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My First Visit to Cedar Grove Park

The other day, a friend invited me to join her on a walk in Cedar Grove Park, a beautiful expanse that I’d passed once while driving but hadn’t yet made time to visit. 

We pulled into the ample parking lot, made a quick stop in the immaculate restroom, wandered over to the pristine bocce ball courts and playground, and all I could think was: Why isn’t anyone here?

We were not completely alone. There were a few runners and a mom with her toddler on the swings. But if we’d been at Brookdale Park on this sunny morning, there would have been people everywhere. True, it was a weekday and the park is relatively new – only just completed in 2016 – but I started wondering how long it takes a public space like this one, slightly tucked away as it is, to become a regular destination. I lived across from Montclair’s Edgemont Park when its tired, old original playground was renovated into the kid magnet it has become. I remember it taking a little while for people to discover it and make it part of their lives.

How long? I don’t recall. But, like Edgemont, there are plenty of reasons to check Essex County's newest park out sooner, rather than later.

The park sits on either side of Fairview Avenue, which intersects Bloomfield Ave in Verona. On the east side: bocce ball courts, all-access playground, and club house – all brand new and all designed with plenty of shaded areas to sit. Beyond the parking lot (also on the east side) there’s a paved walking path that loops down and around a lovely landscaped hill. 

On the west side of Fairview Avenue is another walking path that meanders over foot bridges and past little “workout stations.” There’s even a place to enter the woods – we hiked for about 10 minutes on the wide dirt trail up to the top of the hill before turning back. We probably could have gone on for an hour, but we didn’t have the time. 

Although Cedar Grove Park is not a park that many can walk to, it's a wonderful environment to walk in. I also noticed a sign for a Farmer’s Market - Tuesdays from 10am - 3pm.! If you’re a runner, cyclist, or just like being outdoors, I encourage you to stop by. I predict that, like me, your first visit to Cedar Grove Park will certainly not be your last. 

 

Cedar Grove Park

199 Fairview Avenue

Cedar Grove, NJ

 

 

The Spirit of Glen Ridge

Glen Ridge has always been an easy sell. Tucked between Montclair and Bloomfield, it has always felt like the sweet, quiet, sister-town – pretty and quaint, with old gas streetlamps, manicured lawns, and its own Manhattan-direct train station. But, to be honest, although it’s a wonderful place to live, it’s not usually a destination

Many homes in Glen Ridge are super close to Montclair or Bloomfield restaurants, sometimes even walkably so. Their great town pool is a destination, but largely for residents. So, it’s especially fun and festive when all of Glen Ridge turns into The Place To Be, as it did last weekend during its third annual Town-Wide Yard Sale.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good yard sale. And on Saturday, there were over 100! 

The event was created by the Glen Ridge Library as a fundraiser. Residents who participate are allowed to waive the town's yard sale permit fee if they make a small contribution to the library. The hub of the event also takes place in a big commuter parking lot on Bloomfield Avenue, where the library "sells" spots for vendor tables. A few merchants had professional looking displays, but most were just regular people who had some swag to unload. 

There were kids selling lemonade and tables set up for local sports clubs. Someone was even selling a Glen Ridge-opoly game (which I did pass up, but not without second thoughts). And throughout the town, there was a yard sale everywhere you turned. (Truly! They even gave out maps!)

The thing that struck me most about the event this year was when I asked the library director how she came up with the idea. She said they “borrowed” it from a neighboring town that tried it a few years ago. Apparently it was a flop there, but it has been a resounding success in Glen Ridge. 

And that’s really the thing about Glen Ridge – it’s a town full of fierce community spirit, but it’s not an in-your-face kind of spirit. It’s more of a quiet, sustaining spirit that's woven deep into the old bones of this strikingly beautiful town.

New to the Market, 75 Essex Ave, Montclair

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday & Sunday 9/29 & 30

1:00 - 4:00

75 Essex Ave, Montclair

Offered at: $899,000

If you or someone you know is in the market for a completely renovated quintessential Montclair “old home made new," look no further than my new listing: 75 Essex Ave in Montclair.  

This inviting center hall colonial is ideally located in the Watchung Plaza neighborhood and is steps away from transportation, restaurants, schools, playgrounds and many of the walkable amenities that Montclair has to offer.

