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At Home MARCH-APRIL 2015




Bring in the flowers Dazzling dahlias: Amazing varieties to brighten the day

You can win: A George Foreman grill that can do so much more

Updating furniture: Smart new finishes and upholstery


March-April 2015

Thank you for three years MARCH-APRIL 2012


At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home MAY-JUNE 2012



Garden guide: Easy plants to grow from seeds

Tasting party: Tiny dishes make sampling more fun

Must know: Is he ‘the one’ to make a home with?

Kid stuff: Colorful characters draw them to kitchen and garden

Backyard bridal: Pulling off a successful home wedding

Win this: Emeril Lagasse’s new 12-piece cookware set

In Michelle Obama’s new book: Readington Community Garden

You can win an icy pop maker or a rolling beach cooler

Today show’s Joy Bauer: How to eat well and still lose weight


Nutrition helper: 25 ways to get more fruit in your family

The power’s out: Does your home need a generator?

Holidays eats and sweets Morning rush: Help your teen stay on schedule



Antiquing, home design and fall fun

Everything on the grill


In the kitchen: 25 recipes for baking and entertaining

You can win: A sleek new vac, bar tools or an NFL slow cooker

Plus: Gift ideas, decorating time-savers and much more

American cheese: life of the party Pretty organized: Decorate your storage boxes and bins

You can win: A new lamp in your favorite color

Hit your mark: Life-improving resolutions you will keep

At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home MARCH-APRIL 2013

























Carpet roses for glorious color Bunny Williams on well-picked furnishings and making room for pets














Every day, flowers Cottage gardens burst into bloom Fry it up: Staples for a traditional Irish breakfast

You can win: A slow cooker that works like a second stove

At home with art: Invest in the pieces that please you

Feasts from the fire and the freezer

Setting a stage for succulents Summer slim: Gourmet veggies, quinoa and smart baking

Cutting gardens: Growing for beauty outside and indoors

Wedding bliss: Crafty ideas and cost-cutting prizes

Cool and clean: Refreshing rooms dressed in white

You can win: A sleek, smart vacuum for college cleaning

Protecting your home: Please don’t feed the termites

Fresh and festive

Fuel for school Quick eats: Breakfast and lunch recipes for busy days

You can win: A designer picnic tote with everything but the food

Love your life: Try journals and mind control — or knitting

Try meatballs: Nine ideas for easy and tasty appetizers

Time to give: Gifts to win and crafty local shopping

Chore challenge: What your kids learn from housecleaning

You can win: A red-hot pot to make our seven soup recipes

Top chef: Ariane Duarte lightens a chicken classic

Resolution reminder: Tips to make your goals happen

At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home At Home

























Growing easy

Drink it up!

Salad days You can win: An OptiGrill to cook frozen meats perfectly

Party in a pan: Guests will love these pancakes

Organic strawberries: Grow them in a backyard container

Entertaining ease: Blueberry pancakes bake in a muffin pan

At your service: Get storage with style in a butler’s pantry

Sipping gardens: Growing flowers for beauty and tea

Fruit of summer: Watermelon is the season’s perfect treat

You can win: A smart chiller that knows best for wines

Gourmet grill: Cook and serve with style on skewers

A crafty Christmas

Fall party flavors In our backyard: Exploring Liberty Hall Museum at Kean

You can win: A vacuum sealer for air-tight freezer strorage

Take a bite: Twelve great apple recipes you’ll fall for

Diabetes awareness: How exercise helps in prevention

You can win: A Samsung twopart swiveling vacuum cleaner

Do fondue!

Holiday cheer: Places to go, things to make and do

Facial fitness: Exercise can enhance your image

You can win: A French press coffee maker, books and more

Making quilts: Heirlooms, history and fiber art, too

With gratitude to our advertisers and supporters n Heidi Piron Design n Dr. Barbara Rosenberg, Summit n Metropolitan Window Fashions, North Plainfield n Bobbex Deer Repellent n Ella Allure, Westfield n Lawn-Gevity, Scotch Plains n Vendor Scope, Westfield n Fabricland, North Plainfield n Golden Bee Antiques, Westfield n Winterhill Antiques, Scotch Plains n Martin Little Catering Services, Morris Township

Scotch Plains n n n Cheese ... Please, Cranford n The Pink ButterCup, Warren n Robby’s, Rahway n RWJ University Hospital, Rahway n The Last Firefly, Scotch Plains n D. Lindsay Salon, Fanwood n Mara’s Cafe & Bakery, Fanwood n Be Craftful, Fanwood

& Cabinetry, Summit n Liberty Hall Museum Community Farmers Market, Union n Williams Nursery, Westfield n Scotch Plains Farmers’ Marketplace n Hoops There It Is, Cranford n RWJ Rahway Fitness and Wellness Center, Scotch Plains n Atlantic Beach Soap Company, Cranford n Blindworks, Westfield n Leslie Graham, n Uptown Vintage, Scotch Plains

Don’t miss us: To get six issues of At Home by mail, send a check for $18 payable to At Home New Jersey to our P.O. Box 193, Fanwood, NJ 07023.


e m o H t A 15






n Wild Birds Unlimited,


n Pear Bureau Northwest,



owers fl e th in g in r B as: Amazing Dazzling dahli ghten the day varieties to bri

reman : A George Fo You can win so much more grill that can do

niture: Smart Updating fur and upholstery new finishes

March-April 2015




Contents Start your sizzle now The George Foreman Evolve Grill System starts out as a grill with a dishwasher safe, ceramic-coated grill surface that can take the 500-degree heat while releasing excess fats into the attached drip tray. This countertop marvel can become a griddle, waffle iron, muffin baker and more with seven interchangeable accessory plates sold separately. The grill is $139.99 at; accessory plates range from $19.99 to $39.99. Win the grill: For a chance to win the grill, email with your name, address and phone number by April 22. Make “Evolve” the subject, and tell us where you pick up At Home New Jersey. Congratulations to our Jan.-Feb. winners: J. Dziedzic, Clark, wins the Mr. Coffee French press coffee pot; C. Kosciuk, Mountainside, wins the backyard birding bundle; N. Johnson, Edison, wins the quilting bundle; H. Araujo, Garwood, wins needlework books; K. Fink, Clark, and D. Cole, Scotch Plains, win “One Pot” cookbooks from Martha Stewart Living.


The best is yet to come Who remembers the first issue of At Home New Jersey? The March-April 2012 edition was made possible by the Pear Bureau Northwest. We have that organization to thank for believing in plans to launch a local publication based on all things “home.” Their ads provided seed money that made our first issues possible. Three years later, we can also thank numerous other advertisers whose support helped us grow stronger and wiser. They make it possible for us to keep delivering on the early promise to be a source of information and ideas that can bring more pleasure, skill and efficiency to the many things we do at home. Dr. Barbara Rosenberg, whom I came to admire in my previous work for her smart, clear-headed expertise, was with us in that first issue. She continues to provide meaningful answers to questions about a variety of challenges faced by area families and couples. It’s been an exciting, challenging and gratifying ride. I’ve personally delivered copies door to door, cried when they were soaked by rain, and fielded calls from angry neighbors when high winds blew pages across their yards. These days, we can also thank area supermarkets, libraries and businesses for space that allows At Home to remain indoors. We are grateful to be offered in those locations to people who want to read what we have to say. Be sure to thank them, along with our featured businesses, for helping us get At Home to you. To commemorate our start, we’ve tucked in copies of our first issue for selected distribution points. If you get your hands on the first issue, take a look at how far we’ve come. Thanks to everyone who has read At Home over our three-year run. In this digital age, we still believe in the power of print, and hope to have much more to offer you in years to come. Kimberly L. Jackson

PETS Meet my date DESIGN Artful interiors




GARDEN Potted pretty


FITNESS Loosen up


HEALTH Clean your plate


FOOD Spring soups



CRAFTS Edible Easter


FAMILY Dealing with drugs


AT HOME NEW JERSEY Mail: P.O. Box 193 Fanwood, NJ 07023 Telephone: (908) 656-0385 E-mail: Web:


Prizes are the full responsibility of winners, who in accepting acknowledge that publisher cannot be held liable for defects or misuse. Every effort is made to ensure accuracy; the publisher cannot be held liable for omissions or errors of fact. Consult a competent professional before adopting any suggestion, health-related or otherwise. Articles and advertisements reflect opinions of the producer and not necessarily those of the publisher. © 2015 All rights reserved. On the cover: Tulips, a most welcome sign of spring. ‘Jumbo Pink’ and ‘Pretty Princess’ tulips in a decorative planter to brighten an indoor setting. Photo by W. H. Vandbergen/iBulb


Pet friendly If you’re single and in the market for romance, you probably know at least two things: Online dating is a viable and efficient way to find a potential partner, but dating sites cannot guarantee a perfect match. For Kris Rotonda, who has four beloved dogs, including one he’s had since he was 8, a commitment to his furry family would frequently present problems in his dating life. The real estate agent and competitive body builder had experienced a number of unexpected challenges as a bachelor and dog owner, and it occurred to him that there was a need for a dating site geared toward likeminded dog lovers. was formed as a result, and Rotonda became chief executive officer for the website he has devoted to singles who’ve already found their canine companions, but have yet to find true human love. He can also now happily report that he has found a person to love who loves his dogs, and they love her back. While a third of all married couples started their romance online — including on social networks like Facebook, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — ­ only 23 percent of those who went on a date through a match-making site say it resulted in a long-term relationship, the Pew Research Center reports. “Really, that’s not a bad success rate. I imagine it beats the club scene,” says Rotonda. “Still, that’s a lot of scrolling and dating before you find the right one. I think it’s important to narrow the search by letting users start with what’s most important to them.” For dog owners, it’s important that a potential partner also loves dogs , and not simply tolerates them. But what should you do if your dog doesn’t like your new love interest? Here are some tips from Rotonda: Problem: You’ve gotten serious with someone, and you will be introducing the person to your dog for the first time. Solution: When you are planning to introduce your dog to an important love interest,

March-April 2015

What if your dog doesn’t like your new boyfriend? Win them over

Getting involved with a dog owner can mean having to win two hearts. Do so with caution to avoid aggression from a possessive pooch. Be sure your dog owner is in control of the dog until you become familiar. Then you can entice them both with affection, fun and treats.

Tom Beyaert

Introducing a dog to someone you are dating? Try taking a walk together to help your dog relax and reduce the dog’s need to protect you and its territorial home against a stranger.

start before they actually meet in person. This can be done by introducing the person’s scent with an unwashed article of his or her clothing. You can also add your scent to the clothing by rubbing it on your arm and then

placing it in a spot where your dog spends a great deal of time. This will help your dog get used to the person’s scent over time and you avoid an introduction that invades all your pet’s senses at once.

