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Veterans Day lunch to honor vets in Fanwood and Scotch Plains  

Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary invites veterans to lunch

The Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club will host a Veterans Day lunch to honor local veterans at its Nov. 9  meeting, and veterans in Fanwood and Scotch Plains are invited to attend.

The rotary will provide lunch free of charge to local veterans who must register to attend by Nov. 8 because of limited space. The luncheon will be at noon at the Stage House  Tavern, 366 Park Ave., Scotch Plains. 

Veterans who are rotary club members will be honored along with others as a demonstration of the club's deep gratitude to all men and women who served the United States Armed Forces. The event will pay tribute to those who served previously, those who continue to serve, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

To register, please contact Julie Murphy at (800) 258-9249, or email


N.J. outdoor yoga: summer classes in Union County, many free 

Yoga in the Garden at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit.Salute the sun with an outdoor yoga session on summer's first day tomorrow, and then take yoga practice right through summer with many free opportunities to stretch out at Union County parks and limber up to dance beneath the stars.


Summit: Summer outdoor yoga sessions across Union County start tomorrow with Yoga in the Garden at 7 p.m. at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit. Celebrate the June 20 Summer Solstice with Sun Salutation Flow led by Claire Diab, the arboretum's yoga specialist and founder of The American Yoga Academy Studio in Summit. A $20 donation is requested upon arrival. Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located at 165 Hobart Ave., Summit. Visit for more information.


Cranford: Hanson Park Conservancy, 220 Walnut Ave., will be the setting for Yoga for Everyone sessions on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. There is a $10 suggested donation. Visit and or call (908) 709.-283. Check for community yoga sessions in other areas of the county, including Fanwood, Scotch Plains and Springfield.


Mountainside: Starting June 29, and on every Wednesday in July, those attending Union County's free summer concerts at Echo Lake Park will have an opportunity to enjoy free Yoga in the Park classes starting at 6:30 p.m. before each 7:30 p.m. concert. 


Clark: Yoga in the Park continues on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. from Aug. 3 through Aug. 24 at Oak Ridge Park. Each yoga session will be led by instructors from area yoga or fitness centers. See the full yoga and concert schedule at


Elizabeth: On July 19, kids can try out yoga at 7:30 p.m. at Warinaco Park. Yoga is among the fun fitness sessions planned before Tuesday night family movies running July 12, 19 and 26, and Aug. 9.  Each week there's a different fitness session, including cross-fit, Zumba and karate. See the full ftness and movie schedule at


Participants should bring a yoga mat and water for the yoga sessions, and a blanket of lawn chairs for the concerts.





N.J. plant sales offering Rutgers 250 tomato and other garden goods

(Photos courtesy Rutgers NJAES)‘Rutgers 250’ tomato, the ‘Rutgers Scarlet' strawberry and other Rutgers-developed plant varieties are generating a lot of excitement and anticipation among New Jersey gardeners. But where do you find the plants if you missed the opportunity to buy and start tomato seeds indoors?

From May 6 -  May 8 the 'Rutgers 250' tomato will be among hundreds of plant varieties offered at the Rutgers Gardens Spring Flower Fair May. On May 15, Union County residents who can wait a little longer won't have to travel to New Brunswick to get their hands on these coveted plants. Closer to home, 'Rutgers 250' tomato transplants will be among plants offered that day at the Union County Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale at Trailside Nature Center in Mountainside. Details follow about each plant sale.

May 6 - May 8, 2016 - Rutgers Gardens Spring Flower Fair: Started 24 years ago, this has become New Jersey’s biggest non-profit plant sale. The selection will include more than  250 varieties of trees and shrubs; more than 220 perennial varieties, including tropicals and succulents; 190 annuals; 160 vegetables; 90 herbs and culinary exotics; and 100 tomato varieties (including ‘Rutgers 250,’ ‘Moreton,’ ‘KC 146,’ and ‘Ramapo’. Rutgers strawberry plants also will be available. Hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Friday, May 6;  10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 8. To get a better idea of what to expect, view the plant list at the bottom of the Spring Flower Fair webpage or Follow Rutgers Gardens on Facebook. Please note: shoppers are advised to bring a handcart or child’s wagon to help transport selections.