On the first floor you’ll be impressed by a large kitchen with breakfast nook that overlooks a sunny family room.  Formal, wainscoted dining room, living room with built-ins and wood burning fire place plus a bright office with french doors complete the main level. From the lush outdoor landscaping with underground irrigation system to the finished 3rd floor carpeted loft/secret hideout, no detail has been overlooked.  There are enough bedrooms, bathrooms and shared spaces for a quiet retreat or to enjoy time with family and friends -- five bedrooms, 3 full and 2 half baths, to be exact.

                

One of my favorite rooms in this house is the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, exposed brick wall, lighted tray ceiling and spa like bathroom.  Overlooking the back yard, this private oasis is a great place to relax and recharge.

        

Come take a look and see for yourself. You won't want to leave, but when you do, stroll over to Watchung Plaza for a coffee at Bluestone Coffee, browse the shelves at Watchung Booksellers or pick up a sweet treat at The Pie Shop.  

Open Houses on Saturday & Sunday 9/29 & 30 from 1-4 or call me to schedule a private showing: 973-809-5277.

 
 
 

Montclair is Made for New Families

Recently, I went to the Upper Montclair Sidewalk Sale – an annual event that has been going on for at least as long as I’ve lived here. I remember packing my young kids into the stroller and cruising up Valley Road, hoping there was enough to entertain them for a while before their nap. Back then, Montclair was just starting to become a popular destination for young families from the city and didn’t have as many things to do with small children. There was Kinderkickers Soccer, Music Together, the Studio Players Theater group, an art class here and there, a tumbling class that would pop up in a church, and a small “Baby YMCA” on the South End.

When I think of how much has changed, it’s hard to believe it’s the same town.

All the old favorites still exist, but there is now so much more. The new Kids’ YMCA on Glenridge Avenue is newer and more centrally located. Music Together has had a new, permanent headquarters in the middle of Upper Montclair, steps away from a great toy store, kids clothing store, wonderful bagels, pizza, tacos, and the world’s nicest fire station! In addition to more coffee shops, tea shops, and noodle shops, all over town, there’s now an inclusive movement facility uptown and a pre- and post-natal support center on Walnut Street. 

It’s actually hard to imagine walking ten minutes without running across endless places to go with young children: indoor gyms, story times, art classes, martial arts, and bake shops galore! I mention this last upgrade because a couple bake shops in town have grown into institutions.

Montclair Bread Company has become famous for their donuts (maple bacon, OMG) and also for sponsoring road races and fun runs throughout the town. 

Little Daisy Bake Shop, which may be the first place in town to specialize in nut-free baked goods, sponsored the Pie Eating Contest that captivated me over the weekend. There’s something about grown men dipping their faces into blueberry pie that can just lift your mood for the whole day.

Initially, I was going to just write about the Sidewalk Sale, how fun it was to gather on the street and run into old friends – people who, like me, were all once trying to find ways to create little communities for our young’uns. But I realized that there are now myriad places and ways to do that here – that we’ve grown even more into a town that offers plentiful opportunities to meet others in that same wonderous life stage of young parenthood.

If you ever want a tour of walkable, kid-friendly destinations, let me know. And block out a big chunk of time!

A Look At Maplewood

When I left New York City, I headed straight for Montclair because my then-husband grew up here. Coming from the city, this town was just right for me. But some of my New York friends wanted a smaller town feel. They headed straight for Maplewood.

The first time I visited Maplewood, I thought, this is what Montclair would feel like if it were a village. Vibe-wise, the two towns are nearly identical. 

I love the walkability of Maplewood – how, wherever you live, you’re never too far from downtown and the direct-to-Manhattan train. And also how peaceful it is to stroll through neighborhoods – walking the dog or pushing the stroller.

One of the things that was important to me when I left the city was to live somewhere that felt vibrant and creative. And Maplewood is that!

Words, one of my favorite New Jersey bookstores, attracts crowd-pleasing authors like Mark Bittman as well as up-and-coming local talent. There’s plenty of local music, including the annual Maplewoodstock – an all-weekend, family-oriented, art and music extravaganza that’s been taking place in Memorial Park since 2004. And the South Orange/Maplewood Adult School offers classes in everything from pottery to pickleball.

