People That You Meet

Blog / Real Estate Resources / January 29, 2017

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PEOPLE-3

 

Janine Territo & Laura Himmelein

Charities of Choice: www.take-the-cake.org

What town do you live in? J & L: Maplewood, NJ

Where did you live before that?
J: Evanston, IL
L: Manhattan — Greenwich Village

What brought you to SOMA?
J: A job opportunity in NYC
L: After seriously considering turning our apartment closet into a sleeping alcove for our then 18 month-old, we decided it was time to join other friends and migrate to Maplewood.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?
J: Managing Take the Cake is my main job at the moment, aside
from parenting.
L: In addition to my work with Take the Cake, I am an event designer with my own business, Party Cake Party Cake (www.partycake-partycake.com).

What’s your favorite feature of your home?
J: My kitchen! It’s bright and cheery and where I spend a LOT of my time!
L: My deck. It’s relaxing and secluded. I love hanging out there with friends — or just a cup a coffee. It always feels like a little mini vacation. I miss it during the winter and always put off storing the furniture till the last possible second.

Where do you love to go on a date night?
J: I’m almost always up for a night at the movies! If I’m lucky, we’ll have time for dinner, too. We love Wild Ginger, Walia, Arturo’s and cocktails at Coda. We also have some Montclair favorites, like Mundo Vegan and MishMish.
L: My husband and I love seeing comedy shows. The Bell House in Brooklyn is one of our favorite venues.

What’s music/album are you really into these days?
J: I’ll always be true to my old favorites, Bob Marley, Cake, Stevie Wonder, Billy Bragg, Paul Simon, Joan Armatrading, Ben Folds, etc. But lately I’ve been enjoying Portugal. The Man and The Weeknd and (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit) Selena Gomez.
L: I listen to an eclectic mix of favorites (from the Beatles to the Violent Femmes) as well as newer stuff. Just now I was listening to Alessia Cara’s “Here”.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
J: Although fraught with troubling consequences, I would have to say time travel!
L: Flying. That would be incredible!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years?
J: It’s really hard to pick one but Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran was a fantastic and thought-provoking page turner!
L: This is tough — I can barely remember what happened last week. So I’m going with a recent read. Lilac Girls. It really lingers.

What’s something that amazes you?
J: How quickly my kids are growing up (and how much I love AND like each of them). Everyone said it would go too fast but I didn’t believe them! My first baby is turning 21 years old this month and I honestly don’t know how that happened!
L: The generosity of our local town. When people hear of a need or a cause — they pitch in and step up.

Describe your family:
J: My husband and I have a “blended” family of 6 kids, ranging in age from 12 to 21. It’s been incredible to watch them grow and see how much they love and respect each other. I didn’t grow up in a big family and I had no idea how much fun it is!
L: Full of boys and animals. My husband and I have two amazing sons, ages 13 and 16, and 6 cats (don’t ask) and two
dogs.

Describe your ideal day:
J: Coffee, someone else cooking for me (preferable great vegan food!), time laughing with my best friends, hugs or phone calls from my kids, most likely a nap (!) and a quiet night by the fire with my husband.
L: Any day spent near the ocean. The waves and salt air always centers me. Spring, summer, winter, fall — any time of year. There is nothing like it.

Favorite local place to eat?
J: I have so many favorites, but I’d have to say Cedar Ridge Bakery & Café is my top choice. It has a fun and relaxed
atmosphere and the food is wonderful. I especially appreciate all of the delicious and innovative vegan food on the menu! If we’re with the kids, Pandang is a perfect crowd-pleaser! Something for everyone and they’re the nicest people in the world!
L: I love so many for different reasons. Park Wood diner is one of NJ’s best. Love Coda’s fish tacos and calamari salad. Love Palmer’s quiches (seriously the best I’ve ever had); Cedar Ridge’s egg salad sandwich can’t be beat. St. James Gate is a must for their mussels and Dublin burger (with blue cheese); Village Coffee’s goat cheese omelet is one of my favorites; Wild Ginger’s lunch menu is a must to try. You need to go to Abril Cocina when you crave Mexican. The Able baker is the place to go for cookies, cakes, brownies – and anything else your sweet tooth desires.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?
J: Honestly, I think I aspired to be a combination of Phoebe Cates, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Marcia from The Brady Bunch!
L: A Martha Stewart type with A Kate McKinnon twist.

What is your favorite store?
J: [words] Bookstore and No 165
L: Perch, Words, No 165

Mountains or Beach?
J: Mountains!
L: You’re wrong, Janine : ) It’s the Beach.

Favorite movie?
J: Harold and Maude
L: Dolores Claiborne

What inspires you?
J: The children with whom I work and their caregivers. I’m amazed and inspired by their resilience, positivity and
generosity despite the most challenging circumstances. They remind me to be my best self and to focus on what is most important to me.
L: Janine took the words out of my mouth. The kids we have had the honor of meeting are truly incredible. The thing is, they are kids — who just want to be kids. And it’s this resilience that is so inspiring.

How would you describe your “style”?
J: Casual. On my most stylish days, I actually change out of my exercise clothes!
L: Classic contemporary. Over the years I’ve found what works for me and pretty much go with that – with a few updated accessories, etc. thrown in.

Coffee or tea?
J: Coffee! Definitely coffee.
L: Coffee

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive”?
J & L: In 2014 we founded Take the Cake, a Maplewood nonprofit serving Essex and Union counties. We provide fun, customized and free parties to families who couldn’t otherwise celebrate their children’s birthdays. We are committed to the idea all children deserve their very own birthday party! (You can check it out at www.take-the- cake.org!)

 


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Hannah Zollman

Charities of Choice: www.take-the-cake.org

What town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? Rockville, MD

What brought you to SOMA? Husband’s job

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I am a fundraising consultant and own my own business Mission Driven Fundraising (missiondrivenfundraising.com).

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Hard to pick just one feature — I love it all!

Where do you love to go on a date night? Carvel…we always end up there for dessert!

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Anything my Amazon echo plays

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Mind reading

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Lilac Girls

What’s something that amazes you? NYC…still feel like a kid in a candy store every time I’m there (even though I lived there for 6+ years)

Describe your family: Handy and kitchen extraordinaire husband and an energetic and curious toddler

Describe your ideal day: Any day spent with family…or a massage

Favorite local place to eat? Boccone South — Amazing gluten sensitive options (including pizza AND pasta)!

 Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A lawyer helping people

What is your favorite store? Costco

Mountains or Beach? Beach – grew up in Florida

Favorite movie? Don’t have one

What inspires you? People who give selflessly of their time

How would you describe your “style”? Mom comfortable

Coffee or tea? Coffee. Lots and lots and lots of it.

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive? Working in fundraising, I get to spend my days helping small to medium-size nonprofits grow their fundraising efforts and become sustainable. Locally, I am most passionate about Take the Cake (www.take-the-cake.org/), who provides fun, special and customized parties, free of charge, to families who could not otherwise celebrate their children’s birthdays.

 


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Anna Rulnick

Charities of Choice: Everytown for Gun Safety, Meals on Wheels, The ASPCA and The Alzheimer’s Association

What town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? 20 Years in New York City, mostly on the Upper West Side.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I opened a children’s clothing store call MOD Studio. Kids can customize their clothes at our Design Bar®. We also have a party room – so I celebrate kids birthdays for a living!

What’s your favorite feature of your home? We live in a 100+ year old Queen Anne Victorian with a gorgeous wrap around porch. The porch is what closed the deal.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? To heal.

Describe your family: My husband Jason is an art dealer. We have been married for 12 years. Our son is 10. He loves playing baseball, reading and Star Wars. Our daughter is 7. She is learning to play the piano. She loves to paint and draw and wants to be a veterinarian.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I always wanted to be a fashion designer. And I was lucky enough to live that dream for 20 years!

What is your favorite store? MOD Studio of course!

How would you describe your “style”?  Modern. Eclectic. Somedays a little wild.

Coffee or tea? Diet Coke!

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive? There are a number of charities that have touched my heart; a few of them are Everytown for Gun Safety, Meals on Wheels, The ASPCA and The Alzheimer’s Association.

I volunteer as a Girl Scout Brownie troop leader. I am passionate about working with kids, helping them build self esteem, self confidence and learn how to be their best selves, while giving them opportunities to learn new skills and showing them ways they can serve their community.

 


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Sheri Greenman

Charity of Choice: Animal Shelters

What town do you live in? West Orange

Where did you live before that? South Orange

What brought you to SOMA? I lived and raised my 3 children in SO for 22 years, and now work on the VP Team in Maplewood.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Realtor for 15 years

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I live in a townhome that has 6 skylight and high ceilings. I love all that air and light!

Where do you love to go on a date night? My favorite date night is to go for Sushi and then a movie at home, and then early to bed!

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Being the “older generation”, I gravitate to singers like Adele and Barbara Streisand.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I think it would be cool to read minds. But only when I want to.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? I have read a lot of good books, but I have no memory anymore, so the only one that comes to mind is “The Girl on the Train”‘ I am sure there were better ones though!

What’s something that amazes you? A brand new baby. I think it is such a miracle that this little person comes out of a mom’s belly a fully formed human being. Being a grandmother of 5, it blows me away every time.

Describe your family: My husband and I are going on 43 years of marriage. We have 3 beautiful grown children, and 5 even more beautiful grandchildren. And I can’t forget my Yellow Lab Rosy and my Siberian cat Buddy.

Describe your ideal day: Go for a long walk or hike with Rosy and my husband, see the family for awhile, then eat and socialize with friends on my deck with a barbeque.

Favorite local place to eat? Kim’s Sushi. Totally delicious!! ( and a hole in the wall–my favorite kind of place)

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I always wanted to be a model growing up, but as I got older and had children, just wanted to be the best mom and wife I could be.

What is your favorite store? Costco. A candy store for adults.

Mountains or Beach? Mountains all the way. I have to admit I am not a beach person. Afraid of the ocean, hate crowds and sand.

Favorite movie? It is between West Side Story and Sound of Music. I like musicals and have seen both a gazillion times.

What inspires you? People that are committed to others, whether family, co-workers, or animals.

How would you describe your “style”? Casual chic.

Coffee or tea? I like tea, but am completely addicted to coffee.

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive? I am completely committed to animal shelters and if I could, would have many, many rescue dogs. My heart breaks every day when I see that animals are abused.

 


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Stephanie Block

Charity of Choice: Covenant House

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Harlem, Manhattan

What brought you to SOMA? I had reached a certain age (clears throat) and my husband and I desperately wanted to start a family. After much search, Maplewood was the place for that… the place for us.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Actor/singer

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Everyone comments that our home has such incredible light.

Where do you love to go on a date night? We have a toddler so date nights are few and far between (we have to remedy that). When we do take an evening, we are “dinner and a movie” people.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Being at home with a toddler I find I’m being reintroduced to some incredible Disney scores. We’ll play the soundtrack(s) to the original Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid. These scores are sweeping, soothing… really incredible.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? If I had a super power, I would like the ability to be in 4-5 places at one time… not divided, mind you… wholly and completely in 4-5 places at once.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Oh gosh… the best book… a book that has stuck with me these last 5 years has been The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Coffee or Tea?  I’m a coffee drinker in the morning and a tea gal at night. 


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Kelly Benson

What town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? Freehold, NJ

What brought you to SOMA? To get my own apartment, find employment, meet new friends at JESPY House.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Kennel technician at South Orange Animal Hospital

What’s your favorite feature of your home? My flat screen t.v.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Going to the movies.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? 30 Seconds to Mars

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? To read minds! oh yeah!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel

What’s something that amazes you? All of life and animals.

Describe your family: Dysfunctional but loving, Like all families

Describe your ideal day: Being appreciated for a job well done

Favorite local place to eat? Town Hall Deli

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A Dolphin trainer

What is your favorite store? Old Navy

Mountains or Beach? Beach

Favorite movie? Star Wars Trilogy

What inspires you? Peace among friends and neighbors

How would you describe your “style”? Just being myself 

Coffee or tea? Coffee

 


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Eli Bolin

Charity of Choice: Story Pirates

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Manhattan, on the Upper West Side

What brought you to SOMA? Our son was born in June 2014 and after our first winter in our cramped NYC apartment we knew we wanted to leave the city for someplace more like the suburbs we grew up in. We had friends in SOMA and after our first visit it was clear that it was the place for us.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m a musician and a composer: I write musical theater and for television, including Sesame Street, where I’ve been for about 7 years.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Probably our basement, which is filled with instruments and records. My son even has a small drum kit so we can have jam sessions together.

Where do you love to go on a date night? My wife and I love Basilico in Millburn. Their burrata is insanely good and they really know how to grill an artichoke. 

What music/album are you really into these days? My son is obsessed with the Beatles (as am I), so we’re spending a lot of time listening to the new Beatles Channel on Sirius/XM

Describe your family: I’m totally in awe of my family! In addition to being a super talented actress/singer/voiceover artist, my wife is also incredibly organized and detail-oriented. She makes sure everything runs like a well-oiled machine, which is crucial, because I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached to my body. Our son is a brilliant goofball who at 3 writes his own songs and loves all kinds of musical instruments. His latest obsession: horns of all kinds, especially trombones! 

What is your favorite store? Vintage Vinyl in Edison!  

How would you describe your “style”? Mismatched.

Coffee or tea? Unsweetened black iced tea. Constantly.

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive”? I’m the co-founder of a group called Story Pirates, which is a national arts integration education organization which serves primarily low-income, culturally diverse elementary school students in over 200 schools in New York and around the country. Our main programming is centered around in-class writing workshops that culminate in a musical sketch comedy show featuring stories by
students and performed by professional artists.


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Michelle Bradley

Charity of Choice: Mercy Corp. & Java’s Compost

What town do you live in? West Orange

Where did you live before that? Maplewood by way of the LES.

What do you do? My husband and I just started our start-up, Java’s Compost. Our tagline is “don’t waste your waste” which couldn’t be more true. We educate people about the benefits of composting their food scraps and even have a service that will do it for them. There’s a lot of resistance about composting which I totally get. Fears of smells and rodents prevented me from doing it for years but now I am totally hooked and think everyone should be doing it. Our goal is to get people to think about “recycling” their food the same way they recycle their plastics and paper. And, by composting, you actually create a valuable product that you can use to enhance your own lawn or flower beds. No more trips to Home Depot buying expensive compost. You can create your own out of what was once considered trash.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The white walls and extra large windows. We lived in an apartment for 10 years that was spacious but dark. I didn’t realize how much I missed natural light until we were in our new house.

Describe your family: Active and loud. With three boys and one man living in the house, the testosterone level here is what I would describe as extra. Additionally, there are usually 10-12 neighborhood kids in the driveway playing basketball on any given day. My “errands” can sometimes last overnight.

Favorite local place to eat? The Spot in Montclair- great gluten free comfort food. They even have GF funnel cake!

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Madonna- I was a child of the 80’s. Need I say more?

What is your favorite store? 165 in Maplewood. I love the jewelry, handbags and wallets. I can always find something to buy there.

Mountains or Beach? Beach, the smell of the ocean never gets old.

Coffee or tea? Tea

 


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Gayle Seay

Favorite Charities: Big Brothers Big Sisters of AmericaCovenant House

What town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? New York City and a brief stint in San Jose , CA

What brought you to SOMA? Moving back east we needed something commutable to Manhattan for work but was NOT city living. The SOMA area came recommended by many!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Casting Director

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our 3rd floor”guest suite” We love having people visit who feel like they can have their own space too!

Where do you love to go on a date night? The AMC Dine in Theatre in West Orange

What’s music/album are you really into these days? My tastes are terribly eclectic.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Well I have an unfortunate one already of smell which does not come in handy in Manhattan much but other than that probably flying. Or the ability to heal.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? All of the Harry Potters

What’s something that amazes you? Nature

Describe your family: Big hearted.

Describe your ideal day: Sleep in, gym and hanging out with friends watching something awesome and visiting.

Favorite local place to eat? Well for Pizza Reservoir but if not pizza then Above cause there are a ton of selections.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I wanted to be on Broadway. (PS. I did that!)

What is your favorite store? Ha! I love Target. And staples ( all that organization!) And a Mall in general. I am a Jersey Girl after all!

Mountains or Beach? Beach

Favorite movie? The Shawshank Redemption

What inspires you? People who find the time to do something for others with their busy lives.

How would you describe your “style”? Casual

Coffee or tea? Coffee

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive? I love Big Brothers Big Sisters and another SOMA resident (Stephanie J Block) turned me on to The Covenant House.

 


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Russell Kaplan

Favorite Charities: Anti Defamation League

Anything exciting coming up that you’d like us to promote?  I can hardly believe it…my Broadway Jazz experiment went so well that the folks at Green Room 42 have asked me to do it every month!
Next up is a special TONY AWARDS edition, featuring even more amazing guests. You don’t wanna miss it. Sunday, June 4, Doors at 5:30 * Show at 7:00, The Green Room 42, 570 10th Ave (inside YOTEL)

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Brooklyn, NY (Crown Heights)

What brought you to SOMA? Friends, vibes, the arts community, trees.
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Broadway Composer, Piano Teacher

What’s your favorite feature of your home? All the arches inside

Where do you love to go on a date night? Concerts & Plays

What music/album are you really into these days? Terence Blanchard, Janelle Monae, the In Transit Original Broadway Cast album (hint, hint)

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Super instant house cleaning

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? I’ll keep it to the last year…Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

What’s something that amazes you? Every new discovery my daughter makes becomes instantly amazing to me.

Describe your family: My 4-year-old daughter Emilia, my x-year-old wife Elisa, and our cat Meg.

Describe your ideal day: Hanging with my family & friends and playing with my band.

Favorite local place to eat? Other than my kitchen (Elisa is a REALLY great cook), Cedar Ridge Cafe.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Scott Joplin

What is your favorite store? Scotti’s Records in Millburn

Mountains or Beach? Mountains

Favorite movie? Dr. Strangelove

What inspires you? Nature. And BBC Nature movies, they’re just more convenient sometimes.

How would you describe your “style”? “Scruffy but organized.”

Coffee or tea? Coffee

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive?
Anti Defamation League. Anything promoting kindness.


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 Julie Pauly

Favorite Charities: Achieve Foundation, Lydia Johnson Dance, and Studio B; and the ACLU

Anything exciting coming up that you’d like us to promote? Spring is a busy time at the bakery. You can keep up with us on Instagram or Facebook.

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Born and raised in Southern California, then high school and college in Nashville, TN.

What brought you to SOMA ? I was recruited for a job and moved to New Jersey, sight unseen.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  I own the Able Baker, here in Maplewood Village. 8 years ago, Thomas and I were both out of work, with our two young kids and an au pair (count ’em, 3 adults at home while the kids were in school). I emailed 35 friends with an offering of Easter cookies and passover desserts. Thomas built a website, I rented kitchen space, and we delivered cakes, cookies, and desserts free locally. The bakery opened in 2011, and we doubled our space a year ago. The name comes from the Richard Scarry Busytown books, where there is a small mouse named Able Baker Charlie.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? It’s age. Built in 1929.

Where do you love to go on a date night? What’s that?

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? Their smile.

What book is on your nightstand? The Case Against Sugar (no joke)

What show does everyone need to binge watch? I’m not a TV watcher, but I did enjoy The Crown.

If you could have a super power, what would it be? Getting teenagers out of bed.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 20 minutes or 90, depending on where I need to be.

Salty or Sweet? Sweet. (No surprises there.)

What’s something that amazes you? How time changes speed.

Describe your family: Thomas, my husband of 20 years, runs the bakery with me. Our daughter Ella is graduating from Columbia High School this June and going off to college in the fall. She also works at the bakery. Our son Declan is 14. He gave the bakery it’s name when he was 4.

Describe your ideal day: I get up around 5, check in with email, drink coffee with Thomas in the sunroom, and talk about the day ahead. There would be a brisk walk in the reservation, a nap in the afternoon, family dinner at home, and an old movie, preferably with popcorn. I would be in bed and asleep before 10.

What makes you laugh? My kids.

Favorite local place to eat? Arturo’s.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Librarian.

What is your favorite store? Give me a good antique/thrift store any day.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Here in the US of A, Napa Valley. I haven’t traveled enough abroad to commit (yet).

What can you not live without? A good night’s sleep.

What inspires you? Smart people who make a difference.

