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Foodie’s dream tour coming to Natirar

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/20/17

PEAPACK-GLADSTONE – Natirar, a 500-acre property once owned by a former king of Morocco, is a not-so-hidden gem of Somerset County.

The area includes Ninety Acres, an award-winning restaurant, a gala event venue, a farm, a cooking school and lush green space in Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster.

And now, with the upcoming Epicurean Adventure at Ninety Acres at Natirar, which will feature a tour of the Farm at Natirar, an interactive cooking demo and tasting at the Ninety Acres Cooking School and a specially prepared lunch in the main dining room, visitors can see all that the property has to offer in one visit.

“Anyone who is interested in wellness, nature and sustainability would enjoy this kind of event,” said Michelle Mitterer, director of sales and marketing at Natirar. “We like to connect our visitors with the origin of food and educate them on the process behind the art of cooking.”

The front entrance of Ninety Acres, Natirar’s highly-acclaimed destination restaurant complex. ~ Courtesy of Alicia Savoly

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See Princeton by foot with this new guide

PRINCETON – Most Central Jerseyans who love a scenic day trip have headed to picturesque Princeton, where there are tons of eclectic shops, acclaimed restaurants and historic sites.

However, with the new book “Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours,” published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and written and photographed by Princeton residents Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang, those who want to spend some time wandering the cozy municipality can do so with some guidance.

“There are lots of books on Princeton that focus on just the university or architecture or just the natural walks around the town, but none that were walking tour guides,” said Jang. “This is one of Princeton’s greatest assets — people come just to walk the downtown, so we thought ‘Let’s help them.’”

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No need for Napa — check out these 5 local wineries

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/6/17

Those not from the Garden State may think that our nickname couldn’t be further from the truth, but New Jersey residents are well aware — our state is full of rolling hills, picturesque landscapes and beautiful greenery.

New Jersey has also quickly become known among locals for its popular wineries situated on this scenery, with wineries spanning from Sussex to Cape May counties. This is especially true for Central Jersey, where the backdrops of our counties make for a Napa-esque locale for wineries.

To find out what wineries you can head this weekend for a local wine with a stunning view, read on.

Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes is nestled in the rolling hills of southwestern Hunterdon County. (Photo: ~File)

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5 free activities in Central Jersey

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/30/17

With warm and sunny weather finally here, many of our friends, co-workers and neighbors are busy planning far-off getaways to beach destinations, summer homes and exotic locales.

However, here in bustling Central Jersey, you don’t need to go far to have a good time — and you also don’t need to open your wallet.

If you’re trying to put some cash away and you don’t have the funds to venture far, there are tons of free activities throughout Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon and Union counties that make for a great way to spend a day with friends or family.

Read on to discover how you can have fun — but still save — this season.

Duke Farms has acres of land for visitors to explore. (Photo: ~File photo)

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Jet-setting soon? Use these stylist’s packing tips

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/23/17

Summer is almost here, which means the much-coveted time for beach getaways, family vacations and exotic retreats has arrived. However, before you hop on that plane, you need to fly over one final roadblock — packing.

For those of us with a penchant for overpacking, overplanning and overshopping, packing can be a real pain — especially with airline luggage fees continuing to skyrocket. Nevertheless, with some thoughtful preparation, you can open your suitcase upon arrival and actually be happy with what you’ve packed.

Tiffany Pinero, fashion and brand stylist based in Scotch Plains, is known throughout the tristate area for her personal wardrobe styling, personal shopping and ability to help those getting ready to embark on a trip pack their bags with her Pack Light Pack Right service, which stemmed from her own experience as an overpacker.

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How to infuse your love of travel into your home

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/16/17

If you have been finding that your living space has been looking a little drab and you’re eager for some redecorating, you may be able to find some inspiration in a seemingly unlikely place — your passport.

That’s because these days, a new trend in interior design — one that’s easily re-created using your own past experiences — is to use your travel aspirations, favorite destinations and “happy places” to inspire your interior décor.

“Travel is a really big part of my life, and by decorating my home with photos and trinkets from my travels, I am constantly reminded of some really great memories,” said Fiona Andrews, Montclair resident and avid traveler. “Plus, it’s unique — I don’t know anyone else who has a tapestry from Lake Titicaca hanging in their kitchen.”

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Enlist these East Brunswick experts to plan your cruise vacation

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/9/17

EAST BRUNSWICK – With summer almost here, those who love to hop on to their “instant vacation” — a cruise — are already scouring the internet for the best deals, newest ships and coolest amenities.

However, with the new Expedia CruiseShipCenter that is set to open at 285-291 Route 18 South, East Brunswick, in about two to three months, vacationers who love to set sail will be able to enlist a local expert to help them plan their trip.

“You don’t get individualized service when you try booking a cruise on your own, and booking one isn’t like booking a hotel room,” said Brook Smith, founder of the new location, East Brunswick resident and travel agent for the past 17 years. “There are a lot of questions you need to answer pertaining to dining times, types of rooms, dietary needs and more, so having an expert to speak with beforehand is very beneficial.”

~File photo

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Designers deck out historic estate with modern twist for Mansion in May

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 4/30/17

Just a few months ago, Alnwick Hall, known today as The Abbey, was an empty, yet notable, 20,000-square-foot home, a rare survivor from the early 20th century’s ‘Millionaire’s Row’ of estates, on a portion of Madison Avenue between Morristown and Madison.

Since its elegant heyday as a palatial home, The Abbey at 355 Madison Ave. has served as a bank, medical offices and church administration offices.

Now, thanks to 64 top designers from around the region, The Abbey has been restored to a grand estate setting for this year’s Mansion in May, a fundraiser for Morristown Medical Center. The designers have enhanced and beautified its 41 spaces and gardens with their personal twists and modern spins, while retaining the mansion’s original charm.

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Hunterdon County Art Tour offers glimpse inside local studios

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 4/25/17

Artists and art lovers have always known that Hunterdon County, filled with beautiful greenery and charming downtowns throughout its 26 municipalities, is a hotspot for the arts with its plethora of studios, art museums, arts events and theaters.

However, after the Hunterdon County Art Tour holds its first countywide self-guided driving and walking art tour May 6 and 7, the committee of volunteers made up of artists, art lovers and longtime Hunterdon County residents hopes that everyone else will know, too.

Throughout the weekend, 37 local artists’ studios will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when visitors can peruse and purchase artwork and learn more about mediums such as ceramics, glass, jewelry, painting, printmaking, sculpture and textiles — in their very own backyard.

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Visit this otherworldly Hindu temple in NJ

If you see photos of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple that is adorned with intricate Italian Carrara marble hand-carvings and images sacred to the Hindu faithful, you may think that you’re looking at the image of a structure thousands of miles away.

But this otherworldly temple is right around the corner in Robbinsville, Mercer County, and has been attracting those of the Hindu faith as well as those interested in its architecture and significance since it was built in 2014.

“For the Hindus, this is a place to see God, purify themselves and increase their faith in God,” said Lenin Joshi, a mandir volunteer who lives in Lawrenceville and visits the mandir about twice a week. “For those who are not Hindu, they feel that coming here calms their minds and they experience peace. They learn the messages of tolerance, nonviolence and coexistence, and many also find the strength to give up addictions when they come.”

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