If you love the outdoors, nearby South Mountain Reservation is a force to be reckoned with. Spanning over 2,000 acres, this massive nature reserve includes miles of hiking trails, great sledding hills, and a magical waterfall. 

I love that you can hop on the train and catch dinner and a show in Manhattan. But I also love that you can have dinner and a show right in your own backyard. Downtown South Orange is close by and has a wonderful performing arts center, which has won the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” for four consecutive years. Neighboring Milburn offers great theater at the renowned Papermill Playhouse. And Montclair’s Wellmont Theater is great for rock and roll or comedy, and is a quick half hour drive. 

As walkable towns go, Maplewood gets high marks. If you think it might be a good fit for you, I’d love to take you around!

You're Welcome!

I usually stay away from anything political in my blog, but this week I am making an exception. On Wednesday, June 27, I had the great honor of attending a local reading staged to raise money to support one of the many organizations fighting to help immigrant children being separated from their parents. 

Montclair, New Jersey is a liberal town. That’s no secret. But this event, like so many initiatives – big and small -- started by residents who cannot sit by and watch people being treated inhumanely, reminds me so why I’m so proud to live here. This is a town that speaks out for families – all families.

Families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors – and that is one of the many reasons people want to live here. We all want our children to grow up in a community where families with two moms, or two dads, or no mom, or no dad, or different color moms and dads, or grandmas as moms, or grandpas as dads are all as commonplace as families with one mom and one dad. That’s the community mindset that sparked an event like Borders of the Heart: Writers Read in Support of Migrant Families.

In eight days, a few local writers put together this reading in an effort to do something to help. Donations were collected through Facebook and at the event. Nearly two dozen writers read pieces on the subject of immigration. Some readers were people I knew personally and never knew their story. It was heart-wrenching and uplifting, and I walked out of that room –appropriately, a local temple sanctuary – feeling so very right about the work I get to do: helping people find a community where their values and ideals can thrive.

I write this on July 4th, the “birthday” of my country. Today, I will dress for the heat as I walk the few blocks to Midland Avenue and take a spot on the curb to watch Montclair’s 90-minute July 4th Parade. I will cheer for floats celebrating local ice cream and local music lessons and the local Irish pub. I will cheer for organizations that provide free tutoring for kids and free meals for adults. I will cheer for the bike advocates and the football team and the Community Pre-K. And, of course, I will cheer for my home away from home, Keller Williams Realty.

Like the reading, our parade reminds me how we take care of each other here. Everyone is welcome to show up with their stories. 

Everyone is welcome.

New to Market: 107 Montclair Ave, Montclair, NJ

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 6/23 and Sunday 6/24

2-4 p.m.

107 Montclair Ave

Offered at $989,000

 

As a Walkability Devotee, 107 Montclair Avenue is an absolute dream. It's spacious enough to grow with a family and offers premiere walkability at every stage.

The house itself is gorgeous. A 1923 Colonial with 5 bedrooms and 4 full baths. Beautiful wood floors throughout. Wood-burning fireplace. Updated kitchen and baths. A second-floor laundry room (believe me, if you’ve never lived in a home with this feature, you will count your newfound blessings with every load). An elegant master suite. 

And there’s more. New central AC. New hot water heater. New appliances. New garage. 

One of the things I love about this home is the fully renovated basement with its elegant ceramic tile floor. This is an enormous, inviting space to kick back in – and it has its own outside entrance!

The other thing I love is the bluestone patio – how the gentle curve of the low brick wall defines the space. And how it benefits from the nearby shade trees. There’s also a built-in Viking grill, a feature that many use all year long. 

True, it’s not often difficult to find a Montclair home with amenities. The challenge is finding a home with everything you’re looking for and walkability too.

If you’re familiar with the area, you will love being in the center of town. You will love the carpool ease. You will love that kids can walk to the high school. Or to the nearby ice-skating rink. Or to one of the town pools. Or the playground. Or the sports fields. 

This home also offers an easy walk to the New York City train, the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and all the restaurants and shops at Walnut and Grove. Or to Ruthie’s for barbeque and blues.

Montclair Avenue has always been one of the most beautiful and sought-after blocks in Montclair. Stop by my open house June 23rd or 24th and see why.

