Posted in Hopewell

DIY Home Improvement Projects That Won’t Leave You Broke.

When the topic of home improvements is broached, most people think it’s cost prohibitive and don’t even bother to explore options. Well, I did my research and there are tons of great ideas out there that are very affordable. Making small improvements can add value to any home and enhance the holiday feel. Here are some pretty cool DIYs:

1. Revamp An Existing Mirror

Adding a frame and shelves can really make a big difference. Click For Instructions:

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2.  Painting The Ceiling A Different Color.

Size
Ceiling paint colors can visually alter the size of a room. Towering, vaulted white ceilings tend to make a room appear cold and bare. Applying a paint color that’s at least two or three shades darker than the existing wall color helps to “shrink” the visual size of a room. In addition, dark paint colors are inclined to create the illusion of a lower ceiling and cozier space. Paints with a matte or flat finish create a velvety look to cover cosmetic blemishes. Conversely, a small room with a low ceiling that’s painted in a light color can visually raise the ceiling, creating a more spacious-looking room. Use a paint color that’s two or three shades lighter than the existing wall color to bring about this airy effect. Select a crisp white ceiling paint in a glossy finish to create the greatest visual expansion in a room.
Uniformity
Painting a ceiling the same color as the existing walls supplies a uniform, monochromatic look. This technique works especially well for light, neutral colors — soft beige, off-white and light gray. Continuous color tends to envelope a room, providing a neutral background for colorful contrasts. For example, painting the walls and ceiling in soft beige creates a striking contrast against dark, hardwood flooring, furniture and window treatments. Dark ceiling and wall colors can also work well in a room that’s filled with abundant natural light. Avoid dark ceiling and wall colors in a room lacking natural light; it can appear dismal and dreary.

Magnolia
Source: Houzz
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Source : House Of Turquoise

3.  Add Wood To Wall

This idea can really transform a room or hallway. Here are two ways you can add some character, simply by adding wood planks to a wall.

 Here is a video of the other way. How To White Shiplap Wood Wall On Youtube

4.  Trade In A Plain Door For A Barn Door

I’ve been wanting a barn door for so long, but thought it would cost too much, making me give up on the idea —  until now! You can have a modern barn door for under $50 bucks. Yay!!

Click for instructions:

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Source: Paper Daisy Design

5. Hang Curtains High and Wide

Hanging curtains high and wide can give the illusion of higher ceilings and bigger windows.  I have tried this in my own home and it works.

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Well, I hope someone finds these projects helpful and gives them a try. I know I will.

Good Luck,

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Posted in Hopewell

Things to Do in Hopewell For Halloween

Our favorite holiday is Halloween. For us, it’s representative of fall, filled with fun and interesting decorations, and isn’t the monetary sinkhole that comes with Christmas. In the Hopewell area, there are lots of family friendly things to do.

Here are some of our favorites.

Howell Living History Farm Corn Maze

17 Valley Road
Hopewell Township, NJ 08530

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We’ve been to a lot of corn mazes over the years, most of which were whimsical and fun. But the Howell Farm corn maze is next level. This is like an amusement park for corn mazes. It’s a competitive maze that is filled with riddles and a points system, that makes this an incredible experience. Just outside the maze is a small cafeteria setting with lots of cider and pumpkin pie. Trust me when I tell you, this is lots of fun.

Shadybrook Farm, Horrorfest

931 Stony Hill Rd
Yardley, PA 19067

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We went here for the first time this year and loved it. This isn’t just a place with scary hayrides and haunted barns. The place is immense, filled with wood burning fire pits and people busy roasting marshmallows. It has concession stands, a small feeding animal section, pumpkin patch  — and a sundry of other things to do. It’s worth noting, the haunted hayride is very theatrical and scared the heck out of the kids.

Trick or Treating

Brandon Farms
Pennington, NJ

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In all of my years trick of treating, out of all of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, none were as fun and festive as Chicory Lane in Brandon Farms, Pennington. Almost every house on Chicory is decorated and eager to hand out generous portions of sugary snacks to the kids. It simply is a pleasure and a ‘the place to trick or treat’ for those who live in Brandon Farms.