How would you describe your “style”? The bakery recalls a 40’s kitchen, which is an era I love. I like vintage over modern in most everything.

Coffee or tea? Coffee!

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? At the bakery, we donate 1% of sales to charitable endeavors, local education and the arts, including the Achieve Foundation, Lydia Johnson Dance, and Studio B; and the ACLU.


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Camilla Nichols-Uhler

Favorite Charity: Girls on the Run

Anything exciting coming up that you’d like us to promote? Join us for a fun day/evening at The Girls on the Green Golf & Dinner invitational, held on Thursday May 11th at Cedar Hill Golf Club in Livingston. Consider a Cocktail & Dinner only along with a Silent Auction with donations from many local businesses. (We are still accepting gift certificates from restaurants and Sponsor opportunities are available to share your business.) Event proceeds will help GOTR to strengthen our program and to be able to continue to give financial assistance so that more girls can participate. For more information about the event and how you can register/get involved go to: www.girlsontherunnj.org/golf-dinner or if you have questions, email lori.kapferer@girlsontherun.org

What town do you live in? I live in West Orange right on the border of South Orange

Where did  you live before that? A little bit of everywhere…I grew up in Sweden, attended Montessori Training in London and thereafter explored my teaching wings back in Sweden, then Indonesia and in several places in the USA such as Houston, Connecticut, Maryland and now NJ.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? Transfer/Work opportunity in NYC

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I am a Montessori Teacher and work at The Montessori Children’s Academy in Chatham, NJ. I love making an impact and molding children during their formative years. I learned about The Montessori Method while I was studying to become and Early Childhood Teacher in Malmo, Sweden. At that time, there was no Montessori Training available in Sweden. My best friend and I packed our bags and moved to London where I earned an Early childhood and Elementary Montessori degree at the very prestigious St. Nicholas Montessori Center, which Maria Montessori founded herself a few years before she died. I was so nervous at the interview and now sitting in another country that I began speaking German instead of English at my first visit LOL. I have traveled around the world as a Montessori Teacher and I have gained some amazing experiences. I have been with MCA for the past 12 years and it is my second home, and my second family. For more info on our three locations, go to www.themontessorichildrensacademy.org

A few years back a parent at MCA asked if I had ever heard about Girls on the Run…that day changed my life! I fell head over heels in love with everything that GOTR stands for. I have never come across a curriculum that encompasses such depth in teaching Self Esteem while incorporating running/healthy living. After coaching for a few seasons I became the GOTR Essex County Director (while doing a Happy Dance). We have over 1000 girls (ages 8-13) registered for the Spring Season in NJ East. In Essex County alone, we have 95 coaches and 22 sites that meet twice a week for 10 weeks in parks, at schools etc. All our coaches are volunteers and are the core of our program. We also have several sites in less privileged areas where GOTR supports the girls financially to attend. We give the girls sneakers, workout clothes etc. The girls build up so much self-esteem and gratitude and are empowered to do anything they set their mind to. A girl from Orange NJ cried after completing the grand finale 5K in the fall. Her coach put her arm on her shoulder and asked if she was ok. The girl looked up and said, I didn’t think you could cry tears of joy. For more information on how to learn where are locations are, how to get involved as a coach, how to sponsor a girl/team etc go to www.girlsontherunnj.org We have 4 teams in Maplewood alone!

And this year 1 million girls have gone through the program in the USA! I’m touched and humbled to be a part of a ”Dream Team”, leaving footprints and to be able to make a difference.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Handcrafted Stone Wall on our Zen Patio

Where do you love to go on a date night? The village or rooftop/NYC

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? Their eyes and ability to connect

What book is on your nightstand? The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

If you could have a super power, what would it be? I already have SUPERPOWER, I am a Spreading empowerment as a Girls on the Run SUPERSTAR/Coach Essex County Director AND I get to wear a pink cape!

Salty or Sweet? Obsessed with Swedish candy Salty and Sweet! Grateful for “Sockerbiten” in the village, NYC for importing all the hundreds of variety of candy from Sweden.

What’s something that amazes you? “Collateral Beauty” and How the light has an ability to shine through the cracks after major losses/trauma and life changes.

Describe your family: My husband and 4 children are filled with love and energy! All our kids are thriving in school and loving growing up in our diverse community. We are always on the “go” but do make time for Family Meals and hugs.

Favorite local place to eat? Abril Cocina, Maplewood

What is your favorite store? Zinc in Lambertville, PA.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? New Zealand

What can you not live without? Candles, Self-Care, GOTR, MCA, My family and Wine!

What inspires you? The ability to touch lives and to have a positive impact on empowering children to be the best they can be.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? GOTR


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Jayson Raitt

Charities: American Humane Society

What town do you live in? West Orange

Where did you live before that? Maplewood & NYC

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? Kelly lived in Jersey City and Jayson’s Mom is from Newark. While visiting friends in Maplewood, we fell in love with the town. We decided to dip our toes and rent for a few years before ultimately deciding to buy a home!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? We own a creative design and entertainment company called Quantum Creative Studios. We come up with crazy ideas and produce big spectaculars, shows and attractions for theme parks, cruise ships, and destinations around the globe. Jayson started his career as a theatre producer (Murder for Two, A Christmas Memory, Vanities, Rock of Ages); and Kelly is a design and production guru. So together we are perfect match.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? We love our finished basement – which is the headquarters of our company. We also love our finished rustic-attic guest room, with a view of the Manhattan skyline. We call it the Edison Room (named after West Orange’s own Thomas Edison and the Edison bulbs that illuminate the room).

Where do you love to go on a date night? Roots in Morristown for a good steak. Joe’s Crab Shack for casual fun. And Disney World (for date days!)

Who are you named after? Jayson is named after his Grandfather, Kelly is named after his Uncle.

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? Their energy, smile, and presence.

What show does everyone need to binge watch? Blacklist. House of Cards. How to Get Away With Murder.

Salty or Sweet? Sweet. Definitely sweet. For both of us. Pie. And donuts.

What’s something that amazes you? Talent. Anyone with talent. And anyone more talented than ourselves. Especially kids and young adults…. and dogs.

Describe your family: We have a 15 year old son Jesse. Jesse’s lucky to have two homes, three Dads, two aunts, and a bunch of grandparents!! He also happens to be incredibly talented, mature, and bright. We couldn’t be prouder of him.

What makes you laugh? Each other. Very much. And dogs.

Favorite local place to eat? Our new favorite place is Palmer’s Sweetery in Maplewood. Have you tried their banana bread and lavender coffee!?

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Italy, Greece, Montenegro, and Croatia – where we took Jesse last summer and it was an amazing experience.

What can you not live without? Each other. And dogs.

What inspires you? Music. We enjoy listening to music together. And dogs.

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? American Humane Society… because dogs

 


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Lacey Buccellato

Website: www.ohcanary.com

Charities: WNYC

Anything exciting coming up? On Sunday April 2nd, Oh! Canary is teaming up with the amazing Lizzie Assa of the The Workspace for Children to host an Open Studio and Pop- Up shop. You’ll be able to shop the Workspace for Children’s handmade toys and kits inspired by play, and sit down with your family to create together!
And spring registration is open. You can sign your children up for The Toddler Collective (ages 1-3) and Art Explorers (ages 3-5) 4 weeks at a time. I’m also very excited about the new offering for 5- 10 year olds, Sun/Water/Earth: Art from Nature, which starts in May. More info about all these offerings on the website!

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  Bushwick in Brooklyn.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? Our first son Felix motivated us. We wanted the space and the trees, and we quickly fell for the town- pretty old houses, walkable, creative community. The timing was right, so we put in an offer on our house after the first day we visited!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I have the most magical job on earth- I teach art to children! After working in a gallery in the city for a couple years, I decided I needed to be closer to humanity. I got my Masters in art education and have been teaching in public and private schools since 2010. Raising a small child here, I’ve recognized a need for local art classes for children under five, thus Oh! Canary was born. I just opened up this month and am offering joyful art experiences for ages 1 and up. In Oh! Canary classes, students engage with diverse materials that inspire imagination, celebrate play, and promote artistic development. Some adult events are in the works too, and there’s so much I want to offer as the business grows… stay tuned!

If you could have a super power, what would it be? To be fully present all the time.

Where do you love to go on a date night? A delicious meal and a dive bar. Our last night out in the city was perfect. We drank beer at Arthur’s Tavern while waiting for a table at a nearby Japanese and Korean grill. We talked a lot about politics and life and projects and had dinner after 9pm!

Salty or Sweet? Salty. But I find a lot of joy in baking a beautiful pie.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our house is perched at the top of a steep slope shaded by a large canopy of trees, and when you look through the house out the back sunroom, it feels like you’re sitting in a treehouse. I absolutely love when the leaves emerge in the spring and the back windows are filled with a wall of green.

What makes you laugh? Puns, my toddler pretending to “speak Spanish,” and John Oliver.

What’s something that amazes you? My husband. He has a brilliant creative mind, is a master vacation planner, runs his own business with calmness and clarity, and makes his family a priority every single day.

Favorite local place to eat? I love going to The Star Tavern, the pizza and vibe are nearly identical to no- frills spots I grew up going to in Western Kentucky.

What book is on your nightstand? The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide… (let’s be honest, I’ve ONLY been reading this one lately), and Sally Mann, Hold Still (so good- I’ll finish it someday).

Describe your family: My husband, Phil and I are the same age and met two weeks after I moved to NYC. He makes breakfast for Felix every day, often French toast in the shape of whatever animal Felix requests. Felix is almost 3, and his passion in life is cars and trucks. August is our newest little guy- 5 months old. He’s got a sparkle in his eye and a hearty appetite.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I wanted to be a lot of things- architect, doctor, fashion designer- but secretly I wanted to be a singer. I would still like to be reborn as Joni Mitchell or Lucinda Williams.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? I just can’t shake Italy. I spent the best summer of my life in Tuscany. I married into a Sicilian family, and we were able to spend a couple wonderful weeks there in 2015. Italy has influenced my life in so many ways.

What inspires you? Children’s uninhibited creativity and sense of wonder. They are so brave.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? I’m a sustaining member and avid listener of WNYC, which seems more important than ever right now.

 


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Kimaya Salaskar

Website: www.kimaya.com

Charities: Saint Barnabas Cancer Center

Anything exciting coming up? We have a lot of fun and exciting events coming up at Kimaya Kama in the spring like wine and cheese evenings, mimosa sundays and our second anniversary celebrations in the first week of May which will be a week full of raffle prizes, free gifts and other fun stuff.

What town do you live in? I live with my husband Manoj in South Orange.

Where did you live before that?  We moved to South Orange from Manhattan. I am originally from Bombay (Mumbai), India and my husband grew up in London.

What brought you to SOMA?  We were looking for a weekend home to get away from the craziness that is Manhattan and we came across a gorgeous home in South Orange. I fell in love with the gaslights and all the unique old homes. It was too close to Manhattan and the taxes too high for it to be a weekend home so we decided to take the plunge and move.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? After moving here I opened my first store Kimaya Kama in South Orange. By 2014 we needed to expand to a larger space and I found the perfect location in Maplewood Village. This May we celebrate 2 years of being at 168 Maplewood Avenue opposite St. James’s Gate in Maplewood. I love clothes, jewelry and putting great outfits together so this is perfect. I enjoy everyday I spend at the store meeting friends and neighbors.
I also own a small Real Estate company in New York, Kama Properties. I have worked in Real Estate in Manhattan for over 10 years, I enjoy the hunt for the perfect apartment and negotiating the best deal for my clients.

Who are you named after? My name Kimaya means Magic in Marathi.

What book is on your nightstand? The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. I have been working on getting rid of the clutter in our lives, my nephew told me that this book was truly life-changing when he sent me a copy.

What show does everyone need to binge watch? I love watching crime shows. These are some of my favorites – Luther, Wire in the Blood, Broadchurch, Hinterland, The Killing, Criminal Minds, The Fall and Sherlock. The best show to binge watch is Game of thrones.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? I get ready pretty quickly, I can take a shower, do my make-up and be ready in 20-30 minutes at the most.

Salty or Sweet? I love ‘Spicy’, everything must be super hot. My favorite line while ordering is “can you please make that extra-spicy?”

Describe your ideal day: I love to cook, so my ideal day is one where I get to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking an elaborate meal. And have someone else clean up.

What makes you laugh? My husband Manoj keeps me entertained and makes me laugh all the time.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I have always wanted to build an animal sanctuary to help stray, hurt and ill-treated animals. This is something that I still hope to achieve someday.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? I loved Costa Rica, the people there were really friendly, everyone seemed happy and they respected their wildlife. The weather was lovely as well.

What inspires you? People who work selflessly for the betterment of others inspire me. Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.

How would you describe your “style”? My store Kimaya Kama is a refection of the style and clothes that I love. I would say it’s Boho-Chic but we also have Trendy tops and jackets, Elegant dresses, Artsy accessories and Delicate jewelry.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? I am a breast cancer survivor and a huge supporter of all the cancer charities. I know that without the hard work of fundraising and research for cures and treatments I would not be here today. It is very important to keep the researchers funded so that hopefully one day there will be cures for all cancers. At Kimaya Kama for every scarf we sell we donate one to the Cancer patients at Saint Barnabas Cancer Center. .

 

 


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Peter & Joanna Ahlberg

Website: www.ahlandco.com

Charities: ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Anything exciting coming up? We’re writing and designing a book called Diary of Your Home, which is a guided journal for collecting and recording everything about your home and your life within it—room dimensions and paint colors, holiday decorating and party menus, the direction the sun rises/sets and the tree species in your backyard, architectural history and appliance serial numbers. It will be out in the spring of 2018, and we can’t wait to share it with our friends and neighbors here who cherish their homes as much as we do!

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? East Village

What brought you to SOMA? The usual story—we had a new baby in a small, cruddy walk-up apartment and all of a sudden the city seemed like a mean, tough place. We had a friend here who had been bugging us for years to come look at houses. When we finally did, it was an easy decision and we didn’t have to look anywhere else. We were completely charmed by Maplewood and overjoyed at the prospect of having our own house and yard.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The sunlight that comes through the original 100-year-old wavy-glass window panes, the little built-in shelf in our kitchen just for cookbooks, the wide-plank floors and sloped ceiling in the third floor bathroom, the picture rail moldings.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? For almost ten years we’ve been running our own design studio, AHL&CO. Peter is a graphic designer and I’m an editor with an art history background. Since graphic design is all about the marriage of image and word, our partnership has worked out well in more ways than we could have predicted. At first it led to editing and designing art books for museums and galleries, which extended into making books about everything from architecture to antique cars to ballet and cooking. That type of work is still central to our business, but we also do all the other stuff that designers do like logos and posters and websites. Peter teaches graphic design and typography at the School of Visual Arts and the author of Please Make this Look Nice (Skira Rizzoli, 2016), which is a book about the creative process in design.

What book is on your nightstand? The Way of the White Clouds by Lama Anagarika Govinda. I have not read one single page. For Peter it’s Prospecting for Trout by Tom Rosebauer, which he has read cover-to-cover a million times while waiting for fishing season to begin.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Star Tavern in Orange for pizza and beer

What show does everyone need to binge watch? Alone on the History Channel

Describe your family: We have two daughters—Olivia, 6, and Iris, 2 (2 and a half, mom!).

Describe your ideal day: Early morning treasure hunting at a local estate sale, quick trip to Paterson to stock up on Middle Eastern groceries at Nouri Brothers, hot dog lunch at Rutt’s Hutt in Clifton, our 2-year-old falls asleep in the car so we can listen to any music we want instead of her Music Together CD, a walk in the South Mountain Reservation, home for drinks on the deck and dinner on the grill, a pint of Moosetracks from Village Ice Cream, kids in bed at 7:30, we’re asleep by 10:00.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? When we decided that we wanted to start a family we immediately booked a three-week trip to Japan, guessing that was our last chance. We went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and into the mountains near a little town called Takayama. I definitely left a little piece of my heart there. It was a truly life-changing experience. We were so inspired by every aspect of Japanese culture, and it still informs so much of our lives today—cooking, home life, and also our design work.

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? Since the election we’ve been giving to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. We also try support WKCR 89.9FM, WFMU 91.1FM, and Trout Unlimited.

 


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Bonnie and LuAnne

Website:  licktgelato.com
                 facebook.com/lickt

Charity: Rent Party

Anything exciting coming up? Bonnie: Lickt Gelato will be open for Spring hours in March. LuAnne: Like and follow us on facebook to find out our new flavors each week and upcoming events – facebook.com/lickt.

What town do you live in? Bonnie lives in South Orange; LuAnne in Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Bonnie lived in Kearny; LuAnne in Jersey City

What brought you to SOMA? Bonnie: I had a friend looking for a home who ended up purchasing one in SO. She told me how great it was and how the town was so cute with the gaslights and restaurants within walking distance.  My husband and I came to look at about 5-6 homes and put an offer in that very day.  We are in our 2nd home in South Orange.
LuAnne: A work friend and her husband lived in Maplewood. I met a nice friend of theirs at their wedding. A little while later we all met for a first “double date,” starting at their house, and then Roman Gourmet and the Maplewood Theater. Bryan and I were married three years later, and moved to Maplewood two years after that. We loved the commute from here — I was working in the city and was 9 months pregnant when we moved in, and Bryan was working in Long Island. It was hard to find the same “feeling” in other towns nearby.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Bonnie: I am one of three owners of Lickt Gelato Factory store in Maplewood. Prior to this I had a job working for About.com in NYC but missed being around for my kids who were little at the time. I wanted to be able to come to the kids school to help out at events and be local if they needed me.  After I left my city job, I was a preschool teacher part-time at Sharey-Tefilo Israel and started to do some catering for friends because I always enjoyed cooking.  After that I started a screenprinting business called Made To a Tee which I still own and worked at Portrait Cakes in Union making cakes and decorating.  Portrait Cakes ended up going out of business after one of the hurricanes in our area shorted out all of the equipment.  LuAnne called me and asked if I wanted to work for a gelato business. LuAnne and I have known each other for 14 years since our kids attended preschool together.
LuAnne: I was a recruiter at companies that no longer exist (or were acquired by others — Lehman Brothers, CIBC Wood Gundy, Oppenheimer, AT&T Solutions), managing their Campus Recruiting efforts, Summer Associate programs, and Associate training. I planned to take an extra year after the birth of my second child, which turned into 15 years. I volunteered at school as a lunch and library helper, PTA Membership Chairperson, and then the Co-Producer of the Marshall/Jefferson Variety Show (for 9 years I think). I was helping with the lunch program at Morrow Preschool, when I started helping my friend Margaret with her gelato business. After two years, Margaret accepted a consulting job that she couldn’t pass up, and I got more involved in the day-to-day operations. Now, four years later, and now I am one of the co-owners of Lickt Gelato!

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Bonnie: I love my great room. We have a big living room area, eat-in kitchen attached to the kitchen that is just one giant room.  That’s where my family and I spend all of our time, cooking, playing games, watching tv, sitting by the fire and just hanging out.
LuAnne: Our house is over 100 years old and has great details. We remodeled the basement a few years ago and spruced up the laundry room. It’s so fun to do laundry now!

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? Bonnie: I always notice people’s eyes.  LuAnne: For me, it’s the handshake. Firm, but not too much, and look me in the eye.

What show does everyone need to binge watch? Bonnie: I really enjoyed the first season of the Good Place. It was very entertaining. LuAnne: I just started watching This is Us, watching two or three episodes at a time but now I’m caught up!

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? Bonnie: I get ready very quickly in the morning. I can shower, brush my teeth, blow dry my hair and get dressed in under half and hour.  LuAnne: I’m very low maintenance, usually a shower and a pony tail and I’m ready to go!

Salty or Sweet? Bonnie: Even though I own a gelato store, I’m totally a Salty person. LuAnne: Salty and Sweet! Like our Salted Caramel gelato.