Problem: Your dog reacts negatively to someone you really like. Solution: Of course, how your dog reacts matters if you love your dog, but he or she may be picking up on something that’s nonessential to the character of your date, who may be nervous, not used to dogs or simply wearing the wrong perfume or cologne that day. While dogs are very intuitive — and you want your canine companion to get along with a potential long-term partner — know that the chemistry can improve. Give it a little time and pro-actively look for ways to help your dog and your potential love interest relax and get to know one another. Problem: You don’t understand the meaning of your dog’s reaction to your date. Solution: Did she bark for several minutes? Did he run and hide under the bed? If your dog barked in what sounded like a hostile or aggressive way, she’s likely just trying to protect you. While you may have had plenty of time to get to know your date over long dinners, that person is still a stranger to your dog. If your dog ran and hid, he may be afraid. That doesn’t necessarily mean that his fear reflects a real threat, like a rotten secret your new love interest may be hiding. Consider what else was going on at the time. If a plane was flying overhead or thunder was rumbling outside, that might have been the source of anxiety. Don’t try to sweet talk your pet while he’s in hiding, as that will encourage the behavior. Instead, reward your pet when he or she emerges.

Dating ideas for single dog owners: Hit all the pet-friendly places With so many potential romances starting online, that first face-to-face meeting can be nerve-wracking, says Kris Rotonda, founder of, a dating site for dog-loving singles. “Even though folks get to know about each other’s background, actually meeting for the first time can be kind of tough,” he says. “Bringing your dog is a great way to break the tension. “If you really want to get to know someone you’re dating, then have them meet

your cherished live-in companion, your dog — or, in my case, dogs,” says Rotonda. He suggests making a date that includes your dog or dogs. “If your date has a dog, too, why not double date with your dogs?” And don’t rule out dates that are not dog owners, Rotonda advises. While someone who dislikes pets would certainly not make a good match, it would be a mistake to rule out anyone who has never had a pet. When Rotonda and his present girlfriend were first getting to know each other, he

learned that she’d had no previous experience living with dogs. Over time, however, she came to love his four dogs, and that helped strengthen their bond as a couple. At a loss for where to go for doggie dates? Rotonda offers three ideas: Take a beach day: Head to the nearest dog beach or park. Dog parks and beaches are full of interesting sights and smells, particularly if you’re a dog. There’s room for running and playing games. You and your

date can take a leisurely stroll with your dogs, toss Frisbees, or just kick back for some entertaining dog-watching. Dish with the doggies: More and more establishments are realizing the value of setting a place at the table for dogs. For wouldbe dog lovers, a dog-friendly restaurant or bar can be a neutral place. Go shopping: Pet stores are dog-friendly zones; check out fun new products together, scope out the fish and birds, or just walk the aisles and talk.

March-April 2015


Photos by Kimberly L. Jackson

Uptown Vintage in Scotch Plains has four showrooms of solid wood furnishings that can be refinished in a variety of colors. Dramatic displays showcase one-of-a-kind accents and gifts.


Vintage chic The hand-painted green desk has a small tag on top. Instead of a price, there’s a four-letter word. SOLD. It’s a word seen frequently at Uptown Vintage, but disappointment passes quickly. There’s always so much more to see in this expansive home décor boutique just off Park Avenue behind the Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains. “We price things to move,” says Marc Desranleau, who with his wife, Muriel, has created a shopper’s wonderland where the tops of sturdy solid wood furnishings become display areas for sometimes towering collections of beautiful things. A massive credenza with carved drawers and doors has a finish that recalls weathered wood. It holds a carefully assembled coastal scene, Uptown and is among many vignettes that Vintage demonstrate the couple’s complementary talents in buying and show1833 Front St. ing eye-catching wares. Scotch Plains “It’s not all antiques, it’s not all (908) 322-5522 vintage,” Desranleau says. “We mix it Hours: 12-7 Tues.up, but it’s mostly one of a kind.” Fri.; 12-6 Sat.; and Framed art adorns the home-like 12-5 Sun. setting where Victorian pieces (a caned corner bobbin chair) mingle with vintage lamps, mirrors and more. Traditional and modern items are recycled and repurposed with sandpaper, chalk paint, brushes and carnauba wax. The couple shops frequently for pieces with alluring details, and Desranleau’s transformations are swift. One week, it’s an ordinary china cabinet or chest of drawers. The next, it’s updated with light-colored chalk paint to complement a cottage chic interior. Custom refinishing is offered for most furniture. From the store: See more photos on Like Uptown Vintage on Facebook for a chance to get $25 off.

Hand-sanding highlights details on vintage furniture meticulously refinished in chalk paint. Above left, an exceptional bronze bust in one of the store’s themed displays. Above right, hardware adds to the charm of a hand-painted dresser. At left, the pretty green vanity desk that got away.


March-April 2015

Living with art: An investment in home decor Fine art is one of the few investments that can double as home décor. Whether it is purchased from a local gallery, an art show or even online, there are things to know about buying and protecting an investment piece while showing it to highest advantage. If you’re an inexperienced buyer, visit galleries and art shows. Ask questions to learn more so you can feel confident with any art purchase. Research artists online when you begin to have a sense of what you are drawn to. Your first original doesn’t have to be a large piece. Smaller works can be an affordable and versatile investment. Use them to create a gallery wall or place them in a bookshelf. Displaying a smaller piece in a well-selected frame, also can give it greater impact. For those who would decorate with fine art, the following buying and decorating tips are from Cristina Salmastrelli, director of the New York Affordable Art Fair, which runs March 25 through 29 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. (between 6th and 7th) in Manhattan. Find your 12 o’clock: Before you start designing your space, walk into the room and notice where your eyes land first; this is your 12 o’clock. This spot should be the setting for the room’s focal point. Decide whether the focal point will be art or furniture and then let that piece govern your design. Size things up: Decide where in your home you would like to place art. Measure any areas where pieces would be displayed so you have exact dimensions when considering artwork for the area. Work with themes: An interesting approach to decorating is to work with a theme. Art can drive the theme, which might be as subtle as the colors used in the piece. The theme will help the eye connect all the room’s elements to create a unified design. Try matching the artwork to a room’s function. If the artwork is of food, hang it in the kitchen, if it’s of a group of friends laughing, hang it in the living room. Natural elements: Art is a perfect way to bring nature’s positive qualities inside your home. Look for pieces that depict plants, trees, flowers, etc. Shades of gray: Gray is a very calming color and can be a great hue for bedroom décor. Pick a wonderfully calming piece of art with gray as its main color, and base the room’s design on this piece. If you are not a fan of gray, try colors that have a gray undertone, and the calming benefits will still shine through. Uplift with yellow: Yellow can have many positive effects on a person’s mood. A piece of artwork that is bright yellow is perfect for a living room, as it creates a cheery and welcoming atmosphere.

The whole-room buying décor site shows how art from works with pieces in one of its rooms.

Hanging art: The bottom of the work or its frame should only be 8 to 16 inches above your sofa or table. You want to look at the art, so the heart of the work should be at eye level. Even if you are planning to hang multiple smaller pieces in columns and rows, use this guideline and start the lowest row. Doing so will help create a unified design statement rather than just an arrangement of separate pieces that go well together. Leaning art: Shelves or fireplaces are great focal points in rooms, and a great way to display art is to lean artwork on a shelf or fireplace mantle. This creates a relaxed and welcoming look. Powder rooms: The powder room is the perfect place to hang quirky art pieces. Guests will get a kick out of the works in this private setting.

Small art is amplified in multiples. A vibrant graphic rug by Sonya Winner complements a Joan Miró-inspired grouping.

The Affordable Art Fair showcases contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings from American and international artists priced at $100 to $10,000. Admission is $18. More at

Sip and shop in Cranford

Atlantic Beach Soap Company “Only the Finest Ingredients” 102B N. Union Ave., Cranford (908) 272-7595 Open 7 days

Paintings by Cynthia Dawley will be displayed through March 31 at Atlantic Beach Soap Company, 102B North Union Ave., Cranford. The shop, which offers decorative accents in addition to soaps and home spa essentials, will host the informal exhibition in conjunction with two spring gala events. Enjoy refreshments and entertainment on Friday, March 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dawley has pledged 10 percent of exhibit sales to Project Home of Cranford. Save the date: Buy tickets at the store for Cranford Junior Woman’s Club’s downtown Sip and Shop fundraiser on May 1.

“The Cranford Hotel” by Cynthia Dawley

March-April 2015

The world and a chair for baby Sarah Johnson fell for a traveling man. Even before she married Bret Gelderman, she knew life would take them far from her home in central Illinois. “Over the nine years he’s been with his company, he has lived in eight or nine different states,” she said. Illinois was one of those states, and where she met the engineer whose job with a national construction firm requires constant relocation. They’re also the kind of couple for whom “1000 Places to See Before You Die” has become a guidebook for life. Sarah Gelderman often says she married adventure, and another facet of their joint adventures has been finding, repairing and restoring vintage tables, chairs, chests and cabinets, many of which now furnish their Westfield home. She jokes that her husband of nearly three years would describe her as a hoarder of antique and vintage furnishings, but her shrewd shopping would be appreciated when they learned last spring that they would need to furnish a nursery, just as they were preparing for a move to New Jersey after having lived in Pennsylvania less than two years. “We found out we were pregnant when the movers showed up,” she said. Fortunately, Gelderman is always excited about the new discoveries moving can hold — even if getting a nursery ready under pressure in a new home would add a slightly more stressful layer to their adventure. “The only thing we really had to buy other than wall accessories was the crib.” Thanks to Bret Gelderman’s knack for repairing and restoring distressed furniture, they already had all the major pieces, she says. The room’s centerpiece is a mission-style

Custom embroidery on new upholstery by Ella Allure perfects a thrift shop gem. See the nursery on

rocking chair that is symbolic for many reasons. It was purchased at a thrift shop in Wisconsin while they were visiting Bret’s family. The balloon embroidered on its back cushion was cut from a vintage scarf with a map print and embroidered with “G” for their last name. “The balloon basket was part of the shirt I was wearing when I met my husband.” To get the chair ready, Bret Gelderman

had stripped and stained it, but the upholstery was ugly and worn. Sarah Gelderman was six months pregnant and had been pondering ideas to complete the chair when she noticed the window display at the Ella Allure showroom while walking in downtown Westfield. She decided to stop in, and discussed the chair with owner Daniela Palumbo. “I was originally overwhelmed by how many fabric samples she had, but I told Daniela my vision and she made it her job to narrow it down for me. She only presented me with a few swatches she thought I’d like, and I think the fabric I chose was in the second book she pulled.” The Norbar brand fabrics blend with the nursery’s pistachio-colored walls. One yard of fabric was shipped out for the embroidery. The cushions were then reupholstered with welt trim. The embroidery was handled much like fabric with a large pattern. “We just needed to properly center it to showcase the design,” Palumbo said. “We can work with just about anything, whether it’s from our fabric collection, or you bring in your own. A customer once came in with a stool and a needlepoint she made. We were able to cover the cushion with her needlepoint.” Sarah Gelderman was pleased to have the chair finished three weeks before baby Henry was born on Feb. 2. It anchors a nursery decorated with maps, an atlas, suitcases and a mobile of hot air balloons. A vintage train case is filled with diapers, wipes and creams atop a restored buffet that’s now a changing table. The couple also had a travel theme for their wedding. “Our life is traveling, and we love to travel,” Gelderman says. “Moving around the country is a big part of our lives. It will be a big part of the baby’s life, too.”

