decoration is enjoyed by all ages! This trail of fairy homes at the beginning of the Rahway Trail of the South Mountain Reservation was created by a special education teacher and mother who began setting up tiny homes at the bases of trees. As the trail became more popular, children and adults come to bring their own materials to set up an individual fairy home to add to the village. You can walk the entire Rahway River Loop (2 ¼ miles) and take in breathtaking sights like the Hemlock Falls and Maple Falls Cascades. You may also choose to take the short cut back to the parking lot! Be prepared to feel a bit of wonderment as you step into the magical forest! Open year-round, parking outside of Rahway Trail area


SummerSwan Paddle Boats and the Regatta Playground (Cherry Lane, West Orange): The entire “Waterfront” at the South Mountain Recreation Complex is new and beautiful! You can enjoy hiking/walking along the 1.7-mile reservoir walking path, picnicking, paddle boating, playing, and taking in the breathtaking water scenes! The Regatta Playground is a vast, nautical-themed play space and has plenty for active younger and older children to enjoy. The entire park is on synthetic grass and rubber safety surface. The playground has a path that leads to the Clipper Pavilion picnic spot. The Swan Paddle Boat launch is located at the shore of the Orange Reservoir and your family (children over 2 years) will delight in paddling around in a swan! Free parking at Oakdale Parking Lot on Cherry Lane. Playground open year-round. Paddle Boats Mon-Fri 12-8 p.m. and Sat-Sun 10a.m. – 8 p.m. Paddle boat rides start at $15 for a 2-person boat.


Silverball Pinball Museum Arcade (100 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park): You also don’t have to Summerbe a kid to enjoy an entire museum dedicated to the “living, breathing, blinking tribute to our pinball and video gaming past”! Asbury Park has a ton to offer in terms of restaurants and the beach scene – so you have to stop here on your way back to town. There are 600 games in rotation! Visit their website at http://silverballmuseum.com/asbury-park/ to see the details on pricing, but $12.50 gets you in for one hour! There are no coins – it’s free play with your entry pass. The museum also boasts a café full of your favorite boardwalk eats such as the Jersey Shore Fry Co. and Cluck U Chicken! Spend the day! Open Sun-Thurs 10 a.m. – midnight and Fri-Sat 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.


Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary (1063 Broad Street, Bloomfield): One of the oldest ice Summercream shops in New Jersey and just celebrating its 75th Anniversary, Holsten’s is a must-see spot as it takes you back in time to the way ice cream shoppes used to be experienced! Customers will revel in the old-fashioned atmosphere and “take a step back in time”. It was even a hot spot on the hit series, Sopranos! You can find a vast assortment of homemade ice cream flavors such as the popular Butter Pecan, Maple Walnut, Rum Raisin, and Orange Sherbet. Their menu features ice cream sodas, sundaes, and grill favorites such as burgers, hotdogs, and even breakfast! The candy counter is also a hit – eager patrons can purchase homemade chocolates and candies! Open Mon-Sat 11 a.m. – 11:30 pm and Sun 12 – 10 p.m. Website: http://holstens.com/


Shore Fresh Seafood Market and Restaurant (57 Channel Drive, Point Pleasant): You have Summerto visit their beachfront location for the “Best Lobster Roll of the Jersey Shore”. Hailed by hundreds on Yelp reviews – customers from all over the eastern seaboard flock to this site for “overflowing” and delicious lobster for under $12! Celebrating 15 years at the shore, Shore Fresh is located on a fisherman’s co-op – “one of the few remaining in NJ!” Thirteen fishermen return each day with fresh catches and the market serves them right to you from their icy storefront fish case. You know exactly where your dinner originated! They have a shore-eclectic indoor theme and a beautiful outdoor view. It’s “simple, fresh, genuine seafood” all year round and BYOB! Open Sun-Thurs 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Fri-Sat 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Website: http://www.shorefreshseafood.com/


Cranford Canoe Club (250 Springfield Avenue, Cranford): I could put this day adventure in Summerevery year! Before the club cuts back on its hours – you HAVE to visit in the summer and the fall! You will experience the town and the Rahway River in a whole new light! It’s a truly surreal experience whether you are by yourself, a loved one, or with your family! Children are definitely welcome and safe. The Canoe Club supplies life vests and paddles. Starting at $25 you can take a kayak or canoe for 2 hours on the river – going up and down the secret passageways of Cranford! The views are breathtaking all year round but especially during the height of the foliage colors! Open Mon-Fri 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sat-Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Bring a Driver’s License! Website :http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Gone Fishing” in Union County NJ

“There is certainly something in angling that produces a serenity of the mind.”

–Henry David Thoreau

If you’re not familiar with the term “angling” in Thoreau’s quote, it’s just another name for good old-fashioned fishing. Despite being one of the most densely populated areas of NJ, Union County is home to hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland, and within these nature preserves are many ponds and lakes and rivers where anglers can cast out and enjoy some really great fishing!

FishingChildren under 16 years of age and adults over 70 do not require a fishing license, but everyone 16-69 does need to obtain a license for freshwater fishing in NJ. A license is less than $30 for the year, so it won’t break the bank. (The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife also regularly schedules two days of free adult fishing every June, when no license is required.) You can purchase a fishing license at the Union Dick’s Sporting Goods or the Union Wal-Mart, both located on Route 22. And if you’re not game for digging up your own worms, you can purchase live worm bait in Wal-Mart–they’re stored in cups in a small fridge within the sporting goods section!