Describe your family:  Bonnie: I have a really great family. Three kids, Jared is 18, Rebekah is 16, and Melody is 12.  Jared loves technology and competes on a robotics team. He wants to have a career in digital media. He has won 7 NJ state robotics competitions.  Rebekah is artistic and creates beautiful artwork and sings and plays piano. She is a catcher on a travel softball team and this year I was fortunate to see her hit 2 home runs.  Melody loves crafts and cooking and is talking about being a Chef one day.  Melody just started pitching a year ago for her softball team and has performed so well. My husband Davin works for a technology company in NYC called Information Builders. He is part owner in a robotics school called Robot Revolution in Summit, NJ.  He also coaches rec softball.  We are a very busy family.
LuAnne: My husband Bryan works for ThinkHR and splits his time between NJ and California. He also finds the time to be the Treasurer of Cougar Soccer, and sings with the Maplewood Glee Club (don’t miss their concert on 4/29). I also have three kids! Sarah (18) is a freshman at the University of Michigan, majoring in Microbiology. She’d like to go to Medical School. Natalie (16) is a junior at Columbia HS. She sings in the Unaccompanied Minors a cappella group and is in the school musical (How to Succeed opens next weekend!). Gavin (13) is in eighth grade at Maplewood Middle School. He plays soccer and lacrosse, and loves to do flips on the trampoline. We have a doggie Hazel (2) who keeps us busy!

Describe your ideal day: Bonnie: My ideal day is being at any beach. I love being outside and having my toes in the sand. LuAnne: Since Bryan travels a lot and Sarah is away at college, it’s really nice when everyone is home together. Just laughing at the dinner table or playing a game. (We like board games!)

What makes you laugh? Bonnie: My kids make me laugh. They are really funny.
LuAnne: My husband Bryan is so funny and has the best timing. He still can make me laugh!

Favorite local place to eat? Bonnie: LuAnne’s house. Every time one of us cooks something interesting we bring some to the other.  She makes yummy dishes! LuAnne: We do share a lot of dishes! Bonnie makes the best soups. She’s a fantastic cook!

What can you not live without? Bonnie: I can’t live without music. I always have it on at work, at home, in the car. LuAnne: Unfortunately, now it’s my reading glasses. I can’t be without them, and have extra pairs in the kitchen, in my purse, in the factory, in the living room, and by my bed!

What inspires you? Bonnie: People that are courageous and not afraid to take a chance.  I love hearing others success stories.  It inspires me to work hard and not be afraid to try something new. LuAnne: People who have overcome huge challenges and become stronger people. I am continuously amazed by friends and family who do so with such grace.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?
LuAnne: Lickt had a fundraising event ” in January and February called “Fun Friday,” to donate 10% of sales to local schools and their PTA/HSA organizations. We also support Rent Party and their efforts to fight hunger in our community.

 

 


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Kristen Zeleny

Website: www.kristenzelenylcsw.com

Charity: Family Intervention Services,  The American Cancer Society, the Fresh Air Fund, and UNICEF 

Anything exciting coming up? I currently have a few openings for clients in my psychotherapy practice. I am in the office Monday-Saturday and have morning, afternoon, and evening hours.
I am considering running two therapeutic groups this summer, a self-esteem and social skills group for middle school girls and a coed social skills and pragmatic language group for K-2. Interested parents can reach out to me or check out my website for more information: www.kristenzelenylcsw.com.

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Many places! I was actually born in Louisiana but I grew up in a small city in Connecticut and went to college at Drew University in Madison, NJ. After I graduated, I got a job working as an outreach worker with children and families in Sussex County and lived in Budd Lake, NJ for a couple years. I was promoted to a job in the administration of the non-profit organization and moved to South Orange to be closer to my job. My husband and I loved the area so we decided to buy here after living in South Orange for seven years.

What brought you to SOMA? See above. We decided to stay because we love the community feel, the diverse population, and the proximity to the city. Plus, there is always something fun or interesting happening, like Maplewoodstock, lectures, workshops, art shows, and plays.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I own my own psychotherapy practice where I provide child, adolescent, adult, and family therapy. I treat individuals of all ages from toddler to adults. My office is right on Baker Street in downtown Maplewood. I love helping individuals and families to discover their strengths and work towards their goals. I also teach Developmental Psychology and Adolescent Psychology at Seton Hall University. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the students and encouraging them to think critically. 

I actually moved my office to Maplewood on a whim. My office used to be in Summit. In the winter of 2015, I drove by a big colonial house in Maplewood with a sign out front saying office space available. I decided to take a look, loved the space, and signed the lease soon after. I enjoy being close to downtown so I can walk and get a coffee or lunch with a friend. Plus, it’s wonderful to be so close to home. I feel even more apart of the community now.

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  Our house was built in 1912. I fell in love with all of the original features when I first saw the house, like the wide wooden door frames, the crown molding, and the wood floors.

Where do you love to go on a date night?  Abril Cocina in Maplewood or Ferraro’s in Westfield

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them?   Their eyes. Eyes tell you a lot about a person, how they are feeling, if they are engaged in the conversation, what they are paying attention to, etc.

What book is on your nightstand?  “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It is the author’s deep and moving account of his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps and his psychotherapy, logotherapy, that he developed from these experiences as a way to help others create meaning in their lives.

What show does everyone need to binge watch?  I love “This is Us”!

If you could have a super power, what would it be?  I always thought it would be cool to be able to fly.

Salty or Sweet?  Definitely sweet, I love chocolate and baked goods!

What’s something that amazes you?  Human resilience. I have been blessed to work with so many children and adults that have had horrible things happen in their lives but still have a positive attitude and hope for the future.

Describe your family: My husband is an amazing guy. He is fun, creative, intelligent, sweet, and hard working. He works as a professional musician and is a very talented drummer, music director, and producer. Our cat, Mattie, is totally spoiled. She is a calico and loves to cuddle.

Describe your ideal day: Sleep late, go to the Parkwood Diner in Maplewood for brunch with my mother, take a hike in the reservation, and relax and read for a bit . Then go out to dinner and to see jazz with my husband in Manhattan.

What makes you laugh?  Louie C.K.   and Jim Gaffigan

Favorite local place to eat? Too many to name them all but Coda is my favorite for a nice dinner.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? It changed every year! A few that I remember are teacher, veterinarian, and artist.

What is your favorite store? Crate and Barrel

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Anywhere in Europe but I think Florence is my favorite.

What can you not live without?  Chocolate . And HGTV!

What inspires you?  The resilience and hard work of my clients

How would you describe your “style”?  Creative classic

Coffee or tea?   Depends on my mood

 ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?

Family Intervention Services is the local non-profit organization that I worked at for many years. They do amazing work with at-risk children and families throughout northern NJ. The American Cancer Society, the Fresh Air Fund, and UNICEF are a few national organizations that are close to my heart.

 


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Mary Clair Sonneman

Website: www.southmountainnatureschool.com

Charity: Children and Nature Network

Anything exciting coming up? South Mountain Nature School’s spring Forest School class registration will open in February! Check us out at www.southmountainnatureschool.com.

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Jersey City, NJ

What brought you to SOMA? We loved the artistic vibe, diverse schools, and sense of community.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I am the founder and lead teacher of South Mountain Nature School. SMNS offers Forest School classes for young children in the South Mountain Reservation. I am passionate about connecting kids with nature and providing opportunities for children to play with other children while experiencing the wonders and beauty of the natural world.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our sunroom.

What book is on your nightstand? Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom

What’s something that amazes you? I find nature to be absolutely amazing. Our forests are so accessible and have an incredible power to inspire.

Describe your family: My husband Chris and I have two daughters ages 5 and 2.

What is your favorite store? Salvage Style in Maplewood Village.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? I am in love with the landscape of Cade Cod, MA.

What can you not live without? My children.

How would you describe your “style”? Eclectic and colorful with a mix of mid-century vintage pieces and antiques.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? Children and Nature Network

 


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Tom Mason, Founder of The Maplewood Chili Cookoff

Website: www.redglasspictures.com

www.MaplewoodChiliCookoff.com

Anything exciting coming up?  YES! I’ve been working hard to organize the inaugural Maplewood Chili Cookoff, which is coming up on February 26th from 2-6PM at The Woodland. We’ll have music, a bar, a madcap eating contest, and up to 40 creative chili entries from the best amateur and professional chefs in the region. It’s going to be a blast, and you should come!

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Brooklyn

What brought you to SOMA? So many things – there’s a great creative community here, which has turned out to be even more active than the one we experienced in Brooklyn. Also, we have kids who like to go outside! We were in a co-op building and had to walk a mile to the nearest place they could run on grass. Now we have a backyard.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m a filmmaker, and have a production company called Redglass Pictures that specializes in short form nonfiction. My business partner and co-director Sarah Klein also moved to Maplewood a year after I did, and now we run our business locally. We do a range of work from New York Times Op Docs and PBS digital series to installation media in places like the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia or the American pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Anything that my kids haven’t broken.

What book is on your nightstand? The Atlas Obscura book 

What show does everyone need to binge watch? My wife and I just tore through the OA on Netflix. Some of the most riveting storytelling I’ve seen in a long time.

What’s something that amazes you? The power of storytelling. No matter how many stories we hear, a good one can take total control over us and actually change the way we think and see the world. I’m always trying to better understand how it works, and we’ve made some films about it with storytellers like Ken Burns, George Saunders, and the political strategist Mark McKinnon. 

Describe your family:  I have a wife and two sons, ages 5 & 3. 

What makes you laugh? People who know how to make fun of themselves. 

Favorite local place to eat? Arturo’s 

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? We’re running the chili cookoff with a local group called Rent Party as a fundraiser for their local food-related causes which include our local food pantries, a community garden, and a program called Backpack Pals which provides take-home food to kids in our towns who receive free and reduced lunch. If we can all agree on one thing, I hope it’s that everyone should have enough healthy food to eat. 

 


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 Mike Lehrer, Guest DJ at the Feb 4th SOMA Winter Soiree

 Personal Instagram photography: @djmikel

Charity of Choice: MEND, Meeting Emergency Needs With Dignity

Anything exciting coming up?  Yes, I am proud to be taking part in Saturday night’s SOMA Winter Soirée dance party at the Woodland.  I’ll be one of the DJ’s, along with Adam Goodell and Benny Campa.  Also on the bill is live music by Charlie Pollock and Friends. The best part is that all proceeds will go to the  Achieve Foundation.  A few tickets remain, get them here: http://achievefoundation.org/pollock-and-friends/

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? We moved here from Brooklyn, and before that I lived in Manhattan, and before that, Cleveland OH.

What brought you to SOMA? Family expansion was the main driver.  My wife (Holly Evans), my oldest son and I were in one bedroom apt in the city…you know the story.  After looking around the outer boroughs and other parts of NJ, once we saw SOMA we knew this would be home due to the proximity to NYC, the charming architecture, and great collective of like-minded people.  It reminded me of the east side of Cleveland and my wife was a dancer and knew a few dance/theater folks here which helped.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? My current “paying” day job is doing agency sales with a fun, culture-driven tech company called Brandwatch in NYC.  We build smart solutions to help agencies and marketers capture, analyze and share social media insights.  I fell into this role after a long career in media/tv/advertising, I’m having a great time in the tech sector and sales.  My more serious other jobs/hobbies include photography, specializing in landscape, architecture, real estate, and esoteric imagery.  Please check my Insta @djmikel.  I also grew up in a restaurant and love food, both cooking and dining out.  

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The front porch.  It’s so inviting and we love chilling there during the summer watching the world go by.

Where do you love to go on a date night? NYC for a great meal and a Broadway show.

What book is on your nightstand? The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It’s such a great read that it went on my nightstand years ago and has never come off.

What show does everyone need to binge watch? In recent memory, we just wrapped up the OA (Netflix).  Solid acting and compelling storytelling so I highly recommend.  My all-time favorite for a binge would have to be Breaking Bad.

If you could have a super power, what would it be? I want to fly like Superman.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? It depends on how much coffee I’ve had.

Salty or Sweet? Definitely salty.  I could sustain on a heady diet of olives, capers, and anchovies.

What’s something that amazes you? Skyscrapers and sunsets.  Both of which I love to shoot photos of.

Describe your family: I’m married to the amazing Holly Evans – for 14 years now, and we are blessed with 3 wonderful boys ages 5, 7, and 9.  Holly is an adjunct professor in dance at Pace University and works for Lydia Johnson Dance here in town.  My two older boys go to Tuscan School and my youngest guy is at Prospect Preschool – where we are wrapping up our 8th consecutive and final year!  We are constantly busy, having 3 boys within 5 years will do that, and spend the days involved in sports, arts, and Cub Scouts.

Favorite local place to eat? The Star Tavern, man I love that place!  Great pizza and vibes.

What is your favorite store? It’s a toss-up between REI and Trader Joe’s.  I really love them both and could buy just about anything they sell.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Hawaii, it’s a sublime paradise.

Coffee or tea? Coffee hands down, with half & half, no sugar.  And about 4 cups a day.

Charity I care About: My family and our Cub Scout troop gets involved with helping MEND, Meeting Emergency Needs With Dignity.  MEND is a coalition of food pantries in Essex County that provides emergency food to individuals and families in crisis.  You can learn more about MEND here: http://www.mendnj.org/

 


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Gabriela Anggono, owner of Rookie Humans

website: www.Rookiehumans.com

What town do you live in?  Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  We were in Manhattan

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)?  Our two toddlers pushed us out of our beloved NYC apartment. We fell in love with SOMa’s diversity and progressive mindset. We are a multicultural, diverse family ourselves so this was very important to us.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m a retired ad executive, turned mompreneur. I left my career when my first baby was born – partly because I wanted to experience being a stay at home mom, and partly because we moved to France and not speaking the language disqualified me for most jobs. When we moved back to the US I started looking for work and in the process decided to launch my own brand of whimsical crib sheets, Rookie Humans. It has nothing to do with my previous career, but was inspired by my experience as a new mom. Each sheet is designed to create a beautiful backdrop and illustrated to be like a page in a storybook where baby is the star. 

What’s your favorite feature of your home? SO MUCH SPACE! Coming from a small apartment, it’s wonderful feeling like we can spread out.

What show does everyone need to binge watch? PLEASE watch the Versailles series on Netflix. I need friends to discuss it with,  ha ha ha.

If you could have a super power, what would it be? Time travel. I have a long list of moments I would like to revisit, and the list gets longer with each passing year.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 5 minutes. I’m the type of person that is always running late and always rushing.

Describe your ideal day:
Not that it will happen any time soon with two toddlers, but waking up at noon with a warm cup of coffee. Leisurely walk to a nice outdoor restaurant on a sunny day. Good food, good wine, good conversation. Taking the kids to the beach, so they can run around and play. No one whines, cries, or takes someone else’s toy. 

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? The south of France. 

What can you not live without? Sadly, my iPhone. It’s a love/hate relationship, but I can’t live without it. I do appreciate that it allows me to work from anywhere. I get more work/life balance thanks to it since I don’t need to be tied to a desk.

What inspires you? People that make a difference in the world. Women helping each other. Kindness is the only thing that moves our society forward.

How would you describe your “style”? Laid back and accepting. I’m a firm believer in doing the best you can in all aspects of your life, and cutting yourself slack for your shortcomings. We are not meant to be perfect, but we are uniquely us and that’s a beautiful thing. 

Coffee or tea? Coffee, although there’s no coffee strong enough for this gall. 

Anything exciting coming up that you’d like us to promote? My company, Rookie Humans. We just launched this past October and have been getting a lot of buzz. I think they are the most unique crib sheets in the market!

 


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Drew Dix

Charities of choice: The FruitGuys Community Fund and Save Barnegat Bay 

What town do you live in?  Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  San Francisco and New York City

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)?  I had a new job, coming back east from CA (I was born & raised in NJ). We had visited Maplewood previously, as my best friend had started his family here. We bought a house in a weekend (summer of 1997). The reality that I could leave my !(*&%?ing car at home, and actually walk to the bank, post office, food store, a restaurant…and the train (I was commuting at the time and we love NYC) – PLUS my kids could walk to ALL of their schools – that all pretty much sold us. We also loved the people, the homes, and our great parks.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m now Director of Sales Development for The FruitGuys (www.fruitguys.com), an amazing company that provides fresh local fruit and healthy snacks to the workplace. It’s a simple concept with a big impact: we want to change people’s work lives for the better through food (move over, bagels and doughnuts). The company is based in San Francisco, but we have over 4000 customers nationwide. Before that, I was a newspaper and magazine guy- I managed sales teams for alternative papers in SF and NYC, and then added recruitment website and trade newspaper management for the legal and fashion industries. But I plan to ride off into the sunset as an actor, which was my sole focus from age 12-32…to be sure, that’s all stayed “alive” since then – I’ve managed to have some great professional experiences since I’ve been in Maplewood (NYC, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Luna Stage). But I’d like to have that take over more of my time and energy as the kids leave the nest.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? We have a really big living room (half the first floor). Also the location, the location, and the location.

Where do you love to go on a date night? The theater- usually off-Broadway, dinner, or….my living room.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? My hair follicles have been challenged for decades, and that’s never been an issue for me- but the smooth dome that’s been revealed exposes a head that’s just too pointy!

What book is on your nightstand? “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol (he was nuts), and “Song of the Lark” by Willa Cather (SO vivid)

What’s something that amazes you? Virtuoso artists. People that are absolutely steeped and saturated with their craft that take your breath away. Think- Bach, Aretha Franklin, John Gielgud.

Describe your family: A electric, emotional, edgy group whose reach exceeds its grasp- always. People that are a striving, reaching; making their own way, motivated in a way that amazes me every day. We are all working at something difficult that requires super hard work and dedication. Son: 15 1/2, baseball player, Daughter: 20, studying acting, Wife: visual artist and teacher (also works for The FruitGuys!) Me: Sales Director, managing new initiatives and people, and planning that ride into the sunset.

What makes you laugh? Satire and absurd comedy about the flawed human condition. Lewis Black. Lenny Bruce. George Carlin. Phyllis Diller.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I wanted to be a doctor, like my cousin Tom, and he even let me trail him on an office/hospital day once. Then I was cast in a musical review in 6th grade, and that was it- sang “Blue on Blue” solo with the hand held mic, alone on stage and everything. Med school? What was I THINKING??

What is your favorite store? I shop locally big time over the “holidays”: Words Bookstore, Perch Home, Bill’s Army Navy in Millburn. Also “Book Book” bookstore on Bleecker St. in NYC, and the Mets Clubhouse store on 11 W. 42nd St. in NYC.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Travel abroad is something I need to do more of, so I’ll stick to the U.S.– San Francisco and N. California in general, Vermont (N.E. Kingdom), Greenwich Village before 1990 (still love it but it’s all like West Broadway now- the tinker, the tailor and the candlestick maker are now Armani, Gucci and these spare Boutiques with Eleven $3200 Dresses.

What can you not live without? Baseball, Bach, (music in general), theatre, my wok.

How would you describe your “style”? Cotton, wool, liquor neat, Ship Bottom, less digital life is more.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? The FruitGuys Community Fund http://fruitguys.com/about-us/fruit-guys-community-fund and Save Barnegat Bay www.savebarnegatbay.org

 


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Sarah Dobbs

charity of choice: www.tpcsinc.org

What town do you live in?  Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  Williamsburg, Brooklyn 

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)?  Ease, Having a family in the city is very difficult. The winter of 2015 definitely broke me. In the first 3 months we lived here, both of my boys grew several inches. It’s been nice to breathe and stretch out. 

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? The Home Capsule, my company is something I created a few years ago, but officially launched in June 2016. It started with me getting comfortable with small space living when I moved to NYC in 2006. My background is in Fashion, Design, and Marketing, and I quickly realized if I want to buy the things I really love, I need to plan for them. When I purchase something I need to make sure it’s of quality and I love it, since space is limited. When I became a mother I quickly adapted to “slow living” which is not necessarily a style, but a deeply personal mentality. I find many people also have this goal, so I offer several services to guide, and empower people to accomplish this. A lot of what I do is, create space that’s beautiful, functional, and frees up one’s time. Typically, the first step is decluttering and organizing a clients home. With this comes coaching to break the cycle of over consumption. A house and closet filled with things people don’t really love, and a lack of time, space, and energy for the things they do is a real problem for many people. From a design stand point I can make things look great, but I also want to create change, because being socially and ethically responsible is something we can’t ignore. Helping people find that balance, whatever it may be in their lives is very rewarding. The ultimate goal would be your home and life be filled with a small collection of key items that you love and rely on. 

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The vantage points. From several key areas of the home, nothing obstructs where your eye naturally wants to travel. 