Metal lanterns are more fun in Colormaster hues from Krylon.

Refreshing tips ■ Have a wooden bookcase or

dresser painted to match the color of your walls or cabinetry. It will look more unified with the room while providing extra storage space.  Planning to hang new art? Put a strip of adhesive tape on the wall before hammering in a nail. The tape will keep the drywall from cracking or crumbling.  When moving a picture or mirror, fill in any nail or screw holes with white toothpaste. Paper correction fluid works for smaller holes.  Felt costs less than 50 cents per square at craft stores, and it can be a great household helper. Cut small circles or squares to glue them on the bottom of vases, baskets and other containers. It helps prevent them from scratching tables or shelves.  In the guest bedroom, fold an extra set of bed linens to a size that can stuff pillow shams.  Add some interest to kitchen curtains by sewing or using fabric glue to attach ribbons, decorative buttons or rows of ribbon.  Look around your home and identify items that could be refreshed with a coat of paint. Spray paints from Krylon and other makers are formulated for a variety of surfaces from metals to plastics.

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ELLA ALLURE interior design center It’s all about the fabric UPHOLSTERY l WINDOW TREATMENTS l WALL COVERINGS 220 E. BROAD STREET, WESTFIELD, NJ 908.654.3527 Beacon Hill




March-April 2015

Expert’s book is guide for fine furniture buyers The two things that can most damage furniture are sun exposure, which fades finishes, and temperature fluctuations, which can split tables and loosen joints by causing them to expand and contract. That’s wisdom from French furniture historian and restorer Christophe Pourny, author of “The Furniture Bible” (Artisan Books, $35). “Keeping a steady climate around any fine furniture is a good idea,” he says. “Beyond that, it is important to keep your furniture clean and polished with a soft flannel cloth. I actually created my own line of polishes because the commercial versions have so many chemicals.” Pourny, who has a furniture restoration studio in Brooklyn, says he grew up in his parents’ antiques store in Fayence, France, where his father restored pieces that he bought at big estate sales. “My parents mostly sold rustic pieces with a Provençal style desired by Parisians and others who had country homes in the area.” Pourny says he had no intention of working with furniture, and studied history in college. But he was eventually drawn back to the family business, and went to apprentice with an uncle in Paris. “There, I learned so much about business and Parisian life, and I became hooked on the history of furniture.” In writing the book, Pourny says he hopes to make people as passionate about traditional wood finishing as they are about cooking or drinking artisanal whiskey. ”Take a cue from foodie culture,” he suggests. “Not being a professional chef doesn’t stop most of us from buying shelves full of cookbooks for guidance or pure inspiration. “I want readers to be inspired by the possibilities of what they can do with pieces from auctions, yard sales and such. Knowledge is power, and the more information you have, the smarter choices you can make when investing in a piece, or deciding to try your hand at that first DIY project,” he says. “When you know you have a valuable piece, it’s best to trust it to a professional,” he says. “A professional restorer should be able to give you a proposal of the work he will do,

James Wade

Christophe Pourny wrote “The Furniture Bible” to illuminate restoration techniques.

and the cost. You are not getting an estimate, so there should be no surprises. Restoring furniture should never feel like taking a car to a mechanic. If a restorer says, ‘We’ll have to see how it reacts,’ then I’d thank him very much and get out of there.”

“The Furniture Bible” can be useful when working with a professional, Pourny says. He suggests using it as a reference when discussing possible colors, textures, coverings, accents and decorative effects. “It never hurts to use a little insider lingo.”

Pourny, who has restored many important pieces, including a writing desk used by George Washington and projects at Gracie Mansion, says common household products often can be used to maintain furniture at its best. Try shoe polish to cover nicks and scratches. “Olive oil and baby powder mixed into a paste can remove surface dirt and light scratches from wood finishes,” he notes. “A mixture of Comet and water can remove stains from marble.” If your furniture is scratched, he suggests rubbing the area with a walnut. “Gently rub it on a nick or scratch and it should fade. The oil from the nut should fill in the scratch.” For anyone interested in antiques, Pourny suggests auction houses as a place to learn. “Auction houses are a great place to look, even just for fun,” he says. “The beauty of auctions is that you never know who is buying that week, and what is coming up at the next auction. Smaller houses can be wonderful resources; here in New York, I like Capo Auction in Queens and Roland Antiques in Greenwich Village.” When shopping with dealers, he suggests finding reputable ones. “If someone tells you a story about the provenance of a piece that seems way too outrageous, it just might be,” he says. “Look at the lines of the piece. All of the details of historical pieces should be very well finished. If a restoration has not been done correctly, the piece can be ruined.” Auction finder: Not everyone is looking for the valuable pieces typically sold through auction houses such as Rago in Lambertville. is a site that allows users to search nationwide for estate sales and auctions by Zip Code and keyword in several categories. The site indexes auctions by date for everything from collectibles to real estate.

Call contractor’s references, ask a dozen questions Checking a contractor’s references can be time-consuming and a bit awkward, but doing so is a key process in selecting the best person to work on your home. Don’t be afraid to call every reference on the list of any contractor you are considering, whether they’ll be remodeling your entire house or just installing new windows. Checking in with those who have used a contractor in the past will give insight into the contractor’s skill and work ethic. To be sure you cover all the important top-

ics, have a list of questions ready before calling. Use the following list as a starting point. 1. Did workers show up on time? 2. Did they keep the job site clean and respect your property? 3. Did they remove all trash and construction debris in a timely manner? 4. Were you fully satisfied with the completed work? 5. What made you happiest about using this installer? 6. Did any part of the project make you

unhappy? 7. Would you use the contractor again or recommend to family members? 8. Was your project completed in the timeframe quoted? 9. Were there any problems or delays? 10. Were you kept informed as the project progressed? 11. Were there any unexpected costs? If so, were the charges acceptable and reasonable? 12. Would you mind if I visited your home to see the completed work?

March-April 2015


A bath with spa appeal

Tidy and organized garden tools are ready for planting. Storage at

Try cleaning in stages Many of us are prompted by warming weather to not only store away heavy bedding and clothes, but also to shed excess possessions that seem to weigh us down. The spring cleaning ritual doesn’t have to wait until spring, however. QVC’s Jill Bauer has a 15-minute cleaning formula that can make it easier to tackle undercover messes — the closets, drawers and other enclosed areas that help us hide our junk. Rather than clear the fridge or cabinets all at once, Bauer suggests tackling a shelf or drawer at a time, and doing so in 15 minutes a day instead of devoting so many valuable weekend hours to cleaning. Be sure to get rid of anything that’s broken or damaged. Finding pleasing replacements will make you even happier with your work. Here are a few spring-cleaning tips from Bauer and others:  Clear your wardrobe by category. Day One is sweaters, Day Two is pants, then shoes and so on. If something wasn’t worn more than once last year, donate it.  If clutter is an issue, do an organizing dry run with boxes of various sizes. When you clear a shelf, divide the contents into labeled boxes by item or use. Then you’ll have a good idea of the size and number of containers you’ll need to store what you decide to keep. Bauer also likes to tuck things in the pouches of over-the-door shoe racks to organize and add room.  In the kitchen, clean one material at a time. Clean everything that’s stainless steel in one 15-minute session, for example. This avoids having to pull out five different cleaning solutions at once.  When all the winter bedding has been washed, tuck items in vacuum-sealed bags to protect from insects or dust. Fold clean linens for compact storage. Keep sheet sets together inside their matching pillowcases.

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More ways to freshen up Open windows: Before cleaning, open windows to let in fresh air and reduce the smell of cleaning solutions. Clean top to bottom: Dust and wash down surfaces before moving to vacuuming or mopping. This way, you won’t drop dust or crumbs on an already clean floor. Make a plan: Create a 15-minute cleaning checklist to outline tasks for each room. As you go from room to room, check off items and feel encouraged. Clean appliances inside and out: Scrub the dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and washing machine, including buttons and knobs. Replace filters and broken parts. Use tools: Your vacuum’s extension tool is a great cleaning helper for hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that are sometimes forgotten. Use it to clean behind and under furniture, get cobwebs from corners and to remove dust from baseboards, window blinds and light fixtures. Add sounds: An upbeat playlist can energize you to clean faster and make it fun. Or pick up a good audiobook from your library to take your mind off the work. Get the kids involved: If you can make cleaning fun or a contest, it will be easier to get helpers. Little kids often want to clean. Encourage them! Assign simple, age-appropriate tasks such as dusting or vacuuming. With smaller cleaning tools, they can imitate mom and dad. Teach organization by making a place to store extra toys. Rotate them to avoid clutter. Refresh by rearranging: A cabinet that no longer works in one room can be repurposed for another. Before you donate something or sell it at a yard sale, consider how it might be updated with new upholstery, shortened legs or a different finish.

From city apartments to spacious country homes, the bathroom is our refuge. Thanks to innovations in technology and design, a bathroom can become much more — an oasis of luxury, beauty and well-being in any size. “The spa bathroom concept is certainly trending,” says New York-based interior designer Guillaume Gentet who spoke at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. He offers the following tips for designing a luxurious spa bathroom. Turn up the heat. A heated floor, warming towel racks and heated toilet seats are increasingly popular, according to Gentet. Thanks to today’s technology, a bathroom can be made warm and welcoming. Appeal to the senses. Sound and scent set the mood for a relaxing bath. Plan your playlist, light a scented candle and place potpourri and aromatherapy oils in bowls and on lights. Fill a glass vase with fragrant soap bars. Privacy, please. Enclosed toilets, partitions and frosted shower glass all help make a bathroom more private. Gentet likes sinks in an island with a two-sided, His and Hers mirror. Light up. Today’s multifunctional bathroom requires several kinds of light. Gentet suggests brighter overhead lights in high-use areas, such as the shower and tub, and overhead lights with dimmers elsewhere. Lights placed on the sides of mirrors make shaving and makeup application easier and more ac-

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curate, avoiding the shadows overhead lights can cast. Bright white walls reflect even the best lighting in an unflattering way, so Gentet suggests walls in soft neutral colors. Cut clutter. Spas often have simple, Zenlike minimalist décor. Hide bathroom essentials in drawers. Gentet suggests retractable waste and laundry bins built into a wall.