On May 8, all mothers at the sale will be invited to pot up a ‘Super Sweet 100’ Tomato to take home. All purchases directly benefit the Rutgers Gardens Student Internship Program, which will provide hands-on educational experience for more than a dozen students this coming summer. Rutgers Gardens, located at 112 Ryders Lane in New Brunswick, is entirely self-sustaining, so gardener support is greatly needed. For more information, call (732)932-8451 or visit their website,

May 15, 2016: Union County Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale: Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County will hold their annual plant sale from noon to 4 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Watchung Reservation, 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside. 

The event features deer resistant, drought tolerant and fragrant plants that thrive in Union County. Many easy-to-grow plants for beginner gardeners and a large selection of tomatoes and herbs will be available.

The trademarked 'Rutgers 250' tomato / Photo by Peter Nitzsche

'Rutgers 250' tomato transplants will be among the large selection of popular tomato varieties offered, as will Ramapo and Mortgage Lifter, so named for the 1940’s-era grower who paid off his mortgage by selling plants.

In addition to the plant sale, the event will include free activities for kids, guided tours of the Demonstration Garden, and displays and information for maximizing planting space and yields with “Square Foot Gardening.” Lean more about rain barrels and rain gardens, too.

Admission and parking are free. All sales are cash only, and shoppers are advised to come with a wheelbarrow or wagon to move plants. Sale proceeds fund community service projects of the Master Gardeners of Union County, the all-volunteer organization that runs the Demonstration Garden.

Guests can bring along their plant problems and questions for help from Rutgers Master Gardeners and also get information about the program requirements to join them.

More information is available on the Union County website.



NJ Winter Farmers Market: Saturdays in Cranford through March 19


Dragonfly Beach Rock Charms by Aimee Zollinger of Sayerville are among locally made crafts available at Cranford Artisan's Market at Cranford Community Center.Even if there's snow on the ground, you can still have some of your favorite tastes of summer at the weekly Cranford Artisan's Market, a winter market at Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave.

Regular shoppers at any of the seasonal Union County farmers markets might be missing the salty-sour treat of a fat, juicy pickle or a custom-blended handful of nuts and dried fruit as a healthy treat to fuel non-stop activities.

You'll find Picklicious and Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit along with other food and crafts vendors at this indoor winter farmers market that brings all sorts of fun to the Cranford Community Center every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through March 19.

“We're the only market in Union County that runs in the winter, says Jackie Carr, who also organizes the Cranford Farmers Market during its season.

There's at least one farm represented in Norz Hill Farm of Hillsborough, which offers market visitors its farm-raised beef, pork and eggs. Hoboken Farms isn't a true farm in the sense of growing fruits and veggies, but if you buy the fresh-baked loaves of the Summit shop's artisanal breads on a market Saturday, you can spread slices with sweet or savory Jams by Kim, another market food purveyor.

Jams by Kim come in two dozen flavors, a rotating variety of which is available at Cranford Artisan's Market.

Get your dog some gourmet treats from Woof Biscuits, where flavors include cheeseburger, roasted chicken and peanut butter. There's also chicken, steak and turkey jerky.

Looking for gifts for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day? Consider hand-crafted options such as soaps beautifully scented with natural essential oils and made of moisture-rich goat's milk. There are inspirational beach rock charms and cork message boards cut in every letter of the alphabet and many fun shapes too.

Some vendors attend the market on a rotating basis, so there are always new items and foods to discover. Last week, Hoboken Farms had fresh mozzarella and addictive olive bread. We also took home mini tins of frozen chicken meatballs, eggplant parm and lobster ravioli ($8 each or three for $20) from Paolo's Kitchen of New Providence. They reheated well, and the standout sauces were delicious enough to eat like soup. No pasta required.