Where do you love to go on a date night? We love day dates in the city. A ton of coffee is consumed, we browse our favorite shops, and talk. I’ve come up with several great ideas, spurred from a day together. 

Who are you named after? My Grandmother. She was the only other blonde haired, green eyed person in a long stretch of family. I think it’s very fitting. 

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? That I’m a worrier

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? If they are genuine 

What book is on your nightstand? I love a quick read before bed. I devour Kinfolk and Cereal, the only magazines I’m currently subscribed to. 

https://kinfolk.com

https://readcereal.com

What show does everyone need to binge watch? I have a photographic memory when it comes to products and clothing. I spot things that are out place for the context, which often distracts me. FARGO on FX  was really impressive, I loved the show itself, and the details of everything were excellent. 

If you could have a super power, what would it be? Preserve food, so it never went bad. 

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 30 minutes tops, I’m very low maintenance.

What’s something that amazes you? That public service buildings like the Post Office and The DMV are such soul sucking places to go. I think many employees are miserable at these jobs. They use inefficient systems (that make customers angry) and work in an environment that is ugly and depressing. One of my long term goals is to change the culture and environment of these places. Wouldn’t a lending library be a great start at the DMV? Some framed art from local schools? 

Describe your family: My family is very tight knit and we guard our time together. Kyle and I met when we were very young, and in many ways we have grown up together. We have two Boys, Grey and Hollis who bring it everyday. Being around them energizes me in a way no one else can. 

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A Fashion Designer in NYC

What is your favorite store? I have so many! General Store http://shop-generalstore.com, No.6 http://no6store.com, Catbird NYC https://www.catbirdnyc.com, Schoolhouse Electric https://www.schoolhouseelectric.com

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? American Trade Hotel in Panama City

https://www.acehotel.com/panama

What can you not live without? La Croix

What inspires you? Kids today, I think they have an amazing perspective that we should lean in to and learn from. 

How would you describe your “style”? Fewer Better 

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?

Almost Home (Turning point community service inc) www.tpcsinc.org is a shelter for homeless women and their children in Irvington, NJ, but also serves the greater area of essex and union county. I strongly believe in grassroots giving within ones very own community. Research has shown that environment has a ripple effect on a persons well-being. 

 

 


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Alexandra B Carter / Danielle Mann, Co-Directors of Stand Up Girls

charity of choice: www.standupgirls.org and cycleforsurvival.org

What town do you live in?  Alexandra B Carter (AC): Maplewood, NJ.  Danielle Mann (DM): South Orange

Where did you live before that?  AC: Midtown Manhattan. DM: Jersey City.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)?  AC: Initially, we moved because I lost a negotiation with my husband, Greg Lembrich.  We wanted more space, and hailing from NJ, he was anxious to move us out here.  I told him we could move to NJ as long as he found me a town with a university, pre-1940s homes and at least one Ethiopian restaurant.  Little did I know we would find all of that and much more here in SOMA!  DM: My husband and I both grew up in South Orange and we wouldn’t want to raise our 3 daughters anywhere else. My dad grew up here so my kids are 4th generation growing up here.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? AC:  I am a Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, teaching mediation and negotiation.  In addition to teaching some of the most amazing students in the world right here in NYC, I also have the privilege of working with many courts, foreign governments and the United Nations in the training and practice of conflict resolution.  Just in the last year or so, my work has taken me to Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Spain and China — and I’m off to Switzerland next week!  In my “spare time,” I co-direct (along with Danielle Mann) a SOMA community group called Stand Up Girls, that seeks to empower young girls in the 2nd-5th grade age group with leadership, conflict resolution and community building skills.  It is our passion project and we are thrilled at the way it has exploded in the last few years! DM: I am a Special Projects Director in the magazine publishing industry, and am currently working at Hearst for the men’s brands Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver and Road & Track. At any time I could be planning a Fashion Week event for hundreds of people or a small, intimate dinner for auto enthusiasts at Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach. I am a natural planner and have always been super attentive to details. It’s a lot to juggle but I am an eternal multi-tasker!

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  AC: We have a winter view of New York City and the most gorgeous sunrises.  Looking at those twinkling lights never gets old! DM:We’ve been told that our house, built in 1929, resembles a gingerbread house. Also it’s deceiving and looks a lot smaller on the outside than it is. 

Where do you love to go on a date night?  AC: Locally, we love Arturo’s and go there quite a bit.  Otherwise, we try to get away for dinner in NYC about once a month.  And hey, since we both commute to NYC, even the train ride in sometimes feels like a date! 🙂  You take what you can get.  DM: Restaurant Lorena’s- on all special occasions- anniversaries, birthdays, etc. 

What’s music/album are you really into these days?  AC: I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip-hop.  You can never go wrong with A Tribe Called Quest. DM:The Hamilton cast soundtrack 

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years?  AC: Tough one.  I loved All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.  I also read a lot of poetry.  Theodore Roethke is my favorite, but I also love reading work by my local poet friend, Marcia LeBeau.  DM: Nightingale by Kristin Hannah or Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner.

What’s something that amazes you?  AC: My six year old daughter, Caroline.  She’s the most open-hearted, confident, funny person I know.  She amazes me every day.  DM: My incredibly supportive husband, Josh Mann. Together we work as a team to be the best parents we can possibly be to our three beautiful girls, Lucy (9), Celia (8) and Hallie (6). I often wonder how I got to be so lucky.

Describe your family:  AC: My husband, Greg Lembrich, is also a lawyer and serves Maplewood on the Township Committee.  We love working together on local political projects and debating legal issues at home.  We’re geeky like that.  Our daughter, Caroline, is six.  You can see her at town events with her dad, or shopping in Words with me! DM: My husband and I both work very hard but we make it a priority to spend as much time with each other and our girls as possible. We have a lot of fun together. There are a lot of laughs but in typical form with siblings, the occasional bickering. And when I say occasional, I really mean often.

Describe your ideal day:  AC: Class at Baker Street Yoga, coffee at the Able Baker, lunch at Arturo’s, a few hours of work in the afternoon and then dinner with my family.  I don’t often get days like this, so I cherish them when I do! DM: An early morning hot yoga at Baker Street or a Conditioning Camp at D&I, a coffee from The Able Baker with my mom or dad (who along with my in-laws, live very close by and it’s so special that we all get to spend so much time together!), a pedicure, volunteering at my daughters’ school, and then dinner and drinks with my husband and some friends. 

Favorite local place to eat?  AC: Lorena’s has been our favorite “special occasion” place since we moved here! DM:Ariyoshi, Bagel Chateau, Squirrel & The Bee.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?  AC: Variously:  an archaeologist, the President, a concert pianist and then a lawyer.  To be honest, I’m still aspiring!  DM: Seeing Cats on Broadway started my fascination with being either a set designer or a theatrical makeup artist, neither of which panned out.

What is your favorite store?  AC: Too many!!  DM: I love The House in Millburn- great gifts for my daughters and easy birthday party present shopping. Also, West Elm or any other home design store!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite?  AC: Hong Kong.  The breathtaking scenery, the bustle, the cultural mix, and the food are without peer.  

What can you not live without?  AC: Hot sauce.  And my yoga mat.  DM: There’s the obvious answer, which is my husband, my family and my friends, but then I’d say my TV (The Affair, This is Us, Younger) running and yoga. 

What inspires you?  AC: The people in my life.  I like to surround myself with people who push and challenge me to achieve more in every area of my life.  I’m also inspired by the everyday beauty of our towns.  I have several photographs from my good friend and local photographer, Jamie Meier, decorating my house.  DM:  People who set a goal and stick to it. Whether or not they get there, their ambition and effort is always inspiring. 

How would you describe your “style”?  AC: Professional with an “edge.”  I spent way too many years wearing matching pantsuits as a commercial litigator.  Now that I’m a professor, I favor tailored jackets, dark skinny jeans and studded motorcycle boots.  DM: Jeans and tank tops. Trendy with some classic staples. Anything that doesn’t say “I’m a mom”

Coffee or tea?  AC: Depends on the continent.  When in the Americas or Europe, I’m all about coffee.  But I love Chinese and Japanese tea. DM: Decaf coffee with half and half.

Anything exciting coming up?  AC: Our next season of Stand Up Girls!  Check us out at standupgirls.org.  We have an amazing program for girls and parents, including a field trip to the United Nations! DM:Stand Up Girls (Season 5)- a group that I created in 2014 that teaches girls in our community to stand up for themselves and for others, and to be leaders. Since Alex (Carter) joined on last year as a co-facilitator, we now have over 50 families enrolled and meet once a month to discuss important topics, such as conflict resolution or body image, and disguise it in fun activities like role playing and bring in great guest speakers. And because the girls parents also attend, the group allows for the girls to spend quality time with them, which is increasingly harder to do these days with how busy we all are. 

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?  

DM (and AC): Stand Up Girls (www.standupgirls.org) I am very passionate about continuing to create and grow our Stand Up Girls community, where young girls can come together in a safe environment to talk about all of the tricky things associated with being a girl. I hear from parents all the time that they wish they had something like this when they were growing up. I couldn’t agree more. Like us on Facebook and learn more at StandUpGirls.org. 

AC:Cycle for Survival!  I’ve ridden for four years now and it’s an amazing cause.  You’ll see frequent opportunities for donation on my Facebook page 🙂


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Mindy Catron 

charity of choice: ALS.net

What town do you live in? Maplewood for going on 10 years now. 

Where did you live before that? Weehawken. Not Brooklyn — shocking, I know!

What brought you to SOMA? The easy and fast commute to mid-town, charming and beautiful neighborhoods, and a real feeling of community. 

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I was a professional dancer/singer for over 20 years. Mostly doing Broadway shows and National Tours. About 12 years ago, I began to transition to my current career, teaching Pilates. I danced in my last Broadway show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while pregnant with my first daughter in 2007 and have since retired. I am now part owner of Align Wellness Studio in Millburn where I teach Pilates. I also am a Pre & Post Natal Pilates Specialist Senior Faculty for The Center For Women’s Fitness and conduct teacher trainings around the US each year. 

What’s your favorite feature of your home? We are on our second home in Maplewood. We started in a typical, small 3 bedroom colonial. We moved two years ago. I love that our new house is open and very bright and my kids have the whole upper floor to themselves, which leaves most of their “stuff” out of sight.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Lorena’s is always special.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Anything by Sarah Bareilles. I’m also a Contemporary Christian music junkie.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? To turn my car in to a helicopter and lift up out of traffic at any given moment.

What’s something that amazes you? This may sound corny, but….when we were looking to move from Weehawken, we were really looking to find a place to live where we could really become part of the community. A place where we would know our neighbors and not just be commuters. Fast forward 10 years and we are truly amazed at just how much that has ALL come true here. We are extremely grateful for the “village” we have grown to be part of. We don’t have family near by and it make all the difference in the world!

Describe your family: My husband, Andy Catron, is still in the Broadway world. He is an electrician/stage hand for Aladdin and does some freelance lighting design on occasion. We’ve been married for 11 years and have two daughters: Michayla, age 10, and Liana, age 6. Our newest family member is our puppy, Ziggy.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Well, we just took a spectacular and special vacation to Italy and fell in love with Umbria! We are already trying to figure out how and when we can go back.

What inspires you? Nature. It never ceases to amaze me!

How would you describe your “style”? Well, if we’re talking about clothes, my work clothes are actually leggings and tank tops with sneakers or sandals. Super comfy!!

Coffee or tea? Coffee….lots of it!

What charity are you passionate about? ALS.net.  I work with people everyday to help them to be stronger, healthier, and have well functioning bodies. To see a disease like ALS destroy one’s body and leave them paralyzed is devastating. Their is no cure yet and very little treatment available. There is an urgent need for research funding.


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Tara Connell

website: www.ckomaplewood.com

charity of choice: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) www.casaessex.org

Untitled designWhat town do you live in?
 Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? I grew up in Florham Park, 20 minutes west of here. For a while, I had my eye on Maplewood’s adorable downtown as I’d take the train home from NYC to visit my family. When it finally came to leaving Brooklyn, there was comfort in knowing that there’d be many like-minded people here. To be honest, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but couldn’t be happier with our decision.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? My husband and I own CKO Kickboxing on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood. I run the day to day and am passionate about helping people look and feel better than ever. ‘My baby takes the morning train’ and helps out at the gym nights and weekends (I couldn’t do it without him!)

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The Magnolia Tree in our backyard, it’s so beautiful in the spring. We also feel incredibly lucky to have found a block with lots of fun, sociable neighbors and similarly-aged kids. Our summers are full of impromptu block parties.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Papermill (Playhouse) followed by a drink & some jazz at Papillon 25. On Friday nights, we like to see E.R.I.C at Above.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Scissor Sisters

Describe your family: My husband, JJ, and I have two daughters at Tuscan (3rd grade & Kindergarten) and a son in pre-K at Our Lady of Sorrows. Our kids are pretty active… they stay busy with soccer/basketball/softball/tball/gymnastics throughout the year, and we all love water parks, especially Action Park and Aquatopia (JJ probably loves it more than the kids!) Both JJ and I come from big families (I’m the last of 6, he’s the 4th of 5), so our kids have plenty of cousins. In fact, their favorite week each year is the week my entire family of 31 people cram into one house in Long Beach Island. It has the makings of a reality show 😉

Favorite local place to eat? Red Cadillac

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur – it changed every few years…Tara’s Beauty Salon and Tara’s Treats were a couple of my early dreams. Ha!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Vancouver Island. I’ve been a few times (including our honeymoon), and am always blown away by the artists, wildlife, scenery, tranquilness and very friendly people.

What inspires you? When people who walk into our gym are unhealthy and out of shape, and make the decision to keep at it. It’s not an easy workout, and to see our members commit to coming to class after class, and watching them change from month to month is absolutely amazing.

Coffee or tea? Coffee – our Nespresso machine makes an incredible maple latte that rivals Gorilla Coffee’s.


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Tony Ávila

Personal Websites:  http://www.ajjmaplewood.com/

What town do you live in? 07040

Where did you live before that? We did the typical Manhattan to JC to Maplewood move with a 9mo old in tow.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? The diverse community and it’s focus on the arts in education.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Weekdays I play Trader in lower Manhattan, by nights and weekends I am owner and head instructor of American Jiu Jitsu of Maplewood. My passion is to share self-defense with as many people as possible; from Maplewood Auxiliary Police and Department of Homeland Security Field Agents, to multiple Girl Scouts and Daisy Troops.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The new fireplace and steam shower are pretty snazzy, but nothing beats the magic of the kitchen.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Nice dinner out with my lovely wife where we can chat and make fun of ourselves.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Pentatonix and Hamilton are playing non-stop. Mowing the lawn it’s all about blasting Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Describe your family: Oh goodness!
We’ve got the doer: She’s always wanting to do something physical. She struggles to sit still and will start doing headstands on the couch if she’s supposed to be sitting.
We’ve got the talker: She’ll talk your ear off. She ALWAYS has something to say and loves telling you every detail about her day. Oh, and she loves to sing and dance, which I think is another way for her to tell you a story!

Favorite local place to eat? Umm…Roman Gourmet, of course! Cactus Charly’s (keepin’ it real!!), and Gigi’s Cupcakes (and I’m not a cupcake eater at all but …WOW!!)

What is your favorite store? The little lighting store on Broadway in the city. Meat House in Summit.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Riviera Maya, Mexico

What can you not live without? Iced Coffee…I mean…My beautiful wife and best friend, Dara.

What inspires you? The ladies in my life. My wife and my two daughters. They’re fearless, determined, respectful, and overall beautiful personalities. I wish, everyday, I could be more like them.

How would you describe your “style”? I’m a barefoot & pedicured type of guy. Through Jiu Jitsu, we work to help students feel comfortable being themselves. When they see me in class with my big toes painted for the current holiday, it brings a smile to their faces knowing I’m confident in my “style.”

Coffee or tea? Iced Coffee, definitely iced coffee.

Also, what charity or organization are you most passionate about? I was recently introduced to the VP Music Initiative which does some amazingly great things for musical students in our town.


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Nicole Van Giesen

Website: https://nicolechildcare.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolechildcare/
Favorite charity: http://www.thevaleriefund.org/

What town do you live in? I currently live in Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? We moved from Brooklyn (of course!) to South Orange in 2007, and then moved a whole 1.4 miles away to Maplewood in 2015.

What brought you to SOMA? I love New York, but being from Missouri, I knew that I wanted to have the kind of community the suburbs offer with the convenience of the city. Some good friends in South Orange invited us out to visit one day, and that was it!

What do you do for a living or as a serious hobby? Oh my goodness, I do a little bit of everything, honestly. To start, I am a professional actor. Most recently I was in the Tony award winning production of FUN HOME, and it was the most amazing experience. The life of an actor is often “looking for work”, though, so I have a myriad of other professions as well. While I was working on my Masters in Early Childhood Education from 2010-12, I kept bouncing a consulting idea around in my head. After moving to the SOMA area, I was overwhelmed by the number of childcare programs available in this and surrounding communities. How was I supposed to know which ones to research more and when I was going to find the time to do it? How did others do it? In 2014, I developed my early childhood educational consulting business, Your Personal Childcare Concierge. I help families new to and currently living in the community find the best preschool/daycare programs to meet their unique childcare needs. I customize options and arrange tours of preschool and daycare facilities based on each family’s childcare budget, work/commute schedule, and educational philosophy. No two family’s needs are the same, and there are many wonderful programs in the area. While serving my last client, I realized that not one of my family’s have chosen the same program. I think that speaks volumes for the wealth of quality options we are lucky to have here, and I hope to help many more families find the best place for their children to grow and learn. I have also been teaching piano lessons out of my home for the past 4 years, and I really love it. I studied classically and competed for most of my educative years, but never considered teaching until a neighbor asked me to instruct her son. I was hooked and haven’t stopped since. Last, but not least, I do some freelance copywriting for children’s publishing houses, most recently for Scholastic, Inc. When I can, I also substitute for K-5 in the South Orange/Maplewood School District.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Ha! What is a date?

What’s something that amazes you? I am constantly amazed by the kindness and generosity of people in this community. There have been a few times when I have needed a helping hand in one way or another, and while it is very hard for me to ask for it, people are always coming through in the most awesome ways. I get emotional thinking about it. Because of this, I try to show my gratitude by paying it forward when I am able. When we give freely, we make such a huge difference in ways we never thought possible, and are stronger together when that happens.

Describe your family: I am a single parent to two funny, loving kids. My son is in sixth grade at South Orange Middle School, and my daughter is a second grader at Clinton Elementary. They are incredibly patient with the crazy schedule my many jobs require of me, and somehow we make it work. I am grateful for them every day and have been so fortunate to have wonderful friends and babysitters in this community to lean on when I need to.

Favorite local place to eat? My daughter is obsessed with Pandang in South Orange, so when we eat out (which isn’t often), we are sure to be seen there.

What is your favorite store? Without a doubt, Words. I feel like little neighborhood bookstores are few and far between anymore, so we cherish the fact that we have such a great one in SOMA.

What can you not live without? Running and yoga. It took me a while, but I learned that I am the best me for everyone in my life when I take care of myself. I am often running the streets of SOMA and run races in NYC with NYRR. I’m also quite fond of Baker Street Yoga and go when I can.

What inspires you? Being outside. The South Mountain Reservation fuels me physically and creatively on any given day.

Coffee or tea? This is corny, but before I go to bed, I actually get excited that I get to have coffee in the morning. It’s the only time of the day I drink it and I enjoy every caffeinated sip.

Do you have any upcoming events or something you want to mention or promote? Open enrollment for most preschool/daycare programs for the 2017-18 year begins this coming January and February. I know it’s early and often hard to know what you will need for next year, but if you would like to get a jump on researching the best options for child/children, I would love to help you out! You can reach me at (917) 231-6471 or nvgecec@gmail.com.

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about? The Valerie Fund, supporting comprehensive health care services for children with cancer and blood disorders. I have close friends who needed this vital organization at a very trying time in their lives, and I have done what I can to support it whenever possible. They are amazing!


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Julie China

Website: www.ideaspacead.com
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/ideaspacead
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliekchina/

What town do you live in?  Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  I grew up in Central PA, then lived in Philly, Brooklyn and Hoboken all prior to Maplewood.

What brought you to SOMA?  The close proximity to NYC and the Midtown Direct was definitely a major factor, but the beauty, charm and character of the town is what sold us.  We fell in love with the architecture and tree lined streets immediately.