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March-April 2015

Plant trees wisely A tree properly selected and planted can add beauty and energy efficiency to your landscape. Before you add new trees to your landscape, however, there are a few questions to consider. 1. What is the purpose of your tree? Will it improve your landscape, provide shade, or shield your home from winds? The answer will help determine what trees are suitable and where they should be planted. Dense evergreens can provide a good wind block, while leafy deciduous trees can offer summer shade. 2. Is it a New Jersey native? Trees that have grown naturally in New Jersey and the region are acclimated to the weather, soil, fauna and other conditions. They therefore can live longer with less maintenance. Get more information about native growing trees from your county office of Rutgers Cooperative Extension ( 3. Where will you plant? For a windbreak, plant trees to the north, northwest and west of your home. For shade, plant trees to the east and west. Note that fast-growing trees are more brittle and susceptible to storm damage. Plant them farther from your home to avoid damage. 4. Which trees? The Arbor Day Foundation’s website has a guide to more than 200 different tree species as well as a search tool to help determine the best trees for your area by ZIP code. Arbor Day is April 24, and the site also has ideas to plant trees in a loved one’s honor. 5. Is it safe to dig? Before planting, take precautions to stay safe by calling 8-1-1 a few business days before you want to plant. The national “Call Before You Dig” number is a free service that brings out someone to mark the location of any public underground utilities on your property so you can dig safely away from them. 6. How tall will the tree grow? Trees with a mature height of less than 25 feet are recommended for planting near homes and power lines. Never plant trees directly under power lines, near power poles, or too close to electrical equipment. Power outages or interruptions are often caused by trees and branches falling on overhead lines. Electrical arcing and sparking from a wire to a nearby branch can cause fires. Trees with a mature height of more than 40 feet should be planted 50 feet away from structures. Tall-growing trees near power lines must be pruned to maintain a safe distance from the wires. If you have trees growing into power lines, contact your electric provider. Never prune them yourself. For more tips on energy efficiency and safety, visit

Plant tall-growing trees safely away from homes and wires.


Sturdy lawns are supported by fertile soil and strong roots. Spring fertilizing can strengthen roots and improve growth.

Cool tools for a better lawn With spring just around the corner, many homeowners Add a half-cup of vinegar to the first jar. If the mixture are looking forward to getting back out in their yards to fizzes, your soil is highly alkaline and you don’t need to test enjoy the reawakening landscape. the other jar. If you get no reaction, continue the test by Lawns wake up hungry in the spring, and spring fertiladding a half-cup of water to the soil in the second jar. Mix izing strengthens roots and gets the grass ready for growing well and then add a half-cup of baking soda. If this mixture season. A well-fed lawn has a better root system to combat fizzes, the soil is very acidic. Most turf grasses prefer soil the stresses of heat, cold, drought and mowing. with a neutral pH (neither acidic nor alkaline). Overly Spring is also the time to begin grooming, but don’t pull acidic soil can be amended with lime, while alkaline soil out the lawn mower too early. Instead, rake up any leftover can be amended with sulfur. sticks and leaves. They not only look unpleasant, they can Dish soap: As your lawn starts its spring growth, watch deprive the grass of oxygen and sunlight. for brown patches that never turn green. Dead patches The turf grass experts at Grass Seed could be caused by grubs feeding USA, a coalition of American grass on the roots. To determine if grubs seed farmers, offers the following are the problem, carefully dig up lawn-care tips that use four comsquare-foot sections of sod to a depth Healthy soil makes great lawns mon household items to help create a of about 2 inches, in several suspect and gardens. Rutgers New Jersey more beautiful lawn. areas in your yard. You don’t need to Agricultural Experiment Station Ruler: Wait until the grass meacompletely detach the sod, just fold has a soil testing lab that can help. sures three inches tall, and then it back like a trap door. Examine the A $20 fertility test measures soil mow it to two inches tall. Cutting no soil beneath your grass for short, fat, nutrients and pH. Results are remore than a third of the lawn’s length whitish C-shaped grubs. turned with recommendations on avoids stressing the grass and helps If your lawn has five or fewer grubs what to add for better soil. Call the create a low-maintenance, droughtper square foot you don’t need to Union County extension office at tolerant lawn by leaving grass blades treat it. If you find six to nine grubs, (908) 654-9854 or get details online high enough to protect their roots treat your lawn to avoid having birds at from the drying sun. and skunks digging up grass for Screwdriver: To avoid overwatergrubs. Finding 10 or more grubs per ing, test for moisture by pushing square foot is a level of infestation a screwdriver into the ground. If it’s difficult to push the that risks serious lawn damage. screwdriver in, the soil is dry and your grass needs a drink. Treating for grubs is surprisingly easy. To treat 1,000 If the blade goes in easily, you don’t need to water. Grass square feet of grass, dilute 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap that is watered only when needed will develop longer roots in a gallon of water and spray it on the lawn. It’s best to do capable of pulling moisture from deeper in the soil. this immediately after a rainfall. This will cause the grubs to Mason jars, vinegar and baking soda: For a DIY test of come to the surface, where you can collect them if the birds you soil’s pH, collect soil samples from several areas of your don’t do the job for you. Repeat the treatment weekly until yard. Remove rocks and other debris and fill two quart-size grubs stop surfacing. Mason jars about halfway full with your mixed samples. For more lawn-care tips, visit

Improve your soil

March-April 2015

Cover-ups: From nursery pot to centerpiece


Who has to know your flower-filled baskets are plants still in their nursery pots? Here, small pots of calla lilies are clustered and lifted by cardboard to proper display height in each lined basket. Plant them when the party’s over.

Christ Brown/Proven Winners

Ruffles impatiens from Proven Winners are plucked from nursery flats and placed snugly in a metal planter for a pretty table display before they go into the garden.


Pots of grape hyacinths, an Easter favorite, can be tucked into various styles of trendy new fabric baskets. A woolen one warms them up in a lovely presentation.


Try planting summer-blooming lily bulbs in containers this spring. To brighten things up inside, buy them potted, and sink the flowering plant into a large decorative container.

Start planning your garden

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Spiky dahlia ‘Sarah Mae,’ top, is a cactus type with pointed curved petals on blooms that can reach 10 inches across. ‘Show n Tell’ is another big bloomer, among fimbriated dahlias with petals split at the ends, creating a fringed look. ‘Frost Nip,’ above right, is a bicolor dinnerplate dahlia with white-tipped petals. ‘Babylon’ is a fitting name for a decadently gorgeous blossom that can grow to 8 inches across, shown below right in rose color. is a wonderful source of worldwide information on dahlia classifications and more.

April 2015

Dahlia ‘Jean Marie’

Dahlia ‘Explosion’

Dahlia ‘Starchild’

Dahlia ‘H.S. First Love’

Dahlia ‘New Baby’


Dahlia ‘Purple Pearl’

Get to know this flower of many friendly faces In spring’s still-chilly days, let your mind wander through a garden full of summer flowers as an antidote to weather weariness. Dahlias are the flowers to invite into such visions. No other offers more choices, with more than 50,000 varieties and growing. “There’s a dahlia for every size space in your garden,” says David Williams, a fourthgeneration owner of Williams Nursery in Westfield. The plants can range from a tiny 6 inches tall to a towering 6 feet. “The bigger dahlias, you have to stake to support their weight,” he says. “Some are so big that they call them dinnerplate dahlias because the flower is the size of a dinner plate.” Dahlias can be flat or full with curls, rounded balls or exuberantly ruffled. This amazingly diverse flower family has been divided into 14 classes, and some resemble other flowers. There are peony dahlias, anemone dahlias, water lily dahlias, double orchid dahlias and even cactus dahlias, named for their pointed petals. What might just be the very best thing about dahlias is that they are easy to grow. Just give them sun and rich soil. They are also said to be deer resistant. Some of the more unusual varieties shown here can require an internet search or a good connection (more on that later). Tubers for some of the most popular types are already sold out online. But with so many options, it’s easy to find amazing varieties at nurseries, garden centers and some supermarkets. “Most of our customers buy the plants already started,” says Williams. “The ones we grow are the Dahlinova ‘Dalina.’ This is a dwarf variety with relatively large flowers.”


Dahlia ‘Karma Prospero’ has 5-inch flowers and is among hybrids bred for long vase life.

Williams also is excited about bringing in dahlias with crimson foliage this year. “Part of our history was growing dahlias,” he says of his family-owned nursery that’s just five years shy of a 100-year anniversary. In the 1950s, what is now Williams Nursery was Williams Floral Farm. “It was five acres worth of dahlias,” Williams says. “My dad would take them to the market in Brooklyn.” By the early ’60s, the focus began to shift from cut flowers to nursery stock. Williams, who now runs the nursery with his sister Denise, says dahlias are in his

blood. They also are among his favorite flowers to photograph. His flower pictures can be seen on his photo-centered blog at as well as on his photography website, “I always put dahlias in my garden,” Williams says. They do well in containers, and he likes them with the brachyscome ‘Radiant Magneta’ and Gerber daisies. He suggests planting dwarf varieties in the center of a container with geraniums and others plants that will provide interest until the spectacular but sporadic dahlia blooms appear.

Five more things to know about dahlias: 1. You can start planting them at the end of April. “There’s still a chance of a frost, but the soil temperatures should be warm enough by then to protect the tubers when they’re in the ground,” says Williams. 2. Dahlia “petals” are actually individual flowers called florets. The number of rows of florets and their size and shape are what determine how they are classified. 3. The vast color range is from white to deep violet to blends. Bi-colored types have a second color on their tips; variegated flowers have splashes or stripes of another color. 4. You can dig up the tuberous roots to plant again next year. A week or two after the first frost, pluck them from the ground and brush off the dirt. “Store them in a brown paper bag so they can breathe,” Williams advises. There are differing ideas on where and at what temperature to store tubers, so get more information for re-growing success. 5. You can learn more from other dahlia fans. The North Jersey Dahlia Society meets on the second Saturday of each month from March through November at Fairfield Public Library (261 Hollywood Ave., Fairfield). Annual membership is $15 for a family. Members exchange tubers from their own gardens at the April and May meetings, and they are likely to be from show quality plants. Beginners are welcomed at meetings that offer an opportunity to learn about preparing soil and beds, fertilizing, controlling pests and storing tubers over winter. The Society holds a dahlia show each fall at Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township. See for information.