Cupcakes from Cupcake Dynasty were perfect portions, and at just $2 each, these sweets were light as air. If you've never had handcrafted granola, try a sample from Krunch Kitchen. The blends are baked with olive oil and real maple syrup for the natural flavor of homemade – even though they're made in a commercial kitchen. The blends had enough nuts, seeds and dried fruit to make them worth the $15 we paid for a one-pound bag.

Those who appreciate crafty recycling will love The Green Ladybug's sturdy crocheted bags. The “yarn” is spirals of plastic cut from supermarket bags in various colors. Prices ranged from $15 for a basic tote to $25 for a yoga tote with mat included.

Carr has arranged for live music most weeks. Last Saturday children requested music for dancing and parents sang along as The Back Porch Jug Band – complete with washtub bass -- played for most of the day. To heighten the fun on the upcoming Valentine's Day weekend, Carr has arranged for another band, Cafe Mocha, and a gift basket giveaway with prizes from participating vendors. Entry tickets are free to everyone who visits the market.

“My concept was farms, food and friends,” Carr said. “Last year it was just a good place for people to get together in the winter and to get some wonderful products.”

This year, some of the best conversations to be had are with the vendors. You'll learn how soap maker Tracee Palmer raises her own goats, about how Neshanic Valley Beekeepers' honey straight from the hive has a variety of flavors that you can't be found at the average supermarket. We were especially inspired by the way crafting helped Susan Engler cope with her treatment in a winning fight against cancer. She has been cancer-free since 2013, and offered hand-painted plaques that proclaim “Cancer doesn't live here anymore,” along with her beautifully hand-painted bird houses that were among popular options for Mother's Day shoppers.





Jan. 30 2016 event in Scotch Plains: Les Mills group fitness and football

Les Mills group fitness classes are choreographed group workouts to music. The classes, now available at RWJ Fitness & Wellness Centers, focus on strength training, flexibility, cardio, core strength and more. What better way to learn about a new fitness program than to suit up and try it out?


This Saturday, several RWJ Fitness & Wellness Centers will be introducing a series of Les Mills “fast workout, fast results” group fitness classes from 9 a.m. into the early afternoon. To get participants stoked for the Super Bowl next month, the Game Day-themed event also will include football drills and a chili cookoff. And there will be a chance to win a free one-month membership.


At RWJ Rahway Fitness & Wellness Center in Scotch Plains, those participating in the Les Mills™ Super Saturday Launch & Chili Cook-Off will have a chance to try out a schedule of Les Mills classes. The trademarked group workouts are choreographed and music-focused. Saturday's classes will include  BODYCOMBAT, “the high-energy, martial arts-inspired, non-contact workout; BODYPUMP, “the full-body weights workout for anyone looking to get lean, toned and fit;” CX WORX, “exercising muscles around the core of your body;” and GRIT, “the 30-minute high-intensity interval training workout, designed to improve strength and build lean muscle." Participants can end the day of Les Mills fitness discovery with a party in the form of a Bollywood-style dance workout.


There will also be personal training demonstrations and a chance to taste and vote for the chili cooking contenders whose pot best gets football fans inspired for Game Day on Feb. 7.  Center members and the general public are encouraged to participate in the free Super Saturday events. Go in your workout gear and try out.


According to, thousands of people from Africa to Australia are signing on for the fitness program designed by the namesake Olympic athlete from New Zealand. “Our global tribe of instructors is busy motivating people through the power of group fitness,” according to the site. “We’ve been doing this since 1968. Mixing great music with cutting-edge science to guarantee results.”


For more information about Super Saturday, call (908) 232-6100. The center is at 2120 Lamberts Mill Road in Scotch Plains. More information about RWJ Rahway Fitness & Wellness Center is available at and on the center's Facebook page.