What do you do for a living?  My husband Darren and I run an interior design and architecture business called Idea Space Architecture + Design.  We have been working on some great local projects in town, as well as in Manhattan.  Our projects range in size from full gut renovations and additions, kitchen and bath design, furniture and finish selection, to paint consultations.  We love working with families to create comfortable homes that are both beautiful and functional spaces.  People often come to us because they have a difficult time visualizing their space or they have a challenging design problem to solve.   Darren and I are both good problem solvers and one of the most exciting stages of the process is early on when we’re figuring out what the possibilities are from a spatial standpoint.  We both love what we do and it is truly rewarding to see the spaces we design come to life.  It feels great to know that we are making a difference and improving the lives of our clients.

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  Our tiny powder room.  It is painted a bright red-orange that actually inspired the color for our new branding.  I love the pop of color in that small space and it is beautifully contrasted by a modern graphic print of the Cinque Terre.    It is like a mini escape from the chaos that exists from my two kids running around!

Where do you love to go on a date night?  We don’t do as many date nights as we should!  After a client meeting the other night we stopped for a glass of wine at Coda and ended up sketching out trim details on a paper napkin.  Pathetic, I know!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years?  Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.  My daughter received this as a gift after her Pre K graduation from Village Babies.  If you have a little one, go buy it!

What’s something that amazes you?  That the vast majority of home buyers want something that’s ‘done.’  When Darren and I searched for our first home we only looked at places that needed work.  We wanted the freedom and flexibility to make it our ‘own.’

Describe your family:  We are a family of four.  My daughter is a first grader at Tuscan and my son just turned 3.  Life as working parents who run a business together is non-stop, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Favorite local place to eat?  Arturo’s, Cactus Charlie’s, St. James Gate, Coda…so many good places!

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?  A fashion designer, but that changed to interior designer when I was a junior in high school.  I wanted to apply my creative skills with my practical side.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite?  Toss up between Bora Bora and Italy!

What can you not live without?  My family of course!

What inspires you?  Travel and time away from the day to day realities of real life.  This does not happen often, but when it does it is refreshing for sure.

How would you describe your “style”?  Warm and approachable with a modern sensibility.

Coffee or tea?  Coffee in the morning is a must!

ALSO: WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?  We are passionate about mentoring young adults who are interested in pursuing careers in architecture and interior design fields.


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Kim Collins 

Personal Website: www.MommaArts.com

Favorite charity: (Local) – food pantries and Rent Party that funds food for local school kids who are from food-insecure homes.  (National) – Every Mother CountsACLUPlanned Parenthood

What town do you live in? We live in South Orange.
 
Where did you live before that? Maplewood. And before that, Park Slope, Brooklyn…you know, the usual path. Nearly eighteen years in SOMA now (which my kids say is a fake name and it’s really MapSO only they would write Mapso).
 
What brought you to SOMA? We loved Brooklyn and thought we would stay, but a mom group friend said they were going to check out these two towns that were supposed to be kind of like what we loved about Park Slope. They invited us to come and we did even as we said it was just for fun. We moved two days before they did! Now at least half of that Brooklyn mom’s group lives in SOMA & those babies are in college now.
 
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  In September 2001, like many, I reflected on my life. I decided I was not satisfied as attorney and wanted to do something that mattered to me, which was and is pregnancy and birth. Things moved quickly and I’ve worked as a doula and childbirth educator ever since. My business, DoulaMomma, is based in our community. Nearly two years ago I merged with a friend in order to offer a really full spectrum of support from preconception through the first year: MommaArts, serving NJ & NY. I’ve worked with around 700 families and still love what I do – I was at a birth just a few hours ago!
 
What’s your favorite feature of your home? Openness. Our housing tastes evolved over time and we found ourselves attracted to a more modern feel. Our current home is a 1951 ranch and it’s very open for a SOMA house.  Friends from CA say it feels like a CA home to them.
 
Where do you love to go on a date night? People think it’s little kids who make it hard to get out much, but tweens and teens need rides so we often stay local. We are blessed with wonderful friends and often do a double dinner date or drinks and nice food at home. Lorena’s is a local favorite for a special occasion.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Well, the Hamilton soundtrack is on a lot. But I’m loving Becky Warren’s music right now – she opened for the Indigo Girls at SOPAC recently…first CD I’ve bought in a long time (retro!) and only one in my car at the moment. You should check her out. That said, I’m mostly an NPR/podcast listener much of the time.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I stress just thinking about choices like this. Curing cancer with my hands? (I used to have a sticker that said “my body makes breastmilk – what’s your super power” ;-))
 
What’s the best book you‘ve read in the last 5 years? Again with the stress of choosing! Ok – first one that comes to mind is “Just Kids”, the Patti Smith memoir.
 

What’s something that amazes you? The power of women. I’m lucky because I get to see the miracle of babies being born and at the same time I see mothers and fathers born too. It gets me every time. Happy tears.

 
Describe your family: Loud! Like seriously loud. Made up of me, my husband of 21yrs, our sons (19, 15, 12), a giant dog named Pablo, a tiny dog named Mabel and an old cat named Toby Ziegler who’s still angry about the giant dog.
 
Describe your ideal day: Have we not covered my anxiety about choosing one thing? I will describe *an* ideal day amongst many options: wake up when I want to with no rush to get ready. Coffee. The house clean and tidy, laundry done so no worries about that. Breakfast with family where everyone agrees about what to eat and no one tries to wear headphones to the table, then a kid lacrosse game on a beautiful day, chatting with other parents on the sidelines.  Maybe see a client for a prenatal. Then we have dinner or drinks at my friend’s house in front of their beautiful fire place. PJs early. Slip into our comfy bed with fresh sheets. Sleep, glorious sleep.
 
Favorite local place to eat? So many options…Arturo’s, Abril Cocina, Lorena’s
 
Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? an Egyptologist, a dolphin trainer, a marine biologist.
 
What is your favorite store? Locally, I love Kitchen a la Mode & Perch. Unless a bakery counts as a store and then Able Baker, hands down!
 
Of all the places you‘ve traveled, which is your favorite? Almost always, wherever I travel is my favorite at the time. I’ve been lucky to travel a lot…next up is Iceland in a few weeks. I’m going to be optimistic and say it’s my favorite.
 
What can you not live without? If you had asked me two days ago, I might have said Nate Silver’s 538 polls. Family, friends, work that inspires me, dogs – that’s a given. So I will add cowboy boots, a camera and the occasional guilty pleasure Coke Zero.
 
What inspires you? People who give a damn.
 
How would you describe your “style”? Going with personal style since I already talked about home. Hmm – artsy? Basic black? My general uniform is jeans or a skirt with a black shirt or sweater, interesting accessories. If dressing up, vaguely retro dresses/eyeliner.
My work uniform is black yoga pants & black “super uterus” Tshirt. It’s an ice breaker;-)
 
Coffee or tea? Yes! But mostly coffee. Iced regardless of season. Cold brew, preferably. Tea should be iced as well – I’m from the south.
 

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Robin Chase & Sue von Brachial 

Website: RobinandSue.com

What town do you live in? Robin & Sue: Maplewood

Where did you live before that?
Robin: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Sue: West Village, NYC

What brought you to SOMA? 
Robin: More space!
Sue: We had close friends here and loved it every time we came to visit.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?
Robin: I’m the photographer part of Robin & Sue Food Photography and Styling. You can find us at robinandsue.com
Sue: And I’m the food stylist.
Robin: We actually met on the SOMA Lounge Facebook page! I posted one day looking to collaborate with a food stylist and Sue saw the post and responded right away. We met at Able Baker and spent about two hours completely nerding out about food. I knew right away that this was going to be something special! Now we shoot food for websites like Food.com and for restaurants both here and in the city. We look at each other every day in amazement that this is what we do. We couldn’t be happier!

What’s your favorite feature of your home?
Robin: We recently took a wall down between our kitchen and dining room and it’s now a great family hangout. It’s the center of our home. I love it.
Sue: Our large stained-glass window in our dining room. It’s original to the house and so beautiful.

Where do you love to go on a date night?
Robin: We just went to Turtle and Wolf in Montclair and it was really great.
Sue: Verjus in Maplewood.

Describe your family:
Robin: We’re a family of five with my husband, Don and our three boys, ages 11, 8, and 3. It’s never quiet in my house. Never.
Sue: It’s me, my husband John and two daughters, Tess, 13, Elinor 10 and new addition Willie (an Australian Labradoodle).

Describe your ideal day:
Robin: Well..what I’ve been doing every day lately! After my boys are off to school, getting in a nice long run, then shooting food with Sue, followed by tutoring. (I also tutor elementary students in reading and teach middle/high school students as an executive functions coach.) Then getting my kids and having a great family dinner followed by quiet down time with Don.
Sue: Getting to cook and shoot with Robin every day. I left my job as an advertising art director in April and haven’t looked back. Being able to be home with my girls has been life-changing as well.

Favorite local place to eat?
Robin: Arturo’s. Everything there is incredible. (And beautiful. And that goes a long way with me!)
Sue: Ditto. Dan Richer can do no wrong.

WHAT CHARITY or ORGANIZATION are you most passionate about?
Robin: Our local South Mountain YMCA has been a real lifesaver for us as a family. All three of my boys went through daycare and preschool there and I brag about the teachers there all the time. Being a former teacher, I have been really impressed by how rich the curriculum is and how much my children have learned there. My middle son still talks about the Y as his favorite years in school. We’re happy to support them.
Sue: The Dwelling Place of NY. It’s a women’s transitional homeless shelter in NYC. I’ve been volunteering there for almost 10 years and have been on the Board of Directors for three. It’s an incredibly special place. http:// thedwellingplaceofny.org

 


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Tony Ávila

Personal Websites:  http://www.ajjmaplewood.com/

What town do you live in? 07040

Where did you live before that? We did the typical Manhattan to JC to Maplewood move with a 9mo old in tow.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? The diverse community and it’s focus on the arts in education.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Weekdays I play Trader in lower Manhattan, by nights and weekends I am owner and head instructor of American Jiu Jitsu of Maplewood. My passion is to share self-defense with as many people as possible; from Maplewood Auxiliary Police and Department of Homeland Security Field Agents, to multiple Girl Scouts and Daisy Troops.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The new fireplace and steam shower are pretty snazzy, but nothing beats the magic of the kitchen.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Nice dinner out with my lovely wife where we can chat and make fun of ourselves.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Pentatonix and Hamilton are playing non-stop. Mowing the lawn it’s all about blasting Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Describe your family: Oh goodness!
We’ve got the doer: She’s always wanting to do something physical. She struggles to sit still and will start doing headstands on the couch if she’s supposed to be sitting.
We’ve got the talker: She’ll talk your ear off. She ALWAYS has something to say and loves telling you every detail about her day. Oh, and she loves to sing and dance, which I think is another way for her to tell you a story!

Favorite local place to eat? Umm…Roman Gourmet, of course! Cactus Charly’s (keepin’ it real!!), and Gigi’s Cupcakes (and I’m not a cupcake eater at all but …WOW!!)

What is your favorite store? The little lighting store on Broadway in the city. Meat House in Summit.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Riviera Maya, Mexico

What can you not live without? Iced Coffee…I mean…My beautiful wife and best friend, Dara.

What inspires you? The ladies in my life. My wife and my two daughters. They’re fearless, determined, respectful, and overall beautiful personalities. I wish, everyday, I could be more like them.

How would you describe your “style”? I’m a barefoot & pedicured type of guy. Through Jiu Jitsu, we work to help students feel comfortable being themselves. When they see me in class with my big toes painted for the current holiday, it brings a smile to their faces knowing I’m confident in my “style.”

Coffee or tea? Iced Coffee, definitely iced coffee.

Also, what charity or organization are you most passionate about? I was recently introduced to the VP Music Initiative which does some amazingly great things for musical students in our town.


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Jamie Meier

Personal Websites:  https://www.facebook.com/livelovelensphotography/

https://www.instagram.com/livelovemaplewood/

https://www.instagram.com/livelovelens/

http://livelovelens.com/

untitled-design-2

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? We lived in Weehawken, but spent 99% of our time in Hoboken.

What brought you to SOMA? I grew up in a cookie cutter suburb with not much going on and knew I didn’t want that. We were looking for a community that was interesting, fun, and diverse. I love the passion and creativity here – people have interesting careers and are involved in incredible initiatives. And of course how could you not love the tree lined streets and old homes?! We also love how connected we feel to the community – we love Maplewoodstock, 4th of July, the Maplewood Pool, block parties, and seeing everyone we know in the Village on a Friday night!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I own Live Love Lens Photography, which I started 6 years ago.  I mainly photograph children, babies, and families. I also take a ton of scenic photos of Maplewood and South Orange! I started Live Love Maplewood on Instagram about three years ago because I wanted to bring images of our beautiful towns to social media. I’ve posted a photo almost every day since! Currently I’m loving (actually obsessed with!!) the fall foliage and the Halloween decorations around town. Live Love Maplewood really connects with people – I love reading people’s comments – especially from people who grew up here and have since moved away – they tell me how much joy the images bring them.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? My bright blue front door – it makes me so happy!

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I would create MORE time, MORE hours in the day – to sleep, to hang with my family, to get through the never ending to-do list.

What’s something that amazes you? The fall foliage!! It’s amazing and I cannot stop taking pictures of the bright leaves and colorful trees.

Describe your family: My house is filled with an enthusiastic, singing/dancing 7 yr old daughter and a goofy, huggable, super hero loving 4 year old son, and my husband who’s an amazing Dad and works in digital marketing. We love to go on adventures just as much as we love watching movies on the couch.

Favorite local place to eat? How can I choose just one???!

Arturo’s – I dream about the Cinghiale pasta dish!

Cedar Ridge Cafe – Joe’s BLT (add avocado!!) with an iced coffee is unreal.

Palmer’s Sweetery – The quiche and rice krispie treats are devine.

Able Baker – best banana bread ever.

Gigi’s Cupcakes – Nutella banana cupcakes!!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite?  So far, I would definitely say Costa Rica. A beautiful country with adventure around every corner. Also their coffee is amazing and never needs an ounce of milk or sugar.

What can you not live without? My camera, coffee and my family!

What inspires you?  The amazing women in this town. It’s actually one of my favorite things about living here. So many smart, passionate, non-judgy, women who are NICE and cool and super interesting!

How would you describe your “style”? 

Colorful, fun and a little vintage. And ripped jeans make everything better.

Coffee or tea?  Coffee all the way. I make my rounds to every coffee shop in town…too much. I love Cedar Ridge, Palmers, and Gigi’s Cupcakes!

Anything on horizon to tell us about? I show and sell a lot of my photography work – I was just in the Maplewood Art Walk, and I’m part of Shop and Play event (at Work and Play) on 10/21 and 10/22, and will be showing my images at the Maplewood Grille in December. You can also find some of my pieces on the wall at Palmer’s Sweetery + Cafe and Cedar Ridge Cafe + Bakery. I’m also so, so excited about partnering with The Vanessa Pollock Team for family photos this weekend!


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Avian Carraby

Charity of Choice: http://www.haiti155.org
Personal Website: avianandjohn.com

avian-carrabyWhat town do you live in? We lived in South Orange for 15 years and raised our boys in the SOMA schools.  We recently moved to Vauxhall.  Our store is in Maplewood at 1857 Springfield Avenue.

Where did you live before that? Before South Orange, we lived in Irvington.

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? The schools!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  My husband and I are owners of Avian and John: a lifestyle store – we sell everything for the home and also some clothing, little bit of accessories, bowls, etc.  We feature a lot of homemade furniture – made by husband, out of recycled wood – it has an industrial feel.  We have been in business for 15 years.  We previously had a store in Brooklyn and we still sell at the Brooklyn Flea. This month we are hosting an Artisan Market bc a lot of people came in store asking if our stuff was vintage (it isn’t) and we wanted to educate others that people do make their own stuff! Sundays in October, 11am-6pm, behind the store in the parking lot.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? My living room, because I think we were able to show all the different pieces that we love – some from travels, some John made – it has become our most favorite place.

Where do you love to go on a date night? A movie

What’s music/album are you really into these days? I like a bit of Jazz – the person I’m really in love with lately is Gregory Porter.

Describe your family: My husband is my best friend (we’ve been in love since we were 18!), and my two sons – who both have the same qualities as me (we are all quiet Aries).  My husband complains that we are so quiet!

Describe your ideal day:  On the beach in Barbados!

Favorite local place to eat? Tandoori Chef 2 in Maplewood.

What is your favorite store?  Arhaus, in the city.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? India.

What can you not live without? My husband!

What inspires you? My kids.  I definitely want them to be better than us. By working hard and doing good – I’m hoping they will, in turn, be inspired by us!

How would you describe your “style”? People say Loose and Funky – I like the men’s area of Zara!

Coffee or tea? Tea.

Also, what charity or organization are you most passionate about? http://www.haiti155.org. It’s a nonprofit organization based in NYC. Their mission is to inspire and support long lasting social and economic change in Haiti, which begins with empowerment at the grassroots level. Haiti 155 supports this process through technical guidance, resource 
mobilization and entrepreneurial innovation.

 


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Joy Yagid

Charity of choice: The Raptor Trust (www.theraptortrust.com)

Personal website: joyyagid.com

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Staten Island

What brought you to SOMA? Having a very thorough best friend that moved here years before. If she liked it – it’s good enough for me!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  I’m a local photographer that loves capturing memories as well as the beauty around us.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The attic office – it’s sort of like a tree house with the view.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Thailand Restaurant in Clark. Best Thai in all of NJ.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Hamilton soundtrack – All. The. Time.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? That’s hard…I read in bunches when I get downtime. I love historical fiction – right now I’m into Tudor England and have been reading Phillipa Gregory, but also love Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and anything by Jane Austen.

What’s something that amazes you? The sun rising and setting and how it continues without any interference from us. Nature. All of it. Even the unpretty parts. Our National Parks great and small. They are our treasures. And raptors. Raptors are awesome.

Describe your family: Husband is neat. I’m not so much and we have a daughter that’s a sophomore at CHS and is also not neat. We also have three cats. One is an 18 yo Siamese that likes to yell at the two new kittens to get off her lawn (comfy chair in my office). The kittens are in the hell raising toddler stage of kittenhood.

Describe your ideal day: 72F, low humidity, bright blue sky with a camera in hand. Doesn’t matter where.

Favorite local place to eat? Have too many to mention – Able Baker for coffee, Arturos for their pumpkin pizza pie, Park Wood for their Eggplant Parm, Roman Gourmet for their spinach white pie, Village Coffee for their omelets…should I stop now? I can keep going.

What is your favorite store? Perch and 165 for gifts, Kimaya for cool tunics and earrings, the Wine Barrel for wines and the wall of beer (for hubby).

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Four places are tied: Yellowstone, Yosemite and Iceland/Scotland.

What can you not live without? Mozzarella

What inspires you? Anyone that is willing to put themselves out there and try.

How would you describe your “style”? Electric? Crazy? And at the same time cool and reserved. Basically, a little bit of everything.

Coffee or tea? Coffee in the AM, tea in the pm.

Also, what charity or organization are you most passionate about? The Raptor Trust (www.theraptortrust.com). Started over 25 years ago to save birds of prey from being shot or poisoned and to bring understanding of how important they are to our environment. They are great people doing hard work saving local and not so local birds of all types.

 


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Page O’Connor

Favorite Charities: Children Of St. Jude and also Girls Helping Girls. Period (an awesome local charity founded by two students in South Orange)

What town do you work in? South Orange

What brought you to SOMA? I absolutely love the SOMA community and am so happy I was able to open Class Act Performing Arts Studio in South Orange just three short years ago… I picked the area predominantly for the heavy interest and support of the arts. We were doubly blessed to be able to snag a beautiful, old huge brick building that has been a cornerstone of the area for over 100 years. I have found that everyone is welcoming and so inclusive regardless of differences in race, income levels, and backgrounds. AND well, the Arts could not be any more supported by this wonderful community.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Long story short, I grew up in a small southern town in North Carolina that was a creatively stifled area where the arts were not supported or encouraged. I had asked multiple times as a child to take dance classes and voice lessons and it just never happened for one reason or another. Anyway, I never realized until many years later, living in a different part of the country, and having a child of my own that I had likely missed out on something that I would have hugely enjoyed and, just maybe, would have been pretty decent at (at least with some hard work). However, like many people past a certain age, I kept with what I knew and what was safe to me. The business world was my vocation and sports were my avocation! Luckily, my daughter was much smarter and had a lot more moxie than I. She was 100% passionate and focused on music, singing, acting and dancing. It was through her passion that I found what seemed to be my true calling very late in life: helping kids of all ages and backgrounds, who are interested in the arts, be able to take classes whether they want to just have fun or are training for a professional career. All kids should have the opportunity to try different things and be able to go for their dreams.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? The Gifts Of Imperfection by Brene Brown

What can you not live without? Cannot live without: Good Friends, Family, Music and lots and lots of Humor (sometimes of the inappropriate variety)!