March-April 2015

Move to avoid stiff joints Joints exist throughout the body where two or more bones meet. Like blinking our eyes or swallowing, joints function during our days without much notice. They do their part to bear weight and aid movement. We do not give a thought to their ongoing responsibility — until they hurt. Healthy joints require simple maintenance. You do not need an official jointhealth program or special tools to keep them happy. Along with a formal fitness routine, frequent movement best prevents stiff, sore joints. Sedentary hours can stress joints as much as shoveling snow, even if you are shoveling properly. Sitting at your desk for hours or watching TV or reading from your favorite chair can be culprits in joint stiffness. Extensive inactivity causes joints to stiffen, and the adjoining tissue to break down. Mobility lubricates joints. Plan accordingly to avoid everyday stiffness. If you have a project that will keep you in front of a computer all day, schedule breaks for 10-minute walks. Use a timer to alert you. Try gentle stretches and isometric exercises at your desk. Get a dog. Your pet is guaranteed to have you walking several times daily. Switch positions while reading on the couch. Get up to tend to laundry, cooking or other chores while you watch TV. For joint protection, focus on strengthening the muscles surrounding them. If you worry about the future of your knees from that an old soccer injury, concentrate on strengthening your thigh muscles. Also, strengthen your core for overall joint support. Improved balance from core fitness also helps avoid injuries and falls. Work abs, back and hips. For hip-joint support, perform squats and leg presses, or use a stair-climber machine at the center. Gently move your joints through their full range of motion to promote circulation. This helps with flexibility. A recent study found age-related stiffness to be more the result of inactivity than aging. Approximately 1,000 adults participated in the same fitness class over a 25-year period. Follow-up showed they experienced modest age-related decreases in cardio fitness and strength, but no loss of flexibility. Age is not an excuse! Along with providing firmer support to bones and joints, a toned body travels more easily. Excess weight strains hips, knees and back. The lower half of the body is particularly at risk for cartilage damage from carrying extra pounds. For every pound lost, about four pounds of pressure is eliminated from the knees. Low-impact exercise is ideal for joint health, and can include walking, cycling and weight training, all of which can help


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Exercises such as squats and leg presses can help keep hip joints flexible.

tackle multiple joints simultaneously. If joint pain is a problem, take your workout to the pool. Those with arthritis and osteoporosis can comfortably accomplish aerobic and strength training exercises in the water, managing resistance without straining joints. A personal trainer can provide additional suggestions, along with exercises that focus on specific joints. Stay flexible with a gentle workout followed by light stretching. Stretching is essential for joint health and healing. Some arthritis experts believe it is the most important exercise. Warm up first to loosen joints, ligaments and surrounding tendons. Never stretch cold muscles. Ice sore areas after a workout or during a flare-up to help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. Apply cold packs in 20-minute intervals. If post-workout soreness lasts more than 48 hours, reduce the intensity of your workout. Give tender areas a rest by focusing on different muscle groups during your next session. Seek medical attention for injuries or chronic pain. When the cartilage at joints’ ends wears down, bones can rub together. The friction can result in growths, spurs, swelling, stiffness and arthritis. Early treatment can help prevent further damage. Work with a physical therapist and personal trainer to create a program that avoids exacerbating the injury. A simple brace can often stabilize the joint. More at

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March-April 2015


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Craving a cookie? Avoid temptation by having a handful of granola with fruit instead.

Spring cleaning your diet Spring inspires us to air out and clean up, but don’t limit tidying to your home. Spring is also a good time to clean your plate. The old saying takes on new meaning as “eating clean.” That means retraining yourself to better enjoy the healthiest food choices. Eating clean delivers more fuel and less junk. Think of it as getting back to the basics: more vegetables and fruits, better protein choices, reduced fats. March is National Nutrition Month. Try these tips to spring clean your plate and fill it with foods worthy of your body. Freshen up. Fresh produce is loaded with vitamins, minerals and natural flavor. Pile your plate with them. Load them into baggies for snacks. Adults should aim for 2-1/2 to 3 cups of veggies daily. Wash produce well. Some prefer organic to assure produce was grown in a healthy environment. You may wish to splurge on organic when buying produce typically high in pesticide contamination, including apples, strawberries, grapes, celery and pears. Avoid packaged foods. Processed foods can be laden with chemicals, excess salt and hidden sugars. They sometimes are refined to the point of losing nutritional value while gaining ingredients that can pollute the body. Foods sealed in boxes, bags and cans often contain preservatives to keep them fresh. Some manufacturers also increase shelf-life with excess sodium. Read labels. Avoid foods that contain a long list of ingredients, especially those that are difficult to pronounce. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount used. Any added sugars and sodium should be at the end of a short list. Try sugar substitutes. If you crave a

crunchy cookie, eat fruit with granola. Instead of ice cream, add fruit to plain yogurt. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to six teaspoons (25.2 grams) daily for women and nine (37.8 grams) for men. Check labels for added sugar in yogurt, sauces, frozen entrees and other foods. Cut saturated fats. Avoid butter, whole milk, cheeses and fatty meats. Instead, use olive oil, low-fat cheeses, dressings and spreads. Have a meatless meal at least once a week. Replace meat with heart-healthy protein like beans and certain fish. Eat whole grains. Select whole grains instead of white bread, packaged muffins, white rice or white flour. Whole grain foods deliver more nutrition, often with less saturated fat and sugar. Research indicates those who regularly eat whole grains have lower body mass indexes and less belly fat than individuals who eat fewer. Experiment with quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. Season with a variety of spices and citrus juice to reduce salt. Choose the bakery. For the rare treat, bakery items usually contain less artificial flavoring and sugar. Added sugar can be used as a preservative; fresh-baked goods won’t need it to extend shelf-life. Give yourself time. Don’t expect to make all these changes at the chirp of spring’s first robin. Gradually work your way to “cleaner” eating habits. You will soon have a new appreciation for nature’s fresh goodness. More at Check “Events” at for free healthy cooking classes at RWJ Rahway Fitness & Wellness Center, Scotch Plains.

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March-April 2015

Asparagus: A tasty and versatile gift of spring Asparagus and oyster mushrooms

Asparagus salad with queso blanco

(4 servings)

(6 servings)

1 pound asparagus 1 pound oyster mushrooms Olive oil spray (Bertolli) 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan

1 pound asparagus, tough ends discarded and cut across diagonally in 1-inch pieces 1/3 cup chopped cilantro 1/3 cup diced red onion 1 serrano chile, chopped, OR 1/2 jalapeño, chopped 1 large tomato, chopped 4 ounces crumbled Wisconsin queso fresco cheese Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and trim asparagus and mushrooms. Pat dry with a clean towel. In single layers, place asparagus on one half of a baking sheet and mushrooms on the other half. Coat both with olive oil spray. Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus. 2. In a small bowl, blend olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and tarragon. 3. Remove asparagus and

mushrooms from oven. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the olive oil and lemon dressing. Top with the shaved Parmesan to serve. Nutrition information (per serving): 200 calories,

16g fat (5g saturated), 15mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 7g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g sugars, 10g protein — Adapted recipe, photo courtesy International Olive Council,

1. Make vinaigrette: In a jar with a lid, combine one small crushed garlic clove, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup fruity olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Close jar and shake well to blend. 2. Bring 2-1/2 cups water to boil. Add asparagus; return to boil. Test after 1 minute, asparagus should be crisp-tender. Cook

longer if necessary, being careful not to overcook. Drain in a collander and rinse with cold water. 3. Toss asparagus in a bowl with cilantro, onion, chile and vinaigrette. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Just before serving, add tomato and queso frecso. Toss to mix.

Asparagus, ham and tomato strata

Asparagus Jarlsberg tart

(10 servings)

(4 servings)

1 tablespoon butter 2 cups chopped asparagus 1 cup chopped onions 1 cup grape tomato halves 1 cup diced cooked ham 10 cups cubed French or Italian bread 8 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend 10 eggs 2-1/2 cups half-and-half 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed 8 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, shredded 1 pound thin asparagus Olive oil spray (Bertolli) 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and onion. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes and ham. 2. Place half the bread in a greased 13-by-9inch baking dish. Top evenly with half the asparagus mixture and half the cheese. Add

Nutrition information (per serving): 160 calories, 14g fat (4g saturated), 14mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 6g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g sugars, 5g protein — Recipe, photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board,

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover an oblong baking sheet with parchment paper.

remaining bread cubes and asparagus mixture. Reserve remaining cheese. 3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, halfand-half, salt and pepper. Pour over bread mixture. Press down to soak bread. Cover and refrigerate an hour or overnight. 4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed, golden and a

knife inserted near center comes out clean. Top with remaining cheese during last five minutes of baking. Nutrition information (per serving): 365 calories, 19g fat (10g saturated), 238mg cholesterol, 749mg sodium, 26g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugars, 21g protein — Recipe, photo courtesy American Egg Board,

2. Roll puff pastry into a rectangle, about 9 by 12 inches. Place on prepared baking sheet. With a knife, lightly score dough around the edges. Pierce the center of the dough with a fork at half-inch intervals. Bake pastry about 10 minutes. (Do not brown.) 3. Remove pastry from oven; sprinkle with shredded Jarlsberg. Trim asparagus spears so they can fit lengthwise or crosswise on the pastry shell. Arrange in a single

layer over the Jarlsberg, alternating ends and tips. Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves. Bake until spears are tender and crust is browned, about 10-12 minutes.

Nutrition information (per serving): 544 calories, 37g fat (15g saturated), 52mg cholesterol, 249mg sodium, 33g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g sugars, 22g protein

Note: Thicker asparagus can be blanched for one minute before using.

— Adapted recipe, photo courtesy Tine SA,

March-April 2015


Greek island’s secrets to long life Diane Kochilas’ cookbook “Ikaria” doubles as a travelogue, with pictures of pristine coastal landscapes that can encourage dreams of visiting this Greek island that is among few places in the world where people often live 100 years or longer. The cookbook’s recipes explore the traditional Ikarian diet and lifestyle with input from a nutritionist on the health value of the beans, greens, fish, olive oil and other foods essential to this designated “blue zone” of longevity. Although the health benefits of olive oil are well known, copious amounts are used here, and many foods are deep fried. Ikaria,

however, is a place where people don’t eat much and activities might involve hiking up and down sharp coastal rock formations to harvest salt from shallow pools. Many older residents still actively tend gardens and make their own cheese. Ikaria’s story is told through the voices and recipes of present residents and those for whom, like Kochilas, Ikaria is an ancestral home. As collaborating chef at Molyvos restaurant in Manhattan and host of the popular Greek cooking show “What’s Cooking Today, Mom?,” Kochilas divides her time between the U.S. and Greece. In the summer, she teaches at

Glorious Greek Kitchen, her cooking school in Ikaria. The book includes numerous vegetable-based dishes, but chapters also cover meats, fish and mezedes, the handpies, croquettes and other appetizers that support Ikaria’s relaxed and highly social culture where a little snack is always ready if a friend or neighbor should drop in. The featured potato and feta cheese patatokeftedes are such a snack, and also served in the weeks before Lent. “These make an excellent accompaniment to a glass of red wine,” Kochilas writes. Okra dishes have a significant presence in this cookbook. In the second recipe, they are cooked in a yiahni, the term for a pervasive onion and tomato sauce, rich with olive oil. Such saucy dishes are typically served with thickly cut potatoes pan-fried in olive oil. The dish also pairs well with patatokoftedes.