I won’t droll on about local farms and pumpkin patches, since I’ll need something to talk about next year. Our family likes to try new things and we’re always on the look out for great experiences. For me, Halloween is about something sweet, something scary and something fun. I believe the three activities above will cover your bases if you’re lucky enough to live in the area.

Mal

Posted in Hopewell, Restaurants

Some of Our Favorite Places to Eat in Hopewell, NJ

My wife and I aren’t exactly foodies in the traditional sense, but we do enjoy to eat out a lot. Since we’ve moved to Pennington, we’ve probably visited almost every single restaurant in a 10 mile radius of our home.

What can I say, we like to eat.

Generally speaking, we use Yelp to help us better understand where we should eat. More often than not, the Yelp reviews are incredibly accurate and have helped guide us to some truly great places to eat.

Here are some of our favorite spots.

Small World Coffee

14 Witherspoon St
Princeton, NJ 08540

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I’m a huge coffee ‘aficionado’, at least I like to pretend to be one at home and with friends. When I say Small World Coffee has the very best lattes I’ve ever had, I mean it. Let me preface that statement with the fact that I’ve never been to France or Italy, so I might have to come back and update this post after visiting some of their great cafes.

Mistral

66 Witherspoon St
Princeton, NJ 08542
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This is hands down our favorite place to eat, albeit a bit a expensive — but entirely well worth it. If you want quality NYC/Philly type fare, creative food prepared by very talented people, Mistral is for you. We’ve never been disappointed by their food and always enjoy their tapas style menu, which allows you to experience a wide array of flavors for money well spent.

Nomad Pizza

10 E Broad St
Hopewell, NJ 08525
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Originally from Brooklyn, NY, I came to the Hopewell area as a bit of a pizza snob. Then I had Nomad’s absurdly delicious pizza and it changed my whole perspective on pizza. The crust is soft, a bit doughy, and delicious. Their creative, artisan, pies are what separates them from other pizza restaurants. The Hopewell location is a landmark and is center to the vibrant scene of the small town. You haven’t eaten a great crimini cheese pizza until you’ve had Nomad’s!

Mizuki Asian Bistro

800 Denow Rd
Pennington, NJ 08534
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This is really close to our home in Brandon Farms. Often times, for whatever reason, we shy away from restaurants that are close to our home. It’s truly a nonsensical thing to do. Somehow we must think ‘no restaurant worth eating in could be close to our home,’ if you know what I mean. But this is a great spot, a very unassuming one in a strip mall — right adjacent to the local Starbucks, which is also terrific. The people who work here are fantastic and the sushi is always fresh and well prepared. If you’re in the mood for Japanese or Chinese, this is definitely worth a trip.

Believe me, I can go on and on all day about the virtues of some of the places to eat in the Hopewell area and I’ll get to more of them at a later date. But I’ve got to wrap this up now, seeing that it’s 2am, on a work night, and I am making myself incredibly hungry reminiscing over these spots.

Nite!

Posted in Hopewell, School

Hopewell Gets Funding to Vastly Improve School Infrastructure

One of the most important factors of any neighborhood, especially for families, is the state of the local schools. My wife and I were particular about the local schooling system and made sure that Pennington had good schools before moving in. We did online searches, which yielded terrific results. We visited all of the schools and even spoke to locals to get a feel.

Having three children who’ve attended Stony Brook Elementary, Timberlane Middle School and  Central High School, I can comfortably endorse the Pennington schooling system to anyone who asks.

source: Greater Schools

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Even better, the greater Hopewell area just passed a referendum, taking advantage of record low borrowing costs, to fund new construction projects and upgrade and maintain current infrastructure for the entire school system. The net cost to tax payers is negligible and the upside is tremendous, as investing in the future of our community is always an investment worth taking.

Details of the entire project.

The Hopewell Valley Regional School District reported that 1,825 voted to approve while 995 voted against the plan. Voters in all districts approved the referendum, except  District 2, which votes at the Union Fire Co. in Titusville.  There, voters against the plan won by 142-141.