What inspires you? Being around children that have the guts to take a risk and try new things. It always amazes me to see them try so hard and get up in front of classmates over and over in order to achieve their goals. Theses students make me work harder and give more of myself. They have given me so much courage over the years to keep fighting, keep going and deal with some of the inevitably tough things that sometimes occurs in life.

Zenobia Oaks

Organization of choice: Christian Love Baptist Church (http://christianlovebaptist.org/)

website: http://spokenwordz44.wixsite.com/nswsylieworkshop

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Good ole Newark, NJ. 🙂

What brought you to SOMA?  I was led to this town by divine grace.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I literally write and recite poetry for a living. It was once a hobby that turned into a business. This business is called Neo_SoulZ. Do what you love and it won’t feel like work is such a true statement.

Neo_SoulZ is an open mic entertainment company whose primary focus is writing and reciting poetry to uplift and encourage others through the art of poetry by creating open mics and poetry workshops.

I offer a basic workshop designed for anyone who wishes to change their life by changing their words using the art of poetry. The goal is to convince someone by changing their words they can then change their life and use poetry as the tool to do so. We snap our fingers to the profound words of spoken word artists not just locally but from all over the tristate.

Along with the love of poetry I go to senior centers , hospitals, schools, youth orgs, to the park, in a store and just recite poetry to people just to encourage others but in the end I always end up being encouraged.

Neo_SoulZ brings together a community culture of like minds through the art of spoken word & poetry and reintroduces it as a world of healing and self-awareness through the art of writing and reciting. By using the Power of Poetry to uplift, inspire and encourage people.

What music/album are you really into these days? I love gospel music mixed with neo soul.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I do have a super-power. And that is the power to uplift, inspire encourage and to spread love using the gift of poetry.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? The Bible. It gives me strength when I’m weak.

What’s something that amazes you? The power of Love amazes me.

Favorite local place to eat? Burnet BBQ –  the original one on Burnet Ave in Union

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? When I was about 5 years old I knew I wanted to be some sort of entertainer. Couldn’t quite articulate exactly what at that age.

What is your favorite store? Any grocery store 🙂

What can you not live without? God

What inspires you? The thing that most inspires me is love. It changes people.

How would you describe your “style”? Simple, natural, with a touch of 70’s yet still beautifully unique.

Coffee or tea? Green tea all day baby! 😉

Also, Do you have a charity or organization that you are passionate about? I am very passionate about my church Christian Love Baptist Church. My beloved Pastor Reverend Ronald B. Christian who was the senior Pastor passed away last October which was a shock to the world. But who are we to question God. He was the vessel who believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. His gift was the gift of love. He loved everyone. He didn’t care whether you were black, white, gay, straight, if you had a Platinum credit card or a Family First card from the welfare department. He just wanted to love people to a better place. He truly was a man after God’s own heart. He taught me how to love the unlovable because I at one time was the unlovable. We at CLBC continue to live his legacy of love.

I serve as a greeter/usher at Christian Love.

 

 


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Diederik Lohman

charity of choice: Human Rights Watch (https://www.hrw.org/)

What town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Moscow, Russia

What brought you to SOMA?  After living in a mega city like Moscow with two little kids we decided we wanted to live somewhere green with space for the kids to play. Genine, my wife, had a friend who lived in Maplewood. I was sold the moment they had us over to check out the town

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  I Work for Human Rights Watch, running the health and human rights division. We do research and advocacy on the health rights of (mostly) vulnerable populations, such as the poor, elderly, the terminally ill, and people at high risk of HIV.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Go to the theater.

 What music/album are you really into these days? I’m trying to play Liebestraum by Liszt on the piano. It’s way above my skill level.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Fly

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? That’s a good question for me given that I travel all over the world for my job. Some of the places I love going: Mexico, Senegal, Armenia, South Africa, India. Places I often have to go but don’t love: Geneva, Vienna and other destinations with UN headquarters.

What inspires you? Human rights advocates who work in tough situations all over the world to defend the rights of their fellow citizens not because that makes them rich (financially) but because they see it as their calling. I am incredibly privileged to have work with many dozens of them over my career. They inspire me to keep going every day.

Coffee or tea? (ice) Tea

Also, Do you have a charity or organization that you are passionate about? I work for one so that’s easy: Human Rights Watch.


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Lydia Johnson

charity of choice: Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) (http://www.gems-girls.org/)

What town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? New York City- the West Village

What brought you to SOMA?  I wanted more natural space and green for my children and I still needed to get to NYC for rehearsals so this area was perfect!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  I’m a choreographer with a professional dance company “Lydia Johnson Dance”. We rehearse & perform in New York and have performed at SOPAC. The LJD School holds ballet, contemporary and choreography classes at The Burgdorf Center in Maplewood Village taught by our company members . It’s a creative approach which is quite different from commercial dance studios . As part of our mission as a not- for- profit we have a scholarship program which provided $25,000 in scholarships last year to kids who otherwise would not be able to pursue their passion for dance!

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  An old fashioned porch!

Where do you love to go on a date night? To hear music in NYC or locally at Trumpets, Hat City Kitchen or SOPAC

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

What’s something that amazes you? The beauty and kindness of many people when you least expect it!

Describe your family: I have three wonderful twenty- something kids: Evan, Zander and Phoebe. They all grew up here and went to SOMA schools and graduated from CHS. Evan and Zander are making films together now and Phoebe is directing theater in New York ! They live in Brooklyn and Queens . I’m so very lucky they are nearby! Evan and his lovely fiancée Katelyn are getting married on October.

Favorite local place to eat? Parkwood Diner!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? A cottage in Maine with no electricity. It’s down a winding dirt road a mile from the nearest house overlooking Cobscook Bay.

What can you not live without? Peaceful interludes in nature.

What inspires you? Music

How would you describe your “style”? Casual but funky, dresses, sneakers, black white and grey.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Also, Do you have a charity or organization that you are passionate about? In addition to LJD School Scholarship Fund, I support a small organization in NYC called GEMS. Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of girls and young women by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

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Christina Wojcicki

charity of choice: National Multiple Sclerosis Society (http://www.nationalmssociety.org)

Untitled design-2What town do you live in? I live in Elmwood Park, but I work in Maplewood at The Fringe Salon.

What brought you to SOMA?  I was seeking an Aveda Salon that offered education and found a great job at Fringe!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?  I’m a Senior Hair Stylist and Specialize in Color.

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  I love my backyard – it’s private, I have a garden and a beautiful dogwood tree!

Where do you love to go on a date night? El Cid in Paramus, NJ – Amazing sangria and amazing steak.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I’d love to go to sleep for a few months and wake up and have all my life challenges sorted out!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Mary Ann Williamson, “A Course in Miracles”.

What’s something that amazes you? My son Michael.

Describe your ideal day: Getting up, drinking coffee, sitting in Puerto Rico on the beach, drinking Sangria and hanging out with my family.

Favorite local place to eat? Titos Burritos in South Orange – the best salads!!

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I always wanted to be a veterinarian but have also always loved doing the creative aspect of hair and makeup.

What is your favorite store? TJ Maxx

What inspires you? Style, Fashion, Spirituality

How would you describe your “style”? Casual but funky, dresses, sneakers, black white and grey.

Coffee or tea? coffee

Also, Do YOU have a charity or organization that you are passionate about? http://www.nationalmssociety.org, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. My mom has MS, so that organization means a lot to me!

 


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Deborah Engel

What town do you live in? Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? Long Island City, before that Brooklyn, before that Los Angeles.

What brought you to SOMA? In 2009, we were looking to buy in Long Island City and everything was so small and so expensive. My parents had just moved to Warren (20 mins west of here) and my husband had cousins in Maplewood, so we decided to look around and see what our money could get us in the suburbs. We fell in love with the small, quaint village and mom and pop shops and decided to move here instead of buying in the city.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I own Work and Play in South Orange! Work and Play is a co-working space with onsite childcare. Freelancers, small business owners, telecommuters and some stay at home parents work in our communal space, and if they need childcare, they can enroll their kids in our program, which allows for flexible and part time schedules. We also run birthday parties on the weekends, have a variety of classes for adults and kids (our pop up Science Experiments class is next Wednesday at 4 for kids 4-6), and run special events, such as our popular Eat and Play, a tasting menu brunch upstairs for adults, with drop off programming for kids downstairs. For more information, please visit Our Work and Play website! www.workandplaynj.com

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our wide open kitchen! Plenty of space to move around to cook, and an open floor plan so we can see straight through to the family room.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Dinner and a movie. We like trying out new farm-to-table restaurants, and also love the Dine In Theaters like Essex Green. We also love playing darts at Ricalton’s The Snug, and Coda is our old stand-by for dinner!

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Make time stand still. 

What music/album are you really into these days? Ruth B., “Running Radio” on Pandora

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I probably read that more than 5 years ago, I’m going to say it anyway!)

What’s something that amazes you? My kids!

How do you live out “Care Serve Give”?  My former nanny now works as a social worker in Newark, and I’ve just started organizing drives to help her clients, pregnant women and moms with kids ages 2 and under. This past week, we were able to secure an infant car seat, pack and play, bouncer, clothes and more for a mom who literally had nothing when she was being release from the hospital with her new baby girl. I loved being able to show my kids a photo of this baby in their old bouncer, and hope to instill in them the importance of giving back to our community.


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Katie Rickard

charity of choice: CASA Essex County (http://www.casaessex.org/)

What town do you live in? Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? Venice Beach, California

What brought you to SOMA? We wanted a family-friendly town (we had a 3 month old at the time!) with an easy commute for Danny, who was working in NYC when we moved. I remember when we were house hunting, we sat down to watch a t-ball game in Maplecrest Park and we were sold – it was like a Norman Rockwell painting! Best decision we ever made.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I work as the Recruitment Coordinator for CASA Essex County. The mission of CASA for Children of Essex County is to promote the welfare of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) provides a safety net of support, advocacy and mentorship for these foster children. My role is to recruit people to become volunteers with this amazing non-profit organization. I began as an advocate volunteer myself and just recently joined their staff. My passion for the volunteer work really made this an easy segue back into the working world, after staying at home with my three kids for 7.5 years. Come see me in action on 8/16 at the S.O Library Volunteer info session!

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I think the entry way of our house is pretty amazing. Our house isn’t a typical “Maplewood” house and we have a rather large front room with tons of windows and light.

What music/album are you really into these days? I listen to a ton of different stuff – Top 40, Show Tunes, Folk Rock, pretty much all of (it except Heavy Metal and Phish). But my “go to” is currently either Hamilton or the Y2K Sirius Channel. Y2K brings me back to the early 2000’s which were some really great years.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Carry On Warrior by: Glennon Doyle Melton. This book just SPOKE to me! I was also lucky enough to go see Glennon speak last year and it was amazing.

Describe your family: They’re basically all the best parts of me all walking around on Earth. Danny (the husband) is the essence of all things good and kind and funny and patient. Sean (the son) is my sweet, sensitive, caring and lovable 7 year old. My prayer is that he may always remain as compassionate as he is now. Lucy (the little middle aka the Unicorn) is my free spirited, dancing, artsy, introverted jewel of a girl. She balances this all with spontaneous, wild dance movies and a contagious laugh. Maggie (the small but mighty) is my mini-me – a little stubborn, a little bossy, a little sassy, and a lot of funny. Maggie makes me see the world in a better light and her favorite activity is a snuggle on the couch. Dream.

Describe your ideal day: Sleeping in! I’m a night owl, so sleeping in is a dream. Then a lazy breakfast, followed by Maplewood Pool with the family. Probably an hour or so of alone time to catch up on the Real Housewives. Then pizza dinner with kids followed by Danny and I meeting up with friends somewhere.

Favorite local place to eat? I was recently introduced to Fiamma in Millburn and had their goat cheese pizza. GOAT. CHEESE.PIZZA. I died and went to heaven.

What is your favorite store? Hands down: Home Goods.

What can you not live without? My watch. I HATE being late.

Coffee or tea? Black coffee.

What charity or organization are you most passionate about? This circles back to my current profession! CASA Essex County is such an amazing organization. We advocate for educational, medical, emotional, and physical needs of foster children who, often times, do not have anyone who speaks for them. A CASA Volunteer is, what I call, a “pushy mom” for children who don’t have one. This is an organization I am incredibly proud to be a part of – the importance of making a difference in the life of a child can not be understated. For more information, please visit http://www.casaessex.org/


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Aaron Ryan

charity of choice: Compassion International (www.compassion.com)

What town do you live in? Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? Princeton, NJ

What brought you to SOMA? We’d been looking at the area for over 10 years and were always attracted to the diversity and the community (and it cut my commute by almost half!)

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m the Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships at the NBA – I manage business operations for USA Basketball and the Men’s and Women’s Olympic teams! We are currently in the midst of 9 game exhibition tour – and we couldn’t be more excited about taking the men and women to Rio! The women are going for a historic 6th consecutive Olympic win and the men are going for their 3rd consecutive. 

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I love our deck! When the sun is shining, there is no better place for me!

Where do you love to go on a date night? I love a show and a meal in the city! Our town has made me a bit of Broadway fan – Since moving to Maplewood, I’ve been exposed to that form of the arts in a much bigger way – being around people who love it. (Also my daughter really loves the theater!)

What music/album are you really into these days? Speaking of Broadway… The Hamilton soundtrack! Also, I’m really into Chance the Rapper, his new album. He just did our anthem for the USA basketball Nike commercial.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I’d love to be able to fly!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? I’m currently reading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight.

Describe your family: They’re my squad! Each of us bring a different thing to table. But the best part is the laughter and enjoying spending time together!

Describe your ideal day: Golf early, coffee, day at pool with kids, nice glass of wine on our deck followed by great laughs with local friends!

Favorite local place to eat? Arturos. (I can’t handle the line, but I love a good takeout.)

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A professional athlete!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Greece by a long shot – I lived in Athens for 5 ½ months…I love everything about it. The food, the people, the hospitality… The Mediterranean brings the best out in people – I firmly believe it!

What inspires you? Good story tellers! I love someone who can inspire people through a well-told story. I could watch Ted Talks all day long.

What charity or organization are you most passionate about? Compassion International (www.compassion.com). I love what they are about. I love what it does for the kids and for our family. I love the human touch to this charity and the ability to connect our kids to a great cause. (It creates such great dinner table discussion with our children!)


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James Nanscawen

website: www.sitterfied.com

charity of choice: https://www.dressforsuccess.org (a clever way of giving disenfranchised women a leg up)

What town do you live in? Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? Hoboken. Yep. Not Brooklyn.

What brought you to SOMA? Friends. And an overwhelming sense of calm. The first time we drove through Maplewood – the quaint downtown, the tree-lined streets, the impossibly green lawns…we knew we had to live here.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? By day I’m an IT Director (yawn). By night, I’m a problem solver. And I like to build businesses around those problems. Some might call that an entrepreneur but in this day and age when “entrepreneurs” build apps that text “Yo” to your friends, I feel that title is a little overused. My latest venture is Sitterfied. It’s a community-driven website that helps parents find babysitters through friend connections. My friend Andy (also a parent here in Maplewood) and I built the company to serve our own needs. We often found ourselves stuck without a sitter for an upcoming event and would call friends for recommendations. It was highly inefficient and time-consuming so we built a platform that would serve up local, available sitters (based on a future date and time) who were, most importantly, hired and recommended by friends. Sitterfied was born and today we’re enabling parents to find trusted sitters in minutes with online bookings and 90 second response times. We launched in Hoboken (where we both lived) but, since moving to Maplewood 10 months ago, we’ve added several hundred parents and more than 100 sitters. In March, we began partnering with local businesses (like Vanessa Pollock’s Team) and nationally-renowned Diapers.com to host monthly free ‘sitter socials’ (speed-dating for parents and babysitters). These events have been a great way to bring together SOMa locals to serve a need, see new faces and gather feedback.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I’m a gadget freak so I’d have to say my ‘Harmony Hub’. It’s a Logitech app that allows me to automate EVERYTHING. I have my lights, my thermostat, my security system, my audio system and even my door linked to it so, for instance, when I come home my lights will switch on, home security will disarm, door will unlock, preferred room temp set and I could even have it play my favorite song, but I don’t. That would be weird.

Where do you love to go on a date night? We don’t have one place. Given our proximity to NYC, we still tend to tap into the deep resources that this amazing city offers. Hard not to take advantage of that. I once heard that you could go out to a new restaurant every night in NYC and still not exhaust your choices in a lifetime (in case you’re trying to do the math, this is possible because new restaurants replace old restaurants nearly everyday.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? To convince my future teenage kids that I’m cool.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Tesla (Nikola..not the car) by Carlson. Despite his revolutionary inventions around electricity, radio and television, his eccentricities and bad decisions led to lack of recognition and poverty. In fact, even today you won’t see him on the first results page when you Google his name (in lieu of the car that shares his name)

What’s something that amazes you? That my 6 year old son can deftly eliminate a dozen stormtroopers on our PS4 without blinking an eye yet he’s completely incapable of walking a bowl of cereal to the table without spilling half of it on the floor.

Describe your family: My 6yo son is an inquisitive scientist/engineer. My 7yo daughter is a voracious reader and future leader. My wife is the ultimate multi-tasker and fashionista. She’s a voracious shopper (God bless her) but fortunately she does this more for other people these days. Yes, she’s a personal shopper/stylist. They all have this drive-me-crazy-but-cannot-possibly-live-without affect on me.

Describe your ideal day: A day trip to the shore (Spring Lake) with the family, dinner at Surf Taco, ice cream at Sundae Times, home by 9 and crash into bed all windswept, burned and salty. Nothing better.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? My Dad. I still do.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Ok, I’m a little biased but…Australia. Technically I didn’t travel there because I was born there but, of all the countries I’ve visited (including this great one I now reside in), I’d still call Australia my favorite. Fresh produce, friendly locals, beautiful beaches and unique wildlife. It’s exactly what you see in the brochures! Fun trivia – by December 4 of this year I’ll have lived longer in the United States than I have in Australia.

What inspires you? Anybody who acts on a thought or idea. Especially people who are disenfranchised. The opposite of that? Procrastinators and complainers.

Coffee or tea? Coffee – black, no sugar. Preferably 4 or 5 of those before noon.


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Cadine Gray

What town do you live in? Springfield, NJ.

Where did you live before that? Henryville, PA

What brought you to SOMA? Job Opportunity with South Orange/Maplewood Public Schools.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m blessed to Teach at Seth Boyden and was Sloane Pollock’s Kindergarten teacher!

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Contemporary Christian artist Lauren Diagle

What’s something that amazes you? What amazes me is the genuine love and support I’ve received from the SOMA community

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I would be able to complete at least 20 tasks within 5minutes. Boy, the things I could do!

Describe your family: We are a carefree and loving family. It is our mission and passion to love everyone we meet. There are five members (Pastor Amefika, Teacher Cadine, Emmanuel, Judah, and Rhema Grace) in our family striving to love each other unconditionally. Some days we get this thing called life ”right’ and some days ‘wrong’, but no matter how you slice it, we are committed!

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I’ve always wanted to be a Teacher and Mother and that I am!  In fact, my students refer to me as a Teacher-Mommy

What inspires you? What inspires me the most is humble people who have come from nothing, but have succeeded through life’s adversities. They leave a mark of fortitude and resilience wherever they go.

Mountains or Beach? Mountains for sure!

Coffee or tea? Tea with sugar and cream please!

 


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Mindy Catron 

charity of choice: ALS.net

What town do you live in? Maplewood for going on 10 years now.

Where did you live before that? Weehawken. Not Brooklyn — shocking, I know!