Potato and feta cheese croquettes (Makes about 20) 1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 egg 8 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg All-purpose flour, as needed Olive oil for frying

3. Shape into 20 oblong or round patties. Place on a plate, cover with parchment then foil. Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up.

1. In a pot, cover potatoes with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer potatoes until fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain into a colander. Set aside to cool completely. 2. Transfer potatoes to a bowl. Mash with

Nutrition information (per 2 croquettes):

165 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated), 37mg cholesterol, 264mg sodium, 13g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugars, 5g protein — Recipe from “Ikaria” by Diane Kochilas (Rodale, $35); photo by Vassilis Stenos

Chicken in a pot with okra (6 servings) 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 1 large chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into serving pieces 2 cups chopped red onions 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 pound okra, trimmed and soaked in vinegar (see note) 2 cups chopped canned plum tomatoes 2 bay leaves 3 sprigs fresh oregano Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1. In a large stewing pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, brown chicken, turning with tongs to brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate. 2. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of fat.

Add onions and garlic. Stir until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Place chicken back in pot. 3. Add okra, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water so liquid in the pot comes about halfway up its contents. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low. Simmer until chicken and okra are tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool slightly before serving. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve. Note: To trim okra, take a small paring knife and cut around the stem’s circumference, discarding the tough, thin stem piece. Rinse okra and drain. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with red wine vinegar. Let stand for 1 hour. Rinse and use as needed. Soaking okra in vinegar helps rid it of its mucilaginous (slimy) texture.

Fill a lunchbox: Five easy ways By Leslie Graham

a fork or potato masher. Mix in egg, feta, herbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Add flour if necessary to bind, kneading in 2 tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is solid enough to hold its shape.

4. Spread about 1 cup of flour on a plate. In a heavy nonstick skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium to high heat. When the oil is ready, dredge croquettes lightly in flour, shaking off any excess. Fry in batches until golden, turning once with a slotted spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until the entire mixture is used up. Serve hot.

Leslie Graham selects sweet bell peppers, which she cuts into strips for healthy snacks.

Nutrition information (per serving): 279 calories, 23g fat (5g saturated), 19mg cholesterol, 138mg sodium, 13g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g sugars, 8g protein — Recipe from “Ikaria” by Diane Kochilas (Rodale, $35); photo by Vassilis Stenos

With the ever-changing tastes and sometimes frightening proclivities of many children (the seven-day mac and cheese diet, for instance), planning healthy lunches can seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be if you keep in mind a few helpful tips. 1. Start in the produce aisle. The USDA recommends that fresh fruits and vegetables make up half the daily caloric intake for children (and adults). Generally, brighter colored produce is more nutrient-dense. So, let your child pick red, yellow, dark green and orange with smooth, blemish-free skin. Cut carrots, sweet peppers and other vegetables into strips to be eaten raw. 2. Think beyond sandwiches. With an insulated container to keep them warm, soups, stews or casseroles become lunchbox options. Consider freezing bean or grain salads or roasted vegetables in zip-top bags. They will thaw during the school day and be ready to eat at lunch. 3. Plan ahead. If you do make sandwiches or wraps, add vegetables. Purchase cheeses and lean meats by the slice from the deli area. Buying only enough to cover three meals at a time will avoid waste. 4. Pack snacks. Fresh or dried fruits, nuts, yogurt cups and whole-grain chips are healthy choices. Thicker skinned fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes, pineapples and most melons are at less risk for pesticide residues. Select organic for more porous, thin-skinned fruits including grapes, strawberries, apples and peaches. 5. Watch portion size. Measure servings by the size of your child’s palm or handful. A small child’s lunch would include 2-3 ounces of a lean protein and similarly sized servings of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Leslie Graham is a personal chef and owner of Leslie’s Lunches, which supplies healthy lunches for area day care centers and preschools. Learn more at


March-April 2015

More money-saving strategies

Photo credit here

Straining is a big part of making fresh cheese. The process starts with milk and an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.

Cheese with ease

In “One-Hour Cheese” (Workman, $14.95), author Claudia Lucero shows the surprising number of fresh cheeses that can be made in the average kitchen with few supplies beyond a thick pot, tight-mesh cheesecloth and a strainer. Here, recipes for 16 cheeses are rated “easy,” “easier,” or “easiest.” Lucero says she first became aware of the simplicity of producing fresh cheeses when she learned to make paneer while working at an Indian restaurant. Years later she would begin to experiment with other cheese recipes in an effort to simplify them, recalling that making paneer, which she calls her “gateway cheese,” required two main ingredients: hot milk and lemon juice. “I was very selective and focused on cheeses that did not require aging,” she writes. “I graduated from paneer to ricotta, to mozzarella, queso blanco and chèvre.” Among recipes are farmer’s style cheeses, cottage cheese, haloumi, buratta, a “toast cheese” inspired by Finnish juustoleipa and others. Step-by-step photographs illustrate instructions that usually involve heating milk, adding an acid to separate curds from whey, straining, flavoring, and pressing the cheese into shape. While raw milk is ideal, cheeses can be made with any milk that isn’t ultrapasteurized. In recipes using rennet, Lucero uses vegetarian rennet tablets exclusively. The cookbook includes recipes to use the cheeses in various dishes and desserts. There also are recipes for accompaniments, including a few beverages, when a cheese is an appetizer. Making fresh cheeses at home is a lost skill, Lucero says. She hopes to resurrect it with the book and her company,, which offers supplies for home cheesemakers, including kits to help make various cheeses. To show how easy cheese making can be, Lucero introduces the cookbook with a five-step recipe for first-timer’s cheese, which she suggests crumbling on salads, pizza, tacos, chili or just eating with crusty bread and ripe tomatoes. It begins with stirring a quart of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers gently (“not a rolling boil, but close”). “When you see the bubbles, start slowly pouring in the vinegar (1/8 cup of basic white, white wine or apple cider vinegar),” she writes. She advises stirring in only enough vinegar to result in “the clear separation of curds (white solids) and whey (clearish liquid).” The heat is then reduced to low and gentle stirring continues as the curds cook two more minutes. The curds are strained, placed in bowl and blended with 1/4 teaspoon salt. “Voilà, YOU MADE CHEESE! To be specific, you made a directly acidified farmer-style cheese,” she writes. “Congratulations — this is just the beginning.”

When Food Network personality Melissa d’Arabian pulverizes spinach and carrots to blend into pancake batter, she doesn’t keep it a secret from her four young daughters. “They think it’s hilarious that they eat spinach in a pancake,” she says. Girls who can laugh rather than be grossed out by the unusual ingredients are certainly a product of their mom’s approach to mealtime. “I focus on building a positive relationship with healthy foods with my kids more than I focus on them eating one more bite of a vegetable,” d’Arabian says. “I’m more about fortifying than sneaking, so my kids know all about the ingredients in my cooking.” It probably helps that her Chocolate-Chocolate Veggie Pancakes recipe also includes apples, chocolate chips, cocoa and honey. And if the ratings at are an accurate assessment, it’s worth noting that the recipe got a five-star rating in all 24 reviews. D’Arabian’s recently published second cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy” (Clarkson Potter, $24.99), includes a potato soup recipe whose main ingredient is actually cauliflower with one potato and a carrot for color. “Adding the carrot to make the soup look extra cheesy was a bit of inspiration from mac and cheese I make for my kids,” d’Arabian says. “A carrot makes it look more yellow.” The recipe involves only a top sprinkle of cheddar cheese, getting creamy texture and rich flavor from reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Experiments with cauliflower led to the adaptation, she says. “It hit me that if I added even a tiny bit of potato, the whole soup would take on the classic baked potato soup flavor.” “Supermarket Healthy” continues the money-saving promise of d’Arabian’s best-selling 2012 cookbook “Ten Dollar Dinners,” named after the show of which she became host after winning Season 5 of “The Next Food Network Star.” In the new cookbook, she bakes her own

protein bars, produces fresh ricotta cheese for a roasted fruit medley, and blends a multigrain cereal of steel-cut oats, quinoa, bulgur and flax seeds. Creative fortifying means roasted acorn squash halves become vitamin-rich bowls for a Gruyere “fondue” dip. Chicken is braised in seasoned carrot juice. Thinly sliced fennel stands in for pasta in one chicken dish, and a sesame and pumpkin seed blend becomes “breading” in another. D’Arabian is known for strategies to feed her family of six well on a budget. For a turkey cutlet fajita recipe, she notes: “My trick to keeping the cost and calorie count under control is to keep the protein lean and load up with veggies.”

© Tina Rupp

Fruit is sweeter when its natural sugars are carmelized by roasting. Complement with creamy homemade ricotta.

Roasted fruit and homemade ricotta (6 servings) For ricotta: 2 cups 2 percent milk 1 cup whole milk 1-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out with the tip of a paring knife (reserve the bean for another use or discard) For roasted fruit: 2 peaches, halved, pitted, and quartered 2 pears, seeded and quartered lengthwise 2 plums, pitted and quartered 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon lightly packed light brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 cup hazelnuts Honey of choice 1. Make ricotta: Set a large finemesh sieve over a large bowl. Line

the sieve with a dampened piece of cheesecloth. Pour both of the milks into a medium stainless steel or enameled pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in vinegar. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes (it will separate into curds and whey).

cinnamon. Place fruit on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until slightly soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Roast hazelnuts on a second rimmed baking sheet until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board to cool, then roughly chop.

2. Pour mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and drain until the ricotta is nice and thick, 20 to 25 minutes. Occasionally, pour off and discard water from the bowl (for thicker ricotta, drain longer).

5. Serve ricotta alongside roasted fruit, chopped hazelnuts and honey for drizzling.

3. Turn ricotta out into a bowl and stir in vanilla seeds. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. 4. Roast fruit: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add peaches, pears and plums to a large bowl. Toss with melted butter, brown sugar and

Nutrition information (per serving): 240 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 16mg cholesterol, 51mg sodium, 40g carbs, 4g fiber, 33g sugars, 6g protein — From “Supermarket Healthy: Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot” Copyright © 2014 by Melissa d’Arabian.