Voters in Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough and Hopewell Township were asked to fund repair work, construction, alterations and other capital improvements at several schools in the district.

Among the proposed capital improvement projects is more than $7 million worth of roof replacement work and repairs for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), especially at the Hopewell Valley Central High School and Timberlane Middle School.

Plans also call for the cafeteria at the high school, and the planned construction of a $5.2 million, 10,500-square-foot arts and wellness addition to the high school to include a new gymnasium and space for students enrolled in performing arts courses.

Hopewell Elementary and Toll Gate Grammar schools are slated to receive window replacements and roof work, according to the district. Heating and ventilation work is also due to be performed in the Toll Gate gym.

Along with building-specific projects, district officials said the referendum will pay for an updated fire alarm system and a new communications system for all of the district’s schools.

Source: CentralNJ

In short, if you’re interested in moving to the Hopewell area and have concerns about the schools, have solace in knowing that they’re fantastically run by very capable principals and a caring superintend Mr. Tom Smith. Now with the proper funding, at record low borrowing costs, Hopewell’s schools are equipped to face the challenges ahead for the next 30 years.
Posted in Hopewell

Moving to Pennington, NJ

Having made the decision to move in the winter of 2012, my wife and I searched far and wide for the ideal place to move and raise our family. For the past decade, we had lived in Staten Island, a very busy outpost of New York City —  wrought with chaotic strip malls and a burgeoning population that made driving to work an impossibility. The stated goal was, without question, to find a place to live that conformed with our chief interests, which entailed: good schools, friendly neighborhood, somewhat  of a pastoral setting, but also accompanied with the modern amenities of a Main Street (e.g. local coffee shoppe, eatery, place to grab a slice of pizza), and most importantly low crime.

Admittedly, my wife and I are idealists. Often times our dreams intermingle with reality and cause us angst when things aren’t precisely how we envisioned it. I imagine many of us are striving for Mayberry, the mythical setting that we all saw on television growing up, the perfectly manicured lawns, friendly pie giving neighbors, and the token lemonade stand on the corner — where kids sold refreshments to working Moms and Dads arriving home from a long days work.

We hired a real estate agent to find us this reverie of a neighborhood, much to his chagrin. We must’ve traveled to every corner of New Jersey, in a near frantic mission for this ideal. Some homes were just perfect, but the neighborhood was dreadful. Others were wonderful, but the cost to live there was comically prohibitive (see Alpine, NJ).

Our home in Staten Island sold in 12 days, which made us both ecstatic and panicked, due to the fact that we had just sold the only place that stored all of our stuff — ourselves included.

While looking for homes on Zillow, my wife came home after picking up the kids and showed me a beautiful place in Pennington, NJ. I had no idea where Pennington was, other than the fact it was located 15 minutes outside Princeton — which is a wonderful and very old small town that was a bit out of our price range. We packed our three children into our car and drove an hour and a half to see Pennington, NJ.

The house was precisely what we were looking for, a cornucopia of amenities that harangued our very patient and very good real estate agent to wits end. Unbeknownst to us, the initial joys of finding a home — which possessed both the curb appeal and the space needed for a growing family —  paled in comparison to the neighborhood that we, by happenstance, moved into.

The Hopewell area is a gem, a celebration of Americana and a time when details mattered. As residents, we are blessed with a plethora of organic food farms that retail affordable and quality meats, cheeses, milk, vegetables and fruit to the public. There are festivals, theatre, active sports leagues, the very best restaurants I’ve ever been to. Most importantly, the schools are unbelievably good and the neighborhood is ‘leave your door unlocked’ safe. The Hopewell Township is surrounded by several great towns, including Hopewell, Pennington, Lawrenceville, Princeton, Lambertville and West Windsor.

Since moving to Pennington, I’ve immersed myself in its rich history and the endless things to do and see in the area. Inside the confines of this blog, I intend to share my passion for Hopewell and the many things that my family and I experience while living here.

Cheers,

Mal