What brought you to SOMA? The easy and fast commute to mid-town, charming and beautiful neighborhoods, and a real feeling of community.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I was a professional dancer/singer for over 20 years. Mostly doing Broadway shows and National Tours. About 12 years ago, I began to transition to my current career, teaching Pilates. I danced in my last Broadway show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while pregnant with my first daughter in 2007 and have since retired. I am now part owner of Align Wellness Studio in Millburn where I teach Pilates. I also am a Pre & Post Natal Pilates Specialist Senior Faculty for The Center For Women’s Fitness and conduct teacher trainings around the US each year.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? We are on our second home in Maplewood. We started in a typical, small 3 bedroom colonial. We moved two years ago. I love that our new house is open and very bright and my kids have the whole upper floor to themselves, which leaves most of their “stuff” out of sight.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Lorena’s is always special.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Anything by Sarah Bareilles. I’m also a Contemporary Christian music junkie.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? To turn my car in to a helicopter and lift up out of traffic at any given moment.

What’s something that amazes you? This may sound corny, but….when we were looking to move from Weehawken, we were really looking to find a place to live where we could really become part of the community. A place where we would know our neighbors and not just be commuters. Fast forward 10 years and we are truly amazed at just how much that has ALL come true here. We are extremely grateful for the “village” we have grown to be part of. We don’t have family near by and it make all the difference in the world!

Describe your family: My husband, Andy Catron, is still in the Broadway world. He is an electrician/stage hand for Aladdin and does some freelance lighting design on occasion. We’ve been married for 11 years and have two daughters: Michayla, age 10, and Liana, age 6. Our newest family member is our puppy, Ziggy.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Well, we just took a spectacular and special vacation to Italy and fell in love with Umbria! We are already trying to figure out how and when we can go back.

What inspires you? Nature. It never ceases to amaze me!

How would you describe your “style”? Well, if we’re talking about clothes, my work clothes are actually leggings and tank tops with sneakers or sandals. Super comfy!!

Coffee or tea? Coffee….lots of it!

What charity are you passionate about? ALS.net.  I work with people everyday to help them to be stronger, healthier, and have well functioning bodies. To see a disease like ALS destroy one’s body and leave them paralyzed is devastating. Their is no cure yet and very little treatment available. There is an urgent need for research funding.


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Matt Ramsey 

charity of choice: Compassion International

What town do you live in? Maplewood.

Where did you live before that? Brooklyn – I realize that’s pretty much a cliché around here, but that was our path: Manhattan-Brooklyn-Maplewood.

What brought you to SOMA? We were living in Brooklyn with 3 kids in a two bedroom apartment. That’s pretty much it. We became aware of Maplewood through friends and once we started exploring, we realized how special this area is.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I work at Blue Man Group in several capacities. I’m a Blue Man; I’m Associate Director of all U.S. Productions (NYC, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, and Las Vegas), and I’m also a Blue Man Trainer. I’ve been with the company for 16 years and I love it.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? That’s a tough one, but I’m going with the kitchen and attached deck.

Where do you love to go on a date night? “Date Night” …that sounds familiar…

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Recently, Nathaniel Rateliff; at heart, I’m a sucker for catchy melodies and tight harmonies. Shut up.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I’ll steal this one from my older brother: The Power to Excite OR Calm Squirrels on Demand. Hard to beat that one. 

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years?  I’m not a big reader but at the moment I’m reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy; it’s incredible.

Describe your family: Beautiful wife and three kids, ages 10, 9 and 4. They’re all amazing – I have way more than I deserve. It’s good to actually write that sentence down because I so often take them for granted.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? First, I wanted to be a pro football player. Then, I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band. I think it’s too late to be a pro football player…

Mountains or Beach? Mountains. Beaches are nice, but I grew up in Idaho and to me, the mountains are special.

What inspires you? Finding connection between various aspects of my life: faith, family, performing, teaching.

How would you describe your “style”? How I would describe it: Urban Casual via Thrifty Hipster. How people see it: jeans & T-shirt.

Coffee or tea? Coffee. Just the smell of it makes me feel better.

What charity are you passionate about? Compassion International.

 


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Louise Kern-Kensler

charity of choice: www.cloutcares.org

What town do you live in? I live in Maplewood, NJ.

Where did you live before that? Before living in Maplewood, my family lived in Brooklyn, NY.

What brought you to SOMA? We were brought to SOMA because it had a great school system. Our neighbors in Brooklyn moved here first and they told us it was very diverse and at the same time very inclusive. That sealed the deal for my family.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? For a serious hobby I play trombone. I hope to be doing it for a living when I am older.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? My favorite feature of my home is a nook in my bedroom that has a record player and many classical records.

Where do you love to go on a date night? On a date night I really like picnics and movies.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? These days I find myself listening to a lot of Eliot Smith along with my usual trombone/classical albums.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Global Girlfriends. It is about a woman in the United States who reaches out to and visits women in developing countries who have started their own businesses and need help.

What’s something that amazes you? The many virtuosic musicians of our time period. It is mesmerizing to watch their talent and think about all of the work it took them to get to that point.

Favorite local place to eat? Roman Gourmet. They have the BEST pizza.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? When I was little I really wanted to be a scientist and aspired to be like Einstein. As I grew older I started to have a really serious interest in film and attended film school and made my own films for festivals and for fun. I still do love to make films with my close friends and production company.

What inspires you? Progress inspires me. My own and others. It shows me that bigger and better things lie ahead of me and others and really makes me want to work harder.

How would you describe your “style”? My style is sort of bohemian but on a school day I try to opt for something comfortable and laid back.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

What charity are you passionate about? I am passionate about CLOUT Cares, a charity in Kenya that helps widows of HIV/AIDS become self sufficient for their families, that my family is very involved in.

How do you live out “CareServeGive? I intend to live out CareServeGive every day by being involved with the band program and the people in it. I hope to be a mentor to upcoming HS students so that I can make the band program a little less daunting so they can conquer it with their talents and passions. And even outside of music, this charity (VPMI) has made me a kinder and more generous person in every aspect of life. It has truly changed my life. (Louise is a scholarship recipient from The Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative)


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Caryn Krueger

website: www.csm-art.com

instagram: csm_art

charity of choice: http://documentinghope.com

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? Springfield

What brought you to SOMA? The charm of the town, the homes, the gas lamps…the midtown direct direct train to NY was just coming to town when we moved here…There is a rich cultural diversity here!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I am the Creative Director and Owner of CSM Art & Frame, an art and framing gallery in a charming, 3 floor , 1857 Carriage House on Main Street in Chatham.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The chestnut moldings and floors, slate roof, classical symmetry of a center hall colonial. I love my house!

Mountains or Beach? Years ago I would have said beach, but I have been traveling to Upstate NY for years. The Catskills are my happy place, perfect escape from the hectic, fast paced life in NJ.

What inspires you? Art, photography, architecture, and good design…scrolling through Instagram, I am so inspired by all the artists who are sharing their creative vision with the rest of the world. It allows me to feed off others for inspiration and help me curate works for my clients.

How would you describe your “style”? A combination of industrial and modern. I love being able to combine two contrasting styles.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Portugal is my favorite travel destination. I love the culture, people, artwork, landscape, and of course the FOOD!

Coffee or tea? Coffee! We are fortunate to have so many local places in town for coffee and tea, but I am spoiled by my Jura mega coffee machine, even have cup warming drawer…..total LOVE!


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 Josephine Rose Roberts

website: josephineroseroberts.com

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? Astoria, NY

What brought you to SOMA? We essentially bought a house (and backyard) for our dog.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I love everything about our tiny home, but especially the roses that grow on either side of my home that are at least 50 years old.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I would love to be able to teleport

What ’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? ANYTHING by Stephen King

What’s something that amazes you? Baseball pitchers amaze me.  I am constantly in awe of how they perform under so much pressure.  It’s a lot like performing or auditioning I think, only I think the stakes are way higher. Go Pirates!

Mountains or Beach? Mountains!

How would you describe your “style”? Whatever I can put on the fastest.  And ALWAYS comfortable shoes.


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Tara Parsons

website:  glommable.com

charity of choice: Achieve Foundation

What town do you live in?
Maplewood

Where did you live before that? New York

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? Family (my husband and I both grew up in Jersey), the Midtown Direct train, the schools, and, of course, Maplewoodstock..

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Touchstone imprint at Simon & Schuster. We publish the best of book club fiction and nonfiction – books you can’t wait to discuss with your family, friends, neighbors, and with random people wherever books are sold (though particularly at [Words] bookstore in Maplewood J).

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The library/music room. But I love almost everything about our house, the old windows, the original wood floors; I even love the weird saloon window that opens out of our laundry room into the kids’ play area.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Tillie’s on Millburn.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? All of the books I’ve had the honor of publishing. To name some recent books that I highly recommend: for literary fiction lovers – THE INCARNATIONS by Susan Barker, for readers who loved STATION ELEVEN or THE AGE OF MIRACLES, AND AGAIN by Jessica Chiarella, for memoir, PLEASE ENJOY YOUR HAPPINESS by Paul Brinkley-Rogers, and if you love psychological suspense, THE TWILIGHT WIFE by A.J. Banner..

Describe your family: 1-Frazzled wife and mom 1-Frazzled husband and hands-on dad 2-Children who are the light of our lives – an 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

Describe your ideal day: Go for a run at the Reservation, walk to town, have brunch at Lorena’s, see a movie, pick up a book at Words and fresh fish at Freeman’s Fish Market, have a frozen yogurt at Strawberry Fields, walk home, glass of wine with friends and neighbors, dinner in the backyard.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? France…no, Iceland…no, France.

How would you describe your “style”? Modern.


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Russell Kaplan

charity of choice: Beyond Coal http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/

What town do you live in?
Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Maplewood East (Brooklyn)

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? We’d visited good friends here before and knew we loved the vibe, plus its great reputation with the arts community.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? For bills paying, I work in a college admissions office in Manhattan.  For soul feeding (and hopefully eventually bills-paying too) I write musicals and play jazz piano.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Oh man…a lot.  Robert Glasper, Punch Brothers, Tame Impala.  The last David Bowie album (sigh) is pretty great.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Super human time management!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Two: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder, and Just Kids by Patti Smith.

What’s something that amazes you? Every time my 3-year-old learns something new my brain explodes a little.

Describe your family: One wife, one toddler, one cat.  All stupendous

Describe your ideal day: Involves some time jamming, some time with my family, some time outdoors.

Favorite local place to eat? Park Wood Diner

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Sherlock Holmes

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Peru.

What inspires you? The really weird stuff in nature & science, grand human acts of kindness, music that stops time.

How would you describe your “style”? College-professorial?  I don’t teach college, but I can definitely rock an elbow patch.

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

 


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Tara Connell

website: www.ckomaplewood.com

charity of choice: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) www.casaessex.org

Untitled designWhat town do you live in?
Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? I grew up in Florham Park, 20 minutes west of here. For a while, I had my eye on Maplewood’s adorable downtown as I’d take the train home from NYC to visit my family. When it finally came to leaving Brooklyn, there was comfort in knowing that there’d be many like-minded people here. To be honest, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but couldn’t be happier with our decision.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? My husband and I own CKO Kickboxing on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood. I run the day to day and am passionate about helping people look and feel better than ever. ‘My baby takes the morning train’ and helps out at the gym nights and weekends (I couldn’t do it without him!)

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The Magnolia Tree in our backyard, it’s so beautiful in the spring. We also feel incredibly lucky to have found a block with lots of fun, sociable neighbors and similarly-aged kids. Our summers are full of impromptu block parties.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Papermill (Playhouse) followed by a drink & some jazz at Papillon 25. On Friday nights, we like to see E.R.I.C at Above.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Scissor Sisters

Describe your family: My husband, JJ, and I have two daughters at Tuscan (3rd grade & Kindergarten) and a son in pre-K at Our Lady of Sorrows. Our kids are pretty active… they stay busy with soccer/basketball/softball/tball/gymnastics throughout the year, and we all love water parks, especially Action Park and Aquatopia (JJ probably loves it more than the kids!) Both JJ and I come from big families (I’m the last of 6, he’s the 4th of 5), so our kids have plenty of cousins. In fact, their favorite week each year is the week my entire family of 31 people cram into one house in Long Beach Island. It has the makings of a reality show 😉

Favorite local place to eat? Red Cadillac

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur – it changed every few years…Tara’s Beauty Salon and Tara’s Treats were a couple of my early dreams. Ha!

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Vancouver Island. I’ve been a few times (including our honeymoon), and am always blown away by the artists, wildlife, scenery, tranquilness and very friendly people.

What inspires you? When people who walk into our gym are unhealthy and out of shape, and make the decision to keep at it. It’s not an easy workout, and to see our members commit to coming to class after class, and watching them change from month to month is absolutely amazing.

Coffee or tea? Coffee – our Nespresso machine makes an incredible maple latte that rivals Gorilla Coffee’s.

 


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Jed Cohen

website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jedscohen

 charity of choice: Friends of Harlem Renaissance High School (FoHR.nyc).

Me & ZekeWhat town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Upper West Side

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? I got really tired of installing out son’s car seat in every taxi in Manhattan. The lure of owning my first car was far too exciting to ignore!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? Six years ago, I co-founded RocketHub.com, which we grew to become one of the world’s largest crowdfunding sites. We were acquired in 2015 (wah hoo!), and I agreed to stay on for a year to manage the integration of RocketHub into the parent organization. Now that the year is complete, I’m actively exploring new options, and looking for my next adventure! (aka, I’m unemployed… who wants to hire me? 😉

What’s music/album are you really into these days? The soundtrack to “Hamilton”! If you haven’t seen it yet, go get tickets. It’s worth it! Lin-Manuel Miranda is musical and lyrical genius. In the span of three hours he inspires you, breaks your heart, teaches you more about the Revolutionary War than you ever knew, and rhymes Socrates with mediocrities! What more could you ask for?!

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Telekinetic teleportation – I’d use it to locate my keys, my son’s iPad, and other vital objects, and then make them appear in my hands at will. It would also make it a lot easier to visit my parents in Mexico, my sister in Germany, and my brother in Viet Nam. Yes, we really couldn’t live much farther apart…

What’s something that amazes you? I got my degree in astrophysics, so bare with me…

The scale of our solar system absolutely amazes me. If you imagine a scale model where 1 inch = 100,000 miles, the Sun would be the size of a bowling ball. Now, imagine putting the Sun (bowling ball) down on the ground, and take ten large steps (~ 1 yard each). You have just traveled 36 million miles and reached Mercury (the size of a pinhead in your palm). Another nine paces bring you to Venus (peppercorn) and another seven paces finally brings you to Earth (peppercorn), our home, twenty-six paces from the bowling ball and 93 million miles from the Sun. Because we have constructed this model to scale, the visible size of the bowling ball from this distance is exactly the same as the size of the Sun in the sky overhead. Another fourteen paces bring you to Mars (pinhead), and this is where the scale model starts to become impressive.

Another 95 paces brings you to Jupiter, a gas giant planet, the largest in our solar system, more than a city block from its nearest neighbor, and merely the size of a chestnut in our model. Another 112 paces: Saturn (acorn). Another 249 paces: Uranus (peanut). Another 281 paces: Neptune (peanut). Finally, another 242 paces bring you to Pluto, now classified as a dwarf planet, at the outer reaches of our solar system. You have just walked over half a mile. Pluto is the size of a pinhead in your palm. Now imagine trying to identify a bowling ball (the Sun) on the horizon, over ten city blocks away! All of that is to say that our solar system is REALLY BIG and REALLY EMPTY!

Describe your family: There are four of us! My incredible wife Kate, our 4 ½ year-old son Zeke, and our New-York-City-apartment-sized dog Sophie. She is a Yorkshire Terrier, tipping the scales at 5 lbs.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? I’ve traveled to 28 countries on 6 continents, but the most magical place I’ve ever been is Myanmar. I was last there about 10 years ago, but due to trade sanctions, it still felt fairly isolated from the western world. The temple architecture is a cross between Japanese and Indian styles. Men and women both still wear traditional sarongs. Many women wear traditional thanaka makeup. As there were no western banks in the country at the time, we arrived with cash for our entire stay. With the help of our tour guide, we exchanged our USD for local kyats on the black market (at a much better exchange rate than was available at the airport). We then hopscotched around the country visiting the most beautiful sites in a whirlwind tour. The markets in Yangon, the temples of Bagan, and the still waters of Inle Lake reflecting the sky each left indelible memories.

What can you not live without? Air, Food, Water, Toys, Momy (sic), Fame (Answers taken directly from a questionnaire I filled out in 3rd grade)

What’s the most impressive thing you did before the age of 18? I had a successful career as a child actor. While I started in opera, and toured nationally and internationally as a boy soprano, my claim to fame is a bit part in Home Alone, and Home Alone II! I played Rod McCallister, the nerdy 13 year-old cousin with glasses (also identifiable as the little Jewish boy in the Irish Catholic family). While I never made it back to the big time, I have no complaints. The Home Alone franchise paid for college. Here’s a link to my big scene: https://youtu.be/taFvFryudi0

How would you describe your “style”? Is “colorblind chic” a style? I’m red & green color blind, so I generally have Kate dress me… Kate, what’s my style? She says “snappy casual, with an occasional nauseating color clash.”

 


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Cindy Price

personal website: www.cindyprice.net   favorite charity: www.postpartumprogress.org

instagram: @mostlymaplewood

Untitled design-4What town do you live in? Maplewood, NJ

Where did you live before that? Williamsburg, Brooklyn

What brought you to SOMA (or surrounding town)? I was desperate for land, grass, trees – a girl can only walk her baby under the BQE so many times. Truthfully, though, I’d arrived at what I’ll call my Didion moment (http://tinyurl.com/btkgfv5) long before we took the plunge, but change makes me nervous and Brooklyn was all I’d known after college. I’d written about Cold Spring when I was covering travel for the Times, so we looked there first, but the commute was long. My husband’s co-worker mentioned Maplewood. We came out here and it was love at first sight, but it took us a long time to find something in our price range. We landed in the Hilton area and love it.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m home with my boys during the day, and I write for a food and travel guide in the evenings (www.cindyprice.net). I also shoot (and sell) local landscape photography (instagram:@mostlymaplewood).

Where do you love to go on a date night? 100 Steps in Cranford. I love what they’re doing there.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. There should be more literary sports novels.

Describe your ideal day: Nothing scheduled on the calendar – the whole family completely free of obligations. We head to a local farm, like Melick’s in Califon, NJ. Maybe pick some peaches or walk around, then head to nearby Bex Eatery for lunch – maybe I slip away to poke in some stores for a bit, smell some $18 candles I can’t afford. We head home, fire up the grill, maybe some friends join us.

Favorite local place to eat? Oooh, that’s tough. We like to eat out as a family. If we’re talking local to Maplewood, I like the BLT at Cedar Ridge for lunch or a quick quiche at Palmer’s. For dinner, I don’t think you can beat Arturo’s for quality. I had some amazing lechon at Abril Cocina the other night. And my family can be found at the Pub (St. James Gate) at least once a week, simply because it just holds a certain ease for those of us with little ones. It’s loud (so you can’t hear my 3 year old yell), it’s fun, and the bartender knows what a shandy is.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Just to be happy. I sensed early on that nothing was going to be a means to that specific end – that happiness (for me, at least) existed in process, in doing, in just being. In my particular story, happiness arrived with my kids. Even when I’m pulling my hair out (which frankly, is most days) my heart is deeply happy. In particular, I like doing nothing with them.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? Collioure, a coastal town in southern France near the Spanish border, is beautiful and the Catalan-influenced food is great. Venice rocked my world. I was there 5 months pregnant with my first. One early morning, I took a (slow!) run through the cobblestone streets and it is one of my favorite memories. Stateside, I love Key West, Moab, Sonoma and Lake Tahoe. Also Portland, Maine, which has a pretty great food scene.

What can you not live without? My kids.

What inspires you? Land. Landscape. Maplewood’s landscape in particular. To me, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. (I might be a bit biased.)

How would you describe your “style”? Erm. Something I had in Williamsburg?

Coffee or tea? Iced Coffee. Loads of it (even in winter) from Able Baker or Cedar Ridge, who both cold brew.