March-April 2015


Slow cooking into spring

© Tina Rupp

Creamy cauliflower ‘baked potato’ soup (4 servings) 2 slices bacon 1 sweet onion (Maui or Vidalia), finely chopped 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1-1/4 pounds), cored, trimmed, cut into small florets 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 1 small carrot, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel) 1/2 cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1. Cook bacon in a large soup pot set over medium heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. 2. Stir onion into the bacon fat and cook, stirring often, until it is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower, potato, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 3. Raise the heat to medium-high, add broth and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer the mixture until vegetables are very soft, about 13 minutes. Turn off heat and use a ladle to transfer half the vegetables and liquid to a blender. Add the cream cheese and blend until smooth. 4. Pour the puréed soup into a large bowl or clean saucepan. Blend the second half of the soup until it is smooth and add it to the first batch. Heat the soup over medium heat until it is warmed through. Divide among soup bowls and serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and some of the grated cheese, crumbled bacon and scallion. Nutrition information (per serving): 244 calories, 11g fat (6g saturated), 30mg cholesterol, 800mg sodium, 23g carbs, 4g fiber, 9g sugars, 15g protein — From “Supermarket Healthy: Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot” Copyright © 2014 by Melissa d’Arabian.

Don’t forget about slow cookers as soon as the cold passes. These energy- and effort-efficient appliances can be filled for soups, stews, fork-tender meats and even desserts as temperatures rise. On summer’s hottest days, they’ll simplify meals without adding much kitchen heat. In “Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes” (Robert Rose, $24.95), Donna-Marie Pye offers many lighter options to transition into spring. Meatballs, a year-round favorite, are made from scratch for spicy sandwiches served with coleslaw, and for the escarole-enriched broth of Nonna’s Mini Meatball soup. Pye suggests stocking frozen meatballs for quick meals. For her meatball pesto stew, she fills the crock with two pounds of meatballs, finely chopped carrots, celery and red bell pepper, canned stewed tomatoes, kidney beans, prepared pesto and water. Everything cooks about five hours, and al dente pasta is stirred in before serving with sprinkled Parmesan. “Everyday” dishes are economical chilis, other fiber-rich bean dishes, and many meaty meals. One chapter has double-duty dinners where meats are made over for second-day serving in quesadillas, risotto or salad, or to top stuffed potatoes and pizza. And how does a slow cooker tenderize bargain meats? By breaking down collagen and fatty tissue, Pye explains. Why are meats and vegetables sauteed before slow cooking? “Browning meat not only improves its color, but also breaks down the natural sugars, releasing their flavors,” she writes. “Sauteing vegetables with spices and dried herbs before slow cooking produces a richer, more intense sauce.” Pye also adapts ethnic dishes and ingredients. Her “Mu Shu for Two” has slow-cooked chicken in flour tortillas. For pierogies, cheddar mashed potatoes are sandwiched between lasagna noodles with caramelized onions. The ground chicken of “Bollywood Chicken Loaf ” is blended with curry paste and garam masala (a seasoning mix) for a meatloaf glazed with mango chutney.

© Tina Rupp

Fruit is sweeter when its natural sugars are carmelized by roasting. Complement with creamy homemade ricotta.

Nonna’s mini-meatball soup (8 servings)

stoneware. Gently pour in broth.

1 pound lean ground beef 1 pound lean ground pork 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for soup bowls, if desired) 1 cup fine dry Italian bread crumbs 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped (about 1 cup) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 6 cups chicken broth 2 cups packed coarsely chopped baby spinach or escarole 2 cups cooked small pasta, such as elbows, tubetti, shells or stars Tools: minimum 5-quart slow cooker

2. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 9 hours or on High for 4-1/2 to 5 hours, until soup is bubbling and meatballs are cooked through.

1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, Parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Using your hands, roll into 3/4-inch meatballs. Place meatballs in slow cooker

— From “Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes” by DonnaMarie Pye, © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

3. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook on High for 10 to 15 minutes or until greens are wilted, bright green and tender. Stir in cooked pasta. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired. Tip: Don’t make stock from scratch? Keep 32-ounce lowsodium cartons on hand. Another option is to use three 10-ounce cans of broth and add enough water to make 6 cups. Avoid salty broth cubes and powders. Nutrition information (per serving): 390 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated), 143mg cholesterol, 661mg sodium, 27g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugars, 44g protein


March-April 2015

Not just for the holidays Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a big tulip magnolia tree in your yard. If you are, a branch from it can be the start of a wall-hung floral arrangement as it supports tiny waxflower clusters and stems of hypericum berries. The technique used to make the magnolia swag is repeated in rounded wreaths, sprawling garlands, dainty table decorations and other flower-and foliage-driven projects in “The Wreath Recipe Book” by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo (Artisan, $25.95). The book is divided by season to encourage year-round projects using available flora.


“When it comes to making wreaths, it’s pretty easy to make a gourmet-looking one with a humble pantry of ingredients,” the authors write. They help with stepby-step photos for each project, which typically involves bundling plant material and wiring or skewering to a base. The authors note that attractive bundles are crucial, and they advise attention to that part of the process. After that, it’s pretty much concealing stems and water tubes. The book includes vase arrangements and many ideas suitable for entertaining and event decorating.

Magnolia and waxflowers swag recipe

Photos by Paige Green

Ingredients: 1 magnolia branch, 9 sprigs of waxflower, 9 stems of hypericum. Materials: Paddle wire, 1 yard of ribbon. Photos by Kimberly L. Jackson

“E” for Easter and easy: Don’t make those cute découpaged Easter eggs with craft adhesives that aren’t food safe. Try our all-natural egg white découpage using recipes on Page 21. (Having carefully punctured, clipped and drained so many shells, we were looking for more ways to use eggs.) When I was a child, my mother sometimes used egg white as a glue substitute, and we’ve learned it works wonderfully on Easter eggs. The patterns shown were cut from Dollar Tree spring-theme napkins. Since it can be tricky to keep napkin cutouts from curling, avoid soaking them with egg white. The newspaper letters were easier to use. Egg white découpage works on boiled eggs, emptied eggs and eggs dyed with food color paint. The easy food color and vinegar mixture is recommended; brown eggs will require two coats. Start with the magnolia branch. Gather a bundle of three sprigs of waxflower and three stems of hypericum. Use paddle wire to attach it to the left side of the magnolia branch. Make a second bundle with the same ingredients and attach it so that it overlaps the stems of the first bundle, facing the same direction.

Make a third bundle with the remaining ingredients and attach it to the branch in the opposite direction, concealing the stems under the other bundles. Finish by attaching a piece of ribbon to both ends of the branch. Hang from ribbon.

Adventures in indoor bulb-growing: The water-grown grape hyacinths shown bloomed in my living room. Since the last issue, we have grown flowers from grape hyacinth (muscari) bulbs in a variety of settings. We went crazy with the muscari bulbs and managed to get them to flower on top of marbles in containers of several sizes. Even a single bulb propped by marbles in a small glass bottle stopper now has a flower. Three amaryllis bulbs are also progressing well. The largest began to open a huge red and white bloom on Valentine’s Day (journal entries on Encouraged by the successes, we now have tulip bulbs taking root hydroponically. They’re in the basement, chilling on stones with their bottoms in water. The water-grown bulbs will be more likely to flower if their roots start in the cold, as they would in the winter ground.

March-April 2015


Egg-cellent ideas for Easter decorating

Photos courtesy McCormick, American Egg Board

Easter eggs can be made for hunting and eating or for decorating the holiday table. Try a variety of techniques for a crafty family activity that will be fun for children and adults, too.

Just about any crafting technique used on paper can be adapted for the oval-shaped canvas that becomes an Easter egg. Add color with food-based dyes, paints, markers and even crayons. Dip an egg in glue then roll it in glitter. Create scenes or patterns with glue and bits of colored paper, ribbon, sequins, beads or tiny buttons. But can you eat an egg whose marbled design was created with shaving cream? In most cases, it’s not safe to eat an egg decorated with anything you couldn’t eat right from its container. That includes shaving cream, nail polish, craft paints, standard glitter, and many other crafty materials. If you want Easter egg hunters to be able to crack open a healthy dose of hard-boiled protein, select the food-safe egg dyes and decorations in the list that follows. A silicone muffin pan can hold various dye colors, and recycled bottle caps make handy stands for painting and decorating eggs. Crack everyday eggs with care and the shells also can make fun Easter decorations. Shell planters: Use a knife tip to make a small crack in one end of an egg shell, then carefully chip away bits, or use nail scissors (not clippers) to cut an opening big enough

to release the egg. Rinse and drain to dry. Cut shells to size and dye as desired. Place shells in an egg carton near a sunny window. Put a cotton ball in the bottom of each, cover with soil, plant herb seeds and water. Eggshell frame: Make a small crack at the center of an egg. Use nail scissors to cut an oval-shaped opening. Drain egg, rinse and let shell dry. Dye or paint the shell. When dry, glue thin ribbon or trim over cut edge. (photo on Page 20) Stuff with cotton and push in a trimmed wallet-size photo. Food color: For edible egg paint, mix 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar with 1 or 2 drops of food color in a recycled bottle cap. Paint eggs with cotton swabs or paintbrushes. Get egg color mixing tips and instructions to make twotone, striped, dotted and abstract eggs at Marbled patterns are made by adding oil to when eggs are dipped in dye. Cheesecloth: For a tie-dye look, wrap an egg in a 6-inch square of damp cheesecloth. Twist the ends loosely to hold the cloth in place. Drizzle eggs with different food color paints (recipe above). Twist the cloth more tightly around the egg to swirl colors. Let dry on a bottle cap then remove the cloth. Natural dyes: Onion skins, beets, blueber-

ries, blackberries, red cabbage, coffee, marigolds, chamomile tea and more can be used for egg dying. Simmer a cup of the chosen material in a pot with 5 cups of water for 30 minutes, or until the water is deeply colored. More of the coloring material can be added for a darker dye. Once the color is satisfactory, add 1/8 cup of vinegar to the strained liquid. Vinegar acidifies the dye solution, helping egg shells accept color. White or brown eggs can be boiled in the dye solution for at least 15 minutes, or place boiled eggs in the dye bath and refrigerate overnight. Food-safe découpage: For eggs that will be eaten, we use egg whites as a natural glue. Mix one large egg white with a teaspoon of water. Cut images from paper napkins, newspapers or magazines. Dip into the egg white then smooth onto dyed or plain boiled eggs or emptied egg shells. Let dry. Also try this for scenes using cut colored tissue paper. Herbs and hose: Place small herb sprigs on an egg and secure inside stockings, knotted to hold the assembly tightly in place. Soak in dye. Leave eggs tied until dry. Crayons: Grate crayons to sprinkle and melt over dried boiled eggs still hot from the pot. Or hold a hot, dried egg in an old

oven mitt while drawing on it. The melting crayon runs over the egg, creating beautiful abstracts when single or multiple colors are used. The Crayola website advises not eating eggs colored with crayons. White crayon: Draw on a cooled boiled egg’s shell with white crayon. Patterns will be created when the crayon wax resists color when placed in a dye bath. Patterns resulting from this technique could be a kid’s introduction to Pysanky, the Ukrainian folk art where melted wax is used to draw elaborate patterns on eggs before they are dyed. Stickers: Beyond sticking them on to decorate colored eggs, you can stick letters or dots on eggs before dying to leave designs when they are removed. (Dotted eggs also can be made by dipping a new pencil eraser in paint to dab over an egg shell.) Paper tape: Washi is a colored or patterned Japanese paper tape. Wrap it around eggs or snip pieces to create cute scenes. Nail polish: Polishes offer a wide color range with a finish to strengthen an egg shell. A clear coat adds shine and long-term protection to eggs that won’t be eaten. If the shells remain intact, boiled eggs won’t smell, but they’ll dry and shrink inside over time.