IMG_3994The Division of Fish and Wildlife regularly stocks trout in the waterways in our area to ensure that it’s worth breaking out your trusty rod and reel! Some of the stocked areas include: Echo Lake, Nomahegan Park, sections of the Rahway River (in Clark, Cranford, and Rahway), Seeleys Pond in Scotch Plains, and Warinanco Park Pond in Roselle Park. Besides trout, I hear that sunfish are aplenty at our local ponds, and one gentleman I spoke with at Lenape Park said he continually sees a particularly large carp, “the one that got away.”


Every year the Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club hosts a 3-week long Fishing Derby at Echo Lake in Mountainside. This year the event will run from April 16th to May 7th. Children should register on April 16th between 8 am and 2 pm at the Gazebo at the lower lake to receive a gift bag and be entered in the Derby. Prizes are awarded in various categories at their ceremony in June. What a great way to introduce your kids to fishing!

Another local fishing group is Rahway River Trout Unlimited (http://www.rr-tu.org), which is a great resource for fly-fisherman, as they host frequent fly-tying meetings. They’ve also been know to host their own children’s fishing derby at Nomahegan Park.

For more information about NJ fishing regulations, visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/fishing.htm?prompt=0. And if you do make a great catch nearby, make sure to share a photo with us!

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Cranford NJ’s Fire Me UP! Studio is SO Fun!



Fire Me Up!
I’m a sucker for a clever name, and an even bigger sucker for a clever business! Fire Me Up!

This new, fun business is located at 117 North Union Avenue, right across from the gazebo in beautiful Downtown Cranford. It is an exciting place for all ages, and the ideal place for birthday parties, ladies’ night out,(It’s BYOB!),  scouts gatherings, school field trips, art classes, and anyone looking or something new, fun, and different to do! They even have pottery-to-go, and can come to you for a special event! It’s the perfect place for experts and novices alike, because it is a pressure free environment that emphasizes having fun with artistic expression.

Unlike so many other ceramic studios, Fire Me Up promises no additional joining or studio fees at all, charging only for all the materials, studio time, and firing.  Items are priced individually and range from as little as $8.00 and up, with the average item costing about $25.00.  Most items take one to two hours to complete, and use non-toxic, food-safe glazes.

There are so many fun things to do here!  You can opt for the traditional pottery painting, where you can pick a piece of pottery from the wide selection of mugs, plates, frames, figurines, etc., and design, decorate, doodle, or learn about special techniques.  Then in 7 days, your piece will be glazed, fired and ready for pick up.  You can try your hand at glass fusing, which is a fun way to make your own unique jewelry, nightlights, platters, and more using bits and pieces of glass.  Or you can attempt sculpting with clay, and even take an introduction to clay class (ages 13 and over Sundays  at 10:30 am; children’s clay classes are held Saturday mornings.) Groups of 5 or more can even schedule a private workshop for a party or a fun group outing.  All classes and workshops include: clay, tools, molds, texture plates, and firing.

It may surprise you to learn that owners Tammie and Todd both have a background in the financial services industry.  After a decade, Tammie left the business after the birth of their twin daughters (who joined a three-year-old brother), to be a stay-at-home mom.  When the girls entered first grade, Tammie decided it was time to embark on a new adventure.

“As a mom, I am always in search of activities for my kids and I to share.  This is how I stumbled upon ceramics. I have always had a love of art, from photography to acrylics, but ceramics was a new medium for me. I loved it from day one but the best part is that my kids love it, too.  So, it is something that we have been able to explore, together!  Once they started school and I had some time to myself, I picked it up as a hobby and started taking classes.  I think it’s a great way to let go and decompress after a long day!  Now, I love seeing everyone, from children to adults, get in touch with their own artistic side! (And maybe find a new passion!)”

So why did this family decide to embark on their business journey here in Cranford?  Tammie explains, “We feel that our business fits in with the vision that is being laid out for downtown Cranford; a charming family friendly town with appreciation for the arts while fostering the promotion of business development.  From the first time we met with the Downtown Business & Economic Development team, we knew this was going to be the home of Fire Me Up! Studio.  We love the great restaurants and complementary businesses. We think we will fit right in!”

Fire Me Up!

And this business is already giving back to the community that is welcoming it.  On Wednesday, February 19th, between the hours of 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Fire Me up is hosting a benefit day for the Hillside Avenue School PTA.  During that time, you can bring the kids in for some creative, artistic fun, and help out the school at the same time.

But wait . . . . it gets even better!

On that same day, once the kids have their turn, the adults can then take their turn.  From 7:00-9:00, it is adult time, and you can even BYOB!  What a fun night out that would be!  Drinking, creating, and laughing with friends . . . . and taking home a memento that you created to remember the night by.  Again, all while helping out the school.

Check out their website at  www.firemeupstudio.com and look for “Fire Me Up Studio” on Facebook to stay tuned to the latest news and events.  And since it’s too cold out to do much of anything else, this is the PERFECT time to go and get fired up yourself!


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