Open House this Saturday and Sunday, 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

 

New to Market: 222 Highview Drive, Clifton

OPEN HOUSE

Sunday, June 10

2-4 p.m.

222 Highview Drive, Clifton

Easy commute. Gorgeous interiors. Four bedrooms, 2 full baths.

Listed at $449,000, 222 Highview offers, and in that price point everyone seems to be looking for.

I was instantly taken with the kitchen in this home — newly renovated and just the right size. 

The first floor has a great flow for entertaining, the fireplace adding a warm, welcoming vibe. 

Baths are all luxurious and new. 

I especially love the basement — another complete living space with access to the attached garage.

The New York City bus stops on the corner. Also, Route 3 and the Parkway are a minute away, providing instant access to literally every direction. 

Stop by for a visit and I’ll tell you about the schools, local shopping, and my favorite plant nursery right up the road!

Come to the Open House Sunday, June 10th from 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

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New to Market: 653 Grove Street, Montclair

Open House

this Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13

2 - 4 p.m.

653 Grove Street, Montclair

I’m always excited to get a Montclair listing in the $500,000 price range. They’re not plentiful. But I’m even more excited to list a house like 653 Grove Street, because not only is the price right – everything feels right.

Set back and side-facing, this house feels private and secluded. I love the expansive, flat yard, and the entertainment patio off the great room. 

I love the open layout, the spacious kitchen, and that the master suite has its own floor. It’s sunny and bright, and feels easy to be in.

Northeast Elementary School is a short walk, but with Montclair’s renowned magnet school system, you can request one of the other five elementary schools – each with its own theme. 

Also close by: Applegate Farms Ice Cream, a Montclair institution that draws ice cream lovers from far and wide. The Alonzo Bonsal Wildlife Preserve – a 20-plus acre nature preserve that feels so “secret,” people blog about how to find the entrance. And Yantacaw Brook Park, another off-the-beaten-path treasure for long walks, scenic runs, and duck feeding. (Also, Northeast School has a great sledding hill in the back.)

Four bedrooms. Two full baths. Eat-in kitchen. Wood-burning stove and fireplace. Beautiful floors. Lots of built-ins. Detached garage. Quick walk to the New York City bus. And all that Montclair has to offer: exhibits and classes at Montclair Art Museum and Montclair State UniversityWhole Foods, CSAs and a Saturday Farmers Market. Montclair Film Festival, Montclair Jazz Festival, and the Presby Iris Gardens. Team sports for everyone – kids and grown-ups alike. Coffee shops. Tea shops. Yoga studios and independent book stores. 

Does this sound good to be true? Come visit the town I love to show off. 

Come to the Open House Saturday 5/12 or Sunday, 5/13 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

 

New to the Market: 25 Mountain Avenue, Caldwell

Open House this Sunday, April 29  2-4PM

25 Mountain Avenue, Caldwell, NJ

Convenient to shopping and nature, this house is not only situated between two cute downtowns (W. Caldwell and Verona) and two Olmsted-designed county parks, it’s steps away from the New York City bus. The perfect location for starting a family or for folks who are ready to let go of their too-big house. Homes like this – with its classic design, big, flat yard, garage with plenty of extra room, and real-estate taxes that won’t launch your mortgage payment into the stratosphere – have become what so many of my clients are looking for. Properties in this price range are always in high demand.

25 Mountain Avenue is bright and inviting from the moment you walk through the door. The centerpiece wood-burning stove offers both a warm glow and a cool vibe to the clean lines of this open Colonial.

Luscious wood floors lead you through the easy-flowing layout. Swing open the living room French doors to discover an expansive back deck overlooking a spacious back yard. Whether you’re sipping evening cocktails and listening to crickets humming or sipping morning coffee listening to the birds sing, there is nothing better than being able to take a little time outside to relax into or out of your day. 

Three bedrooms, 1.5 baths, den, full basement and easy attic. Oversized walk-in closet for extra storage. Walkable to shops, restaurants, and public transportation. Drive 10 minutes to downtown Montclair for dinner and a movie, or take the kids to nearby Cody Arena to the newly renovated Turtle Back Zoo. Family-friendly community, easy to get to and from, and plenty of walkability! 

Come to the Open House Sunday, 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

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