March-April 2015

Furniture straps can keep kids safe An increasing number of children are suffering fatal injuries as a result of televisions falling on them, and the American Home Furnishings Alliance is encouraging those in homes with small children to use safety devices to secure furniture and televisions. The association urges use of tip restraints for both televisions and the furnishings that hold them. The devices anchor furnishings to the floor, wall studs or other surfaces. A 50-inch flat panel television can weigh as much as four bowling balls, the association notes, citing a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report this year that one child under age 10 dies every two weeks, on average, after being crushed by a television, piece of furniture or household appliance. “These accidents are easily preventable with the proper safety devices in place,” AHFA spokeswoman Jackie Hirschhaut said in a written statement. The restraints and brackets that help secure them to the wall often cost less than $10. Also known as furniture safety straps, furniture brackets or anti-tip straps, the devices are available online and through baby supply stores. Furniture safety brackets by Mommy’s Helper, Inc. are among various styles of furniture tipping restraints that can anchor larger furnishings to wall studs and prevent them from tipping over. The website sells a variety of tipping restraints, including anti-tip furniture straps ($6.95 for two), brackets ($8.95 for eight) and locking safety straps that attach to the back of a television or other large appliance and anchor it to the surface on which it sits ($14.95 for a two-pack). In 2012, AHFA surveyed 1,000 U.S. households about furniture safety to determine what precautions parents took to prevent furniture from tipping over. The survey found that 38 percent of the households with small children had placed a TV on a dresser, and one in 10 had used a bookshelf — two of the most dangerous places for any kind of television. “Many families move their old television into a secondary room after the purchase of a new, flat-panel television,” says Hirschhaut. “Placing the TV on an unsuitable piece of furniture in those rooms only heightens the likelihood of an accident.” The organization

Community calendar ■

 March 6-31: “Student Life” an exhibit and sale celebrating talents of Union County high school students and others. Gallery U Boutique, Westfield. The gallery sells art, clothing and gifts to provide jobs and art therapy for people with traumatic brain injury. 439 South Ave. West, Westfield. (908) 2321895.

 March 7: St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Fanwood Train Station. Food, drinks, live music, Irish dancers and bagpipers under a heated tent. 12:30 to 9:30 p.m. $10 admission. More at

 March 12-14: Friends of Scotch Plains Public Library Book Sale. Books, audiobooks, CDs and DVDs. Starts at 9 a.m. each day; until 8 p.m. on March 12. 1927 Bartle Ave., Scotch Plains. (908) 322-5007. Details, more events at

 March 28: Grow and Learn Garden Workshop. 10 a.m. to noon. Hands-on workshop lets kids explore and learn about the Liberty Hall Museum green house filled with historic and heirloom plants. Plant a geranium to take home. $20 per child and one adult. Register at (908) 527-0400. More events at Mommy’s Helper, Inc.

Avoid placing toys or treats on top of furniture a child might climb to access. As a precaution, tipping restraints can anchor furniture to a wall to prevent injuries.

notes that tipping accidents are more likely in rooms where children are not supervised. AHFA helped put in place a voluntary standard under which many Americanmade furnishings over 30 inches tall are now shipped with tip restraints and instructions to install them. The organization offers the following safety tips for homes with young children:  Use tipping restraints on bookcases, shelving and other heavy furniture. Use brackets to anchor large televisions in place.

Mixed messages Unscramble these words to reveal a quote about safety from a world-famous theoretical physicist. Solution on

 Place televisions on furniture that is low to the floor, sturdy and designed to accommodate their size and weight.  Never place a TV on furniture with drawers or shelves that a child can climb  Eliminate temptation to climb by removing toys, remote controls and other attractive items from the top of taller furnishings, or furniture that holds a TV.  Store heavy items on lower shelves and in bottom drawers.

■ ■ ■

“Cerconn orf nma fimshel nad shi fateys stum slaywa morf het feich trestein fo lal niclatech dearvenos.” — Telbar Inteesin

 April 13: “Advanced Style,” a 2014 documentary on stylish women over 60 whose maturity and wisdom give them elegance and allure that flies in the face of contemporary obsession with youthful beauty. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Free at Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave., Cranford. More films and events at

 April 19: Daffodil Day. Fun and flowers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reeves-Reed Arboretum, 165 Hobart Ave, Summit. (908) 273-8787 has more events.

 April 26: Wild Earth Fest. Live animals, educational displays, crafts and more to celebrate Earth and encourage eco-friendly practices. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $4 admission (free for 6 and under) at Trailside Nature and Science Center, 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside. (908) 789-3670. Send notice of community events to While all events will be considered, space constraints make it impossible to list all. Selected events will be covered on

March-April 2015



Mom suspects teen is lying about drugs Dear Dr. Barb, What do you do if you suspect your child is using drugs and you have already confronted the child about it but don’t believe you are getting the truth? My husband left us two years ago and my 15-year-old has had a hard time coping with the loss and how our lives have changed as a result. — Name and town withheld Dear Parent: The stress of a marital separation or, even worse, spousal abandonment, can take an enormous toll on a family psychologically, physically and financially. With the onset of marital separation, the family itself has to reorganize without much time to mourn the emotional loss of the missing parent. And, on top of all the changes you have had to face, you now suspect your teen is using drugs. Fortunately, you have been attentive to your child’s behavior and have noticed changes that could indicate substance use. Of course, the big question is whether your teen really is using drugs. Some warning signs can be withdrawing from family activities and responsibilities or disrespecting family rules. At school, there may be a loss of interest in learning, not doing homework, and a sudden drop in grades. Are you seeing emotional and physical changes in your teen regarding friends, appearance or mood? He or she may appear to be unhappy and depressed or unexpectedly become negative, argumentative, confused or anxious. Please be aware that although your teen may show some of these disturbing changes, they do not necessarily mean that he or she

is using drugs. Instead, your child might be struggling with other problems, possibly related to your husband’s absence. Just being a teenager is often enough to bring about such changes. On the other hand, if you have smelled marijuana on your teen’s breath or body, found remnants of drug paraphernalia or discovered that money or valuables are missing, the likelihood is that your teen is using drugs. Unfortunately, it is not unusual that a teenager, wanting more independence and control, will try to hide the truth. A teen who is afraid to admit that he or she is using drugs or alcohol might defensively accuse you of being critical and controlling. When confronting your child, it’s best not to engage in a power struggle. Speak calmly and respectfully. Try to convey your love and support by empathizing with how difficult it has been since your husband left. At the time of your husband’s departure, your child was just starting adolescence, a challenging time both physically and psychologically for all kids. Furthermore, just as he or she became a teenager, you became a single parent, a role adjustment for both of you. And, as you face your own emotional needs stemming from the separation, it is not always easy to understand or handle the emotional confusion your child may be experiencing. Children may feel anger about being abandoned but blame themselves when a parent leaves. Or, a child may feel sorry for the present parent while also missing the absent one. If you are a single parent who had to return to the workplace, there is unfortunately less

time and energy available for parenting. And if a single income required your family to move to a new town or school, your teen was likely separated from familiar friends and comfortable routines. The difficulties in making these kinds of adjustments can cause severe psychological stress in both parent and child. Family counseling can help the two of you get through this challenging life transition. You and your teen can learn to honestly express feelings and solve problems together in appropriate and healthy ways. Working through these challenges with professional guidance and support can provide an opportunity for your relationship with each other to grow stronger. And, most important, in time your teenager will feel more happy, confident and secure. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families funds various family-related programs across the state. If you do not have access to private counseling, call 2-1-1 for help finding options. The United Way of Greater Union County (908-353-7171) can refer for low-cost counseling. Also try Mt. Carmel Guild Behavioral Healthcare System in Cranford (908-497-3925). If possible, it might help if you and your husband can talk with your teen. It would likely reassure your child that, on behalf of his or her needs, the two of you can cooperate together as parents. However, if your husband does not cooperate, and repeated attempts to talk with your teen are not productive, I recommend seeking help from a psychologist who specializes in teenagers, family and drug abuse. A trained mental health professional will


be able to evaluate the situation and recommend interventions to avoid the danger of harm to your child or anyone else. Barbara L. Rosenberg, Ph.D, is a licensed psychologist and chair of educational and social programs for the Essex-Union County Association of Psychologists. Her Summit practice serves individuals of all ages, as well as couples and families. E-mail your questions to, or contact Dr. Barb through

Couples: Are you a relationship builder or destroyer?


Very often couples arrive at marriage counseling when they are already in a significant amount of emotional pain and turmoil. They are frequently angry, resentful and quite hostile toward one another. And they are usually very invested in blaming each other and accusing each other of being the cause of the problem. To make matters worse, communication has often deteriorated to the point where the husband and wife cannot understand each other’s viewpoint on various issues. While being in therapy is useful for venting, the couple needs to move beyond just venting if they are to heal their wounded relationship, says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist in River Edge. He suggests that couples look at their actions and put them into one of two categories;

relationship building or relationship destroying. “If your marriage is in trouble, take a look at your actions and see what category they fall into and how you can add to relationship builders and minimize relationship destroyers,” Granat advises. It’s a simple tip that he has used successfully with many couples over the years. It is helpful for couples who may be wondering what happened to the spark as well as those just starting out in a relationship. By taking a step back and thinking about their own actions in one of these two ways, couples are able to see very easily what actions are tearing apart the relationship and which can help repair it, Granat says. While some actions, such as drug or alcohol abuse and marital affairs, are easy to cat-

Potential deal breakers in marriage: Physical or verbal abuse; addictions; mental illness; infidelity; breakdown in trust; sexual issues; falling out of love egorize as relationship destroyers, others can take more thought. On the other hand, being supportive and helping out with parenting and household chores would have a positive impact on a relationship. Other relationship builders might include preparing your mate’s favorite meal as a prelude to an evening of amorous activities. “Once a husband and wife can look at their actions and the impact those actions can have on their relationship, they can begin to see what they need to modify to improve their marriage,” Granat says.


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