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Gary Rosard

work website: www.garyrosard.com   favorite charity: http://www.hrc.org

Untitled design-3What town do you live in? Millburn.

Where did you live before that? Before that, briefly in Maplewood, before that 23 years in Manhattan

What brought you to SOMA? After all those years in NY, my partner (now husband) and I were ready for a change. More open space, quiet, having a garden. We had a couple friends in Maplewood and when we came to check it out, realized it was ideal. We needed an easy commute to the city and liked the sophisticated culture out here.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m an architect specializing in comfortable modern homes. Sometimes people think of modern design as cold and sterile, but we bring a lot of warmth into our designs and make sure they function well for our clients’ lifestyle.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The back garden. It’s a lush refuge. We have zero lawn.

What ‘s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”.

Describe your ideal day: A long hike on a remote beach, swimming in the sea, napping under the umbrella. Then a great dinner out in the local town.

Favorite local place to eat? Arturos for basic. A Toute Heure in Cranford for something more upscale.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?  My grandparents drove me over the Verrazano Bridge right after it opened. I was 9 or 10, dazzled looking out the window from the back seat. I decided then I wanted to be an architect. I didn’t know at the time that architects don’t generally design bridges.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, which is your favorite? It’s an odd toss up between southern Utah and Rome.

What can you not live without? Dogs.

What inspires you? Quantum Physics.

Coffee or tea? Black tea, but an occasional espresso.

 


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George Forbes

work website:www.lortel.org

favorite charities: actorsfund.org and www.achillesinternational.org

Photo on 10-31-14 at 3.48 PMWhat town do you live in? Maplewood!

Where did you live before that? 38th between 8th and 9th.  It was a great apartment but we got tired of the noise, the dirt and the crowds.  We do miss the dollar slice place on the corner sometimes.

What brought you to SOMA? The Midtown Direct train, of course.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I run some Off and Off Off Broadway theaters in Manhattan and I’m an out-of-shape age-group triathlete for fun.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The light coming through the wavy glass of the original windows, especially the window at the landing on the stairs.

What music/album are you really into these days? Sirius Broadway Channel is always on in the car (I am a cliché, right?)

If you could have a super-power, what would it be?  My partner would like it if I could turn water into wine.

What ‘s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? All the Light We Cannot See

What’s something that amazes you? The warmth with which we have been greeted on our street and in our new town.  Our neighbors have welcomed us with open arms and we love them.

Describe your family: My smart, funny, loving partner of almost 5 years, my mother who will be moving to SOMA in a couple months, and my sister, her husband and two girls who live in Scotch Plains.

Describe your ideal day:  Waking up to a warm sunny day for a long bike ride or run followed by a big brunch and laying around the pool reading till dinner and then a movie.

Favorite local place to eat? Everywhere in Maplewood Village.  Coda, St James Gate, Abril Cocina, Arturo’s, Lorena’s, Village Trattoria, Maplewood Deli, etc.  We love them all!  Also, Cheesecake Factory at the mall.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? Growing up in DC, I constantly watched I Love Lucy.  I always wanted to move to NYC and work in the theater.  You’ll have to figure out if I wanted to be Lucy or Desi.

What is your favorite store? The store I frequent the most these days is Home Depot.  The people who work there now recognize me.

Favorite movie? Star Wars (any of them, I love all things Star Wars)

What inspires you? Other people with talent and passion and I consider myself lucky that I get to work with and live near so many of them.


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Nadine Kerstan

website:  www.artisannutrition.com   favorite charity: www.sthuberts.org

IMG_0227What town do you live in?  South Orange

What brought you to SOMA? We had friends in Maplewood who invited us over right before we started house hunting. We visited them on a snowy day and the town looked like it was straight out of a story book or snow globe. We were sold on this area from that day forward.

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? As a holistic health coach I spark human transformations which is both awesome and humbling. I empower my clients to explore pleasure, fun and balance as a means to achieving radiant health and vibrancy.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? I love my dining room! It’s very formal and completely cozy at the same time.

Where do you love to go on a date night? Lorena’s in Maplewood! That’s where my husband and I are having our date in the photo!

If you could have a super power, what would it be? I would love the power to gift all human beings two extra hours every day. The catch is that those hours would have to be devoted to restorative self-care (solo or with friends)…bubble baths, napping, yoga, nature walks, eating fine chocolate….

What’s something that amazes you? The innate intelligence of the human body. What an elegant, complex system!

Describe your family: Adorable, hilarious and happy

What is your favorite store? Le Grande Epicerie in Paris

Favorite movie? Toss up between Love Actually and Midnight in Paris

What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive?
I like St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center which is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and respect for all living creatures.


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Hannah Epstein

Hannah is a high school student at Columbia High.  She is very involved with theater and dance and is a member of The Parnassians Society, a club at Columbia that presents a straight play every year in the Black Box Theater. The Vanessa Pollock Team is partnering with the Maplewood Music Collective to help raise funds for The Parnassians Society members to participate this summer in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  For more information click here.
 
 
Hannah EpsteinWhere are you from?Maplewood!
 
Where did you live before that? Does the womb count?
 
What brought you to SOMA? My parents moved here for the schools and a backyard
 
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m a full time student, and I do theater and television production in Maplewood/South Orange.
 
What can you tell us about your involvement with The Parnassians Society? I got involved with Parnassian because my sister was a member before me and I knew I wanted to get involved with drama at Columbia. Parnassian is like a family, everyone is friends and we all connect so well. Our school was submitted to be considered for the Fringe Festival, and we were invited! To go to Edinburgh would be like a dream. Not only for the culture and travel, but for the experience of the Fringe Festival!
 
 
What’s your favorite feature of your home? The balcony outside of my bedroom brings in the most beautiful light.
 
Where do you love to go on a date night? St. James Gate has always been a favorite (with Hershey’s ice cream for dessert).
 
What music/album are you really into these days? I cannot stop listening to the Hamilton soundtrack!
 
If you could have a super-power, what would it be? I feel like flying would be pretty convenient and a great party trick.
 
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? I just read Pride and Prejudice for school and loved it!
 
What’s something that amazes you? Dogs.
 
Describe your family: An amazing, hardworking mother, a silly, supportive father, a talented, intelligent sister, and a very cute, very dumb dog.
 
Describe your ideal day: Lounging with my friends, talking and eating.
 
Favorite local place to eat? The Parkwood Diner.
 
Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? I still feel pretty little, even though I’m seventeen, but I’ve always wanted to do something with the arts.
 
What is your favorite store? Target has everything I’ll ever want or need.
 
Mountains or Beach? BEACH
 
Favorite movie? Away We Go
 
What inspires you? My parents
 
 How would you describe your “style”? Lots of dresses
 
Coffee or tea? I’m big into tea.
 

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Sandy Rustin Fleischer

favorite charity: www.sandyrustin.com  website: www.cowdenfoundation.org

Untitled designWhat town do you live in?  Maplewood

Where did you live before that?  The Upper West Side, though I’m a Chicago Gal at heart!

What brought you to SOMA?  We needed some more (affordable) elbow room for our growing family.  Plus some of our nearest and dearest pals had moved here, so we felt like we were moving close to friendfamily!

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby?) I am an actress & a writer.  I’ve got a bunch of projects brewing, but most immediately, this Jun/July my new play, STRUCK, will have its world premiere at NJ REP starring my friend and Maplewood Mama, Michelle Federer Butz!

What’s your favorite feature of your home?  After my younger son graduated from his crib, we turned his little nursery into an office for me.  It’s the messiest room in the house, but it is all mine! I love it so much.

 What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? I am currently devouring the Neapolitan Novel Series by Elena Ferrante. I’m about to start the 4th book. They are SO good. They transport me to a different time and place in history. The exploration of a very complicated friendship between two brilliant women is at the heart of all the books and I LOVE them. PLUS the author is a mystery! Nobody knows her true identity! 

What’s something that amazes you? Childbirth. I haven’t gotten over it. I don’t think I ever will.

Mountains or Beach? The BEACH

Favorite movie?  My Cousin Vinny.  Hands down.


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Norbert Leo Butz

favorite charity: The Angel Band Project

Untitled design

What town do you live in?  MAPLEWOOD

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? PROFESSIONALLY I AM AN ACTOR AND SINGER. IM ALSO A HUSBAND, DAD, “NEW YORKER MAGAZINE” SUBSCRIBER AND FRENCH FRY ENTHUSIAST.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? WALKING DISTANCE TO MIDTOWN DIRECT!!
 
Where do you love to go on a date night? TUSCANY. BUT IN A PINCH, RAYMOND’S RESTAURANT IN MONTCLAIR SUFFICES.
 

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? FAR FROM THE TREE, BY ANDREW SOLOMON

Favorite local place to eat? ARTURO’S, FOR DINNER. ABLE BAKER AT ALL OTHER TIMES.

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A FELON. ( LIKE JAMES CAGNEY IN “ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES”)

Favorite movie? “ON THE WATERFRONT”

What inspires you? PEOPLE WHO FACE GREAT ADVERSITY AND ENDURE WITHOUT BITTERNESS OR SELF PITY.

Coffee or tea? WHICHEVER HAS THE HIGHER CAFFEINE COUNT.

 

 


 

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Brendan Hermes

favorite charity: ChallengedAthletes.org

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? South Orange

Where did you live before that? West Orange

What brought you to SOMA? The community and its relativity to NYC

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I trail run for fun, and work in TV/Film for money.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? It’s proximity to the South Mountain Reservation
 
Where do you love to go on a date night? Somewhere where Chicken Fingers are not on the menu.
 
What’s music/album are you really into these days? I am totally immersed in Jazz these days.
 
If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Running faster than I do.
 
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Unbroken
 
What’s something that amazes you? Triumph in the face of terrible loss.
 
Describe your family: Thoughtful, loving and caring.
 
Describe your ideal day: Trail running early, Family breakfast, an afternoon in the city, Cooking Italian at home while listening to music, an hour or so on couch watching some good TV with a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.
 
Favorite local place to eat? Wild Ginger or Coda
 
Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A radio Disc Jockey
 
What is your favorite store? Patagonia
 
Mountains or Beach? Both
 
Favorite movie? Grand Canyon
 
What inspires you? Landscapes and people who live absolutely.
 
How would you describe your “style”? traditional
 
Coffee or tea? Coffee daily, tea when I’m sick.
 

 

Erin Loos Cutraro

website: www.sheshouldrun.org  favorite charity: http://girlswhocode.com

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? Maplewood

Where did you live before that? Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn by way of DC by way of STL

What brought you to SOMA? Maplewood Village, walkability, access to the city, backyard movies, kids running around outside and space for guests (and, Vanessa Pollock sealed the deal!)

What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I advocate for a more diverse government by encouraging women and girls to consider public office. #sheshouldrun

What’s your favorite feature of your home? Our front porch and the sunlight in our kitchen – it’s a tie

Where do you love to go on a date night?  Lately, we meet after work at Les Halles in the city. And – to keep it classy – we close it out with a beer in a bag for the train ride back to Maplewood.

What’s music/album are you really into these days? Listening to Leon Bridges as I type this. Apple music has me all over the place.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? The power to fly. Obviously. It would be way more efficient.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Grace for President as it relates to my work. And, Where’d did you go, Bernadette to escape.

What’s something that amazes you? Seahorses.

Describe your family: One preschooler. One first grader. Two working parents. And anyone who will live the dream with us.  Our friends are family.

Describe your ideal day: Family, friends, sunshine, laughter, wine and bacon.

Favorite local place to eat? When I work from home, Arturo’s for an earlyish lunch (usually no line then…shhhhh)

Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? My mom – she was and still is a superhero.

What is your favorite store? Locally, Able Baker. Because Banana Bread.

Mountains or Beach? Beach. Beach. Beach.

Favorite movie? Of all time? I can’t pick. I recently discovered Song of the Sea with my daughters. It blew me away.

What inspires you? My girls. They are wildly different. And super curious. They give me purpose.

How would you describe your “style”? Eh – modern survivalist?

Coffee or tea? Lots of coffee

 


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Douglas Grinspan

Untitled design-3What town do you live in? Maplewood
 
Where did you live before that? Upper East Side, Manhattan
 
What brought you to SOMA? Space, schools and solidarity with a warm and diverse community.
 
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I work for WIRED within Conde Nast dreaming up big programs for our clients.
 
What’s your favorite feature of your home? The old staircases and the sounds they make when my kids run up or down them to greet me when I get home from work.
 
Where do you love to go on a date night? We just had third kid, so what’s a date night?
 
What music/album are you really into these days? Just introduced my boys to Sergeant Peppers.
 
If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Mortgage evaporator.
 
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Not a book, but The New Yorker piece on the next big earthquake and the WIRED piece on Silk Road were particularly enthralling.
 
What’s something that amazes you? My children’s sense of humor.
 
Describe your family: An amazingly gifted and unequivocally giving spouse, two silly boys who are serious about exploring the world around them and one angelic little baby girl who made me forget, again, the meaning of sleep.
 
Describe your ideal day: 10 hours of sleep followed by a sandcastle day at the beach with my crew.
 
Favorite local place to eat? Of late: Park Wood Diner.
 
Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little? A physician like my father and uncle, but in college, I didn’t want to study lipids, tree-cell root structure and some other chapters in my Biology book, so I chose another path.
 
What is your favorite store? Amazon.
 
Mountains or Beach? Yes.
 
Favorite movie? I could watch The Incredibles over and over (and often do), so maybe that.
 
What inspires you? Great sentences shared by great minds.
 
 How would you describe your “style”? Comfortable, casual, with a remorseful remnant of Connecticut prep.
 
Coffee or tea? Three kids in… If it’s caffeinated, it’s my friend
 

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Kanani Briggs

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? South Orange.  We live in Newstead and feel grateful that we ended up on Whiteoak Drive! Love our community and neighborhood.

What brought you to SOMA? Job change for my husband, Scott. He started working in NYC. Train commute from Basking Ridge was putting a serious damper on family time with our two young boys.
 
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’ve recently become involved with an organization called Mission of Hope Haiti and went on my first trip last November.  It is my passion to share my experience and let people know that each of us can make a difference in someone’s life.
 
What’s your favorite feature of your home? We have large picture windows in our family room that provide so much natural light.  My window helps me stay true to my decision to slow down this year, live more in the present and stop to smell (or at least look at) the roses!
 
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I love her work on vulnerability and shame resilience.
 
Describe your family: I have an amazing, hard working husband and two boys who make me a better person and mom every day. And we have a new addition, a rescue puppy named Hutch.
 
Favorite local place to eat: We are regulars for dine-in or take out at Bunny’s, Stony’s and Ariyoshi!
 
Mountains or Beach? Beach for sure. As a native Hawaiian, I’m most at home near an ocean!
 
What inspires you? People who truly have a heart to serve others and the many creative ways they put that into action!
 
Coffee or tea? I just started drinking coffee at age 40 and found that I love it.
 
 
 

 

Benny Campa

Untitled designWhat town do you live in? Maplewood! Truly love this town and all the great people living here. I’ve started a group called Maplewood Artist Collective (dot com!) to help foster more arts and music centered events in town. Maplewoodartistcollective.com

Where did you live before that? I had a co-op apt. in Prospect Park South, just across from the south end of the park. It was great, but I’m glad to be out of Brooklyn. I don’t miss one thing about it, Maplewood is my dream town!

What do you- do (for a living or as a serious hobby)? I’m the Lead of Digital Product Design at Warby Parker, creating smart, beautifully branded e-commerce experiences for the digital and mobile space.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The deck! It’s expansive and in Spring, Summer and Fall covered in potted Annuals and Perennials. It’s the home of many a cocktail party and delicious BBQ throughout the year!

What’s music/album are you really into these days? I’m playing lots of vinyl these days. The new Beach House, the new Lower Dens, just purchased Oui from the Sea and Cake. Pet Sounds, The Queen is Dead and Person Pitch are always on constant rotation.

If you could have a super-power, what would it be? Time Travel! I’d love to go back 500 years and see all my ancestors and the things they created. To witness how much of my personality is carried down, and  see where my heritage comes from. Would be so fascinating to see!

What’s something that amazes you? Generosity in people never ceases to amaze me. From the simplest gesture to the most grand, just when you think the world is this harsh place, there’s always someone doing something to make your day, week, month better. It’s always surprising and always a treasure to see and receive. And to give back!

Favorite movie? Movies! Annie Hall. Inside Out. Almost Famous. A Hard Days Night. Singing in the Rain. Primer. The Force Awakens. Contact. Say Anything. Julie and Julia. A Room with a View. Moneyball. Secretary. Swingers. All the Lord of the Rings, all the Harry Potters. When Harry Met Sally. Monsters Inc. Fight Club.

What inspires you? Music! The places that music takes me and the visions and imaginations I conjure through music are so inspiring to me. I can be taken to the most dreamy, introspective, moody, sublime, romantic places through music.

How would you describe your “style”? It’s varied over the years, but there’s always a hint of class, a bit of sass and some dash of vintage. I prefer oxfords, trousers and a button down. I little bit of preppy. Wes Anderson, Early Woody Allen. The sharpness of gents from the days of old is always inspiring.

 

 


 

 

Courtney Reimer Basner

Untitled design-2What town do you live in?
South Orange
 
Where did you live before that?
Brooklyn (of course). For 12 years.
 
What brought you to SOMA?
Backyards! Spacious grocery stores! Room for the kiddos to move around!
 
What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?
Website Editor in Chief
 
What’s your favorite feature of your home?
The “flow” — the rooms on the main floor all connect so nicely, which makes for great pre-bedtime “laps” for the kids.
Where do you love to go on a date night?
A Toute Heure in Cranford, NJ. Delicious, cozy and nearby.
 
What’s music/album are you really into these days? Embarrassingly, I’ve been getting into some more electronic-dance type stuff — I blame my SoulCycle habit!  (Note: there’s a SoulCycle in Short Hills.)
 
If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
To be in several places at once — at work, picking up one kid from school and taking the other to dance class.
 
What‘s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years? 
I’m probably supposed to say The Goldfinch or something, but I really liked Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down.
 
What’s something that amazes you?
The generosity and presence of my neighbors — one time one of them came and picked them up and brought them to their house when my babysitter got sick (to cite just one example!).
 
Describe your family:
Energetic, happy, not-taking-life-too seriously. (Also: 2 preschool-aged girls, sleep-loving husband and me.)
 
Describe your ideal day:
Sleeping in (a girl can dream), hanging out with the family at home, making art, dancing and baking together. (Basically any Saturday that we’re not outside!)
 
Favorite local place to eat?
Coda.
 
Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?
I think I said Carol Burnett once, and I guess I got kind of close, being in entertainment media.
 
What is your favorite store?
Locally, the kids would say Sparkhouse. Everywhere else, I’d say Sephora. #lipstickjunkie
 
Mountains or Beach?
Beach. The shore isn’t too far!
 
Favorite movie?
Elf or It’s a Wonderful Life #christmasjunkie
 
What inspires you?
My kids’ nonjudgmental wonder about the world.
 
How would you describe your “style”?
I’m kind of obsessed with accessories; never met a statement necklace I didn’t like.
 
Coffee or tea?
COFFEE. One of my favorite things about my morning commute is my home-brewed dark coffee in my travel mug.
 
 


 

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Would you like to be featured as one of the people that you meet in our area?  Just answer 10 questions and send us a selfie!

 
20 Questions to Choose From…
1. What town do you live in?
2. Where did you live before that?
3. What brought you to SOMA?
4. What do you do (for a living or as a serious hobby)?
5. What’s your favorite feature of your home?
6. Where do you love to go on a date night?
7. What’s music/album are you really into these days?
8. If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
9. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 5 years?
10.What’s something that amazes you?
11. Describe your family:
12.  Describe your ideal day:
13. Favorite local place to eat?
14.  Who/What did you aspire to be when you were little?
15. What is your favorite store?
16. Mountains or Beach?
17. Favorite movie?
18. What inspires you?
19. How would you describe your “style”?
20. Coffee or tea?
21. What charity are you passionate about/how do you live out “CareServeGive?
 





Vanessa Pollock




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How to Declutter When You Are Sentimental About Your Stuff, By Sarah Dobbs

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How to Declutter When You Are Sentimental About Your Stuff, By Sarah Dobbs

How to Declutter When You Are Sentimental About Your Stuff By Sarah Dobbs, owner of The Home Capsule A general misconception...

January